wants of bimself and family. He never consumes without an object equivalent to the money about to be laid out. Suchó eco

nomy affords riches with a moderate fortune; while the miser and prodigal are alike poor, though in possession of the largest

resources. Hence plain habits would augment immensely that fund set apart for purchasing the useful productions of labour ; and since no one will go without shoes and hose who can help it, the knights of St. Crispin and the stocking-loom must grow, in the case supposed, just as sleek and comely as our jewellers and silversmiths have been for several generations. Mr. Say declares, that the gold buckles of the rich man leave the poor one • without even a sandal; and the labourer will want a shirt to his • back, while his rich neighbour glitters in velvet and embroidery. • It is vain to resist the nature of things. Magnificence may do

what it will to keep poverty out of sight, yet it will cross it at 6 every turn, still haunting, as if to reproach it for its excesses. • This contrast was to be met with at Versailles, at Rome, at

Madrid, and at every seat of royal residence. Our author adds, that on the other hand, in countries where private fortunes are smaller, and luxury less prevalent, the degree of misery is less also.

The prayer of Agur, ‘Give me neither poverty nor riches,' may.serve as a model to individuals; yet such is the desire for accumulation, that it becomes a question of interest to ascertain by what means the property of a nation may be increased, or what are the circumstances most favourable to its accumulation. These, as already intimated, are those which contribute to the success of industry, and those which are adverse to wastefulness and misconduct. Extraordinary convulsions of nature, such as earthquakes, storms, landslips and inundations, unsuccessful commercial enterprizes, despotic governments, oppressive taxation, insecurity of property, legal impediments, a rigid distinction of ranks, and above all things, war, operate, of course, as so many checks and restraints :

• Unfortunately for the people, princes are usually surrounded by persons who have an interest in the lavish expenditure of public money. Holding emoluments derived from the public purse, or seeking for them, their interest is not merely to be liberally, but extravagantly paid. To such persons we owe the invention and propagation of argu. ments to prove that magnificence and profuse expenditure are conducive to public prosperity ; and that taxation, although necessary, so far from being an evil, is beneficial to the state, and promotes the increase of national prosperity and wealth.' - vol. ii.

This subject, however, brings us to the fourth and last book, on taxation. He dwells upon its effects, the parties upon whom it ultimately falls, on the rules for its apportionment, on their application as regards the expense of protection, and according to the benefits derived from government, on taxes directly affecting property, on indirect taxation, on its arrangements with respect to

the construction and maintenance of roads, bridges, canals, har-bours, lighthouses, or other assistants to navigation ; on the distribution of charges as to public institutions for education, religious worship, and the support of the poor; and, lastly, upon public debts. We can only touch upon two or three of these multifarious matters. For instance, as to the conclusions to which principles of fair apportionment must lead, it may be stated, that the costs of protection to our property and persons ought to be defrayed by direct imposts upon them. In other words, there can be slight hesitation in admitting, that the weight of our fiscal system ought to be removed from the sinews of industry, and placed upon the ample shoulders of capital or income. Abstractedly speaking, nothing can be fairer; and much is it to be wished, that our middle classes, as well as our upper ones, would


their eyes to the fitness of some such arrangement. As things are, however, we feel persuaded that indirect imposts will be more popular than direct ones, for at least half a century to come. Neither a property nor an income tax could be levied, without that degree of inquisitorial espionage which is hateful as death to the British mind. Prejudice and pride, as well as intense selfishness, possess their full share in this abhorrence, especially amongst commercial men, of any eyes than their own ever looking into their ledgers. A penalty, too, is paid for it, in our customs and excise, which press down industrial energies far more than persons are aware. Yet it must not be forgotten, on the other side, that if France and some other countries are before us in having nearly half their annual revenues raised by direct rather than indirect taxation, the ramifications of trade extend further, and are beyond measure more numerous amongst us than with them; which all tells most formidably, when taken in connexion with our reserved national habits, against any considerable or sudden modifications of our present system. Our countrymen, moreover, have for ages submitted to various processes of fleecing, so that they were and are but a little tickled at the same time. Indirect taxation takes far more money from the aggregate community than really need be paid upon the opposite scheme. But, then, the evil proceeds unconsciously. The impost seems confounded with the natural price of the commodity to be purchased. Something, at all events, is received for every sixpence paid; whereas, upon the direct demand of so much per cent for property, government uncovers its strong hand, and wears, to unreflecting people, the character of a spoiler. Nations little dream of the countless millions they have to disburse through popular ignorance. These constitute a downright blackmail, from which universal knowledge would quickly deliver us, were its influences allowed to be diffused. Meanwhile, we agree with Sir Robert Walpole, that subjects must be to a certain extent humoured, until they condescend



to become better informed : and, as we intimated before, our convictions are strong, that Great Britain for a long period to come, will prefer paying ten shillings instead of five, for her tea and sugar, her wines, spirits, and tobacco, to any straightforward and cheaper income or property tax, however nicely graduated or delicately demanded.

Yet, is it altogether impossible, we cannot help asking, to prepare the machinery, and make some very moderate commencement in this way; so that when the actual necessity for such an impost shall occur, as in case of a war, it may not quite take us by surprize? We have often thought, that a duty of three shillings and fourpence levied upon every hundred pounds value of property, in its form of capital, equivalent as it would be to the real proceeds of an income tax at above three per cent, might under happy circumstances be suffered; so as that it was accompanied by a corresponding abolition of those public burdens which press upon prudence and industry. It would produce at least £6,000,000 per annum, taking the bulk of our wealth at £3,600,000,000! Were legacy duties, at the same time, extended to freehold as well as personal property, £2,000,000 more of annual revenue would be added; and retrenchment might easily add a third million. The Chancellor of the Exchequer could thus be placed in a position to remit nine millions a year of those taxes which can be proved injurious ones; such as those on malt, soap, glass, paper, bricks, windows, and insurances. The first indulgence might also be thrown as a sop to the agricultural Cerberus, on condition of its ceasing to bark against the annihilation of the Corn Laws. Should hostilities be again inevitable, the funds necessary for a contest, could more promptly be obtained by raising the rate of a small property tax already in existence, than by having to inflict upon the country, de novo, the oppressive incubus of Nicholas Vansittart, or Lord Henry Petty. Still, we are aware that much can be urged in opposition to our views —such as the facilities of transferring capital to other countries, and the impossibility of preventing enormous mischief, through fraudulent returns, or the means adopted to prevent and punish them.

With regard also to the expenses of institutions for education or public worship, we are happy that as to the former our author is liberal, and as to the latter opposed to religious establishments. He points out in the mildest, yet most satisfactory manner, the hardships of nonconformity. The Dissenter is required to contribute towards church-rates, for instance, though the duty of govern

ment is to protect the interests of all its subjects alike, and not • to suffer one part to be oppressed by the domination of another. • He is compelled to maintain a church, the doctrines and disci

pline of which he disallows; a church whose ministers publicly • inveigh against his opinions and practices; while many of them • impugn his motives, and hold up his conduct as deserving repro

[ocr errors]

*bation or contempt. It is hard for a man to be made to pay for

preaching against doctrines which in his conscience he believes s to be true, and which he thinks it meritorious to disseminate.' He shows how the most pious and charitable institutions become changed in their nature when made compulsory, and that the hand of power profanes instead of strengthening real religion.

With regard to Poor-laws in general, without being prepared to go the length that there ought to be pone at all, Mr. Eisdell is nevertheless convinced that their tendency is decidedly detrimental. The rights of property, he admits, are in every instance limited by the right which extreme necessity confers. A drowning man, for instance, has a right to seize the first boat or plank he can lay his hand upon; and, by analogy, he argues, that a pauper ready to perish through cold or hunger, possesses a sort of right to the first relief that happens to fall within his reach. Philanthropy, perhaps, would sooner let such assertions pass, without testing them, than run the risk of getting cold-hearted in the Arctic regions of logic, or mere abstract principles. One thing can hardly fail to strike every philosophic mind, and that is, the growing artificiality of every portion and department in the social framework of our country. Property in all its phases is not more affected by the existence around and upon it of vast masses of pauperism, than it is by being doomed to groan under a national debt of eight hundred millions sterling. Whether our forefathers were honest, or otherwise, in bequeathing us this millstone, there it nevertheless hangs, and must be dealt with equitably. The interest which we have to pay on it is about £28,000,000, in round numbers ; which need, however, alarm no one, when we remember, that Ricardo has estimated the whole national revenues of the three kingdoms at three hundred millions per annum. Even with the expenses of the Bank of England, it is not a tithe of the community's income; and yet, such are the positive evils resulting from it, that it has been the experimentum crucis, with certain statesmen, to attempt, or at least contemplate, its extinction in an honourable manner. Carrying out the plan of a tax on capital, to which we have already ventured to allude, so soon as the public mind shall have learned to endure it, something might be done towards the desired object. If the impost were raised, for instance, from three shillings and four pence to one pound per cent upon the understanding that it should last no longer than five years, £36,000,000 per annum would be annually levied during that period. Such a surplus of revenue would send up the three per cent funds, amounting collectively to about £480,000,000, to the price they bore a century ago, very much above par. By applying the proposed property tax to paying off these, the Consols and Reduced, at the end of the term, would present a remaining burden of only £300,000,000; and, meanwhile, a simultaneous process should be going forward, which the high price of the funds would fairly sustain, of transmuting the entire mass of the three per cents into £100,000,000 of a new seven per cent stock ; that stock being declared permanent by parliament for fourteen or even twenty-one years, and paying its dividends quarterly. The result would be, besides the simplification of our funded system, an annual relief to the extent of the difference between the £14,000,000, which the three per cents now pay annually, and the £7,000,000 a-year, which would be the dividends on the new seven per cent stock. This would be purchased, indeed, by the pressure of the intervening process, necessary to clear away a part of the public obligation, and enable government all along to offer its creditors an option of receiving their claims in money to the full amount, if they chose to take them so. But we feel persuaded, that they would have no interest in doing this, from the lowering interest of capital, and the prices of stock in the market; as proved to be the case when the Navy Fives were converted into Fours, with a small bonus attached to the bargain; or when the Fours were changed subsequently into Three and Halfs, without any bonus whatsoever. With regard to the other funds, we would change them, by large annual instalments upon equally fair terms, into terminable annuities, as proposed, we believe, by Sir Henry Parnell. Our author has not offered a more correct averment in his two volumes, than when he declares that, • to lessen the debt would do no less good to the poor, than can be expected from the most successful institutions, which bene6 volent men have ever established in their favour.' A continuance of peace must of course be considered essential to any plan which involves extensive monetary changes.

In conclusion, we have sincere pleasure in recommending the labours of Mr. Eisdell to the good graces of our readers. They form a solid publication, full of important contents, such as will be despised by none save the idle and superficial. He would have rendered his work more generally attractive, we think, had his style undergone some compression, and more useful, also, had his summaries been rather more frequent than they are, throughout from a thousand to eleven hundred closely printed pages. An index would be a vast improvement to a new edition, which we trust awaits the Industry of Nations.' Never was there a treatise published, we should say, so free from disagreeable dogmatism ; although political economy presents many points which might well provoke a devotee to the science to assume the airs of an augur, and settle hotly contested differences of opinion, by flights through the heavens of imagination. The author has favoured us with the fruits of great diligence, extensive study, well-digested arguments, and various practical conclusions, not the less valuable in being as free from pedantry as they are from all bitterness either of spirit or partisanship.

« 前へ次へ »