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“ I am full of fun and gig,” &c. ? And who is not coirvinced that Mr. Potter is by no means in his natural element while he attempts to paint the characters of the higher ranks in life? The love-letters of Miss Julia Lexicon and Mr. Percival, are farther proofs of the author's ignorance of fashionable manners. She too is a Baronet's daughter, and the gentleman is brother to Selima. It is meant that the reader ihould not consider either of them as near so full of fun and gig as the vivacious Selima, and yet the lady, in answer to the geneleman's ford love epiftle, writes, * Well, it's' a frange business, and I am at a loss to guess what it is that makes people so fond of matrimony. I suppose you know.”

-O, " and I'll not be kissed but when I like it." The sentimental lover answers, “ If you cannot guess what makes people fo fond of matrimony, I am sure I am not able to tell you; but I apprehend we shall not reinain long in igno

And in another place, he says, “ We will, therefore, become pupils to the universal tutoress of mankind." This is pretty well for two sober lovers, but the vivacious Selima speaks witli more fire, (we give it too gentle a name) of the connubial rites. When Hymen, with his Saffron robe and taper, clear lights the nuptial torch, joins hands, andand" mercy on us ! what a rampant-young lady! She says, in another place, “We'll intrigue till twelve.”. But as the poor girl has had no language-master butMr.Potter, who does not always employ the proper 'terins, we dare say The meant only a little flirtation.

But enough, and indeed too much of “ The Favourites of Felicity.”

rance.”

ART. X. The History of the Public Revenue of the British Empire,

By John Sinclair, Esq. London. Cadell. 4to 108. 6d. in boards.

1785. THE history of our public revenue, is connected with

that of the general state of the country, at different periods, with respect to all that is interesting in the viciffitudes of its inhabitants, it's laws, customs, manners, literature, religion, and even language. It opens a variety of views which afford an elegant and most agreeable entertainment to the antiquarian, the lawyer, and to every person who takes an interest in tlie fortune and in the nature of his fel low-men and fellow citizens, and delights in the acquisition of general knowledge. But to the statesman and legislator, and to all who either directly or indirectly possess the means. and the inclination of influencing the public councils, it affords not only amusement but useful instruction. The various resources that have furnished money to government, H 24

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in the different reigns of different races of Princes are pointed out; the taxes that the people have born with patience and those againft which they have revolted; various hints for modes of taxation are suggested; and modes obsolete or abolithed are revived in the imagination; and, may be approved by the underitanding and adopted by a wife minifter. For example. Poll taxes, as Mr. Sinclair observes, “ by which a man is compelled to pay for his personal existence, have always been accounted peculiarly hateful and oppressive.' It is well known, that an attempt to levy such a tax in the reign of Richard II. occafioned an insurrection under the command of Tyler, Straw, and others, which had nearly ended in a revolution. On the subject of hearth-money Mr. Sinclair las the following observations.

• The species of house tax, called hearthmoney, is among the most ancient in the kingdom. It is even mentioned in Doomsdey Book, under the name of Fumage, or Fuage, and consequently must have existed before the conquett. By Stat. 13 and 14 Car. II. ch. 10. an hereditary revenue of two shillings for every hearth, in all houses paying to church and poor, was granted to the crown for ever. But as the duty could not be regularly collected, unless the revenue officers were empowered to view the inlide of every house, it was thought contrary to the principles on which the English government is founded; and upon that ground, by : W. & M. feff: i ch. 10. it was utterly taken away, in order (it is said in the preamble of the bill) “ to erect a lasting monuinent of their Ma

jefties goodness, in every house in the kingdom."

. But however neceffary it might be, in consequence of the politics of the times, to enact so popular a law, yet the real justice and propriety of such an alteration may now be questioned. The tax might furely be levied without much hardship to the poor, or any great encroachment upon the nice feelings of the wealthy: and as the tax upon coals, carried by water, is a great discouragement to the manufactures and agriculture of the country, checks the in. crease of our naval strength, and 23 in every respect abfurd and unequal, it is hoped that the time will come when so impolitic's duty will be abrogated, and the more equal and falutary tax of hearth-money established in its room.

• Before this part of the subject is concluded, it may be proper to remark, that for some years posterior to the conquest, there exilted in England, a particular kind of hearth-money, cailed moneygen or mintage money, originally levied in Normandy, and thence im ported into this island. It was a tax of a shilling for each hearth, payable every three years, by way of bounty or recompence to the king, not to alter or debase the coin, which he was entitled to do by his prerogative. This branch of the revenue was abolished by the charter of Henry I. and it was so particularly obnoxious to the English nation, on account of its Normanic original,' and its repugnance to the laws of the Confessor, that none of that monarch's fucceffors attempted to revive it.'

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The defign and plan of this work are held forth to the public by the author himself in his introdu&ion,

* The power of a State must greatly depend on the income it poffeffes. If it enjoys a confiderable and unencumbered revenue, it can employ a greater proportion of its subjects to carry on war, or may cultivate to greater advantage, the arts of peace, when unembarrassed with hoftilities : Whereas, with a small income, it can neither reward the services, nor encourage the exertions of its peo: ple; and it must principally trust both for its improvement and pro: tection, to the natural activity of mankind, or to the voluntary and difinterested zeal of public-spirited individuals.

• But however numerous the advantages of a great revenue, they are dearly purchafed if they cannot be procured without oppreffion, A certain share of his annual income no individual can refuse to contribute for the general purposes of the State. Sometimes-aļfo a slight additional burden may prove an incentive to labour, and a fpur to greater diligence and activity. But if 'the load becomes too heavy, either in consequence of the greatness of the annount, or the impolitic mode of laying it on, the induítry of a nation diminishes, its wealth quickly disappcars, the number of its people de. creases, and the greater the occasion it has for resources, the fewer it will actually enjoy,

· Unfortunately, the fystem of finance so prevalent in Modern Europe, has an unavoidable tendency to public oppretlion: wars are perpetually arising, and the conteit generally is, who can firit drain the Exchequer, and destroy the credit of the enemy. It is foon discovered, that war is not a favourable season for imposing heavy taxes on the property of the people, and that the best means of commanding the neceffary supplies is, to borrow from those who have confidence in the faith of the nation and the security it can afford; and consequently, who are willing to leave their capitals un, claimed, provided they are regularly paid a certain annual interest, To pay that intereft, new taxes muit be devised: and as little care is taken by ignorant, by interested, or by timid minifters, to leffen the incumbrances of war during the short intervals of peace, the burden perpetually increases ; and the unhappy subject finds himself obliged, not oply to assist in defraying the charges necessary for supporting the government under which he lives, but is also compelled to contribute to the payment of expençes incurred for expeditions which took place a century ago, and for wars, com, menced, perhaps, contrary to the interest of the nation; conducted with profusion and weakness, and, of course, terminated with disa grace.

In no country has the fyftem I allude to been carried to fuch an excess as in Great Britain. From the year 1684 to the present time, it has been under the necessity of increasing its revenue from about two, to at least fifteen millions per annum. Fortunately the State can still bear that burden, heavy as it is : but as any confi. derable addition to it would probably be found unsupportable, and, at any rate, as such a system must sooner or later end in total bankruptcy, or the most grievous oppreffion, it is full time for the na, tion at large to consider what plan is the most likely to reļieve us and pur posterity from the danger either of infamy or distress.

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To afliit the public in so important a discussion, the following: work has been composed.

:* In attempting to give an historical account of the finances of this country, the subject naturally divides itself into two branches : the first will relate to our public revenue prior to the revolution 1688: the second, to our system of finance since that period. During the first æra, the expences of the State were principally.' de. frayed by the ordinary revenue of the crown. It feldom happened that any extraordinary tax was laid upon the people; and even then, it was only a temporary grant to the monarch upon the throne. The period fince the revolution is distinguished by principles of a very different nature. The State has assumed the apa pearance of a great corporation : it extends its views beyond the immediate events, and pressing exigencies of the momentit forms {ystems of remote, as avell as of immediate profits-it borrows money co cultivate, to defend, or to acquire diftant poffeffions, in hopes that it will be amply repaid by the advantages they may be brought to yield. At one time it protects a nation whose trade it considers as beneficial: at another, it engages in war, left the commerce of a neighbour and a rival should be too great: in short, it proposes, to itlelf a plan of perpetual accumulation and aggrandizeinent, which, according as it is well or ill conducted, muft either end in the poffeffion of an extensive and powerful empire, or in total ruin."

In the profecution of the first part of his work, which relates to our public revenue prior to the Revolution, our author inquires into the modes made use of for raising a public revenue by the ancient Britons. These were no other than the domain or personal estate of the monarch, fome advantages arising from the exercise of certain prerogatives, presents, and subsidies from foreign nations, and voluntary contributions from his fubjects.

Such, joined to personal services in war, were the flender fources on which alone the ancient inhabitants of this country depended, in order to protect themselves and their poffeffions from the ambition, the military force, and the opulence of Rome. Yet poor as the Britons were, and feldom united with each other, they were not subdued without making a gallant and obftinate resistance. If the conquest was so difficult in their state of poverty and disunion, it is scarcely to be doubted that they would have been able to have repelled their invaders, had they been the subjects of one monarch poffeffed of valour and ability in war, and enjoying an income fufficient to have enabled him to reward the zeal and exertions of his subjects. But, in the words of Tacitus, rarely united their forces against the common enemy: and by this

means, while each community fought feparately, they were all * succeffively subdued."

• The taxes paid by Great Britain, as well as by the other provinces of the einpire under the Roman government, were partly levied in kind, and partly in money: that those who paid taxes in

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kind,

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kind, were obliged to furnith about a tenth part of the produce of their lands, and to carry the quantity they were rated at, to any distance however great, according to the fuppoled neceflities of the State, or to the caprice of those who were in power : that fo heavy a duty was laid upon cattle (in which Britain particularly abounded), that, joined to other grievances, it was the occasion of a very dangerous revolt, which was not extinguished but with the greatest difficulty: that heavy customs were paid upon goods both imported and exported: that the proprietors of mines were obliged to pay a certain share of their profits, for the benefit of the State : that a duty was laid upon commodities fold by auction, or in the public market, above a certain value : that capitation taxes were rigorously executed; to which might be added“ a variety of other impofts on legacies, flaves, houses, pillars, hearths, air, artists, animals, and other articles too tedious to mention : " Nay, such, it was said; " is the exquisite tyranny, and insatiable avarice of the Romans, " that they extort taxes even from the dead;" alluding to a duty upon the body of the deceased, before it was suffered to be buried?

The government of the Saxons which fucceeded that of the Romans, and was terminated by the invasion of William of Normandy, comprised a period of about fix hundred and twenty years. Little or no advantage, our author observes, could arise from a review of the reigns, or an account of the revenues of the innumerable multitude of monarchs, who, in a greater or lesser degree, wielded the sceptre of England during the æra aboyementioned. He therefore gives a general sketch of the resources from which their income arose, without entering into minute details. The Anglo Saxon monarchs possessed great demesnes. They shared in the fines imposed on those persons who disturbed the quiet and good order of their government. The duties of beregeld, kurg-bote, and brig-bote, or, taxes for the purpose of repelling the enemy, of constructing fortresses for the public defence, and repairing of bridges were occasionally levied by the Saxon monarchis. There was another tax heavier by far, and more productive than these, which was Dane-geld, and was.. imposed for the purpose of bribing the Danes to defift from their depredations. It is computed that this tax, raised 12,130 Saxon pounds; a fum equal in point of real value to 360, cool. of our modern money. And consequently, says Mr. Sinclair, the tax laid on by Canute, anno. 1018, amounting to 83,000 Saxon pounds, was equal to a modern land-tax of two millions and an half. Mr. Sinclair, it is remarkable, enters not into speculation concerning the trade, manufactures, exports, or other means that could be fuppofed by Canute to enable the people to raise fuch a revenue, or a revenue bearing any proportion to it. Our author proceeds to take a general view of the ancient revenue of the Crown of England. The principal sources

of

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