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of this revenue were, First, PROPERTY VESTED IN THE SOVEREIGN, as the feignior of all the lands in his kingdom'; comprehending, crown lands, forests, mines. Se condly, LUCRATIVE PREROGATIVES comprehending escuage or money in lieu of military services, quit rents, aids, ielief, wardship, marriage, fine of alienation, efcheat.
But these were not the only advantages attending the right of leigniorý: for, as, lord paramount of the kingdom, the sovereign claimed all bona vacantia, ou goods to the property of which no other person had any legal pretension, Upon this principle chiefly, the King of England was intitled, to all treasures of money, gold, filver, plate or bullion found hidden in the earth, to waifs or goods stolen or thrown away by the thief in his flight for fear of being apprehended, provided the party injured did not exert hiinself in the purfuit or conviétion of the offender ; to estrays, royal fish, goods wrecked, custody of idiots, goods uninherited; to prerogatives military, judicial, political, inquisitorial, commercial and ecclefiaftical.
Another source of the ancient revenue of the Crown of England, was, voluntary contributions ; a system of revenue which, though, when abused it has given birth to much difcontent, and indeed has occasioned many revolutions, yet has hardly ever been accompanied either with much disguft or with great oppreflion, when this rule has been invariably adhered to, * never to exact from any individual a sum of money, which, confiftently with his circumstances and the fituation of the public, be ought not, on every principle of justice SPONTANEOUSLY to have given.”
Another source of revenue to the crown was TAXES; including taxes in kind, personal taxes, taxes on tlie Jews, hearth-money, land-tax, taxes on personal property, subsidies, customs, and excise. To thefe sources of revenue to the crown in ancient times our author adds regal exactions.
· Such were the burdens to which the inhabitants of England were formerly subject. It is certain, that they did not exist at once; and that sometimes one mode of exaction prevailed, which, in process of time, was abandorted in favour of another. But,
, . whatever the laudatores temporis a&ti may say, it must be evident to every inpartial person, that our ancestors had great reason to be dissatisfied with their political fituation, even in the article of taxa, tion ; and perhaps the present æra, is, in that, as well as in many other refpečts, as desirable a period to live in, as auy that can be pointed out in the history of this country ; our additional weight of taxes being fully compensated, by à more extended commerce, by improvements in every branch of science and of art, and by great accelsions to our wealth, our security, and our freedom.'
Our author proceeds next more particularly to inquire in to the revenue of England under the government of the Norman line, who compleatly established the feudal fyftem; and also its revenue during the Saxon line, or houfe of Plantagenet.
It appears from our author's observations, what little progress had been made in the knowledge of finance, from the Norman invasion to the death of Stephen. During the whole period, it was understood, that the king should live upon his own domains, and the profits of the feudal prerogatives; and every species of taxation (military services only cxcepted) was the object of aversion and disgust. Þanegeld, the only regular tax that exifted at the time, though perhaps neceffary for the protection of the commerce of the nation, was considered as fo peculiarly fevere, that every monarch who attempted to levy it, was accounted a tyrant and an oppressor, and that single tax occafioned as many complaints, and as great an outcry, as the whole load of multifarious imposts, to which this country is at present subject.”
! Under the government of the Saxon line, or house of Planta. genet, no inconsiderable progress was made in the knowledge of finance. The necessity of converting military services into pecuniary aids was discovered. Taxes began to be laid upon personal as well as real property. The customs came to be accounted a con: fiderable and important branch of the revenue, and the clergy were compelled to furnish contributions for the public service; nor was the fanction of the pope any longer accounted neceffary for that purpose. New modes of taxation also were attempted ; and though Some of them were ill contrived and unproductive, yet it proves the strong anxiety of those who were entrusted with the government of the country to provide an effective revenue, adequate to the fupport of that high and distinguished rank, which England was entitled to hold among the kingdoms of Europe.'
Our author having taken a view of the revenue of England under the government of the Houses of Lancaster and York, concludes with an observation of Mr. Hume's, * That during the course of the contest between the two « Rival Houses, not an instance can be produced of any
tax being imposed without the fanction of Parliament." After surveying the different modes adopted under the government of the House of Tudor, for railing a revenue, Mr. Sinclair fays,
During this æra, fome progress was made in finance; the advantages of public credit, and of a strict adherence to public faith, were discovered by the politic and fagacious ministers of Elizabeth; and the customs, and other branches of the revenue, were rendered more productive. But this period is particularly remarkable, for. laying the true foundation of the poverty of the crown, and of the consequent power and importance of the commons. When the Emperor Charles V, was told, that Henry had fuppreffed the moHakeries, he judiciously remarked, that the King of England had
kitted the hen that laid him the golden eggs. In fact, the opulence of the church was always a sure resource for the crown to look up to. The clergy could hardly evade any burden the king thought proper to impose. When, in addition therefore to the royal domains, the property of the church was squandered, the sovereign had nothing to depend upon, but the assistance of the nation ar large, through the medium of its representatives; and Elizabeth's fucceffors found, that such assistance could not be procured, without redressing the grievances of the people, and agreeing to such farther security for their rights and privileges, as they thought proper to demand.'
During the reign of the Stuarts, subsidies and the whole train of feudal exactions, as wardship, marriage, &c. were given up, and benevolences, free gifts, and compulsive loans were for ever annihilated. And many new branches of revenue were introduced, such as excises, stamps, the postoffice, monthly affeffinents, &c.
• But this period is particularly remarkable for enabling us to form fome kind of judgement of the full extent of that heavy burden which the funding system introduced into this kingdom.
• The revenue of England, at the accellion of the house of Stuart, anno 1602, was 500,000l. a year. Eighty-fix years afterwards, when James II. was expelled, it was raised to about two millions : the annual increment consequently was near 17,4411. At the same rate of increase, the revenue, anno 1774, eighty-fix years after the revolution, should only have been 3,500,oool. and ten years afterwards, anno 1784, ought not to have exceeded 3,674,4181. or perhaps, with the addition of Scotland, rather more than four millions a year. If the present income of the State, therefore, is about fourteen millions, ten millions of that sum may be attributed to the funding systein ; and would not have ex. isted, if the extraordinary expences of tbe public had been defrayed by inoney exacted at the time, without leaving any burden upon pofterity. Indeed, four millions would be aimply sufficient, at this time, to defray the charges of the civil lift, and of our peace establishınent; if the load of taxes imposed to provide for the interest of our public debts, did not raise the price of every cominodity to such a height, as to render money much less efficient than it would otherwise be.
" But, on the whole, though our circumstances might have been better, let us not too haftily either envy the fituation, or inyeigh against the conduct of our predecessors. Lightly as we may ima, gine they were burdened, yet they complained as loudly as we do, of the intolerable weight of taxes, and of the distress and poverty which they occafioned: and though, instead of adding to their own burdens, they thought themselyes justifiable in bequeathing to their posterity a considerable part of that grievous load of public debt, under the pressure of which we now stagger, let it also be remem bered, that they delivered into our hands a well cultivated island; dependencies of great value and importance; an extenfive com, merce; Hourishing manufactures ; a superior system of agricule
ture ; a high character for ability and valour; and, joined to all these advantages a syftem of government, unequalled in the annals of mankind for the blessings which it afford..'
Our author, in what he calls his fecond part, considers the various modes of providing for the expences of a nation. He speculates on public debts in general, on the public debts of England, prior to the revolution 1688; on the rise and progress of our present national debt, and on the Keps hitherto taken to diminish the capital and reduce the interest of the national debt, giving an account of the dif. ferent plans suggested for that purpose. All these subjects with the principal questions arising out of them, our author treats with great method and perfpicuity, intermixing occafionally, with the plans and fyftems of other men, fome reflections, observations, and hints of his own. Of these hints fome are worthy of the public attention. For example. On the subject of the funds for the payment of the public debts, he fuggefts the following idea, “ That "every means should be adopted that might have a ten"'dency to encourage individuals, when they have no near 4 relations, to leave their fortune and property to the
public He starts a question, whether if the sums that have been taken from the finking fund, and applied to the difcharge of our funded incumbrances, had been expended solely in making Great-Britain one populous and cultivated field or garden; the nation could not have born the whole debt with less difficulty than it now can support the debt as it has been reduced? The objects to which he would apply part of the finking fund are, the fisheries and agriculture: of its application to agriculture, he says, "Twen
ty-four millions laid oụt in promoting the cultivation " of the foil, would have rendered every acre in the king“ dom productive of some valuable article. “well founded complaints would be heard, that the num, “ ber of the people had decreased, that the poor wanted
encouragement to industry, or the means of employ« ment."
There is another object of still more importance, perhaps to this trading nation, than even the fisheries or agriculture, that might be highly promoted by a wife application of public revenue, and that is our manufactures ; as lias been illustrated in a most ingenious manner by the author of a late publication intitled The Increase of Manufactures &c. proposed in regulations for the interest of money:
A plan that might be tried at a small risque, and whose good effects, if they Thould be produced at all, would be visible at once, and of immenfe extent. To what that author has said
concerning the national benefits of his plan, we may add, that the increase of manufactures would be the very best incitement that could be applied to industry, in fishing, and in agriculture.
In Mr. Sinclair's style, though generally not incorrect, we meet with some grammatical inaccuracies. But if we estimate the merits of Mr. Sinclair's performance by an higher ftandard than the minutiæ of grammar, we shall find that he is intitled to the merit of an industrious compiler, who arranges his matter with order, and makes his felections with judgement. The faits he records are necessarily drawn from other writers and it is also the views of other writers that form the moft valuable part of wirat we thall call the speculative part of his performance. Although he himfelf confiders his publication as the firit “* Attempt at a “i financial history on an enlarged scale," and we readily allow, that no author, tlrat we know of, treats his fube ject under the same title, yet his fubject, or rather subjects have been handled by innumerable writers, lawyers, politicians, and historians. From the works of his predecesa fors he borrows largely, and candidly acknowledges the receipt. On this literary receipt, we mean not to impose any other censure than this, that in the work before us, which is not a bad financial dictionary, as far as it goes, there is very little indeed that is original ; nor indeed did the end in view require it.
The historical and speculative digreffions in this publication, though not ftri&ly connected with the design, may yet be excused as affording an agreeable variety and relief to the Teader. But to a person conversant in literature, this en. tertainment is not a litile obstructed by the constant recollection that the retlections or general views presented to hiin are no other than what he has seen before in the writo ings of Hume, Blackstone, Campbell, Whitaker, Brady, Maddox, Lord Littleton, &c. &c.
The fpeculations in this performance, though not original, are generally plausible, and fuch as are not manifeitly fallacious. But in the second chapter of the first part of this publication, we meet with a theory which is evidently anfolid.
- It is a fingular and astonishing circumstance, that the province of Gaul alone Mould have been able, about a century ago, to Emaintain a body of meni equal to the whole military, ani natal establishments of the Roman empire ; and it is inore than probable, that the revenues of France, of Spain, ani of Great-Britain, joined together, are at this time equal in amount to the whole. income of that empire, when it was moit flourithing and inoft extended. L