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the people here, as foreigners, had speedy justice in the admiralty, by one common rule, well known to them all,more ships were builded, freighted, set out to sea, more voyages and returns made, commerce flourished, the wealth of the kingdom increased, and his late majesty's customs and revenues were advanced.
But forasmuch as there have been of late obstructions arisen by the grant of prohibitions, in causes of charter-parties, repairing and building of ships, mariners wages, and other the causes and cases so settled as aforesaid, by his late majesty and the board, with the consent and agreement of all the then judges; your petitioners do sensibly perceive, that unless, by the piety and wisdom of your majesty, your majesty's court of admiralty be established in its jurisdiction, that it may minister due justice, in all these and other cases of admi. ralty, without being prohibited, or obstructed, the building of ships will be discouraged, the material-men will not trust npon the credit of the ship, fewer voyages to sea and returns from thence will be made, trade and a right understanding abroad, especially since all such causes and matters are abroad referred to the admiralty, will decrease, and your majesty's customs be lessened,and ship-masters, and seamen, as well as merchants be damaged, and much more inconveniences ensue also.
The petitioners, who do heartily, upon their bended knees, bless God for your majesty's most happy and glorious restoration to your crowns and kingdoms, and do humbly and devotedly pray, that the same may flourish, and that your majesty may enjoy a long, peace. able, and prosperous reign, do humbly submit it to your majesty's most wise and prudent consideration, whether your majesty, in a mat. ter of this universal concernment, will not be pleased, upon the pe. rusal of the said order annexed, to tread in your majesty's most royal father's steps, and to call your majesty's judges, or such others as your majesty shall hold requisite to be present, at your majesty's council-board, and cause the said former order to be renewed and confirmed, and to be inviolably observed, that your majesty will in your own great wisdom do therein, for the good of your kingdoms, commerce, shipping, and navigation, as to your majesty shall seem requisite. And your petitioners shall ever pray. William Wilde, Tho. Gates,
James Modyford, Joshua Waters,
Robert Lant, William Clarke,
Gregory Wescomb, Robert Wood,
James St. Hill,
TAXES NO CHARGE: IN A LETTER FROM A GENTLEMAN TO A
HATURE, USE, Ahd BENEFIT, Of TAXES iw This KINGDOM,
AND COMPARED WITH THE IMPOSITIONS GF FOREIGN STATES;
THEIR IMPROVEMENT OF TRADE IN TIME OF WAR.
Licensed, Nov. 11, 1689. London, printed for R. Chiswell, at the Rose and Crown in St. PauPs Church-yard. 1690.
Quarto, containing thirty-four pages.
The PREFACE to the READER.
I PON the receipt of the following letter, concerning the nature of taxes, and levying of money upon the subject, I immediately resolved to commit it to the press, as conceiving that it might be instrumental towards the removal of that popular argument, which the malecontents of the age are so industrious to instil into the minds of the common sort, viz. That frequent taxes are an insupportable grievance and oppression to the nation; and this by so much they the more successfully propagate, by how much it is a received opinion
among the populace, and such as, either for want of parts, or not accustomed to serious reflexions, have not thoroughly considered this affair: Whence it comes to pass, that this vulgar error has obtained so general a consent and approbation, that it needs not to be much inculcated. This the disaffected party to the present government are sufficiently sensible of, and therefore are not unactive in the establishment of an untruth, which has the advantage of making a deep impression upon such, whose biassed and prejudicate sentiments render them fit objects of their design. Set! dato, Sf non concesso, but supposing, and not granting, that taxes were really a burden to the nation, yet, if it be true, that e malis minimum, of two evils the least is to be chosen, it will thence follow, that it is better for the kingdom to have purchased its redemption from popery and arbitrary power, though at the price of some part of the estates and fortunes of the subject, rather than to have lost all at one throw by a tyrannical invasion upon their religion, laws, and liberties. I presume, that even some of those busy agents, who sow these seeds of discord and division among us, would have been content to have bought their safety almost at any rate, whilst the storm was imminent; and, now that it is happily blown over, and nothing appears at present, but a serene sky and fair weather, why should they either endeavour a reduction both of themselves and others to their former danger (to which their turbulent devices do immediately tend) or strive to create un. reasonable dissatisfactions against so just an expedient, as each one's discharging a few pence for an insurance of the publick peace, and quiet settlement of the nation?
It is, surely, very unaccountable, that those men, who discovered so great an alacrity and forwardness in opposing of popish tyranny and arbitrary power, should now endeavour to inslave us under the same uneasy yoke, but with this additional aggravation to our former servitude, that, whereas we were then allowed some, we must now make brick without straw. This seems so wild a notion of obedience (the result of the passive doctrine) and that the chief wheel in that unaccountable engine of absolute sovereignty, as is destructive of all government, inasmuch as it is utterly irreconcileable with the preservation and common interest of human society. But these murmuring, seditious spirits, after shamefully retracting from their early officiousness, in their encouragement of the late expedition of the then Prince of Orange, are not content with a complete enjoyment of their properties, under the even steerage of this great and skilful pilot, who so justly manages the helm of the present government, as not to invade the rights of any man; nor yet to retain their particular sentiments within their own breasts, but they must needs vent and divulge them to others, by which they become the publick incendiaries of the nation. But, as I cannot enough admire both the folly and ingratitude of these men, who strive to disseminate so poisonous a contagion; so have I not room left for wonder and surprise, toobserve divers innocent, well-meaning persons so unwarily catchod and infected bjr It, when, not many months ago, their lives, religion, liberties, all Vol. ix. I i
that was dear or acceptable unto them, lay apparently at stake: For, which, I pray, do they account the more advantageous? Whether their properties to be infringed, their religion violated, their laws subverted, their estates confiscated, and they, with their wives, children, and relations, to be exposed to the fiery trial? Or to be seasonably freed from these amazing terrors, ready to overwhelm them in a full career, when they received a signal and miraculous, as well as a gracious deliverance, and that as much above their hopes, as it has since appeared to be beyond their desert?
What would not every honest man, or good Christian, have given, at that time, to have had that security under his own vine, and under his own fig-tree, the liberty of his religion, the full enjoyment of his property, and an equal and just administration of the laws, which he enjoys under the benign influence and protection of the present government? And then, with what face can he deny to contribute his respective share and proportion, not only to the assuring of his own particular right, but also that of the general interest, together with what is infinitely preferable to either, the Protestant religion in the three kingdoms i
All this, and much more, which might be offered, and insisted upon (were not prolixity improper in a preface, especially to so small a discourse, as is that of the following letter) seems exceeding reasonable upon the former hypothesis, if taxes were really a burden and oppression to the nation; which the following sheets do abundantly evince that they are not, by shewing, that they are so far from being a diminution of, that they really add to the trade and riches of a state.
This the author has fully proved, from the opulent condition of those countries where taxes are most numerous; and, after several copious parallel instances, derived from foreign monarchies and republicks, shewing their great advancement by taxes and frequent levies upon the subject, he undertakes to demonstrate the practicableness, as well as equal advantage of the same to these kingdoms. This I thought to be of such seasonable and publick importance, in reference to the present state of affairs, as well in order to the rectifying the aforementioned general prejudice and mistake, as to the silencing of all intemperate and unreasonable murmurers against the proceedings of the grand council of the nation, in the methods taken for a supply of the naval and land-forces, that I thought fit to usher it into publick view, as considering that, if these men, who most inveigh against taxes, could be brought to believe, that they naturally tend to the advantage and interest of the state, and do really conduce to the inriching and improvement of it, they must needs cease from their seditious clamours against, and satyrical reflexions upon the government, in this respect: And that this would not be the sole advantage which would accrue from the clearing up of this mistake, but that all honest and good men will join more cordially than ever in their unanimous and chearful contributions to its support, when they are made sensible, that not only the common duty of subjects (that indispensable obligation of a perpetual gratitude, which they owe to their deliverer) and the natural instinct of self-preservation ought to quicken and excite them thereunto; but, besides all this, that they are really gainers by this course, and, consequently, what they expend upon that account does, after a due circulation, return to them with a considerable improvement and augmentation.
Worthy Sir, Pursuant to my promise, at our late conference, I here present you with a short Essay, concerning Taxes, which I submit to your private censure, and shall not limit you from sending it to the press, if, in your opinion, it may prove serviceable to the publick.
That tribute, or, as we now call it, customs, taxes, &x. were originally a mark of servitude, is evidenced by the interrogatory of an infallible author, ' Of whom do the princes of the earth take tribute?'
But, as government became more humane, the savage exaction upon strangers, was less rigid; and the Romans, who were then masters of civil government in the world, found it conducing to the establishment of that overgrown, and prodigious empire, to make every part of their conquest easy to the people, and that, in point of taxes, they should be universally equal, which seems to be confirmed by that of Augustus, when he ordered all the world to be taxed; wherein we find no exemption of a Roman above others. They were, indeed, invested in divers other privileges, but, in the matter of taxes, we find the wisdom of that empire to make no distinction from any that were under their conquest and government.
In imitation of whose equal and prudent conduct, all succeeding governments have been guided in tempering of their conquests, and not, as in the first ages, making both persons and estates the purchase of victory. By this means, civilities, laws, and Christianity have been propagated in the world with that advantageous success, to which they could never have attained, if conquest had been pursued, and employed as in former ages, in all the inhuman acts of slavery, violence, and rapine.
The Romans were the first we read of, that regularly paid their armies; before them, the Barbarians might sometimes divide the spoil of their enemies, and other savage ways they had, to satisfy their herds of men, but no exact payments were in use, until the Romans; and, for the maintenance and encouragement of so good a government, they imposed taxes, that so, in intervals of peacel their armies might not be exposed to the necessity of committing the like ravage, they did in times of war, and publick hostility.
They soon became artists in taxing the people, inventing ways to bring in money. That of Augustus Caesar, in taxing the whole empire, seemed to be in the manner of a poll with us. There was also a tribute imposed upon passengers, going from place to place, and a custom levied upon goods and merchandise. They had also an art of raising money from aliens, upon the account of being admitted to the privileges of Romans; and many other ways and devices they had to advance money, which, if duly considered,