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VII. That taxes will inrich the nation, and disperse in it as much treasure, when there is no foreign trade, as when it is open.
To begin then with the first head, who it is that pay most of the taxes: they are the worst members in the commonwealth, viz. the extravagant and debauched. The greatest duties are, or should be, laid upon commodities for pleasure and sumptuousness, as silks,gold and silver lace, &c. Now these are wore in the greatest excess, by the extravagant of the kingdom, both men and women. A debauchee shall spend more out of an estate of a thousand pounds a year, than a regular man will from the annual income of five times that proportion; and a miss lay out more on cloaths, than a countess. So in the excess to indulge the belly, as well as providing for the back. The vast consumption of wines and strong liquors is by this sort of men; nay, the poorest debauch, that can rise no higher than to beer and tobacco, pays ten times as much in the year, in proportion to his income, as the greatest peer. It will hardly gain belief, that there are many of the meaner people, labourers and mechanicks, that by their expence, when they are, as too many be, extravagant, pay to the publick taxes, above one tenth of their daily profit: As, supposing that a labouring man may earn sixteen pounds a year, he will expend, though not very extraordinarily profuse, one half of it in drink and tobacco, upon which, the duty of customs and excise is, at least, two pounds of the eight, which he lays out in idleexpences. Now, it would be vehemently decried and exclaimed against, as the greatest oppression upon the poor imaginable, if by a poll or landtax, this man, that virtually pays forty shillings, should actually, and above-board, pay so many pence in the year.
Thus we see, that most of the duties and impositions on the kingdom light upon such as do least good with their substance ; and since they imprudently fling it away upon their extravagancies, it is certainly a benefit to the kingdom, that there are taxes, to catch something out of it, for the improvement of better disposed men; as we shall see in the next paragraph.
The second particular is, what use is made of these taxes; and how they circulate in the kingdom. In order to which, there are but two ways, in which they are employed; one is for the king's court, the other for provisions of war, in the maintenance of naval and land forces. Now, both these are as well the employment of trade and artisans, as they resolve into the security of the kingdom, and the preservation of the publick peace. There is no money which circulates so fast, as that which comes into the hands of seamen and soldiers. Other men, that get money, frequently lay it up, and so it becomes of no use or benefit in the kingdom: but men, that live by their pay, generally spend it faster than it comes in, by which means the money of the kingdom, like the blood in the veins, has its regular, circular motion, and every member of the body is warmed and refreshed by it, which gives life and motion in the whole. And this, I presume, this second instance of the use of taxes proves, that they are of advantage and profit to the kingdom.
Thirdly, How trade is improved by taxes. Upon this head, there is much to be said; and, first, it will be requisite to say something of the nature of trade, how it affects the kingdom; for that trade may in some cases prejudice a nation, and make it poor; as the trade of Spain does that kingdom. Trade may also effeminate and debauch a country, as it does Italy.
Now, it is certain, that we are not free from both these publick mischiefs and inconveniences in England; though our fortune is such, that being islanders, and masters of one commodity, which no king, dom has in that perfection as ourselves, which is wool, that hath put our people upon manufactories, which is the treasure of this nation, and keeps our exports to a balance with our imports; otherwise, this kingdom would have been as poor as Spain, and as effeminate as Italy; but the employment of our milder sort in manufactories at home, and the more robust, at sea abroad, keeps us a people in action, and so preserved from the luxury and effeminateness of Italy, and the poverty of Spain. I need not spend time to prove how far we are tainted with the mischiefs before-mentioned. Our trade with France, in all ages past, sufficiently proves, that a kingdom may be made poor by trade; as we should have been by the vast treasure, their linnens, wine, silks, toys, and salt, drew from this kingdom, if our other commerce in the world, had not balanced our loss there.
Nor are we free from the effeminateness of Italy, which I take to be the returns of our gentry's travels; a mischief to be lamented, rather than expected a reformation of, since we are arrived to that height of vanity, as to think that man not accomplished, who is not become master of the delicacies of Italy, and extravagant modes of France.
But to return to my province, how trade is improved by taxes. For the proof of which assertion, it seems plain, that some trade may impair a kingdom, and such taxes and impositions may abate, by imposing such duties as they cannot bear. So far then it will be allowed, that they improve trade, as we commonly say, saving is gain: So, if we keep out a destructive trade by duties, we may allow that an improvement of our own.
But to come nearer to the matter: taxes improve trade, by em. ploying numbers of idle men in naval and land-service, that would otherwise be of no use, but, on the contrary, a pest and charge to the commonwealth. We seldom see any inlisted into the army, that are men of industry, or labour; such persons are the wens and ex. crescencies of the commonwealth, that deform, but not strengthen the body; and these being paid by the taxes of another sort of creatures, as, before I mentioned, are of no use in the state, but to throw abroad the treasure left them by their fathers, is virtually an improvement of trade; for that all, like the rivers in the sea, terminate in the hands of industry and trades. And, perhaps, if duly considered, more men, and with more certain profit, make voyages within this island upon this fund, than there do to most of our foreign trades. And in this place I must touch again upon the nature of trade, to shew that private hands may raise their fortunes by a trade, that may yetbe a loss to a kingdom, as in that of France, already insisted upon, many, I was like to say, too many, have acquired great estates by. Now, all the hands, employed in that trade, were no better than robbers of the kingdom, in carrying away our treasure, as we use the Moors, giving us gold for glass beads.
There is another sort of trade, that, though it may not immediately carry away any of the stock of the kingdom, yet it does hurt in taking off hands, that might be employed to the advantage of the kingdom. Now, in both these, the trade of taxes, for so I will call it for the future, has the advantage, for that it carries nothing out of the kingdom, nor yet takes off hands that would be better employed but, on the contrary, takes away the disease of the country, idlers, and makes them at least so profitable, as to spend money, which they would not be able to do, if the publick revenue were not their stock.
Fourthly, The poor are employed by taxes, and are, by that means, taken off from being a charge to the kingdom. Many men of broken fortunes are brought into the hospital of the revenue, which may be so accounted, since it is generally filled with persons that are reduced to such necessities, as qualify them for charity.
This is one way, that taxes employ the poor, but not the main thing I mean; which is, that the trade of taxes employs the poor artisans and mechanicks, and that in a greater measure than our Virginia and plantation-trade, we, with so little reason, so much boast of, in these kingdoms.
By the observations I have always made in my traversing the world, I find, that those parts have been most opulent, and the people safest, that filled their own hives, and kept their swarms at home. That little commonwealth of Lucca to me seems a pattern for all the princes of Europe, and is as practicable in the greatest dominions, as that little spot, whose land and cities, having Lucca joined to it, are all circumscribed within the limits of six or seven miles square; yet in that compass they are able to raise about twenty-thousand horse and foot: a thing almost incredible, but known by all that have travelled that way, and were curious into such enquiries.
These people are of wonderful industry, and inrich themselves by their manufactories, which they go not abroad to seek a market for, but mind their work at home, and so become more considerable, than those that spend their time in travels; being, by their settled living, able to afford their commodities they make, cheaper than the Genoese and Florentines, their neighbours.
When I see in foreign parts, how rich and powerful a little seigniory, commonwealth, or state, is made by husbanding their people, I often lament the misfortunes of my native country, that might certainly abound with the greatest, and most formidable people in Europe, if they followed their steps. I have taken up some of your time in this discourse of trade, which may seem foreign to my subject of taxes; yet I must be obliged to do it in all my future arguments, because taxes both arise out of trade, and maintain trade.
To return then to where I left off, That the poor are employed hy them in their several occupations. How many thousands of trades men have we, that are supported by our land and sea forces, which could have no vent for their commodities, if they were not taken off at home? Saddles, bridles, swords, guns, &c. have no foreign market, yet they employ thousands of hands, who are paid by taxes.
Fifthly, There is a set of men, who, like rats in a cieling, lire upon prey, and do no good in a commonwealth, which these taxes ferret out of their holes; those impositions, I mean, which our parliament has, with great wisdom, now laid on stocks by poll; for nothing but land-taxes will reach usurers and misers, who spend nothing but for the supply of the necessities of nature. Now these men are the moths of the country, it being more mischievous to the kingdom in general to hoard up money, than for robbers to take it by force; and, though the law protects these silent thieves, yet they are real criminals, that lock up the tools of the industrious, many suffering through want, that could be profitable both to themselves and others, had they but money to set them at work. Usurers are, by too many, thought a vermin in the commonwealth; I cannot but have a better opinion of them, and think that the pest and plague of the nation is a sort of pious extortioners, who declaim against usury as unlawful gain, but will buy for half value any thing they can meet with from a person in extremity; and, next unto these, are such as adore their bags, and will, upon no terms, part with these deities; their bags are no thoroughfair, only a way in, but none out. These men are, by taxes made, against their wills, small benefactors to their country, and it were to be wished, that our great and wise council of the nation would yet pursue them farther, and lay a double imposition upon money locked up in chests, more than what is out at usury, which, being employed, is on the duty it was made for; but the other is in captivity, and the paltroon should be punished for his cruelty.
Sixthly, Taxes, especially in time of war, are the only preservation of all men employed in trades and manufactories; and, perhaps, not much inferior to foreign trade, if, in all respects, considered; for, as to what is spent in the kingdom, if it bring nothing in, yet it carries nothing out; and so far the taxes are profitable, in that the kingdom is not the poorer for money so raised, and so spent; and, in times of war, and prohibition of trade abroad, if money were not raised by taxes, and that employed amongst our mechanicks and manufactories, men would be forced to seek their bread abroad, and the loss of men is the greatest misfortune that can befall a kingdom. The practice of the Dutch, in burning their spices when they have such quantities as would lower the price, might be something in direction in this case, and seems a better government to employ all our hands in time of war, as fully in their manufactories, as ever they were in a free trade, though, when they were made, they were burnt, it being of dangerous consequence to discontinue trade. There is no adjourning labour; and mechanical arts, in a few months, will either lose the men, or they their trade by some other course of life.
Seventhly, That taxes make the kingdom rich, and, in time of War, disperse as much money in the nation, as trade does in time of peace.
Here I must touch again upon trade, and enquire what trade brings us in bullion, gold, or coin, for we have some of all, though, con* sideling the value of our native commodities, it is wonderful that we should have so little; and that of those numerous trades which our navigation intitles us to, that we should, by carrying in our ships our own manufactories, out of all those advantages add so little to the treasure of the kingdom, and bring home no bullion but by our trade to Spain, and some little from the Levant, our Guiney trade, and, for some years past, buccaniers in the West-Indies. But that, which is our best fund, is the trade of Spain and Portugal; the former is made considerable to us by our East-India commodities, which fetch from Spain more than we send out in specie, though some believe the East-India company does us hurt, by carrying out the gold of the kingdom.
Now then, if the greatest part of our trade consists in bringing in commodity for commodity, then all the benefit of that trade is, that it gives employment to our common people in their mechanick arts; and, if we can do that by our own expence at home, it is more the profit of the kingdom, than by sending them abroad; for that we avoid the hazard of the sea, and other accidents abroad. It seems then, that taxes do that, since they issue forth money for payment of our artisans and mechanicks, that are employed in making commodifies for our own use, and at the same time enough for that foreign trade, which furnishes us with bullion; and by that it appears that we are much greater gainers by the trade of taxes, than by all our foreign trade, which brings in nothing but commodity for our own expence. We see that the care of our parliament is, to prevent the importation of foreign commodities, and to encourage that commerce, which brings us in money for our own. This, then, is the surest trade, I know for that purpose, of laying such impositions as may fetch out the misers hoards, which are as remote and foreign to the employments of the kingdom, as those in the mines at the Indies; and I know no difference betwixt bringing treasure out of an iron chest by a good law, and plowing the seas, by long and dangerous voyages; only the advantage seems greater, by getting it from an enemy at home, than a friend abroad. But undoubted it is, that the kingdom is as much increased in its common stock, as is brought out from the moneyed men. It would exceed the limits of a letter to evince, what I am morally sure of, that the poll and landtaxes, passed this last session, have actually brought into the bank of trade, more ready money than came into the kingdom, during the late king's unhappy reign; and it is a vulgar error, to believe that taxes, even to the meanest man, is a charge, for that his mite is, with increase, returned by the expence of that, which would never have seen day, but by the force of a law; so that publick taxes, expended in our own country, may be accounted the poor and the mechanick's bank, by which they are employed and maintained; and, as the