Зображення сторінки


upon which she had fallen. Besides these, her neck and bosom were cruelly bruised and lacerated by the kicks which the bourrelle had given her. Whilst they were dressing her wounds, she asked if these were to be the end of her sufferings. She was told to be of good courage; that God and her judges would take her part; that during the fifteen days of vacation, upon which the Parliament of Dijon was then entering, she would have time to petition the King; and that there was little doubt that, after learning the unexampled sufferings she had undergone, his Majesty would pardon her.

Whilst this scene was passing in the house of Nicholas Jacquin, the surgeon, (who was soon able to pronounce that none of the wounds of his poor patient, though serious, were mortal,) her wretched mother was still stretched on the floor of the cell of Sister Frances du Saint Esprit, in the stupor of despair. She was roused by the voice of the venerable nun exclaiming, “ 'Tis well! 'tis well! All is over! There are the people returning joyfully from the place of execution, for the young and the innocent has not perished.”

We shall leave it to the imagination of our readers to depict the meeting between this devoted mother and her beloved daughter, thus miraculously restored to her from the bloody embraces of the most hideous death. But even the joys of this reunion were dashed with bitterness, flowing from the uncertainty which hung over the fate of Helen Gillet, she being still liable to the doom of death pronounced upon her; so that the interval-between the forwarding of her memorial for mercy

and the return of the messenger that brought the answer—was a continued agony of terror and suspense for both mother and daughter.

To the other singular coincidences which concurred to rescue poor Helen Gillet from her dreadful fate may be added the circumstance of the day of her execution having been fixed for the eve of the Catholic festival of the Rogation Days, when commenced a vacation of fifteen days for the parliaments and high courts of justice; so that, by the massacre of Simon Grandjean, the functions of the public executioner remained in abeyance during that period, as no successor to him in that odious office could be appointed until the parliament again met. In this interval a memorial in favour of Helen Gillet was drawn up

and signed by many persons of the highest rank and most exemplary piety in Dijon.

Powerfully calculated as were the peculiarities of Helen Gillet's case to awake compassion in the royal breast, considerable doubts were entertained as to its success. Louis XIII., the then reigning monarch of France, on whom his flatterers have bestowed the epithet of Just, was fonder of wielding the sword of justice than exercising that still more divine prerogative of the crown-mercy. On this occasion, however, he chose the brighter path of his duty, and in due time royal letters of full grace and pardon for Helen Gillet arrived at Dijon. These letters were solemnly received and registered by the Parliament of Dijon, and still exist in the archives of that city. It appears by these letters patent, that one of the causes why the life of Helen Gillet was spared, was to do honour, by an act of signal grace and mercy, to the marriage of the sister of the King of France with Charles I. of England.

The news of the pardon granted to poor Helen Gillet spread universal satisfaction through the city of Dijon; and on Monday, the 2nd day of June, 1625, the advocate, Charles Feyret, after a long speech in refer

ence to the occasion, presented to the Parliament of Dijon the royal letters of grace and pardon, for the purpose of being solemnly enregistered.

After so unexampled and sad an experience of the troubles and dangers of the every-day world, poor Helen thought, and wisely, that her proper place was no longer in it: she therefore resolved on devoting herself entirely to God, and for that purpose entered a convent at Bresse, took the vows and the veil, and there lived a long, long life of peace,

and prayer, and thanksgiving ; for, in 1699, when Father Bourrée, of the Oratoire, published his “ Histoire de la Mère Jeanne de Saint Joseph, Madame Courcelle de Pourlans,” (Abbess of Notre Dame du Tart, and a relation of Helen Gillet,) he mentions that the latter had departed this life but a short time before; so that she must have been at least ninety years of age.

It thus appears that Helen Gillet, who was to have been decapitated on the very day that Charles I. of England was married to the sister of the King of France, lived, nevertheless, for half a century after a more steady hand than that of Simon Grandjean, the executioner of Dijon, had stricken off the head of the ill-fated monarch in honour of whose happy marriage her life had been spared. Such are the strange events of life, and the inscrutable dispensations of Providence !




I hold it to be the wisest and safest course to repeal the house and window taxes :-First,-Because (as asserted by one of the members of the Government) they cannot be levied in the same proportion on the palaces of the nobility and on the tenements or lodgings of the and middle classes *.

SECOND,-Because they are nominally + levied on two-thirds of the


* For examples of the great disparity which exists in every county in England, and for elaborate details of these imposts, from their establishment, in the reign of William III., to the present period, I may refer to the “ Taxation of the British Empire."

* Nominally, because there are a great number of houses in Great Britain exempt from the tax, the tenants of which have as little right to relief from these imposts, in preference to their brethren, as have the people of Ireland. In 1830, the number of houses assessed to the house-tax in Great Britain was 420,579. The number of farmhouses exempt from the tax, in the same year, was 144,640, that is, one-third of the whole. There were other exemptions in houses, as well as in windows, independent of the recent exemption in favour of shop-windows. All these exemptions are as unjust as they are impolitic; no class has a right to shift a burden from its own shoulders on its neighbours. The number of houses in Great Britain is about 2,500,000, and in Ireland, 287,749 : thus, out of 3,887,000 houses, only 420,000 are taxed !

population of the United Kingdom, 8,000,000 (in Ireland) out of 24,000,000 mouths being exempt froin the operation of these taxes.

Third,-Because they are taxes on industryon lighton air,preventing an extensive outlay of capital in modern improvements, in unison with the spirit of the age,-cooping up the people in narrow streets and ill-ventilated tenements, whereby their health and morals are materially injured ; as lodgers, their feelings of independence considerably lessened; and, by their dense and immoral congregation *, making the over-populated towns diseased and unsightly wens on the surface of the body politic.

Fourth,—Because houses are already doubly and trebly taxed, independent of the obnoxious assessment complained of,---namely, the land on which they are built; then the materials of which they are composed, -viz., bricks, timber, glass, paints, &c., as also the raw labour necessary to the manufacture of the same; and subsequently by taxes on their insurance, on leases, mortgages, rent receipts, licenses for carrying on certain branches of business or trade, &c.

Fifth, and Finally, Because the people consider the house and window taxes as war † taxes, from which they were to be relieved on the termination of two years' peace, and it is dangerous for a government to let the public think faith is broken with them, as it would cost few moral scruples to extend the application of the principle to the summary liquidation of the National Debt, as regards both capital and interest.

There is one more argument (not less cogent, though perhaps not so logical, as any of the foregoing) for the abolition of the house and window taxes, and that is, the progressive inability of the middle and poorer classes to pay them, while they are bowed down to the earth by indirect taxes on almost every necessary and comfort of life, as well as on nearly every article of internal trade or of maritime commerce.

Such being some of the leading arguments for the repeal of imposts, the vexatiousness and inquisitorialness of which is strongly felt by many of the well-disposed part of the community, who have hitherto taken no part in opposing their levy, it becomes us now to inquire what are the stated objections to comply with the petitions of a large part of the people.

* What a blessing to London the abolition of such rookeries as St. Giles's, Gray's Inn-lane, &c. would be! The repeal of the house and window taxes would be almost immediately followed by the annihilation of such dens of infamy.

+ Taxes on houses and windows were first levied by the ninth Money Act of William III., Parl. i., sess. 2, at the rate of 2s. per annum on every inhabited house, except cottages; and on every such house having ten windows, or more, and under twenty, 6s. per annum ; and on every house having twenty windows, or more, 10s. per annum. An additional duty on houses was granted by the third Money Act of Anne, Parl. iii., sess. 2, being an additional 10s. on every inhabited house having twenty windows, or more, and an additional 20s. on any house having thirty windows, or more. These additionals were granted but for thirty-two years from Michaelmas, 1710 ; but when the thirty-two years had expired, the promise to repeal them was forgotten. England and Wales.

Scotland. Great Britain. Years. Window-Tax. House-Tax. Window. Tax. House-Tax.

Total. 1792 £ 927,630 103,412 £ 31,963 6,702 £1,129,707 1822 2,427,900 . . 1,180,250 150,679 84,504 .


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

FIRST.-The Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot afford to lose 2,000,0001., which the house and window taxes in England and Scotland may now be estimated at.

REPLY. If economy has been carried to the utmost safe and practicable limit, then several other means present themselves, (vide “ Taxation of the British Empire,”)-by which 2,000,0001. may readily be raised without pressing on the industry of the country, or irritating the feelings of the people. *

SECOND.-It is alleged in palliation of these taxes that they do not affect the tenant, but fall upon the landlord-(houselord or capitalist.)

REPLY.—This assertion brings us to a consideration of the incidence of the tax, or by whom it is in reality paid.

If a person be desirous of renting a house, his first question to the owner is, What rent do you demand ?—the answer is 100l.; the intending tenant then immediately inquires," How much are the Government taxes ?—answer, 251. Should the tenant agree to take the house for a year, or for a term of years, at the rent of 1001. per annum, he certainly does not consider the 251. taxes paid by him to the Government to be any part of the landlord's profit; he does not pay them to the landlord,-he struggles as much as possible to get rid of, or to diminish, those taxes (the landlord never troubles himself on the subject); and if they be repealed, the 251. remains in his own pocket, the landlord clearly having no right to a farthing of them. Did these imposts fall on the landlord, he would have no need to separate the amount of them from his rent,- he would be the chief party interested in the repeal, and he would not allow the tenant to benefit by a remission. This point will be rendered more clear by the fact that if a tenant have omitted to pay these taxes, and privily withdraw all his chattels, the Government cannot seize on the empty house, (which is alone the property of the landlord,) in order to meet the defalcation. But in order to set this point in a yet clearer light, no person when purchasing a pound of tea at 6s., whereof 2s. 6d. is a tax, supposes that the incidence is on the grocer, and not on the purchaser and consumer of the tea; a house is like any other commodity offered for sale; its fixedness makes no difference ; for å moveable wooden dwelling on wheels or rollers--provided it be assessed at a certain value, and have a certain number of windows-is as liable to the tax as if it were built of brick or stone, sunk deep in the earth. A stage—or hackney—or hired coach offers a fair parallel ;--if a man be desirous of hiring a coach or carriage from a builder or maker in Long Acre, the latter lets the carriage for the time required as a landlord would a house; but the tax levied on stage, hackney, or private coaches is not paid by the maker or builder in Long Acre, but by the person using it, as the tenant of a house does for the tenement he inhabits; thus neither the house-builder, coach-maker, nor tea-seller, pay the taxes levied on the respective articles mentioned, the incidence is on the user or consumer of them. We now come to objection

* It is stated that if the house and window taxes be abolished, the other assessed taxes, viz. on carriages, horses, dogs, &c. must also be repealed, because it would be no use to maintain the machinery now kept for the collection of all the assessed taxes ; but this argument is of no avail, as the reliquæ may more easily be collected by the Stamp-office department than by even the present system, the officers of which have such irrespousible authority.

Turd.*-No relief would be produced to the community beyond the mere relief from so much taxation.

REPLY.—No doctrine can be more fallacious than the one now broached; the mere amount of a tax is not to be solely estimated in a sound financial point of view, but the capital it keeps out of employ, and, consequently, the industry it checks. . If the house and window taxes be repealed, an immense quantity of money and industry will be instantly brought into active requisition; entire streets of old, dilapidated, and filthy tenements would be immediately pulled down; bricklayers, stone-masons, lime-burners, slaters, sawyers, carpenters, painters, glaziers, glass-manufacturers, ironmongers, upholsterers, &c. &c. &c. would be each and all in general demand, and every trade connected with houses would find ample employment; the genius of our architects would be employed in devising new and elegant structures, untrammelled by the number of houses, or the too wealthy appearance which buildings might assume; our streets would be widened and ventilated; and the dense population of England, instead of being herded together in filthy and demoralizing dens of sickness and iniquity, would be scattered over the land, enriching, adorning, and beautifying the country.

Lest superficial or hasty readers should think this article at variance with my observations in No. I. on the advantages of direct over indirect taxation, I may be allowed to observe, that the house and window taxes have justly become obnoxious, not because they are direct taxes, but on account of their partial and inequitable assessment. The example before us demonstrates the advantage of direct taxation, by enabling the people to judge correctly as to the unjustness of an impost: thus the liberty of the subject is better preserved; by indirect taxation personal freedom is placed in abeyance, especially if 45,000,0001. out of 50,000,0001. be raised on the necessaries of life, and on the maritime commerce of the country. If the social fabric of this beautiful island is to be preserved from the consequences of the unholy discord now paralysing the wonted energy of Britons, and if the anticipated blessings of free trade are to be realized, it must be by removing the causes of discontent, and by breaking the shackles which now burden the industry of one of the most active and moral people on the face of the earth.

[Exposition of the Tea, Sugar, Coffee, and Cocoa Taxes in the next.]

* By Sir Henry Parnell, who also contends that "beer is a luxury to the poor Jabouring man," and ought to be taxed at its present height!

« НазадПродовжити »