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The limitations they are subject to in England are a great impe-
Mr.Barnes, an architect of Norwich, is of opinion that, “if the duty
The excise duty on bricks, exceeding the common size, in any dimensions, is 9s. per thousand; that on
common bricks, 5s.6d, The difference of the tax, Evidence of operates to dissuade architects from the use of Mr.Cocke- moulded or ornamental bricks in their buildings. rell, 1475.
Mr. The window tax operates injuriously by limiting the
number of windows and restricting their size, causing
as not to infringe upon their prescribed limitations. And
poverty of buildings in London.
2. Duties Besides the obvious operation of the paper duties to on paper.
the discouragement of Art, by seriously enhancing the cost
of prints, of illustrated books, of every kind of drawing Ev. of Mr. paper, and of periodical publications, they have the G. Morant effect of depressing the style of Art employed upon II. 576.
the lower kind of stained papers. Of their effect upon
engraving, Mr. J. C. Robertson says:
proportion to the weight), much finer papers would be used, better
Of their effects upon the silk manufacture, Mr.
“One of the principal difficulties in the way of the improvement of the silk manufacture is the high duty on paper.
It makes the manufacturer unwilling to change his patlerns. The difference of the
cost in England and in France is four to one.
The excise duties on glass tend greatly to obstruct 3, Duties
on glass, the Art of glass painting, that of engraving, and that of decorative architecture in several of its most important branches.
The capabilities of Glass PAINTING are generally Glass paint, much underrated, and there is a common but
very taken opinion, that much of the excellence of the finest specimens of this art we are acquainted with, is owing to a process which is now lost. In colour there are probably not more than one or two hues which we are unable to surpass, and in the power of producing all the effects of light and shadow we are greatly beyond our predecessors. Indeed, in this respect, taking into account the power of introducing real light, afforded by the transparency of glass, this branch of Art must have long ere this reached the highest range of excellence, but for the ruinous cost of experiments.
The following interesting statement details the experience on this point of Mr. Martin, while employed as a painter on glass : “In attempting improvements, we found," he says,
" that the excise laws presented the greatest obstacle. We made some experiments on plate glass, and succeeded with them; but the expense, in consequence of the heavy duty, finally put an end to these experiments, as we could neither afford to purchase such expensive glass, nor to erect larger annealing kilns. I believe I was the only person who made the experiments on plate glass; they were supposed to be successful, only I could not afford to carry them on. If I could have made our experiments duty free, I should have succeeded, for the plate glass is so thick, that it would be safe from being broken by ordinary means,* and it has besides the advantage, that plates can be obtained sufficiently large to obviate the necessity for those bars
• The great risk in painting on common glass,
which interrupt the present works." (Evid. I., 938.) And again : “I should have painted some of my own subjects, as the effect produced on glass, would be particularly adapted to them, if the experiments, &c., had been less expensive. This cost I have the more regretted, as works executed on plate glass, on a large scale, would have been most magnificent in cathedrals or great public buildings. The knowledge and experience gained in our experiments would have enabled us to produce grander works than have yet been seen. (Ib. 940.)
With reference to the effect of these duties on the progress of ENGRAVING, Mr. John Pye, the celebrated landscape engraver, very justly observing that but little has been done in England for its encouragement in the way in which it is so extensively encouraged in France and other parts of the Continent, namely, by its application to the decoration of rooms, ascribes much of the difference to the higher price of glass, which in England is somewhat more than eight times dearer than the French glass, of better quality for the purpose mentioned, the glazing of prints.
Mr. Pye having submitted to the Committee specimens of French and English glass, adapted to the glazing of prints, handed in the following comparative list of prices:
d. 26 in. x 24 in.
0 16 6
2 0 28
0 18 6
2 3 1 3 0 ..
2 9 “I have looked,” adds Mr. Pye, “a great deal into the dwellinghouses of the people of France, and I have seen their rooms covered completely all over with engravings, while in England the same class of persons have not any."* (Evid. II. 2188.)
x 24 x 24
* I may mention that, having been present at the committee when Mr. Pye was examined, I can add my testimony to the superiority of the French glass which he exhibited for the purpose in view.
That in the Art of glass making itself, the want of further improvement is mainly to be attributed to the interference of the excise laws obstructing the free career of experiment, is pretty generally acknowledged. Their effects on price, by deadening compe- Effects of tition, are less widely known, but are of no small glass mak importance.
ing itself. Mr. Toplis, after stating that no experiments can be made as to improving the quality of glass, except under the authority and inspection of the excise,—"a prohibition which forms the stumbling-block in that particular branch of Art,” justly adds:
“There are certain qualities of glass for optical instruments that we have never been able to reach in this country; and we are obliged to go to the continent for them now, in consequence of the imperfect state of glass making."
But, as Mr. Toplis might have added, such a tendency has apathy on any subject, however induced, to perpetuate itself, that even the very improvements in this Art, made on the Continent, have often failed to excite attention in England, despite of all her astronomical pretensions. It was nearly twenty years after the rumours of Guinand's splendid experiments had attracted Fraunhofer to Brenetz, that a piece of his glass first found its way to England, although many magnificent instruments had been made from it in Paris. Guinand succeeded (and in his success began a new era in the history of astronomical observation) in spite of difficulties which would have disheartened most men; but at Brenetz there were no excise duties. The first flint glass which Guinand used he obtained from England, and its badness set him to work to make good glass for himself, but what would he have accomplished had he
lived in England under the “inspection of the excise?” He must have sat down in despair.*
The injurious effects of the excise duties upon glass, in respect of decorative architecture, it is very difficult adequately to estimate. The application of glass, in architecture, is yet in its infancy; and he would be a bold man who should predict how far that application may be hereafter extended. But enough has been already said in pointing out the impediments which hence obstruct the
improvement of the article itself. Facilities
To have adduced the high rates of Postage, as among of com
the impediments which obstruct the progress of the Fine munication through the Arts, would, perhaps, a few years ago have been consiPost Office.
dered ridiculous. But happily the public mind has been so much aroused to the grave importance of the subject; and its bearings on our highest social interest, that no
fear of this kind need now be entertained. Report of “ The facility of frequent, punctual, and quick Revenue communication,” say the Commissioners of Revenue Commission on the Enquiry, “is subservient to all the ends of national ,
, ... and in this view the Post Office possesses an importance superior to its title to consideration as a productive branch of the revenue."
The reader will not think this an exaggeration, if he recall to bis recollection how Guinand proceeded, and the duration of his experiments. When he began, about 1785, he made daily experiments in his blast furnace with meltings of three or four pounds weight, noting down the results of each ; and continued them for several years. After some time he constructed a furnace capable of fusing two hundred-weight of glass, and went on, despite the failure of his crucibles, the bursting of bis furnace, and many other untoward accidents, wbich served to invigorate instead of disheartening him, carefully studying each flaw which broke the homogeneity of his glass, until at last he succeeded in obtaining discs of twelve and even eighteen inches diameter, uniformly transparent and refractive. Imagine an excise inspector quartered upon him from 1785 to 1804,