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cities—on the passage of rivers--on sales by auction-on almost every kind of property in motion—mark the later portion of the history of the republic, and the whole of that of the empire. Slaves could not change masters, nor could property change hands by legacy or donation, without the payment of a tax. The raising of cattle, and the consumption of salt, were privileges to be paid for to the State. The consumer of water, and he who needed to void it, alike were taxed. Nothing was so trivial in appearance, as to warrant its escape from the hands of the taxgatherer, provided, only, that it promised to add to a revenue required for the maintenance of a system under which labor and land declined in value, and slavery took the place of freedom.*
§ 5. Coming now to modern Europe, we find, in Holland, the country that, recently, has devoted itself most to trade, and least to the promotion of commerce. Land, there, early becoming divided, the richer soils were improved as manufactures grew, and commerce increased with great rapidity. Later, the thirst for trade producing a necessity for ships and colonies, the history of the country becomes one of constantly recurring and longcontinued wars, producing so great a necessity for taxation, that the commodities consumed were said to be thrice paid for once, to the producer, and twice, to the State. Since then, the course has been ever in the same direction — the effects being seen in the following picture, furnished in a recent public document :
“Almost the entire revenues of government are raised from taxes within ; and, in this respect, nerer was a country more burdened. No occupation of trade or labor is exempt, and but sew of the necessaries of life; almost every transaction pays its toll, and taxes are literally levied on taxes."'t War, trade, and restrictions on commerce, travel always, thus, together. The national debt of this country is fearful in amount, requiring a contribution of $142.80 per head, and having accumulated at a most rapid rate, since the loss of power to compel the nations of the world to use the ships of Holland for the transportation of their products, and her ports, and counting-houses, as their places of exchange. Admirably situated for intercourse with the world, Holland might now rank high among the nations of the earth, had she not failed to remark the fact, that wealth and strength are obtained by means of commerce; whereas, poverty and exhaustion-physical and mental - have been the invariable consequences of an exclusive dependence upon trade. As it is, the land of the De Witts, of Rubens, Erasmus, Grotius, Leeuwenhoek, and Boerhaave, has lost all consideration in the world of art, science, or literature - retaining but little even in that of trade. *
* “Clouds of publicains were posted at the entrances of ports, at the mouths of rivers, at the outlets of valleys-taxing there, without mercy, the property that sought for passage, and adding, too, to their profits as tasgatherers, the further one of monopolists of various articles of consumption. Of legal limitation to the taxes levied, there was none — the figures having become so elastic, that the cultivator could never know exactly wbat portion of his product was his own."— BLANQUI: Histoire de l'Economic Politique, vol. I, p. 95.
The reader who desires to study the history of Roman taxation more at large, is referred to M. De la Malle's Economie Politique des Romains, vol. ii, book 10.
| Report of Secretary of State, U. S., on commercial changes, Sept. 30, 1865, p. 142.
In Turkey, we have a reproduction of the system of the Middle Ages of France-taxation, there, having no reference, whatsoever, to the value of the land, but only to the ability of the collector, and his agents, to squeeze from its cultivator the largest share of its products. Of the little that escapes their grasp, but a portion belongs to the wretched being to whose labor its production had been due—a part being taken from him, whenever he finds it necessary to send it abroad, in payment for commodities that he may not make at home. Adding to this, a constantly increasing adulteration of the coin, we bave a taxation of movables so grinding, as fully to account for the fact, that land and labor are too entirely worthless to become the subjects of direct taxation.
In Sicily, once the granary of Rome, as we have seen, land has become consolidated, and has lost its value. As a consequence of this it is, that taxation is derived, mainly, from the arrest of property that seeks to move-grain being heavily taxed on its way to consumers without the island, and paying fifty per cent. at home, when it takes the form of bread.
* - In the midst of the variegated picture presented by the history of European taxes, there is found one country whose annals offer, more fully than any other, a sort of resumé of the modes of taxation existing in our modern communities. Direct taxes on lands and houses — taxes on dividends and salaries — taxes on articles of consumption, almost infinite in number strange taxes, such as nowhere else are found, such as those levied on marriages and deaths — all these financial combinations exhibit themselves to us, in the history of the country in which the stamp-tax was invented, and in which the tax on property in mortmain was conceived, a century before its introduction among ourselves.”—Journal des Economistes, June, 1854, p. 305.
Turning next to India, we find a hundred millions of people, with a government whose revenue is wholly derived from taxes levied on movable property. Land there pays no tax, the share of government being taken from among its products; and the amount taken being wholly dependent on the presence or absence of care, skill, and industry in the person by whom it is occupied. A direct tax has reference to the value of the landbeing proportioned thereto, and being the same in amount, whether the crop be large, or small. The man who works assiduously — thereby obtaining from his little piece of land, twice as much as is yielded by the larger property of his neighbor - enjoys the fruits of his extra labor, wholly undiminished by reason of taxation. · The taxes of Hindostan, on the contrary, have reference to the qualities of the man – being more, or less, as the wretched cultivator has worked or played. So, exactly, is it in Carolina. The slave having labored well, his master - like the East Indian government-obtains large reward for little land. The former having neglected his task, the latter obtain small returns for much land. Adding, now, to the tax thus levied, throughout India, on labor and its application, taxes on all the tools in use, from the fisherman's boat to the goldsmith's tools, and further and most enormous taxes on salt and opium, we obtain a revenue system the most grinding of any the world has yet seen; and purely personal, from its commencement to its close. As a consequence, the selling price of land rarely exceeds thrice the amount of taxes to be paid by him who cultivates it, and millions of people perish annually, for want of power to sell their labor. *
* "The vast rent of the Company, and the fortunes that 'nabobs' bring, every now and then, to this country, are made up of very minute rents and dues, wrung from the most insignificant cotters, and cultivators, and artisans, either for a hut, or a little ground, or liberty to practise some calling. To collect these pittances, we must employ a race of collectors, of many degrees, and with all kinds of names, familiar enough to Indian ears, but conveying little distinction of ideas to the untravelled and unread English
The task is very difficult at all times; and, therefore, of the Europeans, the Company makes the best men collectors, the worst men judges. But, in a famine, after a short rainy season, the task becomes almost imLooking next to Mexico, we find a system of taxation almost entirely indirect — seven-eighths of the revenues being the produce of export and import duties, taxes on playing-cards and tobacco, postage, lotteries, and stamps. Thus far, as we see, the poorer and weaker the country, the less is the power of those by whom it is governed, to apply to those possessed of capital, material and mental, for direct contributions to be employed in the maintenance of the public peace:
$ 6. Turning now to Great Britain, we find the course of affairs to have been precisely the same with that above recorded in regard to Greece and Italy - direct taxes having gradually disappeared, to be replaced by those which are indirect. The land and house taxes had their origin, as the reader has already seen, in the reign of William III.— progress having been manifested by the passage towards a direct application to the people, for the means of supporting government. In the early period of its existence, the first of these was variablevibrating between a tenth and a fifth of the annual rental. possible. Yet the Company must pay its dividends, its officers, its armies, its fleets, its public works. The money must be found, the screw must be put on. So the pressure, applied at the head-quarters of the system, reaches to its lowest and furtbest extremities, and comes at last to a very hateful class of fiscal and judicial agents—for they are one and the samewho have to deal with a still more miserable class, without shame, with no position, reckless of life, and indifferent even to pain, and caring only for one thing, which by long habit they have come to care for — the possession of a few rupees. Of course, there is a perpetual collision between these two classes – the one bullying and threatening, extorting and grinding, and practising every art to extract money; and the other evading and cheating, and lying, and enduring anything rather than pay. Everybody knows how it has been done, and what is the last resort. The merciless, and often unjust, peons screw the rupees out of the ryots, by all sorts of torture. It is not torture of the high European sort, which made a five-feet man six feet, or, vice versa, which pressed him as flat as a pancake, or dropped water on him till he died. No: Indian torture is ready, impromptu, ingenious, cheap, annoying, disgusting, revolting, and petty in the extreme. It is the torture of very wicked children, suddenly become men and women, but without acquiring a particle of self-respect. It is done with twisted sticks, and heavy stones, and the fibres of trees, and chillies, and red ants, and burrowing worms, and acrid juices. This is the whole apparatus of the Indian Inquisition, but it is made up by dexterity and promptness. The defaulter-no matter the age or sex-a dozen defaulters, half a village, are trussed in a row, like so many fowls, with big stones upon their necks, and laid to bake under the midday sun. They do n't seem to care much for itmuch less do others care for them. Pain is part of their religion, and they live by it, both here and forever. Pain and ignominy are respectable with them.”
Being, however, at length fixed, permanently, at the highest of these proportions, an act was then passed, for enabling the owners of land to buy off the tax — thus freeing their property, at once and forever, from all contributions for the public service. Almost simultaneously therewith, appeared a new theory of population-proving, as its author supposed, that mankind had always erred, in supposing that the wealth and strength of a nation tended to increase, with increase of numbers. Directly the reverse of this, as the British people were now told, was the fact — the supply of food tending to diminish in its ratio to population, as wealth and numbers increased. This, too, as they were assured, was a consequence of a great natural law, not to be evaded, in virtue of which the land-owner took a larger proportion, as the return to labor diminished — obtaining, thus, a constant increase of power to command the laborer's services. Such being the case, however slow might be the process, the relation of master and slave must ultimately be re-established.
The poor-houses being everywhere filled, and pauperism becoming, more and more, the habitual condition of a growing proportion of the laboring people, it was needed that the facts should be accounted for. This was done by Mr. Malthus, who – rejecting the simple explanation furnished by Adam Smith* _ invented a great law of nature, for the purpose of accounting for results produced by the action of man. The policy of the country, for more than thirty years, having tended towards the enslavement of the artisan, by those who, being rich, did not need to work, all these theories and measures were in keeping with each other. The year that followed the one in which the wealthy proprietor of land — abounding in coal and iron-ore - was enabled, at trivial cost, to emancipate his property from taxation, witnessed the passage of a law prohibiting colliers from seeking, abroad, that remuneration for their services which was denied them at home; thus, in effect, imposing a personal tax for the benefit of the rich and powerful, at the moment when the latter had been freed from all taxation, for the maintenance of that security of person and property which he so much required.
From that time forward, every movement was in the same direction — that of arresting the wheels of commerce, for the
* See ante, vol. i. p. 415.