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folly. Let him consider, that every stitch he takes when he is on the shop board is picking up part of a grain of gold, that will in a few days time amount to a pistole ;
and let Faber think the same of every nail he drives, or every stroke with his plane. Such thoughts may make them industrious and of consequence in time they may be wealthy. But how absurd it is to neglect a certain profit for such a ridicu. lous whimsey; to spend whole days at the George, in company with an idle pretender to astrology, contriving schemes to discover what was never hidden, and forgetful how carelessly business is managed at home in their absence : to leave their wives in a warm bed at midnight (no matter if it rain, hail, snow, or blow a hurricane, provided that be the critical hour) and fatigue themselves with the violent exercise of digging for what they shall never find, and perhaps getting a cold that may cost their lives, or at least disordering them. selves so as to be fit for no business beside for some days after. Surely this is nothing less than the most egregious folly and madness.
I shall conclude with the words of my discreet friend, Agricola, of Chester County, when he gave his son a good plantation : My son," says he,“ I give thee now a valuable parcel of land ; I assure thee I have found a considerable quantity of gold by digging there : thee mayest do the same : but thee must carefully observe this, Never to dig more than ploughdeep."
THE EXAMINATION OF DR. BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, BEFORE AN AUGUST ASSEMBLY, RELATING TO THE REPEAL OF THE STAMP-ACT, &c.
Q. What is your name, and place of abode ?
Q. Do the Americans pay any considerable taxes among theniselves ?
A. Certainly many, and very heavy taxes.
Q. What are the present taxes in Pennsylvania, laid by the laws of the colony ?
A. There are taxes on all estates real and personal, a poll tax, a tax on all offices, professions, trades and businesses, according to their profits; an excise on all wine, rum, and other spirits; and a duty of ten pounds per head on all Negroes imported, with some other duties.
Q. For what purposes are those taxes laid?
A. For the support of the civil and military estab, lishments of the country, and to discharge the heavy debt contracted in the last war.
Q. How long are those taxes to continue ?
A. Those for discharging the debt are to continue till 1772, and longer, if the debt should not then be all discharged. The others must always continue.
Q. Was it not expected that the debt would liave been sooner discharged ?
A. It was when the peace was made with France and Spain—But a fresh war breaking out with the Indians, a fresh load of debt was incurred, and the taxes, of, course, continued longer by a new law.
Q. Are not all the people very able to pay those
A. No. The frontier counties, all along the continent, having been frequently ravaged by the enemy, and greatly impoverished, are able to pay very little tax. And therefore, in consideration of their distresses, our late tax laws do expressly favour those counties, excusing the sufferers; and I suppose the same is done in other governments.
Q. Are not you concerned in the management of the Post-Office in America ?
A. Yes. I am deputy post-master general of North America.
Q. Don't you think the distribution of stamps, by post, to all the inhabitants very practicable, if there was no opposition ?
A. The posts only go along the sea coasts ; they do not, except in a few instances, go back into the country; and if they did, sending for stamps by post would occasion an expence of postage, amounting in many cases to much more than that of the stamps themselves.
Q. Are you acquainted with Newfoundland ?
Q. Do you know whether there are any post roads on that
nd ? A. I have heard that there are no roads at all; but that the communication between one settlement and another is by sea only.
Q. Can you disperse the stamps by post in Canada ?
A. There is only a post between Montreal and Quebec. The inhabitants live so scattered and remote from each other in that vast country, that posts can. not be supported among them, and therefore they cannot get stamps per post. The English Colonies too, along the frontiers, are very thinly settled. Q. From the thinness of the back settlements
, would not the stamp-act be extremely inconvenient to the in. habitants, if executed ?
A. To be sure it would; as many of the inhabitants could not get stamps when they had occasion for them, without taking long journies, and spending perhaps Three or four pounds, that the crown might get six. pence.
Q. Are not the colonies, from their circumstances, very able to pay the stamp-duty ?
A. In my opinion, there is not gold and silver enough in the colonies to pay the stamp-duty for one year.
Q. Don't you know that the money arising from the stamps was all to be laid out in America ?
A. I know it is appropriated by the act to the Ame. rican service ; but it will be spent in the conquered colonies, where the soldiers are, not in the colonies that pay it.
Q. Is there not a balance of trade due from the colonies where the troops are posted, that will bring back the money to the old colonies ?
A. I think not. I believe very little would come back. I know of no trade likely to bring it back. I think it would come from the colonies where it was sent directly to England; for I have always observed, that in every colony the more plenty the means, of remittance to England, the more goods are sent for, and the more trade with England carried on.
Q. What number of white inhabitants do you think there are in Pennsylvania ?
A. I suppose there may be about 160,000,
A. Perhaps another third ; but I cannot speak with certainty?
Q. Have any numbers of the Germans seen service as soldiers in Europe ?
A. Yes, many of them, both in Europe and Ame. rica.
Q. Are they as much dissatisfied with the stamp duty as the English ?
A. Yes, and more ; and with reason, as their stamps are in many cases, to be double.
Q. How many white men do you suppose there are in North America ?
A. About 300,000, from sixteen to sixty years of age.
Q. What may be the amount of one year's imports into Pennsylvania from Britain ?
A. I have been informed that our merchants com. pute the imports from Britain to be above 500,0001.
Q. What may be the amount of the produce of your province exported to Britain ?
A. It must be small, as we produce little that is wanted in Britain. I suppose it cannot exceed 40,0001.
Q. How then do you pay the balance ?
A. The balance is paid by our produce carried to the West-Indies, and sold in our own islands, or to the French, Spaniards, Danes and Dutch; by the same carried to other colonies in North-America, as to NewEngland, Nova-Scotia, Newfoundland, Carolina and Georgia ; by the same carried to different parts of Europe, as Spain, Portugal and Italy. In all which places we receive either money, bills of exchange, or commodities that suit for remittance to Britain ; which, together with all the profits on the industry of our mer. chants and mariners, arising in those circuitous voyages, and the freights made by their ships, centre final, ly in Britain, to discharge the balance, and pay for British manufactures continually used in the province, or sold to foreigners by our traders.
Q. Have you heard of any difficulties lately laid on the Spanish trade ?
A. Yes, I have heard that it has been greatly obstructed by some new regulations, and by the English men of war and cutters stationed all along the coast in America.
Q. Do you think it right that America should be protected by this country, and pay no part of the expence ?
A. That is not the case. The Colonies raised, clothed and paid, during the last war, near 5,000 men, and spent many millions,
Q. Were you not reimbursed by parliament ?
A. We were only reimbursed what, in your opinion, we had advanced beyond our proportion, or beyond what might reasonably be expected from us ; and it was a very small part of what we spent. Pennsylvania, in particular, disbursed about 500,0001. and the reimbursements, in the whole, did not exceed 60,0001.
Q. You have said that you pay heavy taxes in Pennsylvania; what do they amount to in the pound?