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quantity of meadow, pasture, wood, and arable land which they contained ; and in some counties the number of tenants, cottagers, and slaves of all denominations who lived upon them. William the Conqueror, in whose reign the survey was made, appointed commissioners to carry it into execution. They entered every particular in their register by the verdict of juries; and, after a labour of six years, brought him an exact account of all the landed property of his kingdom. The motive for the undertaking, as assigned by several ancient records and histories, was that every man should be satisfied with his own right, and not usurp with impunity what belonged to another ; but (as I have already hinted) other views probably conspired to suggest the idea ; for in the latter end of the very year when the survey was finished, the king was attended by all his nobility at Sarum, where all the principal landholders submitted their lands to the yoke of military tenure, became the king's vassals, and did homage and fealty to his person. And although this idea, that the king is the universal lord and original proprietor of all the lands in the kingdom, is, as Blackstone remarks, “a mere fiction, yet the Norman interpreters gave a very different construction to this proceeding, and thereupon took a handle to introduce not only the rigorous doctrines which prevailed in the Duchy of Normandy, but also such fruits and dependencies, such hardships and services, as were never known to other nations."1 King Alfred, about the year 900, composed a book of like nature, of which this was in some measure a copy.
That false returns were made by the commissioners in some instances, in spite of all the precautions taken by the Conqueror, is now universally admitted. Notwithstanding, however, this circumstance, the authority of Doomsday-Book, in point of tenure, has never been permitted to be called in question ; for instance, when it has been necessary to distinguish whether lands held in ancient Demesne, or in what other manner, recourse has always been had to Doomsday-Book exclusively, to determine the doubt. “The tallages,” says Madox, “ formerly i Comm. Vol. II. p. 51. ? Grose’s Antiquities, Vol. I. Preface, p. 78.
assessed upon the king's tenants in ancient demesne, were usually greater than the tallages upon persons in the counties at large; and, therefore, when persons were wrongfully tallaged with those in ancient demesne, it was usual for them to petition the Crown to be tallaged with the community of the county at large. Upon this, the King's writ, issued to the Barons of the Exchequer, to acquit the party aggrieved of such tallage, in case, upon search of Doomsday-Book, the Barons found the lands were not in ancient demesne.”] I mention this fact, because, according to our best antiquaries, it was the definitive authority of this book that suggested its name,-its decisions, like those at the Day of Judgment, [of Doom,] admitting of no appeal. Stowe, indeed, gives a different account of its appellation, deriving it from a corruption of Domus Dei-Book,-a title which he supposes it to have acquired from its being formerly deposited in the king's treasury, in a place of the church of Westminster called Domus Dei. The former etymology, however, is generally considered as the more probable of the two.
This great national record was kept, till a few years ago, under three different locks and keys,-one in the custody of the treasurer, and the others of the two chamberlains of the Exchequer. It is now deposited in the Chapter-House at Westminster, where it may be consulted, on paying a trifling fee to the proper officers.
It is not easily conceivable for what reason the Economists of France should have added to the other strong objections to which their project is liable, the difficulty of periodical surveys similar to that which has been now described, when, it would appear, that the same purpose might be answered, in all essential respects, by a registration of leases. In general, they seem to consider a Cadastre of the whole kingdom as a step essentially necessary for an equitable imposition of their territorial-tax ; and, accordingly, it is demanded of the States-General in many
! Quoted by Grose, (ut supra,] p. 81.
? Grose, [Ibid.) p. 82. For some details with respect to other valuations
in different countries of modern Europe, see Smith, Vol. III. p. 222 ; [Wealth of Nations, Book V. chap. ii. ; Vol. III. p. 270, seq., tenth edition.)
of the Cahiers at the commencement of the late Revolution. The enormous expense of such an operation has not been always sufficiently attended to, although we are in possession of some authentic documents to assist us in forming an estimate. The Cadastre of Limousin (we are assured) cost £113,355, at which rate it is computed that a similar one for the whole kingdom would amount to £3,628,800. A very intelligent writer (M. Meunier?) asserts, that it would furnish employment to upwards of 3000 engineers during eighteen years; and yet M. le Trosne, in explaining the Economical system, proposes that this operation should be repeated every nine years.?! “There is no country,” says he, “where it is not necessary to make an inventory of all the territory in the most complete detail,—to register every portion of land,—to be acquainted with the changes it undergoes,—to value the revenue it yields, and where (if it is proposed to establish, for perpetuity, an equal and proportional tax) it is not indispensable, to ascertain, from time to time, the fluctuations to which this revenue is liable.”3 He afterwards explains himself more precisely, by asserting the absolute necessity of having a new valuation every nine years ; and finds fault with the King of Sardinia’s Cadastre, because the valuation has never been renewed.
The survey and valuation of Bohemia, which was perfected soon after the peace 1748, is said to have been the work of more than a hundred years. The survey of the Duchy of Milan, which was begun in the time of Charles VI., was not perfected till after 1760. It is esteemed one of the most accurate that has ever been made.
A continual and painful attention, on the part of Government, to all the variations in the state and produce of every different farm in a large territory, is (as Mr. Smith observes)* a thing so unsuitable to the nature of government, that it is not likely to be of long continuance in any country; and if it were continued, it would probably, in the long run, occasion much more trouble and vexation than it can possibly bring relief to the contributors. An attention of this kind, however, is actually exerted by the Government of Prussia, of Bohernia, of Sardinia, and of the Duchy of Milan.
1 Essai d'un Méthode Générale à "p. xiv. (quoted by Young, (ut supra,] p. étendre les Connaissances des Voyageurs. 530. 2 Young's France, p. 522.
* Wealth of Nations, Book V. chap 3 Le Trosne, Ad. Prov. Tom. I. pref. j.; Vol. III. p. 272, tenth edition.]
[SUBSECT. 11.]—Taxes which are proportioned, not to the Rent,
but to the Produce of Land. The land-taxes, which have been hitherto under consideration, though very different in their nature, and proceeding on very different principles, yet agree in one important particular, that they are understood to bear a certain fixed proportion, either to what now is, or to what was at some former period, the actual rent of the land. On the latter supposition, they are liable to no variation, but continue for ever to be levied according to an established rule. On the former supposition, variations in the tax must necessarily arise from the changes which may take place from time to time in the cultivation of the country; but as these variations are confined to the periods when the leases are renewed, the occasions of irritation will occur but seldom, and will not present a source of constant or of habitual grievance to the body of the people.
I now proceed to make a few remarks on land-taxes of a different description,_taxes which are not understood to bear any fixed proportion to the rent, but which vary from year to year according to the accidental produce. The Church Tithe, as it is levied in England and in the other parts of Europe where the hierarchy exists, affords an example of this mode of taxation.
It is perfectly evident with respect to all taxes upon the fruits of the earth, that, although they may be paid, in the first instance, by the farmer, they are finally paid by the landlord; the farmer always computing the average value of all the taxes before he agrees with the landlord for the rent. They are, therefore, in fact, taxes upon rent, but falling upon it (as will immediately appear) in a very irregular and arbitrary manner.
As the qualities of lands are, in all countries, extremely different in different situations, it follows manifestly, that the produce alone can never furnish a standard for estimating equitably the rent which the cultivator is able to pay,—inasmuch as the produce bears no determinate proportion to the expense of raising it. Some lands are proper for bearing rich crops of grain; others are comparatively sterile; some produce pasture, others forest; the revenue of some consists in wine, in mines, and in various other productions, which cost, some more, some less expense, to cultivate. One field of corn cannot pay the proprietor above one-fourth of the grain it produces ; another cannot pay above one-fifth; a third may pay with ease one-third; the fields about Padua (according to Sir James Steuart)* pay one-half; grass fields pay still more; and rich hay fields will pay in some places two-thirds, and even threefourths. How, then, is it possible there should be any equality in a tax which carries off, indiscriminately, a certain portion of the fruits? Yet such is the operation of the tithe, which takes, without distinction, a tenth of the produce, in which is comprehended the tithe of all the industry and expense bestowed in bringing it forward.
The tithe is also a great discouragement both to the improvements of the landlord, and to the cultivation of the farmer; neither of whom can be supposed to possess that spirit of enterprise which would naturally be inspired by the prospect of enjoying, undiminished, the ameliorations resulting from their advances and their industry. The idea of sharing these profits with the Church which advances nothing, contributes to render this tax more peculiarly vexatious.
In stating these general principles, I would by no means be understood to join in the illiberal abuse which has been so often bestowed on the clergy, all over Europe, for their supposed rapacity, in exacting what the laws of their respective countries have destined for the support of the ecclesiastical establishment. To an unfortunate class, in particular, of this order, (I mean the late clergy of France,) it is but justice to acknowledge the
* (Political Economy, Book V. chap. xi.; Works, Vol. IV., p. 285, seq.)