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only add more, that it is in your power to make me your grateful wife, but never your abandoned mis(tress.'
THE ambition of princes is many times as hurtful to themselves as to their people. This cannot be doubted of such as prove unfortunate in their wars, but it is often too true of those who are celebrated for their successes. If a severe view were to be taken of their conduct, if the profit and loss by their wars could be justly balanced, it would be rarely found that the conquest is sufficient to repay the cost.
As I was the other day looking over the letters of my correspondents, I took this hint from that of Philarithmus; which has turned my present thoughts upon political arithmetic, an art of greater use than entertainment. My friend has offered an essay towards proving that Lewis XIV. with all his acquisitions is not master of more people than at the beginning of his wars; nay, that for every subject he had acquired, he had lost three that were his inheritance; if Philarithmus is not mistaken in his calculations, Lewis must have been impoverished by his ambition.
The prince for the public good has a sovereign property in every private person's estate, and consequently his riches must increase or decrease in proportion to the number and riches of his subjects. For example: if sword or pestilence should destroy all the people of this metropolis, God forbid there
should be room for such a supposition! but if this should be the case, the Queen must needs lose a great part of her revenue, or, at least, what it is charged upon the city must increase the burthen upon the rest of her subjects. Perhaps the inhabitants here are not above the tenth part of the whole; yet as they are better fed, and clothed, and lodged, than her other subjects, the customs and excises upon their consumption, the imposts upon their houses, and other taxes, do very probably make a fifth part of the whole revenue of the crown. But this is not all ; the consumption of the city takes off a great part of the fruits of the whole island: and as it pays such a proportion of the rent or yearly value of the lands in the country, so it is the cause of paying such a proportion of taxes upon those lands. The loss then of such a people must needs be sensible to the prince, and visible to the whole kingdom.
On the other hand, if it should please God to drop from heaven a new people equal in number and riches to the city, I should be ready to think their excises, customs, and house-rent would raise 'as great a revenue to the crown as would be lost in the for
And as the consumption of this new body would be a new market for the fruits of the country, all the lands, especially those most adjacent, would rise in their yearly value, and pay greater yearly taxes to the public. The gain in this case would be as sensible as the former loss.
Whatsoever is assessed upon the general, is levied upon individuals. It were worth the while then to consider what is paid by, or by means of, the meanest subjects, in order to compute the value of every subject to the prince.
Formy own part, I should believethat seven-eighth of the people are without property in themselves or the heads of their families, and forced to work for their daily bread; and that of this sort there are seven
millions in the whole island of Great-Britain; and yet one would imagine that seven-eighths of the whole people should consume at least three-fourths of the whole fruits of the country. If this is the case, the subjects without property pay three-fourths of the rents, and consequently enable the landed men to pay three-fourths of their taxes.
Now if so great a part of the land-tax were to be divided by seven millions, it would amount to more than three shillings to every head. And thus as the poor are the cause, without which the rich could not pay this tax, even the poorest subjects is upon this account worth three shillings yearly to the prince.
Again: one would imagаine the consumption of seven-eighths of the whole people, should pay twothirds of all the customs and excises. And if this sum too should be divided by seven millions, viz. the number of poor people, it would amount to more than seven shillings to every head: and therefore with this and the former sum every poor subject, without property, except of his limbs or labour, is worth at least ten shillings yearly to the sovereign. So much then the queen loses with every one of her old, and gains with every one of her new subjects.
When I was got into this way of thinking, I presently grew conceited with the argument, and was just preparing to write a letter of advice to a member of parliament, for opening the freedom of our towns and trades, for taking away all manner of distinctions between the natives and foreigners, for repealing our laws of parish-settlements, and removing every other obstacle to the increase of the people. But as soon as I had recollected with what inimitable eloquence my fellow labourers had exaggerated the mischiefs of selling the birth right of Britons for a shilling, of spoiling the pure British blood with foreign mixtures, of introducing a confusion of languages and religions, and of letting in strangers to eat the bread out of the mouths of our own people, I became so humble as to let my project fall to the ground, and leave my country to increase by the ordinary way of generation.
As I have always at heart the public good, so I am ever contriving schemes to promote it; and I think I may without vanity pretend to have contrived some as wise as any of the castle-builders. I had no sooner given up my former project, but my head was presently full of draining fens and marshes, banking out the sea, and joining new lands to my country; for since it is thought impracticable to increase the people to the land, I fell immediately to consider how much would be gained to the prince by increasing the land to the people.
If the same omnipotent Power which made the world, should at this time raise out of the ocean and join to Great-Britain an equal extent of land, with equal buildings, corn, cattle and other conveniences and necessaries of life, but no men, women nor children, I should hardly believe this would add either to the riches of the people, or revenue of the prince; for since the present buildings are sufficient for all the inhabitants, if any of them should forsake the old to inhabit the new part of the island, the increase of house-rent in this would be attended with at least an equal decrease of it in the other: besides we have such a sufficiency of corn and cattle, that we give bounties to cur neighbours to take what exceeds of the former off our hands, and we will not suffer any of the latter to be imported upon us by our fellowsubjects: and for the remaining product of the country it is already equal to all our markets. But if all these things should be doubled to the same buyers, the owners must be glad with half their present prices, the landlords with half their present rents; and thus by so great an enlargement of the country, the rents
in the whole would not increase, nor the taxes to the public.
On the contrary, I should believe they would be very much diminished; for as the land is only valuable for its fruits, and these are all perishable, and for the most part must either be used within the year, or perish without use, the owners will get rid of them at any rate, ratherthan they should waste in their possession: so that it is probable the annual production of those perishable things, even of one tenth part of them, beyond all possibility of use, will reduce one half of their value. It seems to be for this reason that our neighbour merchants who engross all the spices, and know how great a quantity is equal to the demand, destroy all that exceeds it. It were natural then to think that the annual production of twice as much as can be used must reduce all to an eighth part of their present prices; and thus this extended island would not exceed one-fourth part of the present value, or pay more than one-fourth part of the present tax.
It is generally observed, that in countries of the greatest plenty there is the poorest living; like the schoolmen's ass in one of my speculations, the people almost starve between two meals. The truth is, the poor, which are the bulk of a nation, work only that they may live; and if with two day's labour they can get a wretched subsistence, they will hardly be brought to work the other four: but then, with the wages of two days, they can neither pay such prices for their provisions, nor such excises to the government.
That paradox therefore in old Hesiod wháoy muroru WAUTÒs, or half is more than the whole, is very applicable to the present case ; since nothing is more true in political arithmetic, than that the same people with half the country is more valuable than with the whole. I begin to think there was nothing absurd in Sir W. Petty, when he fancied if all the Highlands of Scotland and the whole kingdom of Ireland were sunk in