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puted to at least six millions of ducats; and it will take an age to repair the damages it has made. The number of the inhabitants that perished in this affrightful calamity, may be safely reckoned to come to one hundred and twenty thousand souls, over and above a vast number bruised by the fall of churches and houses, whereof many are dead since, and some continue yet in hazard, which may amount to twenty thousand more.
This terrible earthquake has communicated itself to the island of Maltha on the one side, and to Calabria on the other; and the desolations it has made, in both those places, are very great.
COMPENDIOUS HISTORY OF THE TAXES OF FRANCE,
AND OF THE
OPPRESSIVE METHODS OF RAISING THEM.
London, printed by J. M. and B B. for Richard Baldwin, near the Oxford
Arms, in Warwick Lane, 1694. Quarto, containing forty Pages.
To the Right Honourable Thomas Earl of Stamford, Lord Gray of
Grooby, &c. MY LORD, THE design of this treatise being only to inspire the English
nation with a greater love of their liberties, by representing, in its true colours, the miserable slavery to which France is reduced, it could not properly be addressed to any other, than to a publick assertor of the publick liberty. But, amongst the several competitors for that glorious title, I think I may with justice say, no person has so good a claim to it as your lordship: your being committed to the Tower, and a scaffold erected for your tryal, are demonstrations that they, who then conspired the ruin of England, looked upon your lordship as a principal bulwark that obstructed their design; and therefore did their utmost to remove you, in order to their farther progress. Your lordship’s sufferings, for the nation's safety, intitled you to the general thanks of the kingdom; though, I must not say, your lordship was the only nobleman that was struck at by the persecution (not to say tyranny) of those times.
But whosoever recalls to mind the transactions of 1688, must, withal, remember the important services wherewith you signalised yourself, for the rescue of this nation. You, my lord, amongst the illustrious undertakers, durst shew a good example, by appearing the first in arms, and displaying, in open field, the colours of liberty, thereby giving life to that famous, but languishing, association, when it had been almost cast away in a storm at sea.
This is a glorious circumstance, and, must be allowed, peculiar to your lordship.
There are some persons in the world, who appear very zealous for their country, and for their princes; and yet have been so unhappy, as not to escape the prejudices of having their zeal been thought to have chiefly centered on their private interests. What your lordship has done, leaves no room for any such suspicion; for nothing can be found more disinterested.
You have vigorously asserted the right of your country, and as vigorously expressed your zeal to their majesties, in contributing so much to the placing the crown on their heads, and afterwards, your fidelity, in that great share which it is well known your lordship had in its further settlement, by the recognition bill.
You have done all to an eminent degree, and all this too at your own expence: for, hitherto, your great and noble services have only been their own reward,
What I have as yet mentioned, concerning your lordship, has been only with relation to publick affairs, and the service of their present majesties; but what could I not say of those shining quaIities and virtues which are conspicuous in your lordship, and render you eminently valuable to all those who have the honour of being personally acquainted with you?
These are particulars I could easily enlarge upon, without fearing any other censure than that of your own modesty, which I am unwilling to offend ; but justice obliges me, at least, to say, that what your lordship has performed for the publick, deserveth the gratitude that distinguished the first age of the Roman commonwealth; and will be admired, so long as people retain any sense of, and love for liberty.
These, my lord, must needs be the sentiments of all true Englishmen; since, even natives of other countries are charmed with so extraordinary a merit, for which I cannot but
the greatest veneration, though I was born and bred up in a country wholly infected with servitude. Wherefore, upon so just an occasion, I thought it my duty, as it is my ambition, to profess myself, with all imaginable respect and sincerity,
And most obedient servant.
HOW very great the tyranny is, that the French king exercises over his subjects, I hope this English nation, in general, are not to learn now; because so many learned pens have, in their various excellent ways of writing, endeavoured to acquaint all the world with it. This I must confess; but yet, at the same time, I cannot forbear to say, that, in my opinion, none of those admirable authors have hit upon the true turn of it. For though it is plain and manifest, that the French king could never have built so many beautiful and costly palaces, never have bought so many towns, corrupted and bribed into his interests so many men in all the courts of Europe, and kept such numerous armies as he has in pay, without vast sums of money; and that that money could be no other than the blood and sweat of his people: yet, in my judgment, such a consequenee, how natural and plain soever it be in itself, is not fitted for all capacities. This very consideration alone has obliged me to take another method; and, that I may the better convince all men of the excessive tyranny of Lewis XIV. I will not make use of the pathetical figures of rhetorick, but only set before the eyes of this nation a compendious history of the taxes, which the French king's subjects are forced to pay to their insulting master; and, if I am not extremely mistaken, these will give us a true and impartial idea of the gentleness of the French government, which is so much talked of, and so much admired by the enemies of the felicity of England.
Though the execution of my design may seem at first pretty easy, yet, when it is narrowly and thoroughly examined into, it will be found attended with innumerable difficulties; and, I dare say, that the matter I design to handle now, is not only an original, but also a very dark mystery, almost impenetrable to strangers, and much unknown to the greatest part of Frenchmen themselves. It is not then to be expected, that I should be nicely exact in every particular; that is what I dare not promise: but what I engage myself to do is, to advance nothing in these papers, but what shall be most certainly true, and which I have set down, as they have occurred to my mind, without having any regard to the antiquity of the taxes I speak of. Another difficulty which has been insuperable to me, is a genuine translation of the names which the French have given to those impositions : for, as England has al. ways vigorously preserved her liberties, the very words which express the servitude and slavery of other nations, are wanting in her language. O fortunate island ! mayest thou for ever continue in that happy ignorance.
ARTICLE I. Of the Taille. THE taille is a tax or subsidy, which was formerly granted to the kings of France, by the three estates of the kingdom, upon some extraordinary and emergent occasions : but, in process of time, it became a tax jure divino, and was continued in succession by arbitrary power. Lewis the eleventh, who was the first that openly invaded the liberties of his subjeets, was also the first that raised this tax without the consent of the three estates; and who made it successive likewise. The taille is threefold; viz. real, personal, and mixed. Real is, when it is only imposed upon lands, as in some parts of the province of Guienne, where a man must pay a certain sum to the king for every acre of land he is possessed of. Personal is, when it is assessed upon any personal estate; that is, among the French, the money that a man is sup.. posed to have in his own hands, or to be worth in lands, and houses, in his industry, art, or ability, to get money. Lastly, the mixed
is so denominated, because in some parts of that kingdom the lands are not only assessed so much per acre, but the proprietor besides is taxed for his money, art, and ability. This explanation I thought necessary for the better understanding of my subject.
The real taille, though very burthensome, yet, however, it is the least heavy upon the people : for, if a man has but forty acres of land, he cannot be assessed for fifty ; whereas, in all provinces of France, except Guienne, the taille being every where personal, or mixed, a man is assessed for what he has, and for what he has not, that being at the discretion of the intendants of the provinces, or some other officer, called Eleus, who are only appointed for those things. Hence it comes to pass abundance of people are assessed much more than what their yearly rent is really worth; and a cobler, or other poor fellow, that hath nothing in the world to live on but the benefit of his arms, shail yet, notwithstanding, be taxed four or five rowns a year. Were it not beyond my design, I could easily give you many instances of the extreme heaviness of this tax; but, for brevity sake, I shall content myself with this; that a baker, of Gonesse near Paris, was assessed for his personal estate, though he had not an inch of land, twelve hundred French crowns a year; that is, two hundred seventy pounds sterling. This is a pattern by which we may readily judge of the whole piece.
To say positively what the whole sum amounts to, that is imposed upon the kingdom for this taille, it is in a manner impossible ; for the French king does increase or diminish it, according as he himself pleaseth; that is to say, according to the expences he sees himself obliged to be at. Anno 1684, when I was in France, the said sum amounted to forty millions of French livres, that is, above three millions sterling: but if we consider, that at that time the French king had peace with all the world, we may easily believe that this tax exceeds now fifty millions and above. How this tax is imposed and levied, all inquisitive persons, I hope, will be glad to know; and therefore, for their satisfaetion, I will relate it as plainly as the darkness of the matter will permit.
The king resolveth first in his council what sum of money is to be levied on his subjects; then commissions are issued forth to the general treasurers of the generalities of the kingdom, to give them power to levy the sum agreed upon. These commissions being received, the treasurers make a division of the sum to be levied, proportionable to the extent of the several elections under them; which division, or repartition, is sent to the king, who thereupon sends a commission to the officers of each election, by which they are ordered and enabled to raise such a sum in their respective districts. These officers meet, and make the registers of taxes, wherein each town, borough, hamlet, or parish, is assessed. Each parish has one of those registers sent to it, whereupon the inhabitants make choiee of one or more of them to raise the sum assessed by the officers of the elections. These are called collectors, and they tax each inkabitant according to his estate : but, though
they are forbidden to do it out of any ill will or malice, yet they will ease their friends, though they crush others: and this is the cause of a great many mischiefs, and of divers families being absolutely ruined by these unjust stewards.
The kingdom of France being so very great, it is not forty or fifty millions that would ruin its inhabitants, were that sum but equally shared; but, as I have already observed, some being eased, when others are overcharged, and this misfortune coming upon every man in his turn, the collectors being changed so every year, it happens that at last all become poor and miserable. Well, we have now seen how that tax is imposed; let us, in the next place, see how it is levied. Should I say that the manner of collecting the taille is very near as grievous as the taille itself, I should say nothing but what is very true, though at first it seems almost incredible. To clear therefore this point, I shall observe to you only, that the people being grown very poor, they cannot exactly pay all that they are assessed; and upon failure thereof, which must be quarterly, the general receiver or treasurer of each election immediately sends an officer, called Porteur de contrainte, or commissary, to quarter upon the collectors or inhabitants of such a parish, which is so in arrear, with two or three men, whose pay amounts to thirteen or fourteen shillings a day, where they remain till they have other orders from the receiver, which he never grants but upon full payment. And, though this way of levying is rude and severe, yet it is very gentle, if compared with what they do in some provinces of France, where the receivers, instead of commissaries, make use of soldiers, whom they quarter at discretion upon those who make the least default in payment. And this is nothing less than dragooning, It is also worth our remark to observe, that when an inhabitant is become so poor, as he is utterly unable to pay his tax, or suppose that the collector should prove a rogue, and play away the king's money, the other inhabitants are bound to answer for each of these disasters.
There are some provinces in France that are not liable to the taille; for those of Burgundy, Britanny, and Languedoc are free from it; at least as to the name: for truly, at the bottom, they pay too as well as the rest ; but with this only difference, that, instead of taille, their subsidy is called don gratuit, a free gift of the estates of those provinces. What those of Burgundy give, I cannot tell at present; but the free gifts of Britanny and Languedoc amount every year to above six hundred thousand pounds of our English money. Those who are not thoroughly acquainted with the state of France, will likely fall into a great mistake at the first reading of this, and fancy to themselves, that the states of those provinces are like the parliament of England; but, lest I should give any occasion for so great an error, I think it nece
ecessary 10 explain myself. The truth is, that the states of Languedoc and Britanny were formerly like those of England, but now they are only a shadow of what they have been. They meet every year, and, upon their meeting, the governor of the provinces, or some other great