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lord, demands from them, in the name of the king, three or four millions of livres, more or less, as the king pleaseth. His speech, for the formality sake, is indeed taken into consideration; but the sum must be granted, with this only shadow or remain of authority, that they grant somewhat less, perhaps, by fifty crowns, than the king hath demanded, This is all; for they have no power to meddle with any other affairs. After such a digression, which I have thought necessary for my reader's information, give me leave to resume the thread of

my

discourse. Some towns also are free from the taille; but instead of that they pay some other duties, more than an equivalent with that horrid tax. Those duties are called entries; but they deserve to be considered apart by themselves in another article, which will be no less curious, or useful to be known. Where the taille is personal, the noblemen and chief magistrates, as counsellors in parliament, are also free from it, at least as to their personal estate ; but their lands are assessed, as well as those of other men, except seven or eight acres, and provided they plough them themselves, that, as the king is resolved to lose nothing, it happens that their farmers are a great deal more taxed than other men; and I remember thereupon, that a farmer of a manor at Villeneuve St. George, called les Bergeres, about four leagues from Paris, was assessed every year,* nine hundred livres, though he paid but five hundred to his landlord, Monsieur de Commartin, counsellor of state. These are the observations I have thought fit to make upon

the taille, which, I hope, will give a pretty clear idea of it. I will now proceed to consider the consequences of it: for it is not of this monster, like that of the naturals, that those die without any issue, but this has a numerous posterity. The first is the taillon, which is an additional tax, and that was raised at first by Henry the Second, anno 1549, towards the increase of the pay of his gens d'armes, who then lay billetted in villages, and to enable them to pay their hosts whatever they had from them. The poor countrymen thought then to have got a little ease; but soon after they became as much oppressed by their unruly guests as ever: so that whatever had been pretended to them, for their ease, proved only a trick to drain their

purses
the

Now every body knows, that the custom of billeting the gens d'armes, in villages, has been laid aside; but, for all that, the taillon is still continued, and so the people are bound to pay it, which amounts to above the third part of the taille.

The other children of that monster are the contributions which the French king raises upon his subjects, and a subsidy for the winter quarters of his soldiers. To explain this, it must be observed, that, in time of war, the French king is obliged to quarter his troops upon the frontiers, as also, or at least the greatest part of them, in time of peace, because of the numerous garisons he is

more.

Sixty-nine pounds four shillings and six-pence sterling.

1

forced to have. Now, to keep them in pay, there is a general assessment laid upon most of the towns of the kingdom, whereby they are forced to pay the subsidy called the winter quarters, at the rate of five-pence a day for each private centinel; and because the country people are bound to contribute oats and hay for the maintenance of the horse that are garisoned in the towns, when the troops are in Flanders, or in other frontiers, they are likewise forced to convert those oats and hay into money; and this is called contribution, which brings to the king a great sum of money; those commodities being valued at the discretion of those officers, who are appointed for that purpose. Now, what sum that subsidy or contributions produce, it is impossible to determine ; but it cannot but be very great, considering the vast number of soldiers that the French king has in pay, and the numbers of the towns he bas in France.

And yet, how chargeable soever that subsidy is, the French soldiers are such insulting and sawcy guests, that the people would pay twice as much more, if they could but free themselves from those troublesome visits. And this insolence is countenanced by the government so much the more, because of the great advantage the king receiveth by it, many towns paying more to be free from their winter quarters, than they do for the taille; which they should not do, were these soldiers kept under as severe a discipline as they are in England, and only quartered in publick houses.

ARTICLE II. Of the Gabelle. THIS is not so much a tax laid by the French king upon his people, as it is the engrossing of a trade to himself, whereby his subjects are forced to buy the salt from him at his granaries, and at his own price. How great a profit he maketh of that commodity, few people know; and, I am afraid, that few will believe what I am going to say upon that, subject: For though we are used to hear of the great and advantageous returns, that our merchants receive from the East and West Indies, yet they are not to be compared to what the French king gets upon his subjects by this gabelle.

How common salt is in France, those that have travelled in the Pays d'Aunir, or Xaintonge, cannot be ignorant of; but, for those who have not seen the salt-marshes of that country, I hope, it will be sufficient to let them know, that a certain measure, called Muyds de bosse, weighing five thousand two hundred pounds, is bought there, at some times, for three shillings and six pence, and never dearer than four shillings and six pence of English money. It is there that the French king buys that commodity, to sell it again to his subjects, in all the provinces of his kingdom, except Poictou, Xaintonge, Guienne, and Britanny, where the gabelle is not as yet imposed. There may be also some other tracts of land free from that tax, but they are very inconsiderable.

Now, to understand what profit he maketh upon that merchandise, it ought to be observed, that the muyds de bosse contains fifty

two other measures, called minots, that is, one-hundred pounds weight; and that each minot is sold, at this time, in Paris, at the king's granaries, for sixty-four livres: so that, there being fifty-two minots in each muyds de bosse, as I have said, it follows, that the same quantity of salt that the French king buys for four shillings and six pence, at utrnost, is sold to his subjects, at his granaries in Paris, for three-thousand three-hundred and twenty eight livres; that is, two-hundred and fifty-six pounds sterling. It is true, it is not sold at that rate in all the provinces where the gabelle is imposed; but there is a very inconsiderable difference; and now every where near Paris, as in Normandy, &c. it bears the same price.

I do not question, but that, at the first sight of so extravagant a price, many people will be apt to think, that I impose upon their credulity; but there are so many considerable witnesses of what I say, in this kingdom, it is very easy for any man to enquire into the truth of this matter. I must only give you this caution, that, in time of peace, the minot, wbich is now sold for sixty four livres, was then bought for forty-four pounds, but, with this difference alone, the whole account is but pure matter of fact.

How necessary soever the commodity of salt be, that high price would discourage many people from making use of it; but, to prevent that, there are such good orders made that it is impossible to avoid it. First, The importing of foreign salt is forbidden, upon pain of death : so that, let the salt of the king's granaries be never so dear, yet, because it is absolutely necessary, the French are forced to buy it. Secondly, Salt is imposed upon the people there, as the taille; so that each family must take every year a certain quantity of it, proportioned to the number of their family and estate; and so, let them be never so willing to eat their bread and meat without salt, yet the king will lose nothing by it.

This is the reason that some provinces are said to be liable to the salt of granaries, and others to the salt of imposition. To understand this distinction, it must be observed, than in Paris, and some other cities and countries, salt is not imposed upon the inhabitants as the taille; and that, if they buy any, it is out of necessity, and not from any other violence. But in Normandy, Picardy, Champaigne, Anjou, and other places, there are officers appointed to examine each family, and to assess them a minot more or less, according to their number and estate. Let people say what they will, as, that they are so poor, as that they are unable to pay it, they must take the quantity assessed; and, if they do not pay it within six months after, they must expect a military execution; and God knows how severe that is.

A man so compelled to buy a commodity, which is a great deal too dear for his purse, would gladly sell it again, could he find a favourable opportunity. And there is nothing in this, but what is very natural; but there are such penalties, both for the buyer and seller, that it is very dangerous for either of them to drive on such a trade. The first offence is punished with a fine; but, in case the offender be unable to pay it, he is condemned to the penalty of the second

offence, which is corporal; viz. To be branded with a red flowerde-lis upon the cheek, or the shoulder. And so hard a punishment ought, one would think, to deter any man from offending twice. Yet there are some who offend a third time; and those, upon conviction, are sent slaves to the gallies, were it only for a pound of salt, given, sold, lent, or bartered. The same punishment is inflicted upon the Faux Sauniers; that is, a sort of people, who, invited by the bigh price of salt, convey it secretly from Poictou and Britanny, into the provinces liable to the gabelle.

The fishermen, and other inhabitants of the sea-coasts, would have a very officious neighbour, were they but suffered to make use of salt-water: but, to hinder it, there are watches appointed; and, were a man once convicted for having made use of it, he would be no less severely punished than a Faux Saunier.

How heavy that cursed gabelle is upon the French nation, will appear, I hope, by what I have already said. But yet, were it fairly managed, it would not however be intolerable ; it is certain, that the cheats and knaveries, committed on that account, are more to be feared than the imposition itself. This tax robs a man but of bis money; but the managers of it can deprive him both of his reputation, life, and estate: for the tools of slavery and arbitary power being always, and every where alike, I mean covetous, base, unmerciful, and treacherous, it happens, many times, that, under colour of searching a man's house upon pretence of forbidden salt, they will hide some themselves in a corner, where they are sure to find it again upon a second visit; and this is sufficient to fine a man, perhaps, more than he is worth in the world. But, if a man should have an enemy, who is so base as to bribe the officers of the salt into his interests, and oblige them to serve that trick thrice upon him, which he can do for a little sum of money, that man shall be sent a slave to the gallies, which is a punishment worse a thousand times than death itself. This observation is not grounded only upon a bare peradventure, but there are many examples of it; and, were it not for fear of bringing a disgrace upon some families that are now in England, I could produce very good authorities.

I have said, that the provinces of Poicton, Xaintonge, Britanny, and Guienne, are free from the gabelle; and, perhaps, some will wonder at it; and, should I omit to say what I know upon

that point, likely enough I should be blamed, That distinction, in my opinion, is grounded upon three reasons :

First, Britanny being united to the crown of France but since Charles the eighth, who married the heiress of that fine duchy, it is no wonder that the inhabitants of that province have greater privileges than others. And so I may say the same thing as to Poictou and Guienne, those countries being formerly subjected to the crown of England. But as for Xaintonge, or Pays d'Aunix, truly there is another particular reason: for,

First, Would it not be too severe, nay, and inconsistent too with the French king's interests, to impose the gabelle in that very place where the salt is made?

Secondly, If we consider how common and general the insurrections were in Britanny and Guienne, in 1674, when the French king attempted to put that burthensome excise upon them, perhaps we shall find a reasonable cause to conclude, that, if the gabelle be not introduced in those provinces, it is purely because the inhabitants are no ways disposed to suffer it. Their insurrection was so great, that they were forced to give over that design; and, had the confederates but made use of that favourable opportunity, it might have proved of fatal consequence to the grandeur of that prince.

Thirdly, Though these reasons seem very probable, and it is possible that they have in a measure contributed to the ease of those provinces; yet I take the French king to be so great an enemy to every thing that has but the shadow of liberty, and so jealous of his arbitrary power, that, I do verily believe, he would have crushed the pretended privileges of those provinces, and imposed upon them the gabelle, had he not been kept from it by other considerations. What they were,

I cannot tell, except those great sums of money which those counties have, finance, from time to time, presented to the king; at least, I know this, that they were given for that end, that so they might be free from that terrible tax: and I see no cause why I may not conclude, that this is the principal reason, why they have not yet undergone a fate that is common to all the other provinces of France.

Now an excise that is so heavy and burthensome, would bring into the king's coffers a world of money, were he not forced to be at such vast expences; first, in transporting of salt from the place where it is made, into other provinces; and, secondly, in maintaining above twenty thousand men, that are employed about raising the gabelle, or for watching over the Faux Sauniers, and others, who would cheat the king otherwise, in all probability.

ARTICLB III. Des Aides. Of Aids. LES Aides are an excise upon wine, which is very considerable; but, for the better understanding of it, I must in the first place, tell you something of the measures that are used in Paris. We had so great a trade at Bourdeaux for wine, that, I believe, very few are ignorant of what the measure is the French call there a tonneau; but in Paris, and the environs of that city, they speak only of muyds, which is the third part of a tonneau, and contains about two hundred and eighty pints, Paris measure, which is about as many London quarts. And now, after this explanation, I will proceed.

When the proprietors of the vineyards about Paris bave sold their wine, they are obliged to declare it at a certain office, which is appointed for that purpose, in a convenient place, and to tell the officers, or clerks, at what price they sold it per muyd, and to pay one enny per * livre, besides an additional duty of sixpence half-pen

* The French livre is eighteen pence sterling.

VOL. X.

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