Изображения страниц

ny per muyd. The wine-coopers, or whoever have bought that wine to be carried into Paris, are forced to make a like declaration at the gates of the city, and to pay the like sum, viz. one penny per livre, and sixteen pence half-penny per muyd for the additional duty. But here we must take notice, that this second office has a greater power than the first; for, by their own authority, they may arbitrarily put what price they please upon the wine, wbich very much increases the duties upon it; and, God knows, they seldom, if ever, fail of this. But, over and above all these impositions, they pay for the duty of entry twenty-two livres per muyd to the king, besides some other duties to the town-house. Wine being thus brought into their cellars, they then must pay yearly to the king eight livres one sous, or penny halfpenny, for having the liberty to sell it again: and, when they sell it, they must make again the like declaration as before, and pay the like sums. As these duties and declarations were too frequent, the wine coopers used formerly to conceal the true price of wine; but now they dare not do it, for fear of being catched: for the excisemen knowing the general price of wine, as well as the wine coopers themselves, and hav og power to take it, paying to the coopers the price he has put upon it in his declaration, they would run the risque of suffering great loss and damage.

We have hitherto seen what the duties are that the wine-merchants

pay; let us see now what those are that are imposed upon the vintners, I mean, those wbo sell wine by retail. It is not free for any man in Paris to set up a sign and sell wine, as it is in London; I mean, after he has served an apprenticeship, the time appointed by the customs: this liberty must be obtained from the French king; and, for it, a man must pay yearly eight livres one sous, or penny half-penny ; this is called, The duty of sign. Besides, they were formerly obliged to give the eighth part of the money they received for the sale of their wine; but, because this was too troublesome, as well to the king's officers, as to the vintners themselves, they made an agreement to pay eight livres one sous half-penny, for every muyd of wine they sell, let it be good or bad. This is what the French call le huitieme, and in what duties that great excise upon wine doth consist, call les aides, I think now not improper to re-capitulate, all those duties, that we may see, in one view, what they amount to,

And, the better to illustrate the matter, I must put a price upon the muyd of wine, and see what money comes to the king by the sale of that muyd, that is somewhat like our hogshead, but a little larger, containing about two-hundred and eighty quarts. The common price, about Paris, was, in time of peace, eighteen or twenty liyres per muyd, but now it is four times as dear again. Supposing, however, for our purpose, that a muyd of wine be sold in the vineyards for eighteen livres, that is, near twenty-seven shillings of our money, the proprietor must pay, in the first place, two shillings and ten-pence half-penny, for the first duty of the declaration; the like sum must be paid by the wine merchant at the gates of the city,

supposing the officers to be honest (but, if they will put a higher price upon it, for it absolutely depends on their roguery, or capricio, I cannot say nothing to that) and twenty-two livres, besides, for the duty of entry; so that it is manifest, a hogshead of wine, which was sold for twenty-seven shillings sterling, pays to the king, be. sides some duties to the town-house, thirty-eight shillings and nine pence.

These are the duties of the first sale: now let us suppose, that the same muyd be sold to a vintner. As the wine merchant must get something to live, he cannot sell it for less than sixty livres, having laid out forty-three already, besides the expences of the carriage ; upon which, he must pay again, for the declaration, one penny per livre, and the additional duty, which comes to five shillings and tenpence half-penny; and the vintner, besides, being obliged to pay eight livres, one penny half-penny; it followeth, that the king receiveth, from this second sale, twelve livres and seven-pence, that is, nineteen shillings and six pence one farthing, of our English money, which, being joined to thirty-nine shillings and nine-pence of the first sale, it appears, that a muyd of wine, sold at first for twenty, seven shillings, pays to the king, two pounds, nineteen shillings, and three-pence farthing.

Now, it is not only in Paris that these aides are imposed, but all the provinces of this kingdom, 'except Languedoc, Guienne, Limosin, and Britanny, are liable to this excise. Indeed, the entries are not so considerable in the other towns, as they are in Paris; but they pay every where the buitieme, that is, the eighth part of the price for their wine. And as to the countries, because there can be no duty of entry laid on them, they buy therefore, in lieu of it, another, which, in my opinion, is much worse. As soon as ever the vintage is over, the rats de cave, cellar rats (so the people call the officers for the aides) go into every man's cellar, be he of what sort soever, and take an exact account of the wine they have in them: and, three months after, they make a second search, to see what is become of that wine; and, if any has been sold, they must straight produce the acquittances of the office, which is appointed for the declaration of the price, and of the additional duty, which I have already explained. And as for wine which has been drank in the family, they pay another duty, called le trop beu, that is to say, too much drunk; and this tax amounts to eight livres, or twelve shillings sterling. Now, this visit, coming quarterly, must needs be very troublesome : but is not this an undeniable proof of the fatherly care the French king takes of his people? Perhaps, they would otherwise make an immoderate use of the creature; but this duty indoctrinates them to be sober, in pity to their purses.

I had forgot, the province of Normandy must also be excepted; though others pay only the eighth part, but this pays the fourth of all the liquors that are sold in publick houses, as wine, beer, cyder, aquavite, and the like; so that, if a quart of wine should be sold for two shillings, the king must have six-pence out of it, besides all other duties of entry, &c, which I have before mentioned. These duties

[ocr errors]

of entry are different one from the other, almost in every town; but at Royen, the capital city of the province, they amount to fifteen livres per muyd, that is, twenty-two shillings and sixpence sterling. I cannot say positively, what it is they pay for cyder, or beer, but, as much as I can remember of it, it is about the fourth part of what they pay for wine. It is likewise to be observed, that, because Normandy produces no wine, and there are excessive customs every where upon the frontiers of that province, as well as the sea-ports; therefore, instead of the quatrieme, or fourth part, the king receives above one half.

When I said, that the duty of entry for winė amounts, at Paris, but to twenty two livres, or thirty-three shillings and nine-pence sterling, it is to be understood, of the most common wine; for the best pay a great deal more. The muscadine, for instance, pays two pounds" ten shillings, and the aquavite three pounds, sixteen shillings, and sixpence: but I must observe to you, that the aquavite pays a double duty, that is, the fourth part instead of the eighth.

Though Britanny be a pays d'etats, as the French call it, yet it hath a terrible excise there upon wine. Such are the great and little duties of the states, which come to a hundred livres, or seven pounds, thirteen shillings, and nine-pence sterling, per tonneau, Bourdeaux measure, that is, four hogsheads of wine, containing, in all, about eight hundred and forty of our London quarts. And, though this excise is raised upon wine, sold only in publick houses, and no where else, yet, about six years ago, was it let to farm for three millions of livres, which amounts to two hundred thirty thousand seven hundred sixty-nine pounds, four shillings, and sixpence sterling, whereof, two millions five hundred thousand livres are paid to the king, and the other five hundred thousand are to bear the charges of the states of the said province. Over and above these duties, there is another, called impost and billot, belonging only to the king, which brings every year into his coffers five hundred thousand livres. This duty consists in thirty-four shillings and sevenpence, which the king takes there upon every ton of wine. He hath also a custom of three shillings and nine-pence upon every ton of wine, brought to Britanny by sea : so that all these duties, when compared together, make it plainly manifest, that the excise upon every ton of wine amounts to nine pounds, four shillings, and sixpence, which is more than the price of the wine. This, I think, is sufficient to explain the matter I was to make out, viz. wherein con. sisted the excise upon wines which the French call les aides ; but, to have it more clearly understood, I would again desire the reader, to read it with care and attention.

ARTICLE IV. Of the Entries. THIS is a general excise upon every thing that comes to Paris; for nothing there is free, but air, besides the river, which runs through the middle of the city. I wish I could be as particular upon this article, as I have been upon the others; but it cannot reason.


ably be expected, that the memory of a man is able to supply him, for such an undertaking; however, I will do my endeavour to ex. plain it, as well as I can.

In the entries of Paris and Rouen, there is included a duty, which the French call Piefourchie, that is, an excise upon all cloven-footed beasts; as oxen, sheep, swine, and the like. They pay for every ox, at this time, nine shillings sterling; for a cow, seven shillings and sixpence; three shillings and four-pence, for a calf, or a hog; half a crown for a sheep, and five groats for a lamb. I say, at this time, for in times of peace, this duty was not so high by one half. There is a duty too upon fowls, which is four-pence per livre, let unto farm, near twenty-five thousand pounds.

The imposition that is laid upon timber, and other wood, fit for work and service, is lett, or, at least, was so some years ago, for fifteen thousand three hundred eighty-four pounds, twelve shillings sterling, per annum.

That upon fire-wood amounts to much more; but, indeed, I cannot now remember, nor learn, how much the just sum is : but this I can say, that they pay one shilling and three-pence, for every load of fire-wood; and whosoever will consider the largeness of the city of Paris, the number of families in it, and, that they burn no seacoal, cannot but agree, that this tax must bring in a vast sum of money to the exchequer. I must plead the like excuse, as to the duties of entry laid upon charcoal, and hay, and both salt and fresh fish; but the reader may easily guess, that they are not in any disproportion to those I have already mentioned.

Eggs, butter, cheese, and all manner of herbs, pay four-pence per livre, that is, four shillings per pound.

If all the money, accruing from those impositions, were brought into the king's treasury, it would amount to a vast sum. But it must be observed, that, from time to time, the French king createth, to use the French phrase, many employments en Titre d'Office, that is, hereditary employments, to be overseers of the sales of certain commodities, with a privilege, that no body shall sell what they sell themselves; and, besides, they take for their own use one part of the duties that are laid upon some certain commodities. Some years ago, there were forty-four Jurez, so they call them, created all at once, to sell, or appraise fowls, and each of them paid down above three thousand pounds, and, to repay themselves, they took three half-pence per livre. A like number was created for fish, with the same salary. Those for hay are far more numerous, but then they are not altogether so dear, for they may be bought for two thousand three hundred seven pounds, thirteen shillings, and sixpence. Those upon charcoal cost above three-thonsand pounds, but they are not many; but those upon wood are innumerable; and I am very well informed, that the French king has received, out of those offices for wood, near two millions four hundred thousand pounds sterling. Now, to repay themselves, they are allowed, as I have said, some duties; but the king, very often, demands from them some ready money, and this increaseth their duties so much the more, and is the reason, that all manner of things are grown, gradatim in Paris, to such an excessive price; for there is a general excise upon all things that come into that city, even to the very ashes, and old lees of wine; and the duty, laid upon them, was lett at twelve-hundred twentythree pounds, one shilling, and sixpence

And this duty of entry is not particular only to Paris ; for it is imposed upon most parts of France, with this only difference, that the duties are not exacted so high, every where. One example of this, I hope, will be sufficient:

At Caen, in Normandy, a place well known to our Englishmen; they pay, for every pound of butter, a half-penny.

For a load of fire-wood, ten-pence.
For a load of timber, thirteen shillings and four-pence.
For a load of hay, one shilling and eight-pence.

For a horse-load of wood, as they use in that country, two-pence half-penny.

For a horse-load of fish, three shillings and five-pence.
For the load of a man, or woman, of fish, eight-pence. And,
For a horse-load of corn, one shilling.

Article V. Of the King's Demesn and Customs. I have but very little to say upon these heads, for I do not look on them to be an effect of arbitrary power. All crowns in the world must have a sufficient revenue, either in lands, or customs, to support them; and so has the crown of France. But, as the French kings have, within this last century, very much enlarged their primitive power, it is no wonder, if they have increased, likewise, their ancient patrimony. The duty joined to the demesn, which I take to be tyrannical, is that called Lods & ventes; that is, a certain sum of moņey, which people are forced to pay, whenever they sell their estates, or any part of them. Indeed, this duty is not in all places alike; in the country, where the customary law of Paris is received, the buyer is obliged to pay the king the twelfth-penny: that is to say, out of twelve thousand pounds, one thousand; but, at Troyes in Champaign, they pay three shillings and four-pence, out of every pound; and that duty is paid, the one half by the buyer, and the other half by the seller. This is very

hard, This tax, for truly it deserves no better a name, is not of the creatie on of this French king; but, about twelve years ago, he created another very like it; for he ordered, that all people should pay the same duty, whenever they bartered their lands, as if they had sold them for ready money. This was harder yet than the other; and never were the French king's subjects so much barrassed and plagued upon account of any tax, as they have been of this; for they have been forced to pay the arrears thereof, if I may so call it, having been called to give an account for these twenty years

last past. The trajtes foraines, or customs, are a duty laid upon

all commodities, that are exported from France, or imported into it. But this,

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »