the value of French money in the end 
of the last century) amounted to upwards of 
nine hundred thousand pounds sterling
When that great work was finished, the most 
likely method, it was found, of keeping it in 
constant repair, was to make a present of the 
tolls to Riquet, the engineer who planned 
and conducted the work. Those tolls constitute, 
at present, a very large estate to the 
different branches of the family of that gentleman, 
who have, therefore, a great interest 
to keep the work in constant repair. But had 
those tolls been put under the management 
of commissioners, who had no such interest, 
they might perhaps, have been dissipated in 
ornamental and unnecessary expenses, while 
the most essential parts of the works were allowed 
to go to ruin. 
The tolls for the maintenance of a high-road 
cannot, with any safety, be made the 
property of private persons. A high-road
though entirely neglected, does not become 
altogether impassable, though a canal does. 
The proprietors of the tolls upon a high-road
therefore, might neglect altogether the repair 
of the road, and yet continue to levy very 
nearly the same tolls. It is proper, therefore, 
that the tolls for the maintenance of such a 
work should be put under the management 
of commissioners or trustees
In Great Britain, the abuses which the very 
trustees have committed in the management 
of those tolls, have, in many cases, been very 
justly complained of. At many turnpikes
it has been said, the money levied is more 
than double of what is necessary for executing
in the completest manner, the work
which is often executed in a very slovenly 
manner, and sometimes not executed at all. 
The system of repairing the high-roads by 
tolls of this kind, it must be observed, is not 
of very long standing. We should not wonder, 
therefore, if it has not yet been brought 
that degree of perfection of which it seems 
capable. If mean and improper persons are 
frequently appointed trustees; and if proper 
courts of inspection and account have not yet 
been established for controlling their conduct
and for reducing the tolls to what is barely 
sufficient for executing the work to be done 
by them; the recency of the institution both 
accounts and apologizes for those defects, of 
which, by the wisdom of parliament, the 
greater part may, in due time, be gradually 
The money levied at the different turnpikes 
in Great Britain, is supposed to exceed so 
much what is necessary for repairing the 
roads, that the savings which, with proper 
economy, might be made from it, have been 
considered, even by some ministers, as a very 
great resource, which might, at some time or 
another, be applied to the exigencies of the 
state. Government, it has been said, by taking 
the management of the turnpikes into its 
own hands, and by employing the soldiers, 
who would work for a very small addition to 
their pay, could keep the roads in good order
at a much less expense than it can be done by 
trustees, who have no other workmen to employ, 
but such as derive their whole subsistence 
from their wages. A great revenue
half a million, perhaps[48], it has been pretended, 
might in this manner be gained, without 
laying any new burden upon the people; and 
the turnpike roads might be made to contribute 
to the general expense of the state, in 
the same manner as the post-office does at 
That a considerable revenue might be gained 
in this manner, I have no doubt, though 
probably not near so much as the projectors 
of this plan have supposed. The plan itself, 
however, seems liable to several very important 
First, If the tolls which are levied at the 
turnpikes should ever be considered as one of 
the resources for supplying the exigencies of 
the state, they would certainly be augmented 
as those exigencies were supposed to require
According to the policy of Great Britain, 
therefore, they would probably be augmented 
very fast. The facility with which a great 
revenue could be drawn from them, would 
probably encourage administration to recur 
very frequently to this resource. Though it 
may, perhaps, be more than doubtful, whether 
half a million could by any economy be 
saved out of the present tolls, it can scarcely 
be doubted, but that a million might be saved 
out of them, if they were doubled; and perhaps 
two millions, if they were tripled[49]. This 
great revenue, too, might be levied without 
the appointment of a single new officer to collect 
and receive it. But the turnpike tolls
being continually augmented in this manner
instead of facilitating the inland commerce of 
the country, as at present, would soon become 
a very great incumbrance upon it. The 
expense of transporting all heavy goods from 
one part of the country to another, would 
soon be so much increased, the market for 
all such goods, consequently, would soon be 
so much narrowed, that their production 
would be in a great measure discouraged
and the most important branches of the domestic 
industry of the country annihilated altogether. 
Secondly, A tax upon carriages, in proportion 
to their weight, though a very equal 
tax when applied to the sole purpose of repairing 
the roads, is a very unequal one when