applied to any other purpose, or to supply 
the common exigencies of the state. When 
it is applied to the sole purpose above mentioned
each carriage is supposed to pay exactly 
for the wear and tear which that carriage 
occasions of the roads. But when it is applied 
to any other purpose, each carriage is 
supposed to pay for more than that wear and 
tear, and contributes to the supply of some 
other exigency of the state. But as the turnpike 
toll raises the price of goods in proportion 
to their weight and not to their value, it 
is chiefly paid by the consumers of coarse 
and bulky, not by those of precious and light 
commodities. Whatever exigency of the 
state, therefore, this tax might be intended 
to supply, that exigency would be chiefly 
supplied at the expense of the poor, not of 
the rich; at the expense of those who are 
least able to supply it, not of those who are 
most able. 
Thirdly, If government should at any time 
neglect the reparation of the high-roads, it 
would be still more difficult, than it is at present, 
to compel the proper application of any 
part of the turnpike tolls. A large revenue 
might thus be levied upon the people, without 
any part of it being applied to the only 
purpose to which a revenue levied in this 
manner ought ever to be applied. If the 
meanness and poverty of the trustees of turnpike 
roads render it sometimes difficult, at 
present, to oblige them to repair their wrong
their wealth and greatness would render it 
ten times more so in the case which is here 
In France, the funds destined for the reparation 
of the high-roads are under the immediate 
direction of the executive power
Those funds consist, partly in a certain number 
of days labour, which the country people are 
in most parts of Europe obliged to give to the 
reparation of the highways; and partly in 
such a portion of the general revenue of the 
state as the king chooses to spare from his 
other expenses
By the ancient law of France, as well as 
by that of most other parts of Europe, the 
labour of the country people was under the 
direction of a local or provincial magistracy
which had no immediate dependency upon 
the king's council. But, by the present 
practice, both the labour of the country people, 
and whatever other fund the king may 
choose to assign for the reparation of the 
high-roads in any particular province or generality, 
are entirely under the management 
of the intendant; an officer who is appointed 
and removed by the king's council who receives 
his orders from it, and is in constant 
correspondence with it. In the progress of 
despotism, the authority of the executive 
power gradually absorbs that of every other 
power in the state, and assumes to itself the 
management of every branch of revenue 
which is destined for any public purpose. In 
France, however, the great post-roads, the 
roads which make the communication between 
the principal towns of the kingdom, are in 
general kept in good order; and, in some 
provinces, are even a good deal superior to 
the greater part of the turnpike roads of 
England. But what we call the cross roads
that is, the far greater part of the roads in 
the country, are entirely neglected, and are 
in many places absolutely impassable for any 
heavy carriage. In some places it is even 
dangerous to travel on horseback, and mules 
are the only conveyance which can safely be 
trusted. The proud minister of an ostentatious 
court, may frequently take pleasure in executing 
a work of splendour and magnificence
such as a great highway, which is frequently 
seen by the principal nobility, whose 
applauses not only flatter his vanity, but even 
contribute to support his interest at court
But to execute a great number of little works
in which nothing that can be done can make 
any great appearance, or excite the smallest 
degree of admiration in any traveller, and 
which, in short, have nothing to recommend 
them but their extreme utility, is a business 
which appears, in every respect, too mean 
and paltry to merit the attention of so great a 
magistrate. Under such an administration
therefore, such works are almost always entirely 
In China, and in several other governments 
of Asia, the executive power charges itself 
both with the reparation of the high-roads, 
and with the maintenance of the navigable 
canals. In the instructions which are given 
to the governor of each province, those objects, 
it is said, are constantly recommended to 
him, and the judgment which the court forms 
of his conduct is very much regulated by the 
attention which he appears to have paid to this 
part of his instructions. This branch of 
public police, accordingly, is said to be very 
much attended to in all those countries, but 
particularly in China, where the high-roads
and still more the navigable canals, it is pretended
exceed very much every thing of the 
same kind which is known in Europe. The 
accounts of those works, however, which have 
been transmitted to Europe, have generally 
been drawn up by weak and wondering travellers
frequently by stupid and lying missionaries
If they had been examined by 
more intelligent eyes, and if the accounts of 
them had been reported by more faithful 
witnesses, they would not, perhaps, appear to 
be so wonderful. The account which Bernier 
gives of some works of this kind in 
Indostan, falls very short of what had been 
reported of them by other travellers, more 
disposed to the marvellous than he was. It 
may too, perhaps, be in those countries, as it 
is in France, where the great roads, the great 
communications, which are likely to be the