It has been owing in part, to the great 
prosperity of almost every part of the country, 
the rents of almost all the estates of Great 
Britain having, since the time when this valuation 
was first established, been continually 
rising, and scarce any of them having fallen
The landlords, therefore, have almost all gained 
the difference between the tax which they 
would have paid, according to the present rent 
of their estates, and that which they actually pay 
according to the ancient valuation. Had the 
state of the country been different, had rents 
been gradually falling in consequence of the 
declension of cultivation, the landlords would 
almost all have lost this difference. In the 
state of things which has happened to take 
place since the revolution, the constancy of 
the valuation has been advantageous to the 
landlord and hurtful to the sovereign. In a 
different state of things it might have been 
advantageous to the sovereign and hurtful to 
the landlord
As the tax is made payable in money, so 
the valuation of the land is expressed in money. 
Since the establishment of this valuation, the 
value of silver has been pretty uniform, and 
there has been no alteration in the standard 
of the coin, either as to weight or fineness
Had silver risen considerably in its value, as 
it seems to have done in the course of the 
two centuries which preceded the discovery of 
the mines of America, the constancy of the 
valuation might have proved very oppressive 
to the landlord. Had silver fallen considerably 
in its value, as it certainly did for about 
a century at least after the discovery of those 
mines, the same constancy of valuation would 
have reduced very much this branch of the 
revenue of the sovereign. Had any considerable 
alteration been made in the standard 
of the money, either by sinking the same 
quantity of silver to a lower denomination
or by raising it to a higher; had an ounce of 
silver, for example, instead of being coined 
into five shillings and two pence, been coined 
either into pieces which bore so low a denomination 
as two shillings and seven pence, or 
into pieces which bore so high a one as ten 
shillings and four pence, it would, in the one 
case, have hurt the revenue of the proprietor
in the other that of the sovereign. 
In circumstances, therefore, somewhat different 
from those which have actually taken 
place, this constancy of valuation might have 
been a very great inconveniency, either to the 
contributors or to the commonwealth. In 
the course of ages, such circumstances, however, 
must at some time or other happen. But 
though empires, like all the other works of men, 
have all hitherto proved mortal, yet every empire 
aims at immortality. Every constitution, 
therefore, which it is meant should be as permanent 
as the empire itself, ought to be convenient
not in certain circumstances only, 
but in all circumstances; or ought to be 
suited, not to those circumstances which are 
transitory, occasional, or accidental, but to 
those which are necessary, and therefore always 
the same. 
A tax upon the rent of land, which varies 
with every variation of the rent, or which rises 
and falls according to the improvement or 
neglect of cultivation, is recommended by that 
sect of men of letters in France, who call 
themselves the economists, as the most equitable 
of all taxes. All taxes, they pretend, 
fall ultimately upon the rent of land, and 
ought, therefore, to be imposed equally upon 
the fund which must finally pay them. That 
all taxes ought to fall as equally as possible 
upon the fund which must finally pay them, 
is certainly true. But without entering into 
the disagreeable discussion of the metaphysical 
arguments by which they support their 
very ingenious theory, it will sufficiently appear, 
from the following review, what are the 
taxes which fall finally upon the rent of the 
land, and what are those which fall finally upon 
some other fund. 
In the Venetian territory, all the arable 
lands which are given in lease to farmers are 
taxed at a tenth of the rent.[53] The leases are 
recorded in a public register, which is kept 
by the officers of revenue in each province or 
district. When the proprietor cultivates his 
own lands, they are valued according to an 
equitable estimation, and he is allowed a deduction 
of one-fifth of the tax; so that for 
such land he pays only eight instead of ten 
per cent. of the supposed rent
A land-tax of this kind is certainly more 
equal than the land-tax of England. It might 
not, perhaps, be altogether so certain, and the 
assessment of the tax might frequently occasion 
a good deal more trouble to the landlord
It might, too, be a good deal more expensive 
in the levying
Such a system of administration, however, 
might, perhaps, be contrived, as would in a 
great measure both prevent this uncertainty
and moderate this expense
The landlord and tenant, for example, might 
jointly be obliged to record their lease in a 
public register. Proper penalties might be 
enacted against concealing or misrepresenting 
any of the conditions; and if part of those 
penalties were to be paid to either of the two 
parties who informed against and convicted 
the other of such concealment or misrepresentation
it would effectually deter them from 
combining together in order to defraud the 
public revenue. All the conditions of the 
lease might be sufficiently known from such a 
Some landlords, instead of raising the rent
take a fine for the renewal of the lease. This 
practice is, in most cases, the expedient of a 
spendthrift, who, for a sum of ready money