tax upon hawkers and pedlars, that upon 
hackney-coaches and chairs, and that which 
the keepers of ale-houses pay for a licence to 
retail ale and spiritous liquors. During the 
late war, another tax of the same kind was 
proposed upon shops. The war having been 
undertaken, it was said, in defence of the 
trade of the country, the merchants, who were 
to profit by it, ought to contribute towards 
the support of it. 
A tax, however, upon the profits of stock 
employed in any particular branch of trade
can never fall finally upon the dealers (who 
must in all ordinary cases have their reasonable 
profit, and, where the competition is free, 
can seldom have more than that profit), but 
always upon the consumers, who must be 
obliged to pay in the price of the goods the 
tax which the dealer advances; and generally 
with some overcharge
A tax of this kind, when it is proportioned 
to the trade of the dealer, is finally paid by 
the consumer, and occasions no oppression to 
the dealer. When it is not so proportioned
but is the same upon all dealers, though in 
this case, too, it is finally paid by the consumer
yet it favours the great, and occasions 
some oppression to the small dealer. The 
tax of five shillings a-week upon every hackney 
coach, and that of ten shillings a-year 
upon every hackney chair, so far as it is 
advanced by the different keepers of such 
coaches and chairs, is exactly enough proportioned 
to the extent of their respective dealings
It neither favours the great, nor oppresses 
the smaller dealer. The tax of 
twenty shillings a-year for a licence to sell 
ale; of forty shillings for a licence to sell 
spiritous liquors; and of forty shillings more 
for a licence to sell wine, being the same 
upon all retailers, must necessarily give some 
advantage to the great, and occasion some 
oppression to the small dealers. The former 
must find it more easy to get back the tax in 
the price of their goods than the latter. 
The moderation of the tax, however, renders 
this inequality of less importance; and it 
may to many people appear not improper to 
give some discouragement to the multiplication 
of little ale-houses. The tax upon 
shops, it was intended, should be the same 
upon all shops. It could not well have been 
otherwise. It would have been impossible 
to proportion, with tolerable exactness, the 
tax upon a shop to the extent of the trade 
carried on in it, without such an inquisition 
as would have been altogether insupportable 
in a free country. If the tax had been considerable
it would have oppressed the small
and forced almost the whole retail trade into 
the hands of the great dealers. The competition 
of the former being taken away, the 
latter would have enjoyed a monopoly of the 
trade; and, like all other monopolists, would 
soon have combined to raise their profits 
much beyond what was necessary for the payment 
of the tax. The final payment, instead 
of falling upon the shop-keeper, would have 
fallen upon the consumer, with a considerable 
overcharge to the profit of the shop-keeper
For these reasons, the project of a tax upon 
shops was laid aside, and in the room of it 
was substituted the subsidy, 1759. 
What in France is called the personal taille
is perhaps, the most important tax upon the 
profits of stock employed in agriculture, that 
is levied in any part of Europe. 
In the disorderly state of Europe, during 
the prevalence of the feudal government, the 
sovereign was obliged to content himself with 
taxing those who were too weak to refuse to 
pay taxes. The great lords, though willing 
to assist him upon particular emergencies
refused to subject themselves to any constant 
tax, and he was not strong enough to force 
them. The occupiers of land all over Europe 
were, the greater part of them, originally 
bond-men. Through the greater part of 
Europe, they were gradually emancipated
Some of them acquired the property of landed 
estates, which they held by some base or 
ignoble tenure, sometimes under the king
and sometimes under some other great lord
like the ancient copy-holders of England
Others, without acquiring the property, obtained 
leases for terms of years, of the lands 
which they occupied under their lord, and 
thus became less dependent upon him. The 
great lords seem to have beheld the degree of 
prosperity and independency, which this inferior 
order of men had thus come to enjoy
with a malignant and contemptuous indignation
and willingly consented that the sovereign 
should tax them. In some countries
this tax was confined to the lands which were 
held in property by an ignoble tenure; and, 
in this case, the taille was said to be real. 
The land tax established by the late king of 
Sardinia, and the taille in the provinces of 
Languedoc, Provence, Dauphine, and Brittany
in the generality of Montauban, and 
in the elections of Agen and Condom, as well 
as in some other districts of France; are 
taxes upon lands held in property by an ignoble 
tenure. In other countries, the tax 
was laid upon the supposed profits of all 
those who held, in farm or lease, lands belonging 
to other people, whatever might be 
the tenure by which the proprietor held them; 
and in this case, the taille was said to be personal
In the greater part of those provinces 
of France, which are called the countries of 
elections, the taille is of this kind. The real 
taille, as it is imposed only upon a part of the 
lands of the country, is necessarily an unequal
but it is not always an arbitrary tax
though it is so upon some occasions. The 
personal taille, as it is intended to be proportioned