not necessarily diminish the ability of the inferior 
ranks of people to bring up families
Upon the sober and industrious poor, taxes 
upon such commodities act as sumptuary laws, 
and dispose them either to moderate, or to 
refrain altogether from the use of superfluities 
which they can no longer easily afford. Their 
ability to bring up families, in consequence 
of this forced frugality, instead of being diminished, 
is frequently, perhaps, increased by 
the tax. It is the sober and industrious poor 
who generally bring up the most numerous 
families, and who principally supply the demand 
for useful labour. All the poor, indeed, 
are not sober and industrious; and the 
dissolute and disorderly might continue to indulge 
themselves in the use of such commodities
after this rise of price, in the same manner 
as before, without regarding the distress 
which this indulgence might bring upon their 
families. Such disorderly persons, however, 
seldom rear up numerous families, their children 
generally perishing from neglect, mismanagement
and the scantiness or unwholesomeness 
of their food. If, by the strength of 
their constitution, they survive the hardships 
to which the bad conduct of their parents exposes 
them, yet the example of that bad conduct 
commonly corrupts their morals; so that, 
instead of being useful to society by their industry
they become public nuisances by their 
vices and disorders. Though the advanced 
price of the luxuries of the poor, therefore, 
might increase somewhat the distress of such 
disorderly families, and thereby diminish somewhat 
their ability to bring up children, it would 
not probably diminish much the useful population 
of the country. 
Any rise in the average price of necessaries
unless it be compensated by a proportionable 
rise in the wages of labour, must necessarily 
diminish, more or less, the ability of the poor 
to bring up numerous families, and, consequently, 
to supply the demand for useful labour
whatever may be the state of that demand
whether increasing, stationary, or declining
or such as requires an increasing
stationary, or declining population
Taxes upon luxuries have no tendency to 
raise the price of any other commodities, except 
that of the commodities taxed. Taxes 
upon necessaries, by raising the wages of labour
necessarily tend to raise the price of all 
manufactures, and consequently to diminish 
the extent of their sale and consumption
Taxes upon luxuries are finally paid by the 
consumers of the commodities taxed, without 
any retribution. They fall indifferently 
upon every species of revenue, the wages of 
labour, the profits of stock, and the rent of 
land. Taxes upon necessaries, so far as they 
affect the labouring poor, are finally paid
partly by landlords, in the diminished rent of 
their lands, and partly by rich consumers
whether landlords or others, in the advanced 
price of manufactured goods; and always 
with a considerable overcharge. The advanced 
price of such manufactures as are real 
necessaries of life, and are destined for the 
consumption of the poor, of coarse woollens
for example, must be compensated to the 
poor by a farther advancement of their wages
The middling and superior ranks of people
if they understood their own interest, ought 
always to oppose all taxes upon the necessaries 
of life, as well as all taxes upon the 
wages of labour. The final payment of both 
the one and the other falls altogether upon 
themselves, and always with a considerable 
overcharge. They fall heaviest upon the 
landlords, who always pay in a double 
capacity; in that of landlords, by the reduction
of their rent; and in that of rich consumers
by the increase of their expense
The observation of Sir Matthew Decker, that 
certain taxes are, in the price of certain goods
sometimes repeated and accumulated four or 
five times, is perfectly just with regard to 
taxes upon the necessaries of life. In the 
price of leather, for example, you must pay not 
only for the tax upon the leather of your own 
shoes, but for a part of that upon those of the 
shoemaker and the tanner. You must pay
too, for the tax upon the salt, upon the soap
and upon the candles which those workmen 
consume while employed in your service; and 
for the tax upon the leather, which the salt-maker
the soap-maker, and the candle-maker 
consume, while employed in their service. 
In Great Britain, the principal taxes upon 
the necessaries of life, are those upon the 
four commodities just now mentioned, salt
leather, soap, and candles
Salt is a very ancient and a very universal 
subject of taxation. It was taxed among the 
Romans, and it is so at present in, I believe, 
every part of Europe. The quantity annually 
consumed by any individual is so small
and may be purchased so gradually, that nobody, 
it seems to have been thought, could 
feel very sensibly even a pretty heavy tax upon 
it. It is in England taxed at three shillings 
and fourpence a bushel; about three times 
the original price of the commodity. In some 
other countries, the tax is still higher. Leather 
is a real necessary of life. The use of 
linen renders soap such. In countries where 
the winter nights are long, candles are a necessary 
instrument of trade. Leather and 
soap are in Great Britain taxed at three halfpence 
a-pound; candles at a penny; taxes 
which, upon the original price of leather, may 
amount to about eight or ten per cent.; upon 
that of soap, to about twenty or five-and-twenty 
per cent.; and upon that of candles 
to about fourteen or fifteen per cent.; taxes 
which, though lighter than that upon salt
are still very heavy. As all those four commodities 
are real necessaries of life, such 
heavy taxes upon them must increase some