what the expense of the sober and industrious 
poor, and must consequently raise more or 
less the wages of their labour. 
In a country where the winters are so cold 
as in Great Britain, fuel is, during that season
in the strictest sense of the word, a necessary 
of life, not only for the purpose of dressing 
victuals, but for the comfortable subsistence 
of many different sorts of workmen who 
work within doors; and coals are the cheapest 
of all fuel. The price of fuel has so important 
an influence upon that of labour, that all 
over Great Britain, manufactures have confined 
themselves principally to the coal countries
other parts of the country, on account 
of the high price of this necessary article, not 
being able to work so cheap. In some manufactures
besides, coal is a necessary instrument 
of trade; as in those of glass, iron, and 
all other metals. If a bounty could in any case 
be reasonable, it might perhaps be so upon 
the transportation of coals from those parts of 
the country in which they abound, to those in 
which they are wanted. But the legislature, 
instead of a bounty, has imposed a tax of three 
shillings and threepence a-ton upon coals 
carried coastways; which, upon most sorts 
of coal, is more than sixty per cent. of the 
original price at the coal pit. Coals carried
either by land or by inland navigation, pay 
no duty. Where they are naturally cheap, 
they are consumed duty free; where they are 
naturally dear, they are loaded with a heavy 
Such taxes, though they raise the price of 
subsistence, and consequently the wages of 
labour, yet they afford a considerable revenue 
to government, which it might not be easy to 
find in any other way. There may, therefore, 
be good reasons for continuing them. The 
bounty upon the exportation of corn, so far 
as it tends, in the actual state of tillage, to 
raise the price of that necessary article, produces 
all the like bad effects; and instead of 
affording any revenue, frequently occasions a 
very great expense to government. The high 
duties upon the importation of foreign corn
which, in years of moderate plenty, amount 
to a prohibition; and the absolute prohibition 
of the importation, either of live cattle, or of 
salt provisions, which takes place in the ordinary 
state of the law, and which, on account 
of the scarcity, is at present suspended for a 
limited time with regard to Ireland and the 
British plantations, have all had the bad effects 
of taxes upon the necessaries of life, and produce 
no revenue to government. Nothing 
seems necessary for the repeal of such regulations
but to convince the public of the futility 
of that system in consequence of which they 
have been established. 
Taxes upon the necessaries of life are much 
higher in many other countries than in Great 
Britain. Duties upon flour and meal when 
ground at the mill, and upon bread when 
baked at the oven, take place in many countries
In Holland the money-price of the 
bread consumed in towns is supposed to be 
doubled by means of such taxes. In lieu of a 
part of them, the people who live in the country
pay every year so much a-head, according to 
the sort of bread they are supposed to consume
Those who consume wheaten bread pay three 
guilders fifteen stivers; about six shillings 
and ninepence halfpenny. These, and some 
other taxes of the same kind, by raising the 
price of labour, are said to have ruined the 
greater part of the manufactures of Holland[71]. 
Similar taxes, though not quite so heavy, take 
place in the Milanese, in the states of Genoa
in the duchy of Modena, in the duchies of 
Parma, Placentia, and Guastalla, and the Ecclesiastical 
state. A French author[72] of some 
note, has proposed to reform the finances of 
his country, by substituting in the room of the 
greater part of other taxes, this most ruinous 
of all taxes. There is nothing so absurd, says 
Cicero, which has not sometimes been asserted 
by some philosophers. 
Taxes upon butcher's meat are still more 
common than those upon bread. It may indeed 
be doubted, whether butcher's meat is 
any where a necessary of life. Grain and 
other vegetables, with the help of milk, cheese, 
and butter, or oil, where butter is not to be 
had, it is known from experience, can, without 
any butcher's meat, afford the most plentiful
the most wholesome, the most nourishing
and the most invigorating diet. Decency 
nowhere requires that any man should eat 
butcher's meat, as it in most places requires 
that he should wear a linen shirt or a pair of 
leather shoes
Consumable commodities, whether necessaries 
or luxuries, may be taxed in two different 
ways. The consumer may either pay 
an annual sum on account of his using or 
consuming goods of a certain kind; or the 
goods may be taxed while they remain in the 
hands of the dealer, and before they are delivered 
to the consumer. The consumable 
goods which last a considerable time before 
they are consumed altogether, are most properly 
taxed in the one way; those of which 
the consumption is either immediate or more 
speedy, in the other. The coach-tax and plate-tax 
are examples of the former method of imposing
the greater part of the other duties of 
excise and customs, of the latter. 
A coach may, with good management, last 
ten or twelve years. It might be taxed
once for all, before it comes out of the hands 
of the coach-maker. But it is certainly more 
convenient for the buyer to pay four pounds 
a-year for the privilege of keeping a coach
than to pay all at once forty or forty-eight 
pounds additional price to the coach-maker