heavily than those of the latter. This distinction 
between the duties upon aliens and 
those upon English merchants, which was 
begun from ignorance, has been continued 
from the spirit of monopoly, or in order to 
give our own merchants an advantage, both 
in the home and in the foreign market
With this distinction, the ancient duties of 
customs were imposed equally upon all sorts 
of goods, necessaries as well as luxuries
goods exported as well as goods imported
Why should the dealers in one sort of goods
it seems to have been thought, be more favoured 
than those in another? or why should 
the merchant exporter be more favoured than 
the merchant importer
The ancient customs were divided into 
three branches. The first, and, perhaps, the 
most ancient of all those duties, was that upon 
wool and leather. It seems to have been 
chiefly or altogether an exportation duty
When the woollen manufacture came to be 
established in England, lest the king should 
lose any part of his customs upon wool by 
the exportation of woollen cloths, a like duty 
was imposed upon them. The other two 
branches were, first, a duty upon wine, which 
being imposed at so much a-ton, was called
tonnage; and, secondly, a duty upon all 
other goods, which being imposed at so much 
a-pound of their supposed value, was called 
a poundage. In the forty-seventh year of 
Edward III., a duty of sixpence in the pound 
was imposed upon all goods exported and 
imported, except wools, wool-felts, leather
and wines which were subject to particular 
duties. In the fourteenth of Richard II., 
this duty was raised to one shilling in the 
pound; but, three years afterwards, it was 
again reduced to sixpence. It was raised to 
eightpence in the second year of Henry 
IV.; and, in the fourth of the same prince, 
to one shilling. From this time to the ninth 
year of William III., this duty continued at 
one shilling in the pound. The duties of 
tonnage and poundage were generally granted 
to the king by one and the same act of 
parliament, and were called the subsidy of 
tonnage and poundage. The subsidy of 
poundage having continued for so long a 
time at one shilling in the pound, or at five 
per cent., a subsidy came, in the language of 
the customs, to denote a general duty of this 
kind of five per cent. This subsidy, which is 
now called the old subsidy, still continues to 
be levied, according to the book of rates established 
by the twelfth of Charles II. The 
method of ascertaining, by a book of rates
the value of goods subject to this duty, is 
said to be older than the time of James I. 
The new subsidy, imposed by the ninth and 
tenth of William III., was an additional five 
per cent. upon the greater part of goods
The one-third and the two-third subsidy 
made up between them another five per cent
of which they were proportionable parts. 
The subsidy of 1747 made a fourth five per 
cent. upon the greater part of goods; and 
that of 1759, a fifth upon some particular 
sorts of goods. Besides those five subsidies
a great variety of other duties have occasionally 
been imposed upon particular sorts of 
goods in order sometimes to relieve the exigencies 
of the state, and sometimes to regulate 
the trade of the country, according to 
the principles of the mercantile system
That system has come gradually more and 
more into fashion. The old subsidy was imposed 
indifferently upon exportation, as well 
as importation. The four subsequent subsidies
as well as the other duties which have 
since been occasionally imposed upon particular 
sorts of goods, have, with a few exceptions
been laid altogether upon importation
The greater part of the ancient duties which 
had been imposed upon the exportation of 
the goods of home produce and manufacture
have either been lightened or taken away altogether. 
In most cases, they have been 
taken away. Bounties have even been given 
upon the exportation of some of them. Drawbacks
too, sometimes of the whole, and, in 
most cases, or a part of the duties which are 
paid upon the importation of foreign goods
have been granted upon their exportation
Only half the duties imposed by the old subsidy 
upon importation, are drawn back upon 
exportation; but the whole of those imposed 
by the latter subsidies and other imports are, 
upon the greater parts of the goods, drawn 
back in the same manner. This growing favour 
of exportation, and discouragement of 
importation, have suffered only a few exceptions
which chiefly concern the materials of 
some manufactures. These our merchants 
and manufacturers are willing should come 
as cheap as possible to themselves, and as 
dear as possible to their rivals and competitors 
in other countries. Foreign materials 
are, upon this account, sometimes allowed to 
be imported duty-free; Spanish wool, for 
example, flax, and raw linen yarn. The exportation 
of the materials of home produce
and of those which are the particular produce 
of our colonies, has sometimes been prohibited
and sometimes subjected to higher duties
The exportation of English wool has been 
prohibited. That of beaver skins, of beaver 
wool, and of gum-senega, has been subjected 
to higher duties; Great Britain, by the conquests 
of Canada and Senegal, having got 
almost the monopoly of those commodities
That the mercantile system has not been 
very favourable to the revenue of the great 
body of the people, to the annual produce of 
the land and labour of the country, I have 
endeavoured to show in the fourth book of 
this Inquiry. It seems not to have been more