favourable to the revenue of the sovereign; 
so far, at least, as that revenue depends upon 
the duties of customs
In consequence of that system, the importation 
of several sorts of goods has been prohibited 
altogether. This prohibition has, in 
some cases, entirely prevented, and in others 
has very much diminished, the importation of 
those commodities, by reducing the importers 
to the necessity of smuggling. It has entirely 
prevented the importation of foreign wollens
and it has very much diminished that 
of foreign silks and velvets. In both cases
it has entirely annihilated the revenue of customs 
which might have been levied upon such 
The high duties which have been imposed 
upon the importation of many different sorts 
of foreign goods in order to discourage their 
consumption in Great Britain, have, in many 
cases, served only to encourage smuggling
and, in all cases, have reduced the revenues 
of the customs below what more moderate 
duties would have afforded. The saying of 
Dr. Swift, that in the arithmetic of the customs
two and two, instead of making four, 
make sometimes only one, holds perfectly true 
with regard to such heavy duties, which never 
could have been imposed, had not the mercantile 
system taught us, in many cases, to 
employ taxation as an instrument, not of revenue
but of monopoly
The bounties which are sometimes given 
upon the exportation of home produce and 
manufactures, and the drawbacks which are 
paid upon the re-exportation of the greater 
part of foreign goods, have given occasion to 
many frauds, and to a species of smuggling
more destructive of the public revenue than 
any other. In order to obtain the bounty or 
drawback, the goods, it is well known, are 
sometimes shipped, and sent to sea, but soon 
afterwards clandestinely re-landed in some 
other part of the country. The defalcation of 
the revenue of customs occasioned by bounties 
and drawbacks, of which a great part are 
obtained fraudulently, is very great. The 
gross produce of the customs, in the year 
which ended on the 5th of January 1755, amounted 
to L.5,068,000. The bounties 
which were paid out of this revenue, though 
in that year there was no bounty upon corn, 
amounted to L.167,800. The drawbacks 
which were paid upon debentures and certificates
to L.2,156,800. Bounties and drawbacks 
together amounted to L.2,324,600. In 
consequence of these deductions, the revenue 
of the customs amounted only to L.2,743,400; 
from which deducting L.287,900 for the expense 
of management, in salaries and other 
incidents, the neat revenue of the customs for 
that year comes out to be L.2,455,500. The 
expense of management, amounts, in this 
manner, to between five and six per cent. 
upon the gross revenue of the customs; and 
to something more than ten per cent. upon 
what remains of that revenue, after deducting 
what is paid away in bounties and drawbacks
Heavy duties being imposed upon almost 
all goods imported, our merchant importers 
smuggle as much, and make entry of as little 
as they can. Our merchant exporters, on 
the contrary, make entry of more than they 
export; sometimes out of vanity, and to pass 
for great dealers in goods which pay no duty 
and sometimes to gain a bounty or a drawback
Our exports, in consequence of these 
different frauds, appear upon the custom-house 
books greatly to overbalance our imports, 
to the unspeakable comfort of those 
politicians, who measure the national prosperity 
by what they call the balance of trade
All goods imported, unless particularly 
exempted, and such exemptions are not very 
numerous, are liable to some duties of customs
If any goods are imported, not mentioned 
in the book of rates, they are taxed at 
4s. 99⁄20d. for every twenty shillings value, 
according to the oath of the importer, that is, 
nearly at five subsidies, or five poundage 
duties. The book of rates is extremely comprehensive
and enumerates a great variety of 
articles, many of them little used, and, therefore, 
not well known. It is, upon this account, 
frequently uncertain under what article 
a particular sort of goods ought to be 
classed, and, consequently what duty they 
ought to pay. Mistakes with regard to this 
sometimes ruin the custom-house officer, and 
frequently occasion much trouble, expense
and vexation to the importer. In point of 
perspicuity, precision, and distinctness, therefore, 
the duties of customs are much more inferior 
to those of excise
In order that the greater part of the members 
of any society should contribute to the 
public revenue, in proportion to their respective 
expense, it does not seem necessary that 
every single article of that expense should be 
taxed. The revenue which is levied by the 
duties of excise is supposed to fall as equally 
upon the contributors as that which is levied 
by the duties of customs; and the duties of 
excise are imposed upon a few articles only 
of the most general use and consumption
It has been the opinion of many people, that, 
by proper management, the duties of customs 
might likewise, without any loss to the public 
revenue, and with great advantage to foreign 
trade, be confined to a few articles only. 
The foreign articles, of the most general 
use and consumption in Great Britain, seem 
at present to consist chiefly in foreign wines 
and brandies; in some of the productions of 
America and the West Indies, sugar, rum
tobacco, cocoa-nuts, &c. and in some of those 
of the East Indies, tea, coffee, china-ware
spiceries of all kinds, several sorts of piece-goods
&c. These different articles afford,