either those which fall indifferently upon the 
whole annual produce, or those which fall 
chiefly upon the larger portion of it. The 
excise upon the materials and manufacture of 
home-made fermented and spiritous liquors
is, accordingly, of all the different taxes upon 
expense, by far the most productive; and this 
branch of the excise falls very much, perhaps 
principally, upon the expense of the common 
people. In the year which ended on the 5th 
of July 1775, the gross produce of this branch 
of the excise amounted to L.3,341,837 : 9 : 9. 
It must always be remembered, however, 
that it is the luxuries, and not the necessary 
expense of the inferior ranks of people, that 
ought ever to be taxed. The final payment 
of any tax upon their necessary expense, would 
fall altogether upon the superior ranks of people
upon the smaller portion of the annual 
produce, and not upon the greater. Such a 
tax must, in all cases, either raise the wages 
of labour, or lessen the demand for it. It 
could not raise the wages of labour, without 
throwing the final payment of the tax upon 
the superior ranks of people. It could not 
lessen the demand for labour, without lessening 
the annual produce of the land and labour 
of the country, the fund upon which all 
taxes must be finally paid. Whatever might 
be the state to which a tax of this kind reduced 
the demand for labour, it must always 
raise wages higher than they otherwise would 
be in that state; and the final payment of this 
enhancement of wages must, in all cases, fall 
upon the superior ranks of people
Fermented liquors brewed, and spiritous 
liquors distilled, not for sale, but for private 
use, are not in Great Britain liable to any duties 
of excise. This exemption, of which the 
object is to save private families from the 
odious visit and examination of the tax-gatherer
occasions the burden of those duties to 
fall frequently much lighter upon the rich 
than upon the poor. It is not, indeed, very 
common to distil for private use, though it is 
done sometimes. But in the country, many 
middling, and almost all rich and great families
brew their own beer. Their strong 
beer, therefore, costs them eight shillings a-barrel 
less than it costs the common brewer
who must have his profit upon the tax, as well 
as upon all the other expense which he advances
Such families, therefore, must drink 
their beer at least nine or ten shillings a-barrel 
cheaper than any liquor of the same quality 
can be drank by the common people, to 
whom it is everywhere more convenient to buy 
their beer, by little and little, from the brewery 
or the alehouse. Malt, in the same manner
that is made for the use of a private family
is not liable to the visit or examination 
of the tax-gatherer; but, in this case the family 
must compound at seven shillings and 
sixpence a-head for the tax. Seven shillings 
and sixpence are equal to the excise upon ten 
bushels of malt; a quantity fully equal to 
what all the different members of any sober 
family, men, women, and children, are, at an 
average, likely to consume. But in rich and 
great families, where country hospitality is 
much practised, the malt liquors consumed by 
the members of the family make but a small 
part of the consumption of the house. Either 
on account of this composition, however, or 
for other reasons, it is not near so common to 
malt as to brew for private use. It is difficult 
to imagine any equitable reason, why those 
who either brew or distil for private use should 
not be subject to a composition of the same 
A greater revenue than what is at present 
drawn from all the heavy taxes upon malt
beer, and ale, might be raised, it has frequently 
been said, by a much lighter tax upon 
malt; the opportunities of defrauding the 
revenue being much greater in a brewery than 
in a malt-house; and those who brew for private 
use being exempted from all duties or 
composition for duties, which is not the case 
with those who malt for private use. 
In the porter brewery of London, a quarter 
of malt is commonly brewed into more than 
two barrels and a-half, sometimes into three 
barrels of porter. The different taxes upon 
malt amount to six shillings a-quarter; those 
upon strong ale and beer to eight shillings a-barrel
In the porter brewery, therefore, the 
different taxes upon malt, beer, and ale, amount 
to between twenty-six and thirty shillings 
upon the produce of a quarter of malt
In the country brewery for common country 
sale, a quarter of malt is seldom brewed into 
less than two barrels of strong, and one barrel 
of small beer; frequently into two barrels 
and a-half of strong beer. The different taxes 
upon small beer amount to one shilling and 
fourpence a-barrel. In the country brewery
therefore, the different taxes upon malt, beer
and ale, seldom amount to less than twenty-three 
shillings and fourpence, frequently to 
twenty-six shillings, upon the produce of a 
quarter of malt. Taking the whole kingdom 
at an average, therefore, the whole amount of 
the duties upon malt, beer, and ale, cannot be 
estimated at less than twenty-four or twenty-five 
shillings upon the produce of a quarter 
of malt. But by taking off all the different 
duties upon beer and ale, and by trebling the 
malt tax, or by raising it from six to eighteen 
shillings upon the quarter of malt, a greater 
revenue, it is said, might be raised by this 
single tax, than what is at present drawn from 
all those heavier taxes