are paid by the poor labourer and artificer
is surely most unjust and unequal, and ought 
to be taken away, even though this change 
was never to take place. It has probably 
been the interest of this superior order of 
people, however, which has hitherto prevented 
a change of system that could not well fail 
both to increase the revenue and to relieve 
the people
Besides such duties as those of customs 
and excise above mentioned, there are several 
others which affect the price of goods more 
unequally and more indirectly. Of this kind 
are the duties, which, in French, are called 
peages, which in old Saxon times were called 
the duties of passage, and which seem to have 
been originally established for the same purpose 
as our turnpike tolls, or the tolls upon 
our canals and navigable rivers, for the maintenance 
of the road or of the navigation
Those duties, when applied to such purposes
are most properly imposed according to the 
bulk or weight of the goods. As they were 
originally local and provincial duties, applicable 
to local and provincial purposes, the 
administration of them was, in most cases
entrusted to the particular town, parish, or 
lordship, in which they were levied; such 
communities being, in some way or other, 
supposed to be accountable for the application
The sovereign, who is altogether unaccountable, 
has in many countries assumed 
to himself the administration of those duties; 
and though he has in most cases enhanced 
very much the duty, he has in many entirely 
neglected the application. If the turnpike 
tolls of Great Britain should ever become 
one of the resources of government, we may 
learn, by the example of many other nations
what would probably be the consequence
Such tolls, no doubt, are finally 
paid by the consumer; but the consumer is 
not taxed in proportion to his expense, when 
he pays, not according to the value, but according 
to the bulk or weight of what he 
consumes. When such duties are imposed
not according to the bulk or weight, but according 
to the supposed value of the goods
they become properly a sort of inland customs 
or excise, which obstruct very much the 
most important of all branches of commerce
the interior commerce of the country
In some small states, duties similar to those 
passage duties are imposed upon goods carried 
across the territory, either by land or by 
water, from one foreign country to another. 
These are in some countries called transit-duties
Some of the little Italian states 
which are situated upon the Po, and the rivers 
which run into it, derive some revenue 
from duties of this kind, which are paid altogether 
by foreigners, and which, perhaps, are 
the only duties that one state can impose 
upon the subjects of another, without obstructing
in any respect, the industry or 
commerce of its own. The most important 
transit-duty in the world, is that levied by 
the king of Denmark upon all merchant ships 
which pass through the Sound
Such taxes upon luxuries, as the greater 
part of the duties of customs and excise
though they all fall indifferently upon every 
different species of revenue, and are paid 
finally, or without any retribution, by whoever 
consumes the commodities upon which 
they are imposed, yet they do not always fall 
equally or proportionally upon the revenue of 
every individual. As every man's humour 
regulates the degree of his consumption
every man contributes rather according to his 
humour, than in proportion to his revenue
the profuse contribute more, the parsimonious 
less, than their proper proportion. During 
the minority of a man of great fortune, he 
contributes commonly very little, by his consumption
towards the support of that state 
from whose protection he derives a great revenue
Those who live in another country
contribute nothing by their consumption towards 
the support of the government of that 
country, in which is situated the source of 
their revenue. If in this latter country there 
should be no land tax, nor any considerable 
duty upon the transference either of moveable 
or immoveable property, as is the case in Ireland, 
such absentees may derive a great revenue 
from the protection of a government
to the support of which they do not contribute 
a single shilling. This inequality is likely 
to be greatest in a country of which the 
government is, in some respects, subordinate 
and dependant upon that of some other. 
The people who possess the most extensive 
property in the dependant, will, in this case
generally chuse to live in the governing country
Ireland is precisely in this situation
and we cannot therefore wonder, that the 
proposal of a tax upon absentees should be 
so very popular in that country. It might, 
perhaps, be a little difficult to ascertain either 
what sort, or what degree of absence, would 
subject a man to be taxed as an absentee, or 
at what precise time the tax should either 
begin or end. If you except, however, this 
very peculiar situation, any inequality in the 
contribution of individuals which can arise 
from such taxes, is much more than compensated 
by the very circumstance which occasions 
that inequality; the circumstance that 
every man's contribution is altogether voluntary; 
it being altogether in his power, either 
to consume, or not to consume, the commodity 
taxed. Where such taxes, therefore, 
are properly assessed, and upon proper commodities
they are paid with less grumbling 
than any other. When they are advanced by 
the merchant or manufacturer, the consumer
who finally pays them, soon comes to confound 
them with the price of the commodities
and almost forgets that he pays any tax.