fertility of the soil, and happiness of the climate
could preserve such countries from soon 
relapsing into the lowest state of poverty and 
Taxes upon consumable commodities may 
either be levied by an administration, of which 
the officers are appointed by government, and 
immediately accountable to government, 
of which the revenue must, in this case, vary 
from year to year, according to the occasional 
variations in the produce of the tax; or they 
may be let in farm for a rent certain, the farmer 
being allowed to appoint his own officers
who, though obliged to levy the tax in the 
manner directed by the law, are under his 
immediate inspection, and are immediately 
accountable to him. The best and most frugal 
way of levying a tax can never be by 
farm. Over and above what is necessary for 
paying the stipulated rent, the salaries of the 
officers, and the whole expense of administration
the farmer must always draw from 
the produce of the tax a certain profit, proportioned 
at least to the advance which he makes, 
to the risk which he runs, to the trouble which 
he is at, and to the knowledge and skill which 
it requires to manage so very complicated
concern. Government, by establishing an administration 
under their own immediate inspection
of the same kind with that which the 
farmer establishes, might at least save this 
profit, which is almost always exorbitant. To 
farm any considerable branch of the public revenue 
requires either a great capital, or a great 
credit; circumstances which would alone restrain 
the competition for such an undertaking 
to a very small number of people. Of the few 
who have this capital or credit, a still smaller 
number have the necessary knowledge or experience
another circumstance which restrains 
the competition still further. The very few 
who are in condition to become competitors, 
find it more for their interest to combine together; 
to become copartners, instead of competitors
and, when the farm is set up to 
auction, to offer no rent but what is much below 
the rent value. In countries where the 
public revenues are in farm, the farmers are 
generally the most opulent people. Their 
wealth would alone excite the public indignation
and the vanity which almost always 
accompanies such upstart fortunes, the foolish 
ostentation with which they commonly 
display that wealth, excite that indignation 
still more. 
The farmers of the public revenue never 
find the laws too severe, which punish any attempt 
to evade the payment of a tax. They 
have no bowels for the contributors, who are 
not their subjects, and whose universal bankruptcy, 
if it should happen the day after the 
farm is expired, would not much affect their 
interest. In the greatest exigencies of the 
state, when the anxiety of the sovereign for 
the exact payment of his revenue is necessarily 
the greatest, they seldom fail to complain, that 
without laws more rigorous than those which 
actually took place, it will be impossible for 
them to pay even the usual rent. In those 
moments of public distress, their commands 
cannot be disputed. The revenue laws, therefore, 
become gradually more and more severe
The most sanguinary are always to be found 
in countries where the greater part of the public 
revenue is in farm; the mildest, in countries 
where it is levied under the immediate 
inspection of the sovereign. Even a bad sovereign 
feels more compassion for his people 
than can ever be expected from the farmers 
of his revenue. He knows that the permanent 
grandeur of his family depends upon 
the prosperity of his people, and he will never 
knowingly ruin that prosperity for the sake 
of any momentary interest of his own. It 
is otherwise with the farmers of his revenue, 
whose grandeur may frequently be the effect 
of the ruin, and not of the prosperity, of his 
A tax is sometimes not only farmed for a 
certain rent, but the farmer has, besides, the 
monopoly of the commodity taxed. In France, 
the duties upon tobacco and salt are levied in 
this manner. In such cases, the farmer, instead 
of one, levies two exorbitant profits upon 
the people; the profit of the farmer, and 
the still more exorbitant one of the monopolist
Tobacco being a luxury, every man is 
allowed to buy or not to buy as he chuses; 
but salt being a necessary, every man is obligated 
to buy of the farmer a certain quantity 
of it; because, if he did not buy this quantity 
of the farmer, he would, it is presumed
buy it of some smuggler. The taxes upon 
both commodities are exorbitant. The temptation 
to smuggle, consequently, is to many 
people irresistible; while, at the same time
the rigour of the law, and the vigilance of 
the farmer's officers, render the yielding to the 
temptation almost certainly ruinous. The 
smuggling of salt and tobacco sends every 
year several hundred people to the galleys
besides a very considerable number whom it 
sends to the gibbet. Those taxes, levied in 
this manner, yield a very considerable revenue 
to government. In 1767, the farm 
of tobacco was let for twenty-two millions 
five hundred and forty-one thousand two 
hundred and seventy-eight livres a-year; that 
of salt for thirty-six millions four hundred 
and ninety-two thousand four hundred and 
four livres. The farm, in both cases, was to 
commence in 1768, and to last for six 
years. These who consider the blood of the 
people as nothing, in comparison with the 
revenue of the prince, may, perhaps, approve 
of this method of levying taxes. Similar 
taxes and monopolies of salt and tobacco have 
been established in many other countries, particularly 
in the Austrian and Prussian dominions