reason, and partly that, by liberating the public 
revenue, they might restore vigour to that 
government, of which they themselves had 
the principal direction. An operation of 
this kind would at once reduce a debt of 
L.128,000,000 to L.21,333,333 : 6 : 8. In 
the course of the second Punic war, the As 
was still further reduced, first, from two 
ounces of copper to one ounce, and afterwards 
from one ounce to half an ounce; that 
is, to the twenty-fourth part of its original 
value. By combining the three Roman operations 
into one, a debt of a hundred and 
twenty-eight millions of our present money
might in this manner be reduced all at once 
to a debt of L.5,333,333 : 6 : 8. Even the 
enormous debt of Great Britain might in this 
manner soon be paid. 
By means of such expedients, the coin of, 
I believe, all nations, has been gradually reduced 
more and more below its original value, 
and the same nominal sum has been gradually 
brought to contain a smaller and a smaller 
quantity of silver
Nations have sometimes, for the same purpose
adulterated the standard of their coin
that is, have mixed a greater quantity of alloy 
in it. If in the pound weight of our silver 
coin, for example, instead of eighteen penny-weight
according to the present standard
there were mixed eight ounces of alloy; a 
pound sterling, or twenty shillings of such 
coin, would be worth little more than six shillings 
and eightpence of our present money
The quantity of silver contained in six shillings 
and eightpence of our present money
would thus be raised very nearly to the denomination 
of a pound sterling. The adulteration 
of the standard has exactly the same effect 
with what the French call an augmentation
or a direct raising of the denomination of the 
An augmentation, or a direct raising of the 
denomination of the coin, always is, and from 
its nature must be, an open and avowed operation. 
By means of it, pieces of a smaller 
weight and bulk are called by the same name, 
which had before been given to pieces of a 
greater weight and bulk. The adulteration 
of the standard, on the contrary, has generally 
been a concealed operation. By means of it, 
pieces are issued from the mint, of the same 
denomination, and, as nearly as could be contrived, 
of the same weight, bulk, and appearance
with pieces which had been current before 
of much greater value. When king John 
of France,[79] in order to pay his debts, adulterated 
his coin, all the officers of his mint 
were sworn to secrecy. Both operations are 
unjust. But a simple augmentation is an injustice 
of open violence; whereas an adulteration 
is an injustice of treacherous fraud. 
This latter operation, therefore, as soon as it 
has been discovered, and it could never be 
concealed very long, has always excited much 
greater indignation than the former. The 
coin, after any considerable augmentation, has 
very seldom been brought back to its former 
weight; but after the greatest adulterations, it 
has almost always been brought back to its 
former fineness. It has scarce ever happened
that the fury and indignation of the people 
could otherwise be appeased
In the end of the reign of Henry VIII., 
and in the beginning of that of Edward VI., 
the English coin was not only raised in its 
denomination, but adulterated in its standard
The like frauds were practised in Scotland 
during the minority of James VI. They 
have occasionally been practised in most other 
That the public revenue of Great Britain 
can never be completely liberated, or even 
that any considerable progress can ever be 
made towards that liberation, while the surplus 
of that revenue, or what is over and above 
defraying the annual expense of the peace 
establishment, is so very small, it seems altogether 
in vain to expect. That liberation, it 
is evident, can never be brought about, without 
either some very considerable augmentation 
of the public revenue, or some equally 
considerable reduction of the public expense
A more equal land tax, a more equal tax 
upon the rent of houses, and such alterations 
in the present system of customs and excise 
as those which have been mentioned in the 
foregoing chapter, might, perhaps, without 
increasing the burden of the greater part of 
the people, but only distributing the weight 
of it more equally upon the whole, produce a 
considerable augmentation of revenue. The 
most sanguine projector, however, could scarce 
flatter himself, that any augmentation of this 
kind would be such as could give any reasonable 
hopes, either of liberating the public revenue 
altogether, or even of making such progress 
towards that liberation in time of peace, 
as either to prevent or to compensate the further 
accumulation of the public debt in the 
next war
By extending the British system of taxation 
to all the different provinces of the empire, inhabited 
by people either of British or European 
extraction, a much greater augmentation 
of revenue might be expected. This, however, 
could scarce, perhaps, be done, consistently 
with the principles of the British constitution
without admitting into the British 
parliament, or, if you will, into the states-general 
of the British empire, a fair and equal 
representation of all those different provinces
that of each province bearing the same proportion 
to the produce of its taxes, as the representation 
of Great Britain might bear to 
the produce of the taxes levied upon Great 
Britain. The private interest of many powerful