Front Page Titles (by Subject) Chap. XVI.: How the Revenues and Incomes of Princes may justly be raised. - A Select Collection of Early English Tracts on Commerce from the Originals of Mun, Roberts, North, and Others
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Chap. XVI.: How the Revenues and Incomes of Princes may justly be raised. - John Ramsay McCulloch, A Select Collection of Early English Tracts on Commerce from the Originals of Mun, Roberts, North, and Others 
A Select Collection of Early English Tracts on Commerce from the Originals of Mun, Roberts, North, and Others, with a Preface and Index (London: Printed for the Political Economy Club, 1856).
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How the Revenues and Incomes of Princes may justly be raised.
NOw that we have set down the true course by which a Kingdom may be enriched with treasure; In the next place we will endeavour to shew the ways and means by which a King may justly share therein without the hurt or oppression of his Subjects. The Revenues of Princes as they differ much in quantity, according to the greatness, riches and trade of their respective dominions; so likewise is there great diversity used in procuring the same, according to the constitution of the Countreys, the government, laws and customs of the people, which no Prince can alter but with much difficulty and danger. Some Kings have their Crown Lands, the first fruits upon Ecclesiastical Livings, Customs, Tolls and Imposts upon all trade to and from forraign Countries; Lones, Donations and Subsidies upon all necessary occasions. Other Princes and States leaving the three last, do add unto the rest, a custom upon all new wares transported from one City, to be used in any other City or place of their own dominions, customs upon every alienation or sale of live Cattel, Lands, Houses, and the portions or marriage mony of women, licence mony upon all Victualling houses and Innkeepers, head mony, Custom upon all the Corn, Wine, Oyl, Salt and the like, which grow and are consumed in their own dominions, &c. All which seem to be a rabble of oppressions, serving to enrich those Princes which exact them, and to make the people poor and miserable which endure them; especially in those Countreys where these burdens are laid at heavy rates, at 4, 5, 6, and 7. per cent. But when all the circumstances and distinction of places are duly considered, they will be found not only necessary and therefore lawful to be used in some States, but also in divers respects very profitable to the Commonwealth.
First there are some States, as namely Venice, Florence, Genoua, the united Provinces of the Low Countreys, and others, which are singular for beauty, and excellent both for natural and artificial strength, having likewise rich Subjects: yet being of no very great extent, nor enjoying such wealth by ordinary revenues as might support them against the suddain and powerful invasions of those mighty Princes which do inviron them; they are therefore enforced to strengthen themselves not only with confederates and Leagues (which may often fail them in their greatest need) but also by massing up store of treasure and Munition by those extraordinary courses before written, which cannot deceive them, but will ever be ready to make a good defence, and to offend or divert their enemies.
Neither are these heavy Contributions so hurtfull to the happinesse of the people, as they are commonly esteemed: for as the food and rayment of the poor is made dear by Excise, so doth the price of their labour rise in proportion; whereby the burden (if any be) is still upon the rich, who are either idle, or at least work not in this kind, yet have they the use and are the great consumers of the poors labour; Neither do the rich neglect in their several places and callings to advance their endeavours according to those times which do exhaust their means and revenues; wherein if they should peradventure fail, and therefore be forced to abate their sinful excess and idle retainers; what is all this but happiness in a Commonwealth, when vertue, plenty and arts shall thus be advanced all together? Nor can it be truly said that a Kingdom is impoverished where the loss of the people is the gain of the King, from whom also such yearly incomes have their annual issue to the benefit of his subjects; except only that part of the treasure which is laid up for the publique good; wherein likewise they who suffer have their safety, and therefore such contributions are both just and profitable.
Yet here we must confess, that as the best things may be corrupted, so these taxes may be abused and the Commonwealth notoriously wronged when they are vainly wasted and consumed by a Prince, either upon his own excessive pleasures, or upon unworthy persons, such as deserve neither rewards nor countenance from the Majesty of a Prince: but these dangerous disorders are seldom seen, especially in such States as are aforenamed, because the disposing of the publique treasure is in the power and under the discretion of many; Neither is it unknown to all other Principalities and Governments that the end of such Excesses is ever ruinous, for they cause great want and poverty, which often drives them from all order to exorbitance, and therefore it is common policy amongst Princes to prevent such mischiefs with great care and providence, by doing nothing that may cause the Nobility to despair of their safety, nor leaving any thing undone which may gain the good will of the Commonalty to keep all in due obedience.
But now before we end this point in hand, we must remember likewise that all bodies are not of one and the same constitution, for that which is Physick to one man, is little better than poyson to another;Some States cannot subsist, but by the means of heavy taxes. The States aforewritten, and divers others like to them cannot subsist but by the help of those extraordinary contributions, whereof we have spoken, because they are not able otherwise in short time to raise sufficient treasure to defend themselves against a potent enemy, who hath power to invade them on the suddain, as is already declared. But a mighty Prince whose dominions are great and united, his Subjects many and Loyal, his Countries rich both by nature and traffique, his Victuals and warlike provisions plentiful and ready, his situation easy to offend others, and difficult to be invaded, his harbors good, his Navy strong, his alliance powerfull, and his ordinary revenues sufficient, royally to support the Majesty of his State, besides a reasonable sum which may be advanc’d to lay up yearly in treasure for future occasions:Princes, who have no just cause to lay extraordinary and heavy taxes upon their Subjects. shall not all these blessings (being well ordered) enable a Prince against the suddain invasion of any mighty enemy, without imposing those extraordinary and heavy taxes? shall not the wealthy and loyal subjects of such a great and just Prince maintain his Honour and their own Liberties with life and goods, alwayes supplying the Treasure of their Soveraign, untill by a well ordered War he may inforce a happy Peace? Yes verily, it cannot otherwise be expected. And thus shall a mighty Prince be more powerful in preserving the wealth and love of his Subjects, than by treasuring up their riches with unnecessary taxes, which cannot but alter and provoke them.
Yea, but say some men, we may easily contradict all this by example taken from some of the greatest Monarchs of Christendome, who, besides those Incomes which here are termed ordinary, they adde likewise all, or the most of the other heavy Contributions. All which we grant, and more; for they use also to sell their Offices & Places of Justice, which is an act both base & wicked, because it robbeth worthy men of their Merits, & betrayeth the cause of the innocent, whereby God is displeased, the people oppressed, and Vertue banished from such unhappy Kingdomes: Shall we then say, that these things are lawfull and necessary because they are used? God forbid, we know better, and we are well assured that these exactions are not taken for a necessary defence of their own right, but through pride and covetousness to add Kingdome to Kingdome,The sinister ends which some great Princes have in laying heavy taxes upon their subjects. and so to usurp the right of others: which actions of Impiety are ever shadowed with some fair pretence of Sanctity, as being done for the Catholic Cause, the propagation of the Church, the suppression of Hereticks, and such like delusions, serving onely to further their own ambition, whereof in this place it shall be needless to make any larger discourse.