Front Page Titles (by Subject) Chapter VII.: HARDER LESSONS IN LOYALTY. - Illustrations of Taxation (1. The Park and the Paddock, 2. The Haycock, 3. The Jerseymen Meeting, 4. The Jerseymen Parting, 5. The Scholars of Arneside)
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Chapter VII.: HARDER LESSONS IN LOYALTY. - Harriet Martineau, Illustrations of Taxation (1. The Park and the Paddock, 2. The Haycock, 3. The Jerseymen Meeting, 4. The Jerseymen Parting, 5. The Scholars of Arneside) 
Illustrations of Taxation (1. The Park and the Paddock, 2. The Haycock, 3. The Jerseymen Meeting, 4. The Jerseymen Parting, 5. The Scholars of Arneside) (London: Charles Fox, 1834).
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HARDER LESSONS IN LOYALTY.
While Durell, as much ashamed of himself the next morning, as his wife had foretold, made an exertion to perform his promise to Brennan, notwithstanding a desperate head-ache, Anna was making experiments with the new tea her brother had helped her to manufacture. It was so good as to make her wonder why all but the wealthier classes in England did not mix a larger or smaller proportion of those leaves with the genuine tea. She resolved to try a variety of herbs for the same purpose; and hoped that when she had satisfied herself that she had obtained the best article in her power, she might make a profitable little business of her manufacture. Perhaps the reason why she did not hear of others doing so was that few had the advantage of a kiln in which to dry the material quickly, equally, and in large quantities. Meantime, there seemed to be customers ready before she asked for them. A woman, whom somebody pronounced to be Mrs. Studley, came to inquire, and carried away a pound, which she insisted upon paying for before she tasted it. The example once set, several of the people on the premises, or their wives, made similar purchases in the course of the next few days.
Aaron meanwhile recovered from the temporary alarm about his new business connection into which Durell’s disclosures had thrown him. He trusted that the perils of glass-makers had been exaggerated in the heated fancy of the surveyor; and would not believe Anna when she averred that Durell was perfectly sober when he told of the extent to which glass-masters are dependent on their servants. He had made a clear distinction between the present and the former times of the manufacture; showing how the present are an improvement upon the former, though restrictions and hardships enough remain to account for the manufacture being stationary while all circumstances but the interference of the excise are favourable to its unlimited extension. Durell had told a story of a respectable glass-manufacturer who had suffered cruelly, some years ago, from having accidentally affronted one of his men. The man put material into several of his master’s furnaces, and then went and laid an information against the proprietor for charging his furnaces without notice. The consequence was, that George the Third, by the Grace of King, &c., greeted poor Mr. Robinson, and “commanded and strictly enjoined” him (all excuses apart) to appear before the Barons of the King’s Exchequer, at Westminster, to answer his Majesty concerning certain articles then and there, on the king’s behalf, to be objected against Mr. Robinson. These articles of accusation were thirty-one! No wonder the king wished to know what Mr. Robinson had to say. There was, besides charging the furnaces without notice, a long list of other offences, (all, however, committed by the workman without his master’s knowledge,)—putting in metal after guage, unstopping a pot without notice, taking down the stopper without notice, filling five pots each day for fifty days without notice, omission of entering five hundred makings, and so on. Who can wonder that the father of his subjects was grieved at such a want of filial confidence? The king, however, had less reason to be grieved than Mr. Robinson; for the penalties on the thirty-one offences amounted to 138,700l. His Majesty, through his Barons, had compassion; or rather, perhaps, it might be evident to them that to throw a man into jail for the rest of his days, after stripping him of all that he had, for such a crime as his servant beginning to make glass without his knowledge, might be going too far for even excise-ridden England. They made him answerable for one only of the accusations, and let him off for 50l.—liable, however, to a repetition of the same misfortune, unless he chose to stand day and night beside his furnaces, to see that none of his people violated the law touching glass. Matters have mended since that day. Absurdity and hardship do not now reach such an extreme: but the principle remains. The tyranny of interference still subsists. The morality of glass-making is still an arbitrary morality,—complicated and annoying in its practice, and mercilessly punished in its infraction. There was still enough of peril and disgust to make Anna wish that her brother would think again before he entered upon glass-making. She prevailed no further than to induce him to bespeak a short trial of the business before committing himself irrevocably as a partner. She heard so much more of the ingenuity and taste of the manufacturer he was about to join, than of his experience in business, that she was in perpetual fear that the firm would not long be able to escape the clutches of some of the revenue laws, which seemed to be lying in ambush everywhere to entrap the unwary. Her father, too, was for ever prophesying that the wilful youth would fall into some scrape, and get into jail, sooner or later.
Mrs. Durell observed her husband to be particularly gloomy one evening, when he desired to have his supper earlier than usual. He sat looking at the wall, as he always did when his mind was full of something painful. He seemed relieved when Stephen left off singing in the next room, though he would not have taken such a liberty with a dependent guest as to interfere with his singing when he was in the mood. When the spirit-bottle was put down near him, he pushed it away. This was good as far as it went. He was not going to drink away his cares, whatever they might be.—A knock at the door.—
“Let him in. It is the constable,” said Durell.
“O, then, I know. You are going to watch,” said Mrs. Durell, being aware that entering premises by night could be done only in the presence of a constable. “I am afraid, love, you are going to distress somebody that you wish no ill to.”
“I wish ill to nobody but that cursed race of informers that is as much cherished in this country as if we had a Nero over us.”
“Only about the taxes, love, surely.”
“Only about the taxes! Well, what would you have, when almost everything that is bought and sold is taxed?—Sit down, Simpson. Have you supped? We may be detained some time.”
The wife probably still showed anxiety; for he said, while buttoning up his coat,
“You have no acquaintance among the soap-boilers, my dear, that I know of.”
“Oh, is it soap-boiling that you are going to watch?”
He nodded, kissed her, bade her not sit up for him, and left her relieved.
It was true that the first errand was to a soap-boiler’s,—a man who kept a chandler’s shop, and professed to do nothing else, but who had long continued to carry on an illicit trade in soap. His candles bore the blame of the scent with which his near neighbours were sometimes incommoded; and his being possessed of two handy daughters saved the necessity of his having servants who might betray him, protected by that odious clause of the Act which provides that participators in the offence shall be rewarded instead of punished, if they will inform against their masters or companions. This man found that he could make, very cheap, a particularly good soap, as long as he could evade the excise; and he had, of course, no lack of customers. In his shop, he sold none but dear, duty paid soap; but nobody knew but himself how many packages went into the country from the back of his premises. The temptation was enough to overpower any man who had his opportunities. His privacy afforded him the means of trying experiments to improve the article,—too expensive a practice for makers who cannot return the material to the coppers, in case of failure, without the sacrifice of the whole duty upon the portion so returned. Relieved from the duty, he could use better and more expensive materials than the regular manufacturer can employ. Instead of barilla, or the still inferior article, kelp, he could use common salt, which requires much less labour in its application to use, and, from its smaller bulk, might be smuggled into his premises and kept there with greater safety. Besides this, he liked to be able to take his own time about the production of the article, and to use such vessels as might be best fitted for his purposes, instead of having an exciseman standing over him to see that his soap was ready by a certain time, whether it was properly made or not; and that his utensils were of the shape and size required by law; whether or not the having them of that shape and size caused waste of the material. The mere circumstance of being able to discharge the alkaline ley from the copper by a cock inserted near the bottom, instead of by pump and hand, as ordered by law, was of no little consequence, regarding as it did an operation which was perpetually occurring. This chandler had, with an easy conscience, made a pretty little competence by his illicit manufacture; but his day of prosperity was over. Some keen nose or eyes had made the discovery, and the consequence was that the constable visited his premises by midnight.
How the girls started at the first gentle tap at the door! How relieved were they when, having called from the window, they were told it was only a neighbour wanting to light his lamp! How dismayed again, when four men rushed in, the moment the door was opened, and made their way direct to the place where the sinner was pouring off his curdling soap into the troughs! There was nothing to be said,—no license to produce,—no tokens of having paid duty. The whole apparatus and product must be seized, and the man taken into custody, and the daughters left to comfort themselves, and explain the matter to the world in the best way they could. They dreaded the loss of money far more than the loss of character, which could hardly be great in a country where the population professes (judging by the duty) to use no more than 6½lbs. a head per annum; while it is well known that half a pound a week each is the lowest quantity actually consumed. In a country where three-quarters of the soap used is not duty-paid, there can be no very deep or extensive horror of the sin of illicit manufacture. It is far more likely that the ignorant poor should be thankful to him who, in their inability to make soap at home, enabled them to buy for 1½d. what the law would prevent their having for less than 6d. Even some rich might be found who would pronounce it a monstrous thing that, while the cost of making soap is only 12s. per cwt., the duty should be 28s., and the expense of excise interference 16s. more; but the rich are not concerned like the poor in this matter. Not only is cleanliness,—and so far health,—less difficult, less a matter of question to them, but they pay a much smaller proportion of the duty than the poor. The duty amounts to two-thirds of the price of the soap which the poor man buys, while it forms only an inconsiderable portion of the cost of the refined and scented soaps of the luxurious. While these things are so, who can wonder at the reliance of the illicit trader on the support and good will of society, and his expectation of being blamed for nothing worse than imprudence in carrying on his work in a place liable to detection?
When the daughters had watched their father down the street, after helping to cleanse him from the tokens of his late toil, and had gone crying up to bed, knowing that a guard was left on their premises, Durell and the constable proceeded on another errand, much more painful.
Durell had received a hint from his superiors that all was not right on the premises of the glass-bottle maker, with whom Aaron was becoming connected. It was his belief that Studley had been the informer, both from the date of the occurrence, and from Studley’s knowledge of the concern. Whether it was his design to implicate Aaron, could not be known yet; but, if he really believed Le Brocq to be a rich, close, old fellow, it seemed very probable that he might adopt this means of squeezing a little money out of him; or, possibly, he might nourish revenge against more than one of the family because Le Brocq had refused to be his security for the office for which he was still waiting in uncertainty. However these things might be, Studley was with the men who stealthily let themselves in at a side door, during the twilight, and hid themselves behind some planks which happened to be set on end against the wall. He was with them when they skulked about, after the workmen were gone, peeping into the closets where the stock was placed, and whispering as often as they met with anything which could possibly be construed into a token of fraud. He was the one who called them hastily back to their hiding-place when steps were at length heard approaching. He watched and followed the proprietor when he hastily passed through, with a flaring candle in his hand, as if about to light himself to some dark place. It was Studley who beckoned the men to pursue, and burst into the portion of the premises which had been so contrived as hitherto to elude the notice of the excise. There they found the proprietors, Aaron, and a trusty servant of the establishment, all at work about a small furnace.
Studley stood afar off, and was left to his own reflections, when the door was shut. Durell and Simpson presently afterwards arrived.
“Has this apartment been duly entered?” inquired Durell of the offenders. Nobody answered.
“Has this furnace paid duty?”—No answer.
At length, the elder partner began to explain.
“The fact is, we think we have devised an improvement in our manufacture; and nobody knows better than you, Mr. Durell, that it is impossible to keep any secret to ourselves in our business, while the same excisemen who watch us, see half a dozen other establishments of the same kind in a day. There is really no possibility of improvement but in doing what is constantly done,—working a little in private before we make known our discoveries to the excise.”
“The expense, too, of wasting material, which must pay duty whether we obtain the desired product or not, is an insurmountable obstacle to improvement,” observed the other partner. “You will not deal harshly with us, sir. If you do, we shall suffer for the patriotic attempt to advance our manufacture.”
“I am certain,” declared the first, “that government will gain more by allowing us to complete our experiment, than by fining us to our last shilling.”
With all this Durell had nothing to do. His office was plain. His accustomed duty lay before him,—seizure of the goods and custody of the offenders. He was grieved that his friend Aaron could not escape, though he was not one of the partners. Studley was again at hand to insist that Aaron was liable to fine or imprisonment for being found working on an exciseable product in unentered premises. The informer (for so he was) was very unwilling that Aaron should be permitted to return to his home for the night. He hoped to have seen him marched through the streets to some place of confinement. But Aaron’s peril was not such as could induce him to abscond; and he was dropped at his father’s door, after having given his promise to appear when summoned before the court.
Studley need not have grudged him his home. There was little comfort in it. Before he had well finished his tale, the next morning, and before his father had well begun the series of reproaches which must be expected to follow, a messenger from the Court appeared, summoning, not only Aaron, but Le Brocq, to answer for drawing his kiln without notice, and Anna for an illicit adulteration of tea.
Le Brocq replied only by flinging the summonses under the grate, and by a deep curse upon Durell. Anna, who had sunk into a chair, exclaimed,
“O, father, why is he to blame? How has he wronged us?”
“Never tell me that this is not all his doing;—or, at any rate, that he might not have prevented it all, if he had pleased. What is his office for,—what is his power worth,—if his best friends and his countrymen,—strangers that he ought to protect,—are to be persecuted in this manner?”
“I will answer for it, he is more sorry for us than we are for ourselves: but he must do his duty, father.”
“I should like to know what way of doing one’s duty would please my father,” observed Aaron. “Whatever may happen is sure to be somebody’s fault.”
“Whose fault was it, pray, that my kiln was drawn without notice?”
“O, father! Aaron! all this cannot be helped now. Do not let us quarrel now. We must think what must be done.”
“We must go to prison,—that is clear,—unless my father can pay the fines,” said Aaron.
“If anybody goes to prison, it must be you, Aaron. My first duty is to your mother, and my next to your sister, who has never been a disobedient child to me.”
“Pray, father, don’t,” cried Anna. “Perhaps we may none of us have to go to prison.” Her voice faltered at the last dreadful word.
“It is my belief that I can never pay the fines,” replied Le Brocq: “and if they throw me into jail, I shall find some means of telling the king that they give him bad advice who encourage him to use such means as his of getting his taxes. I would willingly have paid him three times as much as he has yet got from me for leave to follow my business in peace. There is that fellow Durell skulking about before the window now!—to see how we take our troubles, I suppose.—Anna, come back! I won’t have you speak to him. I forbid everybody belonging to me to speak to him.”
“Your own countryman, father!”
“What does it matter to me whether he was born in Jersey, or any where else? He is an exciseman, and that is enough. How in the world to tell your mother of all this!”
“Perhaps we shall not be hardly used, when they find that we are strangers, coming from a place where nothing is known of the excise,” said Anna, trying to command her voice. “Perhaps the king will be merciful when he hears all we have to say; and I still think Mr. Durell is our friend. Perhaps we may not all have to go to prison together; and, at any rate, I suppose we shall soon know the worst.”
end of the first part.
CHARLES FOX, 67, PATERNOSTER-ROW.
Printed by William Clowes,
CHARLES FOX, 67, PATERNOSTER-ROW.
For some of the materials of this and the preceding No., I am indebted to Mr. Inglis’s very interesting volumes on the Channel Islands.
The next No. will conclude my work.
THE JERSEYMEN PARTING.