Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. XXI. - The True Interest and Political Maxims, of the Republic of Holland
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CHAP. XXI. - Pieter de la Court, The True Interest and Political Maxims, of the Republic of Holland 
The True Interest and Political Maxims of the Republic of Holland (London: John Campbell, Esq, 1746).
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That the heavy and manifold imposts will at last destroy the prosperity of this country.
Taxes on consumpand merchandize in Holland too burdensome.AS to imposts upon imported or exported goods, and taxes upon consumption, and real or immoveable estates; I suppose former ages levied none such in time of peace. For when the earls of Holland supposed they should have occasion for an extraordinary supply in time of war over and above their revenues, they came in person, and according to their privilege desired it of the assembly of states; who sometimes granted it for a short time, and sometimes refused it, and were ever very cautious of granting any standing supply of money, as knowing their liberty could not subsist but under such an earl as had neither forces nor money beforehand. And our historians count it a great offence in our earls, that they endeavoured to make these lands tributary: for which reason the emperor Charles the fifth desiring a stiver to be imposed upon each acre or morgen of land, could not obtain it; and his son Philip, not without great trouble, got an impost for nine years to help to defray the charge of the war against France, but on this condition, that all sums so levied, should be received and disposed by such as the state impowered to do it. And on the same ground the states of Flanders and Brabant have to this day preserved their liberty of granting the king such requests, or (as it most commonly happens) of denying them. It makes nothing against what I have now said, that the earls of Holland have heretofore received customs upon goods imported and exported, seeing according to their privilege the citizens of the trading cities of Holland, viz. Dort, Haerlem, Delf, Leyden, Amsterdam, &c. are custom-free; so that such duties do only concern strangers, and even for them they are very easy. But in the time of the stadtholders government in the United Provinces, says Grotius, “By* endeavouring not to give the duke of Alva the tenth penny, we afterwards gave all”. After which being in banishment, he wrote to his friends here in this manner: “We† bore all manner of taxes and imposts, without preserving the least shadow of our common freedom.” For the same taxes are by the long continuance of the wars now screw’d up so high, that the like was never seen in any republick, much less in a trafficking country:To be able to continue long, and the country to thrive. so that it will be the greatest wonder in nature for us to sustain those intolerable burdens long, and, driving no trade with our own native commodities, to be able to traffick as other nations do. Nevertheless I willingly acknowledge, that if we must needs raise no less than fifteen millions of guilders yearly in this country, we have hit upon the most convenient course for it, viz. to charge the oldest inhabitants most, as being most fixed to the country by the advantage of the government, and their immoveable estates: for land is most liable to pay poundage, the 40th penny upon sale, and the 20th penny of inheritances, by those of the collateral ascending line, as also the tax of the 200th penny most strictly levied. But those manifold, yea innumerable imposts upon consumption, concern merchandize and manufacture only so far as those who are maintain’d by them are men, and must live by them. Besides it is well known, not only that in consumptions there may be great variety, but also that people do manifestly spend most of their income upon pomp and ornament, superfluity, wantonness, pleasure and recreation. So that fishermen, manufacturers, seamen and watermen, who are mostly poor, pay but little to this tax; whereas the richer inhabitants pay very much: and it cannot be denied but that they seem voluntarily to pay those imposts on consumptions.
But in real burdens and taxations, the favour and hatred of the first assessors has not only an influence, but those that are oppress’d by them, cannot free themselves from them by prudential forethought and frugality.Or poundage and the eighth penny. Moreover it is apparent that he who increases his estate by industrious and frugal living, is most burdened: and he that by laziness and prodigality diminisheth his estate will be less taxed. So that virtue is unjustly opprest, and vice favoured. Whereas on the contrary, the imposts on consumption fall heavy upon the riotous, and indulge and incourage the virtuous. But tho’ in all events the forementioned sums of money yearly demanded for defence of the country, be raised after the easiest way possible;That the inhabitants ought as soon as possible to be eased. yet the immenseness of the sum will not suffer us to imagine that our people continuing to be thus burdened, shall always be able to sell their merchandize at as low, or lower rates than other foreigners, who are charged less, and work up their own growth and manufactures ready for the merchant. So that it is absolutely necessary that our inhabitants be eased of such burdens as soon as possibly may be.
[* ]Omnia dabant, ne decimam darent. Grot. Hist.
[† ]Omnia datis, & ne quidem liberatis umbram retinetis.