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logue of great MINISTERS OF STATE who have voluntarily declined the augmentation of their private fortune, while they devoted their days to the noble pursuits of patriotic glory! The labour of this research will be great, and the volume small!
« TAXATION NO TYRANNY!"
Such was the title of a famous political tract, sent forth at a moment when a people, in a state of insurrection, put forth a declaration that taxation was tyranny! It was not against an insignificant tax they protested, but against taxation itself! and in the temper of the moment this abstract proposition appeared an insolent paradox. It was instantly run down by that ever"lasting party which, so far back as in the laws of our Henry the First, are designated by the odd descriptive term of Acephali, a people without heads * ! the strange equality of levellers !
These political monsters in all times have had
* Cowel's Interpretor, art. Acephali. This by-name we unexpectedly find in a grave antiquarian law-dictionary! probably derived from Pliny's description of a people whom some travellers had reported to have found in this predica. ment, in their fright and haste in attempting to land on a hostile shore among the savages. How it came to be introduced into the laws of Henry the First remains to be told by some profound antiquary; but it was common in the middle ages. Cowel says, “ Those are called acephali who were the levellers of that age, and acknowledged no head or superior.”. an association of ideas of taxation and tyranny, and with them one name instantly suggests the other ! This happened to one Gigli of Sienna, who published the first part of a dictionary of the Tuscan language*, of which only 312 leaves amused the Florentines; these having had the honour of being consigned to the flames by the hands of the hangman for certain popular errors; such as, for instance, under the word Gran Duča we find Vedi Gabelli! (see Taxes!) and the word Gabella was explained by a reference to Gran Duca! Grand-duke and taxes were synonimes, according to this mordacious lexicographer ! Such grievances, and the modes of expressing them, are equally ancient. A Roman consul, by levying a tax on salt during the Punic war, wąs nicknamed salinator, and condemned by "the majesty" of the people! He had formerly done his duty to the country, but the salter was now his reward!
* Vocabulario di Santa Caterina e della Lingua Sanese, 1717. This pungent lexicon was prohibited at Rome by desire of the court of Florence. The history of this suppressed work may be found in Il Giornale de' Letterati d'Italia, Tomo xxix1410. In the last edition of Haym's “Biblioteca Italiana,” 1803, it is said to be reprinted at Manilla, nell' Isole Fillippine!- For the book-licensers it is a great way to go for it!
He retired from Rome, let his beard grow, and by his sordid dress, and melancholy air, evinced his acute sensibility. The Romans at length wanted the salter to command the army-as an injured man, he refused--but he was told that he should bear the caprice of the Roman people with the tenderness of a son for the humours of a parent ! He had lost his reputation by a productive tax on salt, though this tax had provided an army, and obtained a victory!
Certain it is that Gigli and his numerous adherents are wrong ; for were they freed from all restraints as much as if they slept in forests and not in houses ; were they inhabitants of wilds and not of cities, so that every man should be his own law-giver, with a perpetual immunity from all taxation, we could not necessarily infer their political happiness. There are nations where taxation is hardly known, for the people exist in such utter wretchedness, that they are too poor to be taxed; of which the Chinese, among others, exhibit remarkable instances. When Nero would have abolished all taxes, in his excessive passion for popularity, the senate thanked him for his good will to the people, but assured him that this was a certain means not of repairing, but of ruining the commonwealth. Bodin, in his curious work “the Republic,” has noticed a class of politicians who are in too great favour with the people.
Many seditious citizens, and desirous of innovations, did of late years promise immunity of taxes and subsidies to our people; but neither could they do it, or if they could have done it, they would not ; or if it were done, should we have any common weale, being the ground and foundation of one*."
The undisguised and naked term of “ taxation” is, however, so odious to the people, that it may be curious to observe the arts practised by governments, and even by the people themselves, to veil it under some mitigating term. In the first breaking out of the American troubles, they probably would have yielded to the mother-country the right of taxation, modified by the term regu
* Bodin's six Books of a Commonwealth, translated by Richard Knolles, 1606. A work replete with the practical knowledge of politics; and of which Mr. Dugald Stewart has delivered a high opinion. Yet this great politician wrote a volume to anathematize those who doubted the existence of sorcerers, and witches, 8c., whom he condemns to the flames! See his “ Demonomanie des Sorciers.” 1593.