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Secondly, If we consider how common and general the insurrections were in Britanny and Guienne, in 1674, when the French king attempted to put that burthensome excise upon them, perhaps we shall find a reasonable cause to conclude, that, if the gabelle, be not introduced in those provinces, it is purely because the inbabitants are no ways disposed to suffer it. Their insurrection was so great, that they were forced to give over that design; and, had the confederates but made use of that favourable opportunity, it might have proved of fatal consequence to the grandeur of that prince.
Thirdly, Though these reasons seem very probable, and it is possible that they have in a measure contributed to the ease of those provinces; yet I take the French king to be so great an enemy to every thing that has but the shadow of liberty, and so jealous of his arbitrary power, that, I do verily believe, he would have crushed the pretended privileges of those provinces, and imposed upon them the gabelle, had he not been kept from it by other considerations. What they were, I cannot tell, except those great sums of money which those counties have, finance, from time to time, presented to the king; at least, I know this, that they were given for that end, that so they might be free from that terrible tax: and I see no cause why I may not conclude, that this is the principal reason, why they have not yet undergone a fate that is common to all the other provinces of France.
Now an excise that is so heavy and burthensome, would bring into the king's coff-rs a world of money, were he not forced to be at such vast expences; first, in transporting of salt from the place where it is made, into other provinces; and, secondly, in maintaining above twenty thousand men, that are employed about raising the gabelle, or for watching over the Faux Sauniers, and others, who would cheat the king otherwise, in all probability.
ARTICLE III. Des Aides. Of Aids. LES Aides are an excise upon wine, which is very considerable; but, for the better understanding of it, I must in the first place, tell
you something of the measures that are used in Paris. We had so great a trade at Bourdeaux for wine, that, I believe, very few are ignorant of what the measure is the French call there a tonneau; but in Paris, and the environs of that city, they speak only of muyds, which is the third part of a tonneau, and contains about two hundred and eighty pints, Paris measure, which is about as many London quarts. And now, after this explanation, I will proceed.
When the proprietors of the vineyards about Paris have sold their wine, they are obliged to declare it at a certain office, which is appointed for that purpose, in a convenient place, and to tell the officers, or clerks, at what price they sold it per muyd, and to pay one enny per * livre, besides an additional duty of sixpence half-pen
• The French livre is eighteen pence sterling.
ny per muyd. The wine-coopers, or whoever have bought that wine to be carried into Paris, are forced to make a like declaration at the gates of the city, and to pay the like sum, viz. one penny per livre, and sixteen pence half-penny per muyd for the additional duty. But here we must take notice, that this second office has a greater power than the first; for, by their own authority, they may arbitrarily put what price they please upon the wine, which very much increases the duties upon it; and, God knows, they seldom, if ever, fail of this. But, over and above all these impositions, they pay for the duty of entry twenty-two livres per muyd to the king, besides some other duties to the town-house. Wine being thus brought into their cellars, they then must pay yearly to the king eight livres one sous, or penny halfpenny, for having the liberty to sell it again: and, when they sell it, they must make again the like declaration as before, and pay the like sums. As these duties and declarations were too frequent, the wine coopers used formerly to conceal the true price of wine; but now they dare not do it, for fear of being catched: for the excisemen knowing the general price of wine, as well as the wine coopers themselves, and hav ng power to take it, paying to the coopers the price he has put upon it in his declaration, they would run the risque of suffering great loss and damage.
We have hitherto seen what the duties are that the wine-merchants pay; let us see now what those are that are imposed upon the vintners, I mean, those who sell wine by retail. It is not free for any man in Paris to set up a sign and sell wine, as it is in London ; I mean, after he has served an apprenticeship, the time appointed by the customs: this liberty must be obtained from the French king; and, for it, a man must pay yearly eight livres one sous, or penny half-penny; this is called, The duty of sign. Besides, they were formerly obliged to give the eighth part of the money they received for the sale of their wine ; but, because this was too troublesome, as well to the king's officers, as to the vintners themselves, they made an agreement to pay eight livres one sous half-penny, for every muyd of wipe they sell, let it be good or bad. This is what the French call le huitieme, and in what duties that great excise upon wine doth consist, call les aides, I think now not improper to re-capitulate, all those duties, that we may see, in one view, what they amount to,
And, the better to illustrate the matter, I must put a price upon the muyd of wine, and see what money comes to the king by the sale of that muyd, that is somewhat like our hogshead, but a little larger, containing about two-hundred and eighty quarts. The common price, about Paris, was, in time of peace, eighteen or twenty livres per muyd, but now it is four times as dear again. Supposing, however, for our purpose, that a muyd of wine be sold in the vineyards for eighteen livres, that is, near twenty-seven shillings of our money, the proprietor must pay, in the first place, two shillings and ten-pence half-penny, for the first duty of the declaration; the like sum must be paid by the wine merchant at the gates of the city,
supposing the officers to be honest (but, if they will put a higher price upon it, for it absolutely depends on their roguery, or capricio, I cannot say nothing to that) and twenty-two livres, besides, for the duty of entry; so that it is manifest, a hogshead of wine, which was sold for twenty-seven shillings sterling, pays to the king, besides some duties to the town house, thirty-eight shillings and nine pence.
These are the duties of the first sale: now let us suppose, that the same muyd be sold to a vintner. . As the wine merchant must get something to live, he cannot sell it for less than sixty livres, having laid out forty-three already, besides the expences of the carriage; upon which, he must pay again, for the declaration, one penny per livre, and the additional duty, which comes to five shillings and tenpence balf-penny; and the vintner, besides, being obliged to pay eight livres, one penny half-penny; it followeth, that the king receiveth, from this second sale, twelve livres and seven-pence, that is, nineteen shillings and six pence one farthing, of our English money, which, being joined to thirty-nine shillings and nine-pence of the first sale, it appears, that a muyd of wine, sold at first for twenty, seven shillings, pays to the king, two pounds, nineteen shillings, and three-pence farthing.
Now, it is not only in Paris that these aides are imposed, but all the provinces of this kingdom, except Languedoc, Guienne, Limosin, and Britanny, are liable to this excise. Indeed, the entries are not so considerable in the other towns, as they are in Paris; but they pay every where the huitieme, that is, the eighth part of the price for their wine. And as to the countries, because there can be no duty of entry laid on them, they buy therefore, in lieu of it, another, which, in my opinion, is much worse. As soon as ever the vintage is over, the rats de cave, cellar rats (so the people call the officers for the aides) go into every man's cellar, be he of what sort soever, and take an exact account of the wine they bave in them: and, three months after, they make a second search, to see what is become of that wine; and, if any has been sold, they must straight produce the acquittances of the office, which is appointed for the declaration of the price, and of the additional duty, which I have already explained. And as for wine which has been drank in the family, they pay another duty, called le trop beu, that is to say, too much drunk; and this tax amounts to eight livres, or twelve shillings sterling. Now, this visit,coming quarterly, must needs be very troublesome: but is not this an undeniable proof of the fatherly care the French king takes of his people? Perhaps, they would otherwise make an immoderate use of the creature; but this duty indoctrinates them to be sober, in pity to their purses.
I had forgot, the province of Normandy must also be excepted; though others pay only the eighth part, but this pays the fourth of all the liquors that are sold in publick houses, as wine, beer, cyder, aquavite, and the like; so that, if a quart of wine should be sold for two shillings, the king must have six-pence out of it, besides all other duties of entry, &c. which I have before mentioned. These duties
of entry are different one from the other, almost in every town; but at Rouen, the capital city of the province, they amount to fifteen livres per muyd, that is, twenty-two shillings and sixpence sterling. I cannot say positively, what it is they pay for cyder, or beer, but, as much as I can remember of it, it is about the fourth part of what
for wine. It is likewise to be observed, that, because Normandy produces no wine, and there are excessive customs every where upon the frontiers of that province, as well as the sea-ports; therefore, instead of the quatrieme, or fourth part, the king receives above one half.
When I said, that the duty of entry for wine amounts, at Paris, but to twenty two livres, or thirty-three shillings and nine-pence sterling, it is to be understood, of the most common wine; for the best pay a great deal more. The muscadine, for instance, pays two pounds ten shillings, and the aquavite three pounds, sixteen shillings, and sixpence: but I must observe to you, that the aquavite pays a double duty, that is, the fourth part instead of the eighth.
Though Britanny be a pays d'etats, as the French call it, yet it hath a terrible excise there upon wine. Such are the great and lit. tle duties of the states, which come to a hundred livres, or seven pounds, thirteen shillings, and nine-pence sterling, per tonneau, Bourdeaux measure, that is, four hogsheads of wine, containing, in all, about eight hundred and forty of our London quarts. And, though this excise is raised upon wine, sold only in publick houses, and no where else, yet, about six years ago, was it let to farm for three millions of livres, which amounts to two hundred thirty thousand seven hundred sixty-nine pounds, four shillings, and sixpence sterling, whereof, two millions five hundred thousand livres are paid to the king, and the other five hundred thousand are to bear the charges of the states of the said province. Over and above these duties, there is another, called impost and billot, belonging only to the king, which brings every year into his coffers five hundred thousand livres.. This duty consists in thirty-four shillings and sevenpence, which the king takes there upon every ton of wine. He hath also a custom of three shillings and nine-pence upon every ton of wine, brought to Britanny by sea : so that all these duties, when compared together, make it plainly manifest, that the excise upon every ton of wine amounts to nine pounds, four shillings, and six. pence, which is more than the price of the wine. This, I think, is sufficient to explain the matter I was to make out, viz, wherein consisted the excise upon wines, which the French call les aides ; but, to have it more clearly understood, I would again desire the reader, to read it with care and attention.
ARTICLE IV. Of the Entries. THIS is a general excise upon every thing that comes to Paris; for nothing there is free, but air, besides the river, which runs through the middle of the city. I wish I could be as particular upon this article, as I have been upon the others; but it cannot reason
ably be expected, that the memory of a man is able to supply him, for such an undertaking; however, I will do my endeavour to explain it, as well as I can.
In the entries of Paris and Rouen, there is included a duty, which the French call Piefourchie, that is, an excise upon all cloven-footed beasts; as oxen, sheep, swine, and the like. They pay for every ox, at this time, nine shillings sterling; for a cow, seven sbillings and sixpence; three shillings and four-pence, for a calf, or a hog; half a crown for a sheep, and five groats for a lamb. I say, at ihis time, for in times of peace, this duty was not so high by one half. There is a duty too upon fowls, which is four-pence per livre, let unto farm, near twenty-five thousand pounds.
The imposition that is laid upon timber, and other wood, fit for work and service, is lett, or, at least, was so some years ago, for fifteen thousand three hundred eighty-four pounds, twelve shillings sterling, per annum.
That upon fire-wood amounts to much more; but, indeed, I cannot now remember, nor learn, how much the just sum is: but this I can say, that they pay one shilling and three-pence, for every load of fire-wood; and whosoever will consider the largeness of the city of Paris, the number of families in it, and, that they burn no seacoal, cannot but agree, that this tax must bring in a vast sum of money to the exchequer. I must plead the like excuse, as to the duties of entry laid upon charcoal, and hay, and both salt and fresh fish; but the reader may easily guess, that they are not in any disproportion to those I have already mentioned.
Eggs, butter, cheese, and all manner of herbs, pay four-pence per livre, that is, four shillings per pound.
If all the money, accruing from those impositions, were brought into the king's treasury, it would amount to a vast sum. But it must be observed, thal, from time to time, the French king createth, to use the French phrase, many employments en Titre d'Office, that is, hereditary employments, to be overseers of the sales of certain commodities, with a privilege, that no body shall sell what they sell themselves; and, besides, they take for their own use one part of the duties that are laid upon some certain commodities. Some years ago, there were forty-four Jurez, so they call them, created all at once, to sell, or appraise fowls, and each of them paid down above three thousand pounds, and, to repay themselves, they took three half-pence per livre. A like number was created for fish, with the samne salary. Those for hay are far more numerous, but then they are not altogether so dear, for they may be bought for two thousand three hundred seven pounds, thirteen shillings, and sixpence. Those upon charcoal cost above three-thousand pounds, but they are not many; but those upon wood are innumerable; and I am very well informed, that the French king has received, out of those offices for wood, near two millions four hundred thousand pounds sterling. Now, to repay themselves, they are allowed, as I have said, some duties; but the king, very often, demands from them some ready money, and this increaseth their duties so much the more, and is the