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frondeurs, of whom I suspect myself to be one,) what calendis have they to wait for ? the Latin or the Greek ? Rusticus (cry they) expectat dum defiuat amnis; but, unless gaugers are incorruptible, this river of strong waters may flow on, as long as it continues their interest to let it run. If the penalties on collusion be replied, the inalcontents rejoin, that he must be a slovenly and incautious knave, who cannot elude the probability of detection ; an improvident one, who cannot provide against the worst, by indemnifying himself in advance, out of the profits of his fraud.—Penalties of colJusion! The pains of perjury stare every interested witness in the face, and menace him with the grievous consequence of false swearing. Yet the dissuasive is not held to be equivalent to the temptation; and Interested and Incompetent are synonymous at law.
It is unquestionably the interest of the officer of excise to procure convictions, of individuals, parishes, and town-lands. He has an inducement to obtain them in the rewards provided by the law; and probably the Revenue Board encourage successful exertions of this kind. It is because he is thus strongly interested, that in other cases his evidence would be rejected by the Court. But is it equally the interest of the gauger, that private distillation should have an end? That his lucrative occupation should be o'er ? That premiums upon one side, and (who knows but) compliments on the other, should cease to maintain the embonpoint of his purse? That the hen, which is laying him golden eggs, should be destroyed? No : the integrity of the officer is that on which we should rely; for the wish which his interest, if listened to, must breathe, would be that fines, convictions, and private stills, should all abound. His gain, he knows, being accessorial, sequitur suum principale; and where would be the perquisite, if the illegal practice were put down Accordingly, if he were not a highminded man, his dread of poverty might seduce his will to give consent, that those Spirits should “ florish in immortal youth,” under whose influence he enjoys so warm and comfortable an existence. Nay, even for their frail and mortal tenement, The Still, some officers are said to have felt so pious a regard, that as long as this was at all able to perform its functions, their tenderness and humanity (fomented by a stipend regularly paid them by the owner,) left it wholly unmolested; and only when at length, quite “ batter'd and decay'd," and full of “chinks, which” working, and which “ time had made," it had become altogether useless and effete, did they deliver it, without scruple, to the clutches of the law; gravely pocketing the rewards ensuing on so invaluable a consigunient; and this without the risk of having their feelings wounded by any “ heart-rending woe” on the part of the Distiller; with whose concurrence, on the contrary, the seizure had been made..
There are others besides the gauger, (I admit) whose interests would fain persuade them to join in this sneaking kindness for unlicensed whiskey, which is indeed an esprit folâtre; as capable as Jupiter, or Proteus, of assuming various seductive forms. For the land-owner it is rent; for the land-occupier it is a market; for the distiller and his turris aheneu,' it is a shower of gold; while, in the form of a strong elixir, it at least flatters the consumer's palate, if it does not promote bis health.
For a wholesome and agreeable malt beverage this latter, in general, will look in vain; and of whiskey, there is none worth drinking, that is not contraband. Accordingly he thinks it hard, that it should be criminal to taste the only good liquor he can find, and meritorious to extirpate the rate of persons who supply it.
There is a ludicrous anecdote, so connected with what (still in my grumbling character) I have been observing, that as it is alithentic, I am tempted to record it. An unlicensed distiller, after conviction, being called upon to say whether he had any thing to offer, in the way of mitigation, replied, that he was “ ready to prove, that since the last Assizes, two loyal Protestant Yeomen had been poisoned with Parliament whiskey;" as he was pleased to term it.
Of this tragi-comic murder, I of course fully acquit the system, to which this convict would have ascribed it. But I have already fairly, and more than once, put you on your guard against prepossessions, from which I doubt my being exempt. When I recollect the opinions of some, whom I very highly, and not less deservedly respect, I cannot but surmise that I see things through a medium, which distorts the beauty and fair proportions of what I look at, and they approve ;-a medium which gives a strong coloring to the blemishes, and obscures the merits of the system ; thus leading me, unawares, to overcharge the one, and pass the other by unnoticed.
I may be biassed by my remembrance of the alarming consternation, which I happened to witness about six years ago, produced by fines, to the amount of fourteen thousand pounds, imposed on a county neither opulent nor extensive. Yet there, with Judge Fletcher, I ani disposed to believe, that Perjury (with becoming indifference) had wielded the buckler as well as spear; now striking at the Smuggler; now warding off Revenue blows ; and in short, that the proceedings, which ensued, drained the country of at least as much morality as cash.
But whatever may be my bias, (supposing me to have any,) I at least have no prejudices, which forbid me to admit that putting down the practice of illegal distillation, abolishing the frequent and
: Which may, in excise language, be rendered Copper Still.
inordinate use of spirituous liquors, and substituting a different beverage in their place, is an object of the very first importance; and this still more in a moral, than in a fiscal point of view : though by the way, it might, I believe, with perfect truth be said, that we scarcely could improve the morals of the People, without thereby augmenting the revenues of the State.
But we do little in ascertaining the utility of an end, unless we add a judicious choice of means, for its attainment. These should be warrantable; it is not enough that they be efficacious. What could be more efficient than the forest laws of William the Conqueror? or in modern times, than the system of Buonaparte ? If the means be just and honorable. and adequate, they are well chosen. Yet still another point will deserve consideration, viz. that the bargain which we make is but an ill one, when we pay for any thing, a great deal more than it is worth. Accordingly the sacrifices which are made, should in every case bear a proportion to the acquisitions which are sought: we ought not to incur an expenditure of means, beyond what the end, it gained, could in benefits repay. If on the one side I beheld Finance,---and Disaffection, with Immorality on the other.--I should never wait to tot; but on the view of such debet and credit.entries in the State Book, at once pronounce the balance to be against the country. What follows ? That though the age of Chivalry be gone, while that of Calculators is supposed, by Mr. Burke, to have succeeded, -and though it is desirable that the Treasury should be full,—yet our Legislature will never suffer the State Coffers to be replenished, at the expense of the Religion, Morals, or warm Allegiance of the Realm. To return; and, so far as regards this topic, to have done :-Judge Fletcher should have recollected, that without resorting to either“ rope or gibbet,” Government had strained every nerve, to close that “ source, from which a dreadful torrent of crimes and evils has flowed in upon our land;"!--and I, too, should remember that the system, adopted for this purpose, is approved of by sound hearts, and wiser heads than mine.
“ Tithes” (proceeds Judge Fletcher) “are generally complained of as a great grievance.” He very fairly and distinctly adds, that “ the Clergy have as good a title to their tithes, as any of” the laity “ have to their estates.” Here in fact is one of the difficulties of the case. Tithes are quasi private property; so that, independently of that respect for the possessions of the Church, which connects itself with our regard for the interests of Religion, our hands are in some degree tied, by that principle, and almost sentiment, inherent in the constitution, which holds private property to be inviolably sacred ; exempt from every claim, so long as the pro
prietor incurs no forfeiture, save its share of contribution to the exigencies of the State. Again, tithe being a sort of corn-rent, not liable to be affected by fluctuations in the value of 'money, the Church enjoys, in this way, an advantage, of which we must be reluctant to deprive it.' Nor in theory does there seem to be any thing unfair, or discouraging to agriculture, in the demand of tithe ; especially if we so far qualify this tõeory, as to recollect, that of the titheable produce, the Parson seldom receives above a twentieth, if so much.
Suppose a farmer to have determined that it will be a good speculation to till ground, from which he calculates on a return of forty barrels of corn-will the speculation cease to be a good one, if it produce him no more than thirty-eight? Suppose the husbandman to be a Catholic, and deduct another twentieth, on account of his Priest's dues. Surely if, for a produce of forty barrels, it was worth his while to till, he must still be a gainer, though, for him, the crop be reduced to thirty-six.?
Nevertheless, I fear that in practice Tithe is found to be a burthen; and it is said to be even more vexatious, than it is burthensome; perhaps from the peeping scrutiny and espionnage, which sometimes accon pany this claim. Add to which, that (whether with or without reason) it is, at least amongst our lower orders, an extremely obnoxious and unpopular demand. The circumstances of this Country, with reference to the two Religions which divide its population, must also be admitted to bear upon this subject. But it bears on it in a two-edged and complicated way. On the one hand, to the Roman Catholic Peasant it may seem hard, 3 that he should be called on to contribute to the maintenance of two ecclesiastical establishments ;-while, on the other hand, the present situation of the Church of Ireland is not one, which encourages a tampering with its rights. Therefore, though the subject may deserve the attention of our Legislature, yet their wisdom will feel the necessity of touching it (if at all) with an extremely delicate and cautious hand.
Upon the matter of Presentments, it appears to me that the observations, made by the learned Judge, were, in the general, highly pertinent and proper, and which it was quite within his sphere to make. In truth, this too seems a subject to which it might be well
i See Blackstone's Commentaries, B. ii. c. 20,
2 To object that from this you are to deduct rent, &c. &c. would be mere declamation. My hypothesis is—that the farmer, aware of these deductions, thinks it worth while to till, on the prospect of a return of forty barrels.
3 It is not hard in theory, that the liberally tolerated should assist to maintain the established Religion. Quære--Might not tithes taken out of the Clergyınan's pocket, pass from thence into that, not of the Tiller, but of the Owner of the Land, leaving the former where he was—and merely changing the name of what is demanded of him, from Tithe to Rent ?
if the mind of Parliament were turned. In the Presentment department-over which the Judges have rather a nominal and formal, than a solid and really efficacious controul,-it is confidently alleged, (and with what degree of truth, must deserve to be ascertained,) that there lurks a deal of jobbing, profusion, and abuse. In the conduct of different Grand Juries, dissimilarities may be found, corresponding to the different materials, of which they happen to be composed. These are, in some places, most respectable and aristocratic : il a few only have I chanced to find the Grand Inquest (soi-disant) consist of an ignorant and half-bred race; gentlemen-rather by the courtesy of others, than through their own; and with whose manners their knowledge and sentiments appeared to be marvellously on a par. But I doubt whether, in any instance, investigation would be altogether superfluous or inopportune. Unquestionably the cess is, in many counties, extremely high. Still, however, it is important to bear in mind, that the expenditure of what has been thus exacted—is all at home; while to the poorer classes of the county, in the form of the price of labor, a considerable portion of their contribution is returned. Accordingly, whatever corrective measures Parliament may adopt, they will never think of making the change an arrangement of finance; or of turning the assessments, which the people now endure, into the far more exhausting channel of general taxation. Any system which they substitute, will be one calculated, bona fide, to alleviate the burthens of the poor. To lighten these, (if it were possible,) would be wise, as well as just. The comforts of our lower orders are too few. Not one of them can boast of having a fowl in his pot;? too many of them are even without milk to their potatoes, From a sort of torpor, which better prospects would remove, they can be easily roused to a smarting sense of those privations, which, even while they are thus slumbering over them, they feel. Of these propensities to a dissatisfaction, for which there is too much room, and of the ignorance and simplicity which attend upon their lot, the Factious, inhumanly as well as traitorously, take advantage, and industriously whet and point the poor man's discontent against a Government which does not injure, and which wishes to protect him. Part of what was addressed to Landlords, at Wexford, on
? The Chancellor of the Exchequer has given notice of his intention to bring this subject under the consideration of Parliament; and has invited communications from all quarters-with the view of correcting any abuses in the system.
12 I allude to the wish of Henri IV. on behalf of the Peasantry of France,