Taxing is an easy business. Any projector can contrive new impositions, any bungler can add to the old; but to is altogether wise to have no other bounds to your impositions than the patience of those who are to bear them?
We must not rend our subjects from our laws, and stick them in our will. Sixth part of each? A trembling contribution! Why, we take from every tree lop, bark, and part o the timber; and though we leave it with a root thus hacked, the air will drink the sap.
That in which every man is interested, is every mans duty to support; and any burden which falls equally on all men, and from which every man is to receive an equal benefit, is consistent with the most perfect ideas of liberty.
There is one passage in the Scriptures to which all the potentates of Europe seem to have given their unanimous assent and approbation, and to have studied so thoroughly as to have it quite at their fingers ends: There went out a decree in the days of Claudius Cæsar, that all the world should be taxed.
The taxes were indeed very heavy, and if those laid on by the government were the only ones we had to pay, we might more easily discharge them; but we have many others, and much more grievous to some of us. We are taxed twice as much by our idleness, three times as much by our pride, and four times as much by our folly; and from these taxes the commissioners cannot ease or deliver us, by allowing an abatement.
What a benefit would the American government, not yet relieved of its extreme need, render to itself, and to every city, village, and hamlet in the States, if it would tax whiskey and rum almost to the point of prohibition! Was it Bonaparte who said that he found vices very good patriots? He got five millions from the love of brandy, and he should be glad to know which of the virtues would pay him as much. Tobacco and opium have broad backs, and will cheerfully carry the load of armies, if you choose to make them pay high for such joy as they give and such harm as they do.