Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

we eat, or in other words, upon the land, which is the great source of supply to the public and to individuals. Nor can I persuade myself, but that the people may be weaned from the habit of poisoning themselves. The difficulty of smuggling a bulky liquid, joined to the severity which ought to be exercised towards smugglers, whose illegal commerce is of so infernal a nature, must in time produce the effect desired. Spirituous liquors being abolished, instead of having the most undisciplined and abandoned poor, we might soon boast a race of men, temperate, religious, and industrious, even to a firoverb. We should soon see the ponderous burden of the poor's rate decrease, and the beauty and strength of the land lejuvenate. Schools, workhouses, and hospitals, might then be sufficient to clear our streets of distress and misery, which never will be the case whilst the love of poi. son prevails, and the means of ruin is sold in above one thousand houses in the city of London, two thousand two hundred in Westminster, and one thousand nine hundred and thirty in Holborn and St. Giles's.

“ But if other uses still demand liquid fire, I would really propose, that it should be sold only in quart bottles, sealed up with the king's seal, with a very high duty, and none sold without being mixed with a strong emetic.

“ Many become objects of charity by their intemperance, and this excludes others who are such by the unavoidable accidents of life, or who cannot by any means support themselves. Hence it appears, that the introducing new habits of life is the most substantial charity ; and that the regulation of charity schools, hospitals, and workhouses, not the augmentation of their number, can

gratifies the taste without nourishing the body. It is a birren superfluity, to which those who can hardly procure what nature requires, cannot prudently habituate themselves. Its proper use is to amuse the idle, and relax the studious, and dilute the full meals of those who cannot use exercise, and will not use abstinence. That time is lost in this insipid entertainment, cannot be denied ; many trifle away at the tea table those moments which would be better spent ; but that any national detriment can be inferred from this waste of time, does not evidently appear, because I know not that any work remains undone for want of hands. Our manufactures seem to be limited, not by the possibility of work, but by the possibility of sale.

His next argument is more clear. He affirms, that one hundred and fifty thousand pounds in silver are paid to the Chinese annually, for three millions of pounds of tea, and that for two millions more brought clandestinely from the neighbouring coasts, we pay, at twenty pence a pound, one hundred sixty six thousand six hundred and sixty six pounds. The author justly conceives, that this computation will awaken us; for, says he, “ The loss of health, the loss of time, the injury of morals, are not very sensibly felt by some, who are alarmed when you talk of the loss of money." But he excuses the East India Company, as men not obliged to be political arithmeticians, or to inquire so much what the nation loses, as how themselves may grow rich. It is certain, that they who drink tea have no right to complain of those that import it ; but if Mr. Hanway's computation be just, the importation and the use of it ought at once to be stopped by a penal law.

The author allows one slight argument in favour of tea, which, in my opinion, maight be with far greater justice urged both against that and many other parts of our naval trade. “ The tea trade employs, he tells us, six ships, and five or six hundred seamen, sent annually to China. It likewise brings in a revenue of three hun. dred and sixty thousand pounds, which, as a tax on luxury, may be considered as of great utility to the state." The utility of this tax I cannot find ; a tax on luxury is no better than another tax, unless it hinders luxury, which cannot be said of the impost upon tea, while it is thus used by the great and the mean, the rich and the poor. The truth is, that by the loss of one hundred and fifty thousand pounds, we procure the means of shifting three hundred and sixty thousand at best, only from one hand to another ; but perhaps sometimes into hands by which it is not very honestly employed. Of the five or six hundred seamen sent to China, I am told that sometimes half, commonly a third part, perish in the voyage ; so that instead of setting this navigation against the inconveniences already alleged, we may add to them, the yearly loss of two hundred men in the prime of life ; and reckon, that the trade of China has destroyed ten thousand men since the beginning of this century.

If tea be thus pernicious, if it impoverishes our country, if it raises temptation, and gives opportunity to illicit commerce, which I have always looked on as one of the strongest evidences of the inefficacy of our law, the

denied ; many

gratifies the taste without nourishing the body. It is a birren superfluity, to which those who can hardly procure what nature requires, cannot prudently habituate themselves. Its proper use is to amuse the idle, and relax the studious, and dilute the full meals of those who cannot use exercise, and will not use abstinence. That time is lost in this insipid entertainment, cannot be

trifle away at the tea table those moments which would be better spent ; but that any national detriment can be inferred from this waste of time, does not evidently appear, because I know not that any work remains undone for want of hands. Our manufactures seem to be limited, not by the possibility of work, but by the possibility of sale.

His next argument is more clear. He affirms, that one hundred and fifty thousand pounds in silver are paid to the Chinese annually, for three millions of pounds of tea, and that for two millions more brought clandestinely from the neighbouring coasts, we pay, at twenty pence a pound, one hundred sixty six thousand six hundred and sixty six pounds. The author justly conceives, that this computation will awaken us; for, says he, “ The loss of health, the loss of time, the injury of morals, are not very sensibly felt by some, who are alarmed when you talk of the loss of money." But he excuses the East India Company, as men not obliged to be political arithmeticians, or to inquire so much what the nation loses, as how themselves may grow rich. It is certain, that they who drink tea have no right to complain of those that import it, but if Mr. REPLY

TO

A PAPER IN THE GAZETTEER,

OF MAY 26, 1757.*

cess.

IT is observed in the sage Gil Blas, that an exasperated author is not easily pacified. I have, therefore, very little hope of making my peace with the writer of the Eight Days Journey ; indeed so little, that I have long deliberated whether I should not rather sit silently down under his displeasure, than aggravate my misfortune by a defence of which my heart forebodes the ill suc

Deliberation is often useless. I am afraid that I have at last made the wrong choice ; and that I might better have resigned my cause, without a struggle, to time and fortune, since I shall run the hazard of a new offence, by the necessity of asking him why he is angry.

Distress and terror often discover to us those faults with which we should never have reproached ourselves in a happy state. Yet, dejected as I am, when I review the transaction between ine and this writer, I cannot find that I have been deficient in reverence. When his book was first printed, he hints that I procured a sight

* From the Literary Magazine, Vol. II. page 253.

« AnteriorContinuar »