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ing the period of which we have been could spend a hundred marks of yearly speaking, from a halfpenny to three- rent, or be the sons of nobles of the halfpence per gallon.

realm, to have in their houses any vesDuring ibis period, however that sel of wine exceeding tun gallons, on is, previous to the revolution of 1688, pain of forfeiting ten pounds. The abthe price of wine, in England, con- surdity, to be sure, of these sumptuary sisted, as we have said, of its cost laws has been long since felt, and price abroad, and of the freight and they have long been exploded from our other charges consequent on its im- statute book; we cannot but suspect, portation. It was very slightly in- however, that somewhat of their spirit creased by custom - house duties and still lingers amongst us, and even upon other fiscal burthens. It was the dif- this very question of wine, half unconficulties of transit and the restricted sciously influences many of us. We commercial intercourse at that period cannot but believe that there are not a which constituted the chief element in few who feel that wine is a luxury with its cost. The duties on the importa- which the working man has no busition of wine, at that time, as our read- ness : beer and ale are good enough ders are aware, went by the name of for him; wine should be reserved for “ tonnage. This tonnage was

the more favoured classes for that seccharge which varied in amount, but tion of society which, in this world, is never was very considerable, on each born to be served. That a dusty latun of wine imported into the country; bourer or exhausted cotton - spinner the tun being a measure which con- should sit down to his bottle of wine, tained about 250 gallons. It was a would to these people be simply ridisubsidy which was granted by Parlia- culous, were it not accompanied by an ment, at first but temporarily and for uneasy feeling of presumption, of sense a prescribed period, but subsequently of invasion of the privileges of their it came to be made for the life of the set which torments them. To your monarch. And so regularly and uni- genuine exclusive half the enjoyment formly was this grant thus made, that of any indulgence consists in its very after a time it came to be regarded as exclusiveness ; his wine would lose a part of the royal prerogative, and half its relish if it were a luxury which was levied as such, in many instances, everyone could participate in. The even without the assent of Parliament. prevalence of foreign travel, and the This duty of tonnage was, however, opportunity of observing the general as we have said, never considerable. use of wine amongst the peasantry of Early in the fourteenth century it other countries, has, no doubt, gone amounted to two shillings a tun; in far to do away with the prejudice the middle of the seventeenth century against its general use; still, however, a duty of forty shillings a tun was im- wine ranks with us now at the present posed; and the very first act of the day fully as much as ever it did as a luxparliament after the Restoration in ury available only to the few, and that this same century, was the imposition the very class which probably could of a duty of from £4 10s. to £6 on most readily dispense with it. every tun of French wine imported The high prices which now cause into the country the preamble of wine to rank in the class of luxuries is the act reciting, that the purpose of not occasioned, as in former times, by the grant was for the guarding and the unavoidable hindrances to comdefending of the seas against all per- mercial intercourse which were necessons intending the disturbance of sarily incident to the period, but by trade and the invasion of the realm. our fiscal regulations. From the time The position, then, occupied by wine of the Revolution we have vigorously at this period of our history appears to set about excluding the use of wine have been somewhat similar to that from the country. The war with which it now holds ; it was a luxury France, which broke out in the year available only to the upper classes and 1689, was inaugurated by the imposithe wealthy, but wholly excluded from tion of a heavy discriminating duty on the consumption of the middle classes the wines of that country-on those very and the poor. It was even included in wines which were then chiefly in use, and the sumptuary laws of the time; for, universally preferred amongst us. Such by a statute of the year 1552, it was was one of the first acts of the reign of forbidden to any man but such as King William, of blessed memory-he whose health we now toast in claret, been established previously to the when we can get it, for our deliverance prohibition which then existed ; and from brass money and wooden shoes, England, upon the other hand, enand never think of the grudge we gaged that she would at all times adshould bear him for having been the mit the wines of Portugal at two-thirds first to deprive us of the light and joy. of the duty which should be charged ous wines of that country, and to drive on the French wines. This treaty was us into the consumption of the strong then looked upon as a masterpiece of and rough wines of Portugal. There diplomacy-as the ne plus ultra of powere, however, it must be acknow- litical sagacity. The statesmen of ledged, perverse and erroneous com- England congratulated themselves, and mercial notions prevalent at that pe- the nation applauded the statesmen riod; and these concurred with the for having thus hoodwinked and outmistaken views of foreign policy, and witted the unhappy Portuguese. The confirmed and perpetuated the exclu- profound craft of the negotiation was sion of French wines. It was then held believed to consist in this : Portugal to be the great object of commercial was then in the habit of receiving a policy to have the balance of trade in large amount of the precious metals favour of the country-in other words, annually from the Brazils. It was beto take care that we exported more lieved that she would require a greater than we imported; for it was argued, amount of our woollens than we could that if we always exported a greater possibly consume of her wines — that amount of goods than we imported, thus the value of our woollens exported the balance should be paid in the pre- would necessarily very much exceed cious metals, and thus we would have that of the wine imported, and that a constant stream of gold and silver the difference should be paid in gold flowing into and enriching the country, and silver, which her connexion with We need hardly say that this notion of the Brazils supplied her with so abunthe desirableness of maintaining a fa- dantly. The thing was a sheer abvourable balance of trade is one which surdity; it was ridiculous on many still prevails very generally amongst grounds, and for this one, amongst us; it is constantly to be traced in the others, that all experience had shown various publications of the day. As the impossibility of our accumulating it has no immediate concern with our an indefinite quantity of the precious subject, it would be out of place to metals. The laws against their exadvert to it now, further than to ob- portation had at all times proved in. serve that, as when the balance of operative - articles which possess so trade is favourable, or in other words, much value in so small a bulk can alwhen we export more goods than we ways be smuggled out of the country. import, we get the balance in gold and And even if it had been practicable to silver, whether or not such a state of cause the precious metals thus to flow things is desirable depends altogether into the country in a perpetual stream, upon this - whether we are more in until they had filled the land to overwant of the gold and silver, or of the tea, flowing, the effects would be most dissugar, wine, and other products which astrous. There would be a constant we might have imported in exchange depreciation in the value of the prefor our exports. If we be so, a favour- cious metals as their quantity continued able balance of trade is desirable; but if to increase'; the great medium of exwe be not, it is very much the reverse. change would thus be constantly falling

It so happened, however, that one in value, working thereby perpetual of the most glaring illustrations of ruin to the creditor portion of society, this commercial fallacy occurred just whose contracts had been entered into at the time of which we have been when the circulating medium was less speaking, and in immediate connexion depreciated, and destroying all merwith our subject; we allude to the cantile enterprise by making it impostreaty with Portugal in the year 1703, sible to enter with confidence into any kuown as the Methuen Treaty, be- contract the fulfilment of which was cause it was negotiated by a gentleman postponed to a distant period. Upon of that name. By this treaty it was all present transactions of buying and arranged that the Portuguese should selling it would have occasioned incon. always admit the woollen fabrics of venience-it would bave had the effect England upon the terms which had of obliging men to employ fifty or a hundred sovereigns to buy what other but as a luxury; and from the time of wise could have been got for one im- the Revolution to the present, it has posing this inconvenience and risk upon been looked upon as a luxury which the public, without doing an atom of was peculiarly well adapted for purservice to any human being. Such was poses of taxation. It has never been the most important treaty connected considered by the Minister in any point with our subject. Now that attention is of view but a financial one; the only so much turned at the present day to question he has ever proposed to him diplomacy, it may not be amiss thus self is how the greatest amount of reshortly toglance at the absurdities of this venue could be raised from it. Even specimen of the diplomatic art, which, when the duties were reduced the prinat the commencement of the last cen- ciple was not departed from; the selftury and long afterwards, was extolled same motives influenced Mr. Pitt in his as the very masterpiece of the craft - reductions of 1787, and Lord Ripon in a piece of diplomacy which pledged his reductions of 1825, as had actuated ourselves to persist in an attitude of all their predecessors. The problem permanent hostility to our most power- they sought to solve was how the largest ful neighbour; permanently to dimi- amount of return to the Exchequer nish the consumption of wines which might be obtained - whether by high we took delight in; permanently to rates with a reduced consumption, or take to the wines of Portugal, for by low rates and increased consumpwhich we had then no relish, nor ever tion. Nor can we say that even to the would have had but for the improve- present moment any other views have ments which were subsequently made been brought before the public; for, in them; and all this in the expectation although we have recently had a few of hurting the trade of France, and to abortive attempts in Parliament to efrealise for ourselves such commercial fect a considerable change in the duty results as we bave called attention to. on wine, and to reduce it so low as to

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From the date of this Methuen one shilling a gallon, yet the advocates treaty--that is, from 1703, the duty on of this measure labour strenuously to the tun of wine was continually in- show that the increased consumption creased by successive acts of Parlia- would, after a little while, more than ment, until it amounted in the year compensate the revenue for the reduc1786 to 8s. 9d. per gallon on French tion in the rate, and they impliedly, at wines. Mr. Pilt then reduced the duty least, admit that if it were otherwise on French wines to so low a figure as the measure would not be desirable. 45., 6d. per gallon, and conformably The agitation of this question of a with the requirements of the Methuen one shilling duty, or we should rather treaty, he made of course a reduction say the mooting of the question for of one-third on the wines of Portugal, with our Irish notions of an “agitan bringing them down so low as 3s. per tion” it would be a degradation of the gallop. In ten years more, however, term to apply it to the little that has the duties were again raised, and that been said or done on this matter- has to a greater height than they had ever called forth the publication which is previously been; that on French wines now before us. This volume of Sir being 10s. 2d., and on Portuguese and James Emerson Tennent's contains Spanish wines, 6s. 10d. In another de. within a very small bulk a great quancade the duty on French wines had tity of most valuable information on the still further risen to 13s. 8d., and that subject of which it treats ; it will always on the wines of Portugal and Spain, to be a valuable handbook for those who 9s. ld. In the year 1825, they were seek for statistical information on mata lowered ; but it was not until the year ters connected with the supply of wines; 1831 that the principle of the Me- with the duties to which they have been thuen treaty was finally abandoned, and subjected; and the effect of these duties the duties on French and other European on their consumption. Differing, as wines were equalised, and charged with it will appear that we do, from the the uniform rate of 5s. 6d. per gallon. policy which our author recommends, In 1840 they were all raised to 5s. 9d., it is not because we dissent from many at which rate they still remain.

of the conclusions at which he has ar. Thus has wine been at all times in rived, but because we would disregard these countries looked upon not as a them; because, if we were not involved comfort, still less as a necessary of life, in a war which makes all such attempts impracticable, if peace were once re- in favour of the measure which he constored, we would risk a diminution of siders that he is on inquiry constrained révenue, or deliberately incur a loss, to condemn ; his book itself refutes, in and seek to compensate for it by the every line of it, the supposition of want necessary increase in our direct taxa- of care or of judgment in its composi. tion rather than forego the advantages tion. We cannot, however, but fear which we believe would flow from a that all this labour and ability may fail cheap and liberal supply of wholesome to be generally appreciated; valuable wines in the country ;-because, to use as are the materials which are here col. the language of Mr. Gladstone, when lected, yet, for the main object of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, “We work, for the practical conclusion at know no article burdened with a fiscal which our author arrives, and for the chain, under our financial system, with establishing of which all this labour and respect to which any stronger reasons research has been undergone, the book for a change could be given.” But it is unnecessary. Our author's concluis perfectly consistent with our own sions lead him to pronounce against views that we should feel this publica- the one shilling duty; but who is agi. tion to be a most valuable one. We tating for it?-whom has he got to condo not presume to question the accu- vince?-who are concerning themselves racy of our author's statistics, though about the matter? A Committee of we would, in a few instances, ven- the Commons which could not agree to ture to qualify the conclusions at a Report; a motion by Mr. Oliveira, which he arrives. He has obviously which was withdrawn ; and a speech devoted great labour and judgment to by the same gentleman to a motion their collection and compilation. The which he did not make, with some pubpains which he has taken in procuring licationsemanating from the wine trade, his materials, and the ability which he are the only evidences of any interest has shown in their arrangement, and being felt in the matter; so little do in his reasoning upon them, is most the people understand or concern themcreditable. If from our limited know- selves about what is for their utmost ledge of the subject we had previously benefit. An author who regarded felt a different impression on some sta- merely the success which is evidenced by tistical points, we are satisfied that our an extensive circulation would hardly author is right, and that we were in the be guilty of the want of tact of pub. wrong. The slovenly and unconscien- lishing conclusions from which no one tious manner in which statistical inqui- dissented. Sir Emerson Tennent must, ries have too frequently been conducted we fear, rest satisfied with the reputahas brought all such reasonings into re- tion which he will obtain with the few proach; no man could put any con- who are competent to appreciate the fidence in inquiries which he finds re- value of the information in which his sorted to to establish directly opposite publication abounds, irrespective of the conclusions. Such imperfection, no object to which it is immediately di. doubt, occasionally arises from the na- rected. ture of the subject, from the difficulty We have already intimated pretty of getting together a sufficiently exten- distinctly our own views as to the posive collection of well-ascertained facts licy of a great reduction on the duty in connexion with it; but it not unfre- of wine. If we were not engaged in quently arises from the want of care a war which, by its stern and all-aband judgment on the part of the in- sorbing necessities, precludes the posquirer too often from his want of ho. sibility of running any risk of derangnesty. Men jump at conclusions on ing the public finance, we would unmost insufficient evidence, guided by hesitatingly and earnestly advocate their prejudices, or their whims, or by the experiment of a one-shilling duty, anything but the honest exercise of and supply the deficiency of the retheir judgment; they then impress a venue, whatever it might be, and number of specially selected facts, whether it should be temporary or perchosen for their argument, to support manent, by an increase in the direct their foregone conclusion, and this they taxation of the country. If there put before the world as statistical in- would be the slightest chance of subquiry. Such bas not been the course stituting a cheering, grateful and ex. taken by our author; he tells us that hilarating beverage, which would rehis feeling and his prejudices were all fresh the frame and invigorate the intellect, for the maddening influence of was Chancellor of the Exchequer, he alcoholic spirits, or the sot tish, brutal. thought that the experiment would be ising effects of ale and porter, we successful. " He was not,” he said, know no sacrifice of the revenue, or, “ one of those who thought it imposto speak more accurately, no readjust- sible or visionary to expect a great ment of the revenue, which should not extension of taste for, and consumpbe made in order to effect it. We tion of, wine among the people of have already quoted the testimony of England. On the contrary, it apLiebeg, the most profound and philo- peared to him that the present state of sophical chemist in Europe, in favour the taste of the people, in regard to of wine - one, too, who has applied wine, was the natural result of our himself peculiarly to the study of the fiscal system in that respect." Somehuman diet. Our quotation might have thing approaching to an experiment been prolonged, for again he says:-"In has been made by a few retail wineno part of Germany do the apothe dealers in London. Their experiment caries' establishments bring so low a necessarily wanted the all-essential price as in the rich cities of the Rhine, element of cheapness - 80 that it is for wine is the universal medicine for hardly deserving of the name of an the healthy as well as for the sick; it experiment at all; but selling wine in is considered as milk to the aged.” Is small quantities over the counter, the it not notorious on the other hand, result showed, that Mr. Baker, of that the use of ardent spirits and of Holborn, sold in this way more than a malt liquors is a most fertile source of pipe and a half a-week; Mr. Pool, of disease in these countries. The very London Bridge, sold a pipe in three worst patients who enter the London weeks; Mr. Short, of the Strand, sold hospitals are the brewers' men : a a hundred and sixty pipes a-year. bruise or a scratch, which with others This last-named gentleman says, that would be insignificant, with them will “ bricklayers, labourers, coal-heavers, mortify and fester. On the Continent journeymen-carpenters, and men of of Europe, the vice of intoxication is all grades, come in and take their unknown. Does it not run riot and glass of wine - we have a thousand revel in every corner of our land ? people a-day, and not a drunken man.' does it not lead to the commission of He charges 4d. for a glass of port, the most heinous crimes ; and can we 7d. for Champagne, and 6d. for a venture to limit its ruinous effects to gill of claret. "Now this is the expe. those instances in which it is the im- rience of men who have tested the mediate incentive to crime ? — does matter, as far as the present condi. not the constant muddling with porter tions of the case would admit of; and and ale, and other strong drinks in it is idle for our author, against these which the mass of Englishmen indulge authorities (whom, by the way, he

- we speak not alone of the working but obscurely refers to, without giving classes, but of the class or two above either their names or the particulars of them as well — beget a brutishness of their evidence), to set up the mere nature which is destructive of all re- opinion of another wine-merchant, Mr. finement and delicacy of feeling, and Bushell, that the working man would is revolting and degrading?

prefer beer to low wines ; or even that But it will be said, would these classes of Mr. Maxwell, another merchant, of whom we speak-would our people who says that his men will steal his generally drink wine, if they could get beer rather than steal the finest wine it? This is obviously a main point for in his cellar ; or the dictum of the Emconsideration ; for if they would not, peror of the French, that “ the Engthe alteration of the duty would be a lishmen would prefer their own good wanton and injurious disturbance of beer to the wines of France or Gerthe existing state of things—it would

many." confer a very trifling benefit on those As we have said, the experiment who now drink wine, and be of no ser- never has been made to try whether vice whatsoever to any other section our people generally would drink wine of society, though occasioning a beavy if they could get it at a moderate loss to the public revenue. Now, upon rate. But the experiment has been this subject, which is necessarily one made with reference to the wealthier of speculation, there is much difference classes of society, and it has been uni. of opinion. When Mr. Gladstone formly found, that a reduction in the

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