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Wednesday, 7th Dec. 1803. Іт
may become a subject of curious investigation among philosophers, whether the Man in Moon ever sleeps; probably they may sometime or other catch him nodding, or at least find him so dull and heavy as nearly to determine the fact. However, to save them the trouble of further enquiry, he candidly avows, that he does, at times, close his eyes, and shut his mouth upon occasion, like other people; and the better to establish the truth of the position, and introduce himself to the notice of a large class of the community, called dreamers, he will relate an extraordinary vision that he had only a few nights since, which, whether it was the effect of the images floating in his brain of what he had seen going on upon earth, or a mere misrepresentation of them, he cannot, at present, determine.
About ten o'clock of the night of the first day of December instant, being fatigued with turning over a variety of incongruous matter, or lumber of the earth, the Man in the Moon fell into a dose, and fancied
himself, as is frequently the case with other people, wide awake. He imagined the printer of these sheets on his right hand, and that he, the Man in the Moon, was very gravely enquiring into the purport of a great bustle below, in words nearly as follows: “ Bless me, what are these innumerable hordes, apparently savages, issuing forth from all corners, and covering the land? Instead of ensigns, they seem to carry an immense volume before them, the sheets open, and the contents . as mysterious and ambiguous as the sibyllini versus, I am afraid that nothing can be collected from them, yet I discover in large capitals the word ? INCOME, which seems to dwindle and diminish the longer one looks at it. Truly, however, the bearers of these com lours appear an effective corps, they seem constantly upon the alert, and ready for action, they are doubtless rifle men. How long have they been brigaded? Is this the dreaded descent! and are they called marauders. or invaders? Doubtless they are marching to obtain a collection after dinner from those liberal gentlemen seated round a table at yonder hotel, and who have ordered all the luxuries of a French kitchen; what a variety of dishes for this necessitous troop to partake of-des matelotes d'anguilles et des carpes, des cotelettes etonné et surpris, des becasses et des becassines, des omelettes superbes, with hock, claret, and Burs gundy, followed by caffeè and the most exquisite liqueurs, absinthe, and abricot; what immense wealth! surely the partakers of so sumptuous a table will, at least, be able to pay two shillings in the pound; or, perhaps, this chosen troop of sharp-shooters are de
stined to make an attack on that superb pastry shop. -Methinks I see them already among the jellies and savoury pâtés, or sipping the creme de rose, and capilaire. Pray, heaven, that they may not assail the roast beef or plumb pudding on the table of that decent family, now sitting over their meal, and counting out their rent for their landlord, and who, I observe, have only a few pounds left them."
The Man in the Moon went on in this incoherent strain, the offspring of his disordered imagination for some time, when his friend, the printer, assured him of his mistake; and that what he took to be a newraised regiment were nothing more than a troop of tax-gatherers; that they were nearly complete, and would soon know their exercise, which they were to learn as well in houses, as in the fields; that they would shortly understand charging, and surcharging, and go through the whole of their maneuvres with skill and adroitness.
At this explanation the Man in the Moon awoke, and being now come to his senses, I shall, in my proper person, that is, in the first person singular, offer some reflections on the remarkable subject of my dream, the great business of taxation.
Adam Smith, in his Wealth of Nations, defines the principle of taxation as follows:-" That the subjects of every state ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible,
in proportion to their respective abilities," and this proposition must be admitted. To determine therefore, the character of a new tax, we have only to discover how far it is from, or how near it is to, this fair and just admeasurement; for it has been the mistaken arithmetic of modern politicians to seek to supply the exigencies of the state by an equal distribution from the hands of the people, apportioned to their probable incomes, measuring their respective abilities by one and the same scale, without regard to the circumstances that vary the different situations of men of the same income. The point of taxation should be with the power of the individual, and it should cease whenever it presses too hard on the deserving and industrious man. A just and equal tax upon income is ruled by the like principle of people at a tavern, who are called upon to pay the reckoning, where each should subscribe his share; yet if one of them is unintentionally unable, the rest of them make up the amount among them, anticipating the cruel exposition of his finances; or, indeed, an Income Tax ought to be made on the same principle as a baker's parish pudding. Every body, who knows any thing of a baker in a country town, knows that the family have every Sunday what is called a parish pudding, which is made without much trouble; as the baker's wife has only to take a little out of every batter, or rice pudding that comes to the oven, but then she is always very careful to collect from the best and largest, the largest spoonfuls, leaving the homely puddings made of poor materials unmolested.
The mistake of modern financiers is derived from their having more knowledge of Cocker's Arithmetic, than of common life, for they very wisely and profoundly infer, that if A. being worth ten thousand pounds per annum, pays five hundred pounds tax, that B. having only one hundred pounds yearly income, will only pay five pounds tax; not at all considering that it is nevertheless unequal from the inequalities of the situation of A. and B.; as the one has scarcely enough for the common necessaries of life, and the other a superabundance. The arithmetic of an Income Tax may then take a dividend from a man who has nothing to spare, or perhaps a small uncertain profit inadequate to the common purposes of life; nor will supervisors charitably make an abatement for those imperious demands which propriety enforces on persons of certain situations in life, even after all the odiousness of exposition. Thus the man who is obliged to make a decent appearance in society suffers all the injuries of degradation from the effect of an insupportable tax.
There is always superflux enough in a country to furnish the supplies of the most expensive war. It is the wisdom of taxation to find out the superfluities, and there to fix, till it may suck out the poison of excess, and by a virtuous subtraction lessen the moral and physical evils of life; taxation would then be made subservient to morals, and ministers become the economical surveyors of wholesome provisions for the people, a new appointment. But all ministers are not Mentors, they sometimes, like other people, wait for