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PAGE 2

No. 200 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

Again: One would imagine the Consumption of seven Eighths of the whole People, should pay two Thirds of all the Customs and Excises. And if this Sum too should be divided by seven Millions, viz. the Number of poor People, it would amount to more than seven Shillings to every Head: And therefore with this and the former Sum every poor Subject, without Property, except of his Limbs or Labour, is worth at least ten Shillings yearly to the Sovereign. So much then the Queen loses with every one of her old, and gains with every one of her new Subjects.

When I was got into this Way of thinking, I presently grew conceited of the Argument, and was just preparing to write a Letter of Advice to a Member of Parliament, for opening the Freedom of our Towns and Trades, for taking away all manner of Distinctions between the Natives and Foreigners, for repealing our Laws of Parish Settlements, and removing every other Obstacle to the Increase of the People. But as soon as I had recollected with what inimitable Eloquence my Fellow-Labourers had exaggerated the Mischiefs of selling the Birth-right of Britons for a Shilling, of spoiling the pure British Blood with Foreign Mixtures, of introducing a Confusion of Languages and Religions, and of letting in Strangers to eat the Bread out of the Mouths of our own People, I became so humble as to let my Project fall to the Ground, and leave my Country to encrease by the ordinary Way of Generation.

As I have always at Heart the Publick Good, so I am ever contriving Schemes to promote it; and I think I may without Vanity pretend to have contrived some as wise as any of the Castle-builders. I had no sooner given up my former Project, but my Head was presently full of draining Fens and Marshes, banking out the Sea, and joining new Lands to my Country; for since it is thought impracticable to encrease the People to the Land, I fell immediately to consider how much would be gained to the Prince by encreasing the Lands to the People.

If the same omnipotent Power, which made the World, should at this time raise out of the Ocean and join to Great Britain an equal Extent of Land, with equal Buildings, Corn, Cattle and other Conveniences and Necessaries of Life, but no Men, Women, nor Children, I should hardly believe this would add either to the Riches of the People, or Revenue of the Prince; for since the present Buildings are sufficient for all the Inhabitants, if any of them should forsake the old to inhabit the new Part of the Island, the Increase of House-Rent in this would be attended with at least an equal Decrease of it in the other: Besides, we have such a Sufficiency of Corn and Cattle, that we give Bounties to our Neighbours to take what exceeds of the former off our Hands, and we will not suffer any of the latter to be imported upon us by our Fellow-Subjects; and for the remaining Product of the Country ’tis already equal to all our Markets. But if all these Things should be doubled to the same Buyers, the Owners must be glad with half their present Prices, the Landlords with half their present Rents; and thus by so great an Enlargement of the Country, the Rents in the whole would not increase, nor the Taxes to the Publick.

On the contrary, I should believe they would be very much diminished; for as the Land is only valuable for its Fruits, and these are all perishable, and for the most part must either be used within the Year, or perish without Use, the Owners will get rid of them at any rate, rather than they should waste in their Possession: So that ’tis probable the annual Production of those perishable things, even of one Tenth Part of them, beyond all Possibility of Use, will reduce one Half of their Value. It seems to be for this Reason that our Neighbour Merchants who ingross all the Spices, and know how great a Quantity is equal to the Demand, destroy all that exceeds it. It were natural then to think that the Annual Production of twice as much as can be used, must reduce all to an Eighth Part of their present Prices; and thus this extended Island would not exceed one Fourth Part of its present Value, or pay more than one Fourth Part of the present Tax.