whereby the annual amount of franked letters had gradually increased, from 236007. in the year 1715, to 1707007. in the year 1763d. There cannot be devised a more eligible method than this, of raising money upon the subject: for therein both the government and the people find a mutual benefit. The government acquires a large revenue, and the people do their business with greater ease, expedition, and cheapness, than they would be able to do if no such tax (and of course no such office) existed (31).

d Com. Journ. 28 Mar. 1764.

the whole of the superscription, and shall add his own name, and that of the post-town from which the letter is intended to be sent, and the day of the month in words at length, besides the year, which may be in figures; and unless the letter shall be put into the post-office of the place, so that it may be sent on the day upon which it is dated. And no letter shall go free directed to a member of either house, unless it is directed to him where he shall actually be at the delivery thereof; or to his residence in London, or to the lobby of his house of parliament. And if any person shall fraudulently counterfeit or alter such superscription, he shall be guilty of felony, and shall be transported for seven years. But, in case of bodily infirmity, a member may authorize another person to write the superscription.

By the 35 Geo. III. c. 53. the privilege of franking is still farther restrained. By that statute, no letter directed by or to any member shall go free, which shall exceed one ounce in weight, nor any letter directed by a member, unless he is within twenty miles of the posttown from which it is to be sent on the day, or the day before the day, on which it is put into the post-office. And no member shall send more than ten, or receive more than fifteen letters in one day, free from postage. Single letters sent and received by the non-commissioned officers and private men in the navy and army, under certain restrictions, shall be subject only to the postage of one penny each. By 42 Geo. III. c. 63. these acts are extended to the members for the united kingdom. It has been decided that under these statutes a Roman Catholic peer is not entitled to send or receive letters free from postage. Lord Petrie v. Lord Auckland, postmaster-general. 2 Bos. & Pull. 139.

(31) It was determined so long ago as the 13 W. III. by three of the judges of the court of King's Bench, though contrary to the pertina

V. A FIFTH branch of the perpetual revenue consists in the stamp duties, which are a tax imposed upon all parchment and paper, whereon any legal proceedings, or private instruments of almost any nature whatsoever, are written; and also upon licenses for retailing wines, letting horses to hire, and for certain other purposes; and upon all almanacks, news-papers, advertisements, cards, dice, and pamphlets containing less than six sheets of paper. These imposts are very various, according to the nature of the things stamped, rising gradually from a penny to ten pounds. This is also a tax, which though in some instances it may be heavily felt, by

cious opinion of lord C. J. Holt, that no action could be maintained against the postmaster-general, for the loss of bills or articles sent in letters by the post. 1 Ld. Raym. 646. Comyns. 100, &c. A similar action was brought against lord le Despencer and Mr. Carteret, postmasters-general, in 1778, to recover a bank-note of 100%. which had been sent by the post and was lost. Lord Mansfield delivered the opinion of the court, and proved, with much perspicuity and ability, that there was no resemblance or analogy between the postmasters and a master carrier, and that no action for any loss in the post-office could be brought against any person, except him by whose actual negligence the loss accrued; that this point seems as fully established as if it had been declared by the full authority of parliament. Cowp. 754.

For this reason it is recommended, by the secretary of the postoffice, to cut bank-notes and to send one half at a time. This is the only safe mode of sending bank-notes, as the bank would never pay the holder of that half which had been fraudulently obtained.

Many attempts have been made by postmasters in country towns, to charge a halfpenny or a penny a letter upon delivery at the houses in the town above the parliamentary rates, under pretence that they were not obliged to carry the letters out of the office gratis; but it has been repeatedly decided, that such a demand is illegal, and that they are bound to deliver the letters to the inhabitants within the usual and established limits of the town, without any addition to the rate of postage. 5 Burr. 2709. 2 Bl. Rep. 906. Cowp. 182.

greatly increasing the expense of all mercantile as well as legal proceedings, yet (if moderately imposed) is of service to the public in general, by authenticating instru- [324] ments, and rendering it much more difficult than formerly to forge deeds of any standing; since, as the officers of this branch of the revenue vary their stamps frequently, by marks perceptible to none but themselves, a man that would forge a deed of king William's time, must know and be able to counterfeit the stamp of that date also. In France and some other countries the duty is laid on the contract itself, not on the instrument in which it is contained; (as, with us too, besides the stamps on the indentures, a tax is laid by statute 8 Ann. c. 9. of 6d. in the pound, upon every apprentice-fee, if it be 501. or under; and 18. in the pound, if it be a greater sum ;) but this tends to draw the subject into a thousand nice disquisitions and disputes concerning the nature of his contract, and whether taxable or not; in which the farmers of the revenue are sure to have the advantage (32). Our general method answers the purposes of the state as well, and consults the ease of the subject much better. The first institution of the stamp duties was by statute 5 & 6 W. & M. c. 21. and they have since in many instances been increased to ten times their original amount (33).

e Sp. of L. b. xiii. c. 9.

(32) It is considered a rule of construction of revenue acts, in ambi. guous cases, to lean in favor of the revenue. This rule is agreeable to good policy and the public interests; but, beyond that, which may be regarded as established law, no one can ever be said to have an undue advantage in our courts.

(33) And perhaps by ten different acts of parliament. It is certainly true, that the items of seven different long statutes must be picked out and summed up, to produce the present stamp duty upon an indenture,

VI. A SIXTH branch is the duty upon houses and windows. As early as the conquest mention is made in domes-day book of fumage or fuage, vulgarly called smoke farthings; which were paid by custom to the king for every chimney in the house. And we read that Edward the black prince, (soon after his successes in France,) in imitation of the English custom, imposed a tax of a florin upon every hearth in his French dominions. But the first parliamentary establishment of it in England was by statute 13 & 14 Car. II. c. 10. whereby an hereditary revenue of 2s. for every hearth, in all houses paying to church and poor, was granted to the king for ever. And, by subsequent statutes for the more regular assessment of this tax, the constable and two other substantial inhabitants of the parish, to be appointed yearly, (or the surveyor, appointed by the crown, together with such constable or other

public officer,) were, once in every year, empowered [325] to view the inside of every house in the parish.

But, upon the revolution, by statute 1 W. & M st. 1. c. 10. hearth-money was declared to be "not only a great "oppression to the poorer sort, but a badge of slavery upon "the whole people, exposing every man's house to be "entered into, and searched at pleasure, by persons unknown f Mod. Un. Hist. xxiii. 463. Spelm. Gloss. tit. Fuage.

lease, or bond.

One cannot but express surprise, that each new stamp-act has not consolidated the duties imposed upon the respective articles by former statutes. When a deed or instrument is produced in court, no one can say whether it is duly stamped or not, but by collecting together, with a great probability of an error, all the duties which lie dispersed in the various stamp-acts prior to its date.

If each stamp-act declared the whole amount of the stamp at the time, it would prevent much confusion and vexation in a subject of the highest importance. But till this plan is adopted by the legislature, Dr. Burn in the title Stamps, will be our readiest, if not our surest, guide.

"to him; and therefore, to erect a lasting monument of "their majesties goodness in every house in the kingdom, "the duty of hearth-money was taken away and abolished." This monument of goodness remains among us to this day: but the prospect of it was somewhat darkened, when in six years afterwards by statute 7 W. III c. 18. a tax was laid upon all houses (except cottages) of 28. now advanced to 38. per annum, and a tax also upon all windows, if they exceeded nine, in such house. Which rates have been from time to times varied, being now extended to all windows exceeding six; and power is given to surveyors, appointed by the crown, to inspect the outside of houses, and also to pass through any house two days in the year, into any court or yard, to inspect the windows there. A new duty from 6d. to 1s. in the pound was also imposed by statutes 18 Geo. III. c. 16. and 19 Geo. III. c. 59. on every dwelling-house inhabited, together with the offices and gardens therewith occupied which duty, as well as the former, is under the direction of the commissioners of the land tax (34).

VII. THE Seventh branch of the extraordinary perpetual revenue is a duty of 21s. per annum for every male servant retained or employed in the several capacities specifically mentioned in the act of parliament, and which almost amount to an universality, except such as are employed in husbandry, trade, or manufactures. This was imposed by statute 17 Geo. III. c. 39. amended by 19 Geo. III. c. 59. and is under the management of the commissioners of the land and window tax (35).

g Stat. 20 Geo. II. c. 3. 31 Geo. II. c. 22. 2 Geo. III. c. 8. 6 Geo, III. c. 38.

(34) The tax upon windows has been much increased by the commutation act the 24 Geo. III. sess. 2. c. 38. and by the 37 Geo. III. c. 105. besides a general addition of 20 per cent. upon the gross amount; and also by 42 Geo. III. c. 34.

See the subject particularly stated in Burn, tit. House.

(35) By the 25 Geo. III. c. 43. the former taxes upon servants were repealed, and fresh duties were imposed. These have since been

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