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ing the money that is necefsary for the purposes of good government, without producing evils that couteract the design of all good government, fhould be called a good and necessary law.

The end of all good government is to promote the peace, to secure the property, and to protect the person of every subject of the state, from suffering unjust annoyance from any one. The laws that promote these objects are good. Those that have an opposite tendency are bad, and ought to be reprobated.

A law, therefore, which imposes a tax upon the subject, may be a very good law; but if, under the pretext of levying this tax, it subjects the property of any subject to unjust seizure, and his person to dangers and repeated alarms, it is cruel, unjust and opprefsive: It can no longer be deemed a wise regulation of government, but an effusion of insanity and ignorance, if not of despotism and cruelty.

How it should have happened, that in a country whose inhabitants have ever exprefsed a great jealousy about their personal freedom, a set of laws fhould have been deliberately enacted, and for a long time patiently submitted to, that are so directly subversive of every principle of good government, as the general tenor of the excise laws in Britain are, it would be difficult to conceive. This difficulty, however, disappears before the man of extensive observation. He knows that babit gradually gets the better of judgement in every case; and that designing men, relying on

this prejudice of the mind, are capable, by slow degrees, of making the most palpable absurdities be not only tolerated, but even be idolized as superior to the dictates of reason itself. The influence of habit is such, as to make the man who dares attempt to controul it, run even the risk of being deemed insane,-a disturber of the public peace, an enemy to good order, and a dangerous member of society.

In the laws respecting the customs, some regulations, though sparingly, have been adopted for punishing the officers who, in the discharge of their duty, overstep the bounds of their authority, and commit outrages on the subject; Judges have been fined, and put to death for errors in the discharge of the duties of their office; but where is the law that has been enacted for punishing an excise officer in the discharge of his duty? If there be such a law, I know it not. If there be such a law, the universal practice of all our courts disregards it.

The following case which recently happened in this country, plainly fhows that there is no such law in existence.

A merchant in Edinburgh having lately imported some pieces of French cambrics, paid the duties. for them; and every form required by law was complied with at the Customhouse. Some of this cambric was afterwards sold to a person who kept a retail shop in a country village. The goods, like others, were openly displayed in his fhop. An excise officer happened to be there one day,

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saw the cambric, and said he would seize it because it was not stamped. The fhopkeeper remonstrated, said it was not British goods, nor did he sell it as such, and that he knew no law in existence which required such a stamp on French cambric. Still the officer was deaf to all he said, and actually seized the goods, and carried them off in triumph. The poor man, astonished at this procedure, and anxious about the fate of his property, wrote immediately to the merchant from whom he had bought it, stating the circumstances, and requiring his interference to free him from this scrape. The merchant took the advice of counsel learned in the law, how he should proceed, and was advised to try if he could recover his goods "by fair means," as the easiest way for himself. The merchant, considering that a high tres pass had been committed, said that he and partners were desirous of making an example of this man, with a view to deter others from doing the like. But he was told this was a very doubtful experiment, and the counsellor rather advised him to put up with the lofs already incurred, than throw out more money on that article, without hope of being reimbursed. He then turned up the statute respecting the importation of French cambrics, and read to him a clause which provided, "that if an excise officer, through ignorance, or otherwise, [i. e. or malice] shall make an unjust seizure of any of those goods, which fhall have been thus legally imported, he shall be obliged, upon the importer or seller producing full evidence, to the sa

tisfaction of the judge, that they have been legally imported, " to deliver back the goods;" but no penalty whatever is awarded as a punishment for this wanton attack upon private property. In this case the merchant had no other resource than to send authentic documents, that the goods in question had been legally imported, desiring the shopkeeper to fhow these to the excise officer, and to require him then to deliver them up, otherwise he fhould be forced to have recourse to law for the recovery of his property. Fortunately for the dealers, this excise officer was of a more complying disposition than some others, and did deliver up the goods, without obliging them to have recourse to law, which might probably have made them incur an expence above the value of the goods.

From this plain state of facts, it is very obvious that a certain class of men, are by law, in this country, authorised to harafs, to plunder, and to rob their neighbours with impunity; I say to rob. For if the value of the goods so seized, should be considerably below the expence, that must be incurred before they can be recovered, a man of sense will rather submit quietly to that lofs than subject himself to a greater in order to recover them. All this is done under the pretext of benefiting the revenue. If, say the advocates for government, as they falsely stile themselves, a law were made subjecting excise officers to heavy penalties for errors in discharge of their duty, they would be intimidated in their business, and would not act with that strictnefs that the exigen

Jan. 4. cies of the state require. This is the only plea, that can be alledged in vindication of such an unjust law. But if taxes are only to be tolerated because no other means equally easy and effectual, have been devised for obtaining money, to pay the expence necefsarily incurred for protecting the person of the subject from oppression, and his property from embezzlement; is it not an obvious solecism to say, that in order to obtain the money for these purposes, we shall invest a set of persons with legal authority to oppress the persons and embezzle the property of the subject? Is not this as if we were to provide a body of men with arms, under the pretext of defending us from insult, and at the same time, let them know, that they may cut our own throats with impunity whenever they please? Yet this we do, and through the force of habit we see no impropriety in our conduct. Surely it behoves all the friends of good government, among which number I wish to rank myself, to expose the absurdity, and to execrate the iniqity of such laws; and with a steady firmness to require our legislators to revise these laws, and to correct these fhocking absurdities.

As I observe, sir, that you are a friend to your country, and not one of the servum pecus, who always idolise the minister of the day, whatever he may be, a species of animals which naturalists pretend to say, are remarkably congenial to this climate. I fhall, by your permifsion, from time to time, offer a few remarks on subjects of this na

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