The Rights of Man HTML version
As the publication of this work has been delayed beyond the time intended, I think it not
improper, all circumstances considered, to state the causes that have occasioned delay.
The reader will probably observe, that some parts in the plan contained in this work for
reducing the taxes, and certain parts in Mr. Pitt's speech at the opening of the present
session, Tuesday, January 31, are so much alike as to induce a belief, that either the
author had taken the hint from Mr. Pitt, or Mr. Pitt from the author.- I will first point out
the parts that are similar, and then state such circumstances as I am acquainted with,
leaving the reader to make his own conclusion.
Considering it as almost an unprecedented case, that taxes should be proposed to be taken
off, it is equally extraordinary that such a measure should occur to two persons at the
same time; and still more so (considering the vast variety and multiplicity of taxes) that
they should hit on the same specific taxes. Mr. Pitt has mentioned, in his speech, the tax
on Carts and Wagons- that on Female Servantsthe lowering the tax on Candles and the
taking off the tax of three shillings on Houses having under seven windows.
Every one of those specific taxes are a part of the plan contained in this work, and
proposed also to be taken off. Mr. Pitt's plan, it is true, goes no further than to a reduction
of three hundred and twenty thousand pounds; and the reduction proposed in this work, to
nearly six millions. I have made my calculations on only sixteen millions and an half of
revenue, still asserting that it was "very nearly, if not quite, seventeen millions." Mr. Pitt
states it at 16,690,000. I know enough of the matter to say, that he has not overstated it.
Having thus given the particulars, which correspond in this work and his speech, I will
state a chain of circumstances that may lead to some explanation.
The first hint for lessening the taxes, and that as a consequence flowing from the French
revolution, is to be found in the Address and Declaration of the Gentlemen who met at
the Thatched-House Tavern, August 20, 1791. Among many other particulars stated in
that Address, is the following, put as an interrogation to the government opposers of the
French Revolution. "Are they sorry that the pretence for new oppressive taxes, and the
occasion for continuing many old taxes will be at an end?"
It is well known that the persons who chiefly frequent the Thatched-House Tavern, are
men of court connections, and so much did they take this Address and Declaration
respecting the French Revolution, and the reduction of taxes in disgust, that the Landlord
was under the necessity of informing the Gentlemen, who composed the meeting of the
20th of August, and who proposed holding another meeting, that he could not receive
What was only hinted in the Address and Declaration respecting taxes and principles of
government, will be found reduced to a regular system in this work. But as Mr. Pitt's
speech contains some of the same things respecting taxes, I now come to give the
circumstances before alluded to.