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sible for any combination among the proprietors of the cultivated lands, (and none else could have any motive for entering into such a combination), factitiously to increase the price of their produce. Supposing such an attempt to be attended with a temporary success, soils of the next degree of fertility would instantly be brought under cultivation, and the redundant supply would infallibly depress prices. It is clear, therefore, that the appropriation of land does not make any change on the nature or quantum of rent;-that it does not enable the owners of the soil to obtain a monopoly price for their products;-and that it is equally true in England or France, as in Kentucky or New Holland, that the produce raised by the capital last applied to the cultivation of the soil, pays no rent.
Now this reasoning is conclusive as to the effect of tithes and other taxes on raw produce. If tithes were only levied from soils of a certain degree of fertility, they would not, after soils whose productive power was one-tenth less had been cultivated, occasion any rise of price, but would fall entirely on the rent of the landlord. But this is not the case with tithes. They affect every quality of land indiscriminately: and being exacted equally from the produce raised in the least favourable, as from that which is raised in the most favourable circumstances, occasion only an increase of prices. Suppose no tithes are levied, and that the wheat raised on the poorest lands, and which determines the price of the whole crop, yields a sufficient profit to the cultivator, and no more, when it sells for 72s. 9d. a quarter,—the price must rise to 80s. before the same profit can be obtained after tithes are imposed. In this case the tithe cannot possibly occasion any diminution of rent; for the poorest land under cultivation pays no rent; so that if it were not compensated to the cultivators by an increase of prices, they would be driven from their employment, and the necessary supplies would no longer be obtained. In every stage of society, therefore, from the rudest to the most improved, tithes operate exactly as an equivalent addition to the price of raw produce, and, like all other taxes, must be paid by the consumers—that is, by the country in general.
This account of tithes is nowise inconsistent with the admitted fact, that farms which are free from this burden bring a proportionably higher rent. The expenses attending their cultivation are not increased by the levying a tithe from the produce of other farms; but, as there cannot be two prices, their occupiers obtain the same increased price for their produce which is necessary to indemnify the cultivators of the tithed lands. There must, however, be an equality of profits, as well as of prices;
VOL. XXXIV. NO. 67.
and hence, whatever advantage the occupier of a tithe-free farm may gain by being relieved from a burden to which his neighbours are subjected, is compensated by a corresponding increase of rent.
Thus it appears, that, if tithes were abolished, the rent of such farms as pay tithe would not rise to a level with the rent of those which are tithe-free, but the rents of the latter would fall to the level of the former. As raw produce is uniformly sold at its necessary price, or the price necessary to afford the customary rate of profit to the cultivators of the worst land, it would fall the moment they had been relieved from this heavy charge. And the advantage previously enjoyed by the proprietors of tithe-free lands, and which was the only cause of their obtaining a higher rent, being done away, their rents would decline to the level of those around them.
If rents were uniformly paid in kind, the imposition of tithes would' undoubtedly diminish the share of the produce paid to the landlords; but as its value would be increased in the precise proportion that its quantity had been diminished, this reduced share would still exchange for the same quantity of all other commodities. Thus, if lands of the qualities Nos. 1, 2, 3, &c., respectively produced, in return for the same expenditure, 100, 90, 80, &c. quarters, the rent of No. 1. would be twenty quarters, of No. 2. ten, and so on. But they would no longer preserve that proportion after the imposition of tithes; for, suppose a tenth to be deducted from their gross produce, the remaining quantities would be 90, 81, 72, &c.; and, therefore, the corn rent of No. 1. would be reduced to 18, and of No. 2. to 9 quarters. It is clear, however, that their money rents, or their rents estimated in any other commodity except corn, would not be at all affected. If corn sold at 4l. before the imposition of the tithe, it would afterwards sell at 4l. 8s. 10 d.; for, unless 90 quarters now brought as much as 100 quarters previously brought, the cultivators of those soils which paid no rent would not be able to realize the common and average rate of profit. Money rents would, therefore, continue unaltered; on the land No. 1. they would still be 80l., and on No. 2. 401.
It appears, therefore, that in every state of society, whether rents are high or low, and whether they are paid in kind or in moncy, the charge of tithes is defrayed entirely by the consumers of raw produce. They do not consist of a portion of the rent of land belonging to the clergy, or the lay impropriator; but they are a burden which falls equally on every individual in the kingdom-on the poorest beggar as well as the richest lordin proportion to their respective consumption of the articles.
f 8., andr.corn is really the the medium
from which a tithe is levied. Tithes are, therefore, liable to all the objections which have been urged against taxes on necesa saries. They must either directly reduce the wages of the labourer, and depress his condition in society, or they must indirectly produce this effect by lowering the rate of profit, and stimulating the transfer of capital to countries relieved from so heavy a burden.
The average price of corn in Great Britain during the last four or five years, has been very near 80s. the quarter; and the agriculturists contend, that this is the lowest price at which it can be raised on inferior lands. It is plain, however, that if 80s. be a remunerating price when tithes are levied, 72s. would be an equally high remunerating price if they were remitted. When wheat sells at 80s., tithes, supposing them to be rigorously exacted, are really equivalent to a tax of ts. a bushel, or of 8s. a quarter. But, as the average annual consumption of the. different kinds of grain by each individual, when reduced to the standard of wheat, has been estimated, apparently on good grounds, at one quarter, it follows that, when the medium price of wheat is 80s., a tithe on corn is really the same thing as a capitation tax of 8s., and consequently constitutes an item of 40s. in the expenditure of every family of five persons !
But, tithes are objectionable on other grounds. They are not a permanent and fixed tax, but they increase according as the difficulty of raising raw produce increases; and are infia nitely more burdensome and oppressive in a year of scarcity, than in a year of plenty. If the price necessary to afford a sufficient supply of corn were 60s. a quarter, the tithe would be equal to a direct tax of 6s, a quarter; but if, in consequence of being forced to resort to inferior lands, the increased difficulties of production had raised the price to 80s., the tithe would be 8s.; when prices rose to 100s., the tithe would be 10s., and so on. Nor is this all.--The tithe is not only increased in value, but it is also increased in amount, according as cultivation is extended. When land of the first quality, and which we have supposed would yield 100 quarters, was cultivated, the tithe would be 10 quarters : But after land of the second quality, and which only yields 90 quarters, had been cultivated, the tithe would be levied on 190 quarters : When land of the third quality had been cultivated, it would be levied on 100 + 90 + 80, or 270 quarters, and would go on progressively increasing, both in value and quantity, as fresh soils were brought under tillage.
'Not only,' says Mr Ricardo, who was the first to explain the real nature of tithes, is the amount of the tax increased from 100,000 quarters to 200,000 quarters, when the produce is increased
from one to two millions of quarters, but, owing to the increased la. bour necessary to produce the second million, the relative value of raw produce is so advanced, that the 200,000 may be, though only twice in quantity, yet in value three or four times that of the 100,000 quarters which were paid before.
If an equal value were raised for the Church by any other means, increasing in the same manner as tithes increase, proportionably with the difficulty of cultivation, the effect would be the same. The Church would be constantly obtaining an increased portion of the net produce of the land and labour of the country. In an improving state of society, the net produce of the land is always diminishing in proportion to its gross produce ; but it is from the net income of a country that all taxes are ultimately paid, either in a progressive or in a stationary country. A tax increasing with the gross income, and falling on the net income, must necessarily be a very burdensome, and a very intolerable tax. Tithes are a tenth of the gross, and not of the net produce of the land ; and, therefore, as society improves in wealth, they must, though the same proportion of the gross produce, become a larger and larger portion of the net produce. ' *
The increased oppressiveness of tithes, from the increased difficulty of raising raw produce, has been fully admitted by those who consider them as falling entirely on the rent of the landlord, and as affording the best means of providing for the support of the Church. The Reverend Mr Howlett, Vicar of Dunmow, in Essex, and advantageously known by his pamphlets on Population and the Poor-laws, published, in 1801,
An Essay on the Influence of Tithes on Agriculture,' in which we meet with the following distinct recognition of this principle.
' Tithes, as legally and constitutionally settled in this kingdom, and as far as respects many of the fruits of the earth, are the tenth of the produce, subject to none of the expenses of cultivation, nor of severance from the ground; liable, however, to the land-tax, and parochial rates of every denomination; as also to the charges of col. lecting, and preparing them for, and carrying them to, market. Hence it is apparent that the real value of all such tithes increases faster than the value of the titheable lands, in the exact proportion of the increasing expense of cultivation, and of severance : and as these expenses have been rapidly advancing for many years past, the disproportion between the increasing value of tithes and of titheable lands, has been growing every day greater and greater.--Accordingly, when I look round this neighbourhood, I find that, in the course of the last fifty years, while the rents of farms have been advancing, upon an average, about ONE FOURTH, the real value of the tithes has been nearly TRIPLED; consequently they have been increasing about twelve times as fast as the rents of the lands from which they were pro
* Prineiples of Political Economy and Taxation, 1st edit. p. 228.
duced ; and hence it is also manifest that, in time, the tithes may be equal to, or greater than, the rent. This, indeed, is already the case with regard to some articles of expensive culture. It not unfrequently happens that the tithe of an acre of hops is nearly worth 3l. or 4l., after the deduction of drying and duty-while, perhaps, the annual rent of the ground is only 40s. or 50s.; and I have known the tithe of an acre of carrot-seed worth seven or eight guineas, upon land let for less than a pound.'-p. 3,
It is not possible to form any precise estimate of the value of the tithes paid to the clergy and the lay-impropriators. In Mr Cove's Essay on the Revenues of the Church of England, published in 1796, the tithes belonging to the clergy are estimated at 1,562,000l., and those belonging to the laity at 192,0001., amounting together to 1,754,000l. There cannot, however, be a doubt that this estimate was a great deal too low; as it was a principal object with Mr Cove to represent tithes as a trifling burden; and his computations are throughout extremely loose and unsatisfactory. The Reverend Doctor Beeke, in his valua.. ble pamphlet on the Income-tax, published in 1799, has bestow. ed a good deal of attention on this subject; and the result of his investigation gives the entire value of the tithes then collected. in England and Wales at 2,800,000. But, the average price of corn for the last ten years has been considerably more than double its average price for the ten years ending with 1799; and when the increased extent of cultivation is also taken into account, we shall certainly be warranted in concluding, that the value of the tithes must now be at least double their value at the former epoch: And hence, supposing Dr Beeke's estimate to be nearly accurate, they must now amount to 5,600,000l.,-& sum which, great as it is, is yet, we believe, considerably underrated.
For we should form a very erroneous conclusion indeed, if we supposed that the value of the tithes received by the clergy and the lay-impropriators, is equivalent to the whole extent of the burden they occasion to the community. Exclusive of the lands formerly belonging to the greater abbeys, the rent of which is now supposed to exceed two and a half millions, and which are entirely exempted from tithe, a considerable extent of other lands, in virtue of claims of prescription, of payments of ancient moduses and compositions, or by special Act of Par, liament, is nearly in the same situation. But, as we have already shown, the produce raised on these lands is notwithstanding sold at the same price as the produce raised on the lands which are fully tithed. `In these cases, the landlords are in fact the proprietors of the tithes; and it is they, and not the public, who are