The Ancient Regime eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 652 pages of information about The Ancient Regime.
what he may consume, tax him for the rest and for the surplus quantity already drunk, the ferme thus associating itself with the wine-producer and claiming its portion of his production. — In a vine-yard at Epernay[35] on four casks of wine, the average product of one arpent, and worth six hundred francs, it levies, at first, thirty francs, and then, after the sale of the four casks, seventy five francs additionally.  Naturally, “the inhabitants resort to the shrewdest and best planned artifices to escape” such potent rights.  But the clerks are alert, watchful, and well-informed, and they pounce down unexpectedly on every suspected domicile; their instructions prescribe frequent inspections and exact registries “enabling them to see at a glance the condition of the cellar of each inhabitant."[36] — The manufacturer having paid up, the merchant now has his turn.  The latter, on sending the four casks to the consumer — again pays seventy-five francs to the ferme.  The wine is dispatched and the ferme prescribes the roads by which it must go; should others be taken it is confiscated, and at every step on the way some payment must be made.  “A boat laden with wine from Languedoc,[37] Dauphiny or Roussillon, ascending the Rhone and descending the Loire to reach Paris, through the Briare canal, pays on the way, leaving out charges on the Rhone, from thirty-five to forty kinds of duty, not comprising the charges on entering Paris.”  It pays these “at fifteen or sixteen places, the multiplied payments obliging the carriers to devote twelve or fifteen days more to the passage than they otherwise would if their duties could be paid at one bureau.” — The charges on the routes by water are particularly heavy.  “From Pontarlier to Lyons there are twenty-five or thirty tolls; from Lyons to Aigues-Mortes there are others, so that whatever costs ten sous in Burgundy, amounts to fifteen and eighteen sous at Lyons, and to over twenty-five sous at Aigues-Mortes.” — The wine at last reaches the barriers of the city where it is to be drunk.  Here it pays an octroi[38] of forty-seven francs per hogshead. — Entering Paris it goes into the tapster’s or innkeeper’s cellar where it again pays from thirty to forty francs for the duty on selling it at retail; at Rethel the duty is from fifty to sixty francs per puncheon, Rheims gauge. — The total is exorbitant.  “At Rennes,[39] the dues and duties on a hogshead (or barrel) of Bordeaux wine, together with a fifth over and above the tax, local charges, eight sous per pound and the octroi, amount to more than seventy-two livres exclusive of the purchase money; to which must be added the expenses and duties advanced by the Rennes merchant and which he recovers from the purchaser, Bordeaux drayage, freight, insurance, tolls of the flood-gate, entrance duty into the town, hospital dues, fees of gaugers, brokers and inspectors.  The total outlay for the tapster who sells a barrel of wine amounts to two hundred livres.”  We may imagine whether, at this price, the people of Rennes drink it, while these charges fall on the wine-grower, since, if consumers do not purchase, he is unable to sell.

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The Ancient Regime from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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