The Ancient Regime eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 548 pages of information about The Ancient Regime.
but only injustice has been the outcome since the seigniors made use of their influence to relieve their own tenants.” [58] Besides, in addition to those who, through favor, diminish their taille, there are others who buy themselves off entirely.  An intendant, visiting the subdelegation of Bar-sur-Seine, observes” that the rich cultivators succeed in obtaining petty commissions in connection with the king’s household and enjoy the privileges attached to these, which throws the burden of taxation on the others."[59] “One of the leading causes of our prodigious taxation,” says the provincial assembly of Auvergne, “is the inconceivable number of the privileged, which daily increases through traffic in and the assignment of offices; cases occur in which these have ennobled six families in less than twenty years.”  Should this abuse continue, “in a hundred years every tax-payer the most capable of supporting taxation will be ennobled."[60] Observe, moreover, that an infinity of offices and functions, without conferring nobility, exempt their titularies from the personal taille and reduce their poll-tax to the fortieth of their income; at first, all public functionaries, administrative or judicial, and next all employments in the salt-department, in the customs, in the post-office, in the royal domains, and in the excise.[61] “There are few parishes,” writes an intendant, “in which these employees are not found, while several contain as many as two or three."[62] A postmaster is exempt from the taille, in all his possessions and offices, and even on his farms to the extent of a hundred arpents.  The notaries of Angoulême are exempt from the corvée, from collections, and the lodging of soldiers, while neither their sons or chief clerks can be drafted in the militia.  On closely examining the great fiscal net in administrative correspondence, we detect at every step some meshes through which, with a bit of effort and cunning, all the big and average-sized fish escape; the small fry alone remain at the bottom of the scoop.  A surgeon not an apothecary, a man of good family forty-five years old, in commerce, but living with his parent and in a province with a written code, escapes the collector.  The same immunity is extended to the begging agents of the monks of “la Merci” and “L’Etroite Observance.”  Throughout the South and the East individuals in easy circumstances purchase this commission of beggar for a “louis,” or for ten crowns, and, putting three livres in a cup, go about presenting it in this or that parish:[63] ten of the inhabitants of a small mountain village and five inhabitants in the little village of Treignac obtain their discharge in this fashion.  Consequently, “the collections fall on the poor, always powerless and often insolvent,” the privileged who effect the ruin of the tax-payer causing the deficiencies of the treasury.

VII.  MUNICIPAL TAXATION.

The octrois of towns. — The poor the greatest sufferers.

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The Ancient Regime from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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