Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

“ Listen, then, for this is my judgment," said the cadi. “If the child was born during the day, Mahmoud is the father, but if the child came into the world at night, then—(here he looked round as if in search of a third claimant)-then

From infant lips a Mustapha,

Rejoicing, shall be call'd Papha ;" and with this horrid attempt at a poetical pun the cadi dismissed the parties.

As fast as their legs could carry them, they rushed towards home to hear the truth from the sage-femme. Of course she could tell. But here another difficulty occurred, for the child was born neither during the day nor during the night, but at twilight, which is neither day nor night.

“ Holy Prophet !" ejaculated Mahmoud, as soon as he heard this. “ What shall we do?" inquired Mustapha.

“ Go,” said the nurse, “ and consult the wise man of the hills—the Kebur Hadj Marabou.” Marabou implying that he had gone on a pilgrimage to Mecca, which probationary undertaking was supposed to impart to those who accomplished it the supernatural powers of the diviner. “I shall accompany you," she added, and take the child with me. It may be wanted.”

The Hadj Marabou ---the anchorite, or wise man of the hills—dwelt upon the highest of a clump known as the Khorzarrah. There his days were spent in worshipping the true prophet, and settling for the Algerines those knotty points which were beyond the wisdom of the cadi.

Having, in the present case, heard both sides of the question—as all impartial judges should do-the Hadj, from his dwelling, which happened to be a stupendous rent in the mountain's side, brought forth three walnut shells, which he placed in a pair of small scales and reduced to equal weight.

“ Mustapha, my son, bare thy arm," said he.

Mustapha did as he was bid, and the Hadj, drawing from his pocket a small and well-pointed lancet, proceeded to open the vein, from whence he drew as much blood as would fill one of the nut-shells. Having subjected Mahmoud to the same operation and filled the second shell, he took the child from the nurse, bled it in the same manner, and filled the third shell. He then alternately weighed the shell containing the blood of the child against each of the shells containing that of the men, and him whose blood the child's more nearly equalled in weight he declared to be the father.

We are not told whether Mahmoud won the day, or whether, in the words of the cadi,

"From infant lips a Mustapha
Rejoicing, shall be callid Papha."

WINE ADULTERATIONS AND DUTIES.

BY CYRUS REDDING. FROISSART charged us with getting drunk very sorrowfully. He thus wrote as long ago as the reign of Edward III. We had some idea that this melancholy bibaciousness, so different from that of all other nations, arose either from the weight of duty paid for the wine, or from the adulterations viciously administered by the dealer. It does not appear that we were correct in this our view as regards the reign of Edward III. ; the question must, therefore, remain somewhat obscure. The adulteration of wine in later times practised under the old company of 1756, has since 1820 enormously increased. The legalising adulteration by the * Treasury, under an order to the Board of Customs, was reserved for the

present day as a grace “ beyond the reach of art.” A duty of six hun. dred per cent., with the addition of sanctioned adulteration, just at the era of free trade, * is what Lord Liverpool would have called “ too bad.” Queen's College horn, Oxford, once filled at a cheaper rate than now the bowl oftener replenished, still contained wine-let the university now look to its Latin that it does not deteriorate too:

And when that he well drunken had the win,

There would be spoken no word but Latin. Old Chaucer is certainly valid evidence-but now! Again we say, let Oxford look to the care of her Latin ; we have pure wine--port wine at least-no longer, under a Treasury order.

O for a bowl of fat Canarie,

Rich Palermo, sparkling Sherry! must no longer be read so; we must substitute for the distich of our fathers :

O for a bowl of Gerupiga

Elderberries, treacle, brandy! in place of port. During this day of fair-trading pretension, when the goods in grocers' shops are analysing, when other adulterations are justly exposed, wine adulterators are to be specially indulged. “ John, have you sanded the sugar ?"? — "6 Yes, sir.” “ Have you watered the tobacco ?"_“Yes, sir.” “Have you gerupiga'd the wine?"_“Yes, sir.” « Then come in to prayers." Can this sort of game long be played in a great nation? Why condemn adulteration in any article ? Let us, by all means, have coculus indicus in porter, chalk in flour, potatoes in arrowroot~the State, to which we pay enormous duties on wine, will not let us have it pure. Can it be so ?

In regard to the duties, the chairman of the committee, Mr. Anstey, prepared an elaborate table of them from 1660 down to the present time. The honourable chairman doubtless feared he should shock the Chancellor of the Exchequer by going farther back than a period when

* We do not believe that the Lords of the Treasury were at all aware of what they conceded. Some intriguing adulterator, perhaps, had made false representations to them. Had their lordships read the evidence of the witness first examined before the committee last year, that of an eminent, and what is more, an honest, plain-spoken wine-merchant, they would have seen the tricks played with port wine to bring all qualities to a level: a thing getting fatal to its consumption.

the duties were a hundred and fifty shillings per tun in London, and a hundred and twenty in the outports, imported in British vessels-only three pounds fifteen shillings per pipe, in London, to thirty-three pounds at present. But even taking into consideration the difference in the value of the money, the duty in the first year of Charles I. was large to that which preceded, and must have shocked our excellent chancellor still more had it been detailed. Port and sherry at four or five farthings a bottle duty might well make the reign of Charles “ merry.” Even in his father's time, according to Sir John Suckling, the satire of Froissart was hardly applicable. “My lads,” says he, “come to the Bridge Foot —come and meet Colonel Young, with some few troops of Canary, some few of sherry, two or three regiments of claret to follow, and the rear to be brought up with Rhenish and white !" Not a word of gerupiga, sugar, elderberries, or the treacled wine of Portugal and London-all was the pure, exhilarating, healthy, merry-making juice of the grape, if it were French, Spanish, or Portuguese, for the wine of the latter country is excellent when it can be smuggled out pure, but its honest visits partake of the angelic character at our tables, “ few and far between.” Many quaff a mixture for the pure wine, and think they have it-illusions in this life constitute with many the great portion of their enjoyment :

O fortunatos nimium, sua si bona norint! Nothing moved by the consideration that might have moved the chairman of the committee in relation to the nervous system of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, we shall run the hazard of a charge of contumacy, if we fill the retrospective hiatus from the reign of Charles II. to that of John Lackland. John, though not a very wise nor very prudent prince, never dreamed of laying a duty of six shillings upon an article that cost but one, although he had no more idea of free trade than of the Great Western Railroad. He was a stanch protectionist, too, to which colour we owe the present duties, but here he was reasonable. Wines of Poitou and Anjou were twenty shillings the tun of two pipes when he came to the throne, and the best French wines one pound six and eightpence-a pound sterling then being equal to four pounds at present. This monarch claimed prisage of wine, or a tun before and one behind the mast, when a ship had twenty tuns on board. But some assert that this claim was only taking wine at what was called the “king's price," or twenty shillings, let the cost be what it would to the merchant. Wine was retailed by royal order at fourpence and sixpence the gallon, until raised to sixpence and eightpence, on account of the oppressive character of the regulation upon the merchant. The duty called guage, of a penny a gallon, was levied by Henry III. The importation of wine in this reign, in about thirteen months, was equal to seventeen thousand five hundred pipes in the ports of London, Southampton, Portsmouth, and Sandwich only. The scanty population of England at that time compared to the present, the extensive contraband traffic, and the receipts at the outports, render this a very large quantity, when the country, too, was in a state of villanage. Our nobles must have drank like so many Cyclops. The next duty upon wines was denominated tunnage, and was generally coupled with poundage, a different impost on merchandise alone. It was first granted by parliament in the reign of Edward III., to defray the expenses of his wars. These duties were separate, being two shillings on the tun of wine, and sixpence on the pound sterling upon all merchandise for two years. In the 6 Richard II., two shillings per tun on wine. This was granted, according to Sir Edward Coke, for one year only; and it was granted again, 7 Richard II. In this reign the amount of these grants was varied, for fear the king should claim them of right as duties, and place them in his own purse. They were first two shillings, then one and sixpence. In 11 and 13 Richard II., three shillings, and 14 Richard II., two shillings, so jealous . thus early was parliament of the crown. Henry IV. had a tunnage of two shillings, and then one of three shillings for three years. When the term expired it was renewed for one year, upon conditions, 6 Henry IV. In 1413, Henry V. had the grant of three shillings for four years, and after that for life. In 1422, Henry VI. had the same for two years, renewed every two years down to 1453, for two and for five years together. In the next reign the sovereign obtained the grant for life-the very concession which parliament had carefully avoided making in earlier reigns. The avaricious character of Henry VII., it may well be conjectured, did not pmit to demand a similar lease of the tax for him, and he appears to have had, or taken, with the old three shillings levied upon the wines of native Englishmen, six shillings the tun on that which was imported by the foreigner. His successor was not likely to meet with any want of subserviency in the parliaments of his reigu. We know that they voted as if there were neither reason, honour, nor conscience, extant. Not only was tunnage for life confirmed to this sovereigo, but he levied two shillings a tun for the first time under the head of “ butlerage.” Edward VI. obtained the same grant, and he enacted that the wines of Guienne and Gascony should not be sold for more than twopence the quart, and no other French wine for more than threepence. James I. obtained a similar grant of the duty, but abused it in his frantic extravagances with his favourites. He added to the tunnage duty without consent of parliament, which rendered it discontented at the violation of one of its fundamental privileges, so that when his son ascended the throne the legislature would not vote the duty for more than one year. The legislature was right, because its previous grants had been abused. In 1626 the king took the duty in defiance of the parliament and country, but he paid a dear price for the outrage. It remained a heavy and just charge against him when he was shorn of his power.

During the Commonwealth, from 1640 to 1659, we find that the tunnage and poundage together reached annually three hundred thousand pounds. There was also at that time a return of twenty-two thousand three hundred pounds annually into the treasury under the denomination of “ wine licences”-very similar, it is probable, to those at present granted to dealers in retail. The civil war appears to have been hastened by the determination of Charles I. to follow the unconstitutional example of his father in this regard. He even issued a proclamation from York, as late as 1642, for levying tunnage by his own authority. This was fourteen years after the Commons had declared that these duties were free gifts of the subject to former sovereigns, and that receiving them like his father with his own additional impositions, was a breach of the fundamental laws of the realm.

The system of duties adopted in 1660, in which year it was first taken up by the chairman of the committee, being the first year of Charles II.y now took effect.,, This is given in the shape of a return appended to the recent evidence, simplified by Mr. Pitt in 1787, the duties the year before having been nearly a hundred pounds on French, and about half that sum on Portugal wine per tun. After continual fluctuations, the differ, rential duties were swept away in 1831, and all wine, except Cape, charged a duty of five shillings and sixpence, to which threepence was subsequently added. With this change of duty the increased consumption of French wine was considerable; port declined, and Spanish wines in creased in use rapidly, until they exceeded porta A new wine from Sicily, called Marsala, came into the market, its importation rapidly increasing.

This wine, naturally strong, received, after the Portuguese custom, a por tion of brandy.. The strong loaded wines-go much further, in an economical point of view, than the light and purer kinds, owing to the high duties. The temperature of the stomach has not yet become a revenue consideration. ,,

...,1,.†.? ?.?" uits roub In glancing retrospectively at the opinions of different individuals in the last century upon the question of trade, we are astonished to perceive how long ago most of the principles upon which we are at present acting were promulgated by insulated and neglected individuals. The immediate and lesser interest prevalent kept the greater out of view with the short-sighted, multitude, as a small object close to the organ of vision conceals a mountain at a distance. Then there are old habits to be overcome, and the whole brood of prejudices, as well in trade as in other things. A maiden lady is said to have been so loyal to George III. at the treaty of Amiens, that she would not touch a French egg lest she should imbibe Jacobinical principles. One cannot but suspect that our heredi. tary anti-Gallican taste, in regard to open trade with all the world until the other day, arose from its having been originally the French proposition which Lord Bolingbroke scouted-in fact, the reciprocab tariff tendered us in 1713. In those days the cry was “Our woollens are in danger.” Restrictions on French wines and goods, with the Methuen treaty and a market for our woollens, were considered a triumph in commercial science, a notable piece of tradiog diplomacy worthy the ablest negotiator, showing the true insight into the secret of commercial greatness. It was pronounced a well-considered policy not to be too close in contact with any people who could export 'goods of which England in like manner could make a profit by the exportation. The receipt of French wines, and the non sale of certaini bales of woollen goods, were looked upon as productive of the worst consequences to the nation. Our fathers would shun us with an expression of horror could they know that we were at this moment upbraiding the French with that policy which they consumed their lives in impressing upon their children as of invaluable service-nay, -as the great foundation of our superiority in commerce ! i; i Dit ,005 bbons i sant to

The reasons urged for and against a reduction of the duties, apart from all considerations in regard to the imperiał - revenue, judging from the evidence, should be well sifted. Traders are wary people. Thus individuals, in no way connected with the public, in the course of their examination were too transparent in urging the fear of a diminished duty to cover private objections. Such a motive must be duly appreciated.

« AnteriorContinuar »