ADVANTAGES

Let us take the most odious of these privileges, the exemption from taxes: it is easily seen that from the fifteenth century to the French Revolution it was constantly on the increase. It became more valuable as the taxes swelled. When the was but 1,200,000 livres under Charles VII., the privilege of not being bound to contribute was not worth much; but it was considerable when the tax yielded 80,000,000, under Louis XVI. When the taille was the only tax from which the nobility were exempt, their privileges might pass unnoticed; but when similar taxes had been created in a thousand different shapes and with a thousand different names, when four other imposts had been placed on the same footing as the taille, and new impositions, such as royal on all public works, military duty, &c., had been laid on every class save the nobles only, their privileges appeared immense. True, the inequality, great as it was, seemed still greater, for the nobleman’s farmer had often to pay the very taxes which his master flattered himself he escaped; but, in these matters, the semblance of injustice is more mischievous than the reality.

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