Montesquieu
 

XIII.14 That the nature of tributes is relative to the government

Capitation is more natu­ral to ser­vi­tude ; taxa­tion on mer­chan­dise is more natu­ral to liberty, because it is less directly rela­ted to the per­son.

It is in the nature of a des­po­tic govern­ment for the prince not to give money to his mili­tia or to the men of his court, but to dis­tri­bute lands to them, and conse­quently lit­tle tri­bute is levied. Now if the prince gives money, the most natu­ral tri­bute he can levy is a capi­ta­tion ; this tri­bute can only be very low. For since there can­not be various clas­ses of tax­payers because of the abu­ses which would result, given the injus­tice and the vio­lence of the govern­ment, it must neces­sa­rily be set at the rate which the most impo­ve­ri­shed can pay.

The tri­bute natu­ral to the mode­rate govern­ment is a tax on mer­chan­dise. This tax, being paid in rea­lity by the buyer although the mer­chant advan­ces it, is a loan which the mer­chant has made in advance to the buyer : thus the dea­ler must be consi­de­red both the gene­ral deb­tor of the state and the cre­di­tor of all the indi­vi­duals. He advan­ces to the state the duty which the buyer will pay him some day, and he has paid for the buyer the duty he has paid on the mer­chan­dise. We see then that the more mode­rate the govern­ment is, the more the spi­rit of liberty rei­gns, and the more secu­rity there is for for­tu­nes, the easier it is for the mer­chant to advance consi­de­ra­ble duties to the state and lend them to indi­vi­duals. In England, a mer­chant in rea­lity lends to the state fifty or sixty pounds ster­ling for each cask of wine he recei­ves. Who is the mer­chant who would dare do some­thing like this in a coun­try gover­ned like Turkey ? And even if he dared, how could he do it, with a dubious, uncer­tain, or rui­ned for­tune ?