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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 48.djvu/475

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APPLETONS’

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY.

 

FEBRUARY, 1896.



PRINCIPLES OF TAXATION.
By DAVID A. WELLS, LL.D., D. C. L.,

CORRESPONDANT DE L'INSTITUT DE FRANCE, ETC.

II.—THE PLACE OF TAXATION IN LITERATURE AND HISTORY.

ONE of the great historians of the present century has expressed disappointment at what he terms the "emptiness" of historical study, and accordingly inclines to the opinion that guidance in respect to human affairs in the future is to be sought for in present rather than in past experiences. Nevertheless, it would seem to stand to reason, that when any department of knowledge, especially one characterized by controverted questions, is to be comprehensively examined, with the prime object of determining the best methods for human action, it would not be expedient to attempt to discover or discuss any abstract principles which ought to govern such action, until at least a summary of facts derived from experience and essential to correct conclusions had been presented and made familiar, and, acting on this assumption, it is proposed next to ask attention—first, to the place of taxation, considered as a department of knowledge, in general literature; and, second, to some points of historical interest, growing out of the appropriation of states or rulers of the property of their citizens or subjects for real or assumed public purposes. It is believed that in this way the discussion at a later period of the principles growing out of the exercise by governments of this great prerogative may be facilitated and rendered more attractive.[1]


  1. "No man can learn what he has not preparation for learning, however near to his eyes is the object. Our eyes are holden that we can not see things that stare us in the face, until