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stating at the same time, that the mea- | public affairs may force upon our consisures (which according to my concep- derations must certainly be desirable. It tion) ought to be taken at present, will would enable us to profit readily by the not be attended with any great diffi- experience of our ancestors; and either culty, nor liable (as I should hope) to any to preserve a consistent policy by reobjection whatever. The subject, Sir, enacting similar laws under like circumis the general state of all our laws which stances, or to improve upon the given are of a temporary nature. Gentlemen precedents of former ages; and at all are aware that a partial inquiry into this events not to depart from them unadvismatter is annually intrusted to commit- edly, whenever such a departure might tees appointed for that purpose; and the be judged prudent and politic. A dicommittee of the present year have pur-gested report of this class of laws would sued their ordinary labours, according to accomplish all these important ends.-If, the customary course of its duty, and ac- Sir, the House should be disposed to cording to the limited nature of their au- adopt the motion which I shall now subthority. But, Sir, upon revolving this mit to their consideration, I can venture matter in my own mind, and searching to assure them, that although the investiinto the usage of parliament in former gation may require some length of labour, times, and conferring with several persons and although the details may be in some whose peculiar stations, pursuits, and ha- degree operose, nevertheless the result of it bits of life render them more immediately may be expected within no great compass conversant with subjects of this sort, it of time. And I cannot but hope that there does appear to me, that we owe it to our- may possibly be derived from this inquiry selves and to the public, to extend the some useful information upon the genescale of our inquiries, and to enter upon a ral condition of our statute laws; if the larger field of investigation: not merely House should be farther inclined to auconfined in the ordinary way to the con- thorize the committee to report such obsideration merely of such expiring and servations as may arise out of the matters expired laws as are immediately, and at referred to their consideration. The mopresent fit to be revised or continued; but tion which I shall now move is, "That comprehending a view of all the tempo- a Committee be appointed to inspect and rary laws whatever, and providing our consider all the Temporary Laws whatever selves with a permanent register of their of a public nature, which are expired, or contents. With regard to the expiring expiring; and to report to the House, a laws, the absolute necessity of it is obvi- statement of all such expired laws, as ous. Mischiefs may happen (and such shall appear to them to have been made mischiefs have happened heretofore) by upon occasions, whereof the like may rethe undesigned expiration of a law which cur hereafter; and also a statement of all ought to be continued, or by the suppos- the expiring laws of a public nature: deed continuance of a law which has in fact scribing each statute by its principal expired, a circumstance which may very matter, date, chapter, section, and title; possibly escape notice where any such and distinguishing the duration of such laws have originated at any remote period as are expiring; together with the obser
of time, and now lie buried in the multi-vations of the said committee arising out of the several matters referred to them."
The motion was agreed to, and a Committee appointed. On the 12th of May, Mr. Abbot presented to the House the Report from the said Committee; a copy of which will be found in the Commons Journals, Vol. 51, p. 702.
plicity of our statutes. If, in the execution of criminal justice, any one such instance of mistake should occur (as in other times has actually occurred in civil cases) every man would shudder at an event which might he irretrievably fatal. A register, therefore, of these laws, with their duration accurately noted, and always present to the attention of parliament, would effectually prevent such a calamity. The knowledge of our expired laws, if not of equal urgency, is perhaps not of less importance. To have a ready view of all the experimental legislation of former ages, in regard to such matters as the course of time or probable chances of [VOL. XXXII.]
Debate in the Commons on the Dog Tax.] April 5. The House having resolved itself into a Committee on the Leicestershire Petition for a Tax on Dogs,
Mr. Dent intreated the indulgence of the committee, while he stated the grounds of his motion. A tax upon dogs, he said, was not only much desired, but [3 S]
was become absolutely necessary. haps this was the first instance, in which the people demanded an addition to their burthens. It was the chief object of the motion, to promote the relief and benefit of the poor. If carried into effect, it would lessen the poor-rates, render provisions more cheap and plentiful, diminish the instances of hydrophobia, and at the same time open a considerable source of The diminution of the consumption of flour, oatmeal, and those broken victuals which came from the tables of the affluent, and which at present, were consumed by dogs, would contribute greatly to alleviate the distresses of the poor. An increase of population was always the effect of plenty of provisions; and upon this principle, the applieation of that quantity of food which was at present consumed by dogs, to the use of the poor, would tend to augment the population of the country. The number of dogs had lately increased so much, that it afforded matter of serious alarm. He calculated the population of the country to be ten millions, and these might compose two millions of families. Allowing a dog to each family, the number of dogs would amount to two millions; but supposing them to be diminished one half in consequence of the tax, there would still remain one million. Upon these he would propose to levy a tax of 2s. 6d. a head, indiscriminately, except those which serve as guides to blind men. This would produce a revenue of 125,000l. -Mr. Dent proceeded to state from documents in his possession, the ravages which were committed by dogs, the quantity of provisions consumed by them, and the increase of hydrophobia. He first mentioned a recent pamphlet by Dr. Barry, upon the subject, which contained many unanswerable arguments in favour of the tax: next a number of letters, which he had received, to show that a tax on dogs was desirable on account of their destruction of cattle; and last their great consumption of provisions. From the Manchester Philosophical Transactions, it appeared, that 15,000 sheep were annually destroyed by dogs. He thought this number much under-rated, and that it amounted nearer to 50,000. He had a letter, informing him, that in a forest in Devonshire, one dog had wounded 400 sheep, and his correspondent added, that 200 men, with as many dogs, had gone in search of this destructive animal, but
had not been able to find him. Another dog had been seen killing two sheep, which having done, he went and washed himself in a pond, so that there were no marks of blood upon him. The fact was told to his master, who agreed to hang him up for a few minutes by the hind legs, in order to put his guilt or innocence to the test, and from the quantity of blood which he vomited, he was declared guilty. He wished the chancellor of the exche quer to pay particular attention to these facts, as a certain dog had been found killing sheep in the neighbourhood of Holwood in Kent, with "The right hon.
-" (he left the House to fill up the blank) upon the collar, and the dog was spared on account of his master.-Hydrophobia had lately increased to a shocking degree. In one week, in the course of last year, no fewer than $3 persons, infected with this distemper, had applied to the Manchester Infirmary. So far he called on the humanity of the House to adopt his motion, and he trusted they would be the more inclined to do it, when he informed them that allowing a penny per day for the food of one million of dogs, it amounted annually to 3,000,000l., which was 700,000l. more than all the rates for the aged poor of the country, and yet no dog, he thought, could be kept for less than a penny per day. By a letter from a gentleman at Kingston-uponThames, he learned that sheeps heads, sheeps hearts and plucks, &c. were bought up as offal to feed dogs, although the poor were glad to purchase such provisions, and from his inquiries at twenty different markets, he learned that in London people did the same. One gentleman he had heard of, who contracted with his mealman to supply his kennel with wheat and flour, oats, and meal, at 800l. per annum. He himself knew a gentleman who expended 400l. per annum on the same articles for his dogs. A pack of fox-hounds could not be kept for less than from 1,000l. to 2,000l. per year, and it was an absolute fact, that after a long chase, a gentleman rode into a country town with his fox-hounds clamouring with hunger, and every baker's shop in the town was ransacked for bread to satisfy them. Under all these circumstances, therefore, he hoped that the resolutions he meant to propose would not be rejected. He then moved, "That a tax of 2s. 6d. per annum be imposed on Dogs of every description.
Mr. Pitt did not think there was any thing improper in laying some tax on dogs; but the committee would feel it necessary to draw a line of distinction. It was clear that the poor should not keep a great number of dogs; there were many indigent persons, nevertheless, to whom dogs were useful. Such persons ought to be distinguished from the opulent; otherwise the tax would be a harsh one. He should therefore propose, by way of amendment, that instead of a duty of 2s. 6d., there be a duty of 3s. on each dog, meaning afterwards to propose in a committee on the bill, that all persons who do not pay assessed taxes, shall be charged only the duty of 1s. for each dog.
Mr. Buxton thought the proposed tax a good one, but considering it rather a regulation of police than any thing else, he saw no reason why the dogs kept by the poor should be distinguished from others. If a poor man kept a dog, and received relief from the parish, the parish supported his dog as well as himself.
Mr. Wilberforce thought the humanity proposed to be extended to the poor was, in this case, misapplied. The true spirit of the tax was not to take from the purse of the poor, but to prevent those who were not perfectly able to bear the waste and expense, from keeping dogs. He was persuaded, that, though the hydrophobia did not so often as was generally supposed, proceed from the bite of mad dogs, yet it was so often the case, that every thing should be done that had a tendency to abridge the excessive number of those animals. By doing this, humanity would be best shown to the poor; for experience had proved, that the sufferings from canine madness were almost exclusively confined to the poor. The higher orders very seldom suffered in that way.
Mr. Sheridan said, he had never seen a bill so absurd and objectionable throughout; and indeed he was not sorry that it was so: it appeared to him a just punishment for the pride and presumption of those who, because they had a seat in that House, imagine themselves to be so many chancellors of the exchequer, and impatiently stepped forward to propose new taxes. He knew not whether the hon. mover was stimulated upon Pythagorean principles, to pursue at present those resentments or antipathies which he might have conceived in some former state of existence against a race of animals so long distinguished as the friends and favourites of men; he would undertake however to show, that the present bill was not admissible, in any of its provisions. In regard to the bill itself, he never met with one more extraordinarily worded. The folly of it extended even to the title; the title should have been a tax bill, it was nevertheless entitled "A bill for the better protection of the persons and property of his majesty's subjects against the evil arising from the increase of dogs, by subjecting the keeping or having such dogs, to a duty." Hence, instead of supposing, as it generally had been supposed, that dogs were better than watchmen for the protection of property, people might be led to imagine, that dogs were guilty of half the burglaries usually committed. In the preamble there was the same singular species of phraseology: it began by stating that "Whereas great and serious dangers, injuries and inconveniencies,"-[He beg
Mr. Lechmere had long thought that a measure of this sort was wanted. He trusted it would be of service to the public at large, and particularly to the poor at this time of scarcity. Gentlemen who kept a pack of fox hounds, ought to be compelled to pay high for them. He thought that all dogs used for pleasure should be subject to the tax; and that ladies lap-dogs should be taxed the high-ged the House would admire the beauty est. It was shameful to see an athletic of that climax]" and more especially fellow, in a gaudy livery with a couple of the calamities of canine madness, of late lap dogs under his arms, walking after a alarmingly increasing, frequently happen lady through the Parks for a whole morn- to the persons of his majesty's subjects, ing. and to their cattle and other property." It certainly was by no means extraordinary
Sir G. P. Turner said, if ever a tax was
popular, this he believed would be so; and he felt great satisfaction that he had been among those who first suggested it. He mentioned several instances to show that dogs, multiplied as they now were, were a great nuisance.
The amended motion was agreed to; and on the 15th, a bill pursuant thereto was brought in and read a first time.
April 25. Mr. Dent moved the order of the day for going into a committee on this Bill. The question being put, "That the Speaker do now leave the chair,"
that a man's cattle should be injured by the bite of a mad dog, but he could not conceive what was meant by other property, as he had never before heard that property could be affected with the hydrophobia. In The Adventurer, a periodical paper by Dr. Hawkesworth, he remembered, indeed, a sort of humorous account of a dog that bit a hog in the streets; the hog bit a farmer, and the farmer bit a cow; and, what was most extraordinary, each conveyed his peculiar quality to the other; the hog barked like a dog, the farmer grunted like a hog, and the cow did the best she could to talk like the farmer. He should have imagined that there must have been something like this disposition in inanimate things also, by the hon. gentleman's looking so very carefully after property; for, unless an instance had occurred of furniture behaving in a disorderly manner, or a dumb waiter barking with the hydrophobia, he conceived such a phrase could not be properly introduced. The way in which the bill proposed to enforce its provisions was most inhuman. He particularly adverted to the clause in which it was proposed "That no person or persons shall be liable to any action, for killing, destroying, or converting to his own use, any dog for which the owner shall not have paid the duty." If this clause were to remain, and any person did destroy or convert another person's dog, he would most probably assume that it was not paid for. So far the bill was repugnant to the principles of humanity; for it was nothing less than a death-warrant against that valuable race of animals. Besides, he wanted to know what principle the bill proceeded upon, that the same privilege should not be also allowed with respect to horses, since there was a certain species of dogs, such as pointers, setters, &c. that were scarcely less valuable. According to the same mode of reasoning too, he did not see why there should not be a general scramble for all the hats upon the heads of those gentlemen who did not pay the hat duty; nor why any person should not convert the powder, another man wore, to his own use, if he suspected that man had not taken out a licence. It was true, that after any person had lost his dog in | this manner, a clause was provided, whereby he might bring an action, and maintain a right to recover damages from the converter; but how would it happen, if the dog, still fond of his former attach
ments, should follow his old master? That master might, in such a case, be whipped as a dog stealer, though he should afterwards gain an action to prove the prosecutor the thief. The deprivation in this instance was not all: by the general slaughter which the tax would occasion, they were liable to convert into ferocity that mild and humane character which had hitherto been the just boast of Englishmen. Were the national manners likely to be improved by a system which tended to familiarise the rising generation to the spectacle of seeing those animals slaughtered or hanging at their doors, which they had been accustomed to consider as their friends and play-fellows? The charge of ingratitude would also lay against them for such a decree of massacre against these useful animals, at the very time when they acknowledged them as allies of the combined powers, and when their brethren formed a part of that combined army in Jamaica, which was fight ing successfully against the Maroons, and supporting the cause of social order, humanity, and religion. He came at last to the qualifying clause, which was intended to enact, that puppies, when born, should not be liable to the penalty. He wished to know at what time they were to be made liable, and by what parish register they were to ascertain the birth of puppies. A doctrine had been inculcated that dogs devoured the sustenance of the poor; and therefore we were to be placed in the state of a besieged garrison, and feed upon the fare of dogs and cats. The bill in this instance tended to defeat its own object; for could it be supposed that the poor, at this moment of dearth and scarcity, could afford to divide their scanty meals with such animals? And if they did, what was the conclusion, but that they would rather deprive themselves of some of the necessaries of life, than lose their faithful companions. If the tax were levied only upon hounds and sporting dogs, he should oppose it, because it would tend to the diminution of the few pleasures which induced gentlemen to spend their fortunes on their own estates.
Mr. Windham said, he did not mean to object to the whole of the bill, but to part of it only. He thought a tax upon all sporting dogs fair, because they were a kind of luxury, and their owners could afford to pay. There appeared, however, a passion, a spleen, an enmity against the canine race in the formation of this bill,
winning attachment of a dog was remembered, it was unkind to propose any plan which should tend to destroy him. Dogs kept for sporting were peculiar to the rich; and though he did not mean to arraign sporting, he thought it not the highest sort of amusement, inasmuch as it reduced the hunter to the condition of the animal he hunted. With the rich it might be taxed; but with the poor the affection for a dog was so natural, that in poetry and painting it had been constantly recorded, and in any sort of domestic representation, we scarcely see a picture without a memorial of this attachment. If the rich man feels a partiality for a dog, what must a poor man do, who has so few amusements? He would be des titute without one. A dog was the companion of his laborious hours, and when he was bereft of his wife and children it filled up the dreary vacuity. It was a well-known fact that Alexander Selkirk, upon whose narrative the story of Robinson Crusoe was founded, sought the society of every animal upon the desart island, except those which he was obliged to kill for food. That was his greatest satisfaction; and a dog afforded a similar satisfaction to the poor. Would the House, then, sacrifice that honest, that virtuous satisfaction? An hon. gentleman had disapproved of any difference between the poor and rich, because he wished for equality, forgetting that equal burthens were laid upon unequal means, and that they ought to be proportioned in the same manner as rewards and punishments. But although he wished the tax to be levied upon sporting dogs, he was a friend to the game laws, and to aristocratical distinctions; and he thought all the arguments that had been urged against the game laws were recommendations in their favour, provided they were not oppressive. He did not think that poor men kept dogs for the destruction of game, and he lived in a game county where he was qualified to judge; besides, if a poacher wanted a dog for that purpose, he could afford to pay for it; so that extending the tax to the poor, would be no protection to the game. As to the worrying of sheep, the dogs commonly kept by poor people were too small; for the dogs that worried sheep were pointers, hounds, lurchers, guard-dogs, &c. and whenever they were once guilty of that vice, they would never leave it off until they were destroyed; but, dead or alive,
that amounted really to a principle of ex-|