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William Penn. (1644–1718). Fruits of Solitude.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

Part II

Of the Interest of the Publick in our Estates

221. Hardly any Thing is given us for our Selves, but the Publick may claim a Share with us. But of all we call ours, we are most accountable to God and the Publick for our Estates: In this we are but Stewards, and to Hord up all to ourselves is great Injustice as well as Ingratitude.

222. If all Men were so far Tenants to the Publick, that the Superfluities of Gain and Expence were applied to the Exigencies thereof, it would put an End to Taxes, leave never a Beggar, and make the greatest Bank for National Trade in Europe.

223. It is a Judgment upon us, as well as Weakness, tho’ we wont’t see it, to begin at the wrong End.

224. If the Taxes we give are not to maintain Pride, I am sure there would be less, if Pride were made a Tax to the Government.

225. I confess I have wondered that so many Lawful and Useful Things are excised by Laws, and Pride left to Reign Free over them and the Publick.

226. But since People are more afraid of the Laws of Man than of God, because their Punishment seems to be nearest: I know not how magistrates can be excused in their suffering such Excess with Impunity.

227. Our Noble English Patriarchs as well as Patriots, were so sensible of this Evil, that they made several excellent Laws, commonly called Sumptuary, to Forbid, at least Limit the Pride of the People; which because the Execution of them would be our Interest and Honor, their Neglect must be our just Reproach and Loss.

228. ’T is but Reasonable that the Punishment of Pride and Excess should help to support the Government, since it must otherwise inevitably be ruined by them.

229. But some say, It ruins Trade, and will make the Poor Burthensome to the Publick; But if such Trade in Consequence ruins the Kingdom, is it not Time to ruin that Trade? Is Moderation no Part of our Duty, and Temperance an Enemy to Government?

230. He is a Judas that will get Money by any Thing.

231. To wink at a Trade that effeminates the People, and invades the Ancient Discipline of the Kingdom, is a Crime Capital, and to be severely punish’d instead of being excused by the Magistrate.

232. Is there no better Employment for the Poor than Luxury? Miserable Nation!

233. What did they before they fell into these forbidden Methods? Is there not Land enough in England to Cultivate, and more and better Manufactures to be Made?

234. Have we no Room for them in our Plantations, about Things that may augment Trade, without Luxury?

235. In short, let Pride pay, and Excess be well Excised: And if that will Cure the People, it will help to Keep the Kingdom.