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scarcely time to cool; who with tea amuses
the evenings; with tea solaces the midnights;
and with tea welcomes the morning.' This
was the third epochthat of considerable
taxation, enhancing the monopoly price of an
article, sold to the people at exorbitant profits.

In 1785, the Government boldly repealed
the Excise duty; and imposed only a Customs'
duty of 12½ per cent. The consumption of
tea was doubled in the first year after the
change, and quadrupled in the third. The
system was too good to last. The concession
of three years in which the public might freely
use an article of comfort was quite enough
for official liberality and wisdom. New duties
were imposed in 1787; the consumption
was again driven back, and by additional
duty upon duty, was kept far behind the
increase of the population for another thirty
years. In 1784, the annual consumption was
only 4,948,983 lbs.; in 1787, with a reduced
duty, it was 17,047,054 lbs.; in 1807, when we
had almost reached the climax of high duties,
it was only 19,239,212 lbs. This state of
things, with very slight alteration, continued
till the peace. The consumption had been
nearly stationary for thirty years, with a duty
raised from 12½ per cent. to 96 per cent.
Those were the days, which some of us
may remember, when we paid 12s. a pound
for our green tea, and 8s. for our black; the
days when convictions for the sale of spurious
tea were of constant occurrence; and
yet the days when Cobbett was alarmed lest
tea should become a common beverage, and
calculated that between eleven and twelve
pounds a year were consumed by a cottager's
family in tea-drinking. During this fourth
epoch of excessive taxation, the habit of tea-drinking
had become so rooted in the people,
that no efforts of the Government could
destroy it. The teas under 2s. 6d. a pound
(the Company's warehouse prices without
duty), were the teas of the working classes
the teas of the cottage and the kitchen. In
1801, such teas paid only an excise of 15 per
cent.; in 1803, they paid 60 per cent.; in
1806, 90 per cent. And yet the washerwoman
looked to her afternoon 'dish of tea,' as
something that might make her comfortable
after her twelve hours' labour; and balancing
her saucer on a tripod of three fingers,
breathed a joy beyond utterance as she cooled
the draught. The factory workman then
looked forward to the singing of the kettle, as
some compensation for the din of the spindle.
Tea had found its way even to the hearth of
the agricultural labourer. He 'had lost his
rye teeth'to use his own expression for his
preference of wheaten breadand he would
have his ounce of tea as well as the best of his
neighbours. Sad stuff the chandler's shop
furnished him: no commodity brought hundreds
of miles from the interior of China, chiefly by
human labour; shipped according to the most
expensive arrangements; sold under a limited
competition at the dearest rate; and taxed
as highly as its wholesale cost. The small
tea-dealers had their manufactured tea.
But they had also their smuggled tea. The
pound of tea which sold for eight shillings in
England, was selling at Hamburg for
fourteenpence. It was hard indeed if the artisan
did not occasionally obtain a cup of good tea
at a somewhat lower price than the King and
John Company had willed. No dealer could
send out six pounds of tea without a permit.
Excisemen were issuing permits and examining
permits all over the kingdom. But
six hundred per cent. profit was too much for
the weakness of human nature and the power
of the exciseman.

From the peace, to the opening of the
China tea-trade in 1833, and the repeal of
the excise duty in 1834, there was a
considerable increase in the consumption of tea,
but not an increase at all comparable to
the increase since 1834. We consumed ten
million pounds more tea in 1833 than in 1816,
a period of sixteen years; we consumed in
1848, a period of fifteen years, seventeen
million pounds more than in 1833. In 1848
we retained for home consumption, 48,735,791
pounds. It is this present period of large
consumption which forms the fifth epoch.

The present duty on tea is 2s. 2¼d. a pound.
The experienced housewife knows where to
buy excellent tea at 4s. a pound. But there
are shops in London where tea may be bought
at 3s., and 3s. 4d. a pound. Such low priced
teas are used more freely than ever by the
hard-working poor. The duty is now unvarying,
but enormously high. It is unnecessary
to assume that the cheap teas are now
adulterated teas. In the London Price
Currents of the present May, there are several
sorts of tea as low as 8d. per pound, wholesale
without duty. The finer teas vary from
1s. to 2s. In 1833, previous to the opening of
the China trade, the price of Congou tea in
the Company's warehouses ranged from 2s. to
3s. per pound; in 1850 the lowest current
price was 9d, the highest 1s. 4d. In 1833, the
Company's price of Hyson tea varied from 3s.
to 5s. 6d; in 1850, the lowest current price
was 1s. 2d., the highest 3s. 4d.

With the amount of duty on tea twice as
high in 1850 as in 1833, how is it that tea may
be universally bought at one half of the price
of 1833? How is it that an article which
yields five millions of revenue has become so
cheap that it is now scarcely a luxury? Before
we answer this, let us explain why we say
that the duty is twice as high now as in 1833.
Before the opening of the China trade tea was
taxed under the Excise at an ad-valorem
duty of ninety-six per cent on one sort, and
one hundred per cent on another, which gave
an average of about half-a-crown a pound.
Those who resisted the destruction of the
Company's monopoly predicted that the
supply would fall off under the open trade;
that the Chinese would not deal with private
merchants; that the market for tea in China

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