National Finance
The Maxims And Reflections Of Burke selected and edited by F.W. Rafferty

He (Grenville) cannot avoid rubbing himself against this subject merely for the pleasure of stirring controversies, and gratifying a certain pruriency of taxation that seems to infect his blood.—State of the Nation (I. 303).

A teasing custom-house, and a multiplicity of perplexing regulations, ever have, and ever will appear, the masterpiece of finance to people of narrow views; as a paper against smuggling, and the importation of French finery, never fails of furnishing a very popular column in a newspaper. —State of the Nation(I. 323).

No man ever doubted that the commodity of tea could bear an imposition of threepence. But no commodity will bear threepence, or will bear a penny, when the general feelings of men are irritated, and two millions of people are resolved not to pay. The feeling of the colonies were formerly the feelings of Great Britain. Theirs were formerly the feelings of Mr. Hampden when called upon for the payment of twenty shillings. Would twenty shillings have ruined Mr. Hampden's fortune? No! but the payment of half twenty shillings, on the principle it was demanded, would have made him a slave—American Taxation (II. 101).

To please universally was the object of his (Townshend's) life; but to tax and to please, no more than to love and to be wise, is not given to men—American Taxation (II. 142).

Public credit, that great but ambiguous principle, which has so often been predicted as the cause of our certain ruin, but which for a century has been the constant companion, and often the means, of our prosperity and greatness, had its origin, and was cradled, I may say, in bankruptcy and beggary. At this day we have seen parties contending to be admitted, at a moderate premium, to advance eighteen millions to the exchequer. For infinitely smaller loans, the Chancellor of the Exchequer of that day, Montague [1696], the father of public credit counter-securing the state by the appearance of the city with the Lord Mayor of London at his side, was obliged, like a solicitor for an hospital, to go cap in hand from shop to shop, to borrow a hundred pounds, and even smaller sums. When made up in driblets as they could, their best securities were at an interest of twelve per cent. Even the paper at the Bank (now at par with cash, and generally preferred to it) was often at a discount of twenty per cent —Regicide Peace (VI. 136).

We have a vast interest to preserve, and we possess great means of preserving it; but it is to be remembered that the artificer may he incumbered by his tools and that resources may be among impediments. If wealth is the obedient and laborious slave of virtue and of public honour, then wealth is in its place, and has its use : but if this order is changed, and honour is to be sacrificed to the conservation of riches, riches, which have neither eyes nor hands, nor anything truly vital in them, cannot long survive the being of their vivifying powers, their legitimate masters, and their potent protectors. If we command our wealth, we shall be rich and free: if our wealth commands us, we are poor indeed.— Regicide Peace (VI. 92).

There must be some impulse besides public spirit, to put private interest into motion along with it. Monied men ought to be allowed to set a value on their money; if they did not, there could be no monied men. This desire of accumulation is a principle without which the means of their service to the state could not exist. The love of lucre, though sometimes carried to a ridiculous, sometimes to a vicious excess, is the grand cause of prosperity to all states. In this natural, this reasonable, this powerful, this prolific principle, it is for the satirist to expose the ridiculous; it is for the moralist to censure the vicious ; it is for the sympathetic heart to reprobate the hard and cruel; it is for the judge to animadvert on the fraud, the extortion, and the oppression ; but it is for the statesman to employ it as he finds it, with all its concomitant excellences, with all its imperfections on its head. It is his part, in this case, as it is in all other cases, where he is to make use of the general energies of nature, to take them as he finds them.— Regicide Peace (VI. 270).

A fair and judicious financier will not, as this writer has done, for the sake of making out a specious account, select a favourable year or two, at remote periods, and ground his calculations on those.—State of the Nation (I. 293).

The reader sees how handsomely he has provided for us, by voting away one revenue, and by giving us a pamphlet on the other—State of the Nation (I. 305).