IV. As a practical statesman, one principal point of view in which we must regard Pericles is in his capacity of a financier. By English historians his policy and pretensions in this department have not been sufficiently considered; yet, undoubtedly, they made one of the most prominent features of his public character in the eyes of his countrymen. He is the first minister in Athens who undertook the scientific management of the national revenues, and partly from his scrupulous integrity, partly from his careful wisdom, and partly from a fortunate concurrence of circumstances, the Athenian revenues, even when the tribute was doubled, were never more prosperously administered. The first great source of the revenue was from the tributes of the confederate cities . These, rated at four hundred and sixty talents in the time of Aristides, had increased to six hundred in the time of Pericles; but there is no evidence to prove that the increased sum was unfairly raised, or that fresh exactions were levied, save in rare cases , on the original subscribers to the league. The increase of a hundred and forty talents is to be accounted for partly by the quota of different confederacies acquired since the time of Aristides, partly by the exemption from military or maritime service, voluntarily if unwisely purchased, during the administration of Cimon, by the states themselves. So far as tribute was a sign of dependance and inferiority, the impost was a hardship; but for this they who paid it are to be blamed rather than those who received. Its practical burden on each state, at this period, appears, in most cases, to have been incredibly light; and a very trifling degree of research will prove how absurdly exaggerated have been the invectives of ignorant or inconsiderate men, whether in ancient or modern times, on the extortions of the Athenians, and the impoverishment of their allies. Aristophanes  attributes to the empire of Athens a thousand tributary cities: the number is doubtless a poetical license; yet, when we remember the extent of territory which the league comprehended, and how crowded with cities were all the coasts and islands of Greece, we should probably fall short of the number of tributary cities if we estimated it at six hundred; so that the tribute would not in the time of Pericles average above a talent, or 241l. 13s. 4d.  English money, for each city! Even when in a time of urgent demand on the resources of the state , Cythera fell into the hands of the Athenians , the tribute of that island was assessed but at four talents. And we find, by inscriptions still extant, that some places were rated only at two thousand, and even one thousand drachmas. 
Finally, if the assessment by Aristides, of four hundred and sixty talents, was such as to give universal satisfaction from its equity and moderation, the additional hundred and forty talents in the time of Pericles could not have been an excessive increase, when we consider how much the league had extended, how many states had exchanged the service for the tribute, and how considerable was the large diffusion of wealth throughout the greater part of Greece, the continued influx of gold , and the consequent fall in value of the precious metals.
V. It was not, then, the amount of the tribute which made its hardship, nor can the Athenian government be blamed for having continued, a claim voluntarily conceded to them. The original object of the tribute was the maintenance of a league against the barbarians - the Athenians were constituted the heads of the league and the guardians of the tribute; some states refused service and offered money - their own offers were accepted; other states refused both - it was not more the interest than the duty of Athens to maintain, even by arms, the condition of the league - so far is her policy justifiable. But she erred when she reduced allies to dependants - she erred when she transferred the treasury from the central Delos to her own state - she erred yet more when she appropriated a portion of these treasures to her own purposes. But these vices of Athens are the vices of all eminent states, monarchic or republican - for they are the vices of the powerful. "It was," say the Athenian ambassadors in Thucydides, with honest candour and profound truth - "it was from the nature of the thing itself that we were at first compelled to advance our empire to what it is - chiefly through fear - next for honour - and, lastly, for interest; and then it seemed no longer safe for us to venture to let go the reins of government, for the revolters would have gone over to you" (viz., to the Spartans) . Thus does the universal lesson of history teach us that it is the tendency of power, in what hands soever it be placed, to widen its limits, to increase its vigour, in proportion as the counteracting force resigns the security for its administration, or the remedy for its abuse.
VI. Pericles had not scrupled, from the date of the transfer of the treasury to Athens, to devote a considerable proportion of the general tribute to public buildings and sacred exhibitions - purposes purely Athenian. But he did so openly - he sought no evasion or disguise - he maintained in the face of Greece that the Athenians were not responsible to the allies for these contributions; that it was the Athenians who had resisted and defended the barbarians, while many of the confederate states had supplied neither ships nor soldiers; that Athens was now the head of a mighty league; and that, to increase her glory, to cement her power, was a duty she owed no less to the allies than to herself. Arguments to which armies, and not orators, could alone reply.