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Mr. Burke spoke to the same purport. Ireland was now the chief dependency of the British crown, and it particularly behoved this country to admit the Irish nation to the privileges of British citizens.
Mr. Baker said, the restrictions on the
something or other; for either, in order to limit her, we must restrain ourselves, or we must fall into that shocking conclusion, that we are to keep our yet remaining dependency, under a general and indiscriminate restraint, for the mere purpose of oppression. Indeed, Sir, England and Ireland may flourish together. The world is large enough for us both. Let it be our care not to make ourselves too little for it. I know it is said, that the people of Ireland do not pay the same taxes, and therefore ought not in equity to enjoy the same benefits with this. I had hopes, that the unhappy phantom of a compulsory equal taxation had i.o. us long enough. I do assure you, that until it is entirely banished from our imaginations, (where alone it has, or can have any existence) we shall never cease to do ourselves the most substantial injuries. taxation, I can only say,+that Ireland pays as many taxes as those who are the best judges of her powers, are of opinion she can bear. To bear more, she must have more ability; and in the order of nature, the advantage must precede the charge. This disposition of things, cing the law of God, neither you nor I can alter it. . So that if you will have more help from Ireland, you must previously supply her with more means. I helieve it will be found,
flow by an easy descent through its own proper
and natural channels. An attempt to disturb that course, and to force nature, will only bring on universal discontent, distress and confusion. You tell me, Sir, that you prefer an union with Ireland to the little regulations which are proposed in parliament. This union is a great question of state, to which, when it comes pro*. before me in my parliamentary capacity, shall give an honest and unprejudiced consi. deration. However, it is a settled rule with ine, to make the most of my actual situation ; and not to refuse to do a proper thing, because there is something else more proper, which I am not able to do. This union is a business of difficulty; and on the principles of your letter, a business impracticable. tured into a feasible and desirable scheme, I wish to have as close an union of interest and affection with Ireland, as I can have; and that, I am sure, is a far better thing than any nominal union of government. France, and indeed most extensive empires, which by various designs and fortunes have grown into one great mass, contain many proviuces that are very different from each other in
To that argument of equal
Until it can be ma
Irish trade defeated themselves, and, instead of promoting the staple manufactory of this country, that of woollens, had the direct contrary effect, by furnishing the French with raw materials, which enabled them to undersell us in all the markets of Europe.
privileges and modes of government; and they raise their supplies in different ways; in dif. ferent proportions; and under different authorities; yet none of them are for this reason curtailed of their natural rights; but they carry on trade and manufactures with perfect equality. In some way or other the true bilance is found ; and all of them are properly poised and harmonized. How much have you lost by the participation of Scotland in all your commerce 2 The external trade of England has more than doubled since that period; and I believe your internal (which is the most advantageous) has been augmented at least fourfold. Such virtue there is in liberality of sentiment, that you have grown richer even by the partnership of poverty. If you think, that this participation was a loss, commercially considered, but that it has been compensated by the share which Scotland has taken in defraying the public charge—s believe you have not }.} carefully looked at the public accounts. Ireland, Sir, pays a great deal more than Scotland; and is perhaps as | much, and as effectually united to England as Scotland is. But if Scotland, instead of paying little, had paid nothing at all, we should be gainers, not losers, by acquiring the hearly cooperation of an active intelligent people, to. wards the increase of the common stock; instead of our being employed in watching and counteracting them, and their being employed in watching and counteracting us, with the peevish and churlish jealousy of rivals and enemies on both sides. I am sure, Sir, that the commercial experience of the merchants of Bristol, will soon disabuse them of the prejudice, that they can trade no longer, if countries more lightly taxed are permitted to leal in the same countmodities at the same markets. You know, that in fact, you trade very largely where you are met by the goods of all nations. You even pay high duties, on the import of your goods, and atterwards undersell nations less taxed, at their own markets; and where goods of the same kind are not charged at all. If it were otherwise, you could trade very little. You know, that the price of all sorts of manufacture is not a great deal enhanced (except to the domestic consumer) by any taxes paid in this country. | This I might very easily prove. | The same consideration will relieve you from t the apprehension you express, with relation o sugars, and the difference of the duties paid here and in Ireland. Those duties affect the interior consumer only; and for obvious rea: sons, relative to the interest of revenue itself, necessities of a poor one.
Sir W. Meredith confirmed what Mr. Baker had said; observing, that the Irish, in order to pay the enhanced value of lands, were obliged to carry their wool to France, where it brought a most exorbi tant price.
Mr. Byng hoped the narrow policy
which induced this country to prevent the people of Ireland from manufacturing their native produce was at an end, and trusted that the House would come to the business with one heart, and a spirit of unanimity.
The motion was agreed to nem. con.
they must be proportioned to his ability of payments; but in all cases in which sugar can be an object of commerce, and therefore (in this view) of rivalship, you are sensible, that you are at least on a par with Ireland. As to your apprehensions concerning the more advantageous situation of Ireland, for some branches of commerce, (for it is so but for some) I trust you will not find them more serious. Milford Haven, which is at your door, may serve to shew you, that the mere advantage of ports is not the thing which shifts the seat of commerce from one part of the world to the other. If I thought you inclined to take up this matter on local considerations, I should state to you, that I do not know any part of the kingdom so well situated for an advantageous commerce with Ireland as Bristol; and that none would be so likely to profit of its prosperity as our city. But your profit and theirs must concur. Beggary and bankruptcy are not the circumstances which invite to an intercourse with that or with any country; and I believe it will be found inva. riably true, that the superfluities of a rich nation furnish a better olject of trade than the It is the interest of the commercial world that wealth should be found every where. The true ground of fear, in my opinion, is this; that Ireland, from the vicious system of its internal polity, will be a long time before it can derive any benefit from the liberty now granted, or from any thing else. But as I do not vote advantages, in hopes that they may not be enjoyed, I will not lay any stress upon this consideration. I rather wish, that the parliament of Ireland may, in its own wisdom, remove these impediments, and put their country in a condition to avail itself of its natural advantages. If they do not, the fault is with them, and not with us. I have written this long letter, in order to give all possible satisfaction to my constituents with regard to the part I have taken in this affair. It gave me inexpressible concern to find, that my conduct had been a cause of uneasiness to any of them. Next to my honour and conscience, I have nothing so near and dear to me as their approbation. However, I had much rather run the risk of displeasing than of injuring them;—if I am driven to make such an option. You obligingly lament, that you are not to have me for your advocate; but if I had been capable of acting as an advocate in opposition to a plan, so perfectly consonant to my known principles, and to the opinions I had publicly declared on a hundred occasions, I should only disgrace myself, without support[VOL. XIX.]
ing with the smallest degree of credit or effect, the cause you wished me to undertake. I should have lost the only thing which can make such abilities as mine of any use to the world now or hereafter; I mean that authority which is derived from an opinion, that a member speaks the language of truth and sincerity; and that he is not ready to take up or lay down a great political system for the convenience of the hour; that he is in parliament to support his opinion of the public good, and does not form his opinion in order to get into parliament, or to continue in it. It is in a great measure for your sake, that I wish to preserve this character. Without it, I am sure, I should be ill able to discharge, by any service, the smallest part of that debt of gratitude and affection which I owe you for the great and honourable trust you have reposed in me. I am, with the highest regard and esteem, Sir, &c. E. B. Beaconsfield, April 23, 1778.
Copy of a LETTER to Messrs. ***** ****** and Co. Bristol.
Gentlemen; It gives me the most sensible concern to find, that my vote on the resolutions relative to the trade of Ireland, has not been fortunate enough to meet with your approbation. I have explained at large the grounds of my conduct on that occasion in my letters to the Merchants Hall: but my very sincere regard and esteem for you will not permit me to let the matter pass without an explanation, which is particular to yourselves, and which, I hope, will prove satisfactory to you. You tell me, that the conduct of your late member is not much wondered at; but you seem to be at a loss to account for mine; and you lament, that I have taken so decided a part against my constituents. This is rather an heavy imputation. Does it then really appear to you, that the propositions to which you refer, are, on the face of them, so manifestly wrong, and so certainly injurious to the trade and manufactures of Great Britain, and particularly to yours, that no man could think of proposing, or supporting them, except from resentment to you, or from some other oblique motive 2 If you suppose your late member, or if you suppose me, to act upon other reasons than we choose to avow, to what do you attribute the conduct of the other members, who, in the beginning, almost unanimously adopted those resolutions? To what do you attribute the strong part taken by the ministers, and along with the ministers, by several of their most declared opponents? [4 Bl
April 7. The House went into a committee on the Acts relating to the Trade and Commerce of Ireland; lord Midleton in the chair.
Earl Nugent opened the business. From a long series of unshaken loyalty, the Irish,
This does not indicate a ministerial job ; a }. design; or a provincial or local purpose. t is therefore not so absolutely clear, that the measure is wrong, or likely to be injurious to the true interests of any place, or any person. The reason, gentlemen, for taking this step, at this time, is but too obvious and too urgent. I cannot imagine, that you forget the great war, which has been carried on with so little success (and, as I thought, with so little policy) in America; or that you are not aware of the other great wars which are impending. Ireland has been called upon to repel the attacks of enemies of no small power, brought upon her by councils in which she has had no share. The very purpose and declared object of that original war, which has brought other wars, and other enemies on Ireland, was not very flattering to her dignity, her interest, or to the very principle of her liberty. Yet she submitted patiently to the evils she suffered from an attempt to subdue to your obedience, countries whose very commerce was not open to her. America was to be conquered, in order that Ireland should not trade thither; whilst the miserable trade which she is permitted to carry on to other places has been torn to pieces in the struggle. In this situation, are we neither to suffer her to have any real interest in our quarrel, or to be flattered with the hope of any future means of bearing the burthens which she is to incur in defending herself against enemies which we have brought upon her 2 I cannot set my face against such arguments. Is it quite fair to suppose, that I have no other motive for yielding to them, but a desire of acting against my constituents? It is for you, and for your interest, as a dear, cherished, and respected part of a valuable whole, that I have taken my share in this question. You do not, you cannot suffer by it. If honesty be true policy with regard to the transient interest of individuals, it is much more certainly so with regard to the permanent interests of communities. I know, that it is but too natural for us to see our own certain ruin, in the possible prosperity of other people. It is hard to persuade us, that every thing which is got by another is not taken from ourselves. But it is fit, that we should get the better of these suggestions, which come from what is not the best and soundest part of our nature, and that we should form to ourselves a way of thinking, more rational, more just, and more religi. ous. Trade is not a limited thing; as if the objects of mutual demand and consumption, could not stretch beyond the bounds of our jealousies. God has given the earth to the
he said, were entitled to every encouragement which good and faithful subjects could deserve, and a wise and grateful government could give; oppressive laws had hitherto been their only reward: he did not, however mean to complain; if
children of men, and he has undoubtedly, in giving it to them, given them what is abundantly sufficient for all their exigencies; not a scanty, but a most liberal provision for them all. The author of our nature has written it strongly in that nature, and has promulgated the same law in his written word, that man shall eat his bread by his labour; and I am persuaded, that no man, and no combination of men, for their own ideas of their particular profit, can, without great impiety, undertake to say, that he shall not do so; that they have no sort of right, either to prevent the labour, or to withhold the bread. Ireland having received no compensation, directly or indirectly, for any restraints on their trade, ought not, in justice or common honesty, to be made subject to such restraints. I do not mean to impeach the right of the parliament of Great Britain to make laws for the trade of Ireland. I only speak of what laws it is right for parliament to make. It is nothing to an oppressed people, to say that in part they are protected at our charge. The military force which shall be kept up in order to cramp the natural faculties of a people, and to prevent their arrival to their utmost prosperity, is the instrument of their servitude, not the means of their protection. To protect men, is to forward, and not to restrain their improvement. Else, what is it more, than to avow to them, and to the world, that you guard then from others, only to make them a prey to yourself? This fundamental nature of protection does not belong to free, but to all governments; and is as valid in Turkey as in Great Britain. No government ought to own that it exists for the purpose of checking the prosperity of its people, or that there is such a principle involved in its policy. Under the impression of these sentiments, (and not as wanting every attention to my constituents, which affection and gratitude could inspire,) 1 voted for these bills which give you so much trouble. I voted for them, not as doing complete justice to lzeland, but as being something less unjust than the general prohibition which has hitherto prevailed. I hear some discourse, as if in one or two paltry duties on materials, Ireland had a preference; and that those who set themselves against this act of scanty justice, assert that they are only contending for an equality. What equality? Do they forget, that the whole woollen manufacture of Ireland, the most extensive and profitable of any, and the natural staple of that kingdom, has been in a manner so destroyed by restrictive laws of ours, and (at our persuasion, and on our promises) by restrictive laws
it, he meant from the West India planters, but he could not conceive why they should oppose a relaxation of the trade laws respecting Ireland; he knew several gentlemen who had plantations in the islands; they told him, that they could allege nothing against the expediency of the measure he was now about to propose. He discovered, indeed, that the planters were much in the power of the merchants here; that the 24 commission on the sugars exported from this kingdom to Ireland was too lucrative to be given up. He did not doubt but the House would disregard any opposition from such selfish views; he would not, however, have any thing in his motions which could possibly be opposed; he would make them in such a manner, as he hoped would gain them the unanimous approbation of the committee; a circumstance that would make the proposed indulgence to the Irish the more agreeable to that people, and challenge all their gratitude. His lordship then moved, “That all goods, wares, and merchandize, being the produce or manufacture of the king
of their own, that in a few years, it is probable, they will not be able to wear a coat of their own fabric? Is this equality? Do gentlemen forget, that the understood faith upon which they were persuaded to such an unnatural act, has not been kept ; but a linen-manufacture has been set up, and highly encouraged, against them Is this equality : Do they forget the state of the trade of Ireland in beer, so great an article of consumption, and which now stands in so mischievous a position with regard to their revenue, their manufacture, and their agriculture? Do they find any equality in all
this? Yet if the least step is taken towards doing them common justice in the slightest
article for the most limited markets, a cry is raised, as if we were going to be ruined by partiality to Ireland. Gentlemen, I know that the deficiency in these arguments is made up (not by you, but by others) by the usual resource on such oc. casions, the confidence in military force, and superior power. But that ground of confidence, which at no time was perfectly just, or the avowal of it tolerably decent, is at this time very unseasonable. Late experience has shewn, that it cannot be altogether relied upon ; and many, if not all of our present difficulties, have arisen from putting our trust in what may very possibly fail; and if it should fail, leaves those who are hurt by such a reliance, without pity. Whereas honesty and justice, reason and equity, go a very great way in securing prosperity to those who use them ; and in case of failure, secure the best retreat, and the most honourable consolations. It is very unfortunate that we should con
sider those as rivals, whom we ought to regard as fellow-labourers in a common cause. Ireland has never made a single step in its progress towards prosperity, by which you have not had a share, and perhaps the greatest share in the benefit. That progress has been chiefly owing to her own natural advantages, and her own efforts, which after a long time, and by slow degrees, have prevailed in some measure over the mischievous systems which have been adopted. Far enough she is still from having arrived even at an ordinary state of perfection ; and if our jealousies were to be converted into politics, as systematically as some would have them, the trade of Ireland would vanish out of the system of commerce. But believe me, if Ireland is beneficial to you, it is so not from the parts in which it is restrained, but from those in which it is left free, though not left unrivalled. The greater its freedom, the greater must be your advantage. If you should lose in one way, you will gain in twenty. Whilst I remain under this unalterable and powerful conviction, you will not wonder at the decided part I take. It is my custom so to do, when I see my way clearly before me; and when I know, that I am not misled by an passion, or any personal interest; which in this case, I am very sure, I am not. I find that disagreeable things are circulated among my constituents; and I wish my sentiments, which form my justification, may be equally general with the circulation against me. have the
honour to be, with the greatest regard and esteem, Gentlemen, &c. E. B.
Westminster, May 2, 1778. P. S. I send the Bills,
dom of Ireland, be permitted to be export. I of men to the present government; their ed directly from the said kingdom, in Bri. affections had been alienated; he wished tish ships navigated according to law, to to recall them by indulgent behaviour. be imported into any of the British plan- | He hated the Romish religion for its pertations, or to any of the settlements be- /secuting spirit; but he would not on that longing to Great Britain on the coast of account wish to be a persecutor. Africa; wool and woollen manufactures Lord North declared he would with all only excepted.”
his heart concur in any measure that could Mr. Pelham professed himself a well. I tend to answer so desirable an end; but it wisher to Ireland; and said, that no man was not their province; it was the province had a greater respect for that kingdom of the parliament of Ireland: the laws than he had; he was not, however, without which were so severe against the Roman his doubts, that the present measure would Catholics had originated there, and redress be highly detrimental to the manufactures of domestic grievances should of right oriof this country ; the taxes in Ireland being ginate likewise from them. He was of low, and labour cheap, the Irish would be opinion, that the Irish parliament would able to undersell us, and thereby ruin see where the grievance lay, and redress several of our trading towns.
it, for there was not any where a people of Lord Beauchamp begged leave to set more liberal sentiments than the Irish. the hon, gentleman right. The taxes in The penal laws of Ireland were the conseIreland were many and high; and, pro- quence of apprehension, which, however portionably to the means of paying them, groundless, always adopted the most cruel considerably greater than in England. and severe policy. The Irish complained, Some gentlemen who had travelled into and complained with justice. Leaving to Ireland, had, from the opulence of its me. the candour of their own parliament to tropolis, and the unbounded hospitality of grant such indulgence to the Roman Ca. the people of fashion, formed very unjust tholics as their loyalty deserves : he reideas of the real state of the kingdom: it quested the House would agree to that was reduced by oppressive laws to a which was in their power, and properly in wretched situation; their loyalty was, their province: to relax the trade laws however, superior to every selfish consi. would benefit the Irish, and ultimately deration; they saw nothing but our danger; enrich ourselves ; embarked in the same and though our acts had banished into fo cause with us, they could not be called reign countries numbers of their brethren, our rivals in trade, but their rivals were and left them in a miserable state, still our rivals. The exception of woollen they were willing to strain every nerve to cloths he would say nothing to: it might serve us in the moment of distress : a not, perhaps, be just; but it was a point braver, more generous, and more loyal given up by the Irish, and confirmed by people was not to be found. He flattered an ancient compact; if it should be found himself, therefore, that they would be in the course of the proceedings that any treated by the House according to their other exceptions were necessary, the high deserts.
| House no doubt would make them, Upon Sir Thomas Egerton was of opinion, the whole, the motion should meet his that this kingdom would suffer by its in- hearty concurrence. dulgence in this point; the manufactures The question was carried nem. con. of Lancashire, in particular, would be Earl Nugent then moved, " That all ruined; and that county alone would, as goods, wares, and merchandize, being the he was informed, lose 100,0001. per annum produce of any of the British plantations, in the article of checks only, if the mea- or of any of the settlements belonging to sure now proposed should pass into a law. Great Britain, on the coast of Africa, be
Mr. T. Townshend expressed his warm permitted to be exported from thence into approbation of the motion. He was happy the said kingdom of Ireland, indico and . to see the mist of prejudice begin to dis tobacco only excepted.” He next moved,
perse, and would be happy to give the “ That the Acts prohibiting the exportameasure a broader bottom: though as tion of glass be repealed : also, That the stedfast a Protestant as any gentleman in duties on the importation of cotton yarn the House, he declared he should be glad manufactured in Ireland, be no longer to see some means adopted to grant such paid.” indulgencies to the Roman Catholics of Mr. Burke then moved, “ That all sail Ireland, as might attach that great body cloth and cordage, of the manufacture of