Графични страници
PDF файл

as far as is not absolutely inconsistent with those of Ireland is to me an object; but still the difference recurs ; she is not content with voluntary accommodation on your part, but exacts perpetual export from you in the very article in which she retains absolute prohibition-no new prohibition-every prohibition beneficial to England was laid before--none in favour of Ireland Ireland till 1779 was a province, and every province is a victim ; your provincial state ceased; but before the provincial regulations are done away, this arrangement establishes a principle of uti possidetis, that is, Great Britain shall retain all her advantages, and Ireland shall retain all her disadvantages.. But I leave this part of the adjustment where reciprocity is disclaimed in the outset of treaty and the rudiment of manufacture; I come to instances of more striking inequality, and first, your situation in the East. You are to give a monopoly to the present or any future East-India Company during its existence, and to the British nation for ever after. It has been said that the Irishman in this is in the same situation as the Englishman, but there is this difference, the difference between having and not having the trade ; the British parliament has judged it most expedient for Great Britain to carry on her trade to the East, by an exclusive company; the Irish parliament is now to determine it most expedient for Ireland to have no trade at all in these parts. This is not a surrender of the political rights of the constitution, but of the natural rights of man; not of the privileges of parliament, but of the rights of nations,--not to sail beyond the Cape of Good Hope and the Straights of Magellan, an awful interdict! Not only European settlements, but neutral countries excluded, and. God's Providence shut out in the most opulent boundaries of creation ; other interdicts go to particular places for local reasons, because they belong to certain European states ; but here are neutral regions forbidden, and a path prescribed


to the Irishman on open sea.

Other interdicts go to a determinate period of time, but here is an eternity of restraint; you are to have no trade at all during the existence of any company, and no free trade to those countries after its expiration ; this resembles rather a judgment of God than an act of the legislature, whether you measure it by immensity of space or infinity of duration, and has nothing human about it except its presumption. .

What you lose by this surrender, what you forfeit by giving up the possibility of intercourse with so great a proportion of the inhabited globe, I cannot presume to say ; but this I can say, that gentlemen have no right to argue from present want of capital against future trade, nor to give up their capacity to trade, because they have not yet brought that capacity into action, still less they have a right to do so without the shadow of compensation, and least of all on the affected compensation which, trifling with your understanding as well as interest, suffers a vessel to go to the West, in its way to the East. I leave this uncompensated surrenderI leave your situation in the East, which is blank-I leave your situation in the East, which is the surrender of trade itself; and I come to your situation in the West, which is a surrender of its freedom. You are to give a monopoly to the British plantations at their own taxes; before, you did so only in certain articles, with a power of selection, and then only as long as you pleased to conform to the condition, and without any stipulation to exclude foreign produce. It may be very proper to exclude foreign produce by your own temporary laws, and at your owo free will and option, but now you are to covenant to do so for ever, and you give to the English, West as well as East, an eternal monopoly for their plantation produce, in the taxiug and regulating of which you have no sort of deliberation or interference, and over which Great Britain has a complete supremacy. Here

[ocr errors]

you will consider the advantage you receive from that monopoly, and judge how far it may be expedient to set up against yourselves that monopoly for ever; there is scarcely an article of the British plantation that is not out of all proportion dearer than the same article is in


of the globe, nor any other article that is not produced elsewhere, for some of which articles you might establish a mart for your manufactures. Portugal, for instance, capable of being a better market for our drapery than Great Britain; this enormity of price is aggravated by an enormity of tax; what then is this covenant ? to take these articles from the British plantations, and from none other, at the present high rates and taxes, and to take them at all times to come, subject to whatever further rates and taxes the parliament of Great Britain shall enact. Let me ask you, why did you refuse Protecting Duties to your own people ? because they looked like a monopoly; and will you give to the East-India merchant, and the West-India planter, something more?-a monopoly where the monopolist is in some degree the lawgiver. The principle of equal duty or the saine restriction is not the shadow of security; to make such a principle applicable to the objects must be equal, but here the objects are not only dissimilar but opposite; the condition of England is great debt and greater capital, great incumbrance, but still greater abilities; the condition of Ireland, little capital but a small debt, poverty but exemption from intolerable taxes. Equal burdens will have opposite effects, they will fund the debt of one country and destroy the trade of the other ; high duties will take away your resource, which is exemption from them ; but will be a fund for Great Britain: thus the colony principle in its extent is dangerous to a very great degree. Suppose Great Britain should raise her colony duties to a still greater degree, to answer the exigency of some future war, or to fund her pre

sent debt, you must follow; for by this bill you would have no option in foreign trade ; you must follow, not because you wanted the tax, but lest your exemption from taxes should give your manufactures any comparative advantage. Irish taxes are to be precautions against the prosperity of Irish manufactures! You must follow, because your taxes here would be no longer measured by the wants of the country or the interest of her commerce, because we should have instituted a false measure of taxation ; the wants and the riches of another country, which exceeds you much in wants, but infinitely more in riches. I fear we should have done more; we should have made English jealousy the barometer of Irish taxes.-Suppose this country should in any degree establish a direct trade with the British plantations ; suppose the apprehensions of the British manufacturers in any degree realized, they may dictate your duties, they may petition the British parliament to raise certain duties, which shall not affect the articles of their intercourse, but may stop yours ; or, which shall affect the articles of their intercourse a little and annihilate yours ; thus they may, by one and the same duty, raise a revenue in England, and destroy a rival in Ireland. Camblets are an instance of the former, and every valuable plantation import an instance of the latter ; your option in foreign trade had been a restraint on England, or a resource to Ireland; but under this adjustment yougive up your foreign trade, and confine yourself to that which you must not presume to regulate. The exclusion of foreign plantation produce would seem sufficient, for every purpose of power and domination, but to aggravate, and it would seem, to insult, the independent States of North America are most ungraciously brought into this arrangement, as if Ireland was a British colony, or North America continued a part of the British dominion; by the resolutions almost all the produce of North America was to be imported to Ire

land, subject to British duties; the bill is more moderate, and only enumerates certain articles ; but what right has Great Britain to interfere in our foreign trade ; what right has she to dictate to us on the subject of North American trade? How far this country may be further affected by clogging her plantation trade and surrendering her free trade, I shall not for the present stop more minutely to inquire ; but I must stop to protest against one circumstance in this arrangement, which should not accompany any arrangement, which would be fatal to settlement itself, and tear asunder the bands of faith and affection ; the circumstance I mean, is the opening of the settlements of the colony trade, and free trade of 1779: this adjustment takes from you the power of choosing the article, so that the whole covenant hangs on the special circumstance, and takes from you your option in the produce of foreign plantations, and even of America. It is a revision in peace of the settlements of war, it is a revocation in peace of the acquisition of war. I here ask by what authority? By what authority is Ireland obliged now to enter into a general account for past acquisitions ? Did the petition of the manufacturers desire it ? Did the addresses of the last session desire it ? Did the minister in this session suggest it? No; I call for authority, whereby we can be justified in waving the benefit of past treaties, and bringing the whole relative situation of this country into question in an arrangement, which only professes to settle her channel trade ? I conceive the settlements of the last war are sacred

!; you may make other settlements with the British nation, but you will never make any so beneficial as these are ; they were the result of a conjuncture miraculously formed, and fortunately seized. The American war was the Irish harvest. From that period, as from the lucky moment of your fate, your commerce, constitution, and mind, took form and

« ПредишнаНапред »