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Title: English Interference with Irish Industries
Author: MacNeill, J. G. Swift
Language: English
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Agriculture is at the present time almost the only industry in Ireland.
This fact has frequently been noticed and deplored. Public men of
widely different views on other matters agree in their estimate of
Ireland's economic condition, of which they give but one explanation.
Thus Mr. Gladstone, on the introduction of the Irish Land Bill in
April, 1881, spoke of "that old and standing evil of Ireland, that
land-hunger, which must not be described as if it were merely an
infirmity of the people for it, and really means land scarcity."[1]
"In Ireland," says Mr. Bright, "land, from certain causes that are
not difficult to discover, is the only thing for the employment of
the people, with the exception of some portion of the country in the
North; the income for the maintenance of their homes, and whatever
comfort they have, or prospect of saving money for themselves or their
families, comes from the cultivation of the soil, and scarcely at
all from those various resources to which the people of England have
recourse in the course of their industrial lives."[2]

"It is generally admitted, I think, on both sides of the House,"
Mr. Bright observes in another debate, "that in discussing the Irish
question one fact must always be kept in mind--that is, that apart
from the land of Ireland there are few, if any, means of subsistence
for the population, and, consequently, there has always been for its
possession an exceptional and unnatural demand. This, again, has led
to most serious abuses, including nearly all those constant causes of
trouble and complaint we are for ever hearing of in Ireland."[3]

"The truth is," says Mr. Chaplin, from his place in the House of
Commons, "that the English Parliament and the English people are mainly
responsible for those conditions of the country which have driven
the people to the land, and the land alone, for their support. It
was not always so; there were other industries in Ireland in former
days, which flourished, and flourished to a considerable extent, until
they first aroused, and were afterwards suppressed by, the selfish
fears and commercial jealousy of England--England, who was alarmed
at a rivalry and competition that she dreaded at the hands and from
the resources and energy of the Irish people."[4] "I am convinced
that it is in the history of these cruel laws that lies the secret of
that fatal competition for the land, in which--and it may well be a
just retribution upon us--the source of all the troubles and all the
difficulties that you have to deal with will be found."[5]

"To understand the Irish land question of to-day," writes Sir C.
Russell, the present Attorney-General for England, "it is necessary
to look back. I have no desire needlessly to rake up bygone wrongs. I
wish to Heaven the Irish people could forget the past. For them it is
in the main a melancholy retrospect. But England ought not to forget
the past--until, at least, a great act of reparation has been done.
Even among men of some education in England, remarkable ignorance of
the evil wrought in past times by England towards Ireland prevails.
There is, indeed, a vague general impression that in very remote
times England, when engaged in the endeavour to conquer Ireland, was
guilty of cruelties, as most conquering nations are, but that those
things have done very little harm; that their effects have ceased to
tell, and that the only purpose served by keeping alive their memory
is to irritate the temper of the Irish people and prompt them to look
back rather than look forward. Emphatically I say this is not so. The
effects have not ceased. It is not too much to say that Ireland and
Irishmen of to-day are such as English government has made them." Sir
Charles Russell then proceeds to place foremost among "the agencies
employed by England which have left enduring evil marks upon Ireland,"
"the direct legislation avowedly contrived to hinder the development of
Irish commerce and manufactures."[6]

"If people felt impatient with the Irish," said Mr. Fawcett, addressing
a political meeting at Shoreditch on November 2nd, 1881, "they should
remember that the Irish were, to a great extent, what England had made
them. If there were some Irishmen now displaying bitter hostility to
England, it should be remembered that for a long time Ireland had been
treated as if she had been a hostile or a foreign country. A mass of
vexatious restrictions were imposed on her industry, and it was thought
that if any branch of Irish trade interfered with English profits,
that branch of Irish trade was immediately to be discouraged. For a
long time, for instance, to please the agricultural interests of this
country, the importation of live cattle from Ireland was absolutely

These statements of leading public men are strong evidence of the
far-reaching effects upon Ireland of a system which Mr. John Morley,
writing on a literary topic, has not hesitated to designate as "the
atrocious fiscal policy of Great Britain,"[7] and for which Earl
Cowper, speaking at Belfast as Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, could find
no gentler adjectives than "unjust and iniquitous."[8]

In the following pages I propose to exhibit summarily the material
injuries inflicted upon Ireland by the commercial or anti-commercial
arrangements of Great Britain. With this view, I will endeavour to
sketch in outline the political relations of Ireland to Great Britain
which rendered such arrangements possible (Chap. I.); the principal
laws made by the English Parliament in restraint of Irish trade stating
them in a plain and popular manner (Chap. II.); the opposition of the
English Government to the efforts of the Irish Parliament to promote
Irish trade (Chap. III.); the immediate effects of English legislation
on Irish trade (Chap. IV.); the Irish Volunteer Movement and free trade
(Chap. V.); the commercial arrangements between Great Britain and
Ireland, 1782-1800 (Chap. VI.); the commercial arrangements effected
between Great Britain and Ireland by the Act of Legislative Union
(Chap. VII.).

In this inquiry I will, as far as possible, confine myself to an
examination of the statutes, which will speak for themselves; to
the journals of the Parliaments of England and Ireland; and to the
statements of contemporary speakers and writers whose accuracy has not,
so far as I am aware, been impeached.


[1] Hansard, 260, Third Series, p. 893.

[2] Hansard, 261, Third Series, p. 96.

[3] Hansard, 261, Third Series, pp. 831, 832.

[4] Hansard, 261, Third Series, P. 851.

[5] Hansard, 261, Third Series, p. 853.

[6] "New Views on Ireland," by C. Russell, Q.C., M.P., pp. 83, 84.

[7] "English Men of Letters"--"Edmund Burke," by John Morley, p. 76.

[8] _Freeman's Journal_, Nov. 24th, 1881.




    IN FAVOUR OF IRISH TRADE                               42

    TRADE                                                  56


    IRELAND, 1782-1800                                     91




The interference of the English Government with Irish trade before
1782 was twofold, direct and indirect. The direct interference arose
from statutes passed in the English Parliament in restraint of Irish
commerce. The indirect interference arose from the influence of the
English Government over the legislation of the Irish Parliament, under
the provisions of the statute known as Poynings' Act.

"From the admitted dependence," says Mr. Butt, "of the Crown of Ireland
upon that of England, arose the claim of the English Parliament to
legislate for Ireland. Over all the colonies and dependencies of the
British Crown, the British Parliament had exercised the right of
legislation. Over Ireland they asserted the same right. I need not tell
you how fiercely it was contested, and that it was finally abandoned
in 1782. But, up to 1782, the right was asserted, and occasionally

These English statutes were chiefly aimed against the Irish
manufactures, and were, of course, clear violations of Ireland's
Parliamentary independence. The 6th Geo. I. passed by the English
Parliament[10] claimed the power of British legislation over Ireland, a
power which had been exercised long previously. "If that power," said
Mr. O'Connell, "so claimed, had really existed, where was the necessity
for passing that statute? and while this Act proclaims the slavery of
Ireland, it admits the pre-existence of freedom."[11]

The nature and effects of Poynings' Act, and the control given to
the English Government by its provisions over Irish legislation, are
thus concisely stated by Mr. Butt: "To complete our view of the Irish
Parliament, we must remember that by an Act of that Parliament itself a
most important restriction was placed upon its legislative powers. By
an Irish Act of Parliament, passed in the reign of Henry VII., in the
year 1495, it was enacted that no bill should be presented to the Irish
Parliament until the heads of it had been submitted to the English
Privy Council, and certified as approved of under the Great Seal of
England. This law is known as Poynings' Law, from the name of the
person who was Lord Deputy when it was passed. This law was a matter
entirely distinct from any claim of the English Parliament to legislate
for Ireland; it was a law of the Irish Parliament itself, passed by
the King, Lords, and Commons of Ireland, deriving its authority from
a source entirely independent of the English claim, and continuing in
force when that claim was abandoned. The original law required the
assent of the English Privy Council to be given to the intended bill
before Parliament met. In the reign of Queen Mary it was modified so as
to admit of that assent being given while Parliament was sitting; but
that assent was still necessary to authorise the introduction of the
bill. With this modification the law of Poynings continued in force up
to 1782."[12]

We see, accordingly, that England claimed or exercised direct
legislative control in her own Parliament over Ireland; while no
Irish bills could become law or, indeed, in strictness, be introduced
into the Irish Parliament without the sanction of the English Privy

"Ireland," says Mr. Froude, "was regarded as a colony to be
administered, not for her own benefit, but for the convenience of the
mother country."[14]


[9] "Proceedings of the Home Rule Conference," 1873, p. 8.

[10] 6 Geo. I., c. 5 (Eng.).

[11] "Report of the Discussion in the Dublin Corporation on Repeal of
the Union," 1843, p. 23.

[12] "Proceedings of the Home Rule Conference," 1873, pp. 8, 9.

[13] For further account of the constitution and powers of the Irish
Parliament, see "The Irish Parliament: What it Was, and What it Did,"
by J. G. Swift MacNeill, published by Cassell & Company, Limited.

[14] "English in Ireland," vol. i., p. 178.


Persons familiar with the relative economic conditions of Great
Britain and Ireland at the present time, will find it difficult to
realise that at one period Ireland enjoyed natural advantages in no
respect inferior to those of the sister country. This, before the
development of steam-power, was undoubtedly the fact. This would be
still the case were it not for the dearth of coal in Ireland.[15] The
evidence of public men of the last century, who were well acquainted
with the circumstances of both countries, is on this point conclusive.
"Ireland," writes Edmund Burke in 1778, "is a country in the same
climate and of the same natural qualities and productions with this
(England)."[16] "In Ireland," writes Hely Hutchinson in 1779, "the
climate, soil, growth, and productions are the same as in England."[17]
Plunket, in his speech against the Union, delivered in the Irish
Parliament on the 15th of January, 1800, draws a comparison between
England and Ireland, in which he describes England as "another happy
little island placed beside her (Ireland) in the bosom of the Atlantic,
of little more than double her territory and population, and possessing
resources not nearly so superior to her wants."[18] Mr. Froude's
researches lead him to a similar conclusion: "Before the days of coal
and steam, the unlimited water-power of Ireland gave her natural
advantages in the race of manufactures, which, if she had received fair
play, would have attracted thither thousands of skilled immigrants."[19]

I do not propose to furnish an exhaustive statement of the various
laws passed by the English Parliament for the avowed purpose of
destroying Irish trade and manufactures. I will deal only with the
salient features of that system whose effects are, at the present day,
sadly apparent.

Till the reign of Charles II., England placed no restriction on
Irish commerce or manufactures. "Before the Restoration," says Lord
North, in the British House of Commons, "they (the Irish) enjoyed
every commercial advantage and benefit in common with England."[20]
"Ireland," writes Hely Hutchinson, "was in possession of the English
common law and of Magna Charta. The former secures the subject in
the enjoyment of property of every kind, and by the latter _the
liberties of all the ports of the Kingdom are established_."[21]
"Our trade," says Mr. Gardiner in the Irish House of Commons, "was
guaranteed by Magna Charta, our exports acknowledged by that venerable
statute--no treaty was made in which we were not nominally or virtually
included."[22] By one of the provisions of Poynings' Law, passed in
1495, all statutes hitherto in force in England were extended to
Ireland. Before that enactment, however, Ireland is expressly mentioned
in several English commercial statutes, in which clauses are inserted
for the protection of her trade.[23] "At this period (1495)," says Hely
Hutchinson, "the English commercial system and the Irish, so far as it
depended on English statute law, was the same; and before this period,
so far as it depended on the common law and Magna Charta, was also the
same. From that time till the 15th of King Charles II., which takes in
a period of 167 years, the commercial constitution of Ireland was as
much favoured and protected as that of England."[24]

The first Navigation Act of 1660 put England and Ireland on exact
terms of equality.[25] This community of rights was emphasised by an
Act of the following year, which provided that foreign-built ships
should not have the privilege of ships belonging to England and
Ireland.[26] "But," as Mr. Froude observes, "the equality of privilege
lasted only till the conclusion of the settlement and till the revenue
had been assigned to the Crown."[27] In the amended Navigation Act of
1663, Ireland was left out. Lord North, on December 13, 1779, when
Prime Minister of England, in introducing a bill to abrogate some of
the restrictions on Irish trade, thus described the Act of 1663: "The
first commercial restriction was laid on Ireland not directly, but by a
side-wind and by deductive interpretation. When the Act (the Navigation
Act of 1660) first passed there was a general governing clause for
giving bonds to perform the conditions of the Act; but when the Act was
amended in the 15 Car. II. the word 'Ireland' was omitted, whence a
conclusion was drawn that the Acts of the two preceding Parliaments, 12
& 13 and 14 Car. II., were thereby repealed, though it was as clearly
expressed in those Acts as it was possible for words to convey, that
ships built in Ireland, navigated with the people thereof, were deemed
British, and qualified to trade to and from British Plantations, and
that ships built in Ireland and navigated with his Majesty's subjects
of Ireland, were entitled to the same abatement and privileges to which
imports and exports of goods in British-made ships were entitled by
the book of rates. Ireland was, however, omitted in the manner he had
already mentioned."[28]

This Act, which is entitled "An Act for the Encouragement of Trade,"
prohibited all _exports_ from Ireland to the colonies.[29] It likewise
prohibited the importation of Irish cattle into England. It states
that "a very great part of the richest and best land of this kingdom
(England) is, and cannot so well otherwise be employed and made use
of as in the feeding and fattening of cattle, and that by the coming
in of late in vast numbers of cattle already fatted such lands are
in many places much fallen, and like daily to fall more in their
rents and values, and in consequence other lands also, to the great
prejudice, detriment, and impoverishment of this kingdom;"[30] and it
imposes a penalty on every head of great cattle imported. A subsequent
British Act declares the importation of Irish cattle into England
to be "a publick and common nuisance."[31] It likewise forbids the
importation of beef, pork, or bacon. Butter and cheese from Ireland
were subsequently excluded, and the previous statute excluding cattle
was made perpetual.[32] In 1670 the exportation to Ireland from the
English Plantations of sugar, tobacco, cotton-wool, indigo, ginger,
fustic or other dyeing wood, the growth of the said Plantations, was
prohibited by statute. It is stated in the statute that this restraint
was intended by the Act of 1663, but not effectively expressed.[33]

"There are," says Lord North, "anecdotes still extant relative to the
real causes of those harsh and restrictive laws. They were supposed to
have originated in a dislike or jealousy of the growing power of the
then Duke of Ormonde, who, from his great estate and possessions in
Ireland, was supposed to have a personal interest in the prosperity
of that kingdom. Indeed, so far was this spirit carried, whether from
personal enmity to the Duke of Ormonde, from narrow prejudices, or a
blind policy, that the Parliament of England passed a law to prohibit
the importation of Irish lean cattle."[34]

An extensive and profitable cattle trade which Ireland had established
with Bristol, Milford, and Liverpool was annihilated by this
legislation. With the restriction of her chief exports, her shipping
trade suffered a simultaneous eclipse. Such direct trade as she
retained was with France, Spain, and Portugal, as if England wished
to force her, in spite of herself, to feel the Catholic countries to
be her best friends.[35] Till 1663 the Irish had, according to Carte,
no commerce but with England, and scarcely entertained a thought of
trafficking with other countries.[36] This writer gives melancholy
evidence as to the immediate effect of that restrictive legislation.
"The people," he says, "had no money to pay the subsidies granted by
Parliament, and their cattle was grown such a drug, that horses that
used to be sold for 30s. were now sold for dogs' meat at 12d. apiece,
and beeves that brought before 50s. were now sold for ten."[37]

Deprived of their trade, the Irish people, under the guidance of
the Duke of Ormonde, set themselves resolutely to improve their own
manufactures. "The history of Ireland," says Chief Justice Whiteside,
"for nigh half a century may be read in the life, actions, and
adventures of this able, virtuous, and illustrious man. His chivalrous
courage, his unflinching loyalty, his disinterested patriotism, mark
him out as one of the foremost men of his noble family, and as one
of the finest characters of his age."[38] In 1692, Lord Sydney, the
Lord-Lieutenant, in his speech from the Throne, was able, from his
former knowledge of the country, to testify to its vastly increased
prosperity.[39] "The cause of this prosperity should," says Hely
Hutchinson "be mentioned. James, the first Duke of Ormonde, whose
memory should ever be revered by every friend of Ireland, to heal the
wound that this country had received by the prohibition of the export
of her cattle to England, obtained from Charles II. a letter, dated
the 23rd of March, 1667, by which he directed that all restraints
upon the exportation of commodities of the growth or manufacture of
Ireland to foreign parts should be taken off, but not to interfere
with the Plantation laws, or the charters to the trading companies,
and that this should be notified to his subjects of this kingdom,
which was accordingly done by a proclamation from the Lord-Lieutenant
and Council; and at the same time, by his Majesty's permission, they
prohibited the importation from Scotland of linen, woollen, and other
manufactures and commodities, as drawing large sums of money out of
Ireland, and a great hindrance to manufactures. His grace successfully
executed his schemes of national improvement, having by his own
constant attention, the exertion of his extensive influence, and the
most princely munificence, greatly advanced the woollen and revived
the linen manufactures."[40] Ormonde established a woollen manufactory
at Clonmel, "the capital of his county palatine of Tipperary, bringing
over five hundred Walloon families from the neighbourhood of Canterbury
to carry it on, and giving houses and land on long leases with only an
acknowledgment instead of rent from the undertakers. Also in Kilkenny
and Carrick-on-Suir the duke established large colonies of those
industrious foreigners, so well skilled in the preparation and weaving
of wool."[41]

The woollen manufacture was the "true and natural staple of the
Irish, their climate and extensive sheep-grounds insuring to them
a steady and cheap supply of the raw material, much beyond their
home consumption."[42] It was cultivated for several years after the
Revolution without any interference by the English Parliament. It
had, however, long previously excited the jealous hatred of English
statesmen. "I am of opinion," says Lord Strafford, writing, when
Lord-Lieutenant, from Ireland to Charles I. in 1634, "that all wisdom
advises to keep this kingdom as much subordinate and dependent upon
England as is possible, and holding them from the manufacture of wool
(which, unless otherwise directed, I shall by all means discourage),
and then enforcing them to fetch their clothing from thence, and to
take their salt from the King (being that which preserves and gives
value to all their native staple commodities), how can they depart
from us without nakedness and beggary? Which is of itself so mighty a
consideration that a small profit should not bear it down."[43] This
proposal I will not characterise. "In 1673, Sir William Temple, at
the request of the Earl of Essex, then Viceroy of Ireland, publicly
proposed that the manufacture of woollens (except in the inferior
branches) should be relinquished in Ireland as tending to interfere
prejudicially with the English trade. In all probability the Irish
manufacturers of broadcloths would gain on their English rivals, and
the improvement of woollen fabrics in Ireland, argued the statesman,
'would give so great a damp to the trade of England, that it seems not
fit to be encouraged here.'"[44] These suggestions were not immediately
acted on. In 1660 no doubt the exportation of Irish woollen goods to
England was prohibited, but this enactment did not at the time inflict
material injury on Ireland.[45]

In 1697 a bill was introduced into the English House of Commons,
forbidding all export from Ireland of her woollen manufactures. It
reached the House of Lords, but Parliament was dissolved before it
passed its final stage in that assembly.

The destruction of the woollen trade is one of the most disastrous
chapters of Irish history. The circumstances attending this transaction
are detailed in an Appendix to the "Report from the Select Committee
on the Linen Trade of Ireland," which was printed on the 6th of June,
1825, by order of the House of Commons. This paper was prepared by Lord
Oriel, who, as Mr. Foster, was Chancellor of the Irish Exchequer and
afterwards Speaker of the Irish House of Commons. He was one of the
greatest authorities of his time on trade and finance. The Report thus
describes an incident which is, I believe, without parallel.

"This export (the woollen) was supposed to interfere, and very probably
did, with the export from Britain, and a plan was in consequence
undertaken there to annihilate the woollen trade of Ireland, and to
confine us to the linen manufacture in its place.

"Accordingly an Act was passed in England, 1696 (7 & 8 Will., c. 39),
for inviting foreign Protestants to settle in Ireland, as the preamble
recites, and with that view enacting that the imports of all sorts of
hemp and flax, and all the productions thereof, should from thenceforth
be admitted duty free from Ireland into England, giving a preference
by that exemption from duty to the linen manufacture of Ireland over
the foreign, estimated at the time, as a report of the Irish House of
Commons, on the 11th February, 1774, states, to be equal to 25 per cent.

"This happened in 1696, and in pursuance of the foregoing plan both
Houses of the English Parliament addressed King William on the 9th
June, 1698.

"The Lords stated in their Address that 'the growing manufacture of
cloth in Ireland, both by the cheapness of all sorts of necessaries of
life, and the goodness of materials for making all manner of cloth,
doth invite your subjects of England, with their families and servants,
to leave their habitations and settle there, to the increase of the
woollen manufacture in Ireland, which makes your loyal subjects in this
kingdom very apprehensive that the further growth of it may greatly
prejudice the said manufacture here, by which the trade of this nation
and the value of lands will greatly decrease, and the number of your
people be much lessened here; wherefore we humbly beseech your most
Sacred Majesty that your Majesty would be pleased, in the most public
and effectual way that may be, to declare to all your subjects of
Ireland that the growth and increase of the woollen manufacture there
hath long and will be ever looked upon with great jealousy by all your
subjects of this kingdom, and if not timely remedied, may occasion very
strict laws totally to prohibit and suppress the same; and, on the
other hand, if they turn their industry to the settling and improving
the _linen manufacture_, for which generally the lands are very proper,
_they shall receive all the countenance, favour, and protection from
your royal influence for the encouragement and promotion of the linen
manufacture to all the advantage and profit they can be capable of_.'

"The Commons stated their sentiments at the same time in the following
terms: 'We,[46] your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects,
the Commons in Parliament assembled, being very sensible that the
wealth and power of this kingdom do in a great measure depend on the
preservation of the woollen manufacture as much as possible entire to
this realm, think it becomes us, like our ancestors, to be jealous of
the increase and establishment of it elsewhere, and to use our utmost
endeavours to prevent it. And, therefore, we cannot without trouble
observe that Ireland, which is dependent on and protected by England in
the enjoyment of all they have, and which is so proper for the linen
manufacture, the establishment and growth of which there would be so
enriching to themselves, and so profitable to England, should of late
apply itself to the woollen manufacture, to the great prejudice of the
trade of this kingdom, and so unwillingly promote the linen trade,
which would benefit both themselves and us; the consequence whereof
will necessitate your Parliament of England to interpose to prevent
the mischief that threatens us, unless your Majesty by your authority
and great wisdom shall find means to secure the trade of England, by
making your subjects of Ireland to pursue the joint interests of both
kingdoms. And we do most humbly implore your Majesty's protection and
favour in this matter, that you will make it your royal care, and
enjoin all those you employ in Ireland to make it their care, and
use their utmost diligence, to hinder the exportation of wool from
Ireland except to be imported hither, and for discouraging the woollen
manufacture and encouraging the linen manufacture of Ireland, _to which
we shall always be ready to give our utmost assistance_.'

"His Majesty thus replied to the Commons[47]:--'_I shall do all that
in me lies to_ discourage the woollen manufacture in Ireland _and
encourage the linen manufacture there_, and to promote the trade of

"Stronger declarations could not well be made than in these Addresses
and answers, that if the Irish would come into the compact of giving
up their then great staple of woollens to England, and cultivating the
linens in lieu thereof, they should receive '_all the countenance,
favour, and protection for the encouragement and promotion of their
linen manufacture to all the advantages their kingdom was capable of_,'
that the Commons would always be ready to give their utmost assistance,
and his Majesty would do all that in him lay _to encourage the linen
manufacture there_; and they had the effect of inducing the Parliament
of Ireland to accede, as will appear from what follows.

"The Lords Justices of Ireland say, in their speech to the Irish
Parliament, the 27th September, 1698:[48] 'Amongst those bills there
is one for the encouragement of the linen and hempen manufactures.
At our first meeting we recommended to you that matter, and we have
now endeavoured to render that bill practicable and useful for that
effect, and as such we now recommend it to you. The settlement of
this manufacture will contribute much to people the country, and will
be found much more advantageous to this kingdom than the woollen
manufacture, which, being the settled staple trade of England, can
never be encouraged here for that purpose; _whereas the linen and
hempen manufactures will not only be encouraged, as consistent with the
trade of England, but will render the trade of this kingdom both useful
and necessary to England_.'

"The Commons replied: 'We pray leave to assure your Excellencies
that we shall heartily endeavour to establish a linen and hempen
manufacture here, and to render the same useful to England, as
well as advantageous to this kingdom; and we hope to find such a
_temperament_ in respect to the woollen trade here that the same may
not be injurious to England.'[49] In pursuance of this answer they
evinced that _temperament_ most effectually by passing an Act[50]
for laying prohibitory duties on the export of _their own_ woollen
manufacture--thus accepting the national compact and fully performing
their part of the agreement, and by that performance giving an
incontrovertible claim to Ireland upon England, and consequently upon
Great Britain, for a perpetual encouragement of the linen manufacture
'_to all the advantage and profit that Ireland should at any time be
capable of_.'

"It is to be observed that so anxious was England to confirm and
enforce this ratification given by Ireland, that their Parliament soon
after passed a law affecting to enact what subsequent times have shown
it was incompetent to, and which we therefore here mention merely
to point out the stress which England laid on the sacrifice made by
Ireland of its great and natural staple trade, in exchange for a new
staple resting on a material not the natural growth of the country,
and the establishment of which was but in its infancy, though nurtured
for near sixty years by the Government of the kingdom. The Act we
refer to is the 10 & 11 Will. III., cap. 10, which recites 'that wool
and the woollen manufacture of cloth, serge, bays, kerseys, and other
stuffs made or mixed with wool, are the greatest and most profitable
commodities of the kingdom, on which the value of lands and the trade
of the nation do chiefly depend; that great quantities of the _like
manufactures_ have of late been made, and _are daily increasing in the
kingdom of Ireland_, and in the English Plantations in America, _and
are exported from thence to foreign markets heretofore supplied from
England_: all which inevitably tends to injure the value of lands,
and to ruin the trade and woollen manufactures of the realm; and that
for the prevention thereof the export of wool and of the woollen
manufacture from Ireland be prohibited under the forfeiture of goods
and ship, and a penalty of £500 for every such offence.'"

Ireland's woollen manufacture was thus sacrificed to England's
commercial jealousy.[51] I will give hereafter some account of the
widespread misery this industrial calamity entailed. It might have been
expected that the solemn compact for the encouragement of the linen
trade would have been scrupulously observed. This, however, was not the
case. The English Parliament deliberately broke faith with the Irish
people. This charge I will substantiate by quotations from the speeches
of public men in the English Parliament, the words of the English
statute book, and the admissions of English writers.

Lord Rockingham, speaking in the English House of Lords on the 11th
of May, 1779, "reminded their lordships of the compact made between
both kingdoms in King William's time, when the Parliament of Ireland
consented to prohibit the export of their own woollen manufacture, in
order to give that of England a preference, by laying a duty equal to
a full prohibition on every species of woollens, or even of the raw
commodity, and of the solemn assurances given by both Houses of the
British Parliament that they would give every possible encouragement,
and abstain from every measure which could prevent the linen
manufacture to be rendered the staple of Ireland. But how had England
kept its word? By laying duties or granting bounties to the linens of
British manufacture equal to a prohibition of the Irish, and at the
same time giving every kind of private and public encouragement to
render Scotland a real rival to Ireland in almost every species of her
linen fabrics."[52]

"Ireland," says Lord North when Prime Minister of England, in the
speech from which I have previously quoted, "gave up her woollen
trade by compact. The compact was an exclusive linen trade, rather
a fair competition with England. Ireland, of her own accord, gave
up the woollen trade by an Act of her own Legislature, which, when
it expired, was made perpetual by an Act of the British Parliament.
But this compact was no sooner made than it was violated by England,
for, instead of prohibiting foreign linens, duties were laid on and
necessarily collected, so far from amounting to a prohibition on the
import of the Dutch, German, and East Country linen manufactures, that
those manufactures have been able, after having the duties imposed
on them by the British Parliament, to meet, and in some instances to
undersell, Ireland both in Great Britain and the West Indies, and
several other parts of the British Empire."[53]

Writing in 1778 to the opponents of some trifling relaxation of the
commercial restraints of Ireland, Edmund Burke asks: "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 _their own_, that in a few
years it is probable they (the Irish) 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, and that a linen manufacture has been set up and
highly encouraged against them?"[54]

In the year 1750 heavy taxes were laid on the import to England of
sail-cloth made of Irish hemp, contrary, of course, to the express
stipulation of 1698. An address presented in 1774 to Lord Harcourt, the
Viceroy, by the Irish House of Commons thus describes the effect of
this measure: "They had been confined by law to the manufacture of flax
and hemp. They had submitted to their condition, and had manufactured
these articles to such good purpose that at one time they had supplied
sails for the whole British navy. Their English rivals had now crippled
them by laying a disabling duty on their sail-cloths, in the hope of
taking the trade out of their hands, but they had injured Ireland
without benefiting themselves. The British market was now supplied from
Holland and Germany and Russia, while to the Empire the result was
only the ruin of Ulster and the flight of the Protestant population to

I have dwelt thus at length on the chief commercial restraints laid
on Ireland by the direct legislation of England. This interference
was, however, carried to almost every branch of Irish trade. To take a
few examples. Lord North in the English Parliament gives the following
account of England's dealings with the Irish glass trade:--

"Previous to the 19th Geo. II., Ireland imported glass from other
countries, and at length began to make some slow progress in the lower
branches of the manufacture itself. By the Act alluded to, however,
the Irish were prohibited from importing any kind of glass other than
the manufacture of Great Britain, and in section 24 of that Act a
most extraordinary clause was inserted. It not only ordained that no
glass, the manufacture of that kingdom, should be exported, but it was
penned so curiously, and with so much severe precision, that no glass
of the manufacture of Ireland was to be exported, or so much as to be
laden on any horse or carriage with intent to be so exported. This
was, in his opinion, a very extraordinary stretch of the legislative
power of Great Britain, considering the smallness of the object. The
Act was much, very much complained of in Ireland, and apparently with
very great justice both as to principle and effect. It was an article
of general use in Ireland. The manufacturers of glass there, when thus
restrained both as to export and import, could not pretend to vie with
the British; the consequence of which was that the latter, having the
whole trade to themselves, fixed the price of the commodity as they
liked."[56] By the 9 Anne, c. 12, and 5 Geo. II., c. 2, and 7 Geo. II.,
c. 19, no hops but of British growth could be imported into Ireland.
By the 6 Geo. I., it was enacted that the duty on hops exported from
England should not be drawn back in favour of Irish consumers.[57]

Irish cotton manufactures imported to England were subject to an
import duty of twenty-five per cent., while a statute of Geo. I.
enacted penalties on the wearing of such manufactures in Great Britain
unless they were made there.

The raw material for silk came to Ireland through England. The original
import duty in England was 12d. in the pound, of which 3d. in the pound
was retained there.[58]

Irish beer and malt, too, were excluded from England, whereas English
beer and malt were imported into Ireland at a nominal duty. "Hats,
gunpowder, coals, bar-iron, iron-ware, and several other matters, some
of which Ireland had not to export, and others of which she had very
little, were at different times the objects of English restrictions,
whenever it was fancied that English interests were at all threatened
by them."[59]

It was this legislation that caused Edmund Burke to ask, "Is Ireland
united to the Crown of Great Britain for no other purpose than that
we should counteract the bounty of Providence in her favour, and in
proportion as that bounty has been liberal that we are to regard it as
an evil which is to be met with in every sort of corrective?"[60]

"England," says Mr. Froude, "governed Ireland for what she deemed her
own interest, making her calculation on the gross balance of her trade
ledgers, and leaving her moral obligations to accumulate, as if right
and wrong had been blotted out of the statute book of the universe."[61]

"One by one of each of our nascent industries," observes Lord Dufferin,
"was either strangled in its birth, or handed over gagged and bound
to the jealous custody of the rival interest of England, until at
last every fountain of wealth was hermetically sealed, and even the
traditions of commercial enterprise have perished through desuetude."

This sketch of English legislation for Irish trade would leave the
impression that the Parliaments of Great Britain were as lavish in
their efforts to suppress industrial enterprise in that country as any
British trader could reasonably desire. It will surprise us to find
that this atrocious code was not regarded as sufficiently thorough.

"In the year 1698," says Hely Hutchinson, "two petitions were preferred
from Folkestone and Aldborough, stating a singular grievance that they
suffered from Ireland 'by the Irish catching herrings at _Waterford and
Wexford_, and sending them to the Streights, and thereby _forestalling_
and ruining petitioners' markets;' but these petitioners had the _hard
lot_ of having motions in their favour rejected."[62]


[15] Ireland, however, has natural advantages which must not be
forgotten in any estimate of her economical position, and which,
although they do not compensate her for the want of coal, would
under proper application do much to promote her prosperity. Thus Mr.
O'Connell, towards the conclusion of his speech in his own defence,
in the State Trials of 1844, says: "The country is intersected with
noble estuaries. Ships of 500 tons' burthen ride into the heart of the
country, safe from every wind that blows. No country possesses such
advantages for commerce; the machinery of the world might be turned by
the water-power of Ireland. Take the map and dissect it, and you will
find that a good harbour is not more remote from any spot in Ireland
than thirty miles." (R. _v._ O'Connell, p. 649.) Mr. Chaplin, in the
speech to which I have referred, remarks: "No doubt Ireland does
possess exceptional advantages in water-power which might be turned
to great advantage." (Hansard, 261, Third Series, p. 836.) Ireland
is not, however, absolutely devoid of coal. "Though," says Mr. C.
Dawson, "we make no boast of our mineral treasures, they are, according
to competent authority, well worthy of development. According to
Professor Hull, the Leinster coal-basin contains 118 million tons, only
outputting 83,000 tons per annum. In the North, especially in Tyrone,
at Coal Island, there are 17,000 acres of coal-bed (30,000,000 tons),
which the Professor says are by far the most valuable in Ireland. In
the other districts in Ireland there are over 70,000,000 tons. Sir
R. Kane supports the suggestion that borings should be made by the
Government in this district to ascertain if the mineral wealth existed
to the extent computed by Professor Hull, and he adds that when the
panic arose in England about the duration of its coal supply, coal was
looked for then outside the limits of the recognised coal-fields, and
following them down into the Chalk in Kent and other places, of which
Ireland was one." ("The Influence of an Irish Parliament on Irish
Industries," Lecture by Mr. Charles Dawson, _Freeman's Journal_, Jan.
5, 1886.)

[16] "Burke on Irish Affairs," by M. Arnold, p. 101.

[17] "Commercial Restraints," p. 156. Mr. Secretary Orde, in
introducing in the Irish House of Commons, in 1785, the Commercial
Propositions, said: "Great Britain was aware of the preferable
commercial situation of Ireland." ("Irish Debates," iv., p. 120.)

[18] "Life and Speeches of Lord Plunket," by the Right Hon. D. Plunket,
vol. i., pp. 173, 174.

[19] "English in Ireland," vol. i., p. 178.

[20] "Parliamentary Debates," xv., p. 175.

[21] "Commercial Restraints," p. 164.

[22] "Irish Debates," iii., p. 123. Henry, Archbishop of Dublin, is
mentioned in Magna Charta as one of the barons whose "advice" led
to the signing of that instrument by John. This prelate, Henry de
Loundres, or "the Londoner," erected St. Patrick's Church, Dublin,
into a cathedral, and created the offices of Precentor, Chancellor,
Treasurer, and Dean--the last a post destined to be rendered famous
five centuries later by the incumbency of Swift. Strange that at
far-distant periods of time St. Patrick's Cathedral should be
associated with the names of two illustrious assertors of liberty!

[23] These enactments are mentioned in the "Commercial Restraints," pp.

[24] "Commercial Restraints," p. 169.

[25] 12 Car. II., c. 18.

[26] 13 & 14 Car. II., c. 11, s. 6.

[27] "English in Ireland," i., p. 179.

[28] "Parliamentary Debates," xv., pp. 175, 176. Edmund Burke, speaking
in the British House of Commons, on May 6th, 1778, thus commented on
this transaction: "In the 12 Car. II. the Navigation Acts passed,
extending to Ireland, as well as England. A kind of left-handed policy,
however, had deprived her of the freedom she enjoyed under that Act,
and she had ever since remained under the most cruel, oppressive, and
unnatural restrictions." ("Parliamentary Debates," viii., p. 265.)

[29] Except victuals, servants, horses, and salt, for the fisheries of
New England and Newfoundland.

[30] 15 Car. II., c. 7, s. 13.

[31] 18 Car. II., c. 2.

[32] 32 Car. II., c. 2. Irish cattle were readmitted into England by
the 32 Geo. II., c. 11. This was but a temporary enactment, but it was
renewed without difficulty. Hely Hutchinson says it was acknowledged
that the importation did not lower English rents. ("Commercial
Restraints," p. 86.)

[33] 22 & 23 Car. II., c. 26.

[34] "Parliamentary Debates," xv., p. 176.

[35] "English in Ireland," i. 180.

[36] Carte's "Ormonde," ii. 357.

[37] Carte's "Ormonde," ii. 329.

[38] "Life and Death of the Irish Parliament," p. 69.

[39] "Irish Commons' Journals," ii. 577.

[40] "Commercial Restraints," p. 20.

[41] "Irish Wool and Woollens," by S. A., p. 67.

[42] "Report from the Select Committee on the Linen Trade of Ireland,
6th June, 1825."

[43] "Life of Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford," by Elizabeth
Cooper, i., pp. 185, 186. Miss Cooper comments severely "on the stolid
unconsciousness of wrongdoing by such a design, the undreamed-of
suspicion that such a proposal could be received with any other feeling
than that of approbation." It is but just to the memory of Strafford to
state that he endeavoured to develop the linen manufacture in Ireland.
He sent to Holland for flax seed, and invited Flemish and French
artisans to settle in Ireland. "In order to stimulate the new industry,
the earl himself embarked in it, and expended not less than £30,000
of his private fortune in the enterprise. It was afterwards made one
of the grounds of his impeachment that he had obstructed the industry
of the country by introducing new and unknown processes into the
manufacture of flax. It was, nevertheless, greatly to the credit of the
earl that he should have endeavoured to improve the industry of Ireland
by introducing the superior processes employed by foreign artisans,
and had he not attempted to turn the improved flax manufacture to his
own advantage by erecting it into a personal monopoly, he might have
been entitled to regard as a genuine benefactor of Ireland." (Smiles's
"Huguenots," p. 126.) Dr. Smiles, in this passage, speaks of the linen
manufacture as a "new industry." The "Report from the Select Committee
on the Linen Trade of Ireland" states that that trade was "first
planted in Ireland by Lord Strafford" (Appendix, p. 6), and Miss Cooper
gives him credit "for the establishment of the linen manufacture in
Ireland." ("Life of Lord Strafford," i., p. 346.) These statements are
not, I think, historically correct. Mr. Lecky shows that, although Lord
Strafford stimulated the linen trade, he did not found it. "The linen
manufacture may, indeed, be dimly traced far back into Irish history.
It is noticed in an English poem in the early part of the fifteenth
century. A century later Guicciardini, in his 'Description of the
Low Countries,' mentions coarse linen as among the products imported
from Ireland to Antwerp. Strafford had done much to encourage it, and
after the calamities of the Cromwellian period the Duke of Ormonde had
laboured with some success to revive it." ("England in the Eighteenth
Century," ii., pp. 211, 212.) See also, for some very valuable remarks
on this subject, "Irish Wool and Woollens," pp. 63, 64.

[44] "Irish Wool and Woollens," p. 70. See also Newenham on "The
Population of Ireland," pp. 40, 41.

[45] 12 Car. II., c. 4. A duty equal to a prohibition was laid on those

[46] "English Commons' Journals," xii., p. 338.

[47] "English Commons' Journals," xii. 339.

[48] "Irish Commons' Journals," ii., p. 241.

[49] "Irish Commons' Journals," ii., p. 243.

[50] Irish Statutes, 10 Will. III., c. 3.

[51] Subsequent Acts completed this annihilation. "The next Act," says
Lord North, after enumerating the Acts mentioned above, "was an Act of
the 5th Geo. I., the next the 5th and 12th of the late King (Geo. II.),
which last went so far as to prohibit the export of a kind of woollen
manufacture called waddings, and one or two other articles excepted out
of the 10th and 11th of King William; but these three last Acts swept
everything before them." ("Parliamentary Debates," xv. 176, 177.)

[52] "Parliamentary Debates," vol. xiii., 330.

[53] "Parliamentary Debates," vol. xv., 181.

[54] "Irish Affairs," pp. 112, 113.

[55] "English in Ireland," vol. ii., p. 177. Mr. Lecky thus succinctly
states the particulars attending the breach of the Linen Compact:--"The
main industry of Ireland had been deliberately destroyed because it
had so prospered that English manufacturers had begun to regard it
as a competitor with their own. It is true, indeed, that a promise
was made that the linen and hempen manufacture should be encouraged
as a compensation, but even if it had been a just principle that a
nation should be restricted by force of law to one or two forms of
industry, there was no proportion between that which was destroyed and
that which was to be favoured, and no real reciprocity established
between the two countries." Mr. Lecky having stated the antiquity of
the linen manufacture and its vicissitudes in Ireland, and having
mentioned that "in 1700 the value of the export of Irish linen amounted
to little more than £14,000," thus proceeds:--"The English utterly
suppressed the existing woollen manufacture in Ireland in order to
reserve that industry entirely to themselves, but the English and
Scotch continued, as usual, their manufacture of linen. The Irish
trade was ruined in 1699, but no legislative encouragement was given
to the Irish linen manufacture till 1705, when, at the urgent petition
of the Irish Parliament, the Irish were allowed to export their white
and brown linens, but these only to the British colonies, and they
were not permitted to bring any colonial goods in return. The Irish
linen manufacture was undoubtedly encouraged by bounties, but not
until 1743, when the country had sunk into a condition of appalling
wretchedness. In spite of the compact of 1698, the hempen manufacture
was so discouraged that it positively ceased. Disabling duties were
imposed on Irish sail-cloth imported into England. Irish checked,
striped, and dyed linens were absolutely excluded from the colonies.
They were virtually excluded from England by the imposition of a duty
of 30 per cent., and Ireland was not allowed to participate in the
bounties granted for the exportation of these descriptions of linen
from Great Britain to foreign countries."--"Eighteenth Century," vol.
ii., pp. 211-212. See also, "An Argument for Ireland," by J. O'Connell,
M.P., pp. 147-154.

[56] "Parliamentary Debates," vol. xv., 179, 180.

[57] "Commercial Restraints," pp. 229, 230.

[58] See "An Argument for Ireland," p. 161.

[59] "An Argument for Ireland," by J. O'Connell, M.P., p. 161.

[60] Burke on "Irish Affairs," p. 101.

[61] "English in Ireland," vol. i., p. 657.

[62] "Commercial Restraints," pp. 125, 126. See "English Commons'
Journals," 22, p. 178. In this summary of the laws enacted by
the English Parliament in restraint of Irish trade, I have dealt
merely with legislation of a permanent character. "When," says Hely
Hutchinson, in 1779, "the commercial restraints of Ireland are the
subject, a source of occasional and ruinous restrictions ought not
to be passed over. Since the year 1740 there have been twenty-four
embargoes in Ireland, one of which lasted three years." "Commercial
Restraints," pp. 231, 232. The system of embargoes called forth the
indignation of Arthur Young, the celebrated English traveller. The
prohibition of woollens, etc., was, he says, at least advantageous
to similar manufactures in England, but "in respect to embargoes,
even this shallow pretence is wanting; a whole kingdom is sacrificed
and plundered, not to enrich England, but three or four London
contractors." See also Lecky's "Eighteenth Century," iv., p. 442.


Mr. Fox, speaking in the British House of Commons on the 17th of
May, 1782, as a responsible Minister of the Crown, thus stated the
nature and effect of the legislation of the English Parliament with
reference to Irish trade: "The power of external legislation had
been employed against Ireland as an instrument of oppression, to
establish an impolitic monopoly in trade, to enrich one country at
the expense of the other."[63] The English Government was, previously
to the Revolution of 1782, able to dominate the legislation of the
Irish Parliament under the provisions of Poynings' Law. That power
was used to induce the Irish Parliament to pass laws prejudicial
to the liberties or the commerce of their country, and to prevent
the enactment of laws for the protection of Irish liberty, and the
development of Irish industrial energies. Thus, when the English
Houses of Parliament addressed William III. on the subject of the
Irish woollen trade, both Lords and Commons suggested that the King
should use his influence to induce the Irish Parliament to restrain
that manufacture, without rendering English legislation for the purpose
necessary. A few days after these Addresses were presented, the
King wrote to Lord Galway, one of the Lords Justices of Ireland, as

"The chief thing that must be prevented is that the Irish Parliament
take no notice of this here, and that you make effectual laws for the
linen manufacture, and discourage as far as possible the woollen. It
never was of such importance to have a good session of Parliament."[64]

Ireland was thus, in the words of Mr. Froude, "invited to apply the
knife to her own throat."[65] "The Irish Houses, in dread of abolition
if they refused, relying on the promise of encouragement to their
linen trade, and otherwise unable to help themselves, acquiesced."[66]
The enactment which they passed was temporary. Hely Hutchinson says
that this law has every appearance of being framed on the part of the
Administration. The servile body who assented to it soon had reason to
know that to tolerate slavery is to embrace it. The law did not satisfy
the English Parliament, who passed the perpetual enactment to which
reference has been previously made.[67] This is, however, one of the
few instances in which the Irish Parliament was prevailed on to pass
laws in restraint of their own trade. Even in this case the destruction
of the woollen industry was not considered complete until English
legislation gave it a final blow.

The direct attacks on Irish trade were almost exclusively the work of
the English Parliament; while the English Privy Council strangled at
its birth every beneficial enactment of the Irish Parliament.

The following instances will explain and illustrate the difficulties
with which the Irish Parliament had to contend in every effort to
promote the material prosperity of their country:--

"With," says Mr. Froude, "their shipping destroyed by the Navigation
Act, their woollen manufactures taken from them, their trade in all
its branches crippled and confined, the single resource left to those
of the Irish who still nourished dreams of improving their unfortunate
country was agriculture. The soil was at least their own, which
needed only to be drained, cleared of weeds, and manured to produce
grass crops and corn crops as rich as the best in England. Here was
employment for a population three times more numerous than as yet
existed. Here was a prospect, if not of commercial wealth, yet of
substantial comfort and material abundance."[68]

After some further observations, Mr. Froude thus proceeds:--"The
tenants were forbidden in their leases to break or plough the soil.
The people no longer employed were driven away into holes and corners,
and eked out a wretched subsistence by potato gardens or by keeping
starving cattle of their own on the neglected bogs. Their numbers
increased, for they married early, and they were no longer liable, as
in the old times, to be killed off like dogs in forays. They grew up in
compulsory idleness, encouraged once more in their inherited dislike of
labour,[69] and inured to wretchedness and hunger; and on every failure
of the potato crop, hundreds of thousands were starving. Of corn very
little was grown anywhere in Ireland. It was imported from England,
Holland, Italy, and France, but in quantities unequal to any sudden
demand. The disgrace of allowing a nation of human beings to subsist
upon such conditions forced itself at last on the conscience of the
Irish Parliament, and though composed of landowners who were tempted
as much as others to let their farms on the terms most profitable to
them, the House of Commons in 1716 resolved unanimously to make an
effort for a general change of system, and to reclaim both people and
country by bringing back and stimulating agriculture. They passed a
vote that covenants which prohibited the breaking soil with the plough
were impolitic, and should have no binding force. They passed heads
of a bill, which they recommended with the utmost earnestness to the
consideration of the English Council, enjoining that for every hundred
acres which any tenant held he should break up and cultivate five, and,
as a further encouragement, that a trifling bounty should be granted by
the Government on corn grown for exportation.

"And what did England answer? England which was so wisely anxious for
the prosperity of the Protestant interest in Ireland: England which
was struggling so pathetically to make the Irish peers and gentlemen
understand the things that belonged to their peace? The bounty system
might or might not have been well calculated to produce the effect
which Ireland desired. It was the system which England herself
practised with every industry which she wished to encourage, and it
was not on economic grounds that the Privy Council rejected a Bill
which they ought rather to have thrust of their own accord on Irish
acceptance. The real motive was probably the same which had led to
the suppression of the manufactures--the detestable opinion that to
govern Ireland conveniently Ireland must be kept weak. Although the
corn consumed in Ireland had been for many years imported, the English
farmers were haunted with a terror of being undersold in their own
and foreign markets by a country where labour was cheap. A motive so
iniquitous could not be confessed, but the objections which the Council
were not ashamed to allege were scarcely less disgraceful to them. The
English manufacturers having secured, as they supposed, the monopoly
of Irish wool on their own terms, conceived that the whole soil of
Ireland ought to be devoted to growing it. The merchants of Tiverton
and Bideford had recently memorialised the Crown on the diminution of
the number of fleeces which reached them from the Irish ports. They
attributed the falling off to the contraband trade between Ireland and
France, which shortened their supplies, enhanced the price, and gave
the French weavers an advantage over them. Their conjecture, as will
be hereafter shown, was perfectly just. The contraband trade, as had
been foreseen when the restrictions were imposed, had become enormous.
But the Commissioners of the Irish Revenue were unwilling to confess
to carelessness. They pretended that the Irish farmers, forgetting
their obligations to England, and thinking wickedly only of their own
interests, were diminishing their stock of sheep, breaking up the
soil, and growing wheat and barley. The allegation, unhappily, was
utterly untrue. But the mere rumour of a rise of industry in Ireland
created a panic in the commercial circles of England. Although the
change existed as yet only in desire, and the sheep-farming, with its
attending miseries, was increasing rather than diminishing, Stanhope,
Walpole, Sutherland, and the other advisers of the English Crown, met
the overtures of the Irish Parliament in a spirit of settled hostility,
and, with an infatuation which now appears insanity, determined to keep
closed the one remaining avenue by which Ireland could have recovered
a gleam of prosperity.

"The heads of the Bill were carried in Ireland without a serious
suspicion that it would be received unfavourably. A few scornful
members dared to say that England would consent to nothing which would
really benefit Ireland, but they were indignantly silenced by the
friends of the Government. It was sent over by the Duke of Grafton,
with the fullest expectation that it would be returned. He learnt
first with great surprise that 'the Tillage Bill was meeting with
difficulties.' 'It was a measure,' he said, 'which the gentlemen of the
country had very much at heart, as the only way left them to improve
their estates while they were under such hard restrictions in point of
trade.' 'It would be unkind,' he urged, in a second and more pressing
letter, 'to refuse Ireland anything not unreasonable in itself. He
conceived the Corn Bill was not of that nature, and therefore earnestly
requested his Majesty would be pleased to indulge them in it.'

"Stanhope forwarded in answer a report of the English Commissioners of
Customs, which had the merit of partial candour. 'Corn,' they said, 'is
supposed to be at so low a rate in Ireland in comparison with England,
that an encouragement to the exportation of it would prejudice the
English trade.'

"The Lords Justices returned the conclusive rejoinder that for some
years past Ireland had imported large quantities of corn from England,
which would have been impossible had her own corn been cheaper. 'They
could not help representing,' they said, 'the concern they were under
to find that verified which those all along foretold who obstructed the
King's affairs, and which his friends had constantly denied, that all
the marks they had given of duty and affection would not procure one
bill for the benefit of the nation.'

"The fact of the importation of corn from England could not be evaded;
but the commercial leaders were possessed with a terror of Irish
rivalry which could not be exorcised. The bill was at last transmitted,
but a clause had been slipped in empowering the Council to suspend the
premiums at their pleasure; and the House of Commons in disgust refused
to take back a measure which had been mutilated into a mockery."[70]

To take another instance, illustrative of the same system, which was in
full operation sixty years later. The heads of a bill were introduced
in 1771 to prevent corn from being wasted in making whisky, and to
put some restraint on the vice of drunkenness, which was increasing.
This bill was warmly recommended to the English Privy Council by
Townshend, the Lord-Lieutenant of the day, who said, "the whisky shops
were ruining the peasantry and the workmen. There was an earnest and
general desire to limit them. It will be a loss to the revenue, but it
is a very popular bill, and will give general content and satisfaction
throughout the kingdom."[71] "The Whisky Bill," says Mr. Froude, "was
rejected because the Treasury could not spare a few thousand pounds
which were levied upon drunkenness."[72]

It must also be borne in mind that although the English Parliament
could, and, in fact, did, place prohibitory duties on Irish goods
imported into England, it was quite impossible for the Irish Parliament
to exercise the same power. Bills of such a nature would, of course,
never obtain the sanction of the English Privy Council, to whom they
must have been submitted.

The difference between the duties on the same goods when imported
from England into Ireland, and from Ireland into England, were in
some cases striking. "In Ireland," says Mr. Parsons, speaking in the
Irish Parliament in 1784, "no more than 6d. a yard was imposed on the
importation of English cloths, while ours in England were charged with
a duty of £2 0s. 6d."[73]

Mr. Pitt, speaking as Prime Minister in the British House of Commons
in February, 1785, stated that on most of the manufactures of Ireland
prohibitory duties were laid by Great Britain. "They (the Irish) had
not," he said, "admitted our commodities totally free from duties; they
bore, upon an average, about ten per cent."[74]

The helplessness of the Irish Parliament during this period is
demonstrated by Hely Hutchinson. He states that in 1721, during a
period of great distress, the speech from the Throne, and the Addresses
to the King and the Lord-Lieutenant declare in the strongest terms the
great decay of trade, and the very low and impoverished state to which
the country was reduced. "But," he says, "it is a melancholy proof of
the desponding state of this kingdom, that no law whatever was then
proposed for encouraging trade or manufactures, or, to follow the words
of the address, for reviving trade or making us a flourishing people,
unless that for amending laws as to butter and tallow casks deserves to
be so called. And why? Because it was well understood by both Houses
of Parliament that they had no power to remove those restraints which
prohibited trade and discouraged manufactures, and that any application
for that purpose would at that time have only offended the people on
one side of the Channel, without bringing any relief to those on the

The Irish Parliament did, however, what they could. Thus, "in the
sessions of 1703, 1705, and 1707, the House of Commons resolved
unanimously that it would greatly conduce to the relief of the poor
and the good of the kingdom, that the inhabitants thereof should use
none other but the manufactures of this kingdom in their apparel, and
the furniture of their houses; and in the last of those sessions,
the members engaged their honours to each other that they would
conform to the said resolution."[76] Many of their suggestions for
the encouragement of home produce are of extraordinary ingenuity. In
1727, the Privy Council allowed a bill to become law, entitled "An Act
to encourage the home consumption of wool by burying in wool only,"
providing that no person should be buried "in any stuff or thing other
than what is made of sheep or lambs' wool only."[77] The custom, now
grotesque and unmeaning, but still in vogue in Ireland, of wearing
scarfs at funerals, was recommended in the interest of the linen
manufacture, and was first introduced in 1729 at the funeral of Mr.
Conolly, Speaker of the Irish House of Commons.[78] So, too, spinning
schools were established in every county, and a board of trustees
was appointed to watch over the interests of the linen manufacture;
"but the utter want of capital, the neglect of the grand juries, the
ignorance, poverty, and degradation of the inhabitants, made the
attempt to create a new manufacture hopeless."[79]

These efforts of the Irish Parliament, though of little practical
effect, demonstrate their keen appreciation of the sufferings around
them and their sympathy with the wants and wishes of their people, who
were crushed by a system which Mr. Pitt has characterised as one "of
cruel and abominable restraint."[80]

Speaking in the English House of Commons in 1785, that statesman bade
members "recollect that from the Revolution to a period within the
memory of every man who heard him, indeed until these very few years,
the system had been that of debarring Ireland from the enjoyment and
use of her own resources, to make that kingdom completely subservient
to the interests and opulence of this country, without suffering her
to share in the bounties of nature, in the industries of her citizens,
or making them contribute to the general interests and strength of the

"No country," says Mr. Lecky, "ever exercised a more complete control
over the destinies of another than did England over those of Ireland,
for three-quarters of a century after the Revolution. No serious
resistance of any kind was attempted. The nation was as passive as
clay in the hands of the potter, and it is a circumstance of peculiar
aggravation that a large part of the legislation I have recounted was a
distinct violation of a solemn treaty.[82] The commercial legislation
which ruined Irish industry, the confiscation of Irish land which
demoralised and impoverished the nation, were all directly due to the
English Government, and the English Parliament."[83]

"If," says Mr. Froude, "the high persons at the head of the great
British Empire had deliberately considered by what means they could
condemn Ireland to remain the scandal of their rule, they could have
chosen no measures better suited to their end than those which they
pursued unrelentingly through three-quarters of a century."[84]


[63] "Parliamentary Register," p. 7.

[64] Rapin, xvii., p. 417. The date of this letter is 16th of July,
1698. The matter was so urgent that William III. wrote two letters. See
"English in Ireland," i. 297.

[65] "English in Ireland," vol. i., p. 297.

[66] _Ibid._, p. 297.

[67] 10 & 11 Will. III., c. 10.

[68] "English in Ireland," vol. i., p. 439.

[69] The charge of indolence which Mr. Froude has here preferred
against the Irish peasantry has frequently been refuted. The accusation
is an old one. Speaking in the Irish House of Commons in 1784, the
Right Hon. Luke Gardiner thus repelled it:--"Those who render our
people idle are the first to ridicule them for that idleness, and to
ridicule them without a cause. National characteristics are always
unjust, as there never was a country that has not produced both
good and bad." "They are general assertions, as false as they are
illiberal. Irishmen have shown spirit and genius in whatever they have
undertaken." "I call upon gentlemen to specify one instance where the
people were indolent when the laws of their country protected them
in their endeavours." ("Irish Debates," iii., p. 127.) "It is a cant
in England," says Mr. O'Connell, "that they (the Irish) are an idle
people, but how can that be said when they are to be found seeking
employment through every part of the world? They are to be found making
roads in Scotland and digging canals in the poisonous marshes of New
Orleans." ("Discussion in Dublin Corporation on Repeal of the Union,"
in 1843, p. 58) The _Times_ of the 26th of June, 1845, in an article to
which I will refer hereafter, says "The Irishman is disposed to work."

[70] "English in Ireland," vol. i., 441-446. The subsequent history
of this Bill as related by Mr. Froude is interesting. It became law
in 1727, but was practically ineffective. See Lecky's "Eighteenth
Century," ii., 248.

[71] "English in Ireland," vol. ii., 113, 114.

[72] "English in Ireland," vol. ii., 114.

[73] "Irish Debates," vol. iii., 132.

[74] "Parliamentary Register," 17, 255.

[75] "Commercial Restraints," pp. 40-41. Speaking of the great distress
in the years 1740 and 1741, Hely Hutchinson again deplores the
inability of the Irish Parliament to alleviate the misery of the poor.
"They (the Commons) could not have been insensible of the miseries
of their fellow-creatures, many thousands of whom were lost in those
years, some from absolute want and many from disorders occasioned by
bad provisions. Why was no attempt made for their relief? Because the
Commons knew that the evil was out of their reach, and the poor were
not employed because they were discouraged by restrictive laws from
working up the materials of their own country, and that agriculture
could not be encouraged when the lower classes of the people were not
enabled by their industry to purchase the produce of the farmer's
labour."--("Commercial Restraints," pp. 47-48.)

[76] "Commercial Restraints," pp. 210, 211.

[77] 7 George II. (Irish) c. 13. This Irish Statute was framed on the
model of an Act passed by the English Parliament in 1678, providing
that all dead bodies should be wrapped in woollen shrouds. Dean Swift
warmly approved of this measure which, however, he seemed to think
would never pass the Privy Councils. "What," he says, "if we should
agree to make burying in woollen a fashion, as our neighbours have made
it a law?" Swift's Works (Scott's Ed.), vi., p. 274.

[78] Finlayson's "Monumental Inscriptions in Christ Church Cathedral,
Dublin," p. 27.

[79] Lecky's "Eighteenth Century," vol. ii., 215.

[80] "Parliamentary Register," 17, 249. Mr. Lecky pays a high
compliment to the exertions of the Irish Parliament to protect the
material interests of their country. "During the greater part of the
century (18th century) it had little power except that of protesting
against laws crushing Irish commerce, but what little it could do it
appears to have done."--"Leaders of Public Opinion in Ireland," p. 187.

[81] "Parliamentary Register," 17, 249.

[82] Mr. Lecky refers doubtless to the Treaty of Limerick.

[83] "Eighteenth Century," vol. ii., 256.

[84] "English in Ireland," vol. ii., 213.


The immediate effects produced upon Ireland by the commercial policy
of Great Britain were such as might reasonably be anticipated from the
brief and necessarily imperfect account I have given of that system.
The best and most energetic members of the industrial community sought
refuge in exile from a land where honest labour was robbed by law
of its reward. The weaker ones, who were compelled to remain, this
terrible system defrauded, impoverished, and degraded. It afflicted
every Irishman, whether at home or abroad, with a sense of intolerable
wrong, and created that passionate resentment towards England, which
has been transmitted to succeeding generations. "One of the most
obvious consequences," says Mr. Lecky, "was that for the space of
about a century Ireland underwent a steady process of depletion,
most men of energy, ambition, talent, or character being driven from
her shores."[85] "If the ambition of an Irishman lay in the paths
of manufacture and commerce he was almost compelled to emigrate,
for industrial and commercial enterprise had been deliberately
crushed."[86] This legislation, it must be remembered, fell most
severely on the Protestant population of Ireland, although, of course,
it grievously affected every class, and, indeed, every member of the
community. Twenty thousand Puritans left Ulster on the destruction of
the woollen trade.[87] "Until the spell of tyranny was broken, in 1782,
annual ship-loads of families poured themselves out from Belfast and
Londonderry. The resentment they carried with them continued to burn
in their new homes; and, in the War of Independence, England had no
fiercer enemies than the great-grandsons of the Presbyterians who had
held Ulster against Tyrconnel."[88]

At the beginning of the eighteenth century, Mr. Lecky thinks the
population of Ireland slightly exceeded two millions,[89] and he adopts
the calculation of a contemporary writer that the woollen manufacture
at the time of its suppression afforded employment to 12,000 Protestant
families in the metropolis, and 30,000 dispersed over the rest of the
kingdom.[90] We can, therefore, see at a glance how large a fraction of
the entire population of the country were directly deprived of bread
by that measure. Swift, whose deanery lay in the liberties of Dublin,
the principal seat of the woollen manufacture, and who witnessed the
results of its suppression, thus writes:--"Three parts in four of the
inhabitants of that district of the town where I dwell were English
manufacturers, whom either misfortunes in trade, little petty debts
contracted through illness, or the presence of a numerous family, had
driven into our cheap country. These were employed in working up our
worse wool, while the finest was sent into England. Several of these
had taken the children of the native Irish apprentices to them who,
being humbled by the forfeiture of upwards of three millions by the
Revolution, were obliged to stoop to a mechanic industry. Upon the
passing of this bill, we were obliged to dismiss thousands of these
people from our service. Those who had settled their affairs returned
home, and overstocked England with workmen; those whose debts were
unsatisfied, went to France, Spain, and the Netherlands, where they met
with good encouragement, whereby the natives having got a firm footing
in the trade, being acute fellows, so became as good workmen as any we
have, and supply the foreign manufacturers with a constant supply of

"Upon the checking the export of our woollen manufactures," writes
Mr. Arthur Dobbs, in 1729, "and by laying on heavy duties on its being
exported to England in 1699 and 1700, equivalent to a prohibition,
most of those who were embarked in it were laid under a necessity
of removing elsewhere; and, being piqued at the difficulties they
were laid under, many of the Protestants removed into Germany, and
settled in the Protestant states there, who received them with open
arms. Several Papists at the same time removed into the northern
parts of Spain, where they laid the foundations of a manufacture
highly prejudicial to England. Many also of the Protestants who were
embarked with Papists in the woollen manufacture, removed into France,
and settled at Roan and other parts. Notwithstanding Louis XIV. had
repealed the Edict of Nantes, and forced abroad the French Protestants
into different parts of Europe, yet these were kindly received by him,
had great encouragement given to them, and were protected in their
religion. From these beginnings they have in many branches so much
improved the woollen manufactures of France, as not only to supply
themselves, but even to vie with the English in the foreign markets;
and by their correspondence they have laid the foundation for the
running of wool thither both from England and Ireland, highly to the
prejudice of Britain, which pernicious practice is still carried on
in spite of all the care and precaution made use of to discountenance
and prevent it. Thus a check is put upon the sale of our woollen
manufactures abroad, which would have given employment to all the
industrious poor both of Britain and Ireland, had not our manufacturers
been forced away into France, Spain, and Germany, where they are now so
improved as in great measure to supply themselves with many sorts they
formerly had from England."[92]

In 1773 the Irish House of Commons "had to hear from the Linen Board
that 'many thousands of the best manufacturers and weavers, with their
families, had gone to seek their bread in America, and thousands were
preparing to follow.' Again a committee was appointed to inquire. This
time the blame was laid on England, which had broken the linen compact,
given bounties to Lancashire mill-owners, which Belfast was not allowed
to share, and in 'jealousy of Irish manufactures,' had laid duties on
Irish sail-cloth contrary to express stipulation. The accusation, as
the reader knows, was true."[93] "If," wrote Mr. Newenham, in 1805,
"we said that, during fifty years of the last century, the average
annual emigration to America and the West Indies amounted to 4,000, and
consequently that in that space of time 200,000 had emigrated to the
British Plantations, I am disposed to think we should rather fall short
of than exceed the truth."[94]

It would be easy to adduce further evidence of the extent of this
emigration caused by the destruction of Irish manufactures and its
results. The speech, however, of the Right Hon. Luke Gardiner,
delivered in the Irish House of Commons on the 2nd of April, 1784, is
noteworthy. Having described the destruction of the woollen trade,
which was initiated by the Irish Act laying it under temporary
prohibitions, passed by "a corrupt majority in this House;" the
consequent emigration of the manufacturers, their favourable reception
in foreign countries, and especially in France, who, availing herself
of their industry, was enabled, not only "to rival Great Britain, but
to undersell her in every market in Europe," the speaker proceeded

"England, from unhappy experience, is convinced of the pernicious
effects of her impolicy. The emigration of the Irish manufacturers in
the reign of King William is not the only instance that has taught that
nation the ruinous effects of restrictive laws. Our own remembrance
has furnished a sad instance of the truth of this assertion--furnished
it in the American war. America was lost by Irish emigrants. These
emigrations are fresh in the recollection of every gentleman in this
House; and when the unhappy differences took place, I am assured,
from the best authority, that the major part of the American army
was composed of Irish, and that the Irish language was as commonly
spoken in the American ranks as English. I am also informed it was
their valour determined the conquest; so that England not only lost
a principal protection of her woollen trade, but also had America
detached from her by force of Irish emigrants."[95]

The weaker and more defenceless members of the Irish industrial
community were forced by circumstances to remain at home, and were
accordingly exposed to the sufferings entailed by this policy of
unenlightened selfishness and exasperation.

The following extracts, taken from a mass of contemporaneous documents,
will give some idea of their condition.

"From the time," says Hely Hutchinson, "of this prohibition [of the
woollen manufactures] no Parliament was held in Ireland till the year
1703. Five years were suffered to elapse before any opportunity was
given to apply a remedy to the many evils which such a prohibition must
necessarily have occasioned. The linen trade was then not thoroughly
established in Ireland; the woollen manufacture was the staple trade,
and wool the principal material of that kingdom. The consequences of
the prohibition appear in the session of 1713. The Commons lay before
Queen Anne a most affecting representation containing, to use their
own words, 'a true state of our deplorable condition,' protesting that
no groundless discontent was the motive for that application, but a
deep sense of the evil state of their country, and of the further
mischiefs they have reason to fear will fall upon it if not timely
prevented. They set forth the vast decay and loss of its trade, its
being almost exhausted of coin that they are hindered from earning
their livelihoods, and from maintaining their own manufactures; that
their poor have thereby become very numerous; that great numbers of
Protestant families have been constrained to remove out of the kingdom,
as well into Scotland as into the dominions of foreign princes and
states; and that their foreign trade and its returns are under such
restrictions and discouragements as to be then become in a manner
impracticable, although that kingdom had by its blood and treasure
contributed to secure the plantation trade to the people of England.

"In a further Address to the Queen, laid before the Duke of Ormonde,
then Lord-Lieutenant, by the House, with its Speaker, they mention
the distressed condition of that kingdom, and more especially of the
industrious Protestants, by the almost total loss of trade and decay of
their manufactures, and, to preserve the country from utter ruin, apply
for liberty to export their linen manufactures to the Plantations.

"In a subsequent part of this session the Commons resolve that,
by reason of the great decay of trade and discouragement of the
manufactures of this kingdom, many poor tradesmen were reduced to
extreme want and beggary. This resolution was agreed to _nem. con._,
and the Speaker, Mr. Broderick, then his Majesty's Solicitor-General,
and afterwards Lord Chancellor, in his speech at the end of the
session, informs the Lord-Lieutenant that 'the representation of the
Commons was, as to the matters contained in it, the unanimous voice
and consent of a very full House, and that the soft and gentle tones
used by the Commons in laying the distressed condition of the kingdom
before his Majesty, showed that their complaints proceeded not from
querulousness, but from a necessity of seeking redress.'"[96]

In his proposal for the use of Irish manufactures, which was published
in 1720, Dean Swift says: "The Scripture tells us that oppression
makes a wise man mad, therefore, consequently speaking, the reason why
some men are not mad is because they are not wise. However, it were
to be wished that oppression would in time teach a little wisdom to
fools."[97] "Whoever travels in this country and observes the face of
nature, and the faces and habits and dwellings of the natives, will
hardly think himself in a land where law, religion, or common humanity
is professed."[98] Nicholson, an Englishman, translated from the
Bishopric of Carlisle to that of Derry, in a letter to the Archbishop
of Canterbury, written in the same year, gives a similar account of the
prevailing destitution: "Never did I behold in Picardy, Westphalia,
and Scotland, such dismal marks of hunger and want as appeared in the
countenances of most of the poor creatures I met with on the road." He
states that one of his carriage horses having been killed by accident,
it was surrounded by "fifty or sixty famished cottagers, struggling
desperately to obtain a morsel of flesh for themselves and their
children."[99] Swift, writing in 1727, says: "The conveniency of ports
and harbours, which nature has bestowed so liberally on this country,
is of no more use to us than a beautiful prospect to a man shut up in
a dungeon."[100] "Ireland is the only kingdom I ever heard of, either
in ancient or modern story, which was denied the liberty of exporting
their native commodities and manufactures wherever they pleased, except
to countries at war with their own Prince or State; yet this privilege,
by the mere superiority of power, is refused us in the most momentous
parts of our commerce; besides an Act of Navigation, to which we never
consented, pinned down upon us, rigorously executed, and a thousand
other unexampled circumstances, as grievous as they are invidious to
mention."[101] "If we do flourish it must be against every law of
nature and reason, like the thorn of Glastonbury, that blossoms in the
midst of the winter."[102] "The miserable dress, diet, and dwelling of
the people, the general desolation in most parts of the kingdom, the
old seats of the nobility in ruins, and no new ones in their stead,
the families of farmers, who pay great rents, living in filth and
nastiness, upon butter-milk and potatoes, without a shoe or stocking to
their feet, or a house so convenient as an English hogsty to receive
them. These, indeed, may be comfortable sights to an English spectator,
who comes for a short time only to learn the language, and returns back
to his own country whence he finds all his wealth transmitted.

  "Nostra miseria magna est.

There is not one argument used to prove the riches of Ireland which
is not a logical demonstration of its poverty."[103] "Ireland is the
poorest of all civilised countries, with every advantage to make it one
of the richest."[104]

"The great scarcity of corn," says Hely Hutchinson, "had been so
universal in this kingdom in the years 1728 and 1729 as to expose
thousands of families to the utmost necessities, and even to the danger
of famine, many artificers and housekeepers having been obliged to beg
for bread in the streets of Dublin."[105] This is probably the distress
to which Swift, writing in 1729, alludes: "Our present calamities are
not to be represented. You can have no notion of them without beholding
them. Numbers of miserable objects crowd our doors, begging us to take
their wares at any price to prevent their families from immediate

"In twenty years," says Mr. Lecky, "there were at least three or four
of absolute famine."[107]

The writer of a pamphlet entitled "The Groans of Ireland in a Letter
to a Member of Parliament," published in Dublin in 1741, thus begins:--

"I have been absent from this country for some years, and on my return
to it last summer found it the most miserable scene of universal
distress that I ever read of in history.

"Want and misery in every face, the rich unable, almost as they were
unwilling, to relieve the poor; the roads spread with dead and dying
bodies; mankind of the colour of the docks and nettles which they fed
on; two or three, sometimes more, on a car going to the grave for
want of bearers, to carry them, and many buried only in the fields
and ditches where they perished. This universal scarcity was ensued
by malignant fevers, which swept off multitudes of all sorts; whole
villages were laid waste by want and sickness and death in various
shapes, and scarce a house in the whole island escaped from tears and

"It were to be wished, Sir, that some curious enquirer had made a
calculation of the numbers lost in this terrible calamity. If one for
every house in the kingdom died (and that is very probable, when we
consider that whole families and villages were swept off in many parts
together), the loss must have been upwards of 400,000 souls. If but one
for every other house (and it was certainly more), 200,000 perished--a
loss too great for this ill-peopled country to bear and the more
grievous as the loss was mostly of the grown-up part of the working

The writer then proceeds to emphasise the fact to which Swift had
previously directed attention: that Irish famines are _artificial_.

"Sir,--When a stranger travels through this country and beholds its
wide extended and fertile plains, its great flocks of sheep and black
cattle, and all its natural wealth and conveniences for tillage,
manufactures, and trade, he must be astonished that such misery and
want could possibly be felt by its inhabitants; but you, who know the
Constitution and are acquainted with its weaknesses, can easily see the

Writing in the year 1779, Hely Hutchinson says, "In this and the last
year about twenty thousand manufacturers in this metropolis were
reduced to beggary for want of employment; they were for a considerable
length of time supported by alms; a part of the contribution came
from England, and this assistance was much wanting, from the general
distress of all ranks of people in this country. Public and private
credit are annihilated."[109] Again, "A country will sooner recover
from the miseries and devastation occasioned by war, invasion,
rebellion, and massacre, than from laws restraining the commerce,
discouraging the manufactures, fettering the industry, and, above
all, breaking the spirits of the people."[110] He thus summarises the
effects of the eighty years' restrictive legislation, between the
destruction of the woollen trade in 1699 and 1779, the date at which
he was writing. "Can the history of any other fruitful country on the
globe, enjoying peace for fourscore years, and not visited by plague
or pestilence, produce so many recorded instances of the poverty and
wretchedness, and of the reiterated want and misery of the lower orders
of the people? There is no such example in ancient or modern story. If
the ineffectual endeavours by the representatives of those poor people
to give them employment or food had not left sufficient memorials of
their wretchedness, if their habitations, apparel, and food were not
sufficient proofs, I should appeal to the human countenance for my
voucher, and rest the evidence on that hopeless despondency that hangs
on the brow of unemployed industry."[111]

Such were the more striking effects of this pernicious legislation.
Its remoter consequences were likewise disastrous. Crime and outrage
were promoted by the suppression of national industry. "In the year
1762," says Hely Hutchinson, "a new evil made its appearance, which
all the exertions of the Government and of the Legislature have not
since been able to eradicate. I mean the risings of the White Boys.
They appear in those parts of the kingdom where manufactures are not
established, and are a proof of the poverty and want of employment
of the lower classes of our people."[112] Then again, this system
divorced law from public opinion. Sir Henry Maine has well observed,
that social necessities and social opinion are always more or less in
advance of law, and that the greater or less happiness of a nation
depends on the degree of promptitude with which the gulf between them
is narrowed.[113] In Ireland that gulf was deliberately widened; and
the people learned, with good reason, to regard the law, not as a
protector, but as a plunderer of their rightful gains, and as an agency
to make havoc of their industry. "When England," says Mr. Froude, "in
defence of her monopolies, thought proper to lay restrictions on the
Irish woollen trade, it was foretold that the inevitable result would
be an enormous development of smuggling."[114] "The entire nation,
high and low, was enlisted in an organised confederacy against the
law. Distinctions of creed were obliterated, and resistance to law
became a bond of union between Catholic and Protestant, Irish Celt and
English colonist."[115] Hely Hutchinson, in a paper laid before Lord
Buckinghamshire, in July, 1779, places this matter in a clear light.
"You have forced us into an illicit commerce, and our very existence
depends now upon it. Ireland has paid Great Britain for eleven years
past double the sum that she collects from the whole world in all the
trade which Great Britain allows her, a fact not to be paralleled in
the history of the world. Whence did the money come? But one answer
is possible. It came from the contraband trade, and surely it is
madness to suffer an important part of the empire to continue in that
condition. You defeat your own objects."[116]

Again, this system embittered the relations between landlord and
tenant in Ireland by raising unduly the creation of farms, the
cultivation of the soil being the only industrial resource left to
the people. "Rents," says Mr. Lecky, "were regulated by competition;
but it was competition between a half starving population, who had no
other resource except the soil, and were prepared to promise anything
rather than be deprived of it.[117] The mass of the people," the same
writer continues, "became cottiers, because it was impossible to gain
a livelihood as agricultural labourers or in mechanical pursuits. This
impossibility was due to the extreme paucity of circulating capital,
and may be chiefly traced to the destruction of Irish manufactures and
to the absence of a considerable class of resident landlords, who would
naturally give employment to the poor."[118]

Such were some of the more immediate effects upon Ireland of the
commercial arrangements of Great Britain. That system was thus
described in the Irish House of Commons in October, 1779, by Hussey
Burgh, who then held the office of Prime Serjeant, and afterwards
became Lord Chief Baron of the Court of Exchequer. "The usurped
authority of a foreign Parliament has kept up the most wicked laws that
a jealous, monopolising, ungrateful spirit could desire, to restrain
the bounty of Providence and enslave a nation whose inhabitants are
recorded to be a brave, loyal, generous people; by the English code
of laws, to answer the most sordid views, they have been treated with
a savage cruelty; the words penalty, punishment, and Ireland are
synonymous; they are marked in blood on the margin of their statutes,
and though time may have softened the calamities of the nation, the
baneful and destructive influence of those laws have borne her down to
a state of Egyptian bondage. The English have sowed their laws like
serpents' teeth; they have sprung up as armed men."[119]

Few will be disposed to disagree with Mr. Froude in his estimate of
the effects of this policy. "By a curious combination this system
worked the extremity of mischief, commercially, socially, and


[85] "Eighteenth Century," vol. ii., 257, 258.

[86] "Eighteenth Century," vol. ii., 259.

[87] "English in Ireland," vol. i., 435.

[88] "English in Ireland," vol. i., 436.

[89] "Eighteenth Century," vol. ii., 255.

[90] "Eighteenth Century," vol. ii., 213.

[91] Swift's Works (Scott's Ed.), vol. vii., 195.

[92] "An Essay upon the Trade of Ireland"--"Tracts and Treatises"
(Ireland), 2, p. 335-6.

[93] "English in Ireland," vol. ii., 137.

[94] Newenham on "Population," p. 60. This remark is quoted by Mr.

[95] "Irish Debates," vol. iii., 130.

[96] "Commercial Restraints," pp. 24-27.

[97] Swift's Works (Scott's Edition), vol. vi., p. 277.

[98] Swift's Works (Scott's Edition), vol. vi., 281, 282.

[99] "England in the Eighteenth Century," vol. ii., 216.

[100] Swift's Works (Scott's Edition), vol. vii., p. 115.

[101] _Ibid._, pp. 115, 116.

[102] _Ibid._, p. 118.

[103] Swift's Works (Scott's Edition), vol. vii., pp. 118, 119.

[104] _Ibid._, p. 135.

[105] "Commercial Restraints," p. 44.

[106] Swift's Works (Scott's Edition), vol. vii., p. 199.

[107] "Eighteenth Century," vol. ii., p. 218.

[108] The resemblance between this account of the famine of 1740 and
the account of the condition of Ireland in the June preceding the last
Irish Famine, as given by the _Times_, is striking. In an article of
the 26th June, 1845, that paper says--"The facts of Irish destitution
are ridiculously simple. They are almost too commonplace to be told.
The people have not enough to eat. They are suffering a real, though an
artificial, famine. Nature does her duty. The land is fruitful enough.
Nor can it be fairly said that man is wanting. The Irishman is disposed
to work. In fact, man and Nature together do produce abundantly. The
island is full and overflowing with human food. But something ever
interposes between the hungry mouth and the ample banquet. The famished
victim of a mysterious sentence stretches out his hand to the viands
which his own industry has placed before his eyes, but no sooner are
they touched than they fly. A perpetual decree of _sic vos non nobis_
condemns him to toil without enjoyment. Social atrophy drains off
the vital juices of the nation." Mr. Lecky quotes from "The Groans
of Ireland," a copy of which he found in the Halliday Collection of
Pamphlets in the Irish Academy ("Eighteenth Century," vol. ii., p.
218). My attention was attracted by the reference, and, on inquiry,
I ascertained that there were several copies of this pamphlet in the
Library of the King's Inns.

[109] "Commercial Restraints," p. 3.

[110] _Ibid._, pp. 31, 32.

[111] "Commercial Restraints," pp. 78, 79.

[112] _Ibid._, p. 69.

[113] "Ancient Law," p. 24.

[114] "English in Ireland," vol. i., p. 497.

[115] _Ibid._, p. 500.

[116] _Ibid._, vol. ii., p. 247.

[117] "Eighteenth Century," vol. ii., p. 241.

[118] _Ibid._, p. 243.

[119] "MacNevin's Volunteers," p. 117. Mr. Froude well observes that
these memorable words "had nothing to do with penal laws, and related
entirely to the restrictions on trade." "English in Ireland," vol. ii.,
p. 264.

[120] "English in Ireland," vol. i., p. 502. In these pages I have
designedly refrained from referring to the Penal Code. I have
confined myself entirely to a recital of the leading features of
the restrictions imposed by England on Irish trade. It is, in my
opinion, impossible to estimate, in distinct scales, the evils done
by these terrible agencies. They acted and re-acted on each other,
and affected not merely the special objects of legislation, but more
or less directly every interest in the community. The able writer of
a pamphlet, "Irish Wool and Woollens," to which I have frequently
referred, says:--"Possibly the laws that annihilated the wool trade
wrought more destruction than the legislation that aimed at stamping
out the Catholic faith, for the trade Acts snatched bread from the
mouth, filched hope from the heart, and wrenched power from the hands
of the industrial sections of the community." (p. 43.) From this
opinion I am constrained to differ. Speaking as a Protestant, I have
no hesitation in saying that the injuries inflicted on Ireland by
the Penal Code exceeded the injuries inflicted on her by the trade
regulations. "Well," says the Rev. Canon MacColl, "may Mr. Matthew
Arnold speak of that Penal Code, of which the monstrosity is not
half known to Englishmen, and may be studied by them with profit."
("Arguments For and Against Home Rule," p. 60.)


The nature and effects of the Irish Volunteer Movement have often
been stated and explained. I can only touch upon this movement in a
very cursory manner, confining myself strictly to its bearings on the
commercial arrangements between Great Britain and Ireland. A very
superficial study of Irish history will show that national movements
have a tendency to grow out of controversies on trade and mercantile
questions. Thus the destruction of the woollen trade by the English
Parliament led Irish politicians to question the right of that
Parliament to legislate for Ireland at all. William Molyneux, in his
celebrated "Case of Ireland stated," published in 1698, asks, "Shall
we of this kingdom be denied the birthright of every free-born English
subject by having laws imposed on us when we are neither personally
nor representatively present?"[121] "That book," says Chief Justice
Whiteside, "met with a fate which it did not deserve. The English
Parliament ordered that it should be burned, and thereby much increased
the estimation in which it was held in Ireland."[122] Thus, too, the
agitation against Wood's half-pence, a purely commercial topic, assumed
insensibly a national complexion. In his fourth Drapier's letter, Swift
changes the controversy into an examination of Ireland's political
condition. "The remedy," he says, "is wholly in your own hands, and
therefore I have digressed a little in order to refresh and continue
that spirit so seasonably raised among you, and to let you see that by
the laws of God, of nature, and of nations, and of your country, you
are and ought to be as free a people as your brethren in England."[123]
Swift's prosecution by the Government of the day and its failure are
well known. Lord Chief Justice Whiteside thus comments on his public
conduct. "Had there been a few in the Irish Parliament possessed of the
originality, energy, honesty, and capacity of Swift, the management
of political affairs and the true interests of the country would have
been speedily improved instead of being shamefully neglected. Swift
created a public opinion; Swift inspired hope, courage, and a spirit of
justifiable resistance in the people; Swift taught Irishmen they had
a country to love, to raise, and to cherish. No man who recalls the
affectionate respect paid by his countrymen to Swift while he lived, to
his memory when dead, can impute political ingratitude to be amongst
the vices of the Irish people."[124]

Then, again, besides actively disputing England's right to destroy
the trade and manufactures of the country, there was another remedy
which lay in the people's own hands. They could, by the exercise of
self-control, use Irish manufactures alone.

"England," says Mr. Froude, "might lay a veto on every healthy
effort of parliamentary legislation; but England could not touch the
self-made laws which the conscience and spirit of the nation might
impose upon themselves." Hely Hutchinson has pointed out, that "the
not importing goods from England is one of the remedies recommended
by the Council of Trade in 1676 for alleviating some distress that
was felt at the time; and Sir William Temple, a zealous friend to the
trade and manufactures of England, recommends to Lord Essex, then
Lord Lieutenant, to introduce, as far as can be, a vein of parsimony
throughout the country in all things that are not perfectly the native
growths and manufactures. The people of England cannot reasonably
object to a conduct of which they have given a memorable example. In
1697 the English House of Lords presented an Address to King William
to discourage the use and wearing of all sorts of furniture and cloths
not of the growth and manufacture of that kingdom, and beseech him,
by his royal example, effectually to encourage the use and wearing of
all sorts of furniture and wearing cloths that are the growth of that
kingdom or manufactured there; and King William assures them that he
would give the example to his subjects, and would endeavour to make
it effectually followed. The reason assigned by the Lords for this
Address was that the trade of the nation had suffered by the late long
and expensive war. But it does not appear that there was any pressing
necessity at the time, or that their manufacturers were starving for
want of employment.

"Common sense must discover to every man that when foreign trade is
restrained, discouraged, or prevented in any country, and where that
country has the materials for manufactures, a fruitful soil, and
numerous inhabitants, the home trade is its best resource. If this
is thought by men of great knowledge to be the most valuable of all
trades, because it makes the speediest and surest returns, and because
it increases at the same time two capitals in the same country, there
is no nation on the globe whose wealth, population, strength, and
happiness would be promoted by such a trade in a greater degree than

The author of the "Commercial Restraints" was a barrister of great
eminence, who had been Prime Serjeant, was a member of the Irish
Privy Council, Principal Secretary of State, and Provost of Trinity
College, and a distinguished member of the Irish Parliament. This
book, however, obtained a reception similar to that accorded to the
"Case of Ireland," and the fourth Drapier's letter. In the fly-leaf
of the copy in the Library of the Honourable Society of the King's
Inns, which I have utilised in arranging this treatise, there are the
following observations:--"Of this remarkable book see the _Times_ of
February 14, 1846. Extract of a letter of Sir Valentine Blake, M.P. for
Galway, in which he says, 'that immediately after its publication it
was suppressed, and burned by the common hangman, and that Mr. Flood,
in his place in the House of Commons, said he would give one thousand
pounds for a copy, and that the libraries of all the three branches of
the Legislature could not procure one copy of this valuable work.'"
The editor of a new edition tells us that there are two copies of the
work in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin, both of which have been
recently obtained, and from one of them the reprint is taken.[126]
When Hely Hutchinson, in 1779, advocated "the necessity of using our
own manufactures," he stated with accuracy that such arguments, though
never so universal as at that time, were no new idea in Ireland. It had
been recommended half a century before by Swift, and the celebrated
Bishop Berkeley. "I heard," said Swift, writing in 1720, "the late
Archbishop of Tuam (Dr. John Vesey) make a pleasant observation that
Ireland would never be happy till a law was made for burning everything
that came from England, except their people and their coals."[127]
Again, in 1727, he says, "The directions to Ireland are very short and
simple, to encourage agriculture and home consumption, and utterly
discard all importations that are not absolutely necessary for health
or life."[128] Bishop Berkeley, in the "Querist," published in 1731,
asks these questions, which show clearly his views:--"Whether there
be upon the earth any Christian or civilised people so beggarly
wretched or destitute as the common Irish? Whether, nevertheless,
there is any other people whose wants may be more easily supplied from
home?"[129] This advice was acted on by the Irish people "after fifty
years of expectation." "A great figure," says Chief Justice Whiteside,
"now appears upon the stage of public life--Henry Grattan, who took
his seat for Charlemont in December, 1775, and began his splendid,
though chequered career. The condition of Ireland at this epoch was
deplorable. Her industry was shackled, her trade was paralysed, her
landed interest was depressed, her exchequer empty, her pension list
enormous, her shores undefended, her army withdrawn. The policy and
maxims of Swift were revived, a spirit of discontent and a spirit of
independence pervaded the nation; the colonies had revolted, republican
ideas were afloat in the world, and Ireland was menaced with invasion.
The Government, on being applied to for troops, declared they had none
to spare, and that Ireland must protect herself. The Volunteer Movement
then commenced, and, to the amazement of ministers, they soon stood
face to face with an armed nation."[130]

Mr. Froude draws this picture of the condition of Ireland in 1779.
"The grand juries represented that the fields and highways were filled
with crowds of wretched beings half naked and starving. Foreign
markets were closed to them. The home market was destroyed by internal
distress, and the poor artisans who had supported themselves by weaving
were without work and without food. They had bought English goods as
long as they had the means to buy them. Now in their time of dire
distress they had hoped the English Parliament would be their friend.
They learnt with pain and surprise that the only boon which could give
them relief was still withheld. They besought the king to interpose
in their favour, and procure them leave to export and sell at least
the coarse frieze blankets and flannels, which the peasants' wives and
children produced in their cabins. Eloquence and entreaty were alike
in vain. The English Parliament, though compelled at least to listen
to the truth, could not yet bend itself to act upon it. The House of
Commons still refused to open the woollen trade in whole or in part,
and Ireland, now desperate and determined, and treading ominously
in the steps of America, adopted the measures which long before had
been recommended by Swift, and resolved to exclude from the Irish
market every article of British manufacture which could be produced at

The Earl of Shelburne, speaking in the British House of Lords on the
1st of December, 1779, thus described the attitude of Ireland:--

"Ireland disclaimed any connection with Great Britain, she instantly
put herself in a condition of defence against her foreign enemies;
oppressed at one time by England, and at length reduced to a state
of calamity and distress experienced by no other country that ever
existed, unless visited by war or famine, and perceiving that all
prospect of justice or relief was in a manner finally closed, and that
she must perish or work out her own salvation, she united as one man to
rescue herself from that approaching destruction which seemed to await
her. The people instantly armed themselves and the numbers armed soon
increased to upwards of 40,000 men, and were daily augmenting. This
most formidable body was not composed of mercenaries, who had little
or no interest in the issue, but of the nobility, gentry, merchants,
citizens, and respectable yeomanry, men able and willing to devote
their time and part of their property to the defence of the whole and
the protection and security of their country. The Government had been
abdicated and the people resumed the powers vested in it, and in doing
so were fully authorised by every principle of the Constitution, and
every motive of self-preservation, and whenever they should again
delegate their inherent power they firmly and wisely determined to
have it so regulated and placed upon so large and liberal a basis
that they should not be liable to suffer from the same oppression
in time to come, nor feel the fatal effects and complicated evils
of maladministration, of calamity without hope of redress, or of
iron-handed power without protection.

"To prove that these were the declared and real sentiments of the
whole Irish nation, he should not dwell upon this or that particular
circumstance, upon the resolutions of country or town meetings, upon
the language of the associations, upon the general prevalent spirit of
all descriptions of men of all religions; matters of this kind, however
true or manifest, were subject to and might admit of controversy. He
would solely confine himself to a passage contained in a State paper,
he meant the Address of both Houses of the Irish Parliament, declaring
that nothing but the granting the kingdom a 'free trade' could save it
from certain ruin. Here was the united voice of the country conveyed
through its proper constitutional organs, both Houses of Parliament,
to his Majesty, against which there was but one dissentient voice in
the Houses, not a second, he believed, in the whole kingdom. Church
of England men and Roman Catholics, Dissenters, and sections of all
denominations, Whigs and Tories, if any such were to be found in
Ireland, placemen, pensioners, and county gentlemen, Englishmen by
birth, in short, every man in and out of the House, except the single
instance mentioned, had all united in a single opinion that nothing
would relieve the country short of a free trade."[132]

His lordship proceeds to explain the meaning of the expression "free
trade," which was used in a sense different from the modern acceptation
of that term:--

"A free trade, he was well persuaded, by no means imported an equal
trade. He had many public and private reasons to think so. A free
trade imported, in his opinion, an unrestrained trade to every part
of the world, independent of the control, regulation, or interference
of the British Legislature. It was not a speculative proposition,
confined to theory or mere matter of argument; the people of Ireland
had explained the context, if any ambiguity called for such an
explanation; he received accounts from Ireland that a trade was opened
between the northern part of Ireland and North America with the privity
of Congress, and indemnification from capture by our enemies; that
provision ships had sailed to the same place--nay, more, that Doctor
Franklyn, the American Minister at Paris, had been furnished with full
power to treat with Ireland upon regulations of commerce and mutual
interest and support, and that whether or not any such treaty should
take place, the mutual interests of both countries, their very near
affinity in blood, and their established intercourse, cemented farther
by the general advantages arising from an open and unrestrained trade
between them, would necessarily perfect what had already actually

Mr. Lecky thus accurately and distinctly describes the nature of the
commercial arrangements under which Ireland obtained the limited free
trade which she enjoyed, with some modifications, till the Union:--

"The fear of bankruptcy in Ireland; the non-importation agreements,
which were beginning to tell upon English industries; the threatening
aspect of an armed body, which already counted more than 40,000 men;
the determined and unanimous attitude of the Irish Parliament; the
prediction of the Lord-Lieutenant that all future military grants
in Ireland depended upon his (Lord North's) course; the danger that
England, in the midst of a great and disastrous war, should be left
absolutely without a friend, all weighed upon his mind; and at the
close of 1779, and in the beginning of 1780, a series of measures
was carried in England which exceeded the utmost that a few years
before the most sanguine Irishman could have either expected or
demanded. The Acts which prohibited the Irish from exporting their
woollen manufactures and their glass were wholly repealed, and the
great trade of the colonies was freely thrown open to them. It was
enacted that all goods that might be legally imported from the British
settlements in America and Africa to Great Britain, may be in like
manner imported directly from those settlements into Ireland, and that
all goods which may be legally exported from Great Britain into those
settlements may in like manner be exported from Ireland, on the sole
condition that duties equal to those in British ports be imposed by the
Irish Parliament on the goods and exports of Ireland. The Acts which
prohibited carrying gold and silver into Ireland were repealed. The
Irish were allowed to import foreign hops. They were allowed to become
members of the Turkey Company, and to carry on a direct trade between
Ireland and the Levant Sea.[134]

"Thus fell to the ground that great system of commercial restriction
which began under Charles II., which under William III. acquired a
crushing severity, and which had received several additional clauses
in the succeeding reigns. The measures of Lord North, though obviously
due in a great measure to intimidation and extreme necessity, were at
least largely, wisely, and generously conceived, and they were the main
sources of whatever material prosperity Ireland enjoyed during the next
twenty years. The English Parliament had been accustomed to grant a
small bounty--rising in the best years to £13,000--on the importation
into England of the plainer kinds of Irish linen. After the immense
concessions made to Irish trade, no one could have complained if this
bounty had been withdrawn, but North determined to continue it. He
showed that it had been of real use to the Irish linen manufacture, and
he strongly maintained that the prosperity of Ireland must ultimately
prove a blessing to England."[135]

Speaking at the Guildhall in Bristol in 1780, Edmund Burke thus
described the concessions to Ireland and the series of circumstances to
which these measures owed their origin:--

"The whole kingdom of Ireland was instantly in a flame. Threatened by
foreigners, and, as they thought, insulted by England, they resolved at
once to resist the power of France and to cast off yours. As for us,
we were able neither to protect nor to restrain them. Forty thousand
men were raised and disciplined without commission from the Crown;
two illegal armies were seen with banners displayed at the same time
and in the same country. No executive magistrate, no judicature in
Ireland, would acknowledge the legality of the army which bore the
King's commission, and no law or appearance of law authorised the army
commissioned by itself. In this unexampled state of things, which the
least error, the least trespass on our part would have hurried down the
precipice into an abyss of blood and confusion, the people of Ireland
demanded a freedom of trade with arms in their hands. They interdict
all commerce between the two nations; they deny all new Supply in
the House of Commons, although in time of war; they stint the trust
of the old revenue given for two years to all the King's predecessors
to six months. The British Parliament, in a former session frightened
into a limited concession by the menaces of Ireland, frightened out
of it by the menaces of England, were now frightened back again, and
made an universal surrender of all that had been thought the peculiar,
reserved, uncommunicable rights of England--the exclusive commerce of
America, of Africa, of the West Indies, all the enumerations of the
Acts of Navigation, all the manufactures--iron, glass, even the sacred
fleece itself--all went together. No reserve, no exception, no debate,
no discussion. A sudden light broke in upon us all. It broke in, not
through well-contrived and well-disposed windows, but through flaws
and breaches, through the yawning chasms of our ruin. We were taught
wisdom by humiliation. No town in England presumed to have a prejudice
or dared to mutter a petition. What was worse, the whole Parliament
of England, which retained authority for nothing but surrenders, was
despoiled of every shadow of its superintendence. It was, without
any qualification, denied in theory as it had been trampled upon in

"The chain," says Mr. Froude, "was allowed to remain till it was broken
by the revolt of the American colonies, and Ireland was to learn the
deadly lesson that her real wrongs would receive attention only when
England was compelled to remember them through fear."[137]

The commercial privileges thus obtained would have been practically
valueless unless accompanied with legislative independence. I have
explained the system by which measures proposed by the Irish Parliament
were robbed of their efficiency by the action of the English and Irish
Privy Councils. "To prevent," says Mr. Froude, "the Irish Parliament
from being troublesome, it was chained by Poynings' Act; and when the
Parliament was recalcitrant, laws were passed by England over its
head." At this time the English Privy Council actively exercised its
influence on the commercial legislation of the Irish Parliament. "The
business of sugar-refining had recently taken great head in Ireland,
and the Irish Parliament sought to defend it against the English
monopoly by an import duty on refined sugar; while they sought to give
it a fair stimulus by admitting raw sugar at a low rate. This the Privy
Council reversed, reducing the duty on refined sugar 20 per cent. under
the drawback allowed in England to the English refiner on export, and
thereby giving the latter a virtual premium to that amount, and also
increasing the duty on the raw sugar. The time was ill-chosen for
further invasions on Irish rights."[138] "Several minor circumstances
concurred to exasperate the Irish people still further, and to render
irrevocable and, soon after, irresistible, their determination to have
a free Parliament, without which they said they never could obtain
the extension of their trade amongst other benefits sought, nor even
be sure of preserving what had been conceded to them."[139] Chief
Justice Whiteside has given, in a few words, this spirited and accurate
description of the attainment of Irish legislative independence--"Down
went Poynings' Law, useful in its day; down went the Act of Philip
and Mary; down went the obnoxious statute of George I.; the Mutiny
Bill was limited; restrictions on Irish trade vanished; the ports were
opened; the Judges were made irremovable and independent. I cannot join
in the usual exultation at the proceedings of the volunteers; on the
contrary, I regret their occurrence. Not that I think the resolutions
carried at Dungannon were in themselves unjust; not that I would
hesitate to claim for Ireland all the rights possessed by our English
fellow-subjects; but because all these inestimable advantages were not
granted by the wisdom of the Government, through the recognised channel
of Parliament, and were carried at the point of the bayonet. The
precedent was dangerous. Had Walpole been alive he would have repented
his blunder in listening to Primate Boulter, and refusing to be advised
by the counsels of Swift. But the deed was done."[140] On the 16th of
April, 1782, in the Irish House of Commons, Grattan thus expressed his
high-wrought enthusiasm:--

"I found Ireland on her knees. I watched over her with an eternal
solicitude. I have traced her progress from injuries to arms, and from
arms to liberty. Spirit of Swift, spirit of Molyneux, your genius has
prevailed. Ireland is now a nation. In that new character I hail her,
and bowing in her august presence, I say, Esto Perpetua."[141]


[121] Reg. _v._ O'Connell, p. 533. This observation was made by Mr.
(afterwards Chief Justice) Whiteside in his speech in defence of Mr.
(now Sir C. Gavan) Duffy, in the State Trials, 1844.

[122] "Case of Ireland," p. 105.

[123] Swift's Works (Scott's Edition), vol. vi., p. 448.

[124] "Life and Death of the Irish Parliament," p. 89.

[125] "Commercial Restraints," pp. 211-213.

[126] "Commercial Restraints," re-edited, with sketch of the author's
life, introduction, notes, and index, by Rev. W. G. Carroll, M.A.
Dublin: M. H. Gill & Son.

[127] Swift's Works (Scott's Edition), vol. vi., p. 275.

[128] _Ibid._, vol. vii., p. 182.

[129] "Tracts and Treatises" (Ireland), 2, p. 161.

[130] "Life and Death of the Irish Parliament," p. 125.

[131] "English in Ireland," ii. 239, 240.

[132] The dissentient voice was that of Sir R. Heron, Secretary to the

[133] "Parliamentary Debates," 14, pp. 83-85.

[134] 20 Geo, III. (Eng.), cc. 6, 10, 18.

[135] "Eighteenth Century," iv. 500, 501. Some commercial concessions
which were, however, manifestly insufficient, had been previously
granted. See "Eighteenth Century," iv., pp. 429, 430, 451.

[136] Edmund Burke on "Irish Affairs," edited by M. Arnold, pp. 129,

[137] "English in Ireland," vol. ii., p. 104.

[138] "An Argument for Ireland," by J. O'Connell, M.P., p. 171.

[139] "An Argument for Ireland," p. 172.

[140] "Life and Death of the Irish Parliament," p. 126.

[141] Grattan's "Speeches," i. 183.


The commercial relations between England and Ireland in the interval
between 1782 and 1800 should be clearly understood.

Ireland had, by the Acts of 1779 and 1780, obtained the freedom of
foreign and colonial trade, both of export and of import.

By an Act of 1793, she had obtained liberty to re-export foreign and
colonial goods from her own shores to England.[142]

She had, by an English Act of the same year, got the illusory privilege
of having an eight-hundred-ton East Indiaman to make up a cargo for
the East in her ports. But she had not free trade to the East, nor had
she the admission to English ports for her goods.[143] "The practical
boon," says Mr. Butt, "that was won for the Irish nation (by the
Volunteers), was the right of the Parliament of Ireland to control our
own harbours, and to regulate our own trade. Of course the trade of
Ireland was subject to the interference which England could exercise by
her dominion over the colonies and dependencies of the Imperial Crown.
A law which would have prohibited the exportation of Irish goods either
to England or France or Canada, would have been beyond the power of
the English Parliament to pass, but it was perfectly competent to that
Parliament to prohibit the importation of these goods into England or
Canada, just in the same manner as the French Government might have
prohibited their importation into France. The English Parliament was
the supreme legislature for England and the colonies, and had just the
same power of legislating against the importation of Irish products, as
they would have had against those of Holland or of France."

Thus stood the Irish Parliament in constitutional position from 1782
until its dissolution.[144]

England, as we have seen, had laid prohibitory duties on Irish
manufactures, whereas Ireland, bound by the chain of Poynings' Law,
was unable to protect her own industries. "It was very natural," in
the words of Mr. Pitt, "that Ireland, with an independent legislature,
should now look for perfect equality."

In 1783 Mr. Griffiths, advocating in the Irish House of Commons the
protection of Irish manufacturers, said: "Lord North knew very well
when he granted you a free trade that he gave you nothing, or, at most,
a useless bauble, and when petitions were delivered against our free
trade by several manufacturing towns in England, he assured them in
circular letters that nothing effectual had or should be granted to

The Irish Parliament, however, on obtaining legislative independence,
refrained from measures of retaliation in the hope that the commercial
relations of both countries would be settled on a satisfactory basis.

Mr. Pitt, in introducing in the English House of Commons his celebrated
Commercial Propositions for the regulation of trade between England
and Ireland, thus speaks: "To this moment (February, 1785) no change
had taken place in the intercourse between Great Britain and Ireland
themselves. Some trivial points, indeed, had been changed, but no
considerable changes had taken place in our manufactures exported to
Ireland, or in theirs imported to England. That, therefore, which
had been done was still believed by the people of Ireland to be
insufficient, and clamours were excited and suggestions published in
Dublin and elsewhere of putting duties on our products and manufactures
under the name of protecting duties."[146]

Chief Justice Whiteside thus states summarily the scope of Mr. Pitt's

"It was proposed to allow the importation of the produce of all other
countries through Great Britain into Ireland, or through Ireland into
Great Britain, without any increase of duty on that account. It was
proposed, as to any article produced or manufactured in Ireland or
in England, where the duties were then different on importation into
either country, to reduce those duties in the kingdom where they were
highest down to the lower scale. And it was asked from Ireland that
when the gross hereditary revenue should rise above a fixed sum, the
surplus should be appropriated towards the support of the naval force
of the Empire. These propositions passed through both branches of the
Irish Legislature, were remitted to England, and by Pitt laid before
the British House of Commons. He was immediately attacked by Fox and
the Whigs, aided by Lord North, who one and all declared themselves
the uncompromising enemies of free trade. And these factious men
declared that in the interests of the British manufacturers they could
not allow Irish fustians to be brought into England to ruin English
manufacturers. The fustian they affected to fear was nothing to be
compared with the fustian of their speeches. The enlightened views
of the great Conservative minister were in a measure baffled by the
shameful opposition of Fox, and of his friends in Parliament, and of
thick-headed cotton manufacturers out of the House. The result was
that Pitt was coerced to introduce exceptions and limitations. The
eleven propositions grew up to twenty, the additional propositions
relating to various subjects, patents, copyrights, fisheries, colonial
produce, navigation laws, the enactment as to which was that whatever
navigation laws were then, or should thereafter be enacted by the
Legislature of Great Britain, should also be enacted by the Legislature
of Ireland; and in favour of the old East India Company monopoly,
Ireland was debarred from all trade beyond the Cape of Good Hope to
the Straits of Magellan." "There seemed to be nothing hurtful to the
pride of Ireland in the affair. But when Fox found that his great rival
defeated him on the commercial part of the question, he artfully, as
Lord Stanhope shows, changed his ground of attack, and availing himself
of the limitations which Pitt had been compelled to introduce into his
original scheme, Fox cried out that this was a breach of Ireland's
newly-granted independence. 'I will not,' said Fox, with incredible
hypocrisy, or with incredible folly, 'I will not barter English
commerce for Irish slavery, this is not the price I would pay, nor is
this the thing I would purchase.'" "When the twenty propositions of Mr.
Pitt were returned to the Irish Parliament, they encountered a fierce
and protracted opposition. Mr. Grattan's speech has been extolled as
one of his ablest--it is not intemperate. His chief objection was to
the fourth resolution, by which he said, 'We are to agree to subscribe
whatever laws the Parliament (of England) shall subscribe respecting
navigation; we are to have no legislative power--then there is an end
of your free trade and of your free Constitution.' He also curiously
objected that the measure was 'an union--an incipient and a creeping
union--a virtual union establishing one will in the general concerns
of commerce and navigation, and reposing that will in the Parliament
of Great Britain.'" "Dublin was illuminated, the people exulted in the
abandonment of the scheme."[147]

"It was not," says Mr. John O'Connell, "till after a fair experiment
and delay that the Irish Parliament, despairing of getting England
to terms by fair means, commenced retaliation. To this we have the
incontestable testimony of the Commissioners of Revenue Inquiry in
1822, an authority by no means disposed to be over-favourable to Irish
interests or over-anxious for the credit of the Irish Parliament. In
their fourth report, speaking of the system of restrictions on English
goods and bounties on their own, to which that Parliament had recourse,
they say:

"Ireland was undoubtedly instigated to the adoption of this course by
the exclusive spirit of the commercial policy of England. It will be
found that few exceptions in favour of the sister kingdom were inserted
in the list of goods absolutely prohibited to be imported into this
country (England), in which list all goods made of cotton-wool, every
description of manufactured woollen, silk, and leather, together with
cattle, sheep, malt, stuffs, and other less important articles were
at one time comprehended. In this embarrassing situation of exclusion
from the markets of Great Britain, and deriving little assistance from
foreign trade, Ireland had no other course to pursue for the protection
of her own industry except that of maintaining, by restrictive duties
on the importations from Great Britain, the manufacturing means she
possessed for the supply of her own markets."[148]

That Ireland made a great advance in prosperity in the interval
between 1782 and 1800 is in my judgment incontrovertible.

Mr. O'Connell, when conducting his own defence in the State Trials of
1844, thus spoke with reference to this subject:

"I may be asked whether I have proved that the prophecy of Fox was
realised--that the prosperity that was promised to Ireland was actually
gained by reason of her legislative independence. Now, pray, listen to
me; I shall tell you the evidence by which I shall demonstrate this
fact. It is curious that the first of them is from Mr. Pitt, again in
the speech he made in 1799 in favour of the resolutions for carrying
the Union. If he could have shown that Ireland was in distress and
destitution, that her commerce was lessened, that her manufactures
were diminished, that she was in a state of suffering and want by
reason of, or during the legislative independence of the country,
of course he would have made it his topic in support of his case,
to show that a separate Legislature had worked badly, and produced
calamities and not blessings; but the fact was too powerful for him.
He had ingenuity to avail himself of the fact, which fact he admitted;
and let us see how he admitted it. He admitted the prosperity of
Ireland, and here was his reasoning. Now, mark it. 'As Ireland,' he
said, 'was so prosperous under her own Parliament, we can calculate
that the amount of her prosperity will be trebled under a British
Legislature.' He first quoted a speech of Mr. Foster's in 1785, in
these words:--'The exportation of Irish produce to England amounts
to two millions and a half annually, and the exportation of British
produce to Ireland amounts to one million.' Instead of saying, 'You
are in want and destitution; unite with England, and you will be
prosperous,' he was driven to admit this: 'Ireland is prosperous now
with her own Parliament, but it will be trebly prosperous when you
give up that Parliament, or have it joined with the Parliament of
England.' So absurd a proposition was never yet uttered; but it shows
how completely forced he was to admit Irish prosperity, when no other
argument was left in his power; but the absurd observation I have read
to you. He gives another quotation from Foster, in which it is said
Britain imports annually £2,500,000 of our products, all, or nearly
all, duty free, and we import a million of hers, and raise a revenue
on almost every article of it. This relates to the year 1785. Pitt
goes on to say: 'But how stands the case now (1799)? The trade at this
time is infinitely more advantageous to Ireland. It will be proved
from the documents I hold in my hand--as far as relates to the mere
interchange of manufactures--that the manufactures exported to Ireland
from Great Britain in 1797 very little exceeded one million sterling
(the articles of produce amount to nearly the same sum); whilst Great
Britain, on the other hand, imported from Ireland to the amount of
more than three millions in the manufacture of linen and linen-yarn,
and between two and three millions in provisions and cattle, besides
corn and other articles of produce.' 'That,' said Mr. Pitt, 'was in
1785, three years after her legislative independence; that was the
state of Ireland.' You have seen, gentlemen, that picture. You have
heard that description. You have heard that proof of the prosperity
of Ireland. She then imported little more than one million's worth of
English manufacture; she exported two and a half millions of linen and
linen-yarn, adding to that the million of other exports. There is a
picture given of her internal prosperity. Recollect that we now (1844)
import largely English manufactures, and that the greatest part of the
price of these manufactures consists of wages which the manufacturer
gives to the persons who manufacture them. £2,500,000 worth of linen
and linen-yarn were exported, and one million of other goods. Compare
that with the present state of things. Does not every one of you know
there is scarcely anything now manufactured in Ireland, that nearly all
the manufactures used in Ireland are imported from England? I am now
showing the state of Irish prosperity at the time I am talking of. I
gave you the authority of Foster (no small one) and of Pitt for Irish
prosperity during that time. I will give you the authority of another
man that was not very friendly to the people of this country--that of
Lord Clare. Lord Clare made a speech in 1798, which he subsequently
published, and in which I find this remarkable passage, to which I
beg leave to direct your particular attention. 'There is not,' said
his lordship, 'a nation on the face of the habitable globe which has
advanced in cultivation, in manufactures, with the same rapidity in
the same period as Ireland' (namely, from 1782 to 1798). That was
the way in which Irish legislative independence worked, and I have
in support of it the evidence of Pitt, Foster, and Lord Clare; and
Lord Grey, in 1799, talking of Scotland in the same years, says: 'In
truth, for a period of more than forty years after the [Scottish]
Union, Scotland exhibited no proofs of increased industry and rising
wealth.' Lord Grey, in continuation, stated that 'till after 1748 there
was no sensible advance of the commerce of Scotland. Several of her
manufactures were not established till sixty years after the Union, and
her principal branch of manufacture was not set up, I believe, till
1781. The abolition of the heritable jurisdictions was the first great
measure that gave an impulse to the spirit of improvement in Scotland.
Since that time the prosperity of Scotland has been considerable, but
certainly not so great as that of Ireland has been within the same
period.' Lord Plunket, in his speech in 1799, in one of his happiest
efforts of oratory, speaks of her as of 'a little island, with a
population of four or five millions of people, hardy, gallant, and
enthusiastic, possessed of all the means of civilisation, agriculture,
and commerce well pursued and understood, a Constitution fully
recognised and established, her revenues, her trade, her manufactures
thriving beyond her hope, or the example of any other country of her
extent, within these few years advancing with a rapidity astonishing
even to herself, not complaining of deficiency in these respects, but
enjoying and acknowledging her prosperity.'

"Gentlemen of the Jury, I will now direct your attention to such
documents as will tend to corroborate the facts contained in those I
have already adverted to. You have heard that in 1810 a meeting was
held in Dublin to petition the Legislature for a Repeal of the Union. I
will read an unconnected passage from a speech delivered by a gentleman
belonging to a most respectable house in this city.[149] It is as
follows:--'Some of us remember this country before we recovered and
brought back our Constitution in the year 1782. We are reminded of it
by the present period. Then as now our merchants were without trade,
our shopkeepers without customers, our workmen without employment;
then as now it became the universal feeling that nothing but the
recovery of our rights could save us. Our rights were recovered, and
how soon afterwards, as if by magic, plenty smiled on us, and we
soon became prosperous and happy.' Let me next adduce the testimony
of a class of citizens who, from their position and the nature of
their avocations, were well calculated to supply important evidence
on the state of Ireland subsequent to the glorious achievements of
1782. The bankers of Dublin held a meeting on the 18th of December,
1798, at which they passed the following resolutions:--'Resolved,
that since the renunciation of the power of Great Britain in 1782 to
legislate for Ireland, the commerce and prosperity of this kingdom
have eminently increased,' 'Resolved, that we attribute these
blessings, under Providence, to the wisdom of the Irish Parliament.'
The Guild of Merchants met on the 14th January, 1799, and passed a
resolution declaring 'That the commerce of Ireland has increased,
and her manufactures improved beyond example, since the independence
of this kingdom was restored by the exertions of our countrymen in
1782. Resolved, that we look with abhorrence on any attempt to deprive
the people of Ireland of their Parliament, and thereby of their
constitutional right and immediate power to legislate for themselves.'
I have given abundance of proofs, from extracts I have read, of the
prosperity of Ireland under the fostering care of her own Parliament.
A Parliamentary document shows that, from 1785 to the period of the
Union, the increase in the consumption of teas in Ireland was 84
per cent., while it was only 45 per cent. in England. The increase
of tobacco in Ireland was 100 per cent., in England 64; in wine, in
Ireland 74 per cent., in England 52; in sugar, 57 per cent. in Ireland,
and in England 53; in coffee, in Ireland 600 per cent., in England 75.
You have this proof of the growing prosperity of Ireland from the most
incontestable evidence. No country ever so rapidly improved as Ireland
did in that period."[150]


[142] 33 Geo. III. (Eng.), c. 63.

[143] "An Argument for Ireland," p. 210.

[144] "Irish Federalism," pp. 38, 39.

[145] "Irish Debates," iii. 133.

[146] "Parliamentary Register," xvii., p. 250.

[147] "Life and Death of the Irish Parliament," pp. 142-145. Mr.
Morley's account of the part taken by Fox in this transaction is
substantially in accord with that given by Chief Justice Whiteside. See
"English Men of Letters"--"Edmund Burke," by John Morley, p. 125.

[148] "An Argument for Ireland," p. 211.

[149] A Mr. Hutton, the head of a great carriage manufactory in Dublin.

[150] "R. _v._ O'Connell," pp. 623-626. This part of Mr. O'Connell's
speech is simply an echo of the speech he delivered in 1843 during
the discussion in the Dublin Corporation on Repeal of the Union, in
which he relied on the same documentary evidence of Ireland's material
prosperity between 1782 and 1800. These proofs could easily be
multiplied. Thus Mr. Jebb, afterwards a Justice of the Court of King's
Bench in Ireland, published a pamphlet in 1798, in which he says: "In
the course of fifteen years our commerce, our agriculture, and our
manufactures have swelled to an amount that the most sanguine friends
of Ireland could not have dared to prognosticate."


The commercial arrangements effected between England and Ireland at
the time of the Union are embodied in the sixth article of the Act of
Union. This article provides that in respect of trade and navigation
the subjects of Great Britain and Ireland are to be on the same footing
from the 1st of January, 1801; that there are to be no duties or
bounties on the exportation of produce of one country to the other;
that all articles (except certain specified articles scheduled, which
were to be subject to certain countervailing duties) the produce
of either country are to be imported free from duty; that articles
enumerated in Schedule II. are to be subject for twenty years to the
duties therein mentioned; that the woollen manufacturers are to pay on
importation into each country from the other the duties now payable
on importation into Ireland; that the duties on salt, hops, and wools
are not to exceed the duties that were then paid on importation into
Ireland; that the duties on calicoes and muslins are to be liable
to the duties then payable on these commodities on importation from
Great Britain to Ireland till the 5th of January, 1808; that after
that date these duties are to be reduced to 10 per cent. till January
5th, 1821, and then to cease altogether; that duties on cotton-yarn
and cotton-twist are to be liable to the duties then payable on these
commodities[151] till January 5th, 1808; that these duties are to be
reduced annually from that date, and on the 5th of January, 1816,
to cease altogether; that the produce of either country, subject to
internal duty, is, on importation into each country, to be subject
to countervailing duty; that the produce of either country exported
through the other is to be subject to the same charges as if it had
been exported directly from the country producing it; that duties
charged on the import of foreign or colonial produce into either
country are, on their export to the other, to be drawn back so long as
the expenditure of the United Kingdom shall be defrayed by proportional
contributions, but that this provision is not to extend to duties on

The Speaker of the Irish Commons--the Right Hon. John Foster
(afterwards Lord Oriel)--was the chief among several able opponents
of these regulations. In 1799 and in 1800 he made powerful speeches
in opposition, and went largely into the subject of the commercial
relations of the two countries, and exposed their past and future
inequalities and injustices towards Irish interests. His objections to
the 6th Article of Union were, briefly, as follows:--

"That they lowered all protecting duties that were above 10 per cent.
to that amount, and thus exposed the infant manufactures of Ireland
(which the Irish Parliament had in latter years begun to protect) to
the overwhelming competition of the great capital and long-established
skill and ability of England. That no less than seventy articles of
our manufacture would thus be injured, and our cotton manufactures in
particular, in which we had begun to make most promising advances,
would be nearly ruined. That no preference over foreign goods in the
British market was given. That the 'new and excessive' duties on salt
were made perpetual, those on hops and coals unalterable. That our
brewery was left unprotected, etc., etc."

The opponents of the Union drew up a solemn and elaborate protest
in order to perpetuate on the records of Parliament, and hand down
to posterity, their views on that subject. Lord Corry moved the
Protest and Address to the King, which thus speaks of the commercial
arrangements proposed and subsequently carried out under the provisions
of the Act of Union: "Were all the advantages which without any
foundation they have declared that this measure offers, to be its
instant and immediate consequence, we do not hesitate to say expressly
that we could not harbour the thought of accepting them in exchange
for our Parliament, or that we could or would barter our freedom for
commerce, or our constitution for revenue; but the offers are mere
impositions, and we state with the firmest confidence that in commerce
or trade their measure confirms no one advantage, nor can it confirm
any, for by your Majesty's gracious and paternal attention to this
your ancient realm of Ireland, every restriction under which its
commerce laboured has been removed during your Majesty's auspicious
reign, and we are now as free to trade to all the world as Britain
is. In manufactures, any attempt it makes to offer any benefit which
we do not now enjoy is vain and delusive, and whenever it is to have
effect, that effect will be to our injury. Most of the duties on
imports which operate as protections to our manufactures, are under
its provisions either to be removed or reduced immediately, and those
which will be reduced are to cease entirely at a limited time, though
many of our manufacturers owe their existence to the protection of
those duties, and though it is not in the power of human wisdom to
foresee any precise time when they may be able to thrive without them.
Your Majesty's faithful Commons feel more than an ordinary interest in
laying this fact before you, because they have under your Majesty's
approbation raised up and nursed many of those manufactures, and
by so doing have encouraged much capital to be vested in them, the
proprietors of which are now to be left unprotected, and to be deprived
of the Parliament on whose faith they embarked themselves, their
families, and properties in the undertaking."[152]

Mr. Pitt could not have been ignorant of the effect which English
competition would produce on the infant and practically unprotected
manufactures of Ireland. Thus fifteen years previously, when
introducing his Commercial Propositions of 1785 in the English House
of Commons, he calmed the fears and raised the hopes of the English

"It was said that our manufactures were all loaded with heavy taxes.
It was certainly true, but with that disadvantage they had always
been able to triumph over the Irish in their own markets, paying an
additional ten per cent. on the importation to Ireland, and all the
charges. But the low price of labour was mentioned. Would that enable
them to undersell us? Manufacturers thought otherwise--there were great
obstacles to the planting of any manufacture. It would require time for
arts and capital, and the capital would not increase without the demand
also, and in an established manufacture improvement was so rapid as to
bid defiance to rivalship."[153]

The Irish Parliament, in wishing to protect their infant manufactures,
were strictly within the lines of modern economic science. Thus Mr.
John Stuart Mill speaks of the wisdom of protecting duties in countries
whose conditions are similar to those of Ireland as described by Mr.

"The only case in which, on mere principles of political economy,
protecting duties can be defensible, is when they are imposed
temporarily (especially in a young and rising nation) in the hopes
of naturalising a foreign industry in itself perfectly suitable to
the circumstances of the country. The superiority of one country
over another in a branch of production often arises only from having
begun it sooner. There may be no inherent advantage on one part or
disadvantage on the other, but only a present superiority of acquired
skill and experience. A country which has this skill and experience yet
to acquire may in other respects be better adapted to the production
than those that were earlier in the field; and, besides, it is a just
remark of Mr. Rae that nothing has a greater tendency to promote
improvements in any branch of production than its trial under a new
set of conditions. But it cannot be expected that individuals should
at their own risk, or rather to their certain loss, introduce a new
manufacture and bear the burthen of carrying it on until the producers
have been educated up to the level of those with whom the processes are
traditional. A protecting duty continued for a reasonable time will
sometimes be the least inconvenient mode in which the nation can tax
itself for the support of such an experiment. But the protection should
be confined to cases in which there is good ground of assurance that
the industry which it fosters will, after a time, be able to dispense
with it, nor should the domestic producers ever be allowed to expect
that it will be continued to them beyond the time necessary for a fair
trial of what they are capable of accomplishing."[154]

The Irish manufactures, which had revived by the protecting care of the
Irish Parliament, died when that safeguard was removed.

Mr. Bushe, who was eighteen years Solicitor-General under a Tory
Administration, and twenty years Chief Justice of Ireland, thus briefly
described in the Irish Parliament the course of policy pursued by
England towards the "sister country":--

"For centuries have the British nation and Parliament kept you down,
shackled your commerce, paralysed your exertions, despised your
character, and ridiculed your pretensions to any privileges, commercial
or constitutional."[155]

"I cannot think," says Mr. Chaplin, from his place in the English
House of Commons, "that any reforms or remedial legislation that may
be adopted (for Ireland) can be considered satisfactory or complete
which do not include encouragement and, if necessary, assistance for
the re-establishment of those industries which in former days were
destroyed by the bitterly unjust and selfish policy of England."[156]



[151] On importation from Great Britain to Ireland.

[152] Mr. Whiteside read this Protest in his speech in defence of Mr.
C. G. Duffy, in the State Trials, 1844. ("R. _v._ O'Connell," pp. 528,

[153] "Parliamentary Register," xvii., pp. 255, 256.

[154] "Principles of Political Economy," p. 556.

[155] "Life of Plunket," ii., p. 354.

[156] Hansard, 261, Third Series, p. 836.

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