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cles, without a reference to British duties; by this, you obtained a right to trade with the British plantations directly in each and every other article, subject to the rate of British duty; by this, you obtained a right to select the article, so that the general trade should not hang on the special conformity; and by this, you did not covenant to affect, exclude, or postpone the produce of foreign plantations. The reason was obvious; you demanded two things, a free trade and a plantation trade; had the then minister insisted on a covenant to exclude the produce of foreign plantations, he had given you a plantation trade, instead of a free trade, (whereas your demand was both,) and his grant had been inadequate, unsatisfactory, and inadmissible. These points of trade being settled, a third, in the opinion of some, remained; namely, the intercourse with England, or the channel trade. A successful political campaign, an unsuccessful harvest, the poverty of not a few, together with the example of England, brought forward, in the year 1783, a number of famishing manufacturers with a demand of protecting duties; the extent of their demand was idle, the manner of conveying that demand tumultuary, but not being wholly resisted, nor yet adequately assisted, they laid the foundation of another plan, which made its appearance in 1785, opposite, indeed, to their wishes, and fatal to their expectation; this was the system of reciprocity; a system fair in its principles, and, in process of time, likely to be beneficial, but not likely to be of any great prevOL. iv. 2 H
sent advantage, other than by stopping the growth of demand, allaying a commercial fever, and producing settlement and incorporation with the people of England; this system was founded on the only principle, which could obtain, between two independent nations, equality, and the equality consisted in similarity of duty; now, as the total abatement of duties on both sides had driven the Irishman out of his own market, as the raising our duties on the British standard had driven the Englishman out of the Irish market, a third method was resorted to, the abatement of British duty to the Irish standard: but then this equality of duty was inequality of trade; for, as the Englishman, with that duty against him, had beaten you in the Irish market, with that duty in his favour he must keep you out of the English; so that, under this arrangement, the English manufacturer continued protected, and the Irish manufacturer continued exposed, and the abatement of duty was no more than disarming the argument of retaliation. Had the arrangement stopped here, it had been unjust, indeed; but as Ireland was to covenant, that she would not raise her duties on British manufactures, England, on her part, was to covenant, that she would not diminish her preference in favour of Irish linen, and the adjustment amounted to a covenant, that neither country, in their respective markets, would affect the manufacture of the other by any operative alteration of duty; however, the adjustment did not stop at the home manufacture, it went to plantation produce, and here you stood on two grounds, law and justice; law, because you only desired, that the same words of the same act of navigation, should have the same construction on one side the channel as they have on the other; how they had ever borne a different one, I cannot conceive, otherwise than by supposing, that in your ancient state of dependency you were not entitled to the common benefit of the mother tongue; the answer to this argument] was unsatisfactory, that England had altered the law; but, if England bad so altered the law, it ceased to impose the same restrictions, and confer the same advantages, and then a doubt might arise, whether the act of nanigation was the law of Ireland, so that you seemed entitled to the construction, or free from the act. Now it is of more consequence to England, that you should be bound by the act of vavigation, than to Ireland to have the benefit of the fair construction of it. But you stood on still better ground, justice. Was it just that you should receive plantation goods from England, and that England should not receive them from you? Here, if you do not find the law equal, you may make it so, for as yet you are a free parliament.
I leave this part of the subject; equality of duty but no present equality of trade. I come to that part of the adjustment which is inequality of both; and first, that part which relates to the primum of your manufactures. When the original propositions were argued, gentlemen exclaimed, "England reserves her wool, and Ireland does not reserve her woollen 3'arn/' it was answered, "Ireland may if she pleases," what will those gentlemen now say, when England reserves both; the primum of her manufactures, and of yours; and not only woollen yarn but linen yarn, hides, &c.? To tell me that this exportation is beneficial to Ireland, is to tell me nothing; the question is not about stopping the export, but giving up the regulation, in instances where England retains the power of regulation, and the act of prohibition. To tell me, that this exportation is necessary for England, is to tell me nothing, but that you are material to England, and therefore should have obtained at least equal terms. I own, to assist the manufactures of Great Britain as far as is not absolutely inconsistent with those of Ireland, is to me an object; but still the difference recurs, she is not content with voluntary accommodation on your part; but exacts perpetual export from you in the very article in which she retains absolute prohibition—no new prohibition—every prohibition beneficial to England was laid before—none in favour of Ireland. Ireland, till 1779, was a province, and every province is a victim; your provincial state ceased, but before the provincial regulations are done away, this arrangement establishes a principle of uti possidetis, that is, Great Britain shall retain all her advantages, and Ireland shall retain all her disadvantages. But I leave this part of the adjustment, where reciprocity is disclaimed in the outset of treaty, and the rudiment of manufacture; I come to instances of more striking inequality, and first, your situation in the East. You are to give a monopoly to the present, or any future East India Company, during its existence, and to the British nation for ever after. It has been said, that the Irishman in this is in the same situation as the Englishman; but there is this difference, the difference between having, and not having the trade; the British Parliament has judged it most expedient for Great Britain to carry on her trade to the East, by an exclusive company; the Irish Parliament is now to determine it most expedient for Ireland to have no trade at all in these parts. This is not a surrender of the political rights of the constitution, but of the natural rights of man; not of the privileges of parliament, but of the rights of nations,—not to sail beyond the Cape of Good Hope and the Streights of Magellan, an awful interdict! Not only European settlements, but neutral countries excluded, and God's providence shut out in the most opulent boundaries of creation; other interdicts go to particular places for local reasons, because they belong to certain European states, but here are neutral regions forbidden, and a path prescribed to the Irishman on open sea. Other interdicts go to a determinate period of time, but here is an eternity of restraint; you are to have no trade at all, during the existence of any company, and no free trade to those countries after its expiration; this resembles rather a judgment of God than an act of the legislature, whether you measure it by immensity of space or infinity of dura