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acquiring and diffusing national wealth; the stability of whose government, and the excellence of whose constitution, are more than ever the admiration and envy of Europe; and to which the very country of which we are speaking can only boast an imperfect resemblance;—under such circumstances, I would ask, what conduct would be prescribed by every rational principle of dignity, of honor, or of interest ? I would ask, whether this is not a faithful description of the circumstances which ought to dispose Ireland to an union, and whether Great-Britain is not precisely the nation with which, on these principles, a country, situated as Ireland is, would desire to unite. Does an union, under such circumstances, by free consent, and on just and equal terms, deserve to be branded as a proposal for subjecting Ireland to a foreign yoke Is it not rather the free and voluntary association of two great countries, which join, for their common benefit, in one empire, where each will retain its proportional weight and importance, under the security of equal laws, reciprocal affection, and inseparable interests; and which want nothing but that indissoluble connexion to render both invincible
Nec Teucris Italos parere jubebo,
Nec nova regna peto : paribus se legibus amba:
The objection drawn from the injury which Ireland might suffer by the absence of her chief nobility and ... gentry, who would flock to the imperial metropolis, was obviated by remarking, that, though this effect would take place during a part of the year, the disadvantage would be more than counterbalanced by the operation
of the system in other respects. To prove his assertion, Mr. Pitt thus argued. ‘If it be true that this measure has an inevitable tendency to
to admit the introduction of that British capital which is most likely to give life to all the operations of commerce, and to all the improvements of agriculture; if it be that which above all other considerations is most likely to give security, quiet, and internal repose to Ireland; if it be likely to remove the chief bar to the internal advancement of wealth and of civilisation, by a more intimate intercourse with England, and to communicate those habits which distinguish this country, and which, by a continued gradation, unite the highest and the lowest orders of the community without a chasm in any part of the system ; if it be not only calculated to invite English capital to set commerce in motion, but to offer it the use of new markets, to open fresh resources of wealth and industry; can wealth, can industry, can civilisation increase among the whole bulk of the people without greatly overbalancing the partial effect of the removal of the few individuals who, for a small part of the year, would follow the seat of legislation ? If, notwithstanding the absence of the parliament from Dublin, it would still remain the centre of education and of the internal commerce of an improving country; if it would still remain the seat of legal discussion, which must always increase with an increase of property and occupation; will it be supposed, with a view even to the interests of those whose partial interests have been most successfully appealed to, with a view to the respectable body of the bar, to the mer. chant or shopkeeper of Dublin, that they would not find their proportionate share of advantage in the general benefit of the state Let it also be remembered, that, if the transfer of the seat of legislature may call from Ireland to England the members of the united parliament, yet, after the union, property, influence, - and
and consideration in Ireland, will lead, as much as in Britain, to all the objects of imperial ambition; and there will consequently exist a new incitement to persons to acquire property in that country, and to those who possess it, to reside there and to cultivate the good opinion of those with whom they live, and to extend and improve their influence and connexions.” On this question, he added, we might refer to: experience. The union with Scotland had been as strongly opposed as the present scheme, particularly by those who dreaded the depopulation of that country: but it appeared that Edinburgh had, since the loss of its parliament, more than doubled its population, and that of Glasgow had increased in the proportion of between five and six to one. There was no ground, therefore, for the gloomy apprehensions of depopulation which had been so industriously excited. To remove the fears of those who apprehended that the commercial privileges now enjoyed by Ireland would be less secure after an union than at present, he observed, that, if the British parliament, unbound by compact, had cherished those privileges amidst an imperfect and precarious connexion, and amidst the jealousies of rival manufacturers, such advantages were more likely to be retained when the union would be complete, and when all grounds of jealousy would give way to a community of interests. As the adversaries of the union had propagated an idea that the main principle of the measure was to subject Ireland to a load of debt and an increase of taxes, and to expose her to the consequences of all our difficulties and necessities, he judged it necessary to refute this misrepresentation by saying, “ The zeal, the - spirit,
spirit, the liberal and enlarged policy of this country, have, I hope, given ample proof that we do not seek an union from pecuniary motives. If it be not desirable on the grounds l have stated, it cannot be recommended for the mere purpose of taxation; but, to quiet any jealousy on this subject, here again let us look to Scotland. Is there any instance where, with fortyfive members on her part, and five hundred and thirteen on ours, that part of the united kingdom has paid more than its due proportion to the general burthens? Can it then be apprehended that we shall tax Ireland more heavily when she becomes associated with ourselves To tax in its due proportion the whole of the empire, to the utter exclusion of the idea of the predominance of one part of society over another, is the great characteristic of British finance, as equality of laws is of the British constitution. “When we come to the details of this proposition, it is in our power to fix, for any number of years which shall be thought fit, the proportion by which the contribution of Ireland to the expences of the state shall be regulated, and to determine that these proportions shall not be such as would make a contribution greater than the amount of its present necessary expences as a separate kingdom. Even after that limited period, the proportion of the whole contribution, from time to time, may be made to depend on the comparative produce, in each country, of such general taxes as may be thought to afford the best criterion of wealth; or the system of internal taxation may gradually be so equalised and assimilated, on the leading articles, as to make all rules of specific proportion unnecessary, and to secure Ireland from being ever taxed but in proportion as we tax ourselves. - • The • The application of these principles, however, will form matter of future discussion; I mention them only as strongly showing, from the misrepresentation which has taken place on this part of the subject, how incumbent it is upon the house to receive these propositions, and to adopt, after due deliberation, such resolutions as may record to Ireland the terms upon which we are ready to meet her. And, in the mean time, let us wait, not without impatience, but without dissatisfaction, for that moment, when the effect of reason and discussion may reconcile the minds of men, in that kingdom, to a measure which I am sure will be found as necessary for their peace and happiness as it will be conducive to the general security and advantage of the British empire.”
Mr. Pitt then presented to the house eight resolutions which he had prepared, embracing the general plan of union.
I.—* In order to promote and secure the essential interests of Great-Britain and Ireland, and to consolidate the strength, power, and resources of the British empire, it will be adviseable to concur in such measures as may best tend to unite the two kingdoms of Great-Britain and Ireland into one kingdom, in such manner, and on such terms and conditions, as may be established by acts of the respective parliaments of his majesty's said kingdoms.
II.- It would be fit to propose as the first article, to serve as a basis of the said union, that the said kingdoms of Great-Britain and Ireland shall, on a day to be agreed upon, be united into one kingdom, by the name of the UNITED KINGDom of GREAT-BR1
TAIN AND IRELAND.