Page images

and a multitude of harbours. Human affairs, how- ca 4 p. ever, are so constituted by providence, that the ef-^ ^ fe6ls of injustice revert to its autho.s. Deprived ef the means of subsistence at home, thousands of Irish manufacturers emigrated to France and other countries, where they assisted the inhabitants in the augmentation of the quantity, and improvement of the quality, of their woollen cloths, and established CQrrespondences, by which vast quantities of Irish wpp}, whose exportation, except to England, was prohibited, were carried clandestinely to these countries. Thus the foreign demand for English cloth was prodigiously more lessened than it could ever have been by any exertions of Irish industry at home: the French were enabled not only to supply their own demands but even to undersell the English in the markets of other nations: and thus, for every thousand pounds of profit which Ireland might have acquired by a participation with England in this trade, the latter has lost ten thousand.

The destruction of the woollen manufacture was £Qt the only evil of Ireland from the prohibitions imposed by the English legislature. Beside a variety of restrictions, embargoes have been frequently laid en the exportation of provisions, ruinous to the agriculture and other species of industry. Monopoly is the fallacious object of men merely commercial: and, if the parliament of England had been influenced to the foil extent by the applications of such, Ireland must have been in great part depopulated. For instance, two petitions were presented in 1698, ; Vol. II O by c H A p. by the people of Folkstone in Kent, and Aldborough


'v^y^/ in Suffolk, stating a grievance which they sustained from Ireland, "by the Irish catching herrings at Waterford and Wexford, and sending them to the Streights, and thereby forestalling and ruining petitioners' markets." To impute blame to William, who complied with the request of the English commons for the suppression of the woollen trade of Ireland, would be unjust. Charles the second, though an unprincipled man, had seen, and for some time ineffectually opposed, the injustice of the English parliament in the prohibition of Irish cattle. So wise and just a monarch as William must have perceived, and inwardly condemned, an impolicy far more deleterious: but he was obliged to give way to the caprices Of the commons, whose factious and ungrateful demeanour proved irksome on several occasions. A remarkable case .of this kind had place in the affairs of Ireland. Resumption To reward the services of his dependants, this futures, monarch, who, from the insufficiency of parliamentary supplies, was not otherwise enabled, had made seventy-six grants of the forfeited estates in Ireland. Offended at this act of prerogative, the English commons unjustly charged the king with breach of promise in not having left the forfeitures to the disposal of parliament for the discharge of public debts, and passed a bill for the sending of seven commissioners to enquire into the value of the confiscated lands, and the reasons of their alienation from th]e public. Of these commissioners three were disposed


to a6t with moderation; the rest with a partiality Chap.

1 J xxxv.

pleasing to the commons; who accordingly voted ^—v—"',

that the report of them only was worthy of credit., and that the advising and conferring of these grants was highly derogatory to the king's honour. A' bill for the resumption of the granted hinds, as public property, passed the lower house; afterwards, not without much disputation, the upper; and at length received the royal assent, in the giving of which the king expressed extreme dissatisfaction. As the properties of great numbers, beside the grantees, were involved in these grants, trustees were vested with uncontroulable authority for the determining of claims, and disposal of lands to purchasers. Although, aware of the violence of the a6l of resumption, the commons had voted, contrary to the constitutional rights of the subjects, that no petition should be received against it, petitions were sent in multitudes against the act, and against the conduct of the trustees, who were charged with injustice and venality. These re-' presentations were pronounced false and scandalous by the lower house of English parliament, though the value of the granted lands, which had been estimated by the commissioners at fifteen hundred thousand pounds, proved in the hands of the trustees hardly more than a third of that sum.

In the reign of queen Anne, who succeeded onProci.<.ain.s the death of William in 1701, we find little of im-of P"Iia


portance beside the complaints of national poverty, 1703» the violence of party spirit, and a rigorous augmentation of penal statutes against catholics. By a par.-.,.; o 2 liament

Chap, liament convened in 1703, by the duke of Ormond,

i , J successor, as lord lieutenant, to Laurence Hyde, earl

of Rochester, a supply not exceeding a hundred and fifty thousand pounds, was granted for this and the following year: an unavailing representation of grievances was made to her Majesty, among which were the invasion of their constitutional rights by a foreign judicature, the corrupt and oppressive con* du6i of the trustees of the forfeited estates, the misery arising from the restrictions of commerce, and, beside some other causes of complaint, the infrequency of a parliamentary convention, which had not been held since the year 1698; useless pensions to the annual amount of sixteen thousand pounds, were abolished, a laudable example seldom since followed: an a6l was passed for settling the succession to the crown in the same line in which it had already been settled by an a6t in England: and in a bill to prevent the further growth of popery, new severities were ena6ted against the catholics. As the queen, who was then in close alliance, with the emperor of Germany, had requested some indulgence for the protestant subje&s of that monarch, the English cabinet, wishing to prevent the passing of a persecuting law at such a time, and, on the other hand, fearing to disoblige the powerful party who favoured the measure, had recourse to a subterfuge. Hoping thereby to raise an effectual opposition from the in* terest ef the dissenting protestants, they added to the bill a clause, by which all persons in Ireland were rendered incapable of any employment under the


crown, or of being magistrates in any city, who Chap.


should not receive, agreeably to the English test a6t, \^—J the sacrament as prescribed by the established church. In this hope the queen's ministers were disappointed, for the dissenters, cajoled with the expectation of the speedy repeal of this clause, made no opposition, and the bill passed into a law, notwithstanding the pleadings against it, at the bars of both houses, by Sir Theobald Butler, Sir Stephen Rice, and Mr. Malone, as council for the catholics, who regarded it as a breach of the articles of Limerick. The dissenters also were grievously disappointed, for the clause, so obnoxious to them, called the sacramental test, remained unrepealed, notwithstanding their repeated applications to government.

Resentment against the bigotry, the intolerent spirit P«i «**■ of the eatholics, the dreadful abuse of power to which they bad too forcibly shewn themselves inclined, Was doubtless the chief cause of incitement to the Irish parliament in the reign of Anne, for the enaction in this and other sessions, of those penal statutes, which are so disgraceful to a protestant legislature; But those laws which seemed intended for its punishment or suppression, were most powerfully fitted for the strengthening and confirming of bigotry, since their immediate effects were hatred to the ruling party, and debasement of the intellect. William, though educated in the principles of the calvinists, a sefct most adverse to the church of Rome, and though the only momentous opposition to the establishment of his government in the British islands

o§ had

« PreviousContinue »