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cil, by which Ireland had imposed duties on some articles of British export ; and when we considered the perpetual shifting of government there, and that every three months wafted over a new lord lieutenant, the only wonder was, that the principles of connection between the two countries had been so steadily adhered to. The clamour and riots of Dublin had been restored to as pretences for this arrangement. That sort of argument had already been sufficiently reprobated. But if they must attend to clamour, let the meaning of it, where there was any, be preferred to the noise. Had the Irish clamoured for the present settlement, or for any one article contained in it? Had they been loud in demanding access to the British market, in preference to protecting du. ties? Had they requested to be tried for ever to the Bri. tish monopoly in the West Indies, and to have the price of the commodities of those colonies increased to them? Had they complained that fortune had offered them the trade of the United States of America, withoŲt condition or restraint? Had they vehemently expressed their apprehensions, that the rich commerce of the East would speedily be opened to them, if effectual measures were not taken to prevent it? Had they regretted that they were burthened with a surplus of the hereditary revenue ? Had they called out that they were tired of their legislative independence, and intreated to be relieved from it? But the fallacy of such allegations stood in no need of refutation. The true spring and incentive to this complicated business evidently lurked in the fourth pernicious resolution, the tendency of which was of a piece with their whole system of government in Ireland, with the arbitrary and illegal proceedings of their agents in the business of attachments, with their attacks on the liberty of the press ; measures, arguing a mind hostile to the true principles of a constitutional freedom, and justifying the presumption, that similar steps would be pur. sued in this country if they could be practised with eqau! impunity.
And by what argument was it that Ireland was to be induced to relinquish her rights? could it be stated that she had ever once exercised them to the injury of this country? No; but it was possible she might do so. And was it not equally possible that Britain might abuse the trust, and employ this concession to the detriment of Ireland ? It was argued that the malice of party, the interested views of mercantile speculation, or the folly of narrow politicians, might at some time or other lead Ireland, even at the expence of her interest, to measures which might embarrass the trade and navigation of the empire. And had Ireland nothing to apprehend from party, from mercantile avarice, or from blind and narrow policy? Two hundred thousand manufacturers, if they were to believe the chancellor of the exchequer, were at that moment, and in that individual business, either influenced by the suggestions of faction, or blinded by prejudice and selfishness. Mr. Sheridan produced various instances in which Britain might employ the power of legislation for both countries to the oppression of Ireland. She might restrain the trade of the colonies to vessels of considerable burthen, and a proportional number of seamen. England had large ships and numerous crews, Ireland had neither. She might make it a condition, that no ship should clear out a cargo from the West Indies, unless she carried thither a stipulated quantity of some British manufacture, not to be obtained in Ireland.
Mr. Sheridan entered into a minute detail in order to prove, that in the system of the propositions every thing was sacrifice and surrender on the part of Ireland. But though he could not go with the manufacturers of this country to the extent of the evils which they apprehend. ed, there was one point, however, in which he completely agreed with them, that the gain of Ireland must be the loss of England. Ireland, Mr. Sheridan said, must not endeavour to rise on the ruin of the trade of Great Britain. She must not aim to thrive avowedly. Vol. II,
at the expence of the British manufacturer, however alluring the prospect. Not justice and generosity alone, but interest and policy would call upon her to desist from the attempt. Possibly at first she might find profit and advantage in the contest; but how was a great part of this advantage to be obtained ? By means incompatible with the true spirit and principles of commercial prosperity : by a lax execution of her revenue laws; by the corrupt countenance of her legislature to such a conduct; by stealing her manufactures into this country; by passing those of foreign countries for her own; by obtaining a transfer of capital, and enticing over artists and workmen by false hopes, and ill-founded prospects. In short, by smuggling, by evading, by defrauding, by conniving, by deceiving. The profit earned by such means, would immediately and deeply injure the sister kingdom. But that would not long continue. The consequence would be, that even the name of Irishman would become odious and detestable to the commercial interests of Great Britain ; and Ireland would soon be taught to know, while she was pressing her own advantage upon the present settlement, that she had by the same settlement surrendered in our hands the power of crippling her commerce, of chastising her presumption, and of reducing her to her former state of abject depend.
Mr. Sheridan concluded with declaring that if he were a person of consideration in that kingdom, so far from encouraging the people to struggle for the British market, he should conceive it to be what he owed to the interest of his countrymen, earnestly to call upon them to turn away their eyes and thoughts from that object; to attempt no race with the British manufacturer; to shun as the greatest evil, the jealousies, the heart-burnings, and the destructive ill-will which would necessarily breed upon such a competition ; circumstanced so peculiarly with respect to burthens as Great Britain was, and biassed by rooted habits of thinking upon this par.
ticular subject. He would endeavour to persuade them, by fair and gentle means, to increase the home consumption of the produce of their own industry ; and by systematic and vigorous enterprise, to aim at a successful intercourse with every foreign port. There, if they met the British merchant, it would be a liberal emulation. There he could have no innovation or unfairness to complain of, and if successfully rivalled, he would be con. scious that the increasing wealth of Ireland from such a source, might with truth be stated to be a fund for the general commerce of England, and anaugmentation of the common defence of the empire. Thus Ireland might be addressed under her present circumstances. But let the settlement now proposed be once established, and what would be the answer? Would not the Irish merchant and manufacturer reply, “ What you recommend to us is unreasonable and preposterous; we have bound ourselves for ever to the monopolies of Great Britain ; we are crippled in our intercourse with the states of Ame. rica ; our dreams of being the emporium for the foreign countries of Europe, are become visionary and ridiculous; we have surrendered our constitution into the hands of the British parliament. For all this the British market is our compensation. Upon that we are compelled to fasten our mind ; to that we must cling, and if Great Britain suffer by it, the mischief is of her own seeking, and the restrictions which force us to the contest, are of her own imposing.” These would by the happy fruits of a plan, whose boasted object was to cement the union of the two countries in bonds of eternal amity and reciprocal affection!
Replied to Mr. Sheridan in a style considerably mark, ed with invective. He charged that gentleman with inconsistency, and with having for many weeks concealed his intentions so effectually, as to leave it a doubt whether he were friendly or inimical to the proposed ar. rangement. But the conduct of Mr. Sheridan was not to be wondered at, when it was remembered how inconsistent all the measures of the party, of which he was the mouth, were in themselves, and how inconsistent the persons who composed that party were with each other, Still their pursuits, however various and contradictory, had one uniform tendency. Whether they reprobated on this day what they had approved on the preceding, or whether one individual differed from or coincided with the rest of his associates, still the effects of all their efforts, of the artful silence of one man, and the prolix declamations of another, were to be the same; to embarrass and confound the measures of administration, to embroil and disunite the affections of their fellow-subjects; to excite groundless alarms, and foment the most dangerous discontents. Mr. Pitt enlarged with some hu. mour on the pains which gentlemen had taken to de. precate in their speeches any imputation of inflammatory or dangerous intentions. It was not for him to determine whether their intentions were really so bad as they seem. ed apprehensive they should appear. On the present occasion, however, he predicted they would have no occasion to exult. The proposition, which so much pains had been taken to wrest, instead of being insidious with