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mediately and distinctly to that part of the subject; and as I know that the statement will carry more conviction with it to those who make the inquiry, if given in the words of the right honorable gentleman, to whom, and to whose opinions I have had more than one occasion to advert in the course of this night, I will read you an extract from his recorded sentiments on the subject, in the year 1785, on this same memorable occasion of the com. mercial propositions. Speaking of a solid and unaltere able compact between the two countries, speaking expressly of the peculiar importance of insuring the continuance of those commercial benefits, which she at that time held only at the discretion of this country, he says, • The exportation of Irish products to England amounts to two millions and an half annually ; and the exportation of Břịtish products to Ireland amounts to but one million.'
He then proceeds to reason upon the advantage which Ireland would derive, under such circumstances, from guarding against mutual prohibitions; and he accompanies the statement, which I have just read, with this observation : “ If, indeed, the adjustment were to take away
the benefit from Ireland, it would be a good cause for rejecting it; but as it for ever confirms all the advantages we derived from our linen trade, and, binds England from making any law that can be injurious to it, surely, gentlemen who regard that trade, and whose fortunes and rents depend upon its prosperity, will not entertain a moment's doubt about embracing the offer.
“ Such was the reasoning of the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer, which I consider to be perfectly just. With reference to his late opinions, I do not think I can more forcibly reply to a person who signs his name to propo
sitions which declare that the ruin of the linen trade of Ireland is likely to be the consequence of an union, than by opposing to him his own opinion. I shall be able to strengthen the former opinion of that gentleman, by stating, that the progress that has been made in commercial advantages to Ireland, since 1785, has been such as to render his argument still more applicable. What is the nature of that commerce, explained by the same person in so concise and forcible a manner, that I am happy to use his own statement ? He does not confine himself to the gross amount, but gives the articles in detail.
“ Britain," he says, “imports annually from us two million five hundred thousand pounds of our products, all, or very nearly all, duty free, and covenants never to lay a duty on them. We import about a million of hers, and raise a revenue on almost every article of it, and reserve the power of continuing that revenue. to us salt for our fisheries and provisions ; hops which we cannot grow; coals which we cannot raise ; tin which we have not; and bask which we cannot get elsewhere; and all these without reserving any duty.'
“ I will not tire the patience of the House by reading farther extracts; but the right honorable gentleman's whole speech, in like manner, points out the advantages of the commercial propositions (at that time under consideration) as a ground-work or a compact between the two countries, in 1785, on commercial subjects. But how stands the case now? The trade is at this time in. finitely more advantageous to Ireland. It will be proved, from the documents which 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 a million sterling (the articles
, of produce amount to nearly the same sum) while Great
Britain, on the other hand, imported from Ireland to the amount of near three millions in the manufactured ar. ticles of linen and linen yarn, and between two and three millions in provisions and cattle, besides corn and other articles of produce.
“ In addition to these articles, there are other circumstances of advantage to Ireland. Articles which are esa sential to her trade, and to her subsistence, or serve as raw materials for her manufactures, are sent from hence free of duty. It is expressly stated, on the same authority, that all that we take back from Ireland was liable to a duty in that country on their exports ; the increasing produce of the chief article of their manufacture, and four-fifths of her whole export trade, are to be ascribed, not to that independent legislature, but to the liberality of the British parliament. It is by the free admission of linens for our market, and the bounties granted by the British parliament on its re-export, that the linen trade has been brought to the height at which we now see it. To the parliament of this country, then, it is now owing, that a market has been opened for her linen 10 the amount of three millions. By the bounty we give to Ireland, we afford her a double market for that article, and (what is still more striking and important) we have prevented a competition against her, arising from the superior cheapness of the linen manufactures of the Continent, by subjecting their importation to a duty of thirty per cent. Nothing would more clearly shew what would be the danger to Ireland from the competition in all the principal branches of its linen trade, than the simple fact, that we even now import foreign linens, under this heavy duty, to an amount equal to a seventh part of all that Ireland is able to send us, with the preference that has been stated. By this arrangement alone, we must, therefore,
be considered, either as foregoing between seven and eight hundred thousand pounds per annum in revenue, which we should collect if we chose to levy the same duty on all linens, Irish as well as foreign; or, on the other hand, as sacrificing, perhaps, at least a million ster. ling in the price paid for those articles, by the subjects of this country, which might be saved, if we allowed the importation of all linen, foreign as well as Irish, equally free from duty.
“ 'The present measure is, however, in its effects, calculated not merely for a confirmation of the advantages on which the person, to whom I have alluded, has insisted. It is obvious that a fuller and more perfect connection of the two countries, from whatever cause it may arise, must produce a greater facility and freedom of commercial intercourse, and ultimately tend to the advantage of both. The benefits to be derived to either country, from such an arrangement, must, indeed, in a great measure, be gradual ; but they are not on that account the less certain ; and they cannot be stated in more forcible language than that used in the speech to which I have referred.
“Gentlemen undervalue the reduction of British duties on our manufactures. I agree with them it may not operate soon ; but we are to look forward to a final settlement, and it is impossible but that in time, with as good climate, equal natural powers, cheaper food, and fewer taxes, we must be able to sell to them. When commercial jealousy shall be banished by final settlement, and trade take its natural and steady course, the kingdoms will cease to look to rivalship, each will make that fabric which it can do cheapest, and buy from the other what it cannot make so advantageously. Labour will be then truly employed to profit, not diverted by bounties, jealousies, or legislative interference, from its natural
and beneficial course. This system wtll attain its real object, consolidating the strength of the remaining parts of the empire, by encouraging the communications of their market among themselves, with preference to every part against all strangers !
“ I am, at least, therefore, secure from the design of appearing to deliver any partial or commercial opinion of my own, when I thus state, on the authority of a person the best informed, and who then judged dispassionately, both the infinite importance to Ireland of securing permanently the great commercial advantages which she now holds at the discretion of Great Britain, and the additional benefit which she would derive from any settlement which opened to her gradually a still more free and complete commercial intercourse with this country. And while I state thus strongly the commercial advantages to the sister kingdom, I have no alarm lest I should excite any sentiment of jealousy here. I know that the inhabi. tants of Great Britain wish well to the prosperity of Ireland ; that, if the kingdoms are really and solidly united, they feel that to increase the commercial wealth of one country, is not to diminish that of the other, but to increase the strength and power of both. But to justify that sentiment, we must be satisfied that the wealth we are pouring into the lap of Ireland is not every day liable to be snatched from us, and thrown into the scale of the enemy. If, therefore, Ireland is to continue, as I trust it will for ever, an essential part of the integral strength of the British empire ; if her strength is to be permanently ours, and our strength to be hers, neither I nor any English minister can ever be deterred, by the fear of creating jealousy in the hearts of Englishmen, from stating the advantages of a closer connection, or from