§ Mr. Spring Rice moved the Order of the Day for resuming the adjourned debate on the Motion respecting the Union with Ireland, and then proceeded to address the House as follows:*
Though fully sensible that, upon no other occasion could any hon. Member have stood more in need of the kindness and indulgence of the House than I do at present, yet that conviction shall not induce me to trespass on their time, by any lengthened apology or prefatory observations for the purpose of bespeaking that indulgence. Sir, I feel deeply the responsibility which I have assumed in taking on myself the duty of replying to the speech of the learned Member; at the same time, it is a responsibility which, great as it is, I court rather than avoid; it is a responsibility connected with the performance of duty; and even though I should personally fail, I may receive some consolation and reward, from a consciousness that I have not shrunk from the performance of a duty equally arduous and important. The question which is now before us cannot—because it ought not—be met by a simple negative. We are bound to do more;—but before proceeding further, I have to express my regret—I wish it to be distinctly understood that I do not make any complaint—but I do express my regret, that the learned Member who made this Motion is not now in his place. It has been intimated to me, that his absence is occasioned by indisposition,
* Reprinted from the corrected Edition, sold by Ridgway, with this motto:
—"May they cling
In their embracement, as to grow together! Which doing, what four throned ones can outweigh
Such a compounded one?
and therefore I do not complain of that absence; but I refer to it for the purpose of stating at the outset, that whilst there is no question which I should have, thought it necessary to agitate, and no observation which I should have made in his presence, which I shall not feel it my duty to agitate or to make in his absence—so also the learned Member and his friends may rest assured, that I shall not utter one single observation in his absence, which I should not have been perfectly ready to make in his presence. It has only been from the necessity of making this statement, that I have noticed either the absence or the presence of that learned Member; because whatever may be his weight, whatever may be his authority—the weight and the authority of the individuals who take part in this discussion, on the one side or the other, sink to nothing when compared with the magnitude and importance of the question itself, and the national interests which that question embraces.
§ Sir, I have said, or was about to say, that this question could not be met by a mere negative; that course could not satisfy me; I trust it would not satisfy the House. I feel assured, it ought not to satisfy the country. No, Sir—if the question propounded within these walls is one which has for its object to separate and distract the empire, the occasion is one on which it behoves those who are interested in the well-being and stability of things, to do more than negative the proposition for a Committee. The question is one in which we are called upon, not only to negative the learned Member's Motion, but to affirm and to record an opinion of our own. It seems to have been the original object of the learned Member himself to have brought this question to a direct issue; the first notice which he gave raised distinctly the question and the expediency of Repeal. If he thought it politic to change the day originally fixed, he was still perfectly free, in postponing the debate, to have adhered to his engagement, and to have discussed the real question, on its own intrinsic merits. He did not choose to do so; but, for the purpose of diverting the attention of the House from the substantive merits of that question, he has substituted another proposition for that to which he was pledged, and which he had solemnly announced to the House. Sir, I am therefore entitled to 1166 say, that from the discussion of the real question, he has thought it either his duty, or his policy, to shrink. But, Sir, he has kindly afforded us a commentary on his motives for substituting the one Motion for the other; since, in a written document, which he has given to the world, he has stated, that "there are many, very many men who would vote for a Committee of Inquiry, who would not vote for a Resolution or a Bill; and thus I have the usual parliamentary right, on such occasions to calculate on an increase of votes in support of my Motion." I trust, that even in this Parliament, which contains necessarily many Gentlemen, who may not have been long or deeply versed in the science which is called the science of Parliamentary Tactics—I trust that there is no one individual weak or blind enough to allow himself to be seduced by so vulgar and so worn-out a deception. It is intended, by putting the Motion in this present shape, that the division should produce one effect here and another effect elsewhere. It is in reference to the consequences in Ireland of votes given to-night, that I take the liberty of warning those hon. Members who are more immediately connected with the representation of Great Britain, what must be the effect of their support of this Motion—I say more immediately connected with Great Britain, for here I take on myself to deny, that there can be any difference in the position, privileges, or duties of British and of Irish Members. You, hon. Gentlemen, who represent English counties, cities, and boroughs, are as much charged with the maintenance of Irish interests, and the protection of Irish rights, as if you had Irish constituencies at your backs; and Irish Members, on the other hand, know full well, and act on that knowledge, that there is no question of English policy on which they have not a full, free, and unrestrained right of deliberation. But in alluding to British Members, and thus appearing to separate the classes, I only mean to forewarn Gentlemen, who are not quite aware of the probable effects of this Motion on the other side of the water, what will be the inference drawn from a vote in favour of this Committee, however they may guard themselves by protesting against the general principle of Repeal. It will be stated in Ireland, that such a person, Member for a British county—though God forbid any 1167 such should be found—or Member for such a city or town—though here again I feel confident that such will not be found—voted for the Committee, and therefore is a decided repealer. On the other hand, it will be urged in this House, as it has been already urged, that Gentlemen, in voting for a Committee, merely affirm the necessity of inquiry. "I ask," says the hon. and learned Mover, "for nothing but inquiry. You stand pledged so far only—nay more, if your opinions are adverse to mine, you ought the rather to vote for inquiry, because an acquiescence in my Motion will enable you to confute me, and prove me to be in the wrong."
§ I have often heard this most fallacious argument used, and as often as I have heard it, I have felt convinced of its sophistry. As a consequence, it imposes on Parliament the duty of inquiring not only into every subject on which the Legislature can found remedial or practical measures, but also into every question on which it cannot give any remedy, and on which no practical measure can be founded. But I do not rest upon this general reasoning. The learned Member has himself supplied me with a most instructive commentary in the form of his own Motion.
§ An hon. Gentleman, not now a Member of this House, but who is, I believe, a petitioner at its Bar, on the 24th of January, when standing as a candidate for Dungarvan, addressed the constituency of that town in the following words:—'The question of the Repeal of the Union occupies, at present, much of the public mind of Ireland, and, in my opinion, the Representatives of the people would but ill discharge their duty if they did not take that subject into their serious and early consideration; and, with this view, I shall certainly vote for a Committee of the House of Commons, to inquire fully, fairly, and impartially, into the merits of this important question.' Here, then, was a gentleman standing before his constituents, who unreservedly declares his readiness and determination to support a Motion which, I presume, is tantamount to the Motion in the Speaker's hands; unless, indeed, the inquiry now sought for is not to be full, not to be fair, and not to be impartial. Now, what will the House think was the commentary of the learned member for Dublin on that proposition—which I must again 1168 pray the House to bear in mind, was identical with that which he has now made? I entreat the House to attend closely to his commentary, and I hope the people of Ireland may remember and attend to it also.
§ The learned Member, in observing on Mr. Barron's address, which I have quoted, characterizes "that address as being as gross an attempt at delusion as ever was made;" and he adds, addressing the electors of Dungarvan, "that it really is an insult to their understanding to suppose that they can be taken in by so flimsy and futile a deception. He then closes, by stating, "The fact is, that as a politician, Mr. Barron was always despicable." What are the conclusions to be drawn from this commentary? I deduce from them, on the authority of the learned Member, that the substitution of a Motion for a Committee of Inquiry, for a Motion on the actual question of Repeal, is so gross a delusion, that it must be considered as an insult to our understandings, and the character which the learned Member gives of the individual who would propose such a Motion was, that he was despicable as a politician. How, then, can we be called on to discuss that very question, so designated and so stigmatized, and proposed too, as it is, by the very same individual whose commentary upon it has been so conclusive, and whose condemnation has been so unqualified. If like some of the hon. Gentlemen opposite, were an advocate for Repeal, I should disdain the proposition now made—I should cast this Motion far from me as the grossest of all delusions, and as an insult to my understanding, which I could neither forgive nor tolerate. But let us examine the precise terms of the present Motion. It will perhaps be said, that the inquiry now sought for differs from the full, fair, and impartial inquiry which was recommended in the address of Mr. Barron. It does, indeed, differ from that proposition in some respects; but the principle of both is the same. The proposition now before us is for a Select Committee "To inquire and report on the means by which the dissolution of the Parliament of Ireland was effected." I shall be prepared to speak on that point hereafter; it is only brought in by the learned Member as a diversion, for the question which we are really called upon to decide is, not the means by which 1169 the Union was carried, but whether it is expedient, with a view to the general interests of the empire at large, and of Ireland in particular, to repeal that Union. All the flourishes with which the Motion has been introduced, touching the events of past times, are but so much dust, which the learned Member has endeavoured to throw in our eyes to blind us, and to prevent our contemplating the real subject before us. That question is not the history of past times, but the real interest of the people of Ireland, and of the empire at large in the year 1834.
§ The next part of the hon. and learned Gentleman's Motion recommends an inquiry "into the effects of the Union upon the labourers in husbandry, and operatives in manufactures in England." Now, Sir, if ever there was a silly attempt at political angling, if ever it was attempted to put a wretched bait upon a crooked pin for the purpose of fishing for minnows, the present is one. Nothing could equal in ridiculous folly the mode of catching votes sought for in the wording of this Motion. It is intended as an attempt to induce the hon. member for Oldham, or some other Member from the manufacturing districts, to connect the subject of the immigration of Irish labourers into this country with the discussion of the Repeal of the Union. It is a miserable and wretched attempt at imposture—for I can call it by no other name. It is an attempt to delude the minds and understandings of those who represent the manufacturing districts of this country; they will not allow themselves to be blinded by so stupid an argument, more particularly when they know, as I shall show hereafter, that one of the first consequences of the Repeal of the Union is stated by the learned Member himself to be the future enactment of protecting duties, in order to keep the manufactures of England out of the Irish market.
§ There is one point which I am bound to notice, in reference to which I particularly regret the absence of the learned Member, because it is one personal to myself, and I therefore regret being compelled to give my reply to his accusation except in his presence; but, as I have already stated, I cannot on that account either add to, or withhold any portion of my argument. I am called upon to relieve myself from the imputation which the learned Member has cast upon me, of having been guilty of disingenuousness 1170 towards him or towards the House in my mode of proceeding on this subject. Had I been guilty of any such artifice or deception, I should not now have ventured to raise my voice on this question—I should have been ashamed of doing so. But what is his accusation, and what has been my conduct? He complains, that Papers which he called for in the last Session of Parliament were not produced till a certain period in this; whereas, Papers which I called for were produced, and were immediately printed. The learned Member called for his Papers at a period in the last Session at which they could not be prepared or produced; the order expired with the last Session, and was necessarily renewed in the present; and, contemporaneously with that renewal, I gave directions to have certain accounts prepared which were necessary as explanatory of his, and were necessary also in support of the argument which I intended to maintain upon this question. The learned Member's Papers were the first completed, and were, consequently, the first laid on the Table; and, in point of fact, there was no necessity that any Papers, except those called for by the House, should have been presented. I might have presented my Papers, or I might have withheld them, unless specially ordered; but, lest hon. Members should complain that they had not been allowed access to the documents upon which I founded my arguments, I moved for the Papers which I had ordered to be prepared—I moved for them, and they are now in your hands, and before the public. I laid them on the Table, not because I, myself, wanted the information which they afforded, for I possessed that information already; but I did so because, if there were any fallacy in my arguments, or any misrepresentation in my statements, other Gentlemen might have the means of correcting or of commenting upon them. In so acting, was I right or wrong? I might have withheld the Papers; I gave them not only for the exclusive benefit of those who supported my views, but also for the advantage of those opposed to me. Yet this is imputed to me as a proof of what the learned Member is pleased to term my ingenuity and dexterity—terms implying that means had been resorted to by me in order to obtain some unfair advantage. I say, that there could not have been any improper ingenuity or dexterity 1171 in thus giving to the House information which I might have kept exclusively for myself; I assert fearlessly, that I acted justly and candidly; and after this explanation, I trust I shall stand fully acquitted by the verdict of this House, and of the country.
§ I much fear that I shall have, on this occasion, to trespass at very considerable length on the attention of the House; I fear that I shall be compelled to weary them with details. But, in the consideration of a question like the present, everything depends on evidence, and evidence must be a matter of detail. I was delighted and rejoiced at the attention given to the speech of the hon. and learned Member during the whole of last night; let it go forth to the public—let it be understood in Ireland—that this Imperial Parliament—as I call it—not a Saxon or a foreign Parliament, as it is sometimes called by others—let it be remembered, that this House listened with unwearying patience and respectful attention, during a period of time almost without example, to the statements made by the learned Member. I hope, therefore, that this question is likely to be discussed, as it ought to be discussed, with calmness, and with an absence of all party feeling, and of all personal hostility; these, my hopes and anticipation, are fully justified by what has already occurred. This is the most conclusive and satisfactory answer to the imputation of British indifference to Irish interests; this, the most decisive confutation of the charges brought against this House. It was said, last night, that this question was an unpalatable one, and that this House contained but an unwilling auditory. In one respect it may be so; I hope that it is so, as far as the general impression of the merits of the question. If the proposition be considered fatal to the national interests, it could not but be unpalatable, and the auditory must consequently be both reluctant and unwilling. But, however unpalatable the question, and unwilling the auditory, there never has been any question of British policy—of policy more exclusively British—which has been more attentively considered in this House, or one which was listened to with more earnestness and with more patience.
§ I shall now address myself to the Amendment, which it will be my duty to move. As I have already stated, it appears to me, that the present is an occa- 1172 sion, in which a direct negative of the Motion made would not meet the exigency in which we are placed. I think we are called on to express, in the most solemn manner, our fixed determination to maintain the Legislative Union between Great Britain and Ireland. I think, further, that we are called upon to state the reason of that determination, and to justify it, not only in reference to the interests of the empire at large, but more peculiarly in reference to the interests of Ireland and its inhabitants. I think, in the next place, that we are called upon to state—in direct contradiction to what has been asserted, not only elsewhere, but also in this House last night—that the Imperial Parliament has given its best attention to Irish affairs, and that, through its agency, remedial measures have been passed, of an importance, in comparison of which, the anti-Union remedial legislation is but trivial indeed; and therefore, in reference to the past, that Ireland may rest and rely with confidence on the unwearying attention of Parliament. I think that it is right to couple this Resolution with an expression of our intention not to commence a new course of policy in respect to Ireland, but to persevere in that course which we have hitherto pursued, giving our best attention to Irish affairs, and promoting, by all our efforts, the best interests of Ireland. Such will be the import of the Amendment which I shall move. I shall also propose what may seem an unusual step, though one not without precedent, and one which is perfectly justified by the considerations connected with this question—I shall propose that an Address may be communicated to the other House of Parliament for its concurrence—that thus both Houses of Parliament may lay at the foot of the Throne their deliberate opinion on the subject of the Legislative Union, and that the sentiments of the Sovereign may be graciously expressed to us in approval of our Address. Let not hon. Gentlemen think, that the course proposed exceeds the necessity of the case; let them not think, because so far as their opinions are concerned, that the discussion of this question here is futile, and its agitation in Ireland is fruitless; let them not think, because they do not apprehend that any impression can be raised in reasonable minds, that the Repeal of the Union can ever be carried; let them not think, that, therefore, the course I propose is inexpe- 1173 dient. I assert that, if any single individual proposes to this House the dismemberment of the British empire, and proposes thus to deprive the State of its force and its dignity, it behoves the Legislature, as a matter of duty and of necessity, to express its most decided opinion, recorded in the most authoritative manner, on so unjustifiable and so fatal a proposal. When the question is not only raised here, but is used for the purpose of inflammatory agitation in another part of the empire, we should abandon all our most sacred duties, if we did not take the most decided, the most distinct, the most unequivocal, and the most solemn, means of conveying to the world our opinion upon such a proposition. The course which I propose has a precedent, taken from that bright period of Irish history to which reference has been already so frequently made. In the year 1782, when an interference was attempted, justly considered to be adverse to the constitutional independence of the Legislature, the Parliament of Ireland, on that occasion—the House of Commons, so much praised and vaunted—agreed to an Address, asserting its just rights; that Address was communicated to the Lords, acquiesced in there, and was taken up to the Throne. That course is precisely the same which I shall now propose for your adoption.
§ Before I enter into my own more peculiar argument, I may be allowed to say a few words in reply to some of the more prominent topics adverted to by the learned Member who opened this debate. On such topics, I shall have occasion for little beyond a few words; because, with all due respect for him, I cannot but conceive that many of the topics on which he dilated bore with very inconsiderable weight on the subject of our discussion this night. I shall observe on them, but shall observe on them with forbearance; I shall, assuredly, omit any references to ancient times,—not going back into past history, nor reverting to the reigns of Henry 3rd, Edward 1st, Richard, or Elizabeth—what bearing can these references have on the practical question? If any man doubt, that, in periods of the barbarous history, both of England and of Ireland, as well as in similar periods in the history of all parts of the world—if any man doubts, that, in periods of civil war, great atrocities will, inevitably, occur—if any man doubts that, under such circumstances, much destruc- 1174 tion of life and of property must necessarily ensue—I say, that, if any man doubts all this, he may have been greatly instructed by the observations made, and the authorities quoted. But what does all this prove? Suppose, that there came up to us a petition, presented by my hon. friend, the member for Kent, praying for the restoration of the independent privileges of that ancient kingdom—would it be very reasonable to enter into the principles or conduct of Hengist and of Horsa? And yet it would be to the full as reasonable as it is for the hon. Gentleman to adopt the course which he has followed.
§ If any one in this House were to review the events which have occurred from the time of the Roman conquest to the present day, and thence to raise inferences as to the course of policy which ought to be pursued in the year 1834, there is not a gentleman in this House or out of it, who would not reject the authority of such an individual as a practical politician, however learned he might be as an antiquary, or however diligent as an examiner of records. If the course of proceeding followed on the present occasion is defensible, the learned Member's evidence is incomplete; the first step he ought to have taken, in point of form, should have been, to produce the record of the divorce of the wife of the King of Breffni, before her marriage with M'Murrogh, the King of Leinster. The learned Member might have expatiated upon the immorality and forgetfulness of conjugal duties which led to the first British invasion. But, however ridiculous this would justly appear, such is, in fact, the character of the reasoning brought forward by the learned Member; and he must have felt that it was preposterous to use it. In the midst of the useless details with which he favoured us, let us observe what are the facts on which he relies. I am no lawyer—I have not the honour to belong to the learned profession—but I believe it to be a rule in law, that if a party reads one part of a book, he makes the whole of that book evidence as well against, as for him. I think that such is the law; to me the rule seems in accordance with common sense. But what, I ask, resulted from all the parade of erudition made by the learned Member? This,—that, in the year 1246, in the time of Henry 3rd, and, in 1278, in the time of Edward 1st, that, in the days of Richard, 1175 of Queen Elizabeth, and at other periods, there existed, on the part of the Irish people, the deepest and most earnest anxiety to be admitted to the privileges of English subjects. The very facts on which he relies prove the existence of that strong feeling; and yet, on these facts, he ventures to raise an argument for the Repeal of the Union. We defend the Union on the very ground relied on in those ancient petitions; we contend for the Union, upon the principle that it does admit my countrymen to the privileges of British subjects, and that it secures for them the full protection of the British Constitution. But, Sir, this reference to ancient times was not without its object. There was an apparent design in these ancient references; or, if there was not a design, the learned Member cannot doubt or deny, that there was a tendency in his argument to lead to certain results, from a consideration of which tendency I am entitled to infer the intentions of the speaker. We were all shocked by his descriptions of those scenes of horror and devastation which are chronicled in the works of Spencer and Moryson; all those revolting descriptions will appear in another place, all those descriptions will be circulated in another country; and that which might have escaped hon. Gentlemen, whose minds were not as attentive as mine has necessarily been, will elsewhere be dwelt upon and magnified. The learned Member has ventured to connect those horrors with the present times by one single link—not a link of gold, or one hanging from heaven—but made of the worst elements, for the most fatal purposes, and forged in the worst fires below; this slight connexion, so fine as almost to escape notice here, will be dwelt upon, and will, elsewhere, lead to inferences of a most formidable kind. What was the insinuation of the learned Member? He stated last night that,—'Queen Elizabeth and her councillors were aware of the benefit to Ireland which would arise from the operation of the just laws of the country. But the British subjects in Ireland were apprehensive, that their application would make Ireland too strong, while it was their policy to keep her as weak as possible; a course of policy followed with as unrelenting a perseverance, and as much alive in the present day, as in the reign of Elizabeth.'
§ The obvious inference from this sentence is, to suggest that the Legislature and the 1176 statesmen of the present day are disposed to pursue the very course at which human nature shrinks back in disgust, even when adopted in barbarous times. By this most ingenious device, all the inferences drawn from those evil days will be extended to the present times. What truth is there in this most mischievous suggestion? Let me call on the learned Member to inform us whose policy is it now to weaken Ireland? Who is it, that apprehends that Ireland should become too strong? Does he mean the Legislature, or does he refer to the two great contending parties in this House? Why, Sir, I take on myself to assert, that, of late, there has been on the part of men of all parties an earnest concurrence to promote the interests of Ireland. I allude more particularly to all matters that could improve her domestic economy, and that could ameliorate the condition of her people. In considering these questions, we have not been diverted from our object by any party views or interests. This House has not withheld from Irish affairs its best attention, or its most liberal encouragement. My strongest proof, and my most powerful witness, is my hon. and economical friend, the member for Middlesex. Even he has been known to relent in favour of Ireland. If we have not been called upon to "draw iron tears down Pluto's cheek," we have accomplished a greater miracle still—we have extracted from our Pluto liberal votes in supply, whenever they could be justly applied for, or wisely granted. I mention these facts, not because any inference is likely to be raised here, or among reasonable minds, that there now exists any disposition to oppress or injure Ireland; but because I know too well that the connexion raised by the learned Member between the present times and those of Elizabeth, will be relied on elsewhere, however disregarded here. Why this needless recital of all these cruelties and atrocities? Why are we told of children feeding on their mothers' flesh? Why of famished wretches feeding upon carrion from the grave? Why of all those deeds of blood, which we cannot think of without horror? These will be repeated in Ireland, for the purpose of raising indignation and disgust against fellow-subjects and contemporaries. We ought to look back to history for better things, rather than to ransack it for crimes and misery; we ought to study it for the nobler purpose 1177 of moral instruction. We ought to seek in history the lessons of charity and brotherly love, and not the excitement of bad passions. History should lead to something more useful than the destruction of the connexion of two kingdoms, necessary as they are to each other's existence and prosperity. History should teach us to devote our exertions to purposes very different from those of undermining the strength and resources of an united empire. In recompense for the kindness with which hon. Gentlemen have listened to me, I may be permitted to relieve them for a few moments from the effort of attending to the observations of an individual so humble as myself. The extract which I am about to read is from the writings of Mr. Burke, and it contains a censure the most eloquent upon the mode of reasoning pursued in the historical argument of the learned member for Dublin. Mr. Burke observes of such reasoners—'They revive the bitter memory of every dissension, which has torn to pieces their miserable country for ages. After what has passed in 1782, one would not think that decorum, to say nothing of policy, would permit them to call up by magic charms, the grounds, reasons, and principles of those terrible, confiscatory, and exterminating periods; they would not set men upon calling from the quiet sleep of death any Samuel, to ask him, by what act of arbitrary monarchs—by what inquisition of corrupted tribunals and tortured jurors—by what fictitious tenures invented to dispossess whole unoffending tribes and their chieftains!—they would not conjure up the ghosts from the ruins of castles and churches, to tell why the estates of the old Irish nobility and gentry had been confiscated;—they would not wantonly call on those phantoms. If, however, you could find out these pedigrees of guilt, I do not think the difference would be essential. What lesson does the iniquity of prevalent factions read to us? It ought to lesson us into an abhorrence of the abuse of our own power in our own day, when we hate its excesses so much in other persons, and in other times. To that school true statesmen ought to be satisfied to leave mankind. They ought not to call from the dead all discussions and litigations which formerly inflamed the furious factions which had torn their country to pieces; they ought not to rake 1178 into the hideous and abominable things there.'
§ I entreat the learned Member to weigh well the opinion so powerfully stated by the most philosophical of modern Statesmen, and I entreat him to study history for the purposes of instruction, and not for the purposes of extracting from the past, topics of inflammation and of excitement. But even had the learned Member proved his historical case, he would not there by have advanced one hair's-breadth towards the conclusion for which he contends. I must in passing, take the liberty to observe, that of all men, the hon. Gentleman seems to have been the least impartial. In his historical review, he has taken on himself to overlook one of the most peculiar periods of Irish history—I mean the reigns of James the 1st, and Charles the 1st. Though I can readily account for this omission, I shall not notice the transactions of 1641; because, if I did so, I might appear to be guilty of the very fault which I have reprobated in the hon. Member. I cannot avoid noticing the inconsistency and unfairness of the learned Member, in referring to the crimes that have been committed in Ireland; and yet, in leaving out of his chronicle, as by particular desire, the whole of the reign of Charles the 1st. Has he not heard of 1641? In closing this portion of my reply, I again venture to impress on the minds of hon. Members, that it appears even in those remote periods, that there existed the greatest anxiety on the part of the Irish people to obtain for themselves and for their country, the free and undisputed privileges of Englishmen.
§ I now approach another part of the learned Member's argument, and one which he has laboured to prove, with as ill an effect as that produced by the earlier portion of his discourse. He endeavoured to prove, that England, in its separate capacity, and as England, had not any just right of domination over Ireland. Was there ever such a waste of time and of argument? Why, who contends that England has or ever had, a right of domination over Ireland, either derived from conquest or concession? England exercised such a right, it is true, and strongly contended in its defence; but the claim was founded on usurpation alone. The fact of this usurpation need not be proved by historical deduction, but by a reference to the legislative declaration of England her- 1179 self. Does the learned Member mean to suggest, that England claims such a right at present? or does she exercise any such right? Who governs Ireland?—who legislates for Ireland? Why, the Parliament of the United Kingdom; not the Parliament of England,—a Parliament in which, I am sure, that gentlemen on the other side of the House, will not deny, that Ireland is fairly and ably represented. I have taken the liberty of stating, that the former claims of England are negatived, not only by the reason of the case which connects the legislative power with the right of representation, but also by the act of the British Parliament itself. What do we learn on this subject from the words of the Statute-Book? By the Act of 1783, ch. 28, it is declared, "for the purpose of removing all doubts on the subject, that the right claimed by the people of Ireland to be bound only by laws enacted by his Majesty and the Parliament of the kingdom, is thereby established and ascertained for ever." Such is the declaration of the British Parliament; so conclusive is the admission, that the British Parliament, as such, had no right to legislate for Ireland. With this fact before us, was it not a mere waste of time and an accumulation of argumentative rubbish to devote half an hour to proving that which was not and could not be controverted?
§ I now approach a part of the speech of the learned Member in which it is my fortune entirely to concur with him. The learned Member has stated, in most glowing terms, his admiration of the great and glorious revolution which took place in the year 1782. No man can feel more unbounded admiration than I do for the conduct of the illustrious individuals engaged in that revolution. The great men who accomplished that bloodless revolution contended for an object strictly legal and legitimate. They argued, irresistibly, that, as Ireland was not represented in the British Parliament, she was not bound by the laws of that Legislature. I admire these individuals as much as the learned Member does; but, much as I admire them for the glorious objects they accomplished, I admire them almost as much for their prudence in abstaining from doing more, and for the temperance and forbearance which they displayed on the most trying occasions. I admire them for what they did, and what they wisely left undone.1180
§ Let us examine the principles on which Lord Charlemont acted in conjunction with Mr. Grattan, Mr. Forbes, Mr. Brownlow, and the other great men of those days. Yet even when these generous patriots were at the head of the popular party of Ireland, there was much danger to be apprehendcd,—a danger happily averted by their virtue and moderation. Honourable Members will recollect, that almost cotemporaneously with the assertion of Irish independence, there arose an armed confederacy, which could not but have been most alarming under any other circumstances; but this formidable engine was so governed and worked, as not to produce those evils which otherwise would have been inevitable. The House will perceive, that I allude to the armed confederation of the Volunteers of Ireland. After Irish independence had been achieved, the volunteer association continued its existence; and, under the influence of Lord Bristol and Mr. Flood, for a moment it assumed an attitude to over-awe the Parliament of Ireland; it was then that an event took place, almost without example in the history of nations. At the Exchange in Dublin, there sat assembled the delegation from the Irish Volunteers, armed and in uniform, while at the same time the Irish Parliament was sitting in College Green, and deliberating upon the exigencies and affairs of the country. It was then proposed, that Mr. Flood, and his volunteer associates, should proceed to the House of Commons in their military dress,—that he should make his motion for a reform in Parliament,—and that the volunteer delegates should continue their sitting until the motion was disposed of. A more bold and dangerous attempt to over-awe the proceedings of a legislative body never yet took place. By the prudence and good sense of those very men whom the learned Member has so justly praised, the danger was averted; and, in the midst of this excitement, the Volunteers listened to counsels of patriotism and moderation. Their legitimate object having been accomplished, the meeting dispersed, at the suggestion of the great and good Lord Charlemont. Among the patriots of 1782, there was not to be found one individual who would condescend to continue excitement, or to keep up agitation for the sake of attaining any indirect or selfish object. They were indeed men against whom the breath of calumny has 1181 never been able to raise an imputation; men whose reputation forms a part of the capital stock of the historical wealth of Ireland. I take the liberty of reading an account of these transactions, from the memoirs of an eye-witness, the late Mr. Edgeworth:—'The appearance of Mr. Flood, and of the delegates by whom he was accompanied, in their volunteer uniforms, in the Irish House of Commons, excited an extraordinary sensation. Those who were present, and who have given an account of the scene that ensued, describe it as violent and tumultuous in the extreme. On both sides the passions were worked up to a dangerous height. The debate lasted all night. "The tempest, for towards morning debate there was none, at last ceased." The question was put, and Mr. Flood's motion for Reform in Parliament was negatived by a very large majority. The House of Commons then entered into resolutions declaratory of their fixed determination to maintain their just rights and privileges against any encroachments whatever; adding, that it was at that time indispensably necessary to make such a declaration. Meantime an armed convention continued sitting the whole night, waiting for the return of their delegates from the House of Commons, and impatient to learn the fate of Mr. Flood's motion. One step more, and irreparable, fatal imprudence might have been committed. Lord Charlemont, the president of the convention, felt the danger, and it required all the influence of his character, all the assistance of the friends of moderation, to prevail upon the assembly to dissolve, without waiting longer to hear the report from their delegates in the House of Commons. The convention had, in fact, nothing more to do, or nothing that they could attempt without peril; but it was difficult to persuade the assembly to dissolve the meeting, and to return quietly to their respective counties and homes. This point, however, was fortunately accomplished, and early in the morning the meeting terminated.'
§ This statement is confirmed by Mr. Hardy, Lord Charlemont's biographer. After describing the progress of the question of reform, he adds:—'Parliament now became the theatre of popular exertion. Whoever was present in the House of Commons on the night of the 29th of November, 1783, cannot, easily forget 1182 what passed there. I do not use any disproportionate language, when I say that the scene was most terrific. Several of the minority, and all the delegates who had come from the convention were in uniforms, and bore the aspect of stern hostility.' My object in reading these extracts is to illustrate the state of things existing under the improved Constitution of 1782. It is admitted on the other side, that, in 1782, the constitution of Ireland had been fixed on proper principles—
§ Mr. Spring Rice
The hon. Gentleman says "No;" but at least he cannot deny, that the independence of Ireland, for which Grattan contended, had then been successfully asserted. If the hon. Gentleman denies this fact, he must seek more than the Repeal of the Union. Under the Constitution of 1782, the only bond between the two countries was the bond of the Crown, the two countries being governed under the authority of their independent legislatures. But how did this boasted experiment succeed, and what happened under this most excellent system? First, there was the affair of Portugal, which placed the two countries in the following strange and extraordinary position. War might have been declared against Portugal by the king of Ireland, while peace might have been maintained between Portugal and the king of England. The Irish House of Commons had taken proceedings to force a rupture with Portugal, at a period when there existed no grounds of collision between England and that country. The next question on which the weakness of the Constitution of 1782 was demonstrated, was the affair of the Regency. This the learned Member felt it expedient to pass over very lightly. What then occurred? The Parliament of Ireland determined upon one course in regard to the Regency, while the people of England determined upon another. The hon. Gentleman cannot deny the facts, and they cannot negative my inference. If the Parliament of Ireland were justified in selecting a Regent upon different principles from those adopted by the British Legislature, they might on the same grounds have been equally justified in selecting different persons for the office of Regent. The people of Ireland might thus have elected the Prince of Wales, and the people of England might have chosen the Duke of York, We should 1183 have had two Regents in the two kingdoms acting possibly on very different principles, and invested with different degrees of authority; and I should like to know by what process of reasoning Gentlemen can be induced to believe, or can prove, either by political or abstract arguments, that if two regents had thus been named, it could have been possible to maintain the connexion between the countries. I shall only add further, that the working of the Constitution of 1782 does not appear to have been so very successful, as to induce me to wish, or to justify others in a desire, to revert to those times. Let the House recollect the point to which I lately adverted, the meeting of an armed confederation out of doors, for the purpose of controlling the Acts of the Irish Parliament. In 1782, the Volunteers were guided and directed by Lord Charlemont, Grattan, and Brownlow. If the precedent of 1782 were adopted, might not these armed associations be renewed; but by whom would they now be guided and controlled? Is it not just possible, that, supposing a Parliament were now sitting in College Green, there might be some endeavours occasionally made, to overawe their deliberations and control their decisions. Might it not be again suggested, as it had been done in another place to the people of Kildare, that it was their duty to take up their short sticks, to walk up to Dublin, and instruct their representatives in the duty they owed to Ireland? Is it not possible that the clamour of the mob might, in such a case, produce consequences far more formidable than the transactions of 1782? Honourable Gentlemen can scarcely deny this; but, perhaps, they may suggest, that we now have one great and sufficient security. They may reply—"True, there was danger in 1782, we admit it; but what was the cause of that danger? The Volunteers were, in 1782, led by wild enthusiasts—by men devoid of all constitutional principles—by men without character—by political adventurers and selfish agitators, like Lord Charlemont, Mr. Grattan, and Mr. Brownlow; but, in these happier times, if there were now an armed association to act as assessors to Parliament, the political leaders would be men of a very different description. Our repealers are now such prudent, such discreet, such constitutional, and such wise personages, that events productive of danger and alarm 1184 in 1782, would be perfectly safe in the calmer hours of 1834. We, who know ourselves, exhort you to place a firm reliance on the discretion of those who would counsel and lead the populace;—we apprehend no danger from the creation of tumultuous confederations; and, therefore, we assure you, that the scenes of 1782 will not now be repeated." Individuals who think that the leaders of the Volunteers in 1782 were more dangerous than the persons who are at present possessed of popular influence in Ireland, may, on such an hypothesis, dismiss their fears; but I own, for myself, that I am not quite prepared to place the same implicit reliance on the wisdom and discretion of the hon. member for Dublin opposite (Mr. Ruthven), that in my ignorance and prejudice I should have reposed in Lord Charlemont.
It is, however, said, that the Irish Legislature was not only a very enlightened Parliament, but that, of all others, it was the most pure and free from courtly influence. I heard this assertion with astonishment. I fearlessly assert, that of all Parliaments that ever existed, the Antiunion Parliament was the most corrupt and the most subservient. I do not say, that the people of Ireland were responsible for these corruptions, or even that the individual Members themselves were those who were the most culpable. They were the victims of seduction and temptation, rendered inevitable by the existence of the separate Legislatures; but that I should have heard it asserted by the learned Mover, that the Irish Parliament "did not receive Court favours" is one of the most extraordinary events of this extraordinary debate. Let us examine the facts somewhat more closely. From early times the Irish Parliament were in the habit of voting away money amongst themselves for the benefit of individuals. I am aware that it has been at times the practice to apply to this House for special grants of public money as personal rewards. Of this we have some late examples; but my hon. friend, the Member for Kirkcudbright (Mr. Cutlar Fergusson), appeals to the liberality and justice of Parliament, not on his own behalf, but on behalf of Captain Ross; and in the case of the hon. member for Middlesex, he sought not a vote for himself, but a compensation to Mr. Marshall for his statistical work. In Ireland the case was different; the pur- 1185 poses and agency of the Irish Parliamentary Committee, by whom the grants of money were distributed among the various recipients, became so well known, that they led to the title of the "Scrambling Committee." There every man seems to have scrambled for what he could get, and some turned their scrambling to right good account. It is true, that many of the grants were ostensibly given for services alleged to have been performed, or for the encouragement of particular trades and manufactures; but let us just pause for a moment, and inquire how the money was really distributed, and how far the public interest was really promoted. Let us see what Dr. Lucas, no mean Irish authority, has said on the subject of this Scrambling Committee—'I recollect a considerable sum was given last Session to the proprietor of a glass-house, who, the moment he got it, instead of setting himself to blow bottles, set his house on fire, blew it up, and then went about his business. Large sums were also given to the cambric manufactory; and the next thing we heard was, that the proprietors were bankrupts. One Dalmaine got money for making Rhone ware, and the work has been discontinued from that time to this.' This affords a specimen of the way in which the Anti-union Parliament administered to the distresses of the people; but unless there is some glassblower in the country who wishes to get rid of his manufactory by a summary process, I am satisfied no one can approve of this Irish mode of redressing public grievances. I hold in my hand another very characteristic extract from the debates of the Irish Parliament, which will probably be a relief to the House after the dulness of my argument, and which, at the same time, is strongly illustrative of my reasons for doubting the boasted purity of the Irish legislature. It so happened, that, in the Scrambling Committee, a word of illomen was unfortunately uttered, which, from the effect it produced, seems to have been considered as a species of blasphemy against the divinity of the place. The utterance of a single monosyllable threw the whole House into confusion and disorder: that fatal word was "job." No sooner was the cabalistic word pronounced, than Member after Member rose up in his place with indignation, and protested against the use of the term as offensive and highly unparliamentary. This dis- 1186 pute led to a speech on the origin and pedigree of the word "job," which, it must be acknowledged, was traced with great precision, and deduced from a most remote antiquity. I dare not trouble the House with the whole of the speech, but I must be permitted to allude to that portion of it which refers more particularly to the practices of that Irish Parliament which we are called upon to restore.The Family of Jobs.—These creatures sometimes affect a violent passion for cultivating the arts of peace, for the improvement of trade, shipping, manufactures, high roads, and bridges; at other times they are very busy in preparations for war, in erecting and repairing fortifications, ramparts, and barracks; and of late they have condescended to amuse themselves with great guns, howitzers, and mortars, with powder and ball and fire and smoke, with warlike peace, and peaceful war. But their true character will always be discovered by their dilatoriness and inconsistency of conduct in whatever they undertake. They are always zealous and in haste to begin a work, but they do not care how long it is in hand, and take care to do all in their power to prevent its being finished. They will also be found frequently to begin their undertaking at the wrong end. Some time ago they were exerting all their influence to make inroads into the sea. They were building quays, and projecting piers, crying to the ocean, "Hitherto shalt thou come, and here shall thy proud waves be stayed." But at present they seem to take greater delight in the more gentle and innocent entertainment of tracing the meandering of canals and rivers through meads and lawns from one great city to another. They are found at the Treasury Board, the Barrack Board, and, in short, at every other board; nor are they ever to be missed at grand juries, or societies that have the disposal of money. It has been said by some, that they have a necromantic power which others suppose to have been long since lost, and which some modern sceptics suppose never to have existed. It is insinuated that they may, for aught we know to the contrary, be at this moment floating in the air within this sacred rotunda; that they may appear to some among us like the dagger of Macbeth, with the handle towards us. But let none of us say, as he did, "Come, let me clutch thee.Such were the jobs of the Irish Parliament in 1764. I had hoped that the race was extinct; but I confess I have my doubts upon the subject. I am inclined to think the best days of jobbing never produced a job so undisguised as the present motion. All its features prove the legitimacy of its descent, and it comes among us with the attractions of the family to which it belongs, and claiming all 1187 the honours and dignity of its magnanimous ancestors. Yes, Sir, this motion is the most stupendous of all jobs,—a motion which, shirking the main question, occupies the valuable time of the House, and turns into ridicule those Gentlemen who are pledged to the direct question of Repeal—I allude to the bonâ fide Repealers, if there be such. The conduct pursued by the learned Member proves, that if the family of the "jobs" does not exist elsewhere, it lives in its Representative, ushered in among us by the great talents, the admirable discretion, and the disinterested and enlightened patriotism of the learned Mover. But, it may be said, that purity could hardly have been expected from the Irish Parliament before 1782. It may, perhaps, be said, that when a Parliament lasted for the life of a King, when the Mutiny Bill was perpetual, and when Poyning's law controlled all deliberative independence, it was not to be expected that the House of Commons could exercise a salutary control over the Executive; or would act with spirit and honesty. Let us, then, look to the working of the Constitution of 1782. To prove my case, I shall produce as a witness an individual who still lives in the grateful recollection both of England and of Ireland—I mean Henry Grattan. If there be a witness who, on such a subject, is above all doubt and suspicion—if there be a witness who cannot have been ignorant of the working of that Constitution which he had established—and who could not have been indifferent to the character of that Parliament of which he was the brightest ornament—as he would have been the brightest ornament of any Parliament in modern times—if there be a witness who possessed an intimate knowledge of the facts of the case—that witness is Henry Grattan. What was Grattan's statement on the 26th of February, 1790? 'What has our renewed Constitution as yet produced? A Place Bill?—No. A Pension Bill?—No. Any great or good measure?—No. But a City Police Bill—a Press Bill—a Riot Act—great increase of Pensions: fourteen new places for Members of Parliament, and a most notorious and corrupt sale of peerages. Where will all this end?'
Ay—well might the question be asked—where will all this end? But, whatever he might have anticipated of failure and disgrace; Mr. Grattan never could have 1188 suspected that it would end in anything so ridiculous as the present Motion. It could never have entered into his mind that all would end in the last night's panegyric upon the very Parliament which he, in 1790, had so eloquently condemned, he a living witness. In 1791, Mr. Grattan further stated—'Here your Government has been made by innovation completely provincial, and presents neither the substance nor the shadow of a kingdom; and your executive, in this particular, is as completely extinguished by innovation.'
So that even when under the legislative authority of this independent Parliament, our most ardent patriot regarded Ireland as being in the condition of a province. We are told by the learned Member that she is still a province; he repeats (till he sickens us with the tautology,)—Ireland is "too large for a province; she must be a nation." Were she a province, she would be no worse than when described by Grattan in 1791. But I deny and controvert that fact. I deny that Ireland is a province of Great Britain. Is Scotland a province? Is England a province? Is Wales a province? We all are parts of the United Empire, and I as much belong to England, and have as much a right to all the privileges of an Englishman as the proudest. Howard who walks the earth; and in like manner the Howard belongs to Ireland as fully as if born there. We are all subjects of one King—we live under the protection of one and the same law—we belong to one United Empire—and it is a delusion, and a delusion attempted for the most mischievous purposes, to promulgate the notion that Ireland can be considered a province. I protest against the attempt thus to provincialize and vulgarize Ireland. Do hon. Gentlemen think, that again reducing their country to the condition of a province, they are really asserting the independence or vindicating the honour of Ireland? I seek not a separate existence for Ireland—I seek not a separate King. I am as little inclined to admit the authority of a separate King after a Repeal of the Union, as I am now disposed to submit to the pretensions of a dictator, before that Repeal. We find from the evidence of Mr. Grattan, that the Legislature of Ireland neither possessed the substance nor the shadow of independence.
Gentlemen who look attentively into 1189 the history of Ireland, will see that the existence of a federal connexion between two countries circumstanced like England and Ireland, could only be maintained in one of two ways. From the 10th Henry 7th to 1782, the connexion was maintained by mere mechanical force. Poyning's law, which deprived the Irish Parliament of the right of considering any question till it had first been approved of by the British Privy Council, may be considered as a piece of mechanical contrivance for preventing separation, and ensuring an identity of movement. When the repeal of that law took place, another agency was necessarily introduced—an agency which I am as little prepared to deny as, under any circumstances, I should be, at any time, induced to palliate or justify. The agency to which I allude, was that of the most lavish corruption—the most undisguised—the most undisputed. It embraced the corruption of money—the prostitution of honours—the temptations of society and of conviviality (sometimes the most formidable and the most efficient of all agencies.) The political corruption of one administration was succeeded by the fascination and social attraction of another, with all the enchantments of the Viceroy's splendid court. In short, Sir, there was no motive that could sway, and no temptation that could pervert, the mind of man, that was not employed to influence the deliberations of the Irish Legislature. All this was done during the Governments of successive Lord Lieutenants. It is true that there existed one short and brilliant exception. The Earl Fitzwilliam was too pure—too good for his place and time: he was but shown among us, and was recalled. But, with this single exception, before the year 1782, it was by the operation of Poyning's law—by perpetual Mutiny Bills, and Supplies voted for long periods of years, that a collision between the two countries was averted; and the moment when Ireland became free, corruption was employed to produce the same effect. But let the House recollect that, during the short period of Irish independence, in the case of Portugal, we were nearly engaged in a separate foreign war: that in the case of the Regency, we had all but created a separate head of the Government; and, in the case of the volunteers, that a popular commotion could only have been averted by the unparalleled wisdom of Lord Charlemont. Of the Civil 1190 War, or Rebellion, I shall speak hereafter. These are evils, as I should think, of sufficient magnitude to induce Gentlemen to hesitate before they again call into action the causes which produced them—causes which would now, as in former times, lead to the same calamities.
I proceed next to another part of the statement of the learned Member—I mean his argument with respect to the contract of the Union, and the mode by which it was accomplished. Assuredly, if Gentlemen are willing to acquiesce in the learned Member's first principle, if they believe that the Irish Parliament was not competent to pass the Act of Union, cadit questio. It is sometimes the fairest way to try the value of an argument, by considering the consequences to which it leads. If those consequences are found to be both absurd and dangerous, it may be reasonably inferred, that the argument itself is unsound, and that the principles on which it is founded are untrue. Let us then inquire what are the conclusions to be drawn from the learned Member's denial of the competency of the Irish Parliament, and if they can be proved to be utterly absurd—wholly irreconcilable with the existence of all law, and impracticable in themselves, let the principle be at once rejected. Now, if the Act of Union was passed by a House of Commons incompetent to pass it, the Act becomes an absolute nullity—this is, in fact, assumed in the reasoning of the learned Member. The Irish Parliament, he says, is not dead—it sleepeth. If the Union be a nullity—if the Irish Parliament still exist, we do not constitute a legal House of Commons—all the Gentlemen who are here as Representatives of Ireland are but usurpers. I felt rather alarmed at this part of the learned Member's argument, for I apprehended, that, on his own showing, the Sergeant-at-Arms might have been commanded to take those Gentlemen into custody, and to eject them from those seats to which they can have no valid right, if the argument employed by the mover has the slightest force or applicability. But this is not all. If the Irish Parliament was incompetent to consent to the Union—if the Imperial Parliament is, therefore, deprived of its legitimate title, what becomes of all our legislation passed since the Union; all the Statutes passed since 1800 are thus made nullities. We are left without the Reform Bill—without 1191 the Catholic Relief Bill—without a free trade in corn—and, in short, without any of those measures which I shall presently show have given life and activity to our agriculture, our manufactures, and our commerce.
If the argument of the learned Member was correct, these conclusions are equally undeniable. But the absurdity goes still further. If the Irish Parliament was incompetent to acquiesce in its own dissolution, it follows, ex necessitate, that the Scotch Parliament was alike incompetent; that is, if we assent to the doctrine that Parliament has a right to make laws, but not to create legislatures. We thus throw Scotland back to its position during the reign of Queen Anne—Ireland to its state in 1800—and we deprive of authority every law passed since the commencement of the last century. I feel, that the mere exposition of these absurd consequences is so conclusive, but, at the same time, so obvious, that I am truly ashamed to have had occasion thus to argue the question. To deny, at the present moment, the competency of the former separate Legislatures to pass a law tinder which we have been living and legislating for thirty-four years, is so very portentous an absurdity, that with all due respect for the learned Member, I cannot help thinking that he must have felt the weakness of his cause, and have been hard pressed for argument, when he ventured upon such sophistry. He may tell me, non meus hic sermo, for that the question of competency was raised by Mr. Plunkett, Mr. Saurin and others. I do not deny the weight of these authorities, but was it ten thousand-fold multiplied, and had I the same feelings of respect and of reverence for all the persons he has named, that I entertain for some among them, I should have no hesitation in at once throwing these authorities overboard, as totally inapplicable to a discussion in 1834. It does not affect our decision on the question of Repeal, to be told what Lord Grey, Mr. Plunkett, or any other person had said, during a time of great political excitement. We are now to inquire, not into the proceedings of the Irish House in 1800, but into the law and the facts of the case at present. We are to examine how the interests of the people of Ireland have been affected, and in what consists our duty to the empire at large. To taunt Gentlemen with a variation from their former opinions, on a subject like 1192 this, is but vulgar trash, relied upon to support a bad cause and give an apparent weight of authority to what cannot be sustained by legitimate argument. Having alluded, incidentally, to the Union with Scotland, I may be permitted, as an illustration, to inquire into the arguments used, very soon after the Union with Scotland, by a part of the people of that country, in order to obtain a Repeal of that Union. The arguments then urged were nearly the same with those employed on the present occasion. I beg particularly to call the attention of hon. Gentlemen opposite, to this fact, and, perhaps, they may have some misgivings with respect to the soundness of their own opinions. In the year 1713, a Motion was made in the House of Lords to Repeal the Union with Scotland, and the arguments used in favour of the Motion, when contrasted with the present state of Scotland, will suggest to the most earnest Repealers how very possible it is for persons to act with the utmost sincerity, but yet to be swayed by impulses opposed to the real interests of their country. The transaction to which I refer is to be found in our parliamentary history. A Motion was made by the Earl of Finlater in 1713, for leave to bring in a Bill to dissolve the Union. A complaint was made that the Union had been violated by the imposition of increased taxation in Scotland. This was a stronger case, the House will observe, than any advanced on the part of Ireland, for I have not heard it, as yet, stated, that the enactments of the Union have been violated by Parliament. We hear it suggested, it is true, that the Union was, in its terms, unjust to Ireland, and that the Irish Parliament made a bad bargain. But what was said by the Scotch Peers in 1713? Not only that the terms were unjust, but that those terms had been violated. The Duke of Argyll said, "If the Union were not dissolved, he did not expect to have either property left in Scotland, or liberty in England." Other Scottish Lords said, that the end of the Union was the cultivation of "amity between the two nations, but that it was so far from having that effect, that they were sure the animosity between the two nations was much greater now than before the Union." The Scottish Lords further stated, that "if the Union were not dissolved, their country would be the most miserable under heaven." Is not this what we are now told of Ireland? 1193 Is it not asserted that Ireland is in the most wretched state of misery in consequence of the Union? Notwithstanding the prediction of the Peers in 1713, who is there who now doubts the benefits which Scotland has derived from the Union? Is there a single man in Scotland, from the border to Shetland, not being the inmate of a lunatic asylum, who would venture to address such language as this to his countrymen? Would he venture to say at any market-cross in that prosperous part of the empire, "Think of your independence, think of what you have sacrificed; you are provincialised; but you are too great to continue any longer a province, rise up, and become a nation." Would not the very women and children laugh him to scorn, and would they not hiss him off the stage, and send him to his bed? I think Irish Gentlemen would do well to consider and to adopt the reasoning of Lord Peterborough in 1713:—'Though England, who, in this national marriage, must be supposed to be the husband, might, in some instances, have been unkind to the lady, yet she ought not presently to sue for a divorce, the rather because she had very much mended her fortune by the match.'
I am unwilling to go further into the question of the Scotch Union; but I may be allowed to observe, that I find, in Scottish history, another proof and illustration of the correctness of the principle on which I have heretofore relied—I mean the utter impossibility of any two countries continuing their connexion, if combined by the link of the Throne only, and having separate and independent legislatures. Gentlemen must admit, that as soon as a proof of independence was given by the Scottish Parliament, in passing what was called the Act of Security, the necessary consequence was, either the Union or the erection of a separate and distinct nation. It was plain—to use the words of a great historian—that a union which became neither federal nor legislative, but possessing the inconveniences of both, could not long exist. I thus prove the truth of my principle. I prove it not only in Ireland, in the cases of Portugal, of the Regency, and during the existence of the Volunteers—but I prove it in the case of Scotland, by a reference to the Act of Security. Further, it cannot be denied but that North Britain (a name which I prefer as much to Scotland, as I 1194 should prefer the name of West Britain to that of Ireland)—it cannot, I say, be denied that North Britain obtained from the United Parliament many advantages, independently of the general benefits derived from the Union itself, which she never could have obtained from her local Legislature. For instance, how could her local Legislature have dealt with the heritable jurisdictions—or how could it have broken up the feudal system of clanship? The fulness of time, and the progress of education, might perhaps have ultimately accomplished those improvements; but I believe we might as reasonably have expected, without a convulsion, to have abolished the feudality of the Scotch institutions by means of a Scotch Parliament, as—without civil commotion—to have repealed the penal code through the agency of an Irish Parliament. There are cases with nations as with individuals, in which it is necessary, for the purpose of arriving at a just conclusion, to appeal to the dispassionate judgment of a third party. I believe, that both Scotland and Ireland have found, in the Imperial Parliament, easier redress of many local evils, than they could have found in separate Legislatures of their own, swayed as those Legislatures would have been by conflicting interests.
The learned Member in quoting authorities has overlooked or omitted one of the most important—I allude to Mr. Molyneux. It is somewhat curious that he should altogether have passed by the highest constitutional authority upon Irish affairs. It is most remarkable that he should have omitted all mention of Molyneux, one of the earliest advocates for Irish rights—Molyneux who risked more for his country than any of his contemporaries—Molvneux, who was the early friend of Locke (the authority relied on by the learned Member)—Molyneux, whose work was considered so bold and so adverse to the unjust pretensions of England, that this House, ordered the book to be burned by the common hangman. I appeal to the authority of Molyneux when dealing with the practical case of Ireland, from the dicta of Mr. Locke when reasoning on the abstract principles of Government—I appeal to Molyneux both with respect to the competency of the Irish Parliament to legislate, and with respect to the expediency of the Union. His words are as follow:—'If from these 1195 last-mentioned records it may be concluded that the Parliament of England may bind Ireland, it must also be allowed that the people of Ireland ought to have their Representatives in the Parliament of England; and this I believe we should be willing enough to embrace, but this is a happiness we can hardly hope for.'
It is the happiness which Mr. Molyneux sighed for, that we are now invited by the learned Member to destroy, and we are now called upon to deny the competency of that Irish Parliament which Mr. Molyneux would have entreated to petition for a Union. Bishop Berkeley also, one of t the friends of Ireland has asked—'Whether it be not the true interests of both nations to become one people? and whether either be sufficiently apprized of this?'
The learned Member reverses these questions; the Union having made us one State, he would again resolve us into two distinct nations.
There is one further authority to which I shall take the liberty of referring. It is I known to gentlemen conversant with Irish subjects, that there was no part of Lord Charlemont's life which was passed more agreeably than that part of his youth spent upon the continent. It was then that he I acquired that information and refined taste which so endeared him to his contemporaries, and of which the record is so agreeable to posterity. He informs us that he visited the President Montesquieu, that he was received kindly by that great philosopher, and that this very question of the Union was the subject of their conversation. Now, certainly there could not have been found any authority more free from local bias and yet more competent to judge, than the great philosophic lawyer of France.—'In the course of our conversation, Ireland and its interests have often been the topic; and upon those occasions I always found Montesquieu an advocate for a Union between that country and England. "Were I an Irishman," said he, "I should certainly wish for it; and, as a general lover of liberty, I certainly desire it: and for this plain reason, that an inferior country connected with one much her superior in force, can never be certain of the permanent enjoyment of constitutional freedom, unless she has, by her Representatives, a proportional share in the legislation of the superior kingdom."'
1196 Such is the opinion of Molyneux—such the opinion of Montesquieu; but we are called to abandon both at the command of the learned Mover. I am told by hon. Members opposite, that Lord Charlemont was opposed to the Union. True; and I did not read this opinion as his. But does it follow that, because he was opposed to the Union, he would therefore, after the interval of thirty-four years, be favourable to repeal? No two propositions can be more distinct. Mr. Grattan was also relied on as a high authority, and he was one; but were the grounds of his opposition altogether applicable to the present times? Mr. Grattan said—'It is no Union—it is not an identification of the people; for it excludes the Catholics. It incurs every objection to an Union, without obtaining the object which a Union professes; and destroys their best chance of admission—their relative consequence.'
When Mr. Grattan thus states his objection, I say boldly, that now, since we have admitted the Catholics to all civil privileges, we must reason upon very different principles. Although I have not, of course, any right to claim Mr. Grattan as an authority on my side, I have some right to argue, that his opinion was given in reference to a very different state of things. It is assumed by the learned Member, that all those who, at the time of the Union, expressed strong opinions against the measure, must necessarily be favourable to repeal, or ought, in consistency, to be so. This is quite a new doctrine; it is one which was never stated by many of those men whose opinions in 1799, and 1800, had been most adverse. On the contrary, they acted on different principles. I hold in my hand an extract from a speech of Mr. Foster, a most able and most conscientious opponent of the Union. This speech was made in 1805, in opposition to a Motion on the Roman Catholic question. What inferences does he raise with respect to the Union in this speech? His words are as follow, and they are not without interest, as exhibiting the anticipations of a sagacious mind:—'Should some score Catholics, by the vote of that night, find their way into the Imperial Parliament, and afterwards feel their inferiority in an assembly of 658 Members, they would rapidly augment their strength by new political recruits, and endeavour, by a Repeal of 1197 the Union, to re-establish the Irish Parliament …. He felt the full force of the consequences to be apprehended from such a measure; and he trembled for the separation of his native country from that connexion with England, deprived of which he was convinced she could be neither prosperous nor happy.'
Mr. Foster, then, in opposing the Catholic claims, states as his reason for doing so, that the Catholic Members, when admitted into this House, might hereafter combine to obtain a Repeal of the Union, which, in his opinion, must lead to the total separation of the two countries. He, therefore, considered the Repeal of the Union as a national calamity. His speech proves, that an individual having entertained the strongest and most earnest feelings against the Union at the time it was passed, considered that he might afterwards, without reproach, justify his opposition to its Repeal. Much stronger is this argument after the lapse of thirty-four years. There is no one who is not now entitled, without any charge of inconsistency, to oppose the Repeal of that Statute which originally he had wished might not have passed. That Gentlemen who now most strongly support Repeal have not always thought themselves bound to state their opinions, but that they have rather led their hearers to very contrary inferences, may be proved by a document I have now in my hand. The Union has not always been hardly dealt with by Gentlemen who are now its most earnest enemies. Let the House imagine, without knowing the name of the witness, that the following evidence was given at the Bar of the Lords on oath, or before a Committee of this House:—'I beg to say, (observes the witness) that I am thoroughly convinced, that the object of the Roman Catholic clergy and laity is sincerely and heartily to concur with the Government in Ireland, so as to consolidate Ireland with England completely, and in every beneficial respect. I am quite convinced of that. The nomination of Roman Catholic Bishops by the Crown would take away all influence from such persons as have had influence among the Roman Catholic people. I know some of them; they would wish to make the Union cordial and complete; it would deprive us of the power of doing that.'
Now, I ask the House whether, accord- 1198 ing to the common import of words, the Gentleman who thus talked of consolidating the system of Government, of making the Union complete, could, by any possibility, be a Repealer. Could a candid Committee have hesitated to believe, that the witness was seriously a friend to the Union? Is not that the meaning of his evidence? The House will hardly believe, that the evidence I have read was given by the Gentleman who makes the Motion now before us. But these were the words of a Roman Catholic seeking to obtain emancipation; the present Motion is the act of the same Roman Catholic after his emancipation has been obtained. The hon. and learned Gentleman contends, that the Union is not a binding contract, and he protests against it on account of the means by which it was carried. If he were here, I do assure him, and I assure the House, that I do not stand up to defend any improper means which may have been resorted to. At least this is not our affair. We sit here, not to discuss the means by which the Union was carried, but to consider the propriety of its Repeal. If I were called upon to state my own belief, I fear I must admit a conviction, that gross and extensive corruption was employed at the time of the Union, but I am not, by reason of such admission, driven from the position in which I now stand, because it still remains to be decided, whether the Repeal of the Union would be beneficial to Ireland. The circumstances under which any law was passed cannot be reasons for its Repeal. It is said, that the Habeas Corpus Act was carried by a majority of one, a very large fat Gentleman on passing from the lobby having been counted as two. I know not whether this Parliamentary jest be true; but if the story were authenticated, are we, on that account, to repeal the Habeas Corpus Act? Again, look at the Revolution of 1688: there are circumstances connected with that Revolution which I cannot undertake to justify. I cannot justify the defection of the Princess Anne from her own father—the defection of Lord Churchill from his benefactor; yet the Revolution must stand or fall upon its own merits, and not in reference to the means by which it was carried. Look, also, to the Union with Scotland. I do not mean to attribute anything particularly corrupt to the natives 1199 of the northern part of the empire; but were we to examine the money history of the Union with Scotland, we might find some transactions as little defensible as those which took place on the Union with Ireland. Are we on that account to repeal the Union with Scotland? I only refer to these facts, to show that the arguments by which the learned Member has supported his case, are not really applicable, and that we are still driven back to the main question, "whether the Repeal of the Union can benefit the country?"
There is, however, another point which to is my duty to notice. The learned Member has taken upon himself to say, that the Rebellion of 1798 was fomented for the direct purpose of carrying the Union. That is a question of fact, on which, in vindication—not of the Statesmen of those days, but of human nature itself—it behoves me to say a few words, and they shall be but very few; for even assuming the fact to be as represented, still that would not affect the real question; I cannot allow this assertion, however irrelevant, to remain uncontradicted, and I am enabled to give it the most complete and entire contradiction, and that upon the most unimpeachable evidence. The learned Member was not very scrupulous in bringing forward his charges: but he only referred to one single document as evidence,—I allude to No. 14, in the Report of the Secret Committee of the Irish House of Commons. This he conceived was sufficient to show, that the Irish Government had information of the proceedings of the conspirators for a considerable time before the Rebellion broke out; and that upon this information they declined to act. It is true that he added, "If you will but grant me my Committee, I will prove the fact to demonstration." Now, with all due respect, I must remind the learned Member, that de non apparentibus et de non existentibus eadem est ratio. I can only undertake to deal with the facts which he has actually produced. Fortunately there is an authority of great weight on this subject, which, it is curious to remark, is found in the very book quoted by the learned Member, and yet he has conveniently chosen to overlook it. I may also allude to the admissions of Theobald W. Tone, the founder of the Society of United Irishmen; who wrote his memoirs for the information of his family and of posterity, 1200 recording the occurrences of his day with a precision and fidelity, perhaps, unequalled in any work of autobiography. Perhaps the learned Member may not have this work; but it is most remarkable, that the book he quoted contains a refutation of the assertion he has hazarded. The Report states, that although the Society of United Irishmen professed to have for their object Reform and Emancipation, they really contemplated, from the year 1791, the separation of Ireland from Great Britain. The Committee annexed to their Report the prospectus of the Society, and other documents, to confirm this assertion. How, then, can the learned Member connect this conspiracy of 1791 with the Union in 1799? Wolfe Tone goes fluffier, and states both the objects and means of the Society. Its objects were "to subvert the tyranny of our execrable government, to break the connexion with England, the never-failing source of all our political evils, and to assert the independence of my country: these were my objects."
Now, let us inquire what were the very legitimate means by which Mr. Wolfe Tone proposed to accomplish this most justifiable object? His words are as follow:—'To subvert the tyranny of our execrable Government, to break the connexion with England, the never-failing source of all our political evils, and to assert the independence of my country, these were my objects.'
So far Wolfe Tone, who, in the objects he had in view, somewhat overpasses the avowals of the learned Member. And now with respect to the means relied on by Mr. Wolfe Tone:—'To unite the whole people of Ireland, to abolish the memory of all past dissensions, and to substitute the common name of Irishman in place of the denominations of Protestant, Catholic, and Dissenter: these were my means.'
§ Mr. Spring Rice
Hon. Gentlemen cheer; and I am aware, that these are the very same declarations which we hear repeated night after night by the learned member for Dublin; if the object be not as explicitly stated, the means are at least the same. Tone adopted those means to produce separation—the learned Member adopts them to accomplish the Repeal of the Union. But Mr. Tone goes on to say (and this also is in keeping with what 1201 we now so often hear from the learned Member):—'The object was to convince the Dissenters, that they and the Catholics had but one common interest, and one common enemy.'
§ Mr. Spring Rice
I am not surprised at that cheer; the principles thus laid down by Wolfe Tone, resembling so closely the principles advanced in this House by the learned member for Dublin, and cheered by his political adherents. To carry the measure of Repeal, the learned Member continually recommends an union of all parties. Mr. Tone proclaims, that his mode of separating the countries was by producing a consolidation of all denominations and sects. I pray the House to recollect, that this combination of all classes in pursuit of one common object—the mere mention of which so strongly excites the approbation of the Hon. Gentlemen opposite—was called for before the Legislative Union; that it was directed as well against the supposed tyranny of the Irish Parliament, as against the connexion with Britain. The sensibility displayed by the cheers of the hon. Gentlemen opposite has, therefore, been premature, and has somewhat betrayed them. Is it not clear, that if the Union were to-morrow to be repealed, the complaints which Wolfe Tone made in 1791, and the agitation which he and his party excited, might again be renewed? The evils which Tone and his party denounced in 1791, could have no connexion with the Union, and might, therefore, exist after its Repeal, and the Protestants and Catholics might be again invited to join in one fraternal embrace, and to rid themselves of the evils of the connexion, and of the tyranny of the Throne. It is really curious to observe the close similarity between the arguments of the learned Member, and those of Mr. Tone:—'My object, (says the latter), was to convince the Dissenters, that they and the Catholics had but one common interest and one common enemy; that the depression and slavery in Ireland was produced and perpetuated by the divisions existing between them; and that, consequently, to assert the independence of their country, and their own individual liberties, it was necessary to forget all former feuds, to consolidate the entire strength of the nation, and to form, for the future, but one people.'
The avowed object was then, the sever- 1202 ance of the connexion between Ireland and this country, and the creation of a Republic. And what reasonable man can doubt, that these results, which were the objects of Wolfe Tone and the conspirators of 1798, would be the consequences of the measures recommended by the learned Member. The cry against the British connexion would again be raised—the arguments would be the same which are now put forward for Repeal—the motives to agitation would be undiminished. We are now asked to take the first step; that first step once taken, the second is inevitable. But a new discovery is made by the learned Member: he charges the Irish Government of 1796 with a disinclination to acts of energy. Their acts, he asserts, were not, in 1796 and 1797, sufficiently vigorous for the restraint and punishment of disaffection. What would the learned Member have recommended? The Habeas Corpus Act was suspended. In 1796, the Insurrection Act was passed, the White-boy Acts were in force, and some of the founders and abettors of the Society of United Irishmen, Mr. Wolfe Tone, Mr. Hamilton Rowan, Oliver Bond, and Colonel Butler, were proceeded against for high treason. Now what becomes of the charge of inertness, made by the learned Member, against the Government of that day? What greater vigour could he require? Was it nothing to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act, to introduce the Insurrection Act, and to charge the leaders of a great political party with high treason? Did this bespeak any great want of vigour? Is this consistent with the supposition, that they were disposed, by their criminal connivance, to foment a rebellion, in order, subsequently, to carry the Union? The charge is also refuted by dates, since the conspiracy of United Irishmen was in full force long before the Union was propounded? The assertion of the learned Member is preposterous: it is refuted by the history of the times; it is also refuted by the history of the human heart. The ringleaders of the Rebellion were prosecuted to conviction, and many of them suffered death; I am not aware, that any one of those leaders was known to accuse the Government of any participation in the crimes for which they suffered. From the political principles of the Ministry by which the Union was carried I entirely dissent; but is it not an insult to our understandings, in a 1203 British House of Parliament, or in any assembly of Christian men, to be called upon to argue against the unsupported assertion, that any men of honour and gentlemen could be found, in our days, who could be guilty of so horrible a crime as that of fomenting and encouraging rebellion, for the purpose of achieving a political victory? This is a proposition which I am prepared to deny, and which I cannot hear advanced by any hon. Member without the most indignant astonishment. It is not for me to stand here as the defender of Lord Castlereagh or of Mr. Pitt, but I cannot believe—I should be ashamed to believe, that these Statesmen ought to be held in any degree responsible, as stated by the learned Member, for the massacres of Wexford or Scullabogue. The assertion is unsupported by any tittle of evidence, and it is contradicted by all authentic history in the most positive manner—it is refuted by the very book the hon. Member has quoted. Who was responsible for the horrors of the Rebellion, I shall not here stop to inquire. But, after all, even had these assertions been substantiated, they are beside the question, and prove nothing in favour of Repeal.
I now proceed to another part of the case. The learned Member, in order to support his argument, asked a question, and very conveniently took on himself the duty of giving a reply. It may be easy to prove any case where a party becomes his own witness. He asked, what has the Imperial Parliament done for Ireland? And in the same breath, this very willing and impartial witness replies:—"It has given to landlords a power of distraining crops, and it has perpetuated the tithe system." I put it to the House, whether this was a true and honest answer? Can it be so considered by any reasonable
1204 man? I ask each individual whom I am addressing, be his opinions what they may, whether this answer is one which he, as a man of honour, would give, or can defend? Let Gentlemen look to the manufacturing districts in the north of Ireland—let them consider the industry set in motion by the wise legislation of modern times—let them look to the agricultural improvement developed in the south; and if it can, then let the assertion be repeated, that Ireland owes nothing to the Imperial Parliament. But how could the learned Member, above all living men, venture on this assertion—he who owes his very seat in Parliament to an Act of that Imperial Parliament which he has wilfully omitted to notice. It is my duty to show what the Imperial Parliament has actually effected. One of the grounds taken by the learned Gentleman, and his adherents, upon this subject, is, that we are here indifferent to Irish affairs, and that we do not give a proper attention to the interests of that country. The assertion is without foundation. The very attention and kindness with which the House has tolerated my arguments this night, dry and uninteresting as I fear those arguments may have been, afford no slight proofs of the earliest disposition felt by all hon. Members to give the fullest consideration to the affairs of Ireland. But before I proceed to show what the Imperial Parliament has done by Legislative enactments, I beg leave first to take notice of what it has done in the way of inquiring into the condition of Ireland, into the nature of her alleged wants and grievances, and the remedies which those wants and grievances might demand. I allude to the various Reports from Commissioners and from Select Committees appointed to consider Irish affairs since the Union. Of these Reports the following is a list:— 1205
Committees. Commissioners. 1801 Committees.—On Orders respecting the Union—On Offices in Ireland, disqualifying persons from Parliament 2 1802 Committe—Linen Manufacture 1 Commissioners.—Accounts 1 1803 Committees.—State of the Poor—Irish Exchange 2 Commissioners—Port of Dublin 1 1805 Committee.—Grand Canal 1 1806 Commissioners.—Fees and Gratuties—Public Offices—Public Pavement—Accounts 4 1809 Commissioners.—Board of Education—Paving (Dublin)—Accounts 4 1810 Committees.—Bogs 1 Commissioners.—Bogs—Accounts 2 1811 Committes.—Bogs—Public Offices—Board of Education 3 Carried forward 10 12
Committees. Commissioners. Brought up 10 12 Commissioners.—Brewers (Dublin)—Wexford Petition—Public Income and Expenditure 3 1812 Committees.—Cork Green-Coat Hospital—Grand Jury Presentment—Grand Canal Company 3 Commissioners.—Public Income—Public Offices—Accounts—Education 4 1813 Committees.—Bogs—Irish Currency—Madhouses 3 Commissioners.—Education—Public Offices—Inland Navigation—Accounts—Board of Education 5 1814 Committees.—Bogs—Grand Jury Presentments 2 Commissioners.—Royal Canal Company—Bogs—Public Offices—Accounts 4 1815 Committees.—Public Income and Expenditure—Grand Jury Presentments—Poor 3 Commissioners.—Education—Royal Canal Company—Accounts 3 1816 Committees.—Public Income—Grand Jury Presentments—Illicit Distillation 3 Commissioners—Education—Public Accounts—Inland Navigation 3 1817 Committees.—Lunatics 1 Commissioners.—Education—Courts of Justice 2 1818 Committees.—Fever Hospitals—Grand Jury Presentments 2 Commissioners.—Education—Auditing Accounts—Courts of Justice 3 1819 Commissioners.—Prisons—Education—Courts of Justice—Public Accounts 4 1820 Commissioners.—Courts of Justice—Education—House of Industry (Dublin)—Accounts 4 1821 Committees.—To consider Report of Commissioners on Courts of Justice 1 Commissioners.—Dunmore Harbour—Fisheries—Courts of Justice—Exchequer—Education 5 1822 Committees.—Dublin Local Taxation—Grand Jury Presentments—Limerick Local Taxation. Commissioners.—Courts of Justice—Education—Fisheries 3 1823 Committees.—Dublin Local Taxation—To consider Reports of Courts of Justice—Labouring Poor 3 Commissioners.—Public Accounts—Education—Prisons—Fisheries—Employment of Poor 5 1824 Committees.—Dublin Local Taxation—Insurrection Act—Valuation of Land 3 Commissioners.—Revenue—Courts of Justice—Public Accounts—Fisheries—Public Records 5 1825 Committees.—Dublin Local Taxation—Linen Trade—State of Ireland—Petition of Ballinasloe relative to Roman Catholic Association 4 Commissioners.—Courts of Justice—Fisheries—Education—Revenue 4 1826 Committees.—Butter Trade—Market Tolls—Promissory Notes 3 Commissioners.—Revenue—Dunleary Harbour—Public Accounts—Fisheries—Roads and Bridges—Justice (2) 7 1827 Committees.—Grand Jury Presentments 1 Commissioners.—Accounts—Courts of Justice—Roads and Bridges—Prisons—Paying Board—Richmond Penitentiary—Fisheries—Schools and Middleton—Education 9 1828 Committees.—Education—Vagrants 2 Commissioners.—Public Accounts—Roads and Bridges—Courts of justice—Prisons—Fisheries—Education—Records 7 1829 Committees.—To consider Eighteenth Report of Judicial Inquiry—Kilrea Petition (forged signatures)—Miscellaneous Estimates 3 Commissioners.—Post Office Revenue—Public Accounts—Courts of Justice—Roads and Bridges—Prisons—Fisheries 6 1830 Committees.—On Nineteenth Report of Judicial Inquiry—Poor 2 Commissioners.—Roads and Bridges—Courts of Justice—Education—Records 4 1830–31 Commissioners.—Courts of Justice—Prisons—Roads and Bridges 3 1831–32 Committees.—Boundary Commission—Post Office Communication—Tithes—Turnpike Roads—State of Ireland 5 Commissioners.—Ecclesiastical Inquiry—Courts of Justice—Education—Public Accounts—Prisons 5 1833 Committees.—Derry Bridge—Dublin and Kingston Ship Canal—Corporations 3 Commissioners.—Accounts—Prisons—Public Works—Ecclesiastical Inquiry 4 Total 60 114
But to come to the results. In the course of the thirty-two years that elapsed between 1206 1801 and 1833, there have thus been sixty Committees of Inquiry, and 114 Reports 1207 of Commissioners, making, in the whole, 174, all bearing upon Irish interests. But I perceive that hon. Gentlemen seem to doubt whether all this inquiry has led to any practical results. One reference will meet this objection, and meet it triumphantly: the Committee of 1824 and 1825, on the state of Ireland—that Committee which I consider we owe to my noble friend (Lord Althorp)—it was to the evidence taken before that Committee that we owe the success of the Roman Catholic question. The evidence taken before that Committee contributed more than any other cause to remove the doubts and prejudices which had previously existed in the public mind, with respect to the propriety of conceding the Catholic claims. But it may still be asked—What further practical measures have proceeded from all these Reports and Committees? Let it be remembered that the question I am now discussing arises out of the learned Member's reference to two Irish measures only as having been carried in the Imperial Parliament! The learned Member stated emphatically, that what the Imperial Parliament has done for Ireland, has been to pass a Bill allowing the sale of growing crops by distress, and another for the better recovery of tithes. Does the learned Member recollect the passing of the 46th Geo. 3rd, c. 46, which has given to Ireland a free trade in corn? Was not that a concession favourable to Irish interests? Do hon. Gentlemen venture to disregard the consequences to Irish agricultural industry, of the free intercourse in corn between Ireland and England? Do they not know that, during the existence of the Irish Parliament, Ireland had been a corn-importing country, receiving supplies largely from England?
Total number of Reports of Select Committees 60 —of Commissioners 114 Total 174
§ Mr. Spring Rice
Does the hon. Gentleman who cheers think, that the condition of Ireland was better than at the present day, when she was subsisting on corn imported from England, and when, according to Dean Swift, Ireland was dependent, for her supply of corn, every third or fourth year, on this country? Has she become poor and wretched because she has now the means of exporting a large surplus produce? If that opinion be entertained by the hon. Gentleman, and by those hon. Members who sit around him, I may indeed despair of 1208 convincing them, and must give up the whole argument at once. If they think that an unrestricted intercourse with the best and richest market for agricultural produce in the world is of no advantage to Ireland, there cannot be any argument urged that will influence their opinion. But, notwithstanding the dissent of the hon. Gentleman, I am inclined to think that the increasing produce of Ireland will be taken by the world at large as a proof of her increasing prosperity. I may, therefore, point out the free-trade in corn with England as one of the most substantial advantages which Ireland has derived from the Imperial Parliament—an advantage not confined to the rich or powerful, but creating a new demand for labour, and thus improving the condition of every cottager in Ireland. This I make my first point. My next is the complete freedom given to general commercial intercourse, by which the cross-channel trade was made, by 6th Geo. 4th c. 107, a coasting-trade; and the intercourse with Ireland was left as unrestricted as that between London and Newcastle. Again, the butter-trade of Ireland, one of the most important branches of our commerce, has been freed from the absurd restrictions of former Acts, by 8th Geo. 4th, c. 61—and, again, by 9th Geo. 4th, c. 88.
I may be permitted to notice the Amendment of the Banking-laws of Ireland (by 6th Geo. 4th, c. 42, and by 1st Will. 4th, c. 32). If hon. Gentlemen knew what the banking-trade of Ireland originally was, and could compare it with what it now is, they would at once perceive how inestimable are the advantages which have resulted from this last-mentioned measure. The security of our circulation—the reduction of the rate of discounts—the establishment of cash credits and of deposits bearing interest—these are real and solid advantages which Ireland now enjoys, and which every merchant connected with that country knows how to appreciate; and all these advantages have been conferred upon Ireland by the Acts of the Imperial Parliament. I repeat, then, that it was not just—that it was not fair—that it was not sincere—when benefits like these have been secured for Ireland—to state, that the collection of tithes and rents had been the only matters to which Parliament had given attention.
1209 I proceed with the detail. I next come to the Act for the Assimilation of the Currency (6th Geo. 4th, c. 107); next to the advance of 200,000l. for the purpose of supporting public credit in Ireland (6th Geo. 4th, c. 39). Then to the Act for the Encouragement of Fisheries by the construction of Piers and Harbours (50th Geo. 3rd, c. 95). The Act for the Relief of Insolvent Debtors (2nd Geo. 4th, c. 59). The Act for the Support of Public Works (1st and 2nd Will. 4th, c. 33), by which an advance of 500,000l. was made for that purpose. The Act for Amending the Grand Jury Laws. The Act for the Embankment of Rivers. The Act for the Discouragement of Joint-Tenancy. The Act for Amending the Sub-letting Act. The Act for Preventing Vexatious Distress and Impoundings. The Act for Abolishing the Vestry Cess. The Tithe Commutation.
§ Mr. Spring Rice
—Gentlemen cheer at the mention of the Tithe Commutation Act, meaning, I presume, to suggest that Ireland has not derived any benefits from that measure; I entreat them, however, to bear one matter in mind—I am not called on to prove, that what has as yet been effected is perfect and complete, but that the state of the law, as regards tithes in Ireland, is now more favourable to Irish interests than it was before the Union. I refer to the Statutes as the proof, and as the cause of that improvement. I go back to the times of Mr. Grattan; and I compare that which has been carried into full effect, by the Imperial Parliament, with that which Mr. Grattan ineffectually attempted to induce the Irish Parliament to concur in enacting. The objects he then vainly sought for have since been fully accomplished, and the law is, now, not only better than it was before the Union, but it is infinitely better than our warmest patriots at that time thought it could be made. If Gentlemen doubt, let them compare the present law with the preamble of Grattan's Bill of 1789. That preamble runs in the following words:—'Whereas, it is expedient to relieve the people of this country from the hardships to which they are now exposed by reason of uncertain payments and demands on account of tithes and small dues, in order to ascertain and commute both.'
Such was the object Mr. Grattan sought 1210 for. I admit, that more can and ought to be done in 1834 than in 1789, because the state of the times and of public opinion is very different. But I am comparing the present state of the law of tithe, with the state of the Tithe-law before the Union; and I say, without risk of contradiction, that the principles laid down by Mr. Grattan, in 1789, and which the Irish Parliament refused to recognise, have since been made the basis of our remedial measures. I proceed with the detail of other useful Acts which have been passed by the Imperial Legislature. We have amended and consolidated our Prison-law—we have abolished Churchrates—we have introduced into Ireland the reformed Criminal Code of the right hon. member for Tamworth, and the mitigations of the severity of that Code, which were proposed by Sir J. Mackintosh—we have taken steps for the survey and valuation of Ireland, as a remedy for the inequalities of our local taxation—we have passed a Grand Jury Bill, and a Petty Jury Bill. But if all these are nothing, has not this abused and vilified Parliament done something more? How comes it that the learned Member did not think fit to allude to emancipation and reform? Is it possible to imagine, that he should have lost sight of these two measures? Surely, when contrasting the events of the Irish and the Imperial Parliaments, it is a gross mockery and delusion to confine the claims of the latter to the enactment of two laws of doubtful popularity, and of minor importance. Such a partial mode of stating the case, omitting all mention of the great and beneficial measures I have enumerated, can be considered to be no better than a gross mockery and a delusion.
But I have not yet described all that has been effected by the Imperial Parliament for Ireland. During the Administration of my right hon. friend, the President of the Board of Control (Mr. Charles Grant), a full and thorough revision took place of the forms of procedure and of all the offices connected with the administration of justice. The Court of Chancery, the Exchequer Chamber, all the Courts of Common Law, in that country were subjected to the most searching inquiry, and the abuses that had crept into them were corrected. Up to that period, in almost every Court of Law in Ireland, there existed various sinecure offices to which 1211 salaries of a large amount were attached—salaries amounting to as much as 7,000l., 8,000l., 9,000l., and 10,000l. a-year. These sinecures have been all abolished. Not one of those legal sinecures is allowed to remain. Their abolition was effected—how? By Bills passed in the Imperial Parliament. What has been the result in a pecuniary point of view? The following table will show the saving to the suitors on termination of existing interests.—
|Reduction of expenses to suitors in Courts of Justice.|
|Court of Office||Total average of official emoluments, according to Returns.||Estimated amount of proposed Fees and Salaries.||Estimated saving to the Suitors||Observations.|
|Court of Chancery||75,700||49,740||24,900||exclusive of 1,060l. to the Consolidated Fund.|
|Court of King's Bench||22,500||9,000||13,500|
|Court of Common Pleas||30,000||13,000||17,000|
|Clerk of the Pleas of the Exchequer||28,000||12,000||16,000|
|Court of Error||900||150||450||exclusive of 300l. to the Consolidated Fund.|
|Judges' Registers||11,900||6,450||3,580||exclusive of 1870l. to the Consolidated Fund.|
|Register of Deeds||7,500|
§ Note.—The above calculations do not include judicial fees. Of these, in some instances, no returns were received; and, in others, the amount is doubtfully stated. For the reasons stated in the Fifth Report, p. 16 and 17, &c., no estimate of future emoluments on this head can be satisfactorily proved.
§ Upon this estimate the saving to the suitors in the above departments may be stated at 75,000l. per annum; whilst the expense of the proposed official establishments, falling short of the estimated provision by 7,000l. a-year, would leave the annual surplus disposable in aid of the Consolidated Fund, in addition to the salaries and allowances to the Clerks of the Crown and Hanaper, and other officers now charged thereon, amounting to 4,545l.; in lieu of which provision has been proposed to be made by fees.
§ The difference between the total receipts heretofore in the departments already reported upon, and the estimated expense of their proposed establishments, may be stated at 88,000l. per annum.
§ These are reforms which my country owes to the instrumentality of the Imperial Parliament; and let it be borne in mind, that improvements of a similar kind had been attempted in the Irish Parliaments at various periods, from the year 1731 to the time of the Union, but those attempts had been made ineffectually. The Irish Parliament was conscious of the existence of the evil, but it failed in devising any effectual remedy; the Imperial Parliament investigated the evil, and provided a remedy which, I trust, may be effectual.
§ I feel that I am trespassing upon the patience of the House, by the tediousness of this dry and dull detail; but it is indispensable, that I should answer the ques- 1212 tion put by the learned Member, and thus vindicate the proceedings of the Imperial Parliament. I now come to another branch of this subject, and shall examine the Statutes passed since the Union on a subject, the deep interest of which will not be denied by the learned Gentleman; for I will not imagine, that he can be indifferent to laws which tend to diminish the misery and suffering of his fellow-men. I ask whether the Imperial Parliament have neglected the case of the sick and indigent classes in Ireland? Would to God that my statement could reach many of my fellow-countrymen who have petitioned for the Repeal of the Union! I refer to the laws under which our public charities are supported. It is true, that county hospitals and houses of industry existed before the Union; but the sphere of their utility was limited, and their incomes were insignificant. The extension and improvement of our charities has taken place altogether since the Union. The sums levied for their support are greatly increased under recent Acts of Parliament; and in the room of establishments wholly inadequate to the relief of the poor, we have now charities for the sick equal to any in Europe. The Acts which give them their present utility, are Acts of the Imperial Parliament. The dispensaries now scattered over the entire island, have been established under an Act of the Imperial Parliament; I am, therefore, entitled to say, that every sick person in Ireland, who receives relief at any one of those establishments, ought to bear in mind, that he receives that relief in consequence of an Act passed at Westminster, and not in College Green. Again, our noble asylums for the lunatic poor have been also founded under laws of the Imperial Parliament. To that Parliament we also owe our fever-hospitals; to that Parliament various measures for the employment of the poor—for the extension of a well-ordered system of education (with respect to which, I shall say a word by-and-by)—for the formation of boards of health—for the institution of savings' banks, friendly societies, and charitable loans; all of which have been prosecuted, regulated, or encouraged by Acts of this Legislature. I ask, whether, in a speech which was intended for the Irish people, rather than for us, it was fair to suppress all mention of these useful and beneficent Acts, and to state drily, that the Statutes 1213 on which our claim to the gratitude of Ireland could be founded, were, the Act for Distraining Crops, and the Act for Facilitating the Collection of Tithes. I have slightly alluded to the question of education; I should be willing to stake the whole of my argument upon this point alone. In what condition did the Imperial Parliament find the question of education in Ireland, and in what condition is that question left at the present moment? All that was done before the Union, was, to provide for the Protestant Charter-schools, established, as they were, for the purpose of proselytism and intolerance. These were annually recommended from the Throne, and were commonly supported by Parliamentary grants. For the education of the great bulk of the people, no step whatever had been taken by the Irish Parliament. Before the Union, the home education of the Roman Catholics was prohibited—and foreign education was prohibited also. The teachers were made the objects of penalty; and every wicked folly that could tend to brutalize the people was included in the system of the Irish Legislature as regarding education.
§ Mr. Spring Rice
Hon. Gentlemen cheer; but I am stating no novelty; I am stating facts. It is my duty to contrast the time before the Union with the time that has succeeded it. I wish to contrast what was done by the Irish Parliament, with respect to education, with what has since been done by the Imperial Parliament. On the 6th of April, 1786, Mr. Secretary Orde moved, in the Irish House of Commons—"That the national foundation of one or more public schools for facilitating and extending to the youth of this kingdom the means of good education would be of great public utility." This was adopted, but no grant of money followed. How different has been the case with the Imperial Parliament. When any vote of that kind has been passed, a grant of money to promote the desired object has followed as a matter of course. Mr. Secretary Orde tried the thing the next year, and on that occasion, he stated:—"That education, at least, so far as respects the lower classes of the community, is in so deplorable a condition, that it may be truly said, for lack of knowledge the land perished.'" Notwithstanding this statement, nothing was effectually done by 1214 the Irish Parliament to promote general education in Ireland.
But what is the state of education in Ireland at the present moment, as compared with what it was at the period to which I have just referred? In 1806, the Government of that day, issued a royal Commission of Inquiry into the subject of education. In the year 1812, it appeared by the Fourteenth Report, "That at that time, the number of schools in Ireland might be estimated at 4,600, containing about 200,000 scholars." Another Commission, issued in 1824; and by the First Report of 1825, it is shown that the number of schools and scholars had more than doubled. The number of children receiving education, in 1825, was 560,549. During the existence of the present Administration, a new system of education, the most popular and comprehensive, has been introduced, and short as has been the time it has been in operation, its success is complete. The following Return proves my assertion:—
There may be some who differ from me as to the principle upon which education in Ireland is now conducted. I shall not now stop to argue a question, which cannot be raised by the present Motion; for as between me and the Repeaters, we are for once agreed. There is nothing which affords a more striking contrast between the measures of the Irish and the Imperial Parliaments than the conduct of each on this question. The contrast is as strong as that between darkness and light. I have dwelt upon this part of the case, as additional evidence of the extreme unfairness of the learned Member, in having omitted all mention of this most important subject. I now proceed to the Reform Bill.
EDUCATION.—SCHOOLS UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE NEW BOARD. Grants made to Schools in operation £789 Grant to Schools, whose connexion with the Commissioners has ceased 52 Further Schools in progress 199 1040 Scholars in Schools now in operation 107,042 Scholars in Schools now in progress 36,804 143,846
The hon. Gentlemen opposite seem to think that Ireland has not gained much by the enactment of that measure; and I even recollect, that it has been said, in 1215 language of gross exaggeration, that the Reform Bill was an insult to Ireland. Now, it appears to be thought so utterly immaterial as to be passed over without mention; I may suggest, that it would be ungrateful in hon. Members, who owe their seats, and the strength of their party, to the Reform. Bill, if they should now deny that it gave to Ireland an improved constituency. Do not most of those hon. Gentlemen owe their seats in this House to the change which Reform has effected in the constituency of Ireland? Insulted, as it is stated that country has been, by the Reform Bill, let me contrast its constituency at the present moment with its constituency as described by Mr. Grattan, after the establishment of Irish independence in 1782. In 1793, Mr. Grattan described the House of Commons as consisting of 300 Members, 200 of whom were returned by individuals, and from forty to fifty by constituencies consisting of not more than ten persons; he added, that several boroughs had no resident electors, that others had not more than one, and, upon the whole, that two-thirds of the House, that is to say 200 Members, were returned by less than 100 persons. That Parliament of 300 included also 104 placemen and pensioners. What is the case now? At the present moment, Ireland has a constituency of 90,285 electors. I think, then, that it is rather hard in those who have been returned by the enlarged constituency created by the Reform Bill to turn round upon us, and to depreciate the Constitution of 1834, as compared with that of 1782. But, it may be said, that though the two countries are united under the authority of one Legislature, we have not, in every respect, given to Ireland the laws of England. It is true, that there do exist differences between the laws of the two countries: this must, in many cases, be so. Does it, however, follow that these distinctions are always to the disadvantage of Ireland? I may be permitted to call the attention of the House to the principle upon which some of those differences rest. If we find that many of these variations that have been made proceed from a desire to benefit Ireland, and to encourage and protect Irish interests, then, I think, it must be admitted that the people of Ireland have no great right to complain. Let me select a few instances:—I first take the administration of our charities, the fever hos- 1216 pitals, for instance. Under the law of Ireland, it is provided, that the founders of these charities shall be entitled, in aid of their charity, to a sum from the public Treasury, proportionate to the amount they have raised by public subscription. No such aid is given in England. Then, in respect to all the great lines of road in Ireland (and I beg the attention of English Gentlemen to this fact), if a mail-coach road be required from one great town to another, in place of casting upon the counties through which the road passes the burthen or raising the amount of money required to carry the project into effect, the Treasury is bound by law to advance the whole of the outlay, free of interest, repayable by the counties in twelve half-yearly instalments. No such provision exists in England. Again, in order to reduce the local burthens required for the erection of prisons, the same principle is adopted. If a prison be required in Ireland, the county, in like manner, is entitled to borrow the money from the Government, free of interest, and is bound to repay it by twelve yearly instalments. No provision of that description exists in England. In the law with respect to public works in the two countries, another distinction of the same kind is mentioned. In England, a loan of Exchequer Bills has been made for the prosecution of public works, but the repayments are carried to the Consolidated Fund. In Ireland, Parliament has made a permanent grant of 500,000l., which, though a loan to the individuals, is a grant to the nation. The effect of these public works will be shown by the following extracts from a Report on the Table of the House, but not yet printed:—'In traversing a country covered with farms, and in a high state of cultivation, showing every sign of a good soil, and of amply remunerating produce, it becomes difficult to credit the fact, that ten or twelve years since, the whole was a barren waste, the asylum of a miserable and lawless peasantry, who were calculated to be a burthen rather than a benefit to the nation; and that this improvement may be entirely attributed to the expenditure of a few thousands of pounds, in carrying a good road of communication through the district. Many extensive districts are still without them, where the country is capable of the greatest immediate improvement. Whenever a new road is constructed, flourish- 1217 ing farms at once spring up, and the carts of the countrymen (as has been forcibly expressed by one of our engineers), press on the heels of the roadmakers as the work advances.'
Again, in the trials of controverted elections, Commissions are granted for taking evidence in Ireland, the expense of which falls but partially on the parties, and the balance is paid by the State. Then, with respect to the general survey and valuation of Ireland, the extra expenses incurred beyond the expense of the analogous operations in England amount to 300,000l. or 400,000l., and this for the sole purpose of making that survey more useful for the local interests of Ireland. I could allude further to the expense of our constabulary, to the grants for fishery, piers and harbours, and to various other matters, in which the same sedulous attention has been paid to the wants and necessities of Ireland.
After this recital, which I fear has wearied the House, and after laying these statements before them, I ask whether I am not again entitled to deny, that the learned Member has either put his question fairly, or has answered it truly; the question having been—what has Parliament done for Ireland since the Union?—and the reply of the learned Gentleman having been—that it had given to landlords the power of distraining growing crops, and to titheowners a better security for their property. The learned Member frequently alluded to the columns of figures which he supposed were about to advance at my command. The attack in column has often succeeded, but on no occasion has it ever seemed to create more dismay than when the learned Member seemed to anticipate that my column might penetrate his centre or turn his flanks. He seems to admit, that the charge of my column would destroy the line deployed under the command of the gallant leaders opposite. I declared, in the early part of the evening, the object I had in view in laying papers on the Table of the House. That object was to inform hon. Gentlemen of the nature of some of the arguments I might use on this occasion; and to rebut the inferences deducible from the papers moved for by the learned Member. I do not mean to deny, that fallacious inferences might be drawn from some of these papers; at the same time, I know that there is scarcely any way of stating the financial 1218 accounts of a country, which may not lead to fallacious inferences. But the same object applies to the Return of the hon. Member:—take, for instance, the Return regulating the duty on hops. I cannot, of course, call for an account of the revenue raised from hops, without taking credit in that account for the amount of hops consumed out of this country. But does not the learned Member see, that the same objection applies to all similar accounts? For example, the learned Member calls for a series of accounts to show the taxes which have been repealed in England and in Ireland respectively, in order to point out the supposed injustice and inequality displayed in the relief granted; in these cases he is entitled to argue, that a tax may be nominally levied from the manufacturer in England, and yet really paid by consumers in Ireland; does he not, then, also see, that I am equally entitled to say, that a tax may apparently be repealed in England only, and yet that the benefit may be felt in Ireland likewise? To illustrate the argument, if I assume the repeal of the duty on hops, that would enter into the Return called for by the learned Member, there it would form a part of the total amount of taxes repealed in England. The learned Member would then tell us, that relief to the extent of the Hop-duty had been granted to England, whereas, it is quite clear, that in that event, Ireland would have obtained relief to the full amount of the duty levied on her consumption of hops. The same argument applies equally to many other cases that might be stated. Our accounts can only provide hon. Gentlemen with a statement of facts, and it is for them to raise their own inferences, and adduce their own arguments afterwards from those facts. There never existed, however, a greater mistake than to imagine that the repeal even of taxes levied exclusively on England, might not be at the least equally advantageous to Ireland as to this country. Take as an example the case of the duty on printed cottons. Hon. Gentlemen who are opposed to me will labour under a great delusion if they do not take into account the drawback which was allowed in relation to this duty. I do not know whether they are aware of this fact; but, at all events, I call their attention to it if they choose to raise an argument against my tables. But let them ask any manufacturer in Ireland, or any consumer in 1219 Ireland, and they will learn from both, that although this was a tax payable in Great Britain only, yet that there never was a measure of relief more beneficial to Ireland than the repeal of this duty. It has given an activity, a vigour, and a success to the trade and manufactures of Ireland, which they had not previously enjoyed. I could adduce other arguments for the purpose of convincing the learned Member, that the effect of a remission of taxation is not always that which it appears to be. But, Sir, had we no taxes before the Union? Had we none that were highly prejudicial to the interests of the poor—because it is for the poor we are new called upon to argue? Before the Union, the odious tax called hearth-money was collected in every part of Ireland. What says Mr. Grattan on this subject?—'I am convinced that the man who has but 5l. in the world, who pays 30s. for his house, ought not to pay hearth-money. The strongest argument for his relief is the bare statement of his condition. What benefit does the State confer on such a man, that it should have a right to tax him? In what property do your laws protect such a man—a man who has no property?
I am very anxious to call the attention of the House to this passage. Mr. Grattan goes on to say, that the hearth-money is the only tax the peasantry then paid. Why?—'Because (he adds) they are so extremely poor—so very wretched—that they cannot afford to consume, in any great degree, the articles which are taxed in this country, where almost everything is taxed—where soap, candles, and tobacco are taxed.'
This was in 1780; and the inference to be drawn from Mr. Grattan's observations is, that at that time no direct taxes could then be paid by the poor. Now we are told by the learned Member, that whatever taxes are at present paid in Ireland, are paid, in a great degree, by the
1220 poor. Well, then, if those articles of luxury which are taxed are consumed by the poor, and if, as appears on the authority of Mr. Grattan, the poor were unable to consume those articles at the time when he made the speech to which I have referred, is it not the undeniable consequence, if the poor consume these articles now, that they are at present in a better condition than they were before the Union? This is unquestionably the result, because we find that Mr. Grattan expressly states, that the poor were unable to pay any tax but this hearth-money, their poverty preventing, their consumption of any taxed articles. But out of four taxes complained of by Mr. Grattan before the Union, only one now exists—the duty on tobacco; no hearth-tax is paid, no soap-tax is paid, and no candle-duty is paid in Ireland. I have prepared some of the accounts which I have before me, for the purpose of showing hon. Gentlemen, although they may not lead to results of entire accuracy, that it is, however, undeniable, that if Great Britain has obtained very considerable relief, she has also borne an enormous weight of peculiar taxation, and of taxation not directly applied to Ireland. If Gentlemen will refer to those papers, they will see what has been the excess of taxes paid by Great Britain since 1800. In the following accounts I have corrected the sum which has been, in one respect, erroneously stated, that is, by charging twice the duties on salt, under the head of Excise and Customs. The following accounts will exhibit these important details:—
Difference of Taxation on Articles subject to Excise Duty in Great Britain and Ireland. Excess of Taxes paid in Great Britain since 1800, upon articles subject to Duty in both Countries, above the amount which would have been paid had the rates in Great Britain been the same as in Ireland, viz. Excise.—Differences. Auctions £1,603,640 To July 5, 1815, when the rate was assimilated. Glass Bottles 2,390,366 To January 5, 1825, when the rates were assimilated. Hides and Skins (Estimate) 3,869,611 To January 5, 1825, when the rates were assimilated.
Assessed, Land, and Property Tares borne exclusively by Great Britain. Land Tax £43,497,297 Income Tax 9,613,991 Aid and Contribution 67,892 Property Tax 145,833,019 1s. 6d, and 4s. Duties 2,094,204 £201,106,403
Had the rate of taxation in Ireland been the same on the articles taxed in both countries, the increase of receipt would have been as follows:—
Licenses The rates are so numerous and have so frequently varied, that it is not practicable to form any estimate with respect to this duty. Malt 29,251,946 To July 5, 1815, when the rate was assimilated. Paper 627,165 To January 5, 1826, when the rate was assimilated. Spirits 42,897,695 In England, to Jan. 5, 1834; in Scotland, to Oct. 10, 1823, at which period the rates in that country were assimilated with those in Ireland. Salt 28,043,118 Vinegar 726,624 To January 5, 1826, when the rate was assimilated. £109,410,165 Total Excess or Difference of Taxation in Great Britain. 321,346,642
I am aware that these topics are very dry, and that this statement cannot fail to be a most tedious one, but I entreat hon. Gentlemen to do me the favour to attend I to the facts I am now about to advert to, and I think they will see that those facts are most important. The argument against me is, that in matters of taxation, Parliament has acted most unjustly towards Ireland. I refer, as a triumphant reply, to the rates of Stamp-duties levied in that part of the empire, and I beg hon. Gentlemen to attend to my statement. I do not know on what principle it can be argued, that the estate of a man who dies worth 1000l. in the one portion of the empire, is not as fair a subject of taxation as if he 1222 resided in the other. Now, let us see how great has been the difference of taxation levied in Great Britain and Ireland in this respect. It will be seen, that this unjust, partial, and iniquitous British Parliament, in making its fiscal arrangements, has imposed a duty of 100 per cent less on legacies in Ireland than in England. The Stamp-duty on deeds in Ireland is eighty per cent less than in England; or, probates, fifty per cent; on administrations, 120 per cent; on receipts, sixty-five per cent; on newspapers, 100 per cent; on almanacks, sixty per cent; on fire insurances, twenty per cent; and on advertisements, fifty per cent less than in England. Why, Sir, I say, that with these simple facts before us, it is as preposterous and absurd, as it is untrue, to imagine or assert, that the interests of Ireland have been neglected. I admit, that I cannot justify many of these preferences. Suppose that a man were to die in Ireland, leaving an immense mass of property;—suppose that the great capitalist, who lately died in this country (I mean Mr. Adair), had been a resident in Ireland, and had died in that country, what an enormous inequality would this 100 per cent have been in such a case! and why it should have been allowed to exist I know not, except for the advancement, of the interest of Ireland, and from, a wish to benefit that country. No other motive could have induced the Legislature to impose a duty upon legacies in Ireland less by 100 per cent than that which is levied in England? When I take further into account, that the Income-tax has never been extended to Ireland, that the Land-tax has never been extended to Ireland, that the Beer-tax has never been extended to Ireland, that the duties on bricks, candles, beer, soap, starch, and 1223 other articles of Excise and Customs, have never been extended to Ireland, I really think that it is unnecessary to dwell further upon this part of the case. I venture, then, to claim this merit for my figures. By putting them in the hands of Members, I have enabled them to judge whether, in matters of taxation, there has been, on the part of the Imperial Parliament, any disregard of the interests of Ireland.
Difference of Taxation between Great Britain and Ireland. Customs £21,127,662 Excise 45,707,941 Stamps 9,565,000 Taxes 14,847,483 Total £91,248,086 Excess of Taxation levied in Great Britain by reason of the difference of Rates. Customs £130,065,000 Excise 321,346,642 Stamps 86,638,000 Taxes 80,237,406 Total £618,287,048 Taxes levied in Great Britain exclusively. Excise £211,936,477 Stamps 20,000,000 Taxes 246,239,947 Total £478,176,424
The learned Member has truly said, that there is one fallacy in my calculation of the taxes which would have been levied on Ireland, had the rates of duty been raised. It is perfectly true, that consumption must have diminished in such case. But then, I may state the accounts in another manner. If the taxes had been reduced in England to the same rates as in Ireland, the consumption must inevitably have increased; and yet, in one of the modes in which hon. Members will perceive that the accounts are prepared, no credit is taken for such increase, but the difference of taxation is computed upon the quantities actually consumed after payment of the higher duties. The taxes levied in Great Britain exclusively—that is to say, the taxes paid in this country,—for it is true that Ireland contributes to them, in as far as she consumes some part of the articles on which these taxes are imposed,—amount to 478,176,274l. This sum, added to the amount produced by the different rates of taxation, makes a total exceeding the whole amount of the national debt. I have already admitted, that this calculation is, to a certain extent, open to argument and controversy; but no less so are the statements of the learned Member with respect to taxes repealed. I am, therefore, entitled to set one statement against the other, making this observation on behalf of my own, that I believe the data to which I refer to be accurately stated.
I shall next say a few words with regard to the sums voted by the Imperial Parliament for the improvement of harbours either in, or connected with, Ireland;—works the utility of which cannot be controverted,—works undertaken with a view to the special benefit of Ireland. The votes for such purposes have been as follows:—
Howth … … … £345,194 Kingstown … … … 304,335 Donaghadee … … … 132,672 Port Patrick … … … 125,379
The expenditure on the harbour of Holyhead is not included in this statement, as it would be difficult to distinguish it from the cost of the road through North Wales. These circumstances, I admit, cannot, and ought not, to justify the refusal to Ireland of good government: it is no apology for not enacting salutary and wise laws; but, with such evidence before us, it is irreconcilable with the fact to assert, that this Parliament has neglected Ireland; and that, if we are called on to consider the cases of Irish improvement, we are driven to look back to the Acts of the Irish Parliament. With respect to the grants for charitable and literary institutions in Ireland, and the miscellaneous grants, I find that these grants of the Imperial Parliament have, since the Union, exceeded 8,000,000l.; these grants consist of the following sums:—
Dunmore … … … 79,175 Hobbs Point … … … 23,422 Total, 1,010,177
I must also take the liberty of referring hon. Members to a most important account, marked No. 14, among the papers moved for by me. They will find, in that account, the state of the advances made from the Consolidated Fund, the repayments, and the balance. By this account, it appears that there has been advanced from the Consolidated Fund, for Irish services, no less than 6,953,543l., and that the repayments do not at present exceed 2,804,083l. This has been altogether omitted by the learned Member; and, indeed, necessarily overlooked, as it was wholly inconsistent with his argument. All mention of these grants has been conveniently omitted in this debate, when the proceedings of the Imperial Parliament have been made the subject of reproach and animadversion. Let hon. Gentlemen, who anticipate signal advantages to Ireland from the revival of her domestic Legislature compare these acts of the Im- 1225 perial Parliament with the proceedings of the scrambling Committee before the Union.
From Jan., 1801, to Jan. 1817. From Jan., 1817, to Jan. 1833. Totals. £ £ £ Grants to Charitable and Literary Institutions 1,995,128 2,230,622 4,225,750 Encouragement of Manufactures and Agriculture 868,174 472,247 1,340,421 Public Works and employment of Poor 1,535,336 1,536,824 3,072,160 4,398,638 4,239,693 8,638,331
I noticed some marks of dissent when I lately alluded to the proceedings of the Board of Public Works in Ireland. At the time the Bill for the Establishment of that Board was passed, we were told, that it would be productive of no public benefit. In spite of this prediction, we granted 500,000l. for the purpose of effecting improvements in Ireland. It will, perhaps, be said, this was only a loan. It was only a loan to the individual receiving it; but it was a loan to A, which, when repaid, was lent out to B; and, by the perpetuation of this system, it became a grant to the Irish nation; and, as such, I claim a right to point it out as one of the benefits which Ireland has derived from the Imperial Parliament. It is stated, however, that these loans are encumbered with so many onerous conditions, that they could not be brought into effectual operation. This objection shall be met hereafter, and refuted. Hon. Gentlemen will see, that these sums are granted on a principle which does not exist in England.
With respect to the extension of these public works, I beg to call the attention of the House to the following statement:—
Here, Sir, I again say, that the ante-Union Parliament, that blessed Parliament of 1782, never effected for Ireland such things as these. There are but few individuals in the districts in which these works have been carried on who have not derived great benefits from them; there is scarcely a peasant in those districts who has not obtained employment; there is not a proprietor who has not seen the condition of his estate materially improved; there is not an inhabitant of any class who has not a right to say, "It is to the Imperial Parliament that I should be grateful." One word more, Sir, with respect to the improvement of Crown-lands in Ireland. The Imperial Parliament have, 1226 for the first time, undertaken the task of improving the Crown-lands in Ireland. They have undertaken it upon the principle that, being in the condition of landlords, they ought to set an example to the landlords of that country, and to show them how much it is in their power to do, for their own benefit, and that of others. This is important as a matter of principle,—it is important as an experiment,—and it is important as an example. There is a Report on this subject now on the Table of the House. It is not yet in the hands of Members, but it is so satisfactory that I trust they will indulge me whilst I read the following extract:—
£ s. d. Application for grants 39,249 0 8 Application for loans 872,699 4 1 911,948 4 9 £ s. d. There are in operation,—grants, 27,595 11 0 There are in operation,—loans, 248,822 3 8 276,417 14 8In my last Report, laid before Parliament in the month of June, 1831, I had the pleasure to describe the great improvement which had then taken place in the moral habits and industry of the inhabitants of the mountain country, which is mainly attributable to the opening of these new roads. In the year 1822, the district was the focus of disturbance and bloodshed; in 1831, it presented an example of peace and prosperity; and I have now the gratification to state, that it still maintains the same character, and that each year new enclosures are made, and large tracts of hitherto unprofitable land are brought into a state of cultivation. Previously to the commencement of the roads, in the month of October, 1832, the Crown estate may he said to have been inaccessible to wheel carriages; and, in consequence, no lands were in cultivation beyond what were absolutely necessary to supply the population with potatoes and a small quantity of oats, the chief part of which must have been ground in quernes or hand-mills, there being no mill accessible excepting by back-roads on horses. As might be expected under such circumstances, the land remained nearly in a state of nature, for the farming system of the estate, as well as that of the whole of the surrounding country, did not extend to draining for the improvement of pasture or meadow land. The only difficulty I anticipate as likely to retard the rapid progress of the proposed improvement, is the want of a sufficient number of labourers; for, notwithstanding the great outcry which is made respecting the poverty and destitution of our peasantry from want of employment, I have found that our active operations are confined to about four months and a-half in the year,—namely, to the months of February and April in the spring, and between the 1st of July and the 15th of September in the summer. During the remaining part of the year the peasantry find abundant occupation in agricultural employment, excepting, perhaps, in the month of January; and unless I were to raise the wages above the usual prices of the country, and thereby injure the farmer, I could not force the works excepting at those 1227 periods; and this statement is not made from occurrences which have taken place during the last or preceding year, but from constant experience during the last twelve years, in the counties of Cork, Kerry, Limerick, and Tipperary. Extraordinary, therefore, as, from preconceived notions, it may appear, the only apprehension I entertain of being able to cultivate and otherwise improve a large portion of the Crown lands, is the want of a sufficient number of labourers at the periods most required. I feel this Report has already attained an unusual length; but I cannot conclude a subject in which I feel great interest, without expressing my admiration of the industry and docility of the people who have been employed by me during the last year and a-half, both on the new roads, and on the Crown-land improvements. Not a complaint is made, nor a murmur heard, but all is zeal and anxiety to perform the duty allotted to each.Well, Sir, here is a case in which the want of a sufficient demand for labour is at once met by the interposition of Government; and all these practical advantages result from Acts of the Imperial Parliament. But the learned Member says, that all this goes for nothing, because the revenue of the Crown-lands in Ireland is remitted to England. He says, that these are only the crumbs that fall from the rich man's table; like Falstaff's tavern bill, he considers it but as one halfpenny-worth of bread to an unconscionable quantity of sack. I hope it is needless to inform the learned Member, that the revenue arising from the Crown-lands is, in all respects, during the life-time of the Monarch, the same as the funds which are raised from the Customs or Excise, or any other source of revenue. Whether the money is raised from Crown-lands, or Customs, or Excise, it makes no difference whatever; it is quite the same, whatever may be the source from whence it arises. Let us inquire, whether these remittances are remittances of which Ireland has any reason to complain; and this brings me to, I am sorry to say, a somewhat complicated, but, at the same time, a very important, part of the question, in reply to arguments on which the learned Member mainly relies,—I mean the proportions contributed by the two islands. His argument was, that the burthen of contributing two-seventeenths was unjustly fixed at the time of the Union. He asserted, that Ireland had been made bankrupt by that unjust stipulation; and, therefore, said the learned Member, "I 1228 call upon you, if not to repeal the Union, at least to revise it." I am sure it would scarcely be believed by any Gentleman who heard that statement, that the bargain with respect to the two-seventeenths, whether it had been originally right or wrong, had, since 1817, ceased altogether to exist, and can now be spoken of but as a matter of history; and, further, that the variation made from that bargain in 1817, has been a variation wholly for the benefit of Ireland. This I pledge myself to prove. Hon. Members will see the importance of the point. If that bargain has been abandoned, and a new arrangement made for the benefit of Ireland,—if, as I have already said, the proportions fixed at the Union have been repealed, then there is no part of the reasoning of the learned Member, with respect to the two-seventeenths, which is applicable to the question, unless it can be shewn that Ireland suffered during the continuance of the system. This is a very important branch of the subject; it is one which I wish to be distinctly understood, as I am most anxious to prevent any misapprehension or mistake. I have perused the statement made by the learned Member with respect to the consolidation of the Exchequers, in a most distinct manner, and contained in a speech revised and corrected by himself:—'According to the Treaty of Union, Ireland had to pay only 67,000,000l of debt. In 1817, however, the Imperial Parliament passed an Act which repealed the protection that Ireland had derived from the articles of Union, and all the land and industry of Ireland was mortgaged for the payment of the national debt.' Sir, this is the statement of the learned Member; and this statement he repeated in very nearly the same terms last night. He argued, that the effect of the consolidation of the Exchequers, in 1817, was to repeal the protection Ireland had received from the Treaty of Union, and to mortgage the whole territory for the payment of the national debt.
§ Mr. Spring Rice
The hon. Member assents on behalf of his absent colleague. I shall state how the fact really stands, in order to enable the House to judge how far this mortgage had been created in 1817, or injustice done. If I have not the advantage of having the learned Member present, at least I can address 1229 myself, in his absence, to his friend and colleague. As we are at issue on this important fact, I desire that you, the Jury appointed to judge between us, should understand the issue you are about to try, and respecting which I put myself upon the country, and claim your verdict. The question is, whether the Imperial Parliament passed an Act, in 1817, which repealed any protection which Ireland had derived from the Articles of Union, and encumbered Ireland with an additional weight of debt. You are to decide, whether that statement be true or false,—whether the Imperial Parliament is guilty or not guilty,—whether all the land and industry of Ireland is now mortgaged for the payment of the national debt. Although the figures are rather complicated, I think I can put the point in a tolerably clear manner. Let us see what was the condition of Ireland in the years 1801 and 1817. In 1801—in those prosperous times of Irish independence—the income of Ireland was 2,645,736l., and her expenditure 6,853,582l.; leaving a deficiency of 4,207,846l. excluding all sums paid in redemption of debt. The actual deficiency thus amounted to very nearly double the whole amount of her revenue. It is curious that the deficiency, which in the year 1801 amounted to nearly double the amount of her income, was not, in 1817, quite equal to the income. This, however, is not the point we now have to try; however it may contradict another argument of the learned Member.
We are called on to examine into the effects of the Act of 1817, and those fatal consequences alleged to have ensued from its enactment. When the consolidation of the Exchequers took place, Ireland was bound to pay 3,002,911l. for the interest of her debt in England, and 1,086,103l. for the interest of her debt in Ireland. But the following account will explain this matter more clearly:—
Interest and Management of Irish Debt paid from the Revenue of Ireland. Payable in Great Britain. Payable in Ireland. £ £ In the year ending 5th January 1815 2,328,802 1,131,644 Before the consolidation 1816 2,621,814 1,088,009 1817 3,002,911 1,086,403 7,953,527 3,305,756
After the consolidation 1818 1,003,600 1819 643,572 1820 1,026,650 2,673,822
Now, will the House believe it possible that the Act of 1817, designated as an act of gross injustice towards Ireland, had the effect of at once relieving Ireland from the charge of the debt payable in England, and amounting, in 1817, to 3,000,000l.—in other words, that in place of paying two sums of 1,000,000l. in Ireland, and 3,000,000l. in England—I take them in round numbers—she was called on, after the passing of that Bill, to pay a sum of 1,000,000l. only, being less than the charge of her debt at the Union. Sir, this was the first effect of that Act.
In first period 11,259,283 In second period 2,673,822 The difference borne by England, inconsequence of the consolidation. 8,585,461
§ Mr. Spring Rice
.—The hon. and learned Gentleman may think otherwise. If the hon. and learned Gentleman, however, will have the kindness not to interfere with my figures of arithmetic, I promise to leave him in undisturbed possession of his figures of speech. I shall be very happy, however, to place these calculations in his hands, if he thinks he shall be able to detect any error in them. I repeat it, that prior to 1817, Ireland had to pay the interest of the entire debt contracted in both countries; she was afterwards relieved from this obligation, and no more than the surplus of income over expenditure became applicable to the interest of debt. It is perfectly true, that by this arrangement, all the revenue and all the expenditure became one joint amount; but the effect of this Act has been to burthen Great Britain, and to exonerate Ireland.
I am really afraid of wearying the House, but in order that the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Sheil) may understand my statement, I shall explain it again. I am very much surprised, that the hon. and learned Gentleman finds any difficulty in following my statement. I am sure, that it can only arise from a want of clearness in my enunciation. To render it more intelligible, I shall put the point in another way. Of course, the removal of the charge for the English debt, from the Exchequer of Ireland, must alter the balances of the annual accounts. The result is as follows:— 1231
Year 1814. Income Expenditure. Income … £5,287,581 Expenditure … £7,922,348 From the British Exchequer … 117,194 Remitted to England … 2,466,545 £5,404,775 Deficiency of Income … 4,984,118 … £10,388,893 £10,388,893 Year 1815. Income … £5,467,942 Expenditure … 7,819,558 From the British Exchequer … 98,249 Remitted to England … 6,107,986 £5,566,191 Deficiency of Income … 8,361,353 £13,927,544 £13,927,544 Year 1816. Income … £4,394,630 Expenditure … £7,677,649 From the British Exchequer … 166,722 Remitted to England … 1,184,009 £4,561,352 Deficiency of Income … 4,300,306 £8,861,658 £8,861,658 Year 1817. Income … £4,384,816 Expenditure … £4,180,364 From the British Exchequer … 216,923 Remitted to British Exchequer … 25,768 £4,206,132 Surplus … 395,607 £4,601,739 £4,601,739
Had not this consolidation taken place, Ireland must either have increased her taxation, or have borrowed money to pay the interest of her debt; and the effect would have been to add the loans borrowed during these years to the amount of the Irish debt. If there be any argument derivable from the amount of the Irish debt at all, the consolidation of the Exchequers diminishes the force of that argument in the proportion that it checked the accumulation of the Irish debt. But I have omitted to notice the amount of the debt which was so transferred to Great Britain in 1817. The gross amount was 103,032,750l., redeemed and unredeemed, or 83,944,904l. unredeemed. Hon. Gentlemen will see, by the Paper marked 1819, how the account stands. Now, let us see what would have been the 1232 effect, if the Exchequer had continued distinct till 1820? The effect would have been to have created an additional charge upon Ireland of 13,092,399l. sterling. It would have been necessary for Ireland to have raised or borrowed that sum, in addition to her current income; and she must necessarily have added, in a proportionate degree, to the amount of the burthens imposed upon her. From 1817 to the present time, there is an end to the question of joint and separate expenditure; from that time to the present, there is an end to the question of the proportion of two-seventeenths. England made herself responsible for the Irish debt; and Ireland, as a separate State, was freed from that obligation. It is quite true, that the taxation and revenue of Ireland are subject to the payment of the 1233 interest of the debt; but let it be remembered, so are the land and national resources of Great Britain likewise. Does it not make some very considerable difference, that we should be embarked in the same boat with a comrade stronger and more able than ourselves? The interest is now charged on the joint security of the two countries. What was formerly the separate debt of Ireland is now made the joint debt of the whole country. This was effected in 1817; and the result was a lessening of charge, in three years, of 13,092,399l. Yet this arrangement is brought forward as a grievance at this moment. Why, the allegation is totally untenable and preposterous. The fact, therefore, is, that the consolidation in 1817, sweeps aside all calculations in respect to the proportion of two-seventeenths. Granting that there had been any inequality or injustice towards Ireland in the Union proportions, the transfer of the debt for which Great Britain made herself jointly responsible in 1817, is alone much more than a sufficient counterpoise to any want of equality in 1800, even supposing that want of equality to be proved. On these grounds, therefore, I wish Gentlemen to consider, whether the arguments, with respect to the two-seventeenths, are, after the consolidation of the Exchequers, in the slightest degree applicable? The consolidation of the debt, and the application of the whole resources of the country as a security for the interest, have completely set these objections at rest. I regret to be compelled to trespass on the attention of the House at so unseasonable a length. I can assure them I do so most reluctantly; but this is a question of no common importance, and points which I might, out of deference to the House omit, might be represented elsewhere as points on which the argument of the learned Mover could not be refuted. On these grounds, therefore, I trust the House will continue to me its indulgence.
Year 1818. Income … £4,577,286 Expenditure … 3,278,164 Surplus … 1,299,122 £4,577,286 Year 1819. Income … £4,250,980 Expenditure … £3,565,193 Surplus … 685,787 £4,250,980
The next subject to which I beg to invite the attention of Members, is the state of the trade and navigation of Ireland. There have been insinuations thrown out relative to documents manufactured to suit the purposes of my argument: I can assure you that I should disdain to profit by any such miserable unfairness. But suspicion itself cannot object to the paper I now hold in my hand. No one can venture to suggest, that it is manufactured for the occasion. The paper which I now hold in my hand was given me by my right hon. friend, 1234 Sir John Newport, and was printed in the year 1816, and it really brings this question, of the effect of the Union on trade and commerce, to a very distinct issue.
But it may be repeated—"Oh! these Returns of exports prove nothing, or less than nothing." Why, Sir, was there ever such a doctrine as this? Do not the exports of a country show that a given quantity of labour is employed in producing those exports; and must not that labour have been remunerated? Is there a single branch of trade, or is there a single article of produce, that does not represent a given quantity of labour? Then the exports must be indicative of the employment of Irish labour, and the payment of a given amount of wages: but are they not indicative of something inure also? Must not these articles be paid for? They must be bought; they are not given away. They must, therefore, indicate consumption of those articles for which they were exchanged. The learned Member's proofs of poverty and its effects, are really most peculiar. He first assumes, that a country has an increasing surplus produce, and therefore is poor; next, that by reason of its poverty, it parts with its surplus produce without receiving an equivalent. This must be his argument, because if we Irish receive back—as of course we must do—something in exchange for the goods which 1235 we export, we receive back what is yet more valuable to us, or what we stand more in need of than what we export; and yet our increased exports are stated as evidence of our poverty.
Trade and Navigation of Ireland. The total amount of official value of the Exports of Ireland, for fourteen years immediately preceding the Union, was £64,861,000 For the fourteen years subsequent 80,316,000 Increase in the last fourteen years 15,455,000 The total value of Imports, in the first period, was 59,623,000 In the latter period 92,971,000 Increase in the last fourteen years 33,348,000 The number of ships which entered inwards in the fourteen years, including their repeated voyages: To 1800, was 102,600 To 1815, was 125,000 Increase 22,400 Their tonnage was, viz., Fourteen years to 1800 8,960,082 Fourteen years to 1815 11,579,558 Increase 2,619,476
But let us go further:—the total value of the imports into Ireland, in the first period to which I have already referred, was 59,000,000l.; in the latter, it was 92,000,000l.: showing an increase of 33,000,000l. Now, whatever may be said of the poverty of the Irish people, as displayed in the exportation of large quantities of goods without equivalent, as is assumed, I think this argument cannot be applied to the import trade. I hope I shall not be told, that it is possible to argue this part of the question fairly without referring to official documents. I beg to ask those Gentlemen who, in their great kindness, have expressed their horror of figures, and their objection to the course I am compelled to pursue, if I am excluded from adverting to the amount of the exports and of the imports—if I am excluded likewise from considering the number of ships, and the tonnage of those ships—upon what principle is it possible for me, or any one else, to argue upon the trade and navigation of Ireland Perhaps, also, if after collecting the statements which are before the House, I did not refer to them, those very hon. Gentlemen who quarrel with my statistics might turn round upon me, and assert, that I was without facts to illustrate or to prove my case. It may, however, be fairly objected, that the statements I have as yet referred to bring me no further than to 1815; and it may be imagined, that the progress of trade in Ireland has not been so favourable since that period. As a very important argument might be raised upon this assumption, I beg to refer the House to the account marked No. 9, which brings the commercial statements as far as the official records enable them to be carried, namely, to 1826. It is a statement of the average amount of the exports and imports of Ireland for triennial periods terminating in that year. From this account, it appears, that the annual average value of the imports is as follows:—
§ A STATEMENT, showing the Annual Average amount of the Imports and Exports of Ireland, for the Triennial periods terminating on 5th January, 1790, 1800, 1810, 1820, 1826, and 1830; and the Biennial periods terminating on 5th January 1832 and 1834 respectively; distinguishing the trade of Great Britain from the trade with Foreign Parts.1236
|Annual Average Amount of the Imports into Ireland.||Annual Average Amount of the Exports from Ireland.|
|PERIODS.||From Foreign Parts.||TOTAL.||To Foreign Parts.||TOTAL.|
|Three Years ended||£||£||£||£|
|25th March 1790||..||3,535,588||..||4,125,333|
|5th January 1810||..||6,535,068||..||5,270,471|
|Two Years ended||..||..|
|5th January 1832||1,491,036||..||635,909||..|
§ In the absence of Custom-house documents, which are incomplete since 1826, I am driven to the returns of ships and tonnage, as the best evidence of the state of trade, and I shall, therefore, proceed to show what have been the numbers and tonnage of the vessels which have entered the ports of Ireland during the several periods already referred to. I wish hon. Gentlemen to be aware that, in consequence of the assimilation of the Custom-house laws of England and Ireland, and the unrestrained intercourse of the cross-channel trade, we have no longer the means of recording the amount of the trade between the two countries. I regret that such should have been the result of a change otherwise highly beneficial; and if it should be possible, without commercial inconvenience, to restore the former practice so far as to preserve a record of the British and Irish trade, I trust that the Government may take the subject into their favourable consideration, for I scarcely think I should be now called upon to argue this question, if I possessed the means of exhibiting truly the commercial statistics of Ireland, and thus proving to demonstration what has been her progress in wealth. The measure of 1825, however, was certainly most useful to both countries; but it has deprived us of the most valuable information as regarding the commercial improvement of the country. But though we have lost one criterion of the state of Irish trade, we still have preserved the amount of tonnage on which we can reason, and this gives us the next best standard to refer to. The account which I hold in my hand states the number of vessels entered into the ports of Ireland, including repeated voyages; though it does not inform us how frequently the same ships may have entered. But for my purpose, this is immaterial; the number of vessels might be of importance, if I were arguing this as a shipping question; because, in that light, 1237 repeated voyages, by a single vessel, differ materially from a series of voyages by different vessels; yet, as a matter of com-
|A STATEMENT, showing the Annual Average number and tonnage of vessels entered inwards, in the ports of Ireland, in the Triennial periods terminating on 5th January, 1790, 1800, 1810, 1820, 1830, and 1834 respectively; distinguishing the trade with Great Britain from the trade with Foreign parts.|
|TRIENNIAL PERIODS||ANNUAL AVERAGE NUMBER AND TONNAGE OF VESSELS ENTERED INWARDS.|
|From Great Britain.||From Foreign Parts.||From all Parts.|
|5th Jan. 1790||The entries Inwards from Great Britain and? from Foreign parts are not distinguished in the records of this period.||7,243||622,013|
|5th Jan. 1800||6,523||544,723||686||97,754||7,209||642,477|
|5th Jan. 1810*||7,744||674,425||653||90,233||8,397||764,658|
|5th Jan. 1820||10,018||823,307||937||138,577||10,955||961,884|
|5th Jan. 1830||12,329||1,158,937||1,008||166,142||13,337||1,325,079|
|5th Jan. 1834||14,245||1,348,999||944||174,292||15,189||1,523,291|
|* This is an average of two years only—namely, 1808 and 1809, the books for the year 1807 being defective.|
§ From this statement, it appears that the number of vessels have increased from 7,243, in 1790, to 15,189, in 1834; and the tonnage from 622,013, to 1,523,291. But there is one point in this table to which I wish most particularly to invite the attention of the Members of this House, and above all the attention of those hon. Members who are favourable to the Repeal of the Union. Let us observe at what period tins increase has taken place. During the years before the Union included in this return—that is, in the Triennial periods ending in 1790 and 1800—no increase took place in the number of ships; but, on the contrary, a slight diminution—namely, from 7,243 to 7,209, though in the tonnage there was a trifling increase—namely, from 622,013 to 642,477; whereas, since the Union the shipping has regularly augmented, and that in a rapidly increasing ratio. Therefore, with regard to ships and tonnage, taking the year 1790 as our point of departure, the whole increase under the authority of the Irish Parliament was as an evanescent quantity, while that which has taken place under the authority of the Imperial Parliament has been great beyond all parallel.
§ I must here advert to a fallacy in a part of the learned Member's statement, which I am bound to confute, because it seemed to be well calculated to produce a delusive impression on the public mind;—'I can1238
§ merce, it is unimportant whether one vessel makes ten voyages, or ten vessels make one voyage each.
§ prove to you (said he) the injury which the Union has inflicted on Ireland, by showing that before the Union the consumption of that country with respect to particular articles was as 40 per cent, and that of England was but as 20 per cent, and that since the Union the consumption of Ireland has been only 20 per cent, while the consumption of England has increased to 40 per cent. Therefore the difference between the two proportions (continued the learned Member) shows the diminution of wealth in Ireland since the Union.'
§ Now, this is a most sophistical mode of reasoning the case, and I undertake to prove that it contains within itself the grossest of all fallacies. It may, to a certain extent, be just to compare the consumption of Ireland, at one period with its consumption at another; but to make a per-centage average of the consumption of one country as compared with that of another, can lead to no useful result whatever. It practically proves nothing. Allow me to put a simple case, to illustrate my principle. Let me suppose that one community consumes, in a given year ten quarters of wheat, and another community 1,000 quarters during the same period, and that in the following year the consumption of the first community increases to twenty quarters, and that of the second community to 1,500;—what is the result of these pro- 1239 portions? In one community the consumption has increased to 100 per cent, and in the other, only 50 per cent, though in the latter case no less than 500 quarters of wheat has been added to the consumption, while in the first an addition of only ten quarters has taken place. Is it not plain, then, that the relative proportions, as ascertained by per-centages, proves but little in reference to the state of those countries? But, dismissing this example, a more agreeable illustration is suggested by the hour to which the present discussion has, unfortunately, been protracted. I take, as an example, the consumption of wine. Suppose that one community consumes a single hogshead of wine, and that another community consumes 10,000 hogsheads; and that in the following year the first community has increased its consumption from one to two hogsheads, and the second community has increased its consumption to 15,000. In the former case the consumption is augmented in the ratio of 100 per cent, while in the latter it is only augmented in the ratio of 50 per cent. Yet it cannot be seriously doubted but that the addition of 5,000 hogsheads to the consumption of a community is a greater indication of wealth and prosperity than the addition of a single hogshead. If I have been enabled to make myself intelligible on this subject, the learned Member is put out of court as far as relates to his doctrine of ratios of consumption. The House will observe, in such an argument, everything depends on the point of departure, upon which the applicability of this reasoning exclusively depends.
§ On the subject of trade and navigation, hon. Gentlemen will recollect, that in the Report of 1830, to which so much reference has been made, it is stated, on the authority of Sir Charles Whitworth, that the total value of the exports of Ireland to Great Britain, for a period of seven years, from 1723 to 1729, amounted 2,307,722l. What will hon. Gentlemen think when they learn that the value of the export trade of Ireland with the port of Liverpool alone, as appears from documents in my possession, amounted in 1831 to 4,497,708l., in 1832 to 4,581,313l., and in 1833 to the enormous sum of 7,456,602l. The trade of 1833 is estimated at prices below the market value, and there are various articles of import wholly omitted. If these were all included, and the amount thus rectified, the total value of Irish imports into Liverpool will be probably found to 1240 exceed 8,000,000l. If we refer to the earlier tables before me, I find, that the present value of the trade with Liverpool exceeds that of the total exports of Ireland in 1820 by 1,700,000l.; that it exceeds the exports of 1810 by 2,700,000l.; and that it exceeds the exports of 1800 and 1790 by nearly 4,000,000l. And this, I may be told, is a proof of the increasing poverty of Ireland! It has been already stated, I am aware, and it will probably be repeated by the advocates for repeal, that the amount of exports and imports is no test of the nation's prosperity; and yet, with singular inconsistency, if in any imported article, such as tea or sugar, they can by any means show a decrease, they triumphantly point to the fact, as a proof of the decay and ruin of Ireland. Truly mine is a most unfortunate country! Whether the amount of imports or exports increase, or whether they diminish, the one alternative or the other is a proof of her misery in the eyes of the advocates of Repeal. They are determined that, under all circumstances, Ireland shall and must be poor. In argument, they make poverty their divinity, and they worship her with zealous devotion. I may be asked, how has this increase of commerce arisen? We owe much to the wise system of legislation adopted in late years; but the increase of our trade has doubtless been also accelerated by the extraordinary effects of the agency of steam-navigation between the two countries. In the mighty element of steam, acting in the production of wealth on both sides of the Channel, there resides a power which, perhaps, as much as any interference of ours, must ultimately silence the senseless cry of Repeal. It will do so, by bringing the two countries more immediately into contact, by making the inhabitants better known to each other, and inducing the English capitalists to adventure in Ireland, and giving greater facilities to Irish enterprise. But one of the most important results which will be thus effected by steam-navigation, will be the approximation of the markets, and the connexion formed between individuals belonging to both countries, by the ties of their mutual wants and interests. It is even now the case, that certain articles of manufacture, after having undergone one process in Lancashire, are exported to Belfast; in that town they pass through another stage in the process, and are finally returned to Manchester for completion and sale. It is to operations like this that I refer with con- 1241 fidence as proofs, as well as causes, of the connexion of interests between the two islands. But, Sir, the hon. member for the county of Cork has made some observations elsewhere, which induce me to call his particular attention to a paper which I now hold in my hand. I allude to the observations of the hon. Gentleman only so far as they were intended to contain statements of fact. That hon. Gentleman stated, with reference to a former argument of mine on this question, that it was easy to talk of Irish prosperity; but if I looked to my own port of Limerick (for the interest and prosperity of which I shall never cease to feel the deepest interest), I should there find commerce in decay, and the grass actually growing in the Custom-house yard. Now, it is a most gratifying circumstance for me to have it in my power to relieve the hon. Member's mind from all alarms on this subject. He will be glad to hear, that the advance which has taken place in the shipping of that port is very considerable, as will appear from the account now before me, which I will read to the House.
|An Account of the Number and Registered Tonnage of Vessels cleared at the Port of Limerick.|
|Year ended Sept. 1.||Vessels.||Tonnage.|
§ I should take the liberty of recommending, before it is again said that grass is growing on the quays of Limerick, that our orators should visit the Custom-house and the Chamber of Commerce, and consult the records of both establishments, and perhaps they might hesitate in making an assertion, to which the facts of the case would give an immediate refutation. I might offer to the hon. Gentleman a more precise account of the trade of Limerick, but that I am afraid of wearying the House by these dry details. Nevertheless, I trust the House will pardon me. The accounts of other 1242 ports lead to the same results, and to the conviction I have in my mind, that the trade of Ireland is advancing rapidly, and will continue to advance, if the Gentlemen opposite will only allow us to enjoy a little tranquillity and peace. There is quite a modern branch of trade risen up in Ireland—I mean the exportation of Dublin porter. I am not a proprietor in the brewery, and, in praising the beverage, which I consider most excellent, I cannot be considered to be actuated by interested motives. But, it is a curious fact, that, a few years ago, Ireland was an importing country of porter, while, at the present moment, a very considerable export trade is growing up in Dublin. In this point, and, perhaps, in this point only, I fully expect the learned member for Dublin to concur with me. I only venture to entreat hon. Members opposite, who wish to give some activity to the trade of their country, to encourage the fermentation of the vat, rather than the fermentation of politics. By so doing, they may greatly improve our trade and our internal condition; and, if they will but take my advice, I, for one, shall be ready, most heartily, to drink their healths in their own porter. To return to the trade of Limerick: I have already shown the registered tonnage of vessels cleared at that port, and I will now read the following table, giving an account of the number and registered tonnage of vessels cleared at the creeks annexed to this port, in each of the four years ending the 1st of September, 1833:—
§ In the first place, it ought to be observed, that a complete alteration has been produced in the system of our commercial intercourse, which, like other changes, presses severely on individuals. Before the introduction of steam navigation, merchants carrying on business extensively might be found at the different ports. These gentlemen made large shipments, and either imported goods or received consignments, which they kept in store, and afterwards distributed, by the means of their customers, the retail traders, throughout the country. The introduction of steam-navigation has thrown a serious impediment in the way of this mode of transacting business. Every individual, however small his capital, may now trade for himself. In place of going to his neighbour, or, if he is a large capitalist, to his own store, for 20,0001bs. of any particular article, he is enabled to send to England for 1,0001bs. only; and, when that is expended, he orders a second quantity of 1,000lbs. Undoubtedly, to the more extensive merchant, possessed of large warehouses and greater capital, this change may be productive of some immediate loss, but to the community at large it has been beneficial. It has given an impulse to trade and commerce which exceeds all belief, and, by the competition which it has created, it has produced a great relief to the consumer, whose interests after all ought to be considered as the most entitled to our attention. This accounts for some of the complaints which have been made, making due allowances for the disturbing causes. No individual, looking fairly at the facts, can doubt but that the commerce of Ireland is in a satisfactory state.
§ The subject which I now approach is a very important one—it is the state of the manufactures of Ireland before and after the Union. You have heard the speech of the learned member for Dublin; but you are also aware, if you have read that which has been circulated through the medium of the press, that no topic has been more strongly pressed upon the consideration of the people of Ireland than the injury which our manufacturers have suffered from the Union, and the extent of relief which the Repeal of the Union would afford. There cannot be an argument more popular than this. It applies itself to the interest of all those who are in work, for it tells them 1244 that they may hope for higher wages by the Repeal of the Union; it applies, also, to the interests of those who are out of work, because it tells them that, after the Repeal, they will have a better market for their labour. If this argument is only believed, and the people are made to think that a Repeal of the Union could ensure them full employment, I am not surprised that we should have Petitions presented to this House in favour of Repeal.
§ But, Sir, I undertake to prove, that the state of manufactures in Ireland is better at the present time, than it was before the Union. I undertake further to prove, that the state of our manufactures is better by reason of the Union; and I undertake, finally, to prove, that the Repeal of the Union would be the death-blow to the extension of our manufacturing industry. First, then, as to the state of the manufactures before the Union. Upon this point, I beg leave to refer hon. Gentlemen to the petitions which, before the Union, were presented to the Irish Parliament. In so doing, I shall rely on the evidence of the parties themselves. Perhaps, it might not be candid on my part to refer to any Petition presented before the year 1779, when the freedom of trade in Ireland was, to a certain extent, established; but, between that year and the period of the Union, the Journals of the Irish House of Commons contain strong evidence of the continued distress of the manufacturers. On the 30th of October, 1781, there was presented a Petition from Cork, representing, that numbers of manufacturers and artificers were then in the utmost distress. On the 6th of December, a similar Petition was presented from Wexford. On the 31st of October, 1783, the broad-cloth manufacturers stated, that the exportation of raw materials, and importation of manufactures, had reduced them to unparalleled distress. On the same day, the Lord Mayor and citizens of Dublin prayed for protection and restrictions, to restore the almost ruined manufactures. In November, 1783, a similar Petition was presented from the working worsted weavers. On the 3rd of November, 1783, Captain Brooke petitioned for a loan of 40,000l. to carry on "mixed linen and cotton manufactures," so as to employ a number of the distressed weavers of Dublin; and, on the 28th of the same month, Parliament granted bins 25,000l., upon condition of his constantly employing 2,000 manufacturers from Dublin for ten years. On the 3rd of November, 1783, the Guild of Merchants, 1245 Dublin, presented a Petition, representing the kingdom as "pregnant with the most alarming circumstances of distress." Similar Petitions from Dublin, Cork, Queen's County, Carrick-on-Suir, and Roscrea, were presented on the same day. On the 18th of November, 1783, the hatters represented their distress as occasioned by the insufficiency of the duty on imports. On the 5th of February, 1787, the woollen manufacturers of Dublin presented a petition, asserting their great distress; and, on the 12th of February, their example was followed by the manufacturers in Cork. On the 15th of February, 1787, the merchants and shopkeepers of Dublin petitioned for the purpose of representing the bad state of trade, and the ruin of Irish manufactures by the sale of smuggled goods at auctions. On the 2nd of March, 1787, John Clare, an auctioneer, of Dublin, stated, in his petition, that the manufacturers were at the mercy of the shopkeepers, whose frequent failures were attended with ruinous consequences. On the 31st of January, 1788, the manufacturers of satinets, camlets, &c., complained that their distress was insupportable, and that more than half of the working manufacturers were reduced, by want of employment, to a degree of wretchedness beyond description. On the 6th of February, 1788, the woollen manufacturers presented a petition, representing the declining state of the trade, and praying for a prohibiting duty on the exportation of materials when dear, and a bounty when below a fixed price: on the same day a similar petition was presented from Cork.
§ In 1788, the sovereign and inhabitants of Belfast petitioned for the enactment of an additional tax on the exportation of cattle, stating that the curing trade was very much diminished by such exportations. In this prayer for the exclusion of Irish cattle from the markets of England, the people of Belfast adopt the worst system of the worst times of British jealousy, and shew the miserable ignorance and folly that must inevitably belong to separate legislation. Next the woollen manufacturers of Dublin presented a petition attributing great losses to the depravity of the working people. A petition presented from the shoemakers of Dublin (9th of March, 1792), represented that the remuneration for their labour was insufficient, and their branch of trade gone to decay. On the 9th of February, 1793, a petition was presented from the hosiers of Dublin, representing their trade as rapidly on the decline, there being no water-force 1246 machinery in Ireland for spinning cotton, and cotton being liable to an import duty. The next petition (25th of February, 1793), was from the parish of St. Luke, Dublin, stating that their labour, as manufacturers, afforded them a very scanty subsistence, and that, within the preceding twenty years, the parish had declined considerably in value. In the year 1793, petitions were presented by the Irish manufacturers of cotton and woollen fabrics, stating their inability any longer to give employment to the working people, of whom 15,000 were in wretchedness. On the 6th of May, 1793, the merchants of Dublin met, in consequence of the embarrassment of trade, and the report of the committee to whom their resolutions were referred, states, that the cotton-trade was in danger of being totally ruined, and that linen had fallen nearly thirty per cent in value. On the 18th of June, 1793, a petition from the worsted weavers of Dublin stated, that they were reduced to penury and famine; that, in this branch of trade, 2,000 looms had been employed in 1789, but that they had been diminished to less than one-fourth, and that tile materials had fallen in price twenty per cent. On the 21st of June, 1793, the working silk-manufacturers of Dublin presented a petition, stating that silk-weaving was nearly annihilated; that, in 1791, 1,200 looms, and several thousand persons, were employed in silk-weaving in Dublin, nine-tenths of whom had been subsequently reduced to penury. On the 5th of February, 1796, there was a petition from certain book-printers of Dublin, stating that the publishing trade had been nearly extinguished by the import duties charged on paper. On the 13th of February, 1797, the cotton manufacturers of Dublin petitioned for an increase of the duty on imported grey cottons, stating that many persons employed in such manufactures were then reduced to beggary. On the 21st of February, 1797, a petition was presented from the tanners of Dublin, representing the great stagnation of their trade, and their inability to purchase in 1795, within 10,000 of the number of hides bought in 1794. In the same year, 1797, as a specimen of the utmost extent of absurdity, there was presented to Parliament a Petition from the builders, praying to be heard against a Building Act for the protection of houses from fire; a petition which could only have been defensible, on the supposition that the petitioners had a vested interest in the conflagrations which might destroy their neighbours' houses. Now, I 1247 entertain no doubt, but that some of these Dublin builders, or their worthy descendants, are petitioners for Repeal; and I do not think that their principle, in 1797, was one whit more unreasonable when they claimed an interest in the destruction of their neighbours' houses by fire, than it is at present, when they recommend the sacrifice of their country's interests by Repeal. Of this I am satisfied, that the Repeal of the Union would inflict a greater injury both upon Great Britain and Ireland, than would be the result of the burning of this great metropolis itself.
§ Should we not inquire what was the conduct of the Irish Parliament while it existed in relation to manufactures? All its Acts showed that its Members were influenced by principles the most illiberal and the most unwise. For instance, duties were placed on cotton, woollen, and worsted yarns; and there was actually a duty levied in Ireland on coal—a country which depended for its effectual supply of coal upon England. This was done for the sake of giving protection to some few and insignificant Irish collieries. I doubt not that if the Union had not taken place, there might have been additional duties imposed on British coal in order to give some additional value to that domestic production—turf. In short, Sir, this narrow and selfish system of policy influenced the proceedings of Ireland as well as of Great Britain. The demand for protection would be loud, the war of protecting duties would be perpetual, and the interests of the public would be sacrificed. The House will recollect the point made by the learned Member relative to this branch of the subject. He said—'Among those duties for the abolition of which you take credit, you include the Union or protective duties; but those duties were for the benefit of Ireland. You repealed them; and there was not a manufacturer in England who did not rejoice at the repeal; but it was the destruction of the manufactures of my country.'
§ Where did the learned Member obtain his information? Never was there a greater mistake, both in reasoning and in fact, than is contained in his proposition. What was the effect of protective duties? Was it not to raise the home price artificially to the extent of that protection? The price being thus raised artificially, the Irish merchants were necessarily confined to the markets of their own country, even if retaliatory duties had not been imposed, 1248 and they became of course the greatest sufferers by the very protection they asked for. But this point shall not stand upon any abstract reasoning. I have it in my power to refer to the more practical authority of a memorial on this subject, presented to the Treasury by the merchants, manufacturers, and traders of Dublin themselves. These protective duties had, after 1820, been intended gradually to decrease, and a period was appointed, when their final extinction was fixed. The effect of the first partial reduction was so eminently beneficial to the trade of Ireland, that the merchants of Ireland themselves applied for the immediate repeal of the whole of these duties, falsely called protecting. I beg the attention of the House, while I read a part of the memorial. The memorialists state—'That a very considerable improvement has taken place in the trade of Ireland, since the cessation of part of the Union duties, and a great increase of employment has been thereby afforded to the working classes, especially in the manufacture of calicoes, and other descriptions of cotton goods; at the same time memorialists are not aware that, in any branch of manufacture, the workmen engaged therein have been even partially thrown out of employment. With the test of experience and a complete change of public opinion in favour of such a measure, your memorialists respectfully pray your Lordships to take into consideration the expediency of recommending the legislature in the ensuing Session to repeal the remnant of the Union duties, and thereby afford to your Lordships a greater facility of placing the intercourse between the two countries completely on the footing of a coasting trade.'
§ Is not that an answer to the learned Member, and does it not prove that the repeal of these duties took place at the instance of Irish merchants themselves, and for their benefit? but the argument of the learned Member is not used without design, or inadvertently. It enables him to say, as he has said, to the manufacturers of Ireland—"Join me in obtaining the repeal of the Union, and an Irish Parliament will restore to you those protecting duties of which you have been deprived by the Legislature of the United Kingdom." Must not such invitation and engagement hold out a strong temptation to these manufacturers? Does it not offer a bounty on repealers? But the learned Member has 1249 said in Ireland that he is prepared to consent to the enactment of protecting duties for Ireland to the amount of twenty-five per cent. He has made such a statement in Ireland most distinctly, and I now repeat his statement for the information of England, and for the information of those Members of this House who have manufacturing constituencies to protect. It is right that the English people should understand, that one of the first propositions which the learned Member would consider it to be his duty to submit to an Irish Parliament, would be the imposition of protecting duties against England to the extent of twenty-five per cent. In this House it may not suit his purpose to make this statement; on the contrary, what has been his argument? Here, it is stated that Ireland is a country producing corn and requiring manufactures; while England is a country producing manufactures and requiring corn, and therefore that it would be most useful and advantageous that a free and liberal intercourse should take place. But in Ireland this is not the doctrine; there our export of corn is spoken of as a proof of agricultural distress, and a protecting duty of twenty-five per cent is promised for the encouragement of domestic manufactures. In the one case freedom of trade is pointed to as secured and perpetuated by the success of this Motion; in the other, the restriction of trade is advocated for the sake of local interests. If by the statement of the learned member for Dublin, it is good for Ireland to export corn, and good for England to receive it, what becomes of the assertion of the hon. member for Cork—that the export of Irish corn is the evidence and the cause of poverty in Ireland? If he believes, in common with the mover of this proposition, that the effect of a Repeal of the Union would be to increase and to perpetuate the export of our raw produce, he is bound to vote against that repeal; or if he still persists in supporting repeal, he must admit, that the export of our corn and other commodities is advantageous to Ireland. He must either abandon his friend, the mover, or he must abandon his argument. I have stated that this is a most important part of the question; it is, indeed, second to none; and I therefore wish most earnestly to fix the attention of the House upon it.
§ The learned Member stated, amongst other objections to the Union, that it had not been preceded by any deliberate inquiry. The learned Member is in error on that 1250 score; there was a deliberate inquiry in the Committee of the whole House; and there was also an examination of witnesses on the subject of manufactures, and the state of the manufacturers. What is stated by Mr. Pim?—'The Irish manufacturer could not exist without a high protecting duty. The existing duties on calicoes and muslins are prohibitory. He views the manufacture as regards the manufacturer only, and not the consumer. Does not see what the consumer has to say to the question.'
§ Another Gentleman (Mr. Orr) states—'Existing duties are near fifty per cent ad valorem. Every wise Legislature will secure that their own market shall be exclusively supplied by their own manufacturer. No Irish manufacturer would be able to send his manufacture to England.'
§ Mr. Geohagan—'Considers the superintendence of a resident parliament necessary for the protection of the silk-trade in Ireland.'
§ It is curious that the only superintendence which the Irish Parliament ever gave to that trade was through a commission of a certain number of highly respectable gentlemen, some of them barristers, clergy, bishops, and judges, who were Members of the Dublin Society. These grave and reverend seigniors were required to make regulations and to fix the rate of wages between the employers and the employed. Such was the enlightened superintendence to be exercised by a domestic legislature! In reference to the destruction of the sugar-refinery trade much has been said. Mr. Crosthwaite states, that at that time there were—'Twenty sugar-houses in Ireland; ten or twelve men constantly employed in each: about seven or eight West Indian ships.' To call for protection for these twenty sugar-houses, to keep up the protecting duty on sugar, which is a tax levied on the whole country, is not quite justifiable according to our modern notions of science. But there are the protecting duties, a promise of which the learned Member holds out as a bait, to induce his votaries to join in the cry for repeal.
§ The next evidence which I shall notice, with respect to the cotton trade before the Union, is worthy of most particular attention; because it is that of a Gentleman of the greatest experience and respectability, who is, I hope, still living. I allude to Mr. Grimshaw, one of the earliest cotton-spinners in Ireland, than whom there could 1251 not be found any greater authority on this subject. He states, in 1799, that—'If duties were reduced, the manufacture would cease. For cotton printing the cost is more than forty or fifty per cent more than in England. Price of coals from 28s. to 32s. Labour in cotton works dearer than in England.'
§ Will hon. Gentlemen believe, after these statements, that there are now printing works in Belfast, which are employed for Manchester, and that goods are now actually printed in the town of Belfast for the Manchester market—and this is to some extent the result of the removal of those injudicious and absurd protections, which it would be the policy of the repealers and of their domestic Legislature to re-enact.
§ Mr. Williams stated the case of the glass trade in 1797; and it will be seen whether the falling-off of that branch of industry is attributable to the Union. The witness declared that—'The duty was prohibitory. Difference of cost of production was 34l. 12s. per cent; and that it was wholly out of the power of the Irish manufacturer to send one item of his manufacture to England.'
§ Yet, in better times, we have known some exportations of Irish glass to England, and the Irish manufacturer has even ventured to compete with his British rival in the foreign or colonial markets. The evidence which I have read describes the state of manufactures at the time of the Union. Let me now describe their present state, and I shall do so on information which may be perfectly relied on. I hold in my hand a letter from a gentleman of the highest authority in the city of Dublin, giving an account of the state of manufactures there. I shall read his letter, rather than risk any misconception or misrepresentation of its contents, by attempting to convey its import to the House. The letter is as follows:—'The state of our manufacturing interest cannot well be described in any general terms. With reference to the calico printers, for example, the factory at Stratford, so many years carried on by the Orr, and that at Ball's-bridge, by the Duffeys, are both bankrupt, while Mr. Henry's establishment, in the same line, at Island-bridge, is in a highly prosperous state. It is conducted with such enterprise and skill, that its fabrics are in great demand in the Scotch and English markets, whither they are sent in considerable quantities. I have authority for saying that the value of the 1252 goods consigned by this House to these markets during the last year amounted to about 90,000l., exclusive of the home demand. (Thus it will be seen that our goods are already in the British market.) The silk-trade has already exhibited a decided improvement.'
§ This is the trade which Gentlemen are desirous of bringing back, under the control of a domestic Legislature, and of the wisdom and discretion of the Dublin Society. 'The tabinet weavers are now fully employed, and the other branches are in a better condition than for these several years past; a good deal of raw silk has been lately sent from England to be thrown here and returned.'
§ This is precisely the state of things, for which I have contended. In this case two branches of the manufacture are carried on in the two different parts of the empire, and each country is therefore made accessory to the prosperity and improvement of the other. My correspondent proceeds—'Of several branches of manufacture that were formerly sustained by the artificial, and sometimes the fraudulent, advantages derived from bounties, drawbacks, and protecting duties, seine have been destroyed, and others deeply injured by the discontinuance of such support. There is reason, however, to hope, that some of them at least will ultimately recover. But if some of our manufactures have been prostrated, others have risen in their place, and as the latter owe nothing to adventitious aids, but chiefly consist in the preparation of the staple products of the country, they have the best chance of stability and permanence. Of these, the export trade in porter is perhaps the most remarkable—a trade which a short time ago was unheard of. A vast exportation of Dublin porter is now going on to almost all parts of England, and it is with some difficulty that the demand can be supplied. Guinness led the way, and has been followed by almost all the other brewers, Daniel O'Connell and Co. inclusive. It appears from official returns that, in the year 1797, the quantity of English ale and porter imported into Ireland was 67,188 barrels. The annual export of porter from Dublin alone now nearly equals that quantity, and at the present rate of increase will soon greatly exceed it. A considerable and increasing portion of the Irish wheat exported to England is now in the shape of flour. Since the repeal of the duties on leather 1253 a favourable change has taken place in the nature of that trade. Raw leather is now brought from England, and the manufactured article exported thither, with every prospect of a considerable extension in this traffic. Formerly all the sheet lead, lead pipes, and shot used in Ireland came from England; now they are manufactured at home. Within these few years past, two extensive manufactories of oil of vitriol, bleaching powders, Glauber's salts, &c., have been established near Dublin. They are in a thriving state, and export considerable quantities of those articles to England. A factory for sail-cloth, flax spinning, &c., has been established since the Union, and exports largely to England. Nor ought the iron works upon the Liffey, belonging to Mr. Robinson, to be overlooked, where steam-engines, metal machinery of all sorts, iron hoops, &c., are fabricated of the best description, and on an extensive scale.'
§ But the most important feature in the extension and improvement is the manufacture of machinery, which has of late years, sprung up in Ireland; affording the best proof that our general manufactures are thriving. The construction of steam-engines and other machinery is now successfully undertaken in Dublin, Belfast, and other places, demonstrating that a demand for these machines is increasing rapidly throughout the country. And, here I must say that, if there be one argument more cogent than another to prove, that until Ireland is allowed some repose, never can her powers of improvement and her natural energies be fairly developed, that argument is to be deduced from the present state of manufacturing industry throughout the world. A country stands in a very different position when her manufactures are carried on by machinery, from that in which she was placed in a simpler state of society. Ireland must inevitably sink as a manufacturing country, unless she employs machinery in competition with all other countries. But unless we have tranquillity—unless we have security for property—unless we have security for life—how can we expect that any reasonable man will he induced to invest his wealth as fixed capital, and expose himself to the enormous risks inseparable from continued political agitation? When manufactures were carried on in a more simple mode, this political agitation, and this insecurity, were not productive of so much inconvenience and danger. The female spinner. 1254 or the peasant, with a loom in his cottage, might have consoled themselves in thinking, that this very poverty was a security against attack, and that even if danger approached them, they had not much to lose. The case of the capitalist who is called on to invest many hundred thousand pounds in a cotton or flax mill is very different. He is readily discouraged and in many instances may say: "As long as the trade of agitation is kept up in Ireland—as long as my property is exposed to hazard,—as long as there is a chance of my being denounced if my politics do not concur with those of the popular leaders,—as long as my private life may be disturbed and embittered, I will not and dare not invest my capital." On these grounds, in too many cases, he does not invest it. It is on this account that the position of Ireland is one which renders her liable to peculiar loss and danger from the effects of agitation. It is on this account that Ireland feels so peculiarly the necessity of repose—it is on this account that repose is more necessary than at any other period of her history—it is on this account that there is not a gentleman, who chooses to pursue the course of agitation, who does not incur the awful responsibility of arresting the progress of his country in the career of improvement, and of depriving that very peasantry, whose interests he affects to advocate, and for whose rights he thinks he contends, of their only means of advancing in wealth, civilization, and happiness.
§ I turn now to another trade—the woollen trade of Dublin—and I find that this and other manufactures have felt the benefit of the repeal of the duties on coals, so long prayed for by Ireland, and so wisely recommended to Parliament by my noble friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I find, in reference to one particular house, that, as I ventured to predict, on good authority, the application of machinery to the manufacture is progressive. I learn, from a respectable correspondent, in reference to former times, that—'The principal seat of the manufacture of woollen cloth in Ireland was in Dublin; and its boasted extent and prosperity for many years immediately preceding the Union, consisted in the employment of about 300 looms and 2,000 individuals, including spinners, weavers, dressers, and all others engaged in the manufacture.' This letter comes from a gentleman peculiarly well informed—1255
§ Mr. Spring Rice
—The hon. Gentleman asks me to name.—He must excuse me.—I will tell him why I do not choose to name. I am compelled to explain, because, in withholding the name of my correspondent without an explanation, I may hereafter be taunted with having acted upon anonymous authority. I do not choose to name my correspondents, because I do not choose to compromise them, or expose them to virulent attack.
§ Mr. Spring Rice
—I think I know my hon. friend too well for him to suppose that I could attribute anything of the kind to him. But I repeat it, that I will not name my authority, and I repeat, that I am compelled to state the reason why I refuse to do so, or otherwise, I shall be met by a denial of the authority of an anonymous communication. The House should know, that this question of Repeal is discussed with comparative moderation on this side of the water; but a very different tone is taken at the other. Every man who ventures in this House or out of it, to express a free opinion, is denounced. I myself, humble an individual as I am, and anxious as I have ever felt to avoid the occasions of offence, I have been denounced before large bodies in Ireland for my conduct and opinions. I do not complain of this—I rely on my general conduct as a defence; but I must regret when charges are preferred against me, that those charges should not be brought forward in my presence, when I can answer for myself, rather than in my absence, and before an excited audience, who are told that a bad Irishman is the worst of all bad men, and that the individual who has the honour of addressing you, is the worst of all bad Irishmen,—and further, that there has been no chance of favour or justice at the Treasury for any person connected with Ireland, or with Irish interests, since I have had the honour of being a public servant. I mention this, I can assure the House, not by way of complaint, but as illustrative of the reason why I do not name my authority in the present instance. They would be exposed to similar attacks, and to the same misrepresentations. I differ from the hon. Gentlemen opposite, to a very great extent; but I trust that I never shall on that account act unjustly or uncandidly towards them. But when I find it stated, that "the enemies to Repeal stand be- 1256 tween the poor and their food, and prevent the naked from being well and comfortably clothed"—when I find it stated that the advocates for what is termed "the degrading and desolating Union," are enemies of Christian charity, as well as of Ireland—when I see it asked "of what materials must the man's head and heart be who shrinks from the restoration of a domestic Parliament," with this significant addition made by the orator, "from this moment I am prepared to deny either patriotism or political honesty to anti-repealers"—when I read further, 'that the Irishman who is against repeal is either weak or wicked to a degree deserving contempt, or dishonest and untrue to a degree deserving execration,"—when all this proceeds, if not from very high, yet from very powerful authority—when I find that designations leading to inferences the most cruel, false, and unjust, are repeatedly added to the names of individuals of the highest honour and respectability, making them objects of popular odium and reproach for their conduct on this question,—hon. Gentlemen must excuse me if I refuse to give up the names of those who have afforded me information. I will not compromise them by permitting any person to hold them up as objects of "execration;" I speak on information the most authentic; and those Gentlemen to whom I have the honour of being known, and the House generally, will not suspect that I have, by any dexterity or unfairness, manufactured this evidence, or that I have condescended to give it an unfair colouring to suit a party purpose. I might adduce much additional evidence to prove how unjustifiable it would be in me to name my authorities; but I think I may rest my argument on the facts stated, not being desirous, under existing circumstances, and in the absence of the learned Mover, to proceed further.
§ Mr. Henry Grattan
—Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will state the facts which the letters contain, in continuation of what he read respecting the number of those engaged in the woollen manufacture?
§ Mr. Spring Rice
—I am ready to continue my letter—
'However small this number may appear, it can be shown to be tolerably correct by a knowledge of the quantity of raw materials which was then to be procured. English wool was not allowed to us until the Union; Spanish had ceased to be imported for cloth-making. We had, therefore, none to work but Irish wool, 1257 fit only for the coarser descriptions of cloth, and the quantity grown in the whole country not exceeding, at the very utmost 8,000 bags of fifty stone each, or 400,000 stones, for all the woollen, worsted, frieze, blanket, and flannel manufactures of Ireland. Of this, about one-fourth was consumed by the Dublin clothiers, the value of which, at 15s. per stone, which is a high average for the 4 time, was only, 75,000l.; an amount not sufficient for the supply of two moderately-sized Yorkshire factories. Previous to the introduction of carding machinery, (which took place about 1793, and was adopted on a very limited scale for some years) the manufacture was at the very lowest ebb, both as to quantity and quality; but about the year 1801, machinery worked by water power became general, and the trade immediately increased; but all attempts at improvement were impeded and counteracted.' By what, let me ask?—by the Acts of the Imperial Legislature? No; by that which the Irish Legislature, had it continued to exist, might not have been able to have prevented, and which the Repeal Parliament would not prevent. 'These improvements (states my informant) were impeded and counteracted by the combinations of the workmen. I must acknowledge that this was assisted by the operation of the protecting duties, which now appear to me to have been a principal cause of the continued low state of the woollen trade, and which Mr. O'Connell promises the workmen to have renewed when the Union is repealed. Those duties were truly stated by Sir Henry Parnell, in an interview with some of the manufacturers, to be a protection only to the combination, drunkenness, and indolence of the workmen, without any benefit to the employers. They enabled the men to establish such a scale of prices for their labour, that even in very low-priced cloths, on which the duty would have been nearly a prohibition, we could scarcely compete with the English. One branch of workmen (the slubbers), were paid at a rate by which they could earn 9s. or 10s. per day, while the same kind of work was done in Leeds for 1l. to 1l. 5s. per week. The weavers, spinners, &c., were paid nearly in the same proportion, and no remonstrance or attempt to reduce those exorbitant wages had any effect on the workmen. These were the real causes of the woollen manufacture here not keeping pace with the 1258 English. But the abolition of the Union duties gave a new impulse to the trade; it forced the workmen to submit to reasonable terms with their employers, who, in their turn, now find, that by proper exertion, and adopting necessary improvements in machinery, they have nothing to fear from English competition; and were it not for the generally depressed state of trade, arising from the disturbed and agitated state of the country, there would be more woollen cloth manufactured now in the neighbourhood of Dublin, than has been at any time for fifty years past. This has been actually the case in several years since the duties were taken off.'
But we are here always reminded of the woollen trade of Kilkenny. Now, I am prepared to give to the House the official accounts of the state of that business, as laid before the Factory Inspectors. The number of mills worked by water power is eleven. 'The woollen manufacture in Kilkenny was always confined to coarse cloths and blankets. Up to the year 1806, the manufacture was carried on by numerous persons in a very small way, all their operations being by manual labour. Subsequently water power and spring looms were used, and spinning, carding, &c., is now done by machinery. At present there are but few in the trade; however, I understand there is twice or thrice as much manufactured as previous to 1806. At the Ormonde mills, some very excellent carpets have been made; however, as the proprietor has entered into a contract with the Government to supply all the blankets required by the police in Ireland for three years, he must relinquish this branch, at least for the present.'
Hon. Gentlemen may doubt this statement respecting the trade of Kilkenny; but let me even grant to them that it has decayed. If this be the case, let us consider the cause of that decay, and inquire whether that cause is referable to the Union. The argument which I have to meet is the following:—the woollen trade of Kilkenny is utterly destroyed and annihilated,—this result is attributable to the Union; and therefore the Union is injurious to Kilkenny and to Ireland. The witness whom I call is Dr. Doyle, the Roman Catholic Bishop.
§ Mr. Spring Rice
—Sir, I lament to hear 1259 the death of an individual of pre-eminent talents, and one for whom I entertained the most sincere personal regard,—but, I can assure my hon. friend that I was not about to make any statement that could have been injurious to the high character of Dr. Doyle while living, or at which his friends could take umbrage after his decease. Dr. Doyle, the best witness I could call in such a case, states that:—'If artisans, particularly, could be convinced of the evils of combination, very great advantages would result both to themselves and to the community at large; for their combinations are most injurious to the public interest. The week before I left home, I spent a few days in Kilkenny, on a visit with the Catholic Bishop of Ossory. They were at that time disposing in that city of a fund of 300l. or 400l. raised for the relief of the poor. There was a question of setting to work the unemployed weavers, which led to my inquiry into some particulars with respect to them. It was the opinion, however, of these gentlemen, then conversing, that the combinations amongst that description of trades people were the chief cause of the almost extinction of the blanket manufacture in Kilkenny; and though the citizens were then obliged to relieve them out of the public funds, these weavers themselves were the cause of their own misfortunes; for as soon as they discovered that a manufacturer had obtained a contract for making blankets, or that there was a demand for goods, they immediately struck, and would not work, unless for very high prices: hence the manufacturers were unable to enter into contracts lest they should be disappointed, or that too high wages would be extorted from them; and the consequence that the manufacture went down altogether.'
Now, Sir, I say, what becomes of the case attempted to be made out against the Union by a reference to the decay of the Kilkenny trade, when it appears, from the testimony of Dr. Doyle, that so untrue is it that such decay is connected with the Union, that it arises on the contrary from causes totally distinct. Even if it were connected with the Union, is it not clear that under a system of protecting duties, and of restrictive trade, there would be a still greater tendency to combinations than at present, and consequently there would exist a greater danger to Irish manufactures. In corroboration of Dr. Doyle, I 1260 shall read an extract from a communication from Dublin equally important:—Dublin, 20th April, 1834.The decline of manufactures in Dublin was not the consequence of the Union, and it would have occurred had the Union never been carried. It was the consequence, natural and inevitable, of the combination of the workmen, and of that combination exclusively.This position admits of proof; for, in one instance, the combination was put down, and the trade, in that instance, was sustained; this was in calico pinning. In 1817 the employers succeeded in crushing combination; they resolutely discharged their refractory hands, took on and educated others, employed women and boys to do the work which men only had heretofore ingrossed; and that trade has thenceforward been at no time, when equal capital, economy, and energy were devoted to it, worse circumstanced in Ireland than in England. In every other department combination succeeded, and, save in a few solitary instances, the manufacture was lost. If the Union were repealed to-morrow, and a code of protecting duties enacted, every farthing of the burden thus levied on the community would he exacted by the rapacity of the workmen, to be expended in drunkenness, or in the expenses of a combination founded on injustice, and sustained by the most frightful outrages,—by cold-blooded murder, and noon-day assassination.I now proceed to the linen trade. I deplore the necessity of entering into these details; but I feel assured the House will excuse me. I hold in my hand a letter from a gentleman in Ulster, of the highest authority on this subject. It is to this effect:—'It is frequently stated, that the trade has fallen off greatly within the last forty years; say since the year 1792. This, I am sure, is a very great error; the trade has greatly changed, but certainly in the aggregate, not fallen off. Forty years ago there was more than double the present number of bleach-greens; but those at present employed do a much greater business than formerly. In fact, I can name in this county (Antrim) ten bleaching concerns that at present finish more goods than the forty most extensive greens in the year 1790; and I know ten establishments that have, within the last year, exported more than 50,000l. value each, of linen to foreign markets. I also know four manufacturers that have, within the last year, manufactured upwards of 30,000l. in value each. This could not have been accomplished but for the facilities of procuring mill-spun yarn. Previous to the 1261 period formerly stated, 1790, there was no such thing as brown linen exported from Ireland. In fact, I am certain there is a great increase in quantity, in place of falling off. You are aware, that the Irish Parliament prohibited the importation of foreign yarns and flax. Great Britain, more wise, did no such thing, imported both, from wherever they could be had cheapest and best. So much for the wisdom and advantage of san Irish Parliament.'
Or in other words—we crippled a branch of our linen manufactures by the bad policy into which the selfishness of a local Legislature led us; and we have regained our manufacture under the better policy pursued by the Imperial Legislature. The following account of the linen trade comes from another, and an equally good authority:—I feel considerable confidence in stating my opinion, that the present condition of the trade is more wholesome and satisfactory than at any former period within the bounds of my experience.Great and important changes have resulted from the abandonment of the system of bounties on exports, from the improvement in machinery, and from the application of more extended capital; all of which have, however, tended to expel the smaller manufacturers, dealers, and bleachers, and to diminish profits; but they have secured to the consumer a more perfect and regularly manufactured fabric, and at a vastly cheaper rate; and they have enabled us to see more clearly our capabilities of carrying on the manufacture in competition with the linen manufactures of the Continent.The result of the whole is satisfactory. We are now certain that we can manufacture almost every description of linen, except lace and fine cambric, as cheap and as well, perhaps cheaper and better, than any other country. The improvements in bleaching, also, having been placed on a more secure basis by science and experience, have contributed to raise the character of our goods, and I feel confident those causes will continue further to operate in advancing the character of Irish linens.The bounties on export, though so long regarded as the only support of our manufacture of coarse fabrics, encouraged the production of extremely low and worthless articles, on the value of which the bounty became a handsome profit; and such goods were, of course, despised when brought into comparison with those of the Continent in foreign markets. A better description is now made for export, and the character of the Irish manufacture is advancing.The machinery for spinning yarn has been improved to a degree that has outrun the most sanguine expectations.1262The extension of spinning-mills is now most rapid. We have had several small mills for many years, and for the last three or four, one very large one, all of which have prospered; and so many are now starting up in every quarter, that there is much danger of the demand being overrun by the supply which may soon be expected.The spinning by machinery has also tended to encourage the application of large capital to the manufacturer.The state of the manufactures in Belfast and its vicinity is still more important. I wrote to one of the principal manufacturers in that district, for the purpose of inquiring of him its present condition. He says—I could not furnish you with a correct comparative statement of the relative state of manufactures previous to 1800, as most of the mills at that time were on a small scale, and so imperfect in machinery that they had almost ceased to work: but this I can safely say, and in this opinion I am supported by Mr. Stevenson and other intelligent gentlemen, that one single concern would now produce more cotton-yarn than all the mills in the north of Ireland produced previous to 1800. You will observe that a number of mills for spinning linen-yarn have lately been erected; and whilst the linen trade is evidently decreasing, this new branch of trade seems likely to till its place, with much benefit to the country, as, this being the seat of the linen-trade, it affords a ready sale for yarn; and as the cultivation of flax has always been considerable, the spinners are likely to have a good supply of the material, and the farmers a fair price for their produce. At present, four of our most extensive printing concerns are employed printing for the Manchester market, thus coping with the English printer at his own door. I am clearly of opinion that it was the protecting duties that retarded our advancement in the improvement of our manufactures, by preventing that free and fair competition, without which there can be no improvement. For example, if we are protected by a duty of 10 per cent, our prices must rise to that extent, or the manufacturers are not benefited by it; thus, by increasing the price of our goods, we effectually shut ourselves out of all markets but our own; and in order to secure a home trade, we shut ourselves out from all the world beside; yet a return to this very system is one of the advantages promised us by an Irish legislature. It was difficult to procure a sufficient number of weavers, or even common labourers; indeed, it is a great satisfaction to be enabled to state, that at no period have the people here been so generally employed, and so comfortably off; as, in addition to constant employment, they have provisions at a reasonable rate. A great increase and improvement has taken 1263 place in the foundry and mill-wright business; and I can say with safety that no part of England can produce better steam-engines than have lately been manufactured by Messrs. Coates and Young, of this place. But the man must be blind, indeed, who can shut his eyes to the fact, that in all those outward appearances which would strike a stranger in a foreign country as indicative of prosperity, wealth, improvement in education, arts, and sciences, we have been gradually and certainly improving; for, whether we look at the increase and improvement of gentlemen's residences, the luxurious mode of living of our merchants and manufacturers, with the increase of carriages and other vehicles, the improvement in the dress and
|Account of cotton and Flax-Mills at Belfast and Neighbourhood Built and Enlarged since 1800.|
|OWNERS.||Distance from Belfast.||Cotton.||Flax.||Horse power.||Hands employed.||Date of erections.||OBSERVATIONS.|
|John Bell and Co.||Larne, 16 miles||1||.||60||..||1801||Water-power||Not employed, the parties being bankrupts|
|John Vance||26 miles||1||.||30||120||1803||Water|
|Thomas How||8 miles||1||.||40||150||1804||Water and steam|
|John Bell and Co.||Belfast||1||.||14||..||1805||Steam||Not employed, being bankrupt|
|James Boomer and Co.||Belfast||2||.||50||450||1805||Steam||Enlarged to this extent|
|M'Collough and Co.||10 miles||2||.||36||250||1806||Steam|
|Leppers||Belfast||2||.||70||430||1810||Steam||Enlarged to this extent|
|Stevensons||1 mile||1||.||100||360||1821||Steam and water||Rebuilt at this time, and extended|
|James Cowan||8 miles||1||.||50||200||1821||Water|
|Thomas How||10 miles||1||.||25||130||1824||Steam and water|
|J. and W. Martin and Co.||15 miles||1||.||100||300||1824||Steam and water|
|William Cowan and Co.||4 miles||1||.||40||150||1825||Steam and water||Enlarged|
|Murlands||20 miles||.||1||20||100||1828||Steam and water|
|Watt||10 miles||.||1||40||200||1829||Water||Enlarged, 1834|
|T. and A. Mulholland||Belfast||.||1||100||650||1829||Steam||This was previously a cotton mill—was burnt, and rebuilt for flax|
|Mulhollands||Belfast||.||1||14||100||1830||Steam||This was a cotton, and is converts to flax|
|Dawsons||20 miles||.||1||25||100||1831||Water||Is now being extended|
|Boomer and Co.||Belfast||.||1||30||200||1833||Steam|
|James Grimshaw and Son||3 miles||.||1||25||200||1833||Steam||Is now being extended|
|Thompsons||3 miles||.||1||30||150||1833||Steam and water|
|Mulhollands||Belfast||.||1||100||400||1833||Steam and water|
|Boyd and Co.||Belfast||.||1||32||200||1833||Steam|
§ living of our mechanics, or in the improved costume of the lower class of labourers, everything denotes a country rising in civilization. The friends of repeal will reply, and with truth, that this improvement is confined to the north of Ireland. Whence then arises this great difference in the same country? We in the north attribute our prosperity to our free and unfettered intercourse with England and Scotland, and there are few, indeed, here, of any experience, who would not predict injury to our agriculture, stagnation to our commerce, and ruin to our staple manufacture by any measure calculated to check that free intercourse with our neighbours, which we consider has been so beneficial to our country.1265
§ And yet, Sir, protecting duties and restricted intercourse are held out as one of the advantages that will result from the Repeal of the Union. I hold in my hand an account of the number of cotton and flax-mills, built or enlarged since the year 1800; but I have been anticipated on this point by the admission of the learned member who made this Motion, that such a change has taken place; I need therefore only refer to the results which it exhibits:—
|The following are now either erecting, or adapting cotton concerns (not noted in above Schedule), to Flax or Linen-Yarn-Mill.|
|Gamble and Co.||New|
|Murphys and Co.||New|
|Bulls||This was a print-field|
|Stephensons||This was a small cotton-mill|
|Edward Grimshaw||Was a print-field|
|James Grimshaw and Co. was a cotton-mill.|
|To the above may be added three others, namely—Dunbar, Stewart, and Law.|
|Eleven new flax-mills in progress.|
§ Allusion has been frequently made to the condition of Dublin prior and subsequent to the Union; and its alleged ruin and decay is one of the statements with which I am forced to contend. What, then, was the real state of Dublin previous to the Union? We hear it repeated, that the state of Dublin, before the Union, was one of unbounded prosperity, and that, since the Union, it has been converted into one of the most extreme misery and wretchedness. I consider both assertions as being highly exaggerated. It is very difficult to deal with this part of the subject, but it is important that I should not suppress one or two facts on which I can rely. I find that, in the year 7732, extreme distress existed in that part of Dublin called the Liberty. My hon. friend opposite, whose exertions have often been usefully devoted to the alleviation of the miseries of his countrymen, is well aware that the Liberty is that part of Dublin in which distress is always most prevalent; but so long back as the year 1732, the weavers of the Liberty of Dublin represented their trade as ruined. D. Bindon, in his address on the better means of providing for the poor of Ireland, published in 1729, states: 'That one person in every twenty was a pauper (and 1267 observes) that the unusual poverty reigning among the common people of Ireland, and the number who daily quit the country, are strong presages of yet greater calamities.'
§ Another writer, in 1757, observes—
§ 'That from the vast numbers to be found in every corner of the metropolis, one might take the city of Dublin to be the general rendezvous of all the beggars in the whole kingdom.' This is not a very cheering account of the prosperous state of this city prior to the Union. I may also refer to the authority of Mr. Whitelaw, the benevolent minister of St. Catherine's, to whom the city of Dublin owes much, and the country at large much more, for the valuable information on statistics, which he collected almost unaided. Permit me to read his description of the state of a portion of Dublin, previous to the Union, and I am satisfied that if hon. Gentlemen entertain a notion that the misery of Dublin has only succeeded the Union, they will see some reason to doubt the truth of their opinions. Mr. White-law's evidence is to the following effect:—'When he attempted to take the population of a ruinous house in Joseph's-lane, near Castle-market, he was interrupted in his progress by an inundation of putrid blood, alive with maggots, which had, from an adjacent yard, burst the back door, and filled the hall to a depth of several inches. By the help of a plank and some stepping stones which he procured for the purpose (for the inhabitants without any concern, waded through it), he reached the staircase. It had rained violently, and from the shattered state of the roof a torrent of water made its way through every floor from the garret to the ground. The sallow looks and filth of the wretches who crowded round him, indicated their situation, though they seemed insensible to the stench which he could scarcely sustain for a few minutes. In the garret he found the entire family of a poor working shoemaker, seven in number, lying in a fever, without a human being to administer to their wants. On Mr. Whitelaw's observing that his apartment had not a door, he informed him that his landlord, finding him unable to pay the week's rent in consequence of his illness, had the preceding Saturday taken it away, in order to force him to abandon the apartment. Mr. Whitelaw counted in this sty thirty-seven persons, and com- 1268 puted that its humane proprietor received out of an absolute ruin, which should be taken down by the magistrates as a public nuisance, a profit rent of about 30l. per annum, which he exacted every Saturday night with unfeeling severity.' This description comes from authority the most unquestionable, and it applies to a period some few years before the passing of the Act of Union. But, supposing that the horrible picture described the state of Dublin after the Union, it does not necessarily follow, that it would therefore be a consequence of the Union. It must first be shewn that the state of Dublin was otherwise before the year 1800. I therefore repeat, that if the condition of the Irish metropolis was as distressed and impoverished as has been represented, still in the absence of further evidence it is too much to conclude that prior to the Union all was prosperity, and since the Union all is decay. But here is no fact before us on which we can reason, and on which we can try the value of bold and contradictory assertions. There is some evidence bearing on this subject to which I invite hon. Gentlemen's most serious attention. What, let me ask, are the general indications of the decline of cities? The destruction of their streets and houses,—the desertion of their inhabitants,—and the diminution of their commerce. Have these occurrences taken place in Dublin? I have had a calculation made of the number of houses which have been built in Dublin since the Union, and these houses of no common description.
|Return of Houses built in Dublin from 1800 to 1834.|
|Parish of St. Peter||582|
§ From these papers we trace the following results:—The number of houses built since the Union, within the Circular Road, amounts to 2213; the number of houses built within the city, but without those limits, not embracing, however, the immediate outskirts and villages, amount to about 1000 more; thus 3213 new houses have been built since the Union in this most decayed and most ruined city. It may be asked, are these houses of a low-rented description? This cannot be affirmed, I am satisfied, by any hon. Member who is acquainted with Dublin. In the first instance, I would allude to Fitzwilliam-square; that has been entirely built since the Union. Merrion-square has been completed; Harcourt-street, Leeson-street, and many others I could mention, have been greatly extended. But even admitting that these houses were not of the best, but only of the average class of value, let us see how the matter stands. Let us take the average value of the rental on the immediate number of houses. The number of houses is 17,324; the rental 704,757l., giving an average of 40l. per house. I take the average from the value of the whole of the property, and I apply that average to estimate the value of the houses newly built; and I then find that the annual house rental which has been added to Dublin by reason of new buildings erected since the Union amounts at the least to 128,520l. This can scarcely be thought a proof of the alleged poverty of Dublin. Increase of its imports and exports—increase of buildings—the erection of 3000 new houses there, cannot be produced as evidence of the decay of a city: on the contrary, they cannot but be taken as indicative of increased property. Similar facts may be found if we refer to many of the other towns of Ireland—they are not confined exclusively to Dublin, as will appear from the following Return:—
|Increase of Towns.|
|Houses in 1800.||Houses in 1831.||Increase.|
§ It thus appears, that the number of houses in Dublin and in nine others of the 1270 great towns, has increased greatly between the year 1800 and the present time; and I think I may assert, in respect to Limerick, Belfast, and Cork, that the value of houses has augmented, at least, as much as the numbers have increased. But it is suggested that Parliament has neglected the local interests of Dublin. We are told that the people of Ireland have been taxed to contribute to the building of Regent-street, and the establishment of a national gallery, and that England contributes nothing to the improvement of Dublin. I trust, that hon. Gentlemen, before they press this part of their argument, will remember that there is such a class as that of the Irish labourers, who are not wholly uninterested in the public buildings and improvements of this metropolis. But do hon. Members know how much the people of England have contributed to the improvement of the city of Dublin? There has been advanced to the Wide-street Commissioners no less a sum than 261,624l., and all for the benefit of the city of Dublin, which it is said the Imperial Parliament has so cruelly neglected. It is true that this sum is lent, and not given—
§ Mr. Spring Rice
—If that be true, my argument becomes the stronger. But it is further said, that we inflict a deep injury on Ireland by reducing offices, and thus diminishing her expenditure; and it was brought as a charge against us by the learned Gentleman, that we had reduced the establishments of the public offices in Dublin, and the salary of the Lord-lieutenant. It was said, that Ireland had a just right to complain of this, but can Irish Gentlemen come down here and seriously maintain the doctrine, that we are to keep up establishments for establishments' sake,—not for the purpose of carrying on the public business, but with a view, by public expenditure, to benefit any particular section of the empire. This argument is, indeed, preposterous and absurd. I know that the principle against which I am contending was once maintained by Sir Walter Scott, under the character of "Malachi Malagrowther;" but even the wit and ability of that most eminent man could not reconcile this doctrine to the principles of common sense.
I would beg to call the attention of the House to the peculiar unreasonableness of this charge, as brought forward by the learned Member. He, of all men, now calls it an injustice to Ireland to reduce 1271 the public establishments; and yet, on the formation of the present Government, we were pressed by the learned Member himself to carry into effect that which, without his interposition, we had determined,—namely, the reduction of the offices of Postmaster-General and Vice-Treasurer of Ireland. We were asked whether, consistently with our principles, we would postpone these reductions? The Government having been prepared to make these reductions before the question was put, could have no difficulty in giving their answer; but where is the consistency or the decency of a Member of Parliament, who, in this House, calls upon the Government to reduce establishments, and who then goes back to Ireland and charges us with having acted unjustly towards Ireland by these reductions? This is a mode of proceeding which we cannot be prepared to meet, and it shows an unparalleled carelessness of principle to urge upon his Majesty's Ministers certain reductions, and then to hold up those very Ministers to reproach for the step they have taken.
Entertaining the deepest and most earnest gratitude for the indulgence the House has shewn towards me, I shall endeavour to show my sense of their kindness by proceeding, as quickly as possible, to the concluding observations with which I shall trouble them. It should be remembered, that it is not my own cause that I am pleading. I consider the defence of the integrity of the empire to be the cause of my country; and, without presuming to call myself the counsel of that country, I hope I may be allowed to consider myself as an humble advocate for national honour and the national independence of the United Kingdom.
I know I may be taunted in this House, and out of the House, with being a cold-blooded political economist, who denies the existence of distress in Ireland. There is no charge which at once makes a man so unpopular as the suggestion that he presumes, on any evidence, to doubt the existence of distress. But I have never doubted or denied the existence of distress in Ireland. I admit it most reluctantly. I know but too well that there is great distress in that country; and if any effort of mine, in or out of Parliament, could alleviate or effectually relieve that distress, my exertions, should never be withheld. I am not doubting the existence of distress, in denying the efficacy of the remedy that has been proposed; I am not denying dis- 1272 tress, when I deny that Irish distress originated with the Union. Alas, Sir, that distress existed long before, as can easily be proved. A very curious manuscript has been put into my hands, written by Mr. Henry Boyle, the first Earl of Shannon, when he was Speaker, about the year 1748. At the period to which he refers, he states that,—'The taxes of Ireland are equal to one-third of the rental thereof. It will appear evident, that Ireland is as much taxed as any other country in Europe. Many of the taxes are in reality land-taxes. The quit-rents and hearth-money which amount to 105,000l. yearly are really a charge on the land. The duties of five per cent. on the exportation of the produce of the land, such as beef, hides, wool, tallow, make a considerable sum, and are a real tax on the produce of land, and consequently on land itself. The land is so miserably cultivated that there is seldom any redundancy, but frequently a scarcity of grain; insomuch that, from the Revolution to this time, it has cost Ireland 5,000,000l. for grain chiefly imported from England, which is here paid to the rent of their land and the labour of their people. In twelve months, 1745, 1746, the grain, meal, and malt, imported into Ireland, amounted to upwards of 300,000l.; and as every third or fourth year is always a scarce one, these distresses have greatly impoverished the country.' Here I find a statement of distress so extreme as to require a constant importation of corn for the support of the people. Here I find a statement of periodical famine recurring every three or four years. Here I learn that taxes were imposed of the raw produce of Ireland by that most discreet and enlightened Legislature which the learned Member calls upon us to restore.
I beg to refer to another work for a description of the moral and political condition of the peasantry of Ireland at a period antecedent to the Union. In a work written by Mr. Arthur Young in 1782, that gentleman, speaking of the condition of the Irish peasantry from 1776 to 1779, says—'To discover what the liberty of a people is we must live among them, and not look for it in the statutes of the realm; the language of written law may be that of liberty, but the situation of the poor may speak no language but that of slavery. Disrespect, or anything tending towards sauciness, a landlord may punish with his cane or his 1273 horsewhip with the most perfect security; a poor man would have his bones broken if he offered to lift his hand in his own defence. Knocking down is spoken of in the country in a manner that makes Englishmen stare. It must strike the most careless traveller to see whole strings of cars whipt into a ditch by a gentleman's footman, to make way for his carriage: if they are overturned or broken in pieces, no matter, it is taken in patience; were they to complain, they would perhaps he horsewhipped.'
I do not mean to say, that this statement may not be somewhat exaggerated, but it cannot be doubted in point of fact, that the severity and oppression exercised by the rich towards the poor, by the high towards the low, was much greater before the Union than it has been or could be since. I well remember, that my noble friend, the present Chancellor of Ireland, when opposing a motion of mine in this House, informed me that there was a class of persons now grown up in Ireland on whom I would rely as a protection for the poor against any exaction or oppression of the rich; he alluded to them, not under the more vulgar designation of attorneys, but under a title more poetical; he called them "village Hampdens." I am inclined to think, in any case of supposed oppression, that their interposition would not be wanting; and if a case could be made out, the member for Cork would be, I am sure, an impressive advocate, and would succeed in obtaining a verdict. These are matters of the deepest consequence to the well-being and existence of society. It must be satisfactory to the House to know, and it must be still more satisfactory to the Irish peasant to feel, that whilst under the former system of society, the horsewhip of the rich might have been used on the back of the poor, and that with impunity, that now under a better system of society, improved as well by the example of, as by our intercourse with, England, there is not a cottager who does not know his rights, and, knowing those rights, is not ready to maintain them. Where was the Irish peasant who, in the time of Arthur Young, would have resorted to the law against the rich and powerful? Where is the peasant who now would not do so if he had occasion to seek the law's protection?
I may refer to the evidence given before the Committee of 1830, by Messrs. Blake, Musgrave, Mullins, Wiggins, Mahony, and 1274 others, persons differing widely in political opinions, in proof of the progress that Ireland has made, since the Union, in almost every species of improvement—The quality of agricultural produce has improved, and the quantity has increased: the description of stock in husbandry has improved since the increased intercourse with England,—the Hereford, Ayrshire, and Leicester breeds being brought over.Among the better class of farmers very great improvement has taken place, and the number of slated houses is increasing very considerably; the repeal of the Union duties has produced a great cheapness of calico, and dress of that kind; and, in country villages, there is a much greater number of bakers than a few years ago. The peasantry acquire information and good habits by their intercourse with England, the fruits of which are becoming more and more manifested in Ireland.—Musgrave, Waterford.The habits of the peasantry, their clothing, and their houses, are all improving. In every quarter, in every corner of Ireland, there are perceivable evidences of growing, and rapidly growing, prosperity.—Livingstone, Sligo.The clothing, furniture, and comforts of the fisherman have improved decidedly. The progress of improvement in Ireland, moral and practical, has been, during the last ten years, exceedingly rapid. Wherever the coast guard establishment has been fixed, the most obvious improvement has taken place in the neighbourhood; the example which those men have shown being productive of most beneficial consequences.—Barry, Cork.There is rather a tendency to increase the rate of wages than otherwise. The labourers can now purchase as much provisions for 6s. as they could formerly for 12s. Clothing is less than one-half cheaper; linen is to be had for one-half the price; cottons, calicoes, and checks, those kind of fabrics which the poorer class of females wear, are now to be had for one-fourth.—Mullins, Dublin.The state of the peasantry has improved very rapidly of late years; the country has greatly altered for the better; the peasantry are better clothed, and in every way seem to be more comfortable, and their houses are improving; agriculture has improved—the mode of ploughing, the description of carts, and other farming implements.—Mahoney.The Irish reapers no longer come in the tattered clothes they formerly appeared in; they are ashamed of their rags, and are apparently a different class of persons.—Williams.Ireland is becoming, from day to day, more prosperous; capital is spreading throughout Ireland; and, in proportion as it spreads, so will the general state of all classes be improved.—Blake.The consumption of wheaten bread has considerably augmented.—Greer.1275A very great improvement has taken place in all respects during the last twenty-two years, in the habits of cleanliness, and order and regularity, in their clothing, and sense of propriety in all respects; I conceive in their moral character and conduct altogether, the improvement has been very striking; I think the improvement of Ireland has been more rapid than any improvement I ever saw in England in any large track of country.—Wiggins.The foundations of her prosperity are laid, and time will complete the structure.—Roe.This evidence proves, that not only in manufactures, but in agriculture, and in commerce; in short, in everything which can constitute the prosperity of a State, the greatest progress is made; which progress, if we are indulged with repose, will continue.
I would beg to refer hon. Members to a very curious document, marked No. 17, in the papers now before the House. About the year 1825, a power was given by Parliament, of transferring stock from one part of the empire to the other. Under this Statute, persons were allowed the privilege of transferring their stock from England to Ireland, which gave them the advantage of receiving their dividends in Dublin. What has been the result? It is exhibited in the following account:—
I will not trouble the House by entering into a statement of complicated figures; but, as the result, there have been actually 16,000,000l. of funded property thus transferred to Ireland, yielding an annual income of 562,000l., spent in Ireland. The House will scarcely credit the inference which in Ireland has been drawn from this account. It is said, that by reason of the transfer of these 16,000,000l. of debt, Ireland is 16,000,000l. poorer than she was in 1820; and, that this is one of the fatal consequences of the disastrous Union; one of the proofs of the neglect of Ireland, and of her reduced wealth. There is another fact, which I must pause to notice. From an account of the amount of property 1276 passing under probates of wills, and letters of administration, in Ireland, I find, that, taking the years 1819, 1820, and 1821, and comparing them with 1831 and 1832, the amount of property has increased from 2,814,000l., to 3,612,000l.—The following is the account:—
An Account of Stock transferred to and from England and Ireland up to 5th Jan., 1834. CAPITAL. Annual Interest arising thereon, and Long Annuity. £ £ Capital created in Ireland by Stock transferred from England 23,335,378 810,129 Capital transferred from Ireland to England 7,324,429 247,809 16,010,949 562,320
Is this a proof of increased poverty, or does it not, on the contrary, exhibit an increase of the national wealth of Ireland? We cannot, therefore, be so utterly ruined as the hon. Gentlemen, who support Repeal, would fain induce us to suppose. There have been political circumstances connected with agitation, by which the savings of the poorer classes have been endangered, in consequence of alarms created by the agitators. Excitement has prevailed, which not only shook commercial credit, but produced a run on the savings' banks; and in support of this statement, I would refer to those Gentlemen who are acquainted with the towns of Kilkenny, Clonmel, and Waterford. But notwithstanding this cruel mischief, I am happy to state, that during the last year, the sums paid into the savings' banks of Ireland amounted to 349,000l., while the sums drawn out amounted only to 252,000l. This result is drawn from the following account:—
Years. Amount of Property. Average. £ £ 1819 3,023,654 2,814,816 1820 2,634,864 1821 2,795,929 1822 2,679,144 2,975,440 1823 3,491,426 1824 2,755,750 1825 2,985,141 3,119,247 1826 3,477,228 1827 2,895,372 1828 3,593,257 3,623,206 1829 4,015,609 1830 3,268,751 1831 3,772,897 3,612,612 1832 3,452,327 44,833,359
1277 In consequence of the Repeal of the Assessed-taxes in Ireland, it is difficult for me to show the condition of the upper classes in Ireland, by any reference to the number of horses, carriages, and servants. The duty on wrought plate, which is an article of luxury, and only used by persons of a superior class, may probably show something of the condition of the higher orders. I have taken an average of thirteen years: and taking 1800, 1801, and 1802; as compared with 1815, 1816, and 1817,—the latter, being the period when the duty fell to the lowest in Ireland,—there is shown an increase in the duty of sixty-five per cent. Taking the years 1827, 1828, and 1829, being the period when the duty was the greatest, and comparing it with 1800, 1801, and 1802, there is shown an increase of ninety-seven per cent: and when I take the last three years, comparing them with the first period, there appears the still greater increase of 116 per cent. The following is the account in detail:—
Account, showing the total Amount of Sums paid in and drawn out of Savings Banks in Ireland, in the Years ended 5th January, 1831, 1832, 1833, and 1834, so far as the said Sums apply to the Accounts between the Trustees of those Institutions and the Commissioners for the Reduction of the National Debt. IRELAND. Principal Sums paid in Principal Sums drawn out by Trustees. In the Year ended £ s. d. £ s. d. 5th January, 1831 240,401 6 2 251,912 16 10 5th January, 1832 288,075 17 11 316,819 0 0 5th January, 1833 272,193 0 0 193,467 13 1 5th January, 1834 349,521 8 9 252,576 5 0
Here I have shown a large increase in the consumption of an article of pure luxury, and what is whimsical, the increased per-centage received in Ireland is much greater than the increased per-centage in England at corresponding periods. Now, if we adopted the doctrine of ratios, relied on by the learned Member, this would prove that the prosperity of Ireland is more rapid than that of Great Britain. But I have already exposed the fallacy. I can, however, refer to this Return, as some reply to the assertion, that the gentry of Ireland have been ruined by the Union.
Produce of the Duty on Wrought Plate. Ireland. Great Britain. £ £ Average of the three years, 1800, 1801, and 1802 1,772 47,607 Average of 1815, 1816, and 1817, being the period within which the produce of the duty was smallest in Ireland since the first period 2,926 75,400 Increase 1,154 27,793 Increase per cent 65 58 Average of 1827, 1828, and 1829, being the period within which the produce of the duty was greatest in Ireland 5,264 86,916 Increase compared with 1800, 1801, and 1802 3,492 39,309 Increase per cent 197 82 Average of the last three years, 1831, 1832, and 1833 3,825 64,629 Increase compared with 1800, 1801, and 1802 2,053 17,022 Increase per cent 116 36
There is another fact to which I may here allude, although it might more properly have been introduced in reference to that part of my argument which related to Dublin,—I mean the increase of Roman 1278 Catholic chapels since the Union, the amount of money which has been invested in them, and the splendid buildings which are rising daily in that metropolis, and in the principal towns. I rejoice to be able to make this observation. I think it proves the increase, not only of the wealth, but of the religious feelings of my countrymen. At the period of the Union, there was but one respectable Roman Catholic Chapel in Dublin; that of Clarendon-street. I believe there are now eight or nine, and the erection of one cost upwards of 40,000l.
I may venture to suggest, also, that the large subscriptions which are raised for political purposes throughout Ireland afford some proof that the people are not quite so distressed as they are said to be. We know, that of late years, very large subscriptions have been collected among the people of Ireland for political purposes, and that these subscriptions, whether called rent or tribute, are made a matter of boast. I shall not carry these observations further than to express my opinion, that these subscriptions cannot be adduced as evidence of the poverty of the country.
Roman Catholic Chapels built in Dublin since the Union. Anne-street Gardiners-street Essex-quay — Marlborough-street Grange Gorman Townsend-street Rathmines Francis-street Booterstown Aungier-street
There is another matter to which I feel myself bound to advert—I mean the increase of the internal traffic of Ireland, as carried on by the means of her canals. This most important point will be best shown by the following Returns relating to the Grand Canal, the Royal Canal, and the Barrow Navigation:—
So much for the internal trade of the country, and combined as it is, with the state of the general trade, it must, to any fair mind, set at rest all doubts with respect to the 1279 progress of Irish prosperity. Further, if we look to the modes of travelling, the increased intercourse by public carriages, the introduction of day-cars by that most useful man, Mr. Bianconi; the improvement of late years has exceeded all calculation.
Tonnage of Commodities carried on the Grand Canal, Royal Canal, and the Barrow. Tons. Grand Canal.—Average of 1821, 1822, and 1823 140,236 Average of 1831, 1832, and 1833 227,169 Increase 86,933 Increase per cent 62 Royal Canal.—Average of 1821, 1822, and 1823 88,190 Average of 1831, 1832, and 1833 141,973 Increase 53,783 Increase per cent 61 The Barrow.—Average of 1821, 1822, and 1823 23,770 Tonnage down—Average of 1831, 1832, and 1833 35,487 Increase 11,717 Increase per cent 49 Tonnage up.—Average of 1821, 1822, and 1823 19,478 Average of 1831, 1832, and 1833 30,558 Increase 11,079 Increase per cent 56
I know not what apology to offer for having trespassed at such unprecedented length upon your patience; and when I think of the kindness and indulgence with which the House has favoured me, I never can be sufficiently grateful. At the same time, I am sensible that this favour is not extended to myself as an individual; I could not ask it at your hands, for I am well aware, how little I deserve it; but I know that it has been given in consideration of the great—I may say, the awful—interest bound up in the question which we are now called upon to decide. This is no ordinary debate,—this is no common contest,—a mighty stake is now risked,—the greatest of political duties is to be performed,—no questions of temporary interest, and no personal considerations, can be permitted to interfere. Gentlemen ought to be swayed but by one motive—a sense of the duty they are called on to perform. Their decision should be given with judicial weight and integrity. They should remember, that for this decision, they are now, and will be hereafter, responsible: not mistaking the import of Parliamentary responsibility, nor thinking lightly of the obligations which a Member of this House owes to his constituents. I would yet call on hon. Gentlemen who are disposed to favour the Motion for Repeal to remember that there are moments when it may be their duty to forget that they have constituents, in the recollection that they have a country. By the great names of patriots now no more—by those titles greater than any monarch can bestow, which have descended to some amongst us,—by the spirits of the mighty dead, who have done honour to Irish history,—who supported Irish rights,—who resisted tyranny and usurpation—I adjure the hon. Gentlemen opposite to look to still higher and greater interests, than those to which they may be disposed to yield; to look to the performance of those more important duties which will claim and deserve higher rewards than those of popular applause and a seat in Parliament. In these respects, even the Unreformed Parliament of England, may afford the man instructive example. We were there given great examples of what the conduct of Members of this House ought to be; 1280 theirs was an example which should never be forgotten. Where would the Catholics of Ireland have now been, if there had not been found British Members of Parliament who had courage enough to advocate their claims, at the risk, nay, with the certainty, of displeasing their constituents, and of losing their seats? What honourable sacrifices did they not make? Were there not cases in which all political considerations were forgotten—in which the claims of party, and the hopes of ambition, were lost sight of? Greater still were some of the sacrifices which were then made. Were there not very many cases in which the ties and affections of private life were torn asunder?—cases, in which the son quitted his parent, in order to give his vote in favour of Emancipation? These great acts ought not to be forgotten. They are instructive, in discussing the Question of the Union, because the people of Ireland ought not to forget what has been the conduct towards them of the Imperial Legislature. This ought not to be forgotten in the way of example. It teaches us what ought to be the conduct of each and every one among us to pursue. It reads us a lesson, by which I trust we shall profit, in the performance of this our most sacred duty. I am sure there is no hope of political distinction—no selfish objects which we can attain or desire—which we ought not to be willing, ready, happy, nay, eager, to sacrifice, for the sake of what we owe to Ireland and to the empire. On this subject of Irish Repeal, there can be no compromise; neither shall there be any compromise in the address which it is my duty to propose.
Before I sit down, I must be allowed to read to the House, words of one of the best and wisest of men—I allude to the high authority of that great, because that good man, who left a dying bequest as a divine legacy to his country—Henry Grattan. It is the advice, which he, on his death-bed, gave his fellow-countrymen—advice, which I now implore them to follow. What was the nature of his solemn exhortation? Did he advise a continuance of agitation? Did he advise a Repeal of the Union? Did he justify the course which has of late been taken? Did he sanction those feats of political activity which have been exhibited on so many stages in later times? No, Sir. On the contrary, he says, "I most strongly recommend that the two countries may never separate, and that Ireland should never seek for any connexion except with Great Britain."
§ Mr. Spring Rice
Am I to be told by that cheer, that the connexion of the two countries is to be maintained?
§ Mr. Spring Rice
Ay; but I ask Gentlemen, do they believe that the connexion could be preserved for one twelvemonth after the Repeal of the Legislative Union? The experiment failed in Ireland in the year 1782,—it failed in the discussions relating to Portugal,—it failed on the Regency Act,—it failed at the period of collision with the Volunteers.—it failed in Scotland, at the time the Act of Security was passed. Do Gentlemen, then, believe, that an experiment inconsistent with all the general principles of government,—in-consistent with past experience,—can succeed in Ireland, and in Ireland only? Sir, I maintain that, if the Repeal of the Union were carried, the connexion between the two countries is broken: I maintain, that to Repeal would succeed a fierce democratic Republic, which, however some Gentlemen may regard as a blessing, I, as the attached subject of the constitutional Monarchy, should deplore as one of the greatest of evils. Separation, in fact, is aimed at.
§ Mr. Spring Rice
What, then, meant the beginning of the speech we heard last night? What meant the references to the United States of America? Why do we hear of Bolivar? What is the Order of Liberators? What was meant by the following sentence:—"I now approach the Atlantic, and I feel the fresh breezes that come from a country of freedom?" What is the object of a declamation like the following:—"The emancipated convicts of Botany Bay have a Parliament of their own; we have none, and we are 8,000,000. The slave-drivers in the West-Indies, and the fishermen of Newfoundland, have domestic Legislatures; we are without one, and we are 8,000,000. The United States of North America, the western boundary of Ireland, threw off the British yoke, and gained freedom by the sword; they were 3,000,000, and we are 8,000,000?" What means, also the late appeal to the "spirit of democratic liberty?"
Sir, constitutional liberty I am ready to worship; but I reject the idol of democratic liberty which the hon. and learned Gentleman would place upon our altars. 1282 We are told truly in the last words of Grattan, that "the people of his country should not look to a democratic government; they are not fit for it." I do not wish to speak in disparagement of my own countrymen; but from what you see the violence of Irish parties to be, will you surrender Ireland to the tender mercies—must I use the word?—of a domestic Legislature? Would you surrender the people of that country to the tender mercies of contending factions? Do you not know, that there would be inevitably such a conflict and collision of opinion as must produce a sanguinary civil war—a war of extermination? Do hon. Gentlemen who support Repeal think that, because they possess a certain physical force in certain districts of Ireland, that they could compel the sturdy spirits of the North to submit without a struggle? That struggle would immediately commence between them; but when it would close, who is bold enough to say? One thing, however, is certain, that what began in folly would end in crime; and that the ultimate consequence would be, the entire destruction of our country. I humbly thank the House for the attention given me; I assure them that most gladly would I have compressed the matter before me into a narrower space could I have done so; but I preferred running the risk of wearying the House to the risk of omitting anything that I thought really material to my subject. I am placed, Sir, in a situation of some embarrassment; for, in the multitude of papers before me, I cannot find the Address which I intended to move. I will, therefore, for the sake of form, move simply, that a humble Address be presented to his Majesty.
§ Mr. Spring Rice
I have to make ten thousand apologies to the House; but I have already stated the substance of the Amendment. It is to the following effect:—
"We, your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons, in Parliament assembled, feel it our duty humbly to approach your Majesty's Throne, to record, in the most solemn manner, our fixed determination to maintain unimpaired and undisturbed the Legislative Union between Great Britain and Ireland, which we consider to be essential to the strength and stability of the empire, to the continuance of the connexion between the two countries, 1283 and to the peace, and security, and happiness of all classes of your Majesty's subjects.
"We feel this, our determination, to be as much justified by our views of the general interests of the State, as by our conviction, that to no other portion of your Majesty's subjects is the maintenance of the Legislative Union more important than to the inhabitants of Ireland themselves.
"We humbly represent to your Majesty, that the Imperial Parliament have taken the affairs of Ireland into their most serious consideration, and that various salutary laws have been enacted, since the Union, for the advancement of the most important interrests of Ireland, and of the empire at large.
"In expressing to your Majesty our resolution to maintain the Legislative Union inviolate, we humbly beg leave to assure your Majesty, that we shall persevere in applying our best attention to the removal of all just causes of complaint, and to the promotion of all well-considered measures of improvement."** The advocates for Repeal are particularly fond of referring to the example of the United States of America; they would do well to consider attentively the spirit and meaning of the following manifesto of President Jackson, in reply to the South Carolina Ordinance:—And whereas the said Ordinance prescribes to the people a course of conduct in direct violation of their duty as citizens, contrary to the laws of their country, and having for its object the destruction of the Union.To preserve this bond of our political existence from destruction, and justify the confidence my fellow-citizens have reposed in me, I, Andrew Jackson, President of the United States, have thought proper to issue this, my Proclamation, declaring the course which duty still require me to pursue, and, appealing to the understanding and patriotism of the people, warn them of the consequences that must inevitably result from the observance of the dictates of the Convention.Your pride was roused by the assertion, that a submission to those laws was a state of vassalage, and that resistance to them was equal in patriotic merit to the opposition our fathers offered to the oppressive laws of Great Britain. You were told, that this opposition might be peaceably—might be constitutionally made; that you might enjoy all the advantages of the Union, and bear none of its hurthens,—eloquent appeals to your passions, to state pride,—to your native courage,—to your sense of real injury,—were used to prepare you for the period when the mask which concealed the hideous features of disunion should be taken off. It fell, and you were made to 1284 look with complacency on objects which, not long since, you would have regarded with horor. Look back to the acts which have brought you to this state,—look forward to the consequences to which it must inevitably lead,—look back to what was first told you as an inducement to enter into this dangerous course,—the great political truth was repeated to you, that you had the revolutionary right of resisting all laws that were palpably unconstitutional, and intolerably oppressive.They are unsafe guides in the perilous path they urge you to tread. Ponder well on this circumstance, and you will know how to appreciate the exaggerated language they address to you. They are not champions of liberty, emulating the fame of our revolutionary fathers; nor are you an oppressed people, contending, as they repeat to you, against worse than colonial vassalage. You are free members of a flourishing and happy Union; there is no settled design to oppress you.You have, indeed, felt the unequal operation of laws which may have been unwisely, not unconstitutionally, passed; but that inequality must necessarily be removed. At the very moment, when you were madly urged on to the unfortunate course you have begun, a chance in public opinion had commenced.The Government cannot accede to the mad project of disunion, of which you would be the first victims. Its first magistrate cannot, if he would, avoid the performance of his duty. The consequences must be fearful for you, distressing to your fellow-citizens here, and to the friends of good government throughout the world,"—Note by Mr. Rice.