Page images
[ocr errors]

discontent, delusion, and extravagancies seemed to gain ground; they have spread over the land, under circumstances which oughe to have produced the most opposite effects, and no longer ago than last summer, if we may give any credit to public prints, Ireland appeared to have neither conftitution nor government, nor common sense. Aggregate or other meetings had announce ed that a total change was necessary, that the parliaments were bad, that they were dependent, and this thorily after parliament had afferted the independence of the legislature, and had gained more popular advantages for the country than all the parliaments of Ireland ever had done.' .

After the account we have given of these Observations, it is unnecessary to add, that lord Sheffield's acquaintance with the present state of Ireland is so extensive, that it cannot but impress us with a high opinion of the patriotism which must have animated him to the prosecution of such a laborious research. Many of his lordship’s observations throw light on the subject of commercial intercourse, now under the confideration of parliament; but are particularly useful towards elucidating the interests of Ireland, in almost every object of national concern. So much investigation, and fo judiciously conducted, remains an honourable proof of industry exerted in endeavouring to promote the public good.

The proposed System of Trade with Ireland explained. 8vo.

15. 6d. Robinson, AT the

tain and Ireland awaits the decifion of parliament, it is not improbable, that many who with the prosperity of their own country, may entertain apprehensions with regard to the effect of the regulations proposed by the minister ; whilst others, perhaps, though not really disapproving of those mea. fures, may be induced from private motives to propagate such apprehensions, with the view of embarrassing adminiftration. To obviate as much as poslīble these sources of complaint, and to enable the public to form a just estimate of the proposed fyftem, no method can be more proper than to divert the fub. ject of all misrepresentation, and to ftate fairly both the na. ture and the probable effect of the measures which it is the intention of the cabinet to pursue. The pamphlet now before us is professedly written with this design ; and we shall therefore give such an account of it as the importance of the subject, and the satisfaction of our readers may require.

• The opinions of those who object to the proposed fysiem are so various, and appear to have so litele foundation, that it is not easy to collect the substance of their apprehenfions; they


[blocks in formation]

muft, however, mean to contend, that it will have a dangerous operation on the navigation and the commerce of this country. It is, therefore, proper to thew the present situation of Ireland, with the means by which he has attained it; the one he wishes to be placed in, and the probable effects which the whole ar. rangement will have, if completed, on our manufactures, our trade, and our shipping.

• Ireland is, at this time, an independent kingdom, in poffeflion of a constitution as free as the one we have the happiness to enjoy, with a right to trade with every nation on earth, which chufes to trade with her. The connection which fubfifts between her and this country induces her however, to restrain herself in many instances, and to confine her consumption to the produce of Great Britain and her colonies, for the mutual advantage of the two countries.

Ireland being therefore in poffeffion of a right to a free trade with all the world, he complains of restraints fill imposed on her by Great Britain, in whose favour the has reItrained herself." Great concellions, it is true, have been made to her within these few years, during a former administratior.; they were made, however, but as necessity compelled them; without system, without concert, and without even previously knowing what satisfaction they would afford her ; much less was any attempt made to obtain the smallest advantage in return; nothing was ever attended-to, but on the preffure of the moment ; when her calls were loud and alarning, an expedient was to be thought of to stop them ; in that manner the obtained the acts of 18 Geo. III. ch. 55, and the 20th Geo. III, ch. 1o. Under the last, le derived the most important benefit of all, a direct trade to the British colonies, infinitely more valuable to her than every thing which, from that time, ren mained to be given to her. It is not intended here to censure that measure in the smallest degree, but to infift that it should have formed but a part of a final settlement, which might then have been concluded with infinitely less difficulty than now ; Great Britain having thus relieved Ireland so far, by opening to her a free trade to the British colonies in Africa and Amesica, upon the same terms on which he trades with them her. self; the now requests, as a completion of the measure, that Great Britain will remove the remaining restrictions which still fetter her trade, urging as the basis of her claim, equality in trade, for monopoly of consumption.

• This equality was intended to have been proposed by lord North, in the year 1779, if he had poffefred energy enough to have perfected a system of any fort ; but as that could not be done without an accurate investigation, and minute inquiries, the decifion was from time to time delayed till within twentyfour hours of the Irish business being opened in the house of commons in that year, notwithstanding an unanimous address had been presented to the king at the close of the preceding

[blocks in formation]

d fytiem 1, that it as; they



[ocr errors]

session, “ recommending to his majesty's most serious considera ation, the distressed and impoverished state of the loyal and well-deserving people of Ireland ; and to direct that there be preparcd, and laid before parliament, such particulars, relative to the trade and manufactures of Great Britain and ireland, as to enable the national wisdom to pursue effectual measures, for the conmon strength, wealth, and commerce of his majesty's subjects in both kingdoms ;” and his majesty's answer, " that he would give directions accordingly;" a determination was then at length suddenly taken, to give the boon jutt mentioned, without the promised information. As soon, however, as the measure was resolved on, another of his majesty's ministers, who highly approved of it, fent off the pleasing intelligence to Ireland ; and it was actually known to the merchants of Dublin, Cork, and Waterford, before the lord lieutenant had advice of it. A benefit, lo bestowed and communicated, was eftimated by the Irish naturally enough, much below its real value, and the full effect of it was consequently loft,

While the ports of Ireland are open to receive from GreatBritain every species of commodity, whether the produce of Great Britain and her colonies, or any other part of Europe, Alia, Africa, and America ; Great Britain, either by an interpretation of the navigation act or subsequent laws, by actual prohibitions, or by prohibitions arising from daties, nuts her ports against Ireland in those articles of commerce which Ireland admits freely from her.

*This inequality is complained of by Ireland, as unwise as well as oppressive ; the desires therefore that she may be at liberty to import into Great Britain every species of goods, whether raw materials or manufactures, which Great Britain can import into Ireland upon equal terms reciprocally. 5. The articles in which Ireland is restrained may be divided into two kinds.

* In, All articles the produce of the British Colonies in Afa, Africa, and America ; and

JIdly, Certain articles of the growth, produce, or manu. facture, as well of Great Britain as of Ireland.

* Ireland is restrained in the first by an interpretation of the navigation act, as explained by the twenty-second and twenty-third of Charles the Second, ch. 26. and the Irish acts of fourteenth and fifteenth Charles the Second ; and in the last by aca: tual prohibitions, or by prohibitory duties.'

After thus ftating the commercial situation of Ireland, the author next observes, that the most proper way of examining how far che intended conceflions may affect the trade of Great Britain, will be to show how the law ftands at present with regard io each proposition, and how it will likewise stand hereafter ; pointing out the particulat objects of produce or manufacture,

which will be affected by the alteration, and then to consider each particularly.

• Much contraricty of opinion, says he, has been held in Great Britain and Ireland about the interpretation of the navigation act, as to its permitting the produce of Asia, Africa, and America, to be carried to Ireland through Great Britain, . but rettraining the same produce being brought to Great Britain through Ireland. The construction, however, in both countries, has invariably been, that, the words “c foreign growth," &c. do not relate to goods, &c. the growth, produce, or manufacture of Europe, and the practice has always been accordingly to admit such goods, from the one country into the other, upon the same duties as they would be subject to from the place of their growth.

• If the law is now to be altered, to put both countries on the same footing, it will follow that Ireland will apparently acquire a liberty of exporting to Great Britain' the produce of Ada, Africa, and America.

• The trade of Great Britain cao, however, be affected only in articles, the growth, produce, or manufacture, of the two taft-mentioned quarters of the world; because she has by her own laws reftrained her importation of Afiatic produce froin all. places except Great Britain, giving the East India company

a inonopoly of her consumption; and the goods of Europe have always been admitted without interruption írom the one country into the other.

With respect to Africa, there exists at present no trade or intercourse between it and Ireland ; nor is there much prospect of any; as there is, however, a pollibility of one, it ihall be. confidered with the trade oi Ainerica, which is of coniidere. able extent with Ireland.

• By the laws of both kingdoms, as they now stand, Ireland has a right to export all her produce and manufacture to Africa and Ainerica, and to import from thence all articles of the growth, produce, or manuiacture of those countries; and have ing imported them into Ireland, the can again export them to all parts of the world to which Great Britain can send them; which import and export trade is, as to dut es and drawbacks, precisely the same in both countries. Nothing then is defired by Ireland, or given by Great Britain, as to the general trade between Ireland, Africa, and America; or between Ireland and the reft of the world.

• The mischief therefore to be dreaded, is reduced to the ap. prehenfion, that the produce of the colonies will be brought often through Ireland. This must arite either from Ireland becoming the carriers of African and Ainerican goods for the merchants of Great Britain, or from her being able to import them upon her own capital, and send them into Great Britain upon such terms as to enable her to underfeld the British mer. chants in their own markets.


- To form a true judgment how far this apprehenfion is grounded, we must consider the present situation of the Irish in this respect. They can now import directly into Great Briain, in Irish ships navigated according to law, all the produce of Africa and America, exactly on the same terms as the merchants of England; they can also import these goods in Irish fhips into Ireland, where they are subject to the same duties as here; can invoice any part of the cargo to be landed there, and the remainder to be fent to any part of Great Britain. How then can the carrying-trade be affected by the present question ? because, whether the extenfion is admitted or not, Ireland can equally carry both directly from the colonies, and circuitoufly, as above ftated, all the produce thereof. And this will tend equally to fhew, that this alteration cannot enable her to fend such produce into Great Britain upon cheaper terms than the imports it at present; for the only benefit that would arise to Ireland by it would be, that the might then land the produce of Africa and America in her own ports; and, if at the time that her merchants should want to dispose of it, there fhould be a better market in Britain than in Ireland, she might fend it there to a pollible advantage; to a certain one she never could, as the prices of fugars fluctuate too confiderably in the London market, for any reliance to be had on their keeping up long enough for a vessel to perform a voyage from Cork or Waterford to this city.

It appears, therefore, that the prospect of advantages to be derived to Ireland are not particularly Hattering in this part of the arrangement. She may, however, be benefited without any injury to England, unless it can be shewn that it is a diradvantage to the latter, that the produce should not bear a price above its natural value in her own market; Ireland will, it is true, in future, have the fame advantage of the English mare ket as we have of theirs ; and no good reason can be given why they should not, in perfecting a system of equality of trade. If that circumstance should ever have the effect of reducing the prices of colony produce, it will enable the exportation of it to foreign countries on better terms.

• Great stress is laid on the advantageous fituation of Ire. land for carrying on trade with Africa and America; and it is arged, that the can import articles from thence much cheaper than England, consequently that she will underfell Great Britain. Nothing, however, can be less true. Admitting even that the can import from thence for her own consumption, on more favourable terms than Great Britain can for her's; yet it is demonftrable, that the argument does not apply to her fupplying England, unless it is contended, that the forteft and cheapest way of importing goods from Africa and America to this country is, by carrying them first into a port in Ireland, and then bringing them from thence to a port here. Such reasoning is too gross for the blindest, prejudice.

• The

« PreviousContinue »