Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

làws for the trade of Ireland. I only speak of what laws it is right for parliament to make.

It is nothing to an oppressed people, to say that in part they are protected at our charge. The military force which shall be kept up in order to cramp the natural faculties of a people, and to prevent their arrival to their utmost prosperity, is the instrument of their fervitude not the means of their protection. To protect men, is to forward, and not to restrain their improvement. Else, what is it more, than to avow to them, and to the world, that you guard them from others, only to make them a prey to yourself. This fundamental nature of protection does not belong to free, but to all governments; and is as valid in Turkey as in Great Britain. No government ought to own that it exists for the purpose of checking the profa perity of its people, or that there is such a principle involved in its policy.

Under the impression of these sentiments (and not as wanting every attention to my constituents, which affection and gratitude could inspire), I voted for these bills which give you so much trouble. I voted for them, not as doing complete juftice to Ireland, but as being something lefs unjust than the general prohibition which has hitherto prevailed. I hear some discourse, as if in one or two paltry duties on materials, Ireland had a preference; and that those who set themselves against VOL. III.

Q

this

this act of scanty justice, assert that they are only contending for an equality. What equality? Do they forget, that the whole woollen manufacture of Ireland, the most extensive and profitable of any, and the natural staple of that kingdom, has been in a manner so destroyed by restrictive laws of ours, and (at our persuasion, and on our promises) by restrictive laws of their own, that in a few years, it is probable, they will not be able to wear a coat of their own fabrick. Is this equality ? Do gentlemen forget, that the understood faith upon which they were persuaded to such an unnatural act, has not been kept; but a linen-manufacture has been set up, and highly encouraged, against them? Is this equality ? Do they forget the state of the trade of Ireland in beer, fo great an article of consumption, and which now ftands in fo milchievous a position with regard to their revenue, their manufacture, and their agriculture? Do they find any equality in all this? Yet if the least step is taken towards doing them common justice in the slightest articles for the most limited markets, a cry is raised, as if we were going to be ruined by partiality to Ireland.

Gentlemen, I know that the deficiency in these arguments is made up (not by you, but by others) by the usual resource on such occasions, the confidence in military force, and superior power. But that ground of confidence, which at no time was

perfectly and many,

perfectly just, or the avowal of it tolerably decent, is at this time very unseasonable. Late experience has fhewn, that it cannot be altogether relied upon;

many, if not all our present difficulties, have arisen from putting our trust in what may very possibly fail; and if it should fail, leaves those who are hurt by such a reliance, without pity. Whereas honesty and justice, reason and equity, go a very great way in securing prosperity to those who use them; and in case of failure, secure the best retreat, and the most honourable confolations.

It is very unfortunate, that we should consider those as rivals, whom we ought to regard as fellow-labourers in a common cause. Ireland has never made a single step in its progress towards prosperity, by which you have not had a share, and perhaps the greatest share, in the benefit. That progress has been chiefly owing to her own natural advantages, and her own efforts, which, after a long time, and by flow degrees, have prevailed in some measure over the mischievous fyftems which have been adopted. Far enough she is still from having arrived even at an ordinary state of perfection; and if our jealousies were to be converted into politicks, as systematically as some would have them, the trade of Ireland would vanish out of the system of commerce. But believe me, if Ireland is beneficial to you, it is so not from the parts in which it is restrained, but from those in which it. is left free, though not left unrivalled. The greater its freedom, the greater must be your advantage. If you should lose in one way, you will gain in twenty. Whilft I remain under this unalterable and

pow. erful conviction, you will not wonder at the decided part I take. It is my custom fo to do, when I fee my way clearly before me; and when I know, that I am not misled by any passion, or any personal interest; which in this case, I am very sure, I am not. I find that disagreeable things are circulated among my constituents; and I wish my sentiments, which form my justification, may be equally general with the circulation against me. I have the honour to be, with the greatest regard and esteem,

[blocks in formation]

MR. BURKE's SPEECH

ON PRESENTING TO

THE HOUSE OF COMMONS,

(ON THE 11th FEBRUARY, 1780.)

A PLAN

FOR THE BETTER SECURITY OF

*THE INDEPENDENCE OF PARLIAMENT,

AND

THE ECONOMICAL REFORMATION

OF

THE CIVIL

AND

OTHER ESTABLISHMENTS.

« ForrigeFortsett »