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A KINGDOM Sacrificed..
be passed over. Since the year 1740 there have been twenty-four embargoes in Ireland, one of which lasted three years.” " Commercial Restraints,” pp. 231, 232. The system of embargoes called forth the indignation of Arthur Young, the celebrated English traveller. The prohibition of woollens, etc., was, he says, at least advantageous to similar manufactures in England, but " in respect to embargoes, even this shallow pretence is wanting ; a whole kingdom is sacrificed and plundered, not to enrich England, but three or four London contractors." See also Lecky's “Eighteenth Century," iv., p. 442.
MR. Fox, speaking in the British House of Commons
facture, without rendering English legislation for the purpose necessary. A few days after these Addresses were presented, the King wrote to Lord Galway, one of the Lords Justices of Ireland, as follows:
“The chief thing that must be prevented is that the Irish Parliament take no notice of this here, and that you make effectual laws for the linen manufacture, and discourage as far as possible the woollen. It never was of such importance to have a good session of Parliament." *
Ireland was thus, in the words of Mr. Froude, "invited to apply the knife to her own throat.” + “The Irish Houses, in dread of abolition if they refused, relying on the promise of encouragement to their linen trade, and otherwise unable to help themselves, acquiesced.” † The enactment which they passed was temporary. Hely Hutchinson says that this law has every appearance of being framed on the part of the Administration. The servile body who assented to it soon had reason to know that to tolerate slavery is to embrace it. The law did not satisfy the English Parliament, who passed the perpetual enactment to which reference has been previously made. This is, however, one of the few instances in which the Irish Parliament was prevailed on to pass laws in restraint
Rapin, xvii., p. 417. The date of this letter is 16th of July, 1698. The matter was so urgent that William III. wrote two letters. See “ English in Ireland,” i. 297.
+ "English in Ireland,” vol. i., p. 297.
of their own trade. Even in this case the destruction of the woollen industry was not considered complete until English legislation gave it a final blow.
The direct attacks on Irish trade were almost exclusively the work of the English Parliament; while the English Privy Council strangled at its birth every beneficial enactment of the Irish Parliament.
The following instances will explain and illustrate the difficulties with which the Irish Parliament had to contend in every effort to promote the material prosperity of their country :
“With,” says Mr. Froude, “their shipping destroyed by the Navigation Act, their woollen manufactures taken from them, their trade in all its branches crippled and confined, the single resource left to those of the Irish who still nourished dreams of improving their unfortunate country was agriculture. The soil was at least their own, which needed only to be drained, cleared of weeds, and manured to produce grass crops and corn crops as rich as the best in England. Here was employment for a population three times more numerous than as yet existed. Here was a prospect, if not of commercial wealth, yet of substantial comfort and material abundance.” *
After some further observations, Mr. Froude thus proceeds "The tenants were forbidden in their leases to break or plough the soil. The people no longer employed were driven away into holes and corners, and eked out a wretched subsistence by potato
“English in Ireland,” vol. i., p. 439.
DRIVEN OFF THE LAND.
gardens or by keeping starving cattle of their own on the neglected bogs. Their numbers increased, for they married early, and they were no longer liable, as in the old times, to be killed off like dogs in forays. They grew up in compulsory idleness, encouraged once more in their inherited dislike of labour,* and inured to wretchedness and hunger; and on every failure of the potato crop, hundreds of thousands were starving. Of corn very little was grown anywhere in Ireland. It was imported from England, Holland, Italy, and France, but in quantities unequal to any sudden demand. The disgrace of allowing a nation of human beings to subsist upon such conditions forced itself at last on the conscience of the Irish Parliament, and though composed of landowners who were
* The charge of indolence which Mr. Froude has here preferred against the Irish peasantry has frequently been refuted. The accusation is an old one. Speaking in the Irish House of Commons in 1784, the Right Hon. Luke Gardiner thus repelled it :-" Those who render our people idle are the first to ridicule them for that idleness, and to ridicule them without a cause. National characteristics are always unjust, as there never was a country that has not produced both good and bad.” “They are general assertions, as false as they are illiberal. Irishmen have shown spirit and genius in whatever they have undertaken." “I call upon gentlemen to specify one instance where the people were indolent when the laws of their country protected them in their endeavours.” (“Irish Debates,” iii., p. 127.) “ It is a cant in England,” says Mr. O'Connell, “that they (the Irish) are an idle people, but how can that be said when they are to be found seeking employment through every part of the world? They are to be found making roads in Scotland and digging canals in the poisonous marshes of New Orleans." (“ Discussion in Dublin Corporation on Repeal of the Union,” in 1843, p. 58 ) The Times of the 26th of June, 1845, in an article to which I will reser hereafter, says “ The Irish. man is disposed to work."