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Dunning, and some others, in the House of Commons. In the upper house the Chatham party prevailed ; in the lower the Rockingham. Lord Chatham was utterly inimical to the independence of America : Burke and Fox considered it as unavoidable. In the upper
house the principal supporter of that part of Opposition was the Duke of Richmond. Chatham, and the members who joined with him, thought the independence of America the greatest of all possible national evils: Burke and Fox admitted the independence of America to be a great evil, but not to be avoided, without incurring a greater, in the continuance of hostilities, with the addition of a French war; and that even after all our enormous expence
of blood and treasure, its acknowledgement must be ultimately made. There were some other points in which the different members of Opposition disagreed, Burke and the Rockingham party were inimical to reform in Parliament: Chatham, Shelburne, Dunning, and Camden, were for a reform. Fox and the Duke of Richmond, though
they concurred with Burke on the subject of American independence, coincided with Chatham as to reform in Parliament. But though these great men agreed that some change was necessary, they by no means proposed the same specific object and plans. The Duke of Richmond's scheme of universal suffrage and annual parliaments would have been the greatest deviation from the constitution of Britain: a scheme arising from theoretical views of possible perfection in mankind, and not from the contemplation of their actual history and conduct.
Towards the close of this session, application was made to Parliament in favour of Ireland, to relieve that country from sundry unjust and injudicious restraints respecting their manufactures and trade. These restraints liad injured Ireland, it was alledged, without serving Britain. The Irish had been hindered from manufacturing their own wool, in order to favour the woollen manufactory of England. Thię consequence of this was, that Irish wool was smuggled
over into France, to the great detrimerit of British manufactures, as with such materials France was able to rival this island. The bills were intended to relieve Ireland, and promote Ler trade and manufactures, without injuring those of this country. Burke was the great and powerful supporter of the bills. On this subject he displayed an amazing extent of commercial knowledge ; he went over the manufactures and trade of the two kingdoms, with the contributions of each to support Government; not their actual state only, but their history and principles. His speech alone was sufficient to convey to any man of understanding, unacquainted with the relative commerce of England and Ireland, and the absolute and relative commerce of Ireland, a complete knowledge of the subject. Indeed, whatever speech Burke made on a new question exhibited a full view of the matter in discussion, in all its various relations. One circumstance placed himn in a very delicate and embarrassing situation. His constituents of Bristol apprehended that their interest would
be affected by the bills in favour of Ireland, supported by their representative. They intimated their opinion to him, probably expecting that the intimation might induce him to withdraw his support of the bills. Burke was convinced that the bills were generally equitable as to Britain and Ireland; not impolitical to Britain, and not injurious even to Bristol. It came to be the question whether he would follow the voice of his constituents, or the voice of his conscience. The lesser obligation he made give way to the greater ; and though he anticipated rejection at a future poll for Bristol, continued to support the laws which he judged to be right.
After much discussion, in which the supporters had the advantage, it was agreed by both parties to defer the main business until the next session of Parliament. The
opposers gave way to some enlargements with regard to Irish trade, from which its
supporters hoped that, by allowing them another session before its final determination,
they might become well disposed to promote some more of the propositions.
May Ist, a bill was proposed for excluding contractors from sitting in Parliament. The reasons for such an exclusion appeared to be so very obvious, that even the ingenuity of Burke brought little novelty of argument. So near were he and his friends to carrying this question, that they lost it by a majority of two voices only, 113 to 115.
A bill, moved by Sir George Saville for repealing certain penalties and disabilities to which Roman Catholics were subject, was vigorously promoted by Burke. He went on the ground that no penalties for difference of religion should be in force after the cause of their enaction had ceased : that restraints, which were judicious and even necessary at the time of their imposition, in order to secure the Protestant religion, were now totally useless : what was then defence, was now persecution; a principle entirely inconsistent with rational religion. The bill