« AnteriorContinuar »
and that a linen manufacture has been set up and highly encouraged against them ?”*
In the year 1750 heavy taxes were laid on the import to England of sail-cloth made of Irish hemp, contrary, of course, to the express stipulation of 1698. An address presented in 1774 to Lord Harcourt, the Viceroy, by the Irish House of Commons thus describes the effect of this measure : They had been confined by law to the manufacture of flax and hemp. They had submitted to their condition, and had manufactured these articles to such good purpose that at one time they had supplied sails for the whole British navy. Their English rivals had now crippled them by laying a disabling duty on their sail-cloths, in the hope of taking the trade out of their hands, but they had injured Ireland without benefiting themselves. The British market was now supplied from Holland and Germany and Russia, while to the Empire the result was only the ruin of Ulster and the flight of the Protestant population to America." +
It is true,
* "Irish Affairs,” pp. 112, 113.
+ “English in Ireland,” vol. ii., p. 177. Mr. Lecky thus succinctly states the particulars attending the breach of the Linen Compact :-“The main industry of Ireland had been deliberately destroyed because it had so prospered that English manufacturers had begun to regard it as a competitor with their own. indeed, that a promise was made that the linen and hempen manufacture should be encouraged as a compensation, but even if it had been a just principle that a nation should be restricted by force of law to one or two forms of industry, there was no proportion between that which was destroyed and that which was to be favoured, and no real reciprocity established between the two countries." Mkr Lecky having
The GLASS TRADE.
I have dwelt thus at length on the chief commercial restraints laid on Ireland by the direct legislation of England. This interference was, however, carried to almost every branch of Irish trade. To take a few examples. Lord North in the English Parliament gives the following account of England's dealings with the Irish glass trade :
“ Previous to the 19th Geo. II., Ireland imported glass from other countries, and at length began to make some slow progress in the lower branches of the manufacture itself. By the Act alluded to, however, the Irish were prohibited from importing any kind of glass other than the manufacture of Great
stated the antiquity of the linen manufacture and its vicissitudes in Ireland, and having mentioned that “ in 1700 the value of the export of Irish linen amounted to little more than £14,000,” thus proceeds :“ The English utterly suppressed the existing woollen manufacture in Ireland in order to reserve that industry entirely to themselves, but the English and Scotch continued, as usual, their manufacture of linen. The Irish trade was ruined in 1699, but no legislative encouragement was given to the Irish linen manufacture till 1705, when, at the urgent petition of the Irish Parliament, the Irish were allowed to export their white and brown linens, but these only to the British colonies, and they were not permitted to bring any colonial goods in return. The Irish linen manufacture was undoubtedly encouraged by bounties, but not until 1743, when the country had sunk into a condition of appalling wretchedness. In spite of the compact of 1698, the hempen manufacture was so discouraged that it positively ceased. Disabling duties were imposed on Irish sail-cloth imported into England. Irish checked, striped, and dyed linens were absolutely excluded from the colonies. They were virtually excluded from England by the imposition of a duty of 30 per cent., and Ireland was not allowed to participate in the bounties granted for the exportation of these descriptions of linen from Great Britain to foreign countries.". .“ Eighteenth Century," vol. ii., pp. 211—212. See also, “ An Argument for Ireland,” by J. O'Connell, M.P., pp. 147-154.
Britain, and in section 24 of that Act a most extraordinary clause was inserted. It not only ordained that no glass, the manufacture of that kingdom, should be exported, but it was penned so curiously, and with so much severe precision, that no glass of the manufacture of Ireland was to be exported, or so much as to be laden on any horse or carriage with intent to be so exported. This was, in his opinion, a very extraordinary stretch of the legislative power of Great Britain, considering the smallness of the object. The Act was much, very much complained of in Ireland, and apparently with very great justice both as to principle and effect. It was an article of general use in Ireland. The manufacturers of glass there, when thus restrained both as to export and import, could not pretend to vie with the British; the consequence of which was that the latter, having the whole trade to themselves, fixed the price of the commodity as they liked.”* By the 9 Anne, c. 12, and 5 Geo. II., C. 2, and 7 Geo. II., c. 19, no hops but of British growth could be imported into Ireland.
By the 6 Geo. I., it was enacted that the duty on hops exported from England should not be drawn back in favour of Irish consumers.
Irish cotton manufactures imported to England were subject to an import duty of twenty-five per cent., while a statute of Geo. I. enacted penalties on
* " Parliamentary Debates," vol. xv., 179, 180.
REPRESSION ALL ROUND.
the wearing of such manufactures in Great Britain unless they were made there.
The raw material for silk came to Ireland through England. The original import duty in England was 12d. in the pound, of which 3d. in the pound was retained there.*
Irish beer and malt, too, were excluded from England, whereas English beer and malt were imported into Ireland at a nominal duty. powder, coals, bar-iron, iron-ware, and several other matters, some of which Ireland had not to export, and others of which she had very little, were at different times the objects of English restrictions, whenever it was fancied that English interests were at all threatened by them.”+
It was this legislation that caused Edmund Burke to ask, "Is Ireland united to the Crown of Great Britain for no other purpose than that we should counteract the bounty of Providence in her favour, and in proportion as that bounty has been liberal that we are to regard it as an evil which is to be met with in every sort of corrective?”
“ England,” says Mr. Froude, “governed Ireland for what she deemed her own interest, making her calculation on the gross balance of her trade ledgers, and leaving her moral obligations to accumulate, as if
* See “ An Argument for Ireland,” p.
Burke on “ Irish Affairs,” p. 101.
right and wrong had been blotted out of the statute book of the universe.” *
“One by one of each of our nascent industries,” observes Lord Dufferin, “was either strangled in its birth, or handed over gagged and bound to the jealous custody of the rival interest of England, until at last every fountain of wealth was hermetically sealed, and even the traditions of commercial enterprise have perished through desuetude."
This sketch of English legislation for Irish trade would leave the impression that the Parliaments of Great Britain were as lavish in their efforts to suppress industrial enterprise in that country as any British trader could reasonably desire. It will surprise us to find that this atrocious code was not regarded as sufficiently thorough.
“In the year 1698,” says Hely Hutchinson, “two petitions were preferred from Folkestone and Ald. borough, stating a singular grievance that they suffered from Ireland ‘by the Irish catching herrings at Waterford and Wexford, and sending them to the Streights, and thereby forestalling and ruining petitioners' markets;' but these petitioners had the hard lot of having motions in their favour rejected.”+
* “ English in Ireland,” vol. i., p. 657.
+ “Commercial Restraints," pp. 125, 126. See "English Commons' Journals,” 22, p. 178. In this summary of the laws enacted by the English Parliament in restraint of Irish trade, I have dealt merely with legislation of a permanent character. " When," says Hely Hutchinson, in 1779, " the commercial restraints of Ireland are the subject, a source of occasional and ruinous restrictions ought not to