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A NEI BOND OF UNION.
that the inevitable result would be an enormous development of smuggling.”* “The entire nation, high and low, was enlisted in an organised confederacy against the law. Distinctions of creed were obliterated, and resistance to law became a bond of union between Catholic and Protestant, Irish Celt and English colonist." | Hely Hutchinson, in a paper laid before Lord Buckinghamshire, in July, 1779, places this matter in a clear light. “You have forced us into an illicit commerce, and our very existence depends now upon it. Ireland has paid Great Britain for eleven years past double the sum that she collects from the whole world in all the trade which Great Britain allows her, a fact not to be paralleled in the history of the world. Whence did the money come? But one answer is possible. It came from the contraband trade, and surely it is madness to suffer an important part of the empire to continue in that condition. You defeat your own objects.” ļ
Again, this system embittered the relations between landlord and tenant in Ireland by raising unduly the creation of farms, the cultivation of the soil being the only industrial resource left to the people. “Rents," says Mr. Lecky, “were regulated by competition ; but it was competition between a half starving population, who had no other resource except the soil, and were
English in Ireland,” vol. i., p. 497.
prepared to promise anything rather than be deprived of it. * The mass of the people," the same writer continues, “became cottiers, because it was impossible to gain a livelihood as agricultural labourers or in mechanical pursuits. This impossibility was due to the extreme paucity of circulating capital, and may be chiefly traced to the destruction of Irish manufactures and to the absence of a considerable class of resident landlords, who would naturally give employment to the poor." +
Such were some of the more immediate effects upon Ireland of the commercial arrangements of Great Britain. That system was thus described in the Irish House of Commons in October, 1779, by Hussey Burgh, who then held the office of Prime Serjeant, and afterwards became Lord Chief Baron of the Court of Exchequer. “The usurped authority of a foreign Parliament has kept up the most wicked laws that a jealous, monopolising, ungrateful spirit could desire, to restrain the bounty of Providence and enslave a nation whose inhabitants are recorded to be a brave, loyal, generous people ; by the English code of laws, to answer the most sordid views, they have been treated with a savage cruelty; the words penalty, punishment, and Ireland are synonymous; they are marked in blood on the margin of their statutes, and though time may have softened the calamities of the nation, the baneful and destructive influence of those
Eighteenth Century,” vol. ii., p. 241. of Ibid., p. 243.
MARKED IN BLOOD.
laws have borne her down to a state of Egyptian bondage. The English have sowed their laws like serpents' teeth; they have sprung up as armed men." *
Few will be disposed to disagree with Mr. Froude in his estimate of the effects of this policy. “By a curious combination this system worked the extremity of mischief, commercially, socially, and politically.” |
* “MacNevin's Volunteers,” p. 117. Mr. Froude well observes that these memorable words “had nothing to do with penal laws, and related entirely to the restrictions on trade.” English in Ireland," vol. ii., p. 264.
+ “ English in Ireland," vol. i., p. 502. In these pages I have designedly refrained from referring to the Penal Code. I have confined myself entirely to a recital of the leading features of the restrictions imposed by England on Irish trade. It is, in my opinion, impossible to estimate, in distinct scales, the evils done by these terrible agencies. They acted and re-acted on each other, and affected not merely the special objects of legislation, but more or less directly every interest in the community. The able writer of a pamphlet, “ Irish Wool and Woollens,” to which I have frequently referred, says : Possibly the laws that annihilated the wool trade wrought more destruction than the legislation that aimed at stamping out the Catholic faith, for the trade Acts snatched bread from the mouth, filched hope from the heart, and wrenched power from the hands of the industrial sections of the community.” (p. 43.) From this opinion I am constrained to differ. Speaking as a Protestant, I have no hesitation in saying that the injuries inflicted on Ireland by the Penal Code exceeded the irjuries inflicted on her by the trade regulations. “Well,” says the Rev. Canon MacColl, "may Mr. Matthew Arnold speak of that Penal Code, of which the monstrosity is not half known to Englishmen, and may be studied by them with profit.” (" Arguments For and Against Home Rule," p. 60.)
THE IRISH VOLUNTEER MOVEMENT AND FREE
The nature and effects of the Irish Volunteer Movement have often been stated and explained. I can only touch upon this movement in a very cursory manner, confining myself strictly to its bearings on the commercial arrangements between Great Britain and Ireland. A very superficial study of Irish history will show that national movements have a tendency to grow out of controversies on trade and mercantile questions. Thus the destruction of the woollen trade by the English Parliament led Irish politicians to question the right of that Parliament to legislate for Ireland at all. William Molyneux, in his celebrated “Case of Ireland stated,” published in 1698, asks, “Shall we of this kingdom be denied the birthright of every free-born English subject by having laws imposed on us when we are neither personally nor representatively present?”* “That book," says Chief Justice Whiteside, “met with a fate which it did not deserve. The English Parliament ordered that it should be burned, and thereby much increased
# " Case of Ireland,” p. 105.
SWIFT's ServicES TO IRELAND,
the estimation in which it was held in Ireland."* Thus, too, the agitation against Wood's half-pence, a purely commercial topic, assumed insensibly a national complexion. In his fourth Drapier's letter, Swift changes the controversy into an examination of Ireland's political condition. « The remedy," he says, " is wholly in your own hands, and therefore I have digressed a little in order to refresh and continue that spirit so seasonably raised among you, and to let you see that by the laws of God, of nature, and of nations, and of your country, you are and ought to be as free a people as your brethren in England.” of Swift's prosecution by the Government of the day and its failure are well known. Lord Chief Justice Whiteside thus comments on his public conduct. there been a few in the Irish Parliament possessed of the originality, energy, honesty, and capacity of Swift, the management of political affairs and the true interests of the country would have been speedily improved instead of being shamefully neglected. Swift created a public opinion ; Swift inspired hope, courage, and a spirit of justifiable resistance in the people ; Swift taught Irishmen they had a country to love, to raise, and to cherish. No man who recalls the affectionate respect paid by his countrymen to Swift while he lived, to his memory when dead, can
Reg. v. O'Connell, p. 533. This observation was made by Mr. (afterwards Chief Justice) Whiteside in his speech in defence of Mr. (now Sir C. Gavan) Duffy, in the State Trials, 1844.
† Swift's Works (Scott's Edition), vol. vi., p. 448.