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perfectly just, or the avowal of it tolerably decent, is at this time very unseasonable. Late experience has shewn, that it cannot be altogether relied upon; and many, if not all of 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 consolations.
It is very unfortunate that we should consider those as rivals, whom we ought to regard as fellowlabourers in a common cause. Ireland has never made a single step in its progress towards prosperity, by which
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 slow degrees, have prevailed in some measure over the mischievous systems 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.
Whilst I remain under this unalterable and powerful conviction, you will not wonder at the decided part I take. It is my custom so to do, when I see my way clearly before me; and when I know, that I am not misled by any passion, or any personal interest; as 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,
MR. BURKE'S SPEECH,
ON PRESENTING TO
THE HOUSE OF COMMONS
(ON THE 11th FEBRUARY, 1780)
FOR THE BETTER SECURITY OF
THE INDEPENDENCE OF PARLIAMENT,
THE ECONOMICAL REFORMATION
RISE, in acquittal of my engagement to the
house, in obedience to the strong and just requisition of my constituents, and, I am persuaded, in conformity to the unanimous wishes of the whole nation, to submit to the wisdom of parliament, “ A Plan of reform in the constitution of several parts of the public economy.”
I have endeavoured, that this plan should include, in its execution, a considerable reduction of improper expence; that it should effect a conversion of unprofitable titles into a productive estate; that it should lead to, and indeed almost compel, a provident administration of such sums of publick money as must remain under discretionary trusts; that it should render the incurring debts on the civil establishment (which must ultimately affect national strength and national credit) so very difficult, as to become next to impracticable.
But what, I confess, was uppermost with me, what I bent the whole force of my mind to, was the reduction of that corrupt influence, which is