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when proclamation is made here to that effect, I admit, we are then engaged, just as the people of England are, in similar circumstances. But as we have here a free and independent Parliament, it is as undoubtedly their privilege to grant, or withhold, the supplies; and if they peremptorily refuse them, and the Mutiny Act, I know not how an army is to be paid, or governed, without proceeding to means not to be thought on. It follows, therefore, that the Parliament of Ireland have a kind of negative voice, in the question of war and peace, exactly similar to that of the English Parliament. If, then, they have this deliberative power, they are no further bound to support a war, than the English Parliament is, which may, undoubtedly, compel peace at any time by postponing the Money and Mutiny Bills. They are, therefore, not bound to support any war, until they have previously approved and adopted it. The King of Ireland may declare the war, but it is the Parliament only that can carry it on. If this be so, it follows, very clearly, that we are not, more than England, ipso facto, committed, merely by the declaration of war of our own King; and, a fortiori, much less are we committed by his declaration, as King of Great Britain, when our interest is endamaged, and the quarrel and the profit are merely and purely English.
If the Parliament of England address his Majesty for war, and, in consequence, war be proclaimed; if we are at once, without our consent, perhaps against our will and our interest, engaged, and our Parliament bound to support that war, in pursuance of that address; then, I say, the independence of Ireland is sacrificed, we are bound by the act of the British Parliament, and the charter of our liberties is waste paper. To talk of the independence of a country, and yet deny her a negative voice in a question of no less import to her well-being, than that of peace or war, is impudent nonsense. But, I hope and trust, no man at this day will be so hardy as to advance such an assertion, or to deny that our Parliament is co-ordinate with that of England, and equally competent to the regulation of all our domestic concerns and foreign interests, with similar powers of assent and refusal, and if so, with equal right to receive or reject a war.
From the question of right, which will not be denied you, suffer me to call your attention to the question of expediency.
You may, at your will, draw the sword, or hold out the olive. It remains, therefore, to examine which line of conduct is likely to be most beneficial to your country. Before you commit yourselves, decidedly, to war or peace, it behoves you well to consider the consequences of both to Ireland ; see what she ean gain, see what she must lose, try how far her interest or her honor is concerned : reflect, that on your first vote depend the properties, the liberties, the lives of thousands of your countrymen ; and, above all, remember you are about to make a precedent for future ages, in the great question of the obligation on Ireland to follow Great Britain to war, as a necessary appendage.
What, in the first place, are the grounds of the quarrel as to Ireland ? and what are the profits she has to look to from the contest between Spain and England ?
It will not be pretended that we have immediately, from our own concerns, any ground for interfering in the approaching war; on the contrary, peace with all the world, but peace with Spain, particularly, is our object and our interest. The quarrel is merely and purely English. A few individuals in China, members of a company which is possessed of a monopoly of the commerce to the East, to the utter exclusion of this country, fitted out certain ships to trade to the North Western coast of America, for furs, which they expected would prove a lucrative article of traffic. The Spaniards, actuated by pride or jealousy, or both, have, it seems, seized these vessels, to the disgrace of (not the Irish, but the British flag, and to enforce satisfaction, an armament is preparing. In this transaction the probability is that Spain is in the wrong, and England is acting with no more than a becoming spirit; but the question with us is, not who is wrong, or who is right? Ours are discussions of a different nature ; to foster and cherish a growing trade, to cultivate and civilize a yet unpolished people, to obliterate the impression of ancient religious feuds, to watch, with incessant and anxious care, the cradle of an infant Constitution; these are our duties, and these are indispensable. Removed a hemisphere from the scene of action, unconnected with the interest in question, debarred from the gains of the commerce, what has Ireland to demand her interference, more than if the debate arose between the Emperor of Japan, and the King of Corea? Will she profit
if England secure the trade ? No. Will she lose if England cannot obtain one Otter skin ? No. Shall we eat, drink, or sleep, one jot the worse, whether the Mandarins of Pekin line their doublets with furs purchased from a Spanish or an English merchant ? No. Decidedly, then, the quarrel is English, the profit will be to England, and Ireland will be left to console herself for her treasure spent, and her gallant sons fallen, by the reflection that valor, like virtue, is its own reward, and that she has given Great Britain one more opportunity to be ungrateful. So much for the ground of quarrel, and the profit we are to expect from the war !
Let me now humbly submit to your consideration, the actual certainty we are required to sacrifice to these brilliant expectations, and I will do it from your own authentic documents. Subjoined, in an Appendix, is a view of the whole of our commerce with Spain, for the year 1789, from which I shall extract the most important articles here. In doing this, it is my wish to be as correct as possible, but the value on most of the articles I am obliged to appreciate by conjecture and inquiry. There is a book in the possession of Administration, called the National Stock Book, wherein the value of all the exports and imports is inserted; but this is industriously kept back from you, so that, in the documents submitted to you, containing, in most articles, only the quantum, you must content yourselves with doing what I have done, and make the best inquiries you can. It appears that the following are the principal articles of your exports: Linen
£ 26,779 0 0 Wheat
0 0 Pork
0 0 Butter
0 0 Bacon
4,260 0 0 Beef
3,207 0 0 Flour
3,718 0 0 Barley
Which, with other articles mentioned in the Appendix, makes the gross amount of your exports, £ 117,428 3s. 2d.
On this trade, I shall only remark, that your staple manufacture, your agriculture and tillage, are most materially concerned.
The following, from the same authority, is the account of your imports from Spain in the same year, but I confess myself less competent to ascertain their value. I shall, therefore, unless in one or two of the most material articles, set down only the quantum imported :
£ 2,000 value.
6 cwt. 1,223 lb. 5,995 lb, 790 cwt.
382 cwt. 23,226 bushs. 17,847 gals. *
977 tons. 55,600
Of these, it is to be observed, that the dye stuffs, salt, canes, wool, and pot ash, constitute the materials and implements of future manufactures, the most beneficial species of importation.
For the loss of this trade, the only compensation war holds out to you, is the provision trade for the army and navy; of all others the least advantageous, as is universally known, to the interests of this kingdom.
Such is the present state of your commerce with Spain, the whole of which is, at one blow, cut up; your commerce with other nations loaded with an heavy insurance; your manufactures nipped in the bud, and, in a word, every branch of trade suspended, except the slaughtering of bullocks and men. And for what is all this? We have no quarrel with Spain, no infrac• Worth about €2,600. † The price of the pot ash I have taken from Anderson, vol. 6, p. 707.
tion of good faith, no national insult to complain of. No, but we have the resentments of a rapacious English East Indian monopolist to gratify, who, at the distance of half the globe, kindles the torch of war amidst the eternal snows of Nootka Sound, and hurls it into the bosom of our commerce. The rising prosperity of Ireland is immolated on the altar of British pride and avarice; we are forced to combat without resentment in the quarrel of an alien, where victory is unprofitable, and defeat is infamous.
Having examined the question on the ground of profit and loss to Ireland, I presume it appears clearly that we shall make an immense sacrifice of blood, treasure, and trade, to establish a right in which, when it is obtained, we are never to participate. If, therefore, we embark in this war, it is not in support of our immediate particular interest; on the contrary, it is evident we shall be very considerable losers by the most prosperous issue. The principle of expediency, therefore, must be given up, and it follows that we engage, if at all, on the principle of moral obligation: the arguments on this ground are reduceable to three-the good of the empire, the honor of the British flag, and the protection which England affords us.
I confess I am, in the outset, much staggered by a phrase so very specious, and of such general acceptation as this of the good of the empire.” Yet, after all, what does it mean? or what is the empire? I believe it is understood to mean the kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland with independent legislatures, united under one head. But this union of the Executive does by no means, to my apprehension, imply so complete an union of power or of interest, that an injury, or a benefit to one, is an injury or a benefit to the other; on the contrary, the present emergency shews that occasions may arise wherein the direct opposite is the fact. It is not two kingdoms being united under one head that involves, as a necessary consequence, a unity of resentment. His Majesty's electoral dominions are not concerned in this Spanish quarrel, and I would ask how are we more concerned, unless it be that we speak the English language? The King of Hungary is also Grand Duke of Tuscany, yet no man thinks that the Tuscans are bound to sacrifice their trade or their men in his German quarrels, and, in consequence, we sce them at this hour neutral, and, therefore, flourishing in the midst