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could no longer be withheld, and her imperial crown restored from the felonious custody of arbitrary and jealous domination.
If Ireland, therefore, acquiesced, without a murmur, in all wars antecedent to this period, no argument can be drawn from her acquiescence which will not justify burning the almost inspired volume of Molyneux by the hands of an English hangman. She submitted, because she could not resist, not because she did not see that her interest was sacrificed, even by her own hand. Precedent cannot weigh in an inquiry like the present. The precedent of tyrant and slave will not bind free, equal and equal. We were, before 1782, bound to support the wars of Great Britain, and we were also bound to submit to her capricious and interested misrule; we were bound by Poyning's act, we were bound by a perpetual mutiny bill, we were bound by a legion of laws, not enacted by our own legislature, or shadow of legislature; and what bound us? Hard necessity, the arrogance of saucy wealth, and the wantonness of intoxicated power, dealing out buffets and stripes, to abject submission and slavish fear. Be ye
not then the dupes of precedent, nor think that long prescription can sanctify what the voice of God and nature cries aloud in your bosoms is unholy and unjust. If ye admit such an argument, then were the struggles of every man of you, guided as they were by the prime spirits of the land, rebellious innovations on justice and on law; the charter of your liberties is paper ; and England, when she has crushed, with your aid, her present foes, is warranted, by your own admission, to turn her fleets and her armies loose against the nation, and reseize the rights which, in the moment of her temporary weakness, you took a base advantage to extort.
I trust you will not admit an argument for your interference, so obviously pregnant with consequences fatal to your freedom. The precedent of Ireland subjugated, with crippled force and broken spirit, poor and divided, must not be held up as the rulo of conduct to Ireland restored to her rights, glowing with the ardency of youth and the vigor of renovated constitution, and of infinitely greater extent and internal resources than Denmark, or Sweden, or Portugal, or Sardinia, or Naples, all sovereign states.
You all remember the day of your slavery and oppression and insignificance. Have you considered what you are now? Does
your present situation ever occur, even to your dreams? an esisting miracle, which gives the lie to all political experience. A rising and powerful kingdom, rich in all the gifts of nature, a soil fertile, a sky temperate, intersected by many great rivers, pregnant with mines of every useful metal and mineral, indented by the noblest harbors, inhabited by four millions of an ingenious, a bold and gallant people, yet unheard of and unknown in Europe, and by no means of such consequence as the single county of York, in England. Is this statement exaggerated? Is it equal to the truth? If these things be so, does it ever occur to you what it is that degrades you, that keeps you without a court, without ambassadors, without a navy, without an army? If it has not, I will tell you, and I will show you wherein you differ from England. There the Monarchy resides. There, whatever party prevail, the Administration is English, and their sole, or at least, their principal view, is the good of the nation, so that the interest of the Minister and the country are forwarded by the same means. With us it is not so. Our Government is formed of some insignificant English nobleman, who presides, some obsequious tool of the British Minister, who proposes, and a rabble of the most profligate of our countrymen, who execute his mandates. The interest of the Government and of the nation drag different ways, and with the purse of the nation and the patronage of the crown appended to one scale, it is easy to foresee which will preponderate. Hence flow the various grievances of Ireland; corruption in every form, wanton expense, unbounded peculation, sale of honors, judicial oppression, and, though last, not least, the plunging her into all the horrors of a war, in a quarrel where she is no more interested in the eye of reason, than if the difference arose in the moon.
I believe in the history of man there is not to be found an instance, wherein, of two nations equal in all natural advantages, equal in intelligence, in spirit, in courage, one has yet been for centuries content to remain in a state of subordination, unknown and unregarded, drawing her Government, and the maxims of her Government, from the other, though demonstratively injurious to her pride, her interest, her commerce, and her Constitution, and receiving no one advantage in return for such a complete surrender of her imperial and independent rights. When I consider the situation of Ireland at this day, I confess I am utterly
at a loss to account for her submission to such degrading inferiority. Old prejudices will do much, but can they do all this? Or has the wisdom of the Almighty framed some kingdoms, as he has some animals, only for the convenience and service of others?
I have been compelled, by the nature of this address, to touch on the present state of the connection between the countries. I have likewise examined the question of war on the ground of precedent, and I hope proved that, on that ground, we are under no tie. In my next, I shall try it by the touchstone of strict legal right, and I request my readers may keep this, and the few subsequent papers of which I intend to occupy a part, that they may have the whole of the evidence, and examine it together.
N. B. This object he did not pursue in these papers, but developed it in his pamphlet on the Spanish war.
II. Essay on the state of Ireland in 1720.—By T. W. Tone.
It is a favorite cant, under which many conceal their idleness, and many their corruption, to cry that there is, in the genius of the people of this country, and particularly among the lower ranks, a spirit of pride, laziness, and dishonesty, which stifles all tendency to improvement, and will for ever keep us a subordinate nation of hewers of wood, and of drawers of water. It may be worth while a little to consider this opinion, because, if it be well founded, to know it so, may save me, and other well wishers to Ireland, the hopeless labor of endeavoring to excite a nation of idle thieves to honesty and industry; and if it be not, it is an error, the removal of which will not only wipe away an old stigma, but, in a great degree, facilitate the way to future improvement. If we can find any cause, different from an inherent depravity in the people, and abundantly sufficient to account for the backwardness of this country, compared with England, I hope no man will volunteer national disgrace so far as to prefer that hypothesis which, by degrading his country, degrades himself.
Idleness is a ready accusation in the mouth of him whose corruption denies to the poor the means of labor: “ Ye are idle,”
said Pharoah to the Israelites, when he demanded bricks of them, and withheld the straw.
In inquiring into the subject of this essay, I shall take a short view of the state of this country at the time of her greatest abasement; I mean about the time when she was supposed to be fettered for ever by the famous act of the 6th of George I, and I shall draw my facts from the most indisputable authority, that of Swift. Yet, surely, misrule and ignorance and oppression, in the Government, are means sufficient to plunge and to keep any nation in ignorance and poverty, without blaspheming Providence by imputing innate and immovable depravity to millions of God's creatures. It is, at least, an hypothesis more honorable to human nature; let us try if it be not more consonant to the reality of things. Let us see the state of Ireland in different periods, and let us refer those periods to the maxims and practice of her then Government.
To begin with the first grand criterion of the prosperity of a nation. In 1724, the population of Ireland was 1,500,000, and in 1672, 1,100,000, so that in fifty-two years it was increased but one third, after a civil war. The rental of the whole kingdom was computed at £ 2,000,000 annually, of which, by absentees, about £700,000, went to England. The revenue was £ 400,000 per annum; the current cash was £ 500,000, which, in 1727, was reduced to less than £ 200,000; and the balance of trade with England, the only nation to which we could trade, was in our disfavor about £ 1,000,000 annually. Such were the resources of Ireland in 1784.
Commerce we had none, or what was worse than none, an exportation of raw materials for half their value; an importation of the same materials wrought up at an immense profit to the English manufacturer ; the indispensable necessaries of life bartered for luxuries for our men, and fopperies for our women; not only the wine, and coffee, and silk, and cotton, but the very corn we consumed was imported from England.
Our benches were filled with English lawyers; our Bishoprics with English divines; our custom-house with English commissioners; all offices of state filled, three deep, with Englishmen in possession, Englishmen in reversion, and Englishmen in expectancy. The majority of these not only aliens, but absentees, and not only absentees, but busily and actively
employed against that country on whose vitals, and in whose blood they were rioting in ease and luxury. Every proposal, for the advantage of Ireland, was held a direct attack on the interests of England. Swift's pamphlet, on the expediency of wearing our own manufactures, exposed the printer to a prosecution, in which the jury was sent back by the Chief Justice nine times, till they were brow-beaten, and bullied, and wearied into a special verdict, leaving the printer to the mercy of the judge.
The famous project of Wood is known to every one; it is unnecessary to go into the objections against it, but it is curious to see the mode in which that ruinous plan was endeavored to be forced down our throats. Immediately on its promulgation, the two Houses of Parliament, the Privy Council, the merchants, the traders, the manufacturers, the grand juries of the whole kingdom, by votes, resolutions, and addresses testified their dread and abhorrence of the plan. What was the conduct of the English Minister? He calls a committee of the English council together; he examines Mr. Wood on one side, and two or three prepared, obscure, and interested witnesses on the other, he non-suits the whole Irish nation; thus committed with Mr. Wm. Wood, he puts forth a proclamation, commanding all persons to receive his half-pence in payment, and calls the votes of the Houses of Lords and Commons, and the resolutions of the Privy Council of Ireland, a clamor. But Swift had by this time raised a spirit, not to be laid by the anathema of the British Minister; the project was driven as far as the verge of civil war ; there it was stopped, and this was the first signal triumph of the virtue of the people in Ireland.
In one of his inimitable letters on the subject of Wood's halfpence, Swift, with a daring and a generous indignation, worthy of a better age and country, had touched on the imaginary dependence of Ireland on England. The bare mention of a doubt on the subject, had an instantaneous effect on the nerves of the English Government here. A proclamation was issued, offering £ 300 for the author; the printer was thrown into jail, the Grand Jury were tampered with to present the letter, and, on their refusing to do so, were dissolved in a rage by the Chief Justice, a step without a precedent, save one, which happened in the times of James Il, and was followed by an immediate