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indifferent whether his honourable friend withdrew his motion, or whether it were got rid of by a previous question, or by read. ing the order of the day upon it." Mr. Mansfield said, he was somewhat amazed to hear his honourable friend treated with so much harshness, and his motion talked of, as if it were taking the house by surprise. There was not a gentleman present, he conceived, who must not be well aware, that Ireland was in a most alarming and critical state. The journals of the Irish parliament, and all our own newspapers, plainly evinced the fact. It therefore struck him as an idea perfectly absurd, to call his honourable friend's motion precipitate or rash. It was in his mind highly necessary; but if the house were of another opinion, it mattered not, in his idea, whether it were got rid of one way or the other.
Lord Newhaven hoped, that it was perfectly understood in that house, and that it would go forth to the world, that his majesty's ministers did not reject this motion from any dislike to the business, but that they would, with all possible speed, give every attention in their power to so important an object.
Mr. Eden rose, and wished to know if he gave up his motion, whether the right honourable secretary would pledge himself that a repeal of the act of the 6th of George I. should take place.
Mr. Sheridan said, he could not set still and see a question of this importance, which was then just going to be put from the chair, rejected or evaded in the manner which it was likely to be. He could not dismiss his hopes that the right honourable gentleman, who had moved it, might yet be induced to withdraw it: and he was convinced the greatest mischief would follow its being otherwise disposed of. The learned gentleman, who was the only person who had attempted to defend the extraordinary conduct of the secretary for Ireland, had taken great pains to prove, that it made no difference in what manner the motion was got rid of. He differed entirely from him on that head; and he had the authority of the honourable gentleman himself, who had made the motion on his side, for he had expressly declared, that if the motion were evaded by the previous question, or by moving the order of the day, he apprehended the most serious mischiefs to Ireland would follow. He called, therefore, upon that honourable gentleman, if he had any real feeling for the interests and peace of either country, not to persevere in bringing on the mischiefs which he acknowledged he foresaw. Mr. Sheridan then proceeded to state the whole of Mr. Eden's conduct which he attacked with great acrimony, as scandalously unfair to the new ministers, who, he was convinced, had the fairest intentions towards Ireland; yet if he declared himself so decided an enemy to the
principle of the declaratory law in question, which he had always regarded as a tyrannous usurpation in this country, that though he could not but reprobate the motives which influenced the present mover for its repeal, yet if the house divided on it he should vote with him. With regard to the fair representation of the intentions of the new ministers, which the honourable
gentleman had been called on by the noble lord, who seconded the motion, to give to the Irish on his return, he could give but little credit to his intentions on that head ; it was his business, and his direct and explicit duty, to have given a fair representation, and full information of the state of Ireland to his majesty's present ministers here, for which purpose he had been sent to London. He had deserted that duty, and from motives of private pique and resentment, had withheld all information from them on the subject. It was but reasonable, therefore, to suppose, that the same principles would direct his conduct on his return to Ireland, and the same little motives of resentment would lead him to withhold from the parliament of that country the satisfactory information of the intentions of the new ministers, though it were equally his duty to report it.
He then animadverted on the assertion of the solicitor gene. ral, that every attention had been given by the late ministers to prevent these jealousies rising in Ireland, which he said was so far from being the case, that the whole of the present commotions there were chargeable to their scandalous neglect, in hay. ing suffered the name of Ireland to be inserted in no less than five British acts of parliament; one of which had been published by the secretary himself in the Dublin Gazette, after they had given the Irish the most solemn assurances, that this claim should never be attempted to be exercised in a single instance. Mr. Grattan had produced these acts in the Irish House of Com. mons, and this apparent violation of faith with them it was, which had roused the present spirit of jealousy and resentment in their parliament, as well as among the volanteers. He con. cluded with repeating his call on Mr. Eden, to withdraw his motion, and not to mangle and disgrace a good and honourable cause, through the selfish motives of party, pique, and private disappointment.
The speaker was again proceeding to put the question, when
Mr. Eden rose once more, and, after some hesitation and ex, planation, consented to withdraw his motion.
No. LXV. a.
DEBATE UPON IRISH AFFAIRS IN THE BRITISH HOUSE OF
MARQUIS of Rockingham rose, and entered into a long, computative, and arithmetical detail, shewing the comparative ability of Ireland to bear burdens, to what it had been at former periods, not far distant. His lordship’s opening was chiefly directed to meet such objections as he imagined might be made against the proofs he meant to adduce, of the real distress of Ireland. His detail was accurate and important, as it presented two objects worthy the attention of the British administration ; first, so far as the consequences might be supposed to affect them personally; secondly, as it might probably affect, and that in a most serious manner, the people of Great Britain. He first stated the revenues of Ireland, the outgoings and savings in the year 1775, during the administration of the late Marquis of Hartington, afterwards Duke of Devonshire, and proceeding regularly, through each successive administration, till he brought it down to the present viceroy, Lord Buckinghamshire. In 1755, and for some years after, the whole of the civil and military establishment amounted, for the two years, that being the mode of voting the parliamentary grants of that kingdom, to about 1,200,000). on an average, 600,000l. per annum ; whereas, of late years, the grants were little short of 2,000,000l. or 1,000,000). per annum. At that period too, in the course of five years peace, the debts contracted during the preceding war had not only been paid off, but there was a surplus of 260,000l. in the national treasury, the greater part of which was applied to public uses, such as canals, churches, bridges, &c. in bounties for the encouragement, and promoting the extension of agriculture, arts and manufactures, land-carriage of corn, carrying it coastwise, to the Dublin Society, linen manufacture, and the fisheries. His lordship made a progressive statement of the grants and taxes, the civil and military establishments, and pension list, under each successive administration, that of the Duke of Bedford, Lord Halifax, Duke of Northumberland, and the Lords Weymouth, Bristol, Townshend, Harcourt, and the present viceroy, in the course of which he shewed, that the public expenditure imperceptibly increased in each respective branch. He stated, that a debt was necessarily incurred during the late war, as the olitgoings exceeded the public income. But what rendered the condition of Ireland a most extraordinary one indeed, and contrary to the usage of all other states under the sun, was, that after the peace of 1762, instead of paying off the debts incurred during the preceding war, they yearly continued to augment gradually and regularly, for the last fifteen years of peace; a circumstance not paralleled in any country he ever heard or read of; nay, more, that the debt increased in opposition to new taxes. Taxes, in the course of the last four sessions, were laid on; money was uniformly borrowed; and, at the end of the two years, when the national accounts came to be settled, fresh deficiencies appeared on each new loan, and fresh taxes were laid on, in consequence. of them. In short, it was a mode of policy adopted, that of taxing and borrowing and pledging the public faith, till not a shilling more could be procured. A tontine scheme, or a plan of paying an high interest on annuities granted upon lives, with benefit of survivorship, was the first; this not answering the exigencies of government, stamp duties were then laid on; and lastly, a vote of credit; notwithstanding which, such was the exhausted, impoverished state of that country, that no money could be procured upon so precarious a se·curity. Indeed, the security amounted to no more than a mere national engagement, that the public creditors would be paid some time or other: but that the funds offered as a specific security would prove equally deficient and unproductive, with those, which had caused the very necessity of the desired loan. The debt still continued to accumulate, and in the year 1777, the expenditure exceeded the receipts in the sum of 260,0001. So long as England continued in a prosperous situation, though Ireland were drained, she had recourse to this country; but such was the state of both countries, in the spring of 1778, although the revenues of Ireland were hawked about London streets, and offered to be mortgaged for the sum of 300,000l. a single shilling could not be procured or borrowed upon them. After dwelling on those circumstances for a considerable time, he opened another head of argument, that of the immediate distresses of Ireland, which, he said, must in the end materially affect the commerce and manufactures of Great Britain. His lordship stated the average of the exports to that kingdom, both from Scotland and England, for the last eleven years, ending 1777. From Scotland, upwards of three millions ; from England, upwards of eighteen millions: or from Scotland, 300,0001. and a fraction ; from England, 1,600,000l. and a fraction yearly; the whole making twenty-two millions, or upwards of two millions a year, British export. It might be said, does not Great Britain take the linen, provisions, &c. of Ireland in return? Certainly ; but it was to be considered on which side the balance lay, whether in favour of this or that country. He then, from authentic papers, shewed that the balance of trade in favour of Scotland was above a million and a half, and in favour of England above five millions, for these last eleven years. This led him to his grand conclusion, that of motives of interest; because, by the accounts, at last made up, it appeared, that the exports to Ireland for the last year had decreased one fourth : for in 1777 it was upwards of two millions, in 1778 under a mil. lion and a half. His lordship entered into several circumstances, which came within his own knowledge, particularly in the West Riding of the county of York: by the last returns of the number of broad woollens manufactured in that district, it appeared, that there had been twenty-one thousand pieces less than the ave. rage of several years before, and eight thousand narrows, or forest cloths; that he had made it his business to enquire the reason, and found it had been the failure of the trade of Ireland. He some time since conversed with a very considerable manufacturer in his neighbourhood in the country, relative to the state of the trade of Ireland, so far as it was connected with the woollen manufacture carried on in the West Riding of York, who constantly every year went over to Dublin to take orders, and who assured him by a letter received from his correspondent in that city, he was warned not to come or send; for he could not ensure safety to either his property or person. His lordship, besides the proof of the poverty of Ireland, by its daily incurring new debts, the insufficiency of the funds appropriated for the payment of interest and annuitics, payable to the public creditors; the almost bankrupt state of the exchequer, and several other evidences of a similar nature, mentioned the circumstance of our being obliged to provide, in the committee of supply of the present year, 64,000). for the pay of six regiments of foot, and one of dragoons, serving in America, or consent to have them disbanded. His lordship then proceeded to enumerate the several petitions sent by some of the counties of Ireland, the associations at the Tolsel in Dublin, and at several of the county meetings, particularly at Cork, Kilkenny, Wicklow, and Ros. common, some of them expressly resolving not to import, or use, or purchase, any of the manufactures of this country;.... others, iess violent, Cork in particular, not to purchase or use any goods, but such as were manufactured in that kingdom. His lordship earnestly, nay, very warmly, pressed the necessity there was for giving Ireland relief, upon every principle of gra. titude, interest, and sound' policy, and pointed out the danger of irritating the people, lest, by being driven to extremities, they might in an act of despair, be forced into resistance. He expatiated greatly on their loyalty to the government, and their reverence, zeal, and affection for the people of this country; it would therefore, he thought, as a mere matter of policy, be ex.