« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
If you think that this participation was a loss, commercially considered, but that it has been compensated by the share which Scotland has taken in defraying the public charge, I believe you have not very carefully looked at the public accounts. Ireland, Sir, pays a great deal more than Scotland, and is perhaps as much and as effectually united to England as Scotland is. But if Scotland, instead of paying little, had paid nothing at all, we should be gainers, not losers, by acquiring the hearty coöperation of an active, intelligent people towards the increase of the common stock, instead of our being employed in watching and counteracting them, and their being employed in watching and counteracting us, with the peevish and churlish jealousy of rivals and enemies on both sides.
I am sure, Sir, that the commercial experience of the merchants of Bristol will soon disabuse them of the prejudice, that they can trade no longer, if countries more lightly taxed are permitted to deal in the same commodities at the same markets. You know, that, in fact, you trade very largely where you are met by the goods of all nations. You even pay high duties on the import of your goods, and afterwards undersell nations less taxed, at their own markets, and where goods of the same kind are not charged at all. If it were otherwise, you'could trade very little. You know that the price of all sorts of manufacture is not a great deal enhanced (except to the domestic consumer) by any taxes paid in this coun try. This I might very easily prove.
The same consideration will relieve you from the apprehension you express with relation to sugars, and the difference of the duties paid here and in Ire
land. Those duties affect the interior consumer only, and for obvious reasons, relative to the interest of revenue itself, they must be proportioned to his ability of payment; but in all cases in which sugar can be an object of commerce, and therefore in this view) of rivalship, you are sensible that you are at least on a par with Ireland. As to your apprehensions concerning the more advantageous situation of Ireland for some branches of commerce, (for it is so but for some,) I trust you will not find them more serious. Milford Haven, which is at your door, may serve to show you that the more advantage of ports is not the thing which shifts the seat of commerce from one part of the world to the other. If I thought you in
I clined to take up this matter on local considerations, I should state to you, that I do not know any part of the kingdom so well situated for an advantageous commerce with Ireland as Bristol, and that none would be so likely to profit of its prosperity as our city. But your profit and theirs must concur. Beggary and bankruptcy are not the circumstances which invite to an intercourse with that or with any country; and I believe it will be found invariably true, that the superfluities of a rich nation furnishi a better object of trade than the necessities of a poor one. It is the interest of the commercial world that wealth should be found everywhere.
The true ground of fear, in my opinion, is this: that Ireland, from the vicious system of its internal polity, will be a long time before it can derive any benefit from the liberty now granted, or from any thing else. But, as I do not vote advantages in hopes that they may not be enjoyed, I will not lay any stress upon this consideration. I rather wish that the Parliainent of Ireland may, in its own wisdom, remove these impediments, and put their country in a condition to avail itself of its natural advantages. If they do not, the fault is with them, and not with us.
I have written this long letter in order to give all possible satisfaction to my constituents with regard to the part I have taken in this affair. It gave me inexpressible concern to find that my conduct had been a cause of uneasiness to any of them. Next to my honor and conscience, I have nothing so near and dear to me as their approbation. However, I had much rather run the risk of displeasing than of injuring them,- if I am driven to make such an option. You obligingly lament that you are not to have me for your advocate ; but if I had been capable of acting as an advocate in opposition to a plan so perfectly consonant to my known principles, and to the opinions I had publicly declared on an hundred occasions, I should only disgrace myself, without supporting, with the smallest degree of credit or effect, the cause you wished me to undertake. I should have lost the only thing which can make such abilities as mine of any use to the world now or hereafter : I mean that authority which is derived from an opinion that a member speaks the language of truth and sincerity, and that he is not ready to take up or lay down a great political system for the convenience of the hour, that he is in Parliament to support his opinion of the public good, and does not form his opinion in order to get into Parliament, or to continue in it. It is in a great measure for your sake that I wish to preserve this character. Without it, I am sure, I should be ill able to discharge, by any service, the smallest part of that debt of gratitude and affection which I owe you
for the great and honorable trust you have reposed in me. I am, with the highest regard and esteem, Sir, Your most obedient and humble servant,
E. B. BEACONSFIELD, 23rd April, 1778.
COPY OF A LETTER TO MESSRS. ******* ****** AND
GENTLEMEN, It gives me the most sensible concern to find that my vote on the resolutions relative to the trade of Ireland has not been fortunate enough to meet with your approbation. I have explained at large the grounds of my conduct on that occasion in my letters to the Merchants' Hall; but my very sincere regard and esteem for you will not permit me to let the matter pass without an explanation which is particular to yourselves, and which I hope will prove satisfactory to you.
You tell me that the conduct of your late member is not much wondered at; but you seem to be at a loss to account for mine ; and you lament that I have taken so decided a part against my constituents.
This is rather an heavy imputation. Does it, then, really appear to you that the propositions to which you refer are, on the face of them, so manifestly wrong, and so certainly injurious to the trade and manufactures of Great Britain, and particularly to yours, that no man could think of proposing or supporting them, except from resentment to you, or from some other oblique motive? If you suppose your late member, or if you suppose me, to act upon other reasons than we choose to avow, to what do you attribute the conduct of the other members, who in the beginning almost unanimously adopted those resolutions ? To what do you attribute the strong part taken by the ministers, and, along with the ministers, by several of their most declared opponents? This does not indicate a ministerial job, a party design, or a provincial or local purpose. It is, therefore, not so absolutely clear that the measure is wrong, or likely to be injurious to the true interests of any place or any person.
The reason, Gentlemen, for taking this step, at this time, is but too obvious and too urgent. I cannot imagine that you forget the great war which has been carried on with so little success (and, as I thought, with so little policy) in America, or that you are not aware of the other great wars which are impending. Ireland has been called upon to repel the attacks of enemies of no small power, brought upon her by councils in which she has had no share. The very purpose and declared object of that original war, which has brought other wars and other enemies on Ireland, was not very flattering to her dignity, her interest, or to the very principle of her liberty. Yet she submitted patiently to the evils she suffered from an attempt to subdue to your obedience countries whose very commerce was not open to her. America was to be conquered in order that Ireland should not trade thither; whilst the miserable trade which she is permitted to carry on to other places has been torn to pieces in the struggle. In this situation, are we neither to suffer her to have any real interest