George Augustine Thomas O'Brien.

The economic history of Ireland in the eighteenth century online

. (page 23 of 38)
Online LibraryGeorge Augustine Thomas O'BrienThe economic history of Ireland in the eighteenth century → online text (page 23 of 38)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


in Ireland, and taking on board there any of the goods of
the growth, produce, or manufacture of that kingdom ;
and that no ships be allowed to clear out from Ireland for
any of the said countries, but such ships as shall be
freighted by the said company, and which shall have sailed
from the port of London ; and that whenever the commerce
to the said country shall cease to be carried on solely by
such an exclusive company, the goods, the growth, pro-
duce, or manufacture of the said countries beyond the
Cape of Good Hope, to the Straits of Magellan, should
be importable into Ireland from the same countries from
which they may be importable into Great Britain, and no
other.

X. That no prohibition should exist in either country
against their importation, use, or sale of any article the
growth, product, or manufacture of the other, except such
as either kingdom may judge expedient from time to time
upon corn, meal, malt, flour, and biscuits ; and except such
qualified prohibitions at present contained in any Act of
the British or Irish Parliaments, as do not absolutely
prevent the importation of goods or manufactures, or
materials of manufactures, but only regulate the weight,
the size, the package, or other particular circumstances,
or prescribe the build or country, and dimensions of
the ships importing the same ; and also except on ammuni-
tion, arms, gunpowder, and other utensils of war
importable only by virtue of His Majesty's licenses; and



200



TUF ECONOMIC HISTORY OF IRELAND



that the duty on the importation of every such article (if
subject to duty in either country) should be precisely the
same in one country as in the other, except where an
addition may be necessary in either country, in conse-
quence of an internal bounty in the country where such
article is grown, produced, or manufactured, and except
such duties as either kingdom may judge expedient from
time to time upon corn, meal, malt, flour, and biscuits.

XL That in all cases where the duties on articles of
the growth, produce, or manufacture of either country,
are different on the importation into the other, it is
expedient that they should be reduced in the kingdom
where they are the highest, to the amount not exceeding
the amount payable in the other, so that the same shall
not be less than ten and a half per centum upon any
article which was charged with a duty on importation into
Ireland of ten and a half per centum, or upwards, on the
17th day of May, 1782 ; and that all such articles shall be
exportable from each kingdom into which they shall be
imported, as free from duties as the similar commodities
of home manufacture in the same kingdom.

XII, That it is also proper that in all cases where the
articles of the consumption of either kingdom shall be
charged with an external duty on the manufacture, the
same manufacture, when imported from the other, may
be charged with a farther duty on importation, adequate
to countervail the internal duty on the manufacture, except
in the case of beer imported into Ireland, as far as relates
to the duties now charged thereon ; such farther duty to
continue so long only as the internal consumption shall
be charged with the duty or duties to balance which it shall
be imposed ; and that where there is a duty on the raw
material of any manufacture in either kingdom, less than
the duty on the like raw material in the other, or equal to
such duty, such manufacture may, on its importation into
the other kingdom, be charged with such a countervailing
duty as may be sufficient to subject the same, so imported,
to burthens adequate to those which the manufacture



IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY. 261

composed of the like raw materials is subject to, in con-
sequence of duties on such material in the kingdom into
which such manufacture is so imported ; and that the said
manufacture so imported shall be entitled to such draw-
backs or bounties on exportation as may leave the same
subject to no heavier burthen than the home-made
manufacture.

XIII. That in order to give permanency to the settle-
ment now intended to be established; it is necessary that
no new or additional duties should be hereafter imposed
in either kingdom on the importation of any article of the
growth, product, or manufacture of the other, except such
additional duties as may be requisite to balance duties on
internal consumption, pursuant to the foregoing resolu-
tion, or in consequence of bounties remaining on such
article when exported from the other kingdom.

XIV. That for the same purpose it is necessary
farther, that no new prohibition or new or additional
duties should be hereafter imposed in either kingdom on
the exportation of any article of native growth, produce,
or manufacture, from the one kingdom to the other, except
such as either kingdom may deem expedient from time to
time, upon corn, meal, malt, flour, and biscuits.

XV. That for the same purpose it is necessary that
no bounties whatsoever should be paid or payable in
either kingdom, on the exportation of any article to the
other, except such as relates to corn, meal, malt, flour, and
biscuits, and except also the bounties at present given by
Great Britain on beer and spirits distilled from corn, and
such as are in the nature of drawbacks or compensations
for duties paid ; and that no bounties should be payable
in Ireland on the exportation of any article to anv British
colonies or plantations, or to the British settlements on
the coast of Africa, or on the exportation of any imported
article from the British plantations, or from the British
settlements on the coast of Africa, or British settlements
in the East Indies, or any manufacture made of such
articles, unless in cases where a similar bounty is payable



262 THE ECONOMIC HISTORY OF IRELAND

in Great Britain on exportation from thence, or where such
bounty is merely in the nature of a drawback or compen-
sation of or for duties paid over and above any duties paid
thereon in Great Britain ; and that where an internal
bounty shall be given in either kingdom on any goods
manufactured therein, and shall remain on such goods
when exported, a countervailing duty adequate thereto
may be laid upon the importation of the said goods into
the other kingdom.

XVI. That it is expedient for the general benefit of
the British Empire, that the importation of articles from
foreign countries should be regulated from time to time
in each kingdom on such terms as may effectually favour
the importation of similar articles of growth, produce, or
manufacture of the other, except in the case of materials
or manufacture which are or hereafter may be allowed to
be imported from foreign countries duty free; and that in
all cases where any articles are or may be subject to
higher duties on importation into this kingdom from the
countries belonging to any of the States of North America
than the like goods are or may be subject to when imported
as the growth, produce, or manufacture of the British
colonies and plantations, or as the produce of the fisheries
carried on by British subjects, such articles shall be sub-
ject to the same duties on importation into Ireland from
the countries belonging to any of the States of North
America as the same are or may be subject to an impor-
tation from the said countries into this kingdom.

XVII. That it is expedient that such privileges of
printing and vending books, as are or may be legally
possessed within Great Britain, under the grant of the
Crown or otherwise, and the copyrights of the authors and
booksellers of great Britain, should continue to be pro-
tected in the manner they are at present by the laws of
Great Britain ; and that it is just that measures should be
taken by the Parliament of Ireland, for giving the like
protection to similar rights and privileges in that kingdom.

XMII. That it is expedient that the regulations should



IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY. 263

be adopted with respect to patents to be hereafter granted
for the encouragement of new inventions, so that the
rights, privileges, and restrictions therein granted and
contained shall be of equal force and duration, throughout
Great Britain and Ireland.

XIX. That it is expedient that measures should be
taken to prevent disputes touching the exercise of the
right of the inhabitants of each kingdom to fish on the
coasts of any part of the British dominions.

XX. That the appropriation of whatever sum the
gross hereditary revenue of the kingdom of Ireland (the due
collection thereof being secured by permanent provisions)
shall produce after deducting all drawbacks, repayments,
or bounties granted in the nature of drawbacks, over
and above the sum of six hundred and fifty-six thousand
pounds in each year, towards the support of the naval
force of the Empire, to be applied in such manner as the
Parliament of Ireland shall direct, by an Act to be passed
for that purpose, will be a satisfactory provision, propor-
tioned to the growing prosperity of that kingdom, towards
defraying in time of peace the necessary expenses of pro-
tecting the trade and general interests of the Empire.

Although it is quite obvious that the twenty resolutions
promised very much less benefit to Ireland than the
eleven propositions, they were, nevertheless, strenuously
opposed in the British Parliament. Fox attacked them
in a speech of great eloquence, but, in spite of the opposi-
tion, they were passed, and were then sent to Ireland to
be laid before the Irish Parliament.

In Ireland, the twenty resolutions met with a storm of
opposition both in and out of Parliament. Dublin was
flooded with pamphlets, in which they were condemned.
The changes which gave the most offence were those
proposed by the fourth resolution dealing with Navi-
gation Laws — which was felt to be an attack on the
freedom of the Irish Parliament to legislate — and the
exception of the East Indian trade. It was pointed out by
the pamphleteers that the resolutions really gave Ireland



2G4 THE ECONOMIC HISTORY OF IRELAND

nothing which she had not already, and only made her
position worse. " Ireland has at present," said one
writer, " the market with the British Colonies in the West
Indies and on the coast of Africa open to her merchants
on the same terms as it is open to Britain. After the
expiration of the present charter of the Company to
America, the East Indies will be also open to her. Her
trade with the United States is unclogged and unfettered,
a trade which has been the great object of her commercial
desires, which alone would afford a market to all her
articles of export. To all the countries of Europe, Great
Britain excepted, she can export every article of her mer-
chandise, whether native or imported, and she can then
bring back in return every article she wishes without any
restraint. In every one of these branches, which embrace
the whole trade that Ireland does or can enjoy, the new
system in this amended state will operate to her dis-
advantage.'" " Ireland, after such an agreement,
attempting to enter into any competition as a manufac-
turing or commercial country with Great Britain, would
be like a child who, after submitting to have his hands
and feet bound, should attempt to wrestle with Hercules.'"
The same writer pointed out the significant difference
between the first resolution in its original form and as
amended: " It may not be amiss to observe," he says,
" that the very object of the whole settlement has been
altered by Mr. Pitt, for, as originally proposed in Ireland,
it was to encourage and extend as much as possible the
trade between the two kingdoms, but Mr. Pitt rejects the
idea of extending the trade and confines his object to
regulate. . . . Ireland ought not to grant any other con-
siderations for a participation of commercial advantages

but a like indulgence to Great Britain any

pecuniary compensation would be a tribute."' Of the
fourth proposition he remarks: "Everything that

1 Letter from Irish Gentleman in London to his Friend in Dublin. 1785.
^Candid Revieie of Mr. Pitts Twenty Resolutions, attributed to Forbes. 1785.
8 Candid Review.



IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY. 265

constitutes the independence of the Irish nation is to be
sacrificed by that resolution.'"

On Friday, 12th August, Mr. Orde asked leave to
bring in the twenty resolutions. The motion was
opposed by Grattan and Flood. Grattan stigmatised
the amended resolutions as a breach of faith : '* Mr. Pitt
was pledged to the eleven propositions ; this offer was the
propositions, ours the taxes ; he took the latter but forgets

the former The English could safely afford to

bargain for no new prohibitions — they had put on every
prohibition which might be of value long ago." Flood's
speech was a masterpiece of eloquent indignation ; he
strongly attacked the second resolution : " Mr. Orde, when
he first mentioned the idea of tribute, did so with a
trembling diffidence, and mentioned it not as a condition
with the British, but as stupendous generosity on the part
of Ireland. Then delicately and timorously it was ushered
in at the end of the propositions in the first stage, but in
the last exposition it stands immediately after the preamble
— and in a different form, as a peremptory command and
absolute condition." The third resolution galled him
particularly : " We read with surprise of a Roman Pontiff
granting one hemisphere to one prince, and another
hemisphere to another prince, but here we see half the
hemisphere cut off from Ireland under a parenthesis. This
proposition takes in another object, it strikes at our trade
in foreign spirits, and consequently must injure our whole
trade and intercourse with France, Spain and Portugal
and America." His comment on the tenth proposition
was as follows: — "The tenth proposition retains all pro-
hibitions now existing under British or Irish statutes ; in
the English statute book these are many, and the Acts
ought to have been specifically referred to that their extent
might be considered. In the Irish statutes we are rather
short in prohibitions as to anything that is British ; the
reciprocity in this instance is like the reciprocity in the
rest — a one-handed reciprocity. But this proposition

1 See also Mr. Pitt's Ref>ly to Mr. Orde. with a Defence of Truth, Dublin. 1785 ; and
Address to the King and People of Ireland, Dublin, 1785.

8



266



THK ECONOMIC HISTORY OF IRELAND



requires not only that the internal duties of the importing
country, but also the bounties of the exporting country,
should be brought into account, and that the counter-
vailing duty should be increased by both. The infancy
of our manufacturing trade and the poverty of our people
have forced us into a variety of bounties and encourage-
ments in order to give some spring to the languour of the
country. Every encouragement of this sort will be carried
to account against our trade, and will raise the amount of
the countervailing duty which is meant to protect the
market of Britain against the admission of Irish manufac-
turers — thus all our bounties so necessary to our weak-
ness must be relinquished, or will become a burden on the
export to that market of Britain, which is the only thing
offered to Ireland in exchange for the market of the
world." He also waxed indignant with justice over the
omission from the last resolution of the provision that
the revenue of Ireland should equal the expenditure before
any payment was made to Great Britain. In the end, leave
to bring in the Bill was voted by 127 to 108; such a small
majority, however, was equivalent to a defeat ; and Mr.
Orde did not proceed with the resolutions.

Ireland did not lose anything by the failure
of the Commercial Propositions to pass into law.
The grievance of which the Irish manufacturer com-
plained was not so much that he was unable to
compete successfully in the British market, as that
he was undersold by the British manufacturer in
Ireland. The obvious remedy for this state of affairs was
the imposition of protecting duties in Ireland, not the
abolition of such duties in Great Britain. The imposition
of such duties might or might not have been expedient in
view of the power of Great Britain to retaliate in other
directions, and, as we have seen, the better opinion in
Ireland was that such duties would have been unwise. It
was, therefore, necessary that some commercial treaty
should be signed with Great Britain, whereby Irish manu-
facturers might be protected. The eleven propositions



IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY. 267

were certainly not calculated to achieve this end ; instead
of raising tariffs, they lowered them ; and, furthermore,
took away from the Irish Parliament the power of granting
bounties on export. Mere equality of duties between
England and Ireland did not mean an equality of
encouragement for English and Irish industry; the Eng-
lish manufactures were worked on a large scale, and had
been established many years; the Irish, on the other hand,
were still in their infancy, and needed artificial encourage-
ment. Nothing less than higher duties in Ireland than in
England would have been adequate to meet the require-
ments of the Irish situation.

But whatever may be said in favour of the eleven
propositions, there is nothing at all to be said in favour
of the twenty resolutions. In addition to the disadvan-
tages to which we have drawn attention in the last
paragraph, they further fettered the liberty of the Irish
Parliament in a most important direction — the making of
laws regulating navigation. They also excluded the Irish
trader from the commerce of half the globe, and rejected
the one provision in the financial resolution on which the
Irish Parliament had insisted. The Irish Parliament
deserves nothing but praise for having rejected these
proposals.

The question of a commercial arrangement between
Ireland and England was raised again in 1794, when
Grattan proposed that the relations between the two
countries should be placed on a basis of complete reci-
procity. The Government, however, refused to go into
the question, owing to the lateness of the session, but it
appears that there was no objection on the part of the
English Government to the formation of such an arrange-
ment, and that there would have been no difficulty in
passing it through the Irish Parliament.* The subject,
however, was allowed to drop, and was not revived until
1796, when Grattan again proposed an equalisation of the
duties on import in England and Ireland. On this

1 Lecky, vol. iii., p. 188 ; I.P.D., vol. iv., p. 50.



268 THK ECONOMIC HISTORY OF IRELAND.

occasion the proposal was rejected by the House of
Commons.' Of course, the whole commercial relations
of the two countries were put on a new basis by the Act of
Union, a measure which, as we shall see, included all
the disadvantages and none of the advantages of the
Commercial Propositions.



' Lecky, vol. iii., p. 450.



CHAPTER XXII.

Irish Industries During the Period of Freedom,
(a) The Woollen Industry.

THE progress of the woollen industry during the period
of Grattan's Parliament cannot be judged solely by
the table of imports and exports. If we were to take the
table of exports as an index to the extent of the industry,
it would show that the woollen manufacture increased at
a rapid rate for the first few years of the free trade period,
and then declined to an almost negligible magnitude; but,
as a matter of fact, this was not the course which events
took, as towards the end of the century by far the greater
part of the wool manufactured in Ireland was used for
home consumption. We must remember that during the
years in question the population of Ireland, and conse-
quently the demand for all classes of goods, increased at a
rapid rate, and that this increase in population was, with
a great part of the community at least, accompanied by an
increase of prosperity. A more reliable index than the
table of exports of manufactured wool would be afforded
by the table of the exports of the raw material. We should
find, on examining this latter table, that the exports of
unmanufactured wool had sunk to nothing at the end of
the century, showing that the Irish manufacture was suffi-
ciently large to use up all the raw material which the
country produced.

Of course, it could not be expected that the woollen
manufacture, after the long course of depression which it



270 THE ECONOMIC HISTORY OF IRELAND

had gone through, could, by the mere repeal of the
restrictive legislation, spring back immediately to its
former prosperity and importance. During the greater
part of the century the art of the finer branches of the
woollen manufacture was forgotten in Ireland through
disuse; and, owing to the fact that the only branch of the
manufacture which was pursued during that period was
that of coarse stuffs, the quality of wool produced in the
country had deteriorated.' The great increase in the cattle
trade had, no doubt, operated to displace the sheep of the
country to a large extent by cattle, and this, coupled with
the inability of the Irish to import any English wool, was
a very serious hindrance to the rapid progress of the
woollen manufacture. Another cause which operated to
retard the revival of this manufacture was the competition
which was encountered in the Irish markets by the large
importations of English woollen goods, which were
allowed to be imported into Ireland on the payment of
5|d. a yard on old drapery, and less than 2d. a yard on
new. The Irish woollens were, of course, kept out of the
English markets by duties amounting to a prohibition.

Possibly the prosperity of the woollen manufacture was
further retarded on account of the fact that, as it grew,
it tended to become localised in Dublin, which was, of all
places in Ireland, the most unsuitable for the successful
growth of an industry, owing to the dearness of provisions
and consequent necessity for high wages, the bad con-
ditions of housing, the drinking habits which prevailed to
such a large extent, and the prevalence of an almost
chronic state of industrial unrest owing to the combina-
tions amongst the journeymen of the City. This last
circumstance was felt to be so serious that Parliament
made several efforts to move the industry into the country
by granting premiums on machinery set up more than ten
miles from Dublin.' Modern methods of manufacture were
very slow to appear in the wool industry, largely, it is to

1 Murray. Commercial Relations, p. 272.
«25 Geo. III., c. 48 : 27 Geo. III., c. 13, etc.



IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY.



271



be feared, owing to the attitude of the operatives in
Dublin. Wakefield, writing in 1814, noticed that the
state of the manufacture at that time had improved very
little from what it had been in the middle of the previous
century.'

It would not be surprising, in view of these many dis-
advantages, if the woollen industry had not increased at
all, but, as a matter of fact, it did thrive to a considerable
degree. The relaxation of the restrictions in 1779 was
followed by a great effort to produce large quantities of
wool for the Colonial market, and the exports from that
year until 1785 increased very rapidly, as is shown by the
following table' of exports : —



Year ended
March 25th


New Drapery


Old Drapery


Flannels




Yards


Yards


Yards


1780


8,653


494


230


1781


286,859


3,740


27,049


1782


336,607i


4,633


8,641


1783


538,061


40,589


11,416


1784


666,298


35,329


49,382


1785


770,0311


34,249|


60,542^



"The woollen manufacturers," says a writer in 1784,
" can contend in foreign markets with those competitors
who, if you believe themselves, are able to beat them in
the domestic market ; you see that they are gaining yearly
on those foreign competitors, though they themselves live
in the most unfit place in the Kingdom for any manufac-
ture — in the metropolis — in the city of sloth, drunkenness,
faction and dear provisions, and even then they can
increase in trade, so very favourable has the free trade
availed them.'" This great increase in export is certainly
very remarkable, but it is possible that a great deal of it
was more apparent than real, owing to the general
cessation, in 1779, of the smuggling of wool from the
country. In any event, it was an artificial increase, which

1 Wakefield, vol. i., p. 760. ^ Murray, Commercial Relations, p. 269.
^Letter to the Linen Manufacturers, Dublin, 1784; and see Sheffield, Trade of



Online LibraryGeorge Augustine Thomas O'BrienThe economic history of Ireland in the eighteenth century → online text (page 23 of 38)