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And whether, if they had so

proved beneficial to the colonies themselves, they were not likely, in proportion as the principles of free trade should be carried still further, and be still more developed, to benefit the mother country herself, who derived from them so much of her supplies. If the fact were so, he would ask whether it was possible that we, trading in the same productions, but

maintaining the trade of these,

colonies at other duties than were imposed on our own trade with other countries, and meeting our colonial produce in other markets, therefore, under such different duties, could hope to continue a competition in those markets, in the long run, successfully He would ask, whether if they did continue this monopoly, and this exclusive system of duties, they would not only be weakening the attachment of the colonies to the mother country, but be weakening also the general commerce of the country itself? He demanded, therefore, whether this present system of monopoly and restriction was practically safe, and politically wise, in respect to the interests and the trade of the mother country? Again he called upon the house to recollect the great political and commercial changes which had been going on during the last 50 years, and which had more or less affected all the countries extending from the St. Lawrence to Cape Horn; and to consider whether, amidst the number of reflections that would be excited by such changes as must affect a great maritime power like Great Britain, they were not called upon to view them, particularly in relation to such

immense possessions, both insular and continental, as we still retained in those parts of the new world? If they looked at the rapidly increasing growth, and the present state of the commerce of the United States of America, then, again, the house must entertain the consideration of that commerce with a reference to the commerce, the trading interests, and navigation of our own country. All these were matters which it peculiarly became those hon. gentlemen who had the interests, and who might be said to have the charge, of British commerce at heart, maturely to weigh and to consider. It had been for centuries the policy of all the great states of Europe, having dependencies which they held in the nature of colonies, to make the dependencies, in all respects, altogether subservient to the interests, or the supposed interests, however, of the mother country. He believed that he might safely say, there was no country which in the application of those principles of colonial policy that he had mentioned, and which were evidenced in the imposition of prohibitions on the one hand, and the grant of relaxations on the other, had proceeded with so much regularity as Great Britain. To prove this position, he should first apply himself to the case of Ireland. Hon. gentlemen must know that in the year 1780, Ireland was, as to all matters relative to navigation and commerce, treated as a colonial dependency of Great Britain; and especially under the operation of an act of parliament passed in the reign of George I, (but since repealed); and in virtue of which act the English parliament had assumed

assumed the power so to treat her. It was not his intention to enter into any statements connected with the relative condition of that country at different periods, or with that misery and poverty which were so often, unhappily, the subjects of complaint and regret. But it was material to observe of her, that up to the year 1780– only 45 years ago—she was held in a state of the most rigid subservience to the supposed interests of Great Britain—not only as to her external commerce, but even as to her manufactures, and the produce of her internal industry and invention. It was in the year 1778 that certain proposals were made in the English parliament with a view to obtain some relaxations of the commercial restraints imposed upon the trade of Ireland. It was proposed, among other things, to allow Ireland to have a direct trade with our sugar colonies, limited to the purpose and extent of supplying her own wants as to that produce. It was proposed, moreover, to allow her to export certain of her own manufactures, such as glass, to other countries; but all such exportation of her woollens was to be strictly prohibited. Those propositions were submitted in 1778; and how were they received by parliament? On the part of the country and of that house, a most violent opposition to those suggestions was exp." It was contended in that

ouse, that Ireland had already received great boons from this country; and that to give her any more, would infallibly pave the way to the ruin of our commerce, our agriculture, and our navigation. And that with the boons which had been already granted

to her, Ireland ought to be satisfied. And what were the boons which, in the commercial wisdom and liberality of those days, were thought sufficient to satisfy the reasonable expectations of Ireland? England being then at war with America, her parliament passed an act, (which was only a temporary one, however, and continued from year to year) empowering her to export her butter and beef to our colonies in the West Indies, which could no longer be supplied from America. But another measure was hailed, at that time, as the greatest of all boons; for whereas Ireland had then a separate army, and a separate establishment, in part equipped and paid out of her own means— which Irish army, moreover, had been sent to fight our battles in America; and which it was then proposed to equip at our proper expense—it was absolutely proposed, as the greatest of boons, to allow Ireland to “clothe” it with her own manufactures. From the great manufacturing districts and other places, petitions from the various interests who thought themselves likely to be aggrieved poured into parliament againsteven these grants; and, in effect, they were refused. He had looked back for those petitions, and examined the language of some of them, in order to see how far the liberality of the proposals to which they related really went, and what was the foundation of those prejudices, which were now, he hoped, extinct, although they had formerly exercised so powerful an influence. There were several of these petitions. In that from Glasgow, the petitioners prayed “that neither then, northereafter, might any any favour be granted to Ireland which could in any way be prejudicial to Great Britain.” And so far he was heartily disposed to concur at all times in their prayer. But they went on to state that the latter, meaning Great Britain and the city of Glasgow in particular, “had an hereditary right to the sugar trade.” The petition of Manchester went still further; for it gave a colour to the question of extending something like a favourable relaxation in the old system to the trade of Ireland, as if it were one, in its consequences, resolving itself into a question of loyalty and allegiance. As to Liverpool, (and he now quoted the very words of the Liverpool petition,) the townspeople represented that if the proposals in favour of Ireland should be acceded to, “ the town and port of Liverpool must be reduced very speedily to its original insignificance.” It was not, perhaps, very extraordinary, considering the clamour which was raised by so many great trading interests, that it became impossible to sustain proposals, even of this moderate nature, in behalf of Irish trade. In the year 1779, after the experience of the fate which attended that first attempt, a much more limited proposal was made to the house—namely, to allow Ireland to go into the market just to buy as much sugar as she wanted for her own consumption, but dropping all the other advantages of the trade in that produce; but this proposition was also negatived. At the end of the year 1779, however, the progress of events in America, and the condition of alarm in which Ireland was placed, led to the entertainment by the English parliament of different

views, and state necessity was thought to justify the concession of that which colonial policy and commercial illiberality or prejudice had so long refused to grant. In the year 1782 all the boons that had been asked for were confirmed by the parliament's repealing irrevocably that act under which a system had been enforced so ominous to the trade of Ireland. Afterwards surther measures of relaxation were adopted, and continued to the time of the union. At the union the system was still further relaxed, and other beneficial measures had been adopted since that time. Thus the act allowing the exportation of grain out of Ireland was a great relief to her trade. So the legislature had proceeded from time to time to adopt similar steps, until about two years ago they were enabled to repeal the last of those restrictions which the old policy had imposed on Irish commerce, and which were called the union duties. The commercial relations of the two countries were at the same time put upon the footing of what might be called a simple coasting trade. He had now given the committee very shortly the history of the restrictive system of Ireland: it had been founded by prejudice and ignorance; and the legislature had at last arrived at this result— that it was proper to be destroyed. And he would ask any man in England or Scotland, whether any one of those evils which their predictions had anticipated had really accrued to the manufactures, commerce or navigation of Great Britain from the granting of this relief to Ireland 7 But he would ask them, too, whether—whatever might be, in point of fact, the - benefit benefit which Ireland had reaped from that relief—this country had not also derived the full advantages that always attended a free unfettered trade 7. He would call upon those whom he was now happy to call his enlightened colleagues, the townsmen of Liverpool, to look back on those alarms and apprehensions which agitated them when they sent up the petition he had adverted to, in which they expressed themselves afraid that their town would revert back to its original insignificance. He would beg his colleagues to tell him whether, to the rapid growth of their trade and of the town (an increase within the last 30 years almost without a parallel in the history of commercial improvement), any thing had more contributed than free trade with Ireland— a trade in which Liverpool participated more largely, possibly, than any other town in Great Britain; notwithstanding these very arguments which it had put forth, at the first dawn of that free intercourse, to show that it could anticipate from such an event nothing but its own annihilation. When he stated this case of Ireland, let it be observed, he stated a case that laboured under every disadvantage; for the benefits that the new system of regulations was calculated to confer upon her had been very much impeded by the events of the last 80 years—by the civil disturbances of which Ireland was unfortunately the scene—by the consequent destruction of property that ensued—by the long and unfortunate war which followed, in which we were so long engaged, and which compelled us to call upon her for pecuniary aid to an extent that her resources

were not adequate to satisfy. Notwithstanding these drawbacks on its operation, the new system had tended to confer very great benefits both on England and Ireland; and England, by extending it to that part of her empire, had been spared the pain of finding herself in a situation of rapid improvement and increased knowledge and wealth, while Ireland should remain (as she must have done, had the restrictive plan been continued) in a condition of comparative poverty and decay, and behind all the world in intelligence and the development of her resources. It was, perhaps, necessary for him again to advert to those prejudices which not more than 40 years ago formed a part of the colonial policy of this country. He must allude to the period of the American war. Into the circumstances, however, of that war with North America, into the causes which led to, and the facts which were connected with it, he would not now enter. Were he to do so, it might no longer, perhaps, excite any feeling of animosity or jealousy, but he might not succeed in making out that sort of case which the committee, as Englishmen, would always look to as the foundation of what they could consider a just and necessary war. But those circumstances, such as they were, produced a separation of those countries from our dominion, which led to events that could not be irrelevant to the subject of colonial possessions. Apart, however, from all other considerations—not looking to the United States in reference to their separation from any political thraldom, but considering that reparation in the light, merely of a

question

question of commerce and commercial advantages—he begged to ask whether any hon. gentleman who heard him was of opinion that that event had been attended with any prejudice to our interests? If gentlemen thought that any such prejudice had been sustained by us, then he would ask the committee to consider the case of other colonies, also released from political thraldom, but still retaining their dependence on Great Britain; their seamen forming part of our seamen, their commercial marine part of ours, their population part of our people, and contributing largely to their support. Was it not worth while, in such instances, to give to those colonies all the benefit of a free trade, while they would still have the benefit of their former connexion with, and dependence on, the British empire 7 Was it not worth while to form out of them, the advantages that must arise from such an accession of strength to the British empire, and the interests of British commerce, still preserving them in allegiance to the British crown? Seeing, them, what the united states of America now were, in point of commerce and navigation—looking to those vast states which were now forming in other parts of the continent of America—adverting to the immense changes that must be effected in all our commercial interests by the gradual consolidation of those altered relations which were now forming between the old and new world—anticipating the prodigious commercial benefits that must now rapidly diffuse themselves over that boundless ocean which might be said to connect the western shores of one

quarter of the globe with the eastern coasts of the other—and looking to the vital interest which Great Britain must always have in the maintenance of her maritime greatness, he hoped he should not be accused of harbouring any unfriendly feeling towards the united states of America, or any other power, or of contemplating any thing else but the fair and honourable race of commercial competition in proceeding to consider by what means the commerce and navigation of Great Britain might be best secured against the navigation and commerce of other states. He should here state, that he thought the conclusion at which the committee must arrive from the premises he had stated, would be this—that a system of exclusion and monopoly did certainly tend to impede and cramp (at the least) the energies and the prosperity of our colonies. He maintained, in the next place, that the legitimate inference to be drawn from that conclusion was, that any system having this tendency to cramp and impede the prosperity of our colonies, must be also prejudicial to the prosperity of the parent state, in all that concerned its commerce and navigation; because the parent state must be affected by that which operated on the prosperity of its colonial connexions, from whence it drew a portion of its supplies. Begging the committee to bear in mind this general conclusion and inference which he had drawn from the premises he had laid down, he next proceeded to consider what was the present state of our colonial system with respect to the commerce of our colonies— what relaxations of our colonial

system

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