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THAT ALL THE LADIES AND WOMEN OF IRELAND
SHOULD APPEAR CONSTANTLY IN
IRISH MANUFACTURES. 1729.
THERE was a treatise written about nine years ago, to persuade the people of Ireland to wear their own manufactures. This treatise was allowed to have not one syllable in it of party or disaffection; wholly founded upon the growing poverty of the nation, occasioned by the utter want of trade, except the ruinous importation of all foreign extravagances from other countries. This treatise was presented by the grand jury of the city and county of Dublin, as a scandalous, seditious, and factious pamphlet. I forget who was the foreman of the city grand jury; but the foreman for the county was one Dr. Seal, register to the archbishop of Dublin, wherein he differed much from the sentiments of his lord. The printer was tried before the late Mr. Whitshed, that famous lord-chief-justice; who, on the bench, laying his hand on his heart declared upon his salvation “That the author was a jacobite, and had a design to beget a quarrel between the two nations.” In the midst of this prosecution about 1500 weavers were forced to beg their bread, and had a general contribution made for their relief, which just served to make them drunk for a week; and then they were forced to turn rogues, or strolling beggars, or to leave the kingdom.
The duke of Grafton, who was then lieutenant, being perfectly ashamed of so infamous and unpopular a proceeding, obtained from England a noli prosequi for the printer. Yet the grand jury had solemn thanks given them from the secretary of state.
I mention this passage (perhaps too much forgotten) to show how dangerous it has been for the best-meaning person to write one syllable in the defence of his country, or discover the miserable condition it is in.
And to prove this truth, I will produce one instance more; wholly omitting the famous cause of the drapier and the proclamation against him, as well as the perverseness of another jury against the same Mr. Whitshed, who was violently bent to act the second part in another scene.
About two years ago there was a small paper printed which was called "A Short View of the State of Ireland,” relating to the several causes whereby any country may grow rich, and applying them to Ireland. Whitshed was dead, and consequently the printer was not troubled. Mist, the famous journalist, happened to reprint this
paper in London, for which his press-folk were prosecuted for almost a twelvemonth ; and for aught I know are not yet discharged.
This is our case; insomuch, that although I am often without money in my pocket, I dare not own it in some company for fear of being thought disaffected.
But since I am determined to take care that the author of this paper shall not be discovered (following herein the most prudent practice of the drapier), I will venture to affirm that the three seasons wherein our corn has miscarried did no more contribute to our present misery, than one spoonful of water thrown upon a rat already drowned would contribute to his death; and that the present plentiful harvest, although it should be followed by a dozen ensuing, would no more restore us than it would the rat aforesaid to put him near the fire, which might indeed warm his fur coat, but never bring him back to life.
The short of the matter is this: the distresses of the kingdom are operating more and more every day, by very large degrees, and so have been doing for above a dozen years past.
If you demand whence these distresses have arisen, I desire to ask the following question:
If two-thirds of any kingdom's revenue be exported to another country, without one farthing of value in return; and if the said kingdom be forbidden the most profitable branches of trade wherein to employ the other third, and only allowed to traffic in importing those commodities which are most ruinous to itself; how shall that kingdom stand ?
If this question were formed into the first proposition of an hypothetical syllogism, I defy the man born in Ireland, who is now in the fairest way of getting a collectorship or a cornet's post, to give good reason for denying it.
Let me put another case. Suppose a gentleman's estate of 2001,
a year should sink to 1001. by some accident, whether by an earthquake or inundation it matters not; and suppose the said gentleman utterly hopeless and unqualified ever to retrieve the loss; how is he otherwise to proceed in his future economy than by reducing it on every article to one half less, unless he will be content to fly his country or rot in jail? This is a representation of Ireland's condition; only with one fault, that it is a little too favorable. Neither am I able to propose a full remedy for this, but only a small prolongation of life, until God shall miraculously dispose the hearts of our neighbors and our kinsmen, our fellow-protestants, fellow-subjects, and fellow rational creatures, to permit us to starve without running further into debt. I am informed that our national debt (and God knows how we wretches came by that fashionable thing, a national debt) is about 250,0001.; which is at least one-third of the whole kingdom's rents, after our absentees and other foreign drains are paid, and about 50,0001. more than all the cash.
It seems there are several schemes for raising a fund to pay the interest of this formidable sum, not the principal, for this is allowed impossible. The necessity of raising such a fund is strongly and regularly pleaded, from the late deficiencies in the duties and customs. And is it a fault of Ireland that these funds are deficient? If they depend on trade, can it possibly be otherwise while we have neither liberty to trade nor money to trade with; neither hands to work, nor business to employ them if we had ? Our diseases are visible enough both in their causes and effects; and the cures are well known, but impossible to be applied. If my steward comes and tells
me, “that my rents are sunk so low, that they are very little more than sufficient to pay my servants their wages;" have I any other course left than to cashier four in six of my rascally footmen, and a number of other varlets in my family, of whose insolence the whole neighborhood complains? And I would think it extremely severe in any law, to force me to maintain a household of fifty servants and fix their wages, before I had offered my rent-roll
oath to the legislators. To return from digressing: I am told one scheme for raising a fund to pay the interest of our national debt is by a further duty of 40s. a tun upon wine. Some gentlemen would carry this much further, by raising it to 121.; which in a manner would amount to a prohibition : thus weakly arguing from the practice of England.
I have often taken notice, both in print and in discourse, that there is no topic so fallacious, either in talk or in writing, as to argue