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of placemen and pensioners to irritate the Government, the people took the matter into their own hands. The influence of the non-importation agreement was strong and decisive. One London factor's export trade in fine cloths fell from £30,000 to £ 5000 a year. The Wiltshire export of superfine and second cloths almost ceased. Chester calicoes and printed cottons fell to one-seventh in the last half of 1784. The fustian trade was practically extinguished. One house, which in the last two months of 1783 exported £5000 worth, had not a single order the following year.
The truth is, as British official records show, that the Irish trade and manufactures, so far from being in a perishing condition at this period, had sprung up with marvellous vitality and flourished exceedingly. Thus the British manufacturers gave evidence that their trade in soap and candles to North America and the West Indies had “much decreased of late." "To what causes do you attribute this decrease ?” asked the Lords of the Committee of Council. “We impute it," was the reply, “to the possession the Irish have now got of that trade; we export but very few candles now to the West Indies.” Some idea of the progress made in Irish manufactures may be formed on learning that from 1780 to 1783, both inclusive, the general export of new drapery, or fine sorts of woollen goods, rose from 8600 yards to 538,000 yards in round numbers; and of new drapery, or coarser kinds, from 490 yards to 40,500 yards. Only 1000 yards of fustians were shipped to America in the first year, whilst 47,700 yards were exported in the last. Other Irish manufactures were pressing forward in a similar manner, and some of these products were appearing in foreign markets.
This progress was made, be it remembered, whilst Britain prohibited absolutely the import from Ireland of arms, cheese, chocolate, gloves, goods of Asia, Africa, or America manufactured in Ireland, laces, gold and silver lace, silks, stockings (with silk), velvet, wrought ivory, whalebone, etc. And whilst there was an ad valorem
1 Report (and minutes) of the Lords of the Committee of Council, Whitehall, 1785.
PROGRESS IN MANUFACTURES
duty varying from about thirty to sixty-five per cent., besides other heavy taxes, against all Irish ale, beer, candlewick, chalk, chaises, chariots, coaches, coals, earthenware, fustians, glassware, ironware, lead, printed linens, mixed linen and cotton, manufactured leather, ox-guts, cotton or worsted stockings, toys, and wooden-ware. Irish starch need pay no ad valorem duty, but one hundred guineas a ton of other charges surely sufficed. A nearly equal sum kept out Irish manufactured sugar. Vinegar and cider were also barred off; and, whilst nearly £2 a yard stopped the entrance of all manner of Irish woollen cloth, a sum of £2 6s, each was charged against every Irish-made hat.
Can it be a matter of wonder that Irish manufacturers complained and formed non-importation leagues ? What really does surprise the impartial observer is the amazing progress they made under such condition. Free trade in manufactures was a mere mockery, so far as it related to Great Britain, with the solitary exception of linen—and not of all kinds of linen. British ports were shut against manufacturing Ireland; on the other hand, Irish ports were open to British goods. This will be readily seen from the following table, which shows the difference of duties. The idea is due to Lord Sheffield, but his schedule has been enlarged with facts taken from the British official reports already quoted.
1 Of the two pledges given, at the instance of the English Parliament, by William III. to discourage the Irish woollen, and to promote the Irish linen manufacture, the former was faithfully kept, the latter was broken. Ireland was not permitted to export her white and brown linens to the Colonies until 1705 (3 & 4 Anne c. 8). Six years later (10 Anne c. 19) a bounty of 1d. per yard was given in favour of the British manufacture over the Irish; the importation of checks, striped or printed linens into Britain was prohibited. This prohibition was continued against all linens printed, stained, or dyed. Cambrics and lawns were likewise excluded, for which there were about two thousand Irish looms at work in 1783. Lord Sheffield, in 1785, observed that, as regards bounties, Ireland complained of that given by Great Britain on the export of sailcloth to Ireland, and with double force as it was a branch of her linen manufacture. He admitted she would be justified in meeting this by counteracting bounties or duties, but “the British Act adds to the bounty now given as much more as at any time Ireland shall impose as a duty on the import of British sailcloth into Ireland.” This was an effectual mode of repressing Irish manufacture.
2 “Observations on the Manufactures, Trade, and Present State of Ireland.” Dublin, 1785.
In other matters likewise Britain had the advantage. Thus, whilst the Irish prohibited the entrance of flour and meal from all countries but Great Britain, there was no reciprocity. “It might be a just return to them," said the English corn-factors, “to prohibit in like manner the importation of flour and ground corn from any country but Ireland," which would encourage British mills. When we look at the enormous disparity between the duties of the two countries, and consider that the British capitalists had held possession of the market, it seems a marvel that Irish manufactures should take root at all. Close study of the problem reveals that this happened because the Irish Parliament had men who seized upon the true principles of economic laws and applied them with great sagacity. They could not spend money in fostering factories and trade as England did, but what comparatively small sums they gave were more fruitful because more judiciously allotted. By this means they raised their factories from the ruins the laws had made, and by this means also their fisheries became the envy and admiration of their neighbours. The Irish bounties were not nearly on a level with the British, but “the fisheries are under necessary restraints, and a 20s. bounty there is equal to a 30s. bounty on the Hebrides fishery."1 Frequently the
1 “Third Report on the State of the British Fisheries, House of Commons (England),” vol. x. p. 42.
1785] IRISH ENTERPRISE AND INDUSTRY
107 West India fleet, leaving the Clyde, went to Cork to ship Irish herrings. Contrary to what some have alleged, the elder Irish population had special aptitudes in maritime matters. Men were brought from Ireland to teach the natives of Uist the manufacture of kelp from seaweed. Others were brought to the Shetlands because of their dexterity in fishing, and because they could go out two months earlier and proceed much further to
sea than could the natives in their small boats, The inhabitants of Barra learned fish-curing from the Irish fishermen, who had a “ Highland fishery.” They went even further a-sea and established their "great fishery on the banks of Newfoundland, which," in 1785,"increases daily."! This was due, be it noted, to the energy and enterprise of the old natives of Ireland, who, homeless in their fatherland, poured out by the two and three thousand annually and remained abroad as residents, in spite of all discouragements. The British who went usually returned. Newfoundland was practically founded by Irish Catholics. The Irish fishers were honest dealers, as well as skilled curers. Though the Irish herring-barrel contained only twentyeight gallons and the Scotch thirty-two, the former sold “at an equal or superior price." So high stood the Irish name that their herrings sold "fourteen and a half per cent. dearer than the Scotch.” They were never charged with the “ fraud, perjury, and all the tricks which ingenuity could invent to rob the public"-such as partly filling barrels with stones and rubbish—which had almost entirely destroyed the sale of British herrings in European markets.
The question of reducing British duties to the same level as the Irish was referred, by an order in council, January 14, 1785, to a committee. Reviewing possible plans, they concluded the best to be that both countries should agree upon a scale of moderate duties, such as will secure a due preference in the home market," of the products of each, “yet leave to the sister kingdom advantages, though not equal to its own, yet superior to those granted to any foreign country." This was clearly fair and wise; but it must astound those who have been taught to consider the Irish irrational and intractable in matters of trade to learn that the Lords of the Committee, in looking about for a proper standard, fixed upon the Irish scale. “The duties now payable on British goods imported into Ireland," they wrote, “seem by their moderation as well adapted to answer this purpose as any that could be devised.” 1
1 Ibid., p. 44.
2 “Second and Third Reports on the State of Trade to Newfoundland."
3 “Third Report" (Fisheries), Mr. J. Knox, p. 45. 1785.
After much consideration, Mr. Orde, chief secretary, brought the basis of a commercial treaty before the Irish Parliament on February 7, 1785, in the form of eleven resolutions. They ordered: the admission of foreign articles through either country as if directly imported; the abolition of prohibitions and the equalisation of duties—these to be levelled down; the regulation of internal duties in due proportion; and the abolition of bounties on goods intended for either country, except food-stuffs. The last, or eleventh, proposition attracted special attention. It provided that, whenever the hereditary revenue (during peace) produced more than the sum of £656,000, the surplus should be appropriated to the support of the navy. One member objected to this as making Ireland a tributary nation, but withdrew his opposition on finding that the grant was under Irish control. Mr. Grattan further amended it by stipulating that it should be accorded only in years when income equalled expenditure. His principles were“After the expense of the nation is paid, to contribute to the general expense of the empire ;" to interest ministers in economy by this stipulation, and to subject the surplus to the control of the Irish Parliament. Notwithstanding adverse petitions from the Chamber of Commerce and some merchants, the proposals were accepted with but little demur, Mr. Forbes remarking that "no Government ever received a milder opposition.”
1 Report of the Lords of Committee of Council, 1785.