Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

THE

UNION MAGAZINE,

AND

IMPERIAL REGISTER.

No. VII.—JULY, 1801.

HISTORY OF THE UNION WITH IRELAND,

[Continued from Page 406 of our last.]

ALTHOUGH the discontent manifested at this period by the people of Dublin against the idea of an incorporating union appears to have been excited in a great measure by the artful intrigues and · inflammatory spirit of political party, it cannot be denied, that since the year 1759 their dislike of the measure progressively increased, and at length settled in confirmed hostility. As the plan of union experienced, on the part of the metropolis, the most difficult obstacles, it cannot be deemed inconsistent with the nature of this sketch to enter into a short review of the reasons which induced the inhabitants to oppose, by their own exertions in the capital, as well as by their connections, weight, and extensive influence throughout the country, the accomplishment of the union. *They seemed convinced, that the removal of the parliament would diminish their population, impair their trade, and lower the value of lands and houses. They looked to emigration as the necessary consequence of union, and were persuaded that their commerce would be transferred to the more commodious harbours of Cork, Galway, Derry, Belfast, and many others. The merchant thought that he would be deprived of all chance of profitable adventure and speculation; the banker was alarmed at the probable reduction in the rate of interest; the barrister and the attorney felt that the sources of professional honours and emoluments would be considerably abridged; and the housekeeper and retailer were unanimous in raising their voices against a system which they conceived would operate to the ruin of their families. There was certainly upon this subject a vast majority, if not an universality of sentiment, in the metropolis, which influenced no inconsiderable part of the nation. The Catholics of Ireland, who afterwards assented to the policy of the incorporation, appear in 1795 to liave concurred in the opposition, actuated, no doubt, by the feelings of their brethren in the capital; and on the 9th of April, in the

vol. 2.- NO. 7.

A

same

same year, at a meeting held in the chapel of Francis-street, Dublin, the Committee of nine agreed to the following resolutions :

Resolved unanimously, That we are sincerely and unalterably attached to the rights, liberties, and independence of our native country; and we pledge ourselves, collectively and individually, to resist, even our own emancipation, il proposed to be conceded on the ignominious terms of acquiescence in the fatal measure of an union with the sister kingdom."

As to the apprehended decay of the population of the city of Dublin, by the transfer of the seat of legislature, it was maintained by the advocates of union, that the number of thirty peers, and one hundred commoners, who were to represent Ireland in the Imperial Parliament, was not sufficiently great, even should they all become absentees, to excite any just causes of alarm: that many of the peers who would be chosen, already spent their fortunes in England; that most of the considerable gentry, who were reputed residents, passed a large part of the year either in London, or at the watering places in England; and that though the city of Dublin would necessarily lose the partial residence of several members of parliament annually, yet that all the lawyers then in parliament, and many others who resided in or near the metropolis, would continue in their usual places of abode. It was contended that the expences of living in London were too great to encourage emigration; and that the absentee families which injured Ireland, were, in fact, those which frequented Bath, Buxton, Harrowgate, &c. &c. It was argued, from experience, that when the parliament met only every second year, Dublin was fuller, and the society better, the intermediate winter that it did not sit: and it was urged, that by the removal of legislative discussion, all descriptions of men would be less influenced by political considerations, and less agitated by party views.

With respect to the loss of trade which the metropolis might suffer, it was contended that such fears were in every point of

view unfounded. It would ever continue to be the seat of the treasury, and the national bank. Cork, Limerick, Waterford, Galway, Derry, Newry, and Belfast, might indeed enter into a competition with Dublin for the foreign and colonial trade; but the latter would always retain the linen trade, and the trade with Great-Britain, for home consumption. The linen-hall of the capital being constantly supplied with complete assortments of the Leinster an: Ulster linens, would necessarily attract the English factors, as it had been already proved, by the defeat of an attempt made some years before 'to remove that branch of internal prosperity from Dublin to Belfast. The returns made from the London markets, in articles of consumption and luxury, first for the supply of Dublin, to be afterwards conveyed by the canals extending to the south, west, and north-west extremities of the kingdom, would make it the depot for home consumption, in all articles of British manu

factura.

facture. Dublin was also capable of receiving considerable improvenients as a commercial city, sufficient to secure to it a decided superiority in trade over every other town in Ireland. If an annual sum were appropriated for compleating the two canals. communicating with it on the north and south, under proper regulations, so as to terminate the water carriage from Dublin in the river Shannon, it would extend to the province of Connaught, aud might be still carried further by means of the river Suck. Such an improvement would conser on the capital the perpetual possession of the chief import and export trade of the island, throughout a tract of country the best in the kingdom, and reaching almost from the channel to the western ocean.

The apprehensions of Dublin, however, for the local loss of trade were otherwise ill founded, for it could not be denied that trade did not always follow the best ports, and when once an establishment had taken place, it would be extremely difficult to remove it to another situation, for its security would be guaranteed by its relations and habitudes. The superior advantages enjoyed by the parts of Cork, Derry, Galway, and Belfast, were admitted; but the most determined enemies of an incorporating union could not therefore be justified in the inference that these harbours would also enjoy a consequent superiority of trade. Few ports could be more inconveniently situated for trade than London, Bristol, and Liverpool; yet that defect had not occasioned the transfer of their commerce to the spacious and excellent harbours of Portsmouth, Plymouth, or Milford, London, Bristol, and Liverpool, found a permanent security in their connections, relations, and habitudes; and the artificial basis of their establishment had become too broad and firm to be overturned by the local disadvantages and inconvenience under which they laboured.

It was also maintained, on general principles, that as the nation at large would experience an increase of commerce, a position which few attempted to controvert, the metropolis would of course participate in that increase, and acquire both population and ivealth; that consequently the owners of land and houses, in and near Dublin, would have the value of their property augmented, the shopkeepers and retailers an increase of business, and the barrister and aitorney a material addition to their professional profits arising from the improvement in national prosperity. As to the reduction of the rate of interest, which the banker dreaded as the consequence of an union, that effect, however injurious to him, would prove highly advantageous to the public, since nothing could more essentially contribute to the augmentation of manufactures and trade than a low rate of interest; and even the loss of the banker, in that respect, would be more than compensated by the profits originating from the increased circulation and extension of trade.

Upon these grounds the friends of the incorporative system argued, that the people of Dublin had no reason to apprehend any

A 2

loss

loss either in point of emigration or trade; and that on the contrary, increased commerce and increased industry would give increase of wealth and population, and consequently of value to tho lands and houses in the vicinity of the capital.

But even if there were real grounds for the fears of any particular district, or of any particular class of men, it was urged, that their interests should not be put in competition with the benefit of the whole community, from which their distinct advantages ought legitimately to flow; fur it could not be an object of any moment to the nation, whether it received its treasures with the right hand or with the left. Diffusive happiness, produced by general industry and opulence, constituted the greatest blessing of a state; and the principles of sound policy and true patriotism required, that the interest of an entire people should be preferred to the selfish views and sordid calculations of individual or local advantage.

At all events it could not be denied, that although Dublin would be deprived of the residence of the legislature, it would continue the residence of the vice regal court, the seat of the courts of law, civil and ecclesiastical; of the revenue; of the national bank; of the university; and the head quarters of the army. Another consideration, by no means destitute of weight, was urged, that the sciences and arts, the endearing relations and amusements of social life, might be cultivated with more success; and, in proportion, as less attention would be given to politics, and as the mind would be less distracted by the agitation of party questions.

It was finally stated, in support of the union, as it would tend to affect the metropolis, that similar arguments had been employed at the time when the question of incorporation between England and Scotland was discussed, with regard to the city of Edinburgh. The desertion of that capital had been predicted; the ruin of its trade, the unavoidable decrease of value in land and houses, and the bankruptcy of its shopkeepers, had been as confidently foretold. Yet, notwithstanding the prediction, Edinburgh and its vicinity, so far from decaying in any one instance, had on the contrary, in every respect, flourished more since the union than at any former period. The great advances of that capital in its size, population, wealth, convenience and elegance, since the incorpoTation of the Scottish legislature with that of England, were undeniable; and though it could not be demonstrated that these important benefits had been the result of the union, it was evident at least that the act of incorporation had not prevented the increased prosperity of Edinburgh. The example of that metropolis was therefore held up as sufficient to quiet every apprehension enter"tained by the inhabitants of Dublin; more particularly, as whatever difference could be pointed out in the two cases would be found to operate in favour of the capital of Ireland.

[To be continued.]

POSTHUMOUS WORKS

OF

MONTESQUIEU.

Dissertation on the Policy of the Romans in Religion. IT

was neither fear nor piety that established religion amongst the Romans, but the necessity which all societies are under of having one. The first kings were not less attentive to worship and ceremonies, than they were to legislation and the building of their walls.

I find this difference between the Roman legislators and those of other people; that the former adapted the religion to the state, and the latter the state to the religion. Romulus, Tatius, and Numa, rendered the gods subservient to their policy: the worship and the ceremonies they instituted were found to be so sage, that, after the expulsion of the kings, the yoke of religion was the only one, from which that people, in its rage for liberty, dared not attempt to free itself.

When the Roman legislators established religion, they did not think of the reformation of morals, nor of pure principles of morality; they wished not to shackle a race with which they were not yet acquainted. They had then, at first, but one general view, which was to inspire a people, which drcaded nothing, with a fear of the gods, and to take advantage of that fear, in order to guide it at their will.

The successors of Numa dared not to do what that prince himself had not done: the people, which had lost much of the ferocity of its rude state, was become capable of a much greater discipline. It would have been easy to add to the ceremonies of religion, the principles and rules of morality in which it was deficient; but the legislators of the Romans were too clear-sighted not to be aware of the dangers of such a reformation: it would have been an acknowledgment that the religion was defective: it would have been subjecting it to the decay and infirmities of age, and enfeebling its authority in attempting to establish it. The wisdom of the Romans made them take a better course in the establishment of new laws. Human institutions may change, but those that are divine ought to be as immutable as the gods theniselves.

Thus the Roman senate, having charged the Pretor Petilius* with the examination of the writings of king Numa, found in a stone coffin four hundred years after the death of that prince, resolved to have them burnt, on the report made to them by the Pretor, that the ceremonies ordained in those writings differed materially from those which were then observed : a circumstance which might produce scruples in the minds of the simple, and let them see, that * Livy, b. xl. chap. 29.

the

« AnteriorContinuar »