AN ANSWER TO A LETTER From a Gentleman in the Country, to a Member of the House of COMMONS:

On the VOTES of the 14th Instant. Relating to the Trade of Ireland.

DUBLIN: Re-Printed by Andrew Crook, Printer to the King's Most Excellent Majesty, on Cork-Hill: And are to be sold by William Norman and Eliphel Dobson, Booksellers, 1698.

An ANSWER to a Let­ter from a Gentleman in the Country, &c.


WE live in an Age where Scribling is the Language of one man to another; and too often used on a Subject, to which they are as much strangers, as to each other's person. This seems our case, we come abroad with the Crowd to please our selves, tho' we disturb others; but that which brings me in Print, is, because I think Men of better Understanding will not trouble them­selves to Answer your Unpolish'd Libel on the Govern­ment, and our Brethren in Ireland; and by that means your Invectives might have the success you wisht for, viz. A belief amongst the Industrious part of the Nation; which, were they true, the first work of England should be to remove our Friends, destroy the Natives, and send over a Hundred thousand Soldiers to keep the Island from them; that know how to make good use of it, if we do'nt: But the best way of Confuting your Maxims in Trade and Government, is to repeat them, and then, a ve­ry few words will Answer them.

I begin with your assertion, That it cannot but be the trouble of all Thinking Men, to see a Kingdom and People once so famous for Trade and Navigation, to Fight themselves out of both.

To this it's Answer'd, I meet with few of your opi­nion, but such as think the Nation did ill to Fight at all.

Obedience to the late K. tho' in Wooden Sooes, and Faggots on our backs, to Smithfield, was our duty, your Holy Church tells us; but that which makes few believe it, is, that Doctrine was always Preach'd by Men of Debauch'd Lives, and Prostitutes for preferment. But Sir, I must tell you what Men that think as much as your's, say; and that is, They believe that by the War which is ended with so much honour and advantage to the Nation, we have secured our Trade and Navigation, with something more that perhaps you are no friend un­to, our Laws and Religion; but as to Trade and Naviga­tion, pray how should we have preserved them if the French had been Masters of the United Provinces. For seeing we and the Dutch were fully employ'd both toge­ther, to deal with the French alone, which way could we have blown the French and Dutch Fleets out of the Sea in case they had been united. Those that find fault with our War, would be pleased with our Captivity: Soft words are called for by such as are wounded with Truths, therefore I shall not speak my Thoughts of your Principles. You tell us of 700 years Harvest, and 50 Millions spent in this War; if it were more, Englishmen think we have the worth of it: But I hope you do not believe the whole 50 Millions are carried out of the King­dom; it is demonstrable, that the greatest part is still amongst us, tho' I confess it may be in worse hands than before the War. I must own my self no Friend to that practice, which enriches the Servant and beggers the Master. It should be the abhorrence of all good Men, to see people in Civil Employments ready to burst with un­righteous Gain, and the Industrious Merchant languish­ing by the Oppression of their Servants; but this we hope will be enquired into.

Your next Paragraph begins thus; Among the many Rivals of our Trade and Navigation, I have often thought Ireland to he the most Dangerous, and that which led me in­to this Opinion, was the practice of the two last Reigns, Incouraging the Irish more than their English Subjects in Trade and Navigation, thereby to make Ireland a Nursery for Arbitrary Government, to which the English were Abetters.

There needs no other Answer to your Thoughts, That Ireland is most dangerous to the Trade of England, but that all the yearly Exports of Ireland, amount not to the Value of one East-India Ship's Cargoe, as will appear by what follows.

That you say of the Design of the two last Reigns, to introduce Arbitrary Government is not doubted, but that the English in Ireland were Abetters to it, is most manifestly False; there were no Men in the three Kingdoms, that ventured their Lives more bravely a­gainst it, than they did; and to them I think in a great measure we owe our Quiet and our Trade, on the late happy Revolution of this Kingdom, which I fancy is the Reason you are so Angry with them, per­haps you cannot forgive the stand, they of Enniskilling and Londonderry made to the late King's Army, when they designed for Scotland if they could have Reduced those Men in their way: They would then have been troublesome to us nearer home, where You and Your Friends were ready to receive them.

As to the English's being for Arbitrary Government, you are as much out, as in the numbers of the Irish Seamen; and least you should think I speak at ran­dom, as you do, know, I was Born in a City that hath a great share in the Trade of Ireland; have been thrice in that Kingdom, and made all the Observation I could of the Nature, Trade, and Constitution of that [Page 6]Country; amongst other Things, I found they had very little Navigation; Dublin their Capital, had not one Ship belonging to it, Carickfergus, or Belfast, and Cork, had a few small Craft, but not a Ship of Force or Burthen in the Kingdom. I enquired particularly the Number of their Irish Seamen, and by all I asked, was answered, they never saw one that could Top and Yard, a Phrase they have among Seamen.

Your next Paragraph tells us, How dangerous it is to England, to leave Ireland to their own Conduct in Trade and Government.

Surely you are a stranger to the Laws of both Kingdoms, or else you would have known that they can Pass no Act of Parliament in Ireland, but what comes first from the King and Council here; and cannot alter one Word in it, but must take the Act just as it comes from England.

Your following Observations of the Scituation, Na­ture, Product, &c. are true; for that Reason I think we should keep it in English Hands, and not follow your Proposals to drive them out: But of that when I come to your Expedients.

Now as to your Five particulars, wherein you say, Ireland Interfers with the Trade of England; First, in that of their Fishing, wherein no doubt they have Ad­vantage above us, but they never had yet Men, Mo­ney, or Craft to make use of it; the more's the pity, it being a loss to us, and I think a Fault that we do not help them.

Your second Assertion is true in part, Their Pro­visions are Cheaper; but then let me tell you, they are not so good as ours, and their Butter and Cheese is near as dear.

Your third and fourth Observations, are so appa­rently False, that one Word will Answer them both; [Page 7]you say You have been twice in Ireland; but besides your self, I may venture to say, there was never any man in it but can tell you, there is not Timber to supply the tenth part of the Use of the Kingdom; I have seen a Survey of all the Woods in that Island, and except Shellela, there is not so much valuable Timber in the whole, as one Gen­tleman hath in England. Surely then we are in no dan­ger of their Building Ships, or Tanning Leather.

Your Fifth Observation is of their Wooll, in which you are right; but as for the multitude of Irish Spinners, you are in an Error: They are so far from being our Ri­vals in the Woollen Manufactury, that this last year they could not get so much in all the Country as to cloath their small Army.

But however, I think we have reason to look careful­ly into that Manufactury, which is the Soul of all we have left of Trade; and yet I see Advocates for the East-India Trade, to the destruction of our own Manufactu­ry at home.

In this, methinks we act like ill Husbands; that be­ing Abused abroad, Revenge themselves at home on their Wives and Children. We are wheedl'd out of our Manufacturies by Designing Men, amongst our selves; kick'd out of our Fishing abroad; and then like Sampson, we pull down the House upon our selves, to be reveng'd for our two Eyes. So I take our Woollen Manufactury, and Fishing to be. But let us destroy Ireland, beat our Wives and Children, and we shall Recover all.

You end your Fifth Paragraph with that which you think the most unaccountable of all, The suffering them to hold Parliaments.

Now Sir, if you never read History, and so are igno­rant how the Crown of England came first to be Entitu­led to Ireland, then it is great Assurance in you to talk of the Constitution of Kingdom you know nothing of: [Page 8]If you have Read, you must know there was a Com­pact that they should hold Parliaments, with the same Priviledges as England: And altho' they have by their own Parliaments abridged themselves by Poynings Law, in some things, yet have they still an Act of Parliament for Annual Parliaments, and another Act, that all Laws made in England before the Tenth of Henry VII. should be in force in Ireland. I believe you will own we had Parliaments in England before Henry VII. they have then the same Right to hold Parliaments that we have, but they are a poor People, and must submit. Have a care of that French Maxim (we know not whose turn it may be next) I remember in the Reign of Charles II. discour­sing with the Duke of Ormonde (who I think, take him every way, was one of the Greatest Men of that time) upon the Tryal of the Earl of Shaftsbury, his Grace said, My Lord Shaftsbury was never my Friend, yet were I a Com­moner, and one of his Jury, I would starve before I would find him Guilty by straining the Law: We must have a care of Constitutions and Laws; they are of better use to preserve our selves, than to take off our Enemies. It you were of this Opinion, you would not be against Ireland's holding Parliaments. Have a care, Sir, of breaking into Con­stitutions, we know not who may come next; we are sure His present Majesty will preserve our Constitution, and it is our happiness, He is more tender of them then many of our selves; but if we will destroy them in a good Reign, there may come a time when our own Presi­dents may be brought against us.

You end your Paragraph with an Invective saying, You hope the House will make them Remember they were Con­quered. I remember to have seen a Book in this Reign, by Order of Parliament, Burn'd by the Common-Hang­man, for Asserting that Conquering Doctrine. It is by our Laws, that all the Monarchs of England, and a­mongst [Page 9]the rest, His present Majesty is declared to be King of Ireland, de Jure, when King of England, de Facto. Now if you please to remember, the Brittish of Ireland, who are Proprietors of most of that Kingdom, were as one man in the Interest of England; fought (as is said before) for, and with the King, that came to deliver them from the Usurpation and Tyranny of the late King James; for so it was, He having lost his Ti­tle by Abdication, before he came to Ireland; And King William came there to rescue his Protestant Sub­jects in Ireland, from the Ravage and Murders of the Rebellious Irish Subjects. This I hope you will not make a Conquest, if it be, we have had two or three of them in this Reign, by the Execution of Traytors at Tyburn.

You now come to your Expedients, which are like that of an English Sea Captain, that being in danger of Two Dunkirk Men of War, a French Officer on Board him, Asked the Captain what he should do, for he dreaded being carryed into France; Never fear, said the Captain, I wont be taken: How can you be sure of that, said the Frenchman? I will first blow up my Ship, reply'd the Captain; at which Monsieur shrugg'd his Shoulders, and said, Par ma foy un tres bon expedient Anglois. So are your Expedients; as will appear presently. I will repeat them in Order, and then One Answer will serve them all.

  • 1. That they should not Build or keep at Sea, one Ship.
  • 2. That they be Bounded and Prescribed in all their Trade by Act of Parliament here; not only to the place they shall go, but also to the Qualities and Natures of the Commodities they Export, and to the Time when they shall Export, that we may have the first Market.
  • [Page 10]3 That they shou'd not Fish, but with Men and Boats of England.
  • 4. That their Money be brought to the Standard of England.
  • 5. That they hold no Parliament, but be Governed by the Parliament of England.
  • 6. That they be not permitted to make any Manufacturies but Linnen.

I told you before, one Answer should serve for them all, and that shall be with a Question, such as a Porter made a Lord Mayor of London, in the Usurper's time (for Regulating the price of Beer, was Proclaiming) That none shou'd be sold for more then a Penny a Quart: A Porter standing by my Lord Mayor's Horse, call'd out, that there was the most material thing left out, which was, ap­pointing who shou'd drink that small Beer, for he swore he'd drink none? So, Sir, you should have appointed in your Expedients, who should live in Ireland; for no English man will; And surely our Nation will not think it safe in any others Hands.

Methinks you make a bold stroke, to propose Ire­land should be Governed by the Parliament of Eng­land; that (in English) is Lopping off one of the Three Kingdoms from the Crown. Your Scheme of Govern­ment exceeds all I ever Read of; you would make Ireland to be a Common-wealth, but none of the Coun­try to be in the Government; sure some body need Govern you, tho' it were in Bedlam.

You and your Letter, with referring to Mr. Cary of Bristol's Book; I know the Gentleman, and have Dis­coursed on his Book, which tho' it comes not to your Notions, yet he abated much of it in Explanation. [Page 11]And now, Sir, with your leave, I shall make some General Remarks on your whole Letter: What you say of the extraordinary advantages Ireland hath above us in Trade and Navigation, is true, and it is as true, that they never had opportunity to make use of them.

The Brittish in general speaking, acquiring their Fortunes there by Arms, not with Arts or Trade; those few that come there with either of the two last, are usually such as have mis-carryed in their own Coun­try; so for want of stock, do rarely more than earn their Bread in that plentiful Country. Frequent Re­bellions lessens the Inhabitants, but adds Acres to the Brittish; which they are more fond of, then Naviga­tion and Commerce: And so far you are in the right, that they are most taken up in Country Imployments, but you are much in the wrong in saying, the Irish are most in the Trade and Navigation; they seldom Sail further then to a Potatoe Garden, and Trade only in Cows. I have been in several parts of the World, and accord­ing to my Observation, the Iridians are as Ignorant of Trade and Navigation, as the Indians in America. Now that you should fear their Numbers at Sea, that have not Five Seamen of their Nation, gives ground to believe, you writ with Jesuitical Maxims; Throw dirthow­ever false, some may stick. Put into the Heads of the multitude, frightful Stories of the danger we are in, of being over-run by the Irish, both at Land and Sea; and that you may have two strings to your Bow, you bring in Foreigners Running away with what the Irish do not of the Trade of Ireland. To shew your Integrity in this, I will give undeniable Authority, out of the Custom-house Books of Ireland against you.

I have now by me an exact Account of all the Ex­ports and Imports of Ireland, for Six Years of the greatest time of Ireland's prosperity, and by this Ac­count, [Page 12]their Exports in the Year 1682, amounted but to Five Hundred Forty One Thousand Four Hundred and Nineteen pounds Sterling, of which Four Hundred and Two Thousand pounds was for Accompt of Mer­chants in England; and Exported in their Ships, One Hundred Thousand pounds Sterling, for Accompt of the English in Ireland, and about Forty Thousand for Accompt of Foreigners. And that you may not think this Computation was made at Random, I will tell you how it was done.

The whole Account was drawn out of the Custom-house Books by a Clerk under the Examiner of their Accounts, with every Merchants Name that entered them, and to what Place the Ship belonged, in which the Goods were Exported: this was after all brought into Form by a Man of the greatest Practise and Ex­perience that perchance was ever a Trader in that Kingdom, who knew for whom the most conside­rable Factors dealt. (For by the way, most of the Trade of that Kingdom, is managed, by Factors) This Gentle­man did assure me with demonstrations more then can be comprehended in the compass of this Discourse, that there was very little Exceptions to be made to this Ac­count, which he spent some years in perfecting, for he writ Observations on every Commodity Exported and Imported. What is here brought against your matter of Fact, as you call it, is I think undeniable.

And that your ignorance in Commerce may ap­pear, I will shew that what you say of Foreigners run­ning away with the Trade of Ireland, is impossible; and that for these Reasons.

  • 1. First, because the greatest part of their Product is by their own Laws prohibited to all parts of the World but England, as their Wool, Sheep-skins, Woollen Yarn, Linnen-Yarn: Green and Tan'd Hides [Page 13]pay double Duty upon their Export to any part but England; all which Commodities are more then half their Export.
  • 2. The Act of Navigation is in Force by Law in Ire­land. Now Sir, if you know not my meaning by mentioning that Act, it is, That by that Statute no Foreign Ship can carry any Goods from Ireland to England.
  • 3. The greatest part of the Provisions of Ireland, are Exported by Ships of England to our Foreign Plantations, for little Beef, or Pork, whatever we think, goes to Foreign Markets; now the Act of Navigation before mentioned, Prohibits all Fo­reign Ships from Trading to our Plantations.
  • 4. By Law they are Prohibited the Importation of of any, tho' Comodities of our Foreign Plantati­ons but from England; not so much as a Pound of Tobacco or Sugar is admitted into Ireland, but what comes from England; I may add, that they Forfeit Ship and Goods, if they carry out of Ireland any thing but Provisions; Servants and Horses. I knew a Ship seiz'd in Virginia for bring­ing but a Dozen of Woollen Stockins from Ireland. After all this, pray what is there left for Foreign­ers to drive that mighty Trade you speak of in Ireland.

I think it proper to enquire now where the Mil­lion is, you tell us Ireland runs away with, of the Trade of England; it is proved, that their whole. Annual Exports amounts to little more then one half of your Million, and of that Four Hundred Thousand goes for England, [Page 14]and English Merchants Accounts; you have then but Forty Thousand Pounds to raise your Million out of.

There is another remarkable Instance you give of the danger we are in by raising their Money 20 per Cent. above its value; it would be no very mannerly que­stion to ask you where you have been for this 12 Months, in which time the nature of Coyn hath been so fully Debated and Resolved in Parliament, and explained to the whole Nation, that I thought every one in it was convinced, that by raising Money we cheated no body but our selves; and I do not think but that the Gen­tlemen of Ireland understand that Truth, but necessity often prevails over Judgment; we know not their Cir­cumstances, only may guess, that a Country who in their greatest Prosperity had never Four Hundred Thousand Pounds Sterling of Running Cash, and Two Hundred and Forty Thousand Pounds per Annum of the Rents of that Kingdom, belonging unto, and spent in this, are in hazard of having all carryed out. But let their consideration be what it will, I think we have no reason to fear, but rather pity them in thi [...] matter.

I had like to have past over your most sensible part; for it in Truth shews the Man and his Conversa­tion.

Your Words are these, But that which I think the most unaccountable of all is, that we suffer them to hold Parlia­ments, Settle Estates, Pardon their own Rebellions, &c,

It is plain what you mean, but it comes so near Arraigning the Government, that you durst not ex­press it in plain Words; the late King JAMES, with his Irish Mob, that he called, a Parliament in Dublin, did there Attaint all the Brittish Protestants by Name, that owned King William their Rightful, Lawful King; and to make sure of all the Protestants Estates in that [Page 15]Kingdom, their pretended Act named Women and Children that never saw Irish Ground. Now this Re­bellious Edict of the Irish, the present Parliament of Ire­land have declared and Enacted Illegal and Rebellious, and the pretended Parliament that made it, to be then in Rebellion against the Crown of England. And for this you say, the Parliaments of Ireland pardon their own Rebellions: for you do insinuate there being in Rebellion when they left the late King James: Truly Sir, by what I hear of that Parliament, they are so far from pardoning Rebellions, that they expel'd one of their own Members for but a small overt Act in the time of the late King James being in Ireland. They are a people (I am sorry it should be so in respect of our selves, tho' I commend it in them,) that are not divided, as we are, in Parties, but as one Man in His Majesty's Interest, except a very few that are advanced in the King's Service, as too many have been here, by mistake of some, and design of others; however those Plants grow not in Ireland; it is observed no vene­mous Creature brought from England, lives there; I suppose you never intend to try.

I have now done with your Letter, and shall end mine with directing what follows, to Men of better Principles then you seem to be; and such I presume wills not use Ireland as the Harlot would have had the Child, her Language was like yours, divide the Child, let it he neither mine nor thine. Your Friends have neither Right nor Possession of it, and they that have you Malign; But all true English men consider them as. Bone of our Bone, and it is reasonable to believe the House of Commons passed that Vote for making the Trade of Ireland more Beneficial to England with that conside­ration, there is no doubt room enough to make it so.

I have often thought it would be one of the first [Page 16]Works the Parliament, would go upon, at the conclu­sion of a Peace, and not to let such a Treasure as that Island, might be made to England, lie waste, as it hath always been, ever since the English have had sooting in it, which is unaccountable; it would be thought so in the conduct of a Private Man, if he should neglect his own Inheritance, and say out his Money in Impro­ving that of another Man's; is it not so when we im­ploy our Men and Money to enrich the Subjects of the Mogul, and neglect a Country of our own so near as that, if rightly managed, would strengthen and en­rich our Nation more then all the Trade we have in the World besides. What would France make of it, if they had it? I do not think they, would cry it down, as the destruction of their Kingdom: We have per­haps, more reason to value it then is at present seen; I doubt we are in more danger of losing our Trade and Navigation, then ever we were in since we were a People; and it is feared, we have nothing left to help us but Ireland; but then it must not be left to former Conduct, I am loath to say what I know in this matter.

We should also consider, the Reason we have to in­courage Brittish Planters in that Kingdom; for no other can secure it to England. But I have been too long for a Letter, tho' too short for die Subject; I shall only give my humble Opinion, That it would he for the ser­vice of England in this great Concern of settling the TRADE of both Kingdoms, to hear the People of Ireland before they conclude them; hear him, hear him, is Parliament Lan­guage, and Christian Practice, before Judgment. I end with the Words af Seneca, in his Morals

He that lives according to Reason, shall never be Poor; And he that governs his Life, by Opinion, shall never be Rich.

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