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GENTLEMEN IN THE CITY OF BRISTOL,
BILLS DEPENDING IN PARLIAMENT RELATIVE TO THE TRADE OF IRELAND.
TO SAMUEL SPAN, Esq., MASTER OF THE SOCIETY OF MERCHANTS ADVENTURERS OF BRISTOL.
SIR, — I am honored with your letter of the 13th, in answer to mine, which accompanied the resolutions of the House relative to the trade of Ireland.
You will be so good as to present my best respects to the Society, and to assure them that it was altogether unnecessary to remind me of the interest of the constituents. I have never regarded anything else since I had a seat in Parliament. Having frequently and maturely considered that interest, and stated it to myself in almost every point of view, I am persuaded, that, under the present circumstances, I cannot more effectually pursue it than by giving all the support in my power to the propositions which I lately transmitted to the Hall.
The fault I find in the scheme is, that it falls extremely short of that liberality in the commercial system which I trust will one day be adopted. If I had not considered the present resolutions merely as preparatory to better things, and as a means of showing, experimentally, that justice to others is not always folly to ourselves, I should have contented myself with receiving them in a cold and silent acquiescence. Separately considered, they are matters of no very great importance. But they aim, howeve* imperfectly, at a right principle. I submit to the restramt to appease prejudice; I accept the enlargement, so far as it goes, as the result of reason and of sound policy.
We cannot be insensible of the calamities which have been brought upon this nation by an obstinate adherence to narrow and restrictive plans of government. I confess, I cannot prevail on myself to take them up precisely at a time when the most decisive experience has taught the rest of the world to lay them down. The propositions in question did not originate from me, or from my particular friends. But when things are so right in themselves, I hold it my duty not to inquire from what hands they come. I opposed the American measures upon the very same principle on which I support those that relate to Ireland. I was convinced that the evils which have arisen from the adoption of the former would be infinitely aggravated by the rejection of the latter.
Perhaps gentlemen are not yet fully aware of the situation of their country, and what its exigencies absolutely require. I find that we are still disposed to talk at our ease, and as if all things were to be regulated by our good pleasure. I should consider it as a fatal symptom, if, in our present distressed and adverse circumstances, we should persist in the errors which are natural only to prosperity. One cannot, indeed, sufficiently lament the continuance of that spirit of delusion, by which, for a long time past, we have thought fit to measure our necessities by our inclinations. Moderation, prudence, and equity are far more suitable to our condition than loftiness, and confidence, and rigor. We are threatened by enemies of no small magnitude, whom, if we think fit, we may despise, as we have despised others; but they