At the end of 1779 Buckingham wrote to Hillsborough: "The satisfaction of Ireland seems final and complete."516 But this harmony between Government and people on which the Lord Lieutenant congratulated himself did not last long, for no sooner was free trade actually obtained than the Irish people began asking themselves how they could best render this free trade permanent and secure. The laws of 1779 and 1780, which gave relief to Ireland, asserted in themselves the absolute supremacy of the British legislature. Its Acts of concession were in fact declaratory of its own power. Throughout the length and breadth of Ireland it was believed that the repeal of the restrictive trade laws had been done on the principle of expediency, and therefore that England might again withdraw the grant when her necessities were over. In Grattan's words, it was felt that the free trade which had been granted to Ireland was a "trade de facto, and not de jure; a licence to trade under the Parliament of England,
p.218not a free trade under the charters of Ireland [...] to maintain which Ireland must continue in a state of armed preparation, dreading the approach of a general peace, and attributing all she holds dear to the calamitous condition of the British arms in every quarter of the globe."517 The political and commercial questions were indeed indissolubly associated, for it was inevitable that Irish patriots should be haunted with the idea that what the British Parliament had done it could undo, and that the only way to make the commerce of Ireland really secure was to put it under the sole protection of an independent Irish legislature.
The policy of England emphasised this feeling. At the beginning of 1780 the British Government was anxious for the Lord Lieutenant to place an embargo on the exportation from Cork of all Irish provisions. But Buckingham represented that the measure would create much political discontent, and might even be "productive of dangerous violence."518 He proposed that if Government anticipated any benefit to the enemy from the exportation of Irish provisions, it should purchase them for the use of the British army and navy. This proposal, however, was not acted upon, and eventually the idea of the embargo dropped. But it had seemed to show the dangers to which the new free trade might be liable. A few months later there was further discontent in Ireland, because the English Privy Council reduced a protective duty which the Irish Parliament proposed to impose on refined sugars imported into the country.519 This measure was believed to be disastrous to the refining interest, and a large patriotic minority in the Commons became more and more resolved to put out of the reach of the British
p.219Parliament the power of interfering with Irish commerce. Only a free Parliament would be a sure forerunner of commercial liberty.
On April 19th, 1780, Grattan moved for the first time his Declaration of Irish Rights. A very long debate followed, which lasted till 6.30 the next morning.520 But in spite of Grattan's extraordinary eloquence and enthusiasm, his statesmanlike insight into the constitutional questions involved, and the fact that he was supported by some of the most able and sincere men in the House, Government proved too strong for him, and his motion was negatived by a majority of 34.
But meanwhile the feeling of the Irish nation was with Grattan. The volunteers now began to take a prominent part in the agitation. On July 13th, 1780, 2,700 of the Ulster contingent assembled at Belfast and presented an address to Lord Charlemont, then Commander-in-Chief, in which they stated that only the King, Lords and Commons of Ireland had power to bind Ireland.521 There were now about 80,000 volunteers under arms, and volunteer meetings all over the country followed the example of the North and passed resolutions asserting the independence of the Irish Parliament. There was a growing dislike on the part of Irish juries to recognise the validity of British Statutes which had not been made law by the Irish legislature on all matters which concerned the trade of Ireland. An instance of this occurred in Kerry in 1781, where a smuggling vessel laden with rum from the West Indies, was seized by the customs officers, it being still illegal by virtue of a British Act to import rum direct from the West Indies. But when the case was tried it was found that the jury refused to find a verdict against the ship, on the ground that there was no Irish Act prohibitive of the trade; indeed, they even found
p.220damages against the revenue officers for illegal arrest.522 The commercial difficulties with Portugal increased the growing suspicion of England. It was found that the free trade granted to Ireland was not doing her much good, for the war confined her trade to a few countries, and the chief of these, Portugal, now refused to receive Irish manufactures.523 The matter aroused great indignation in the Irish Parliament. It was suspected that the British Ministry were not doing their utmost in favour of Ireland in the negotiations which were proceeding with the Portuguese Government, for, as Portugal was at this time on the most friendly terms with Great Britain, sufficient pressure should have induced her to remove her prohibition on the importation of Irish goods524 But the affair dragged on and on. Efforts to address the Crown on the matter of pressing the negotiations were defeated by Government, and the feeling became still more prevalent that as long as England legislated for Ireland in all commercial matters, so long would Ireland be liable to such insults as she was now receiving from Portugal.
During the year 1781 discontent in Ireland increased, and the huge army of volunteers began to alarm the Government. Their organisation and discipline had made great progress, and when Lord Carlisle, the new Viceroy, met Parliament in October he found the volunteers a most formidable body, and the whole country in a state of commotion concerning legislative independence.525 The people seemed united, and the Lord Lieutenant expressed a hope that Ireland would not be mentioned in any new Bills to be passed that year in the British Parliament, as such a policy might be highly dangerous under the present circumstances. He added that it was quite unnecessary for Great Britain to include Ireland in her laws, for "every
p.221regulation or restriction which Great Britain may think fit to subject herself to, and which she may consider as equally incumbent on Ireland, will be cheerfully adopted by this country and effectually executed by Irish law."526
On February 22nd, 1782, Grattan again moved his Declaration of Irish Rights. The Attorney-General opposed the motion, and suggested that it should be adjourned till the following August. He managed to get a majority to support him by declaring that Grattan's proposal was "hazardous to the properties in this country held under English Acts of Parliament,"527 and the motion was lost by sixty-nine votes. But in his very interesting account of this debate Carlisle wrote that throughout its whole course "the principle of Ireland not being bound by Acts of the British legislature, was most strenuously supported by every man who spoke on either side, even by those the most zealous in support of the measures of Government." He thought that there was no reason to anticipate a change in this attitude, for every rank and order in the nation was full of the idea of the independence of the Irish Parliament, and it was extremely doubtful whether any lawyer would now advise his clients to bring a cause to issue upon the validity of a British Act in Ireland, or whether any jury would be found to give a verdict upon the same foundation. "Should any Act," Carlisle added, "hereafter pass in Great Britain with the apparent tendency of binding this kingdom, I should apprehend the most serious difficulties and embarrassment to His Majesty's Government."528
The famous meeting at Dungannon in this same month of February, where delegates from the whole body of Ulster volunteers assembled, caused further excitement in Ireland, and made the situation of Government still more difficult.
p.222One hundred and forty-three delegates came together at this meeting. It was held in the parish church, and the proceedings were so quiet and orderly that it was impossible for Government to interfere, even had it dared. The most important resolution passed was one declaring "that a claim of any body of men other than the King, Lords, and Commons of Ireland to make laws to bind this kingdom is unconstitutional, illegal, and a grievance." It was also resolved "that the ports of this country are by right open to all foreign countries not at war with the King, and that any burden thereupon or obstruction thereto, save only by the Parliament of Ireland, are unconstitutional, illegal, and a grievance." Other resolutions concerning a sessional Mutiny Bill and the independence of the judges were passed, and finally one that was very remarkable, coming as it did from an intensely Protestant body. The meeting resolved, with only two dissentient voices, "that we hold the right of private judgment in matters of religion to be equally sacred in others as in ourselves. Resolved, therefore, that, as men and as Irishmen, as Christians and as Protestants, we rejoice in the relaxation of the penal laws against our Roman Catholic fellow-subjects, and that we conceive the measure to be fraught with the happiest consequences to the union and prosperity of the inhabitants of Ireland."529 Thus the Dungannon resolutions included everything necessary to the progress of Ireland; legislative freedom, parliamentary control over the army, religious equality, freedom of trade. All Ireland adopted these resolutions, and meetings were held in every county by freeholders and grand juries formally accepting them.530
From this time the Lord Lieutenant gave up all hope of defeating the new ideas of legislative independence. In March he wrote to the British Government that the policy of Great Britain had greatly aggravated the situation.
p.223"The actual exercise of the British Parliament over Ireland," he wrote, "was utterly and totally Impracticable long before I arrived in this kingdom," for no revenue officers or magistrates dared enforce an English law. Even the mere recollection of the British claim was an object of jealous uneasiness, "but might perhaps have gradually been weakened if four or five Acts had not passed in the last session of the British Parliament which (whether inadvertently or otherwise I am not informed) named Ireland."531 A little later Carlisle pressed the matter still further. "It is beyond a doubt," he wrote, "that the practicability of governing Ireland by English laws is become utterly visionary. It is with me equally beyond a doubt that Ireland may be well and happily governed by its own laws. It is, however, by no means clear that if the present moment is neglected this country will not be driven into a state of confusion, the end of which no man can foresee or limit."532 Carlisle recommended that an important Irish Bill, which had just been transmitted to England, should be returned without any material alteration, and he even ventured to suggest "that it may deserve the serious consideration of the Ministers [...] whether the repeal of the 6 Geo. I.533 might not be a measure equally becoming and wise." On every other point Grattan could be opposed, but in view of the state of public feeling even the most loyal friends of Government could not be expected to offer a resistance to the motion declaratory of Irish Rights, which was to be again taken up on April 16th.534 Some of the gentry had already been deprived of their commands in the volunteer corps because of their support of Government, and it was Carlisle's serious opinion that if the first day of the next meeting of Parliament did not quiet the minds of the
p.224people on the all-important point, "hardly a friend of Government will have any prospect of holding his seat for a county or popular corporation; and, what is more immediately interesting, they will also lose their present salutary influence over the armed associations."535
Fortunately, when the Irish Parliament met on April 16th circumstances had changed, and Great Britain was no longer opposed to a policy of conciliation. Much had happened during the last month. The Dungannon Resolutions had been adopted everywhere, Great Britain had been finally defeated in America, and a total change had taken place in the British Ministry, Fox being appointed instead of North. The Duke of Portland came over as Viceroy, with Fitzpatrick as his secretary, with orders to adopt a policy of conciliation. The whole policy of Government suddenly changed; the members of the Irish Parliament ceased to be persuaded to oppose Grattan, and Government decided to yield to popular opinion. On the first day of the session the Secretary of State delivered a message in the Commons from the Lord Lieutenant, stating that he was commanded by the King to recommend to the House to take into their most serious consideration the discontents and jealousies prevailing among his loyal subjects of Ireland, "in order to arrive at such a final adjustment as might give mutual satisfaction to the kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland." The restraining hand of Government being thus removed, Grattan's success was a foregone conclusion. He moved his original motion as an amendment to the address to the King. "To assure his Majesty," it ran, "that his subjects of Ireland are a free people. That the Crown of Ireland is an Imperial Crown inseparably annexed to the Crown of Great Britain, on which connection the interests and happiness of both nations depend. But that the kingdom of Ireland is a distinct kingdom, with a Parliament of her own, the sole
p.225legislature thereof. That there is no body of men competent to make laws to bind this nation except the King, Lords, and Commons of Ireland, nor any other Parliament which hath any authority or power of any sort whatsoever in this country, save only the Parliament of Ireland. To assure His Majesty that we humbly conceive that in this right the very essence of our liberties exists, a right which we, on the part of all the people of Ireland, do claim as their birthright, and which we cannot yield but with our lives."536 This amendment was carried without a single negative voice537, and the enthusiasm in the country was so great that the new Viceroy wrote that he thought it was his duty to state shortly what he conceived would be the result of refusing or delaying to gratify the wishes of the Irish people. "I must declare it to be my opinion," he solemnly wrote, "that in either case there would be an end of all government."538 It was no longer the Parliament of Ireland, Portland warned the British Government, which had to be managed; it was the whole country. "The Church, the law, the army, the merchant, the tradesman, the manufacturer, the farmer, the labourer, the Catholic, the Dissenter, the Protestant, all sects, all sorts and descriptions of men [...] unanimously and most audibly call upon Great Britain for a full and unequivocal satisfaction."539 The representations of the Viceroy destroyed what little resistance was still left in England, and on May 4th, when the debate on the Irish claims took place, Fox at once proposed the repeal of the declaratory Act of 6 Geo. I., which laid down the dependence of the Irish Parliament. There was little opposition, and on May 27th the Duke of Portland informed the Irish Parliament that the declaratory Act had been repealed.
But the simple repeal of the 6 Geo. I. failed to settle matters satisfactorily. Grattan was content, but a large party in the country, headed by Flood, was still dissatisfied. It was thought that Great Britain might go back from her word, and might still try to bind Ireland unless the British Parliament passed an Act explicitly stating that it had no power over Ireland. The Irish Parliament had been dependent upon England long before the declaratory Act was passed; it might therefore remain in its dependent position after the repeal of the Act. Unfortunately, just at this time England was not sufficiently guarded in the wording of her Acts, and two English trade laws were drawn up in such a wayprobably through mere carelessnessas to include Ireland. For example, an Act was passed in England on June 4th to allow the importation of sugars from St. Christopher's, Nevis and Montserrat "into any of the ports of His Majesty's dominions." Ireland was not mentioned by name, but it was thought that she must be included, as the Act mentioned all the King's dominions.540 This increased the suspicion that England did not mean to give Ireland complete legislative independence, and made the Irish determined to get a formal renunciation of power from England. Lord Abingdon's motion in the British Parliament brought matters to a head. He moved for leave to bring in a Bill declaring the right of the Parliament of Great Britain to regulate and control the external commerce and foreign trade of Ireland, and repealing any legislation which withdrew any portion of the commerce of Ireland from its control. It is true that this Bill was never introduced, but it had a bad effect on the minds of the Irish people, and increased their already existing suspicions of England. There was an idea prevalent that Great Britain might attempt to distinguish between external and internal independence, so that Irish trade would
p.227never be safe from interference until the British Parliament actually denied its own right to meddle with it. There was no hope of quieting the country until this was done, and on December 20th Government, pressed on all sides, at last promised to bring in a Bill to settle the matter. On January 22nd, 1783, the Bill was brought in and passed by the British Parliament, renouncing explicitly all legislative and judicial supremacy over Ireland. It was the short-lived charter of Irish legislative independence.541
From this time until the Union the commercial relations between Great Britain and Ireland were on quite a new basis. England ceased to have any power over Irish commerce, and Ireland was now able, if she liked, to follow England's example and prohibit English goods from entering her ports, or at least impose very heavy duties upon them.
The legislative settlement quieted for a time the agitation in the country, and very soon Ireland began to benefit from the trade concessions of 1779 and 1780. At first, however, the progress was slow. The refusal of Portugal to take Irish linen and woollen goods produced some distress, for large quantities had immediately been sent there only to find they were refused admittance. It was not until May, 1782, that Portugal at last allowed Irish manufactures to be imported542, but in the following year this concession was again withdrawn, and a fresh prohibition was placed by Portugal on the importation of Irish camblets, broad and narrow stuffs, flannels, and bays,543 and it was some time before the Portuguese Government could be induced to reverse its decision. In 1783 there seems to have been a good deal of distress in Dublin and some other parts of the country. There had been a bad harvest in England and Scotland, and in consequence
p.228there was an enormous demand in those countries for corn, and very large prices were offered. This was a temptation to Irish farmers to send their grain away instead of selling it at home, and as the Irish harvest, particularly of oats, the food of the poorest classes, had also been defective, the prices of all kinds of grain rose enormously. It was not possible for grain to be imported from the Continent, for the superior prices offered in Great Britain drew all the surplus of grain there, and the Lord Lieutenant was obliged to issue a proclamation forbidding grain to be exported from Ireland.544 This prevented the existing supply of grain from decreasing, but the high prices were sufficient to bring great distress upon the poorer classes. There was also a general want of employment during this year, and every manufacturing interest began to clamour loudly for protective duties. It was said that Great Britain and France and all other free countries had raised themselves to commercial prosperity in this way, and why should not Ireland follow their example? Nothing but protective duties, it was thought, could put Irish manufacturers on an equality with British manufacturers, and effectually counterbalance all the advantages possessed by them.
As a matter of fact there was a good deal of reason in these demands for protective duties. The trade concessions of 1779 and 1780, great and important though they were, had nevertheless not put Ireland on terms of equality with Great Britain in all matters of commerce. No British goods were prohibited from being brought into Ireland, and on none were heavy duties placed. Even in those cases where comparatively heavy duties were laid on articles which could be produced in Great Britain, an exception was nearly always made in favour of Great Britain. With very few exceptions Ireland at this time imposed a 10 per cent on all articles imported, and a 5 per
p.229cent duty on all articles exported. The Irish Parliament still regarded the customs as a means of raising revenue, not of affording protection.
Very different was the treatment which Ireland received at the hands of Great Britain. Many Irish goods were prohibited by law from being brought into Great Britain at all; these were wrought silks, silk stockings, silk gloves and mittens, leather gloves, lace, fringe, and embroidery, and copper and brass work. At the same time the importation from Ireland of the following articles was practically prohibited by the imposition of extremely heavy duties varying from 30 to 60 per cent: all kinds of woollen cloth, all kinds of stuffs mixed with wool, refined sugars, beer, hops, all cotton manufactures, manufactures of linen and cotton mixed, printed linens, cotton stockings, thread stockings, leather manufactures, tallow candles, starch and soap.545 The consequence was that the British markets were practically shut against all Irish goods except provisions and plain linen cloth, which were admitted duty free. It was noticed at the time that in spite of the low duties paid on the importation of British goods into Ireland, the revenue obtained from them was far more than that obtained from duties on Irish goods imported into Great Britain.546 This proves that the British import duties were practically prohibitory. The Irish merchant had little capital or credit, and even under the most favourable circumstances he could hardly have competed with the British merchants in their own markets. But under the conditions prevailing, it was impossible for him to attempt to compete. The following table547 gives the duties payable on certain articles imported into Great
p.230Britain and Ireland respectively, and shows the great disadvantages under which Ireland laboured in her commercial relations with Great Britain.
|Articles||Import duties payable in England £ s. d.||Import duties payable in Ireland (Brit. money) £ s. d.|
|Old Drapery, per yard||2 0 6.4||0 0 5.5|
|New Drapery||0 5 11.5||0 0 1.95|
|Mixed Linen and Cotton Goods, for every £100 value||29 25 10||9 18 5.4|
|Printed Linens, for every £100 value||65 10 10||9 18 5.4|
|Leather Manufactures, for every £100 value||65 10 10||9 18 5.4|
|Checks, for every £100 value||35 15 0|||
|Refined Sugar, per cwt.||5 6 9.95||1 13 11.8|
|Starch, per cwt.||4 12 1.85||0 6 5.6|
Besides being shut out from the British markets, the Irish merchant, although he could now trade directly with the plantations, was not allowed to export plantation produce to great Britain. It was feared that if such an export trade were permitted, the natural advantages of Ireland would enable her to become the emporium for plantation goods and thus transfer to her a great part of Britain's carrying trade. Ireland was also not allowed to trade directly with the territories included in the East India Company's charter, but had to take all East Indian, Persian, and Chinese goods through the medium of Great Britain. Irish subjects, too, were not allowed to trade with the territories between the Cape of Good Hope and the Straits of Magellan, like British subjects.
Thus there was no real commercial equality between the two countries. The old narrow commercial spirit
p.231was by no means dead in England, nor had the new idea of freedom of trade yet come to the front. It is, of course, extremely doubtful whether Ireland would have gained much at this time from the opening of the British markets to her manufactures, for she was not yet sufficiently advanced, industrially speaking, to compete with British manufacturers in their own markets. The re-export trade in plantation goods might have benefited her to some degree, though certainly not to the extent feared by Great Britain, while Ireland was not yet in a position to trade profitably to the East on her own account. But the Irish had gained so much within the last few years that they resented not having gained all, and it seemed really unjust that British merchants should be able to import all their goods into Ireland on payment of low duties, while Irish manufacturers were excluded from the British markets. It was insisted that if Great Britain thought it necessary to protect herself from a poor country like Ireland, where industries were but in their infancy, surely it was absolutely necessary for Ireland to protect her infant and struggling industries from the vigorous competition of the British. Added to this sense of injustice there was for a short time a certain amount of poverty and distress in some parts of the country and a good deal of want of employment in Dublin.549 Therefore, the clamour that now arose for protective duties is perfectly comprehensible under the circumstances that existed.
The demand for protective duties had begun as early as 1780 on the part of the sugar refiners and the woollen and linen manufacturers,550 but at the end of 1783 it was much more insistent and widespread. In October a petition of the workers employed in the broadcloth manufacture was presented and read before the Irish House of Commons, complaining of the way in which they were being
p.232undersold by English woollen merchants, and of the small duties levied on the importation of woollen manufactures, and petitioning for protective duties similar to those imposed by Great Britain.551 A similar petition was soon afterwards sent up by the worsted weavers of the county and city of Dublin on behalf of themselves and the other worsted weavers of Ireland,552 and the Mayor, Sheriffs, commons, and citizens of Dublin presented a petition for preventing the exportation of the raw material for the manufacture.553 Petitions for protective duties were sent up by many other trades, notably by the wire manufacturers of Dublin554 and by the journeymen hatters,555 and the feeling ran so high that in March, 1784, a committee of the House of Commons was appointed to enquire into the state of the trade and manufactures of Ireland, and to consider the expediency of granting bounties on the sale of Irish manufactures. Little was said about the possibility of protective duties, and the Lord Lieutenant wrote that he was not apprehensive of Parliament imposing such duties, as "the considerate men of this country are too sensible of the loss which Ireland would sustain by provoking England to retaliation." He thought, however, that the British Government should in justice either allow the present Irish duties on British manufactures to be somewhat raised, or assure Ireland that the prohibitory duties on Irish manufactures would be lowered in Great Britain. It was his opinion that this latter alternative might be adopted without any risk to the English manufacturers from Irish competition.556 But North replied that the Lord Lieutenant's suggestion was impossible and that Great Britain ought to be left her few advantages in trade because of her heavy taxation due to the fact
p.233that the chief weight of supporting the Empire fell on her.557 In April the matter of protective duties was definitely taken up in the Irish House of Commons by Mr Gardiner. He said that the interference of Parliament was necessary to remove the difficulties under which Irish industries laboured, and he proposed that an additional duty of 2s. 6d. a yard should be levied upon old drapery imported into Ireland. He declared that the disagreement on the subject was simply one of degree, for some of the existing duties, such as those on beer, refined sugar, corn, and flour were really protective in their nature, so that Parliament would not be adopting any new principle by accepting his proposal.558 But the feeling of the House was against Gardiner. Foster pointed out that the matter was to a great extent one of expediency and that in this instance protective duties would only serve to irritate England without doing any good to Ireland. Many other Members feared that if England's hostility were aroused she might refuse to import Irish linens, and as Irish linens were excluded from the chief markets of the Continent by means of heavy duties, this would be most injurious to Ireland's staple manufacture.559 Gardiner's proposal was therefore negatived by 123 to 37 votes, and he made no attempt to renew it.
The rejection by the Irish Parliament of the proposed protective duties on the importation of woollen cloth gave rise to considerable disturbances in Dublin. There were outrages and riots which had to be suppressed by the military. Members of Parliament who supported the Government were insulted, the press was seditious, and non-importation agreements began to be renewed in the capital. On April 22nd a public meeting of the citizens
p.234of Dublin was held at the Tholsel, and it was resolved to re-enact the non-importation agreement as long as any restrictions remained on Irish trade, and as long as the Irish manufacturers supplied their goods at reasonable prices.560 Tradesmen and artisans who imported English goods were ill treated, and the lowest section of the Dublin populace took the opportunity to make themselves as troublesome as possible. "Their resentment," wrote Rutland, "is not now confined to persons importing English goods, but is let loose upon any persons whose conduct crosses their immediate private interests; and accordingly several have suffered from working at low wages, for assisting at branches of manufacture to which they are not regularly bred, and from having come in from the country to work in Dublin when combinations among the journeymen had prevented the master manufacturers from carrying on their business."561 But these riots and disturbances only lasted a few months and they were practically confined to Dublin. They were chiefly caused by the scarcity of grain and potatoes and by a certain want of employment, and with the growing prosperity of the country quiet was soon restored. The non-importation agreements, however, continued during this and the next year, and although they did not this time spread beyond Dublin, they caused much loss to British manufacturers and were one of the reasons which made Pitt anxious for a new commercial settlement with Ireland.
The policy of the Irish Parliament during the next year did much to quiet the minds of the people. Although the Commons had refused to impose duties to protect the Irish woollen manufacture, they placed additional duties on refined sugars, beer, wire, and printed calicoes, now with no exception in favour of England.562 Bounties were also
p.235granted by the Irish Parliament on the exportation of refined sugars, on corn and flour imported under certain conditions, on the carriage of corn and flour to Dublin, inland and coastways, on fishing vessels, on cured fish exported, on Irish coals brought to Dublin, and on wrought silks exported.563 Most of the import duties, however, remained comparatively low, and except in the cases which have just been mentioned, those additional duties which were imposed were not extended to articles of British growth and manufacture. On the whole Ireland treated Great Britain generously. The duty of 10s. the barrel laid upon all herrings imported did not extend to British herrings; Great Britain was excepted from the additional duties levied on the importation of paper, linens, and thread; Irish Acts laid down that no hops could be imported into the kingdom except from Great Britain or the British colonies in America; and glass, gold and silver lace, cambric and lawns could only be imported into Ireland if of British manufacture.564 But in spite of the moderation of the Irish Parliament in its new-found freedom, public feeling in Great Britain was very nervous at the commercial independence of Ireland. In 1785 Fox admitted that it was only with great reluctance and under pressure of an overwhelming necessity that he had consented three years before to the abandonment of the British right of commercial legislation for the whole Empire, and the British Government was becoming more and more anxious to conclude some sort of commercial treaty with Ireland. The Irish Parliament was no less anxious for a measure which might quiet the minds of the people, and in 1785 Pitt brought forward his Commercial Propositions, by which he hoped to settle the matter of commercial relations with Ireland once for all.