The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 13/From Francis Grant to Jonathan Swift - 1

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MARCH 14, 1733-4.

THOUGH I have been long an admirer of your wit and learning, I have not less valued and esteemed your publick spirit, and great affection to your native country. These valuable ingredients in your character, persuade me to propose to you what I apprehend may be for your country's benefit, and that you will excuse my taking the liberty to do it. As good principles dispose you, your real merit happily united with them, gives you weight and influence to promote the publick good; to which I am well assured your country owes not only the escaping many evils, but the establishment of many valuable articles for the increase of their wealth and strength. Though I am not a native of Ireland, I have always regarded it as so connected with this country, that the natives of both islands ought mutually to study and advance the advantage of each other. And it is in consequence of this principle, that I offer to your consideration, that your countrymen should heartily engage in and pursue the white herring, and cod fishing. This is a branch of trade which Providence has given opportunity to follow in both countries; neither can they prejudice one another, as there may be consumption for all that may be caught on both islands. There is nothing that would so effectually employ your poor, and prevent their going abroad, considering the great variety of trades necessary in this undertaking; it would also increase the consumption of your home manufactures, and increase the balance of your foreign trade.

The north and north-east parts of your island lie exceeding well, both for the cod and herring fishing, as will appear to you from their course, which is described in the enclosed pamphlet, if you take the trouble to look upon it; but encouragements are necessary to support a new undertaking in its infancy, because they are always, at the beginning, liable to charges and inconveniencies, which discourage private adventurers, if not supported by the publick. I have with great pleasure read, in the minutes of your parliament, of late years, several instances of their zeal for their country's good, which inclines me to believe they would readily receive and encourage a proposition of this nature, if properly introduced and recommended to them; and I shall reckon it a particular good fortune, if I could suggest what would be acceptable to you and them. I have been desirous to establish and improve this valuable branch of commerce in Britain, for which reason I have applied myself to it several years last past, and examined it in all its shapes, from whence I flatter myself to have acquired a thorough knowledge in the matter; and I am, with other gentlemen, endeavouring to obtain the necessary encouragements for it here; but it being late before we moved in our application, and appearance of a short session, I am afraid we shall make little progress at this time. Not being sufficiently acquainted with your laws and constitutions, I cannot take upon me to say what may be proper encouragements in your country; yet I may freely venture to assert one proposition, to which every one must assent, that it is the interest of any nation to grant premiums and bounties for the encouragement of any one branch of trade, which, in proportion to what is paid by the publick, and when that is paid only to its own subjects, brings into the kingdom ten times the value. And I may, with equal safety, advance this other proposition, that no article of trade better deserves encouragement, from both Britain and Ireland, than the fishing does; or that might be made of so great consequence and general benefit to both: to which I believe I may add, that there is not any business more natural to either, or the establishment whereof would receive more universal approbation and applause.

These things, from my opinion of your character, I thought I might take the liberty to trouble you with; which I was the more readily induced to, as it furnished me an opportunity of declaring, that I am, with great esteem, sir, your most obedient humble servant,

P. S. If you have any commands for me, or that you think I may be any ways useful in explaining or promoting this subject, I shall with pleasure obey you; in which case you may direct for me, merchant, in London.