Front Page Titles (by Subject) 201.: To [HENRY DUNDAS] - Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence Vol. 6 Correspondence of Adam Smith
Return to Title Page for Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence Vol. 6 Correspondence of Adam Smith
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
201.: To [HENRY DUNDAS] - Adam Smith, Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence Vol. 6 Correspondence of Adam Smith 
Correspondence of Adam Smith, ed. E. C. Mossner and I. S. Ross, vol. VI of the Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence of Adam Smith (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1987).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence of Adam Smith and the associated volumes are published in hardcover by Oxford University Press. The six titles of the Glasgow Edition, but not the associated volumes, are being published in softcover by Liberty Fund. The online edition is published by Liberty Fund under license from Oxford University Press.
©Oxford University Press 1976. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be stored transmitted retransmitted lent or reproduced in any form or medium without the permission of Oxford University Press.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
To [HENRY DUNDAS]
MS., SRO GD51/1/355; BM Add. MSS. 34416 (copy: shorter version); Rae 353–5.
Edinburgh, 1 Nov. 1779
My Dear Lord
I am very happy to find that your Lordships opinion concerning the consequences of granting a free trade to Ireland1 coincides so perfectly with my own.
I cannot believe that the manufactures of G.B. can, for a century to come, suffer much from the rivalship of those of Ireland, even tho’ the Irish should be indulged in a free trade. Ireland has neither the Skill, nor the Stock which could enable her to rival England; and tho’ both may be acquired in time, to acquire them compleatly will require the operation of little less than a century. Ireland has neither coal nor Wood. The former seems to have been denied to her by nature; and tho her soil and climate are perfectly suited for raising the latter; yet to raise it to the same degree as in England will require more than a century. I perfectly agree with your Lordship too, that to crush the Industry of so great and so fine a province of the empire, in order to favour the monopoly of some particular towns in Scotland or England, is equally unjust and impolitic. The general opulence and improvement of Ireland might certainly, under proper management, afford much greater resources to Government, than can ever be drawn from a few mercantile or manufacturing towns.
Till the Irish Parliament sends over the Heads of their proposed Bill it may, perhaps, be uncertain what they understand by a free trade.
They may, perhaps, understand by it no more than the power of exporting their own produce to the forreign country where they can find the best Market. Nothing can be more just and reasonable than this demand; nor can anything be more unjust and unreasonable than some of the restraints which their industry in this respect at present labours under. They are prohibited under the heaviest penalties to export Glass to any country. Wool they can export only to G.B. Woollen goods they can export only from certain ports in their own country and to certain Ports in Great Britain.
They may mean to demand the power of importing such goods as they have occasion for, from any country where they can find them cheapest, subject to no other duties and restraints than such as may be imposed by their own parliament. This freedom, tho in my opinion perfectly reasonable, will interfere a little with some of our paltry monopolies. Glass, Hops, forreign Sugars, several sorts of East India goods can at present be imported only from Great Britain.
They may mean to demand a free trade to our american and African Plantations, free from the restraints which the 18th of the Present King imposed upon it, or at least from some of those restraints; such as, the prohibition of Exporting thither their own Woollen and Cotton Manufactures, Glass, Hats, Hops, gunpowder etc.2 This freedom, tho it would interfere with some of our monopolies, I am convinced, would do no harm to Great Britain. It would be reasonable indeed that whatever goods were exported from Ireland to those plantations should be subject to the like duties as those of the same kind exported from England; in the terms of the 18th of the present King.
They may mean to demand a free trade to Great Britain, their manufactures and produce when imported into this country being subjected to no other duties than the like manufactures and produce of our own. Nothing, in my opinion, would be more highly advantageous to both countries than this mutual freedom of trade. It would help to break down that absurd monopoly which we have most absurdly established against ourselves in favour of almost all the different classes of our own manufacturers.
Whatever the Irish mean to demand in this way, in the present situation of our affairs, I should think it madness not to grant it. Whatever they may demand our manufacturers, unless the leading and principal men among them are properly dealt with beforehand, will probably oppose it. That they may be so dealt with, I know from experience, and that it may be done at little expense and with no great trouble. I could even point out some persons, who, I think, are fit and likely to deal with them successfully for this purpose. I shall not say more upon this till I see you; which I shall do the first moment I can get out of this town.
I am much honoured by Mr Edens remembrance of me. I beg you will present my most respectful complements to him and that you will believe me to be
My Dear Lord, Most faithfully yours
[1 ]See Letter 200 from Dundas, dated 30 Oct., and Letter 202 addressed to Lord Carlisle, dated 8 Nov. 1779, also WN I.xi.m. 9 and V.iii.72.
[2 ]18 Geo. III (1778) c.55.