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The Treatise of Ireland, the last considerable product of Petty's pen, can be understood only by reference to his relations with James II. and to the purpose for which the Treatise was written. In Petty's experiments in ship-building and in his writings upon naval matters, James, as Lord High Admiral, had taken a lively interest. After his accession to the throne, he appears to have continued to repose confidence in Petty, granting him repeated interviews[1] and encouraging his scheme for a royal statistical office. Petty thereupon fancied that his ideas concerning the management of Irish affairs would have weight with the King. At the same time his growing realization of the dangers involved in Tyrconnel's violent Catholic policy supplied him with a further motive for submitting to James those "political pastimes and paradoxes concerning a perpetual peace and settlement of Ireland" which had long occupied his attention. He accordingly embodied his ideas in A Treatise of Ireland, designed both to convey a warning lest the importance of the Protestant interest in that island be underestimated, and also to propose a plan for the final solution of the perennial Irish Question.

The date of the Treatise can be determined within a few weeks. It was completed after Petty had received the returns of the Irish customs for the midsummer quarter, 1687[2], and it was ready for presentation to the King by the first week in September[3].

  1. Fitzmaurice, 275–284, Clarendon to Rochester, 17 Nov., 1686, Correspondence, ii. 67.
  2. See p. 588.
  3. Sunday 4 [Sept.] this Evening.

    I am just now sent to from Bath where The King will be on Tuesday for ye papers in your hands. I blush to presse you for your perusall of them, & to make your Remarques with that frendly Severity you promised. As for ye Truth in Matter of fact & ye justnesse of my Inferences I am content to venture them at ye perill of my Veracity & Reputation. But Whether The King will be