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which won universal admiration for its boldness, sublimity, and compass of thought. Lord Charlemont remarked afterward, in speaking of this effort, and of Mr. Grattan's weakness of health when he came forward, that “if ever spirit could be said to act independent of body, it was on that occasion.” It was in vain for the friends of the minister to resist. The resolutions were carried almost by acclamation. Mr. Fox, when he heard the result, decided instantly to yield, declaring that he would rather see Ireland wholly separated from the crown of England than held in subjection by force. He, therefore, soon after brought in a bill for repealing the act of the sixth of George First
As an expression of their gratitude for these services, the Parliament of Ireland voted the sum of £100,000 to purchase Mr. Grattan an estate. His feelings led him, at first, to decline the grant; but, as his patrimony was inadequate to his support in the new position he occupied, he was induced, by the interposition of his friends, to accept one half the amount.
Mr. Flood had been greatly chagrined at the ascendency gained by Mr. Grattan, and he now endeavored to depreciate his efforts by contending that the "simple repeal" of the act of the sixth of George First was of no real avail; that the English Parliament must pass a distinct act, renouncing all claim to make law for Ireland. Every one now sees that the pretense was a ridiculous one ; but he succeeded in confusing and agitating the minds of the people on this point, until he robbed Mr. Grattan, to a considerable extent, of the honor of his victory. He came out, at last, into open hostility, stigmatizing him as “a mendicant patriot, subsisting on the public accounts—who, bought by his country for a sum of money, had sold his country for prompt payment.” Mr. Grattan instantly replied in a withering piece of invective, to be found below, depicting the character and political life of his opponent, and ingeniously darkening every shade that rested on his reputation.
As most of the extracts in this selection are taken from the early speeches of Mr. Grattan, it will be unnecessary any farther to trace his history. Suffice it to say, that, although he lost his popularity at times, through the influence of circumstances or the arts of his enemies, he devoted himself throughout life to the defense of his country's interests. He was vehemently opposed to the union with England ; but his countrymen were so much divided that it was impossible for any one to prevent it. At a later period (1805), he became a member of the Parliament of Great Britain, where he uniformly maintained those principles of toleration and popular government which he had supported in Ireland. He was an ardent champion of Catholic Emancipation, and may be said to have died in the cause. He had undertaken, in 1820, to present the Catholic Petition, and support it in Parliament, notwithstanding the remonstrances of his medical attendants, who declared it would be at the hazard of his life. “I should be happy,” said he, “to die in the discharge of my duty." Exhausted by the journey, he did die almost immediately after his arrival in London, May 14th, 1820, at the age of seventy, and was buried, with the highest honors of the nation, in Westminster Abbey. His character was irreproachable ; and Sir James Mackintosh remarked, in speaking of his death in the House of Commons, “He was as eminent in his observance of all the duties of private life, as he was heroic in the discharge of his public ones.” “I never knew a man,” said Wilberforce, “ whose patriotism and love for his country seemed so completely to extinguish all private interests, and to induce him to look invariably and exclusively to the public good.”
The personal appearance and delivery of Mr. Grattan are brought vividly before us in one of the lively sketches of Charles Phillips. “ He was short in stature, and unprepossessing in appearance. His arms were disproportionately long. His walk was a stride. With a person swinging like a pendulum, and an abstracted air, he
seemed always in thought, and each thought provoked an attendant gesticulation. How strange it is, that a mind so replete with grace, and symmetry, and power, and splendor, should have been allotted such a dwelling for its residence! Yet so it was; and so, also, was it one of his highest attributes that his genius, by its' excessive light,' blinded his hearers to his physical imperfections. It was the victory of mind over matter.” “The chief difficulty in this great speaker's way was the first five minutes. During his exordium laughter was imminent. He bent his body almost to the ground, swung his arms over his head, up, and down, and around him, and added to the grotesqueness of his manner a hesitating tone and drawling emphasis. Still, there was an earnestness about him that at first besought, and, as he warmed, enforced, nay, commanded attention.”
The speeches of Mr. Grattan afford unequivocal proof, not only of a powerful intellect, but of high and original genius. There was nothing commonplace in his thoughts, his images, or his sentiments. Every thing came fresh from his mind, with the vividness of a new creation. His most striking characteristic was, condensation and rapidity of thought. “Semper instans sibi,” pressing continually upon himself, he never dwelt upon an idea, however important; he rarely presented it under more than one aspect; he hardly ever stopped to fill out the intermediate steps of his argument. His forte was reasoning, but it was " logic on fire ;” and he seemed ever to delight in flashing his ideas on the mind with a sudden, startling abruptness. Hence, a distinguished writer has spoken of his eloquence as a “combination of cloud, whirlwind, and flame”—a striking representation of the occasional obscurity and the rapid force and brilliancy of his style. But his incessant effort to be strong made him sometimes unnatural. He seems to be continually straining after effect. He wanted that calmness and self-possession which mark the highest order of minds, and show their consciousness of great strength. When he had mastered his subject, his subject mastered him. His great efforts have too much the air of harangues. They sound more like the battle speeches of Tacitus than the orations of Demosthenes.
His style was elaborated with great care. It abounds in metaphors, which are always striking, and often grand. It is full of antithesis and epigrammatic turns, which give it uncommon point and brilliancy, but have too often an appearance of labor and affectation. His language is select. His periods are easy and fluentmade up of short clauses, with but few or brief qualifications, all uniting in the expression of some one leading thought. His rhythmus is often uncommonly fine. In the peroration of his great speech of April 19th, 1780, we have one of the best specimens in our language of that admirable adaptation of the sound to the sense which distinguished the ancient orators.
Though Mr. Grattan is not a safe model in every respect, there are certain purposes for which his speeches may be studied with great advantage. Nothing can be better suited to break up a dull monotony of style—to give raciness and pointto teach a young speaker the value of that terse and expressive language which is, to the orator especially, the finest instrument of thought.
SPEECH OF MR. GRATTAN IN THE IRISH HOUSE OF COMMONS IN MOVING A DECLARATION OF IRISH
RIGHT, DELIVERED APRIL 19, 1780.
INTRODUCTION. Ireland had been treated by the English, for three centuries, like a conquered nation. A Parliament had indeed been granted her, but a well-known statute, called Poynings' Act, had so abridged the rights of that Parliament, as to render it almost entirely dependent on the English Crown. By the provisions of this act, which was passed in 1494, through the agency of Sir Edward Poynings, then Lord Deputy of Ireland, no session of the Irish Parliament could be held without a license previously obtained from the King of England in council, on the recommendation of the Deputy and his council in Ireland. Thus, the English government had power to prevent the Irish Parliament from ever assembling, except for parposes which the King saw reason to approve. At a later period, there was indeed a relaxation of the severity of this act, but the restraints still imposed were borne reluctantly by the Irish, and gave rise at times to violent struggles. Under such an administration, the commercial and manufacturing interests of Ireland were wholly sacrificed to those of the English; the exportation of woolen goods, and of most other articles of English manufacture, and also the direct import of foreign articles, being denied the Irish. These restrictions had been removed in part, as already stated, on the ground of "expediency," by an act of the British Parliament, passed December 13, 1779, under the terror of the Irish Volunteers; and Mr. Grattan, with the same instrument of compulsion in his hands, now moved the Irish Parliament to a Declaration of Right, which should deny the authority of England to make laws for Ireland—an authority asserted by an act of the British Parliament, passed in the sixth year of George I.
SPEECH, &c. I have entreated an attendance on this day, You can not dictate to those whose sense you that you might, in the most public manner, deny are instructed to represent. the claim of the British Parliament to make law Your ancestors, who sat within these walls, for Ireland, and with one voice lift up your hands lost to Ireland trade and liberty. You, by the against it.
assistance of the people, have recovered trade. If I had lived when the ninth of William took You owe the kingdom a CONSTITUTION; she calls Duty of resist away the woolen manufacture, or upon you to restore it. ing at the earlic when the sixth of George the First The ground of public discontent seems to be, pSosible. took away your Constitution, I should "We have gotten commerce, but not freedom." have made a covenant with my own conscience, The same power which took away the export to seize the first reasonable moment of rescuing of woolen and the export of glass, may take them my country from the ignominy of such acts of away again. The repeal is partial, and the power; or, if I had a son, I should have admin- ground of repeal is a principle of expediency. istered to him an oath that he would consider Sir, expedient is a word of appropriated and himself as a person separate and set apart for tyrannical import-expedient is a word Case of Ire the discharge of so important a duty.
selected to express the reservation of land and of Upon the same principle am I now come to authority, while the exercise is mitigat- compared. move a Declaration of Right, the first moment ed-expedient is the ill-omened expression in occurring in my time, in which such a declara- the repeal of the American Stamp Act. En. tion could be made with any chance of success, gland thought it "expedient” to repeal that law. and without an aggravation of oppression. Happy had it been for mankind if, when she
Sir, it must appear to every person that, not- withdrew the exercise, she had not reserved the The commer. withstanding the import of sugar, and right. To that reservation she owes the loss of sions not sat. export of woolens,' the people of this American empire, at the expense of millions;
country are not satisfied; something and America the seeking of liberty through a remains—the greater work is behind-the pub- scene of bloodshed. The repeal of the Woolen lic heart is not well at ease. To promulgate our Act, similarly circumstanced, pointed against the satisfaction, to stop the throats of millions with principle of our liberty, may be a subject for ilthe votes of Parliament, to preach homilies to the luminations to a populace, or a pretense for aposVolunteers, to utter invectives against the peo- tacy to a courtier, but can not be a subject of ple under the pretense of affectionate advice, is settled satisfaction to a free born, an intelligent an attempt, weak, suspicious and inflammatory. and an injured community.
It is, therefore, they (the people of Ireland] 1 These were a part of the concession made by consider the free trade as a trade de facto, not Lord North
de jure-a license to trade under the Parliament
1780.) MR. GRATTAN ON MOVING A DECLARATION OF IRISH RIGHT. 387 of England, not a free trade under the charter of Henry, with the charter of John, and with all Free trade not Ireland-a tribute to her strength, to the passions of the people ! "Our lives are at granted to Ire maintain which she must continue in your service; but our liberties—we received land as a right.
a state of armed preparation, dread- them from God, we will not resign them to ing the approach of a general peace, and attrib- man!" Speaking to you thus, if you repulse uting all she holds dear to the calamitous condi- these petitioners, you abdicate the office of Partion of the British interest in every quarter of liament, you forfeit the rights of the kingdom, the globe. This dissatisfaction, founded upon a you repudiate the instructions of your constituconsideration of the liberty we have lost, is in-ent, you belie the sense of your country, you creased when they consider the opportunity they palsy the enthusiasm of the people, and you reare losing; for, if this nation, after the death-ject that good which not a minister—not a wound given to her freedom, had fallen on her Lord North—not a Lord Buckinghamshire-not knees in anguish, and besought the Almighty to a Lord Hillsborough, but a certain providential frame an occasion in which a weak and injured conjuncture, or, rather, the hand of God, seems people might recover their rights, prayer could to extend to you. not have asked, nor God have formed, a moment I read Lord North's propositions, and I wish more opportune for the restoration of liberty, than to be satisfied, but I am controlled by a paper this in which I have the honor to address you. (for I will not call it a law); it is the sixth of
England now smarts under the lesson of the George First. [Here the clerk, at Mr. GratThe situation American war. The doctrine of im- tan’s request, read from the Act of the sixth of of England en perial legislature she feels to be per- George I., “ that the kingdom of Ireland hath
nicious—the revenues and monopo- been, is, and of right ought to be, subordinate
lies annexed to it she found to be un- to and dependent upon the Imperial Crown of tenable. Her enemies are a host pouring upon Great Britain, as being inseparably united to and her from all quarters of the earth—her armies annexed thereunto; and that the King's Majesare dispersed—the sea is not her's—she has no ty, by and with the consent of the Lords spiritminister, no ally, no admiral, none in whom she ual and temporal, and the Commons of Great long confides, and no general whom she has not Britain in Parliament assembled, hath, and of disgraced. The balance of her fate is in the right ought to have, full power and authority to hands of Ireland. You are not only her last make laws and statutes of sufficient force and connection--you are the only nation in Europe validity to bind the kingdom and the people of that is not her enemy. Besides, there does, of Ireland.] late, a certain damp and supineness overcast her I will ask the gentlemen of the long robe, is arms and councils, miraculous as that vigor which this the law? I ask them whether it is This act is has lately inspirited yours. With you every thing not the practice? I appeal to the judges enforced. is the reverse. Never was there a Parliament of the land, whether they are not in a course of in Ireland so possessed of the confidence of the declaring that the Parliament of England nampeople. You are now the greatest political as- ing Ireland, binds her? I appeal to the magissembly in the world. You are at the head of trates of Ireland whether they do not, from time an immense army; nor do we only possess an to time, execute certain acts of the British Parunconquerable force, but a certain unquenchable liament? I appeal to the officers of the army, fire, which has touched all ranks of men like a whether they do not confine and execute their visitation. Turn to the growth and spring of fellow-subjects by virtue of the Mutiny Act of your country, and behold and admire it! England ? And I appeal to this House whether
Where do you find a nation who, upon what- a country so circumstanced is free? Where is Spirit of the ever concerns the rights of mankind, the freedom of trade ? Where is the security Irish nation. expresses herself with more truth or of property? Where the liberty of the people? force, perspicuity or justice — not in the set 1 here, in this Declaratory Act, see my country phrases of the scholiast; not the tame unreality proclaimed a slave! I see every man in this of the courtier; not the vulgar raving of the rab- House enrolled a bondsman! I see the judges ble; but the genuine speech of liberty, and the of the realm, the oracles of the law, borne down unsophisticated oratory of a free nation. See by an unauthorized power! I see the magisher military ardor, expressed not in forty thou- trates prostrate; and I see Parliament witness sand men conducted by instinct, as they were to these infringements, and silent! I therefore raised by inspiration, but manifested in the zeal say, with the voice of three millions of people, and promptitude of every young member of the that, notwithstanding the import of sugar, and growing community. Let corruption tremble ! export of woolen and kerseys, beetle-wood and Let the enemy, foreign or domestic, tremble ! prunellas, nothing is safe, satisfactory, or honorbut let the friends of liberty rejoice at these able ; nothing, except a Declaration of Right! means of safety and this hour of redemption—an What! Are you, with three millions enlightened sense of public right, a young ap- of men at your back, with charters in tion therefore petite for freedom, a solid strength, and a rapid one hand and arms in the other, afraid fire, which not only put a Declaration of Right to say, We are a free people ? Are you—the within your power, but put it out of your power greatest House of Commons that ever sat in Ireto decline one! Eighteen counties are at your land, that want but this one act to equal that bar. There they stand, with the compact of English House of Commons which the
Petition of Right, or that other, which passed consternation at the Custom-house, and, despis. the Declaration-are you, are you afraid to tell ing the example which great men afforded, tenthe British Parliament that you are a free peo- dered for entry prohibited manufactures, and ple? Are the cities and the instructing coun- sought, at his private risk, the liberty of his ties, who have breathed a spirit that would have country. With him, I am convinced, it is necdone honor to old Rome, when Rome did honor essary to agitate the question of right. In vain to mankind—are they to be free by connivance ? will you endeavor to keep it back; the passion Are the military associations — those bodies is too natural, the sentiment too irresistible; the whose origin, progress, and deportment have question comes on of its own vitality. You transcended, equaled, at least, any thing in mod must reinstate the laws. ern or ancient story, in the vast line of North- There is no objection to this resolution except ern array—are they to be free by connivance ? fears. I have examined your fears;
No ground of What man will settle among you? Who will I pronounce them to be frivolous. If fear for conse leave a land of liberty and a settled government England is a tyrant, it is you have for a kingdom controlled by the Parliament of made her so. It is the slave that makes the tyanother country; whose liberty is a thing by rant, and then murmurs at the master whom he stealth ; whose trade a thing by permission; himself has constituted. I do allow, on the subwhose judges deny her charters; whose Parlia- ject of commerce, England was jealous in the ment leaves every thing at random; where the extreme; and I do say, it was commercial jealhope of freedom depends on the chance that the ousy; it was the spirit of monopoly. The wooljury shall despise the judge stating a British en trade and the Act of Navigation had made her act, or a rabble stop the magistrate in the exe- tenacious of a comprehensive legislative authorcution of it, rescue your abdicated privileges by ity, and, having now ceded that monopoly, there anarchy and consusion, and save the Constitu- is nothing in the way of our liberty except our tion by trampling on the government ? own corruption and pusillanimity. Nothing can
But I shall be told that these are groundless prevent your being free, except yourselves; it is Nothing less
jealousies, and that the principal cities, not in the disposition of England, it is not in the
and more than one half the counties of interest of England, it is not in her force. What! the people.
the kingdom, are misguided men, rais- can eight millions of Englishmen, opposed to ing those groundless jealousies. Sir, they may twenty millions of French, seven millions of say so, and they may hope to dazzle with illu- Spanish, to three millions of Americans, reject minations, and they may sicken with addresses, the alliance of three millions in Ireland ? Can but the public imagination will never rest, nor eight millions of British men, thus outnumbered will her heart be well at ease; never, so long by foes, take upon their shoulders the expense as the Parliament of England claims or exer- of an expedition to enslave Ireland ? Will cises legislation over this country. So long as Great Britain, a wise and magnanimous country, this shall be the case that very free trade (oth- thus tutored by experience and wasted by war, erwise a perpetual attachment) will be the cause the French navy riding her channel, send an army of new discontent. It will create a pride and to Ireland to levy no tax, to enforce no law, to anwealth, to make you feel your indignities; it will swer no end whatever, except to spoliate the charfurnish you with strength to bite your chain; the ters of Ireland, and enforce a barren oppression ? liberty withheld poisons the good communicated. What! has England lost thirteen provinces ? The British minister mistakes the Irish charac-has she reconciled herself to this England offered ter. Had he intended to make Ireland a slave, loss, and will she not be reconciled substantially the he should have kept her a beggar. There is no to the liberty of Ireland ? Take no- America. middle policy. Win her heart by a restoration tice, that the very Constitution which I move of her right, or cut off the nation's right hand; you to declare, Great Britain herself offered to greatly emancipate, or fundamentally destroy! | America: it is a very instructive proceeding in We may talk plausibly to England ; but so long the British history. In 1778 a commission went as she exercises a power to bind this country, out with powers to cede to the thirteen provso long are the nations in a state of war. The inces of America totally and radically the legis. claims of the one go against the liberty of the lative authority claimed over her by the British other, and the sentiments of the latter go to op- Parliament;" and the commissioners, pursuant pose those claims to the last drop of her blood. to their powers, did offer to all, or any of the
The English Opposition, therefore, are right; American states, the total surrender of the leg. mere trade will not satisfy Ireland. They judge islative authority of the British Parliament. I of us by other great nations ; by the English will read you their letter to the Congress. nation, whose whole political life has been a (Here the letter was read, surrendering the struggle for liberty. They judge of us with a power, as aforesaid). What! bas England oftrue knowledge and just deference for our character, that a country enlightened as Ireland, the Irish Custom-house, which had been prohibited armed as Ireland, and injured as Ireland, will by an English act of Parliament, for the purpose of be satisfied with nothing less than liberty. I ad- trying the validity of the Act of the sixth of George mire that public-spirited merchant” who spread * This is the commission referred to in such se
vere terms by Mr. Burke in a speech delivered at 3 Alderman Horan, who offered goods for entry at Bristol. See page 297.