Page images

necessities of your country. Do I demand of you, my fellowplacemen and brother-pensioners, that you should sacrifice any part of your stipends to the public exigency ? On the contrary, am I not daily increasing your emoluments and your numbers in proportion as the country becomes unable to provide for you? Do I require of you, my latest and most zealous proselytes, of you who have come over to me for the special purpose of supporting the war—a war, on the success of which you solemnly protest the salvation of Britain, and of civil society itself, depend-do I require of you, that you should make a temporary sacrifice in the cause of human nature, of the greater part of your private incomes ? No, Gentlemen, I scorn to take advantage of the eagerness of your zeal; and to prove that I think the sincerity of your attachment to me needs no such test, I will make your interest co-operate with your principle ; I will quarter many of you on the public supply, instead of calling on you to contribute to it; and, while their whole thoughts are absorbed in patriotic apprehensions for their country, I will dexterously force upon others the favourite objects of the vanity or ambition of their lives.”

Good God, sir, that he should have thought it prudent to have forced this contrast upon our attention; that he should triumphantly remind us of everything that shame should have withheld, and caution should have buried in oblivion ! Will those who stood forth with a parade of disinterested patriotism, and vaunted of the sacrifices they had made, and the exposed situation they had chosen, in order the better to oppose the friends of Brissot in England—will they thank the noble Lord for reminding us how soon these lofty professions dwindled into little jobbing pursuits for followers and dependants, as unfit to fill the offices procured for them, as the offices themselves were unfit to be created ?Will the train of newly-titled alarmists, of supernumerary negotiators, of pensioned paymasters, agents and commissaries, thank him for remarking to us how profitable their panic has been to themselves, and how expensive to their country? What a contrast, indeed, do we exhibit !—What in such an hour as this, at a moment pregnant with the national fate, when, pressing as the exigency may be, the hard task of squeezing the money from the pockets of an impoverished people, from the toil, the drudgery of the shivering poor, must make the most practised collector's heart ache while he tears it from them-can it be, that people of high rank, and professing high principles, that they or their families should seek to thrive on the spoils of misery, and fatten on the meals wrested from industrious poverty? Can it be, that this should be the case with the very persons, who state the unprecedented peril of the country as the sole cause of their being found in the ministerial ranks? The Constitution is in danger, religion is in danger, the very existence of the nation itself is endangered ; all personal and party considerations ought to vanish; the war must be supported by every possible exertion and by every possible sacrifice; the people must not murmur at their burden, it is for their salvation, their all is at stake. The time is come, when all honest and all disinterested men should rally round the Throne as round a standard; for what? Ye honest and disinterested men, to receive, for your own private emolument, a portion of those very taxes wrung from the people, on the pretence of saving them from the poverty and distress which you say the enemy would inflict, but which you take care no enemy shall be able to aggravate. Oh! shame! shame! is this a time for selfish intrigues, and the little dirty traffic for lucre and emolument ? Does it suit the honour of a gentleman to ask at such a moment? Does it become the honesty of a Minister to grant ? Is it intended to confirm the pernicious doctrine, so industriously propagated by many, that all public men are imposters, and that every politician has his price ? Or even where there is no principle in the bosom why does not prudence hint to the mercenary and the vain to abstain a while at least, and wait the fitting of the times ? Improvident impatience! Nay, even from those who seem to have no direct object of office or profit, what is the language which their actions speak? The Throne is in danger—" We will support the Throne; but let us share the smiles of Royalty”;-the order of nobility is in danger—"I will fight for nobility,” says the Viscount, “ but my zeal would be much greater if I were made an Earl." “ Rouse all the Marquis within me," exclaims the Earl, “and the peerage never turned forth a more undaunted champion in its cause than I shall prove. Stain my green riband blue," cries out the illustrious Knight," and the fountain of honour will have a fast and faithful servant.” What are the people to think of our sincerity ? What credit are they to give to our professions ?-Is this system to be persevered in ? Is there nothing that whispers to the right honourable gentleman that the crisis is too big, that the times are too gigantic to be valued by the little hackneyed and every-day means of ordinary corruption ?


It is Grattan's distinction to have been the only orator who was equally, or almost equally, successful in both the Irish and the Imperial Parliaments. His most celebrated speech was delivered on the 13th of May, 1805, in support of Fox's motion for going into committee on Catholic Disabilities. It was in that speech that, referring to the Irish Legislature of 1782, usually known as Grattan's Parliament, he said "I sat by her cradle, I followed her hearse.” It is a very powerful harangue, argumentative as well as rhetorical, in the course of which he said of Dr. Duigenan, “ I rise to rescue the Catholics from his attack, and the Protestants from his defence.” Pitt is well known to have been a great admirer of Grattan's speeches, and it is certainly remarkable that he should have succeeded so well at Westminster, when the first half of his Parliamentary life had been spent in so different an atmosphere. But his eloquence was genuine, and there was statesmanship as well as eloquence in the expression of his political ideas. He did his best to curb the Protestant bigotry of the Irish Parliament, though himself a Protestant, and procured the elective franchise for the Catholics in 1793. He did not live to see their admission to Parliament in 1829, when Peel acknowledged that their emancipation was largely due to his efforrs. Grattan always recognised facts, and there can be no doubt that he loyally accepted the Union against which he had fought, believing that it must lead to the equal treatment of the two religions.

Roman Catholic Emancipation

House of Commons, May 13th, 1805 The past troubles of Ireland, the rebellion of 1641, and the wars which followed I do not wholly forget, but I only remember them to deprecate the example and renounce the animosity.

The penal code which went before, and followed those times, I remember also, but only enough to know, that the causes and reasons for that code have totally expired; and as on one side the Protestant should relinquish his animosity on account of the rebellions, so should the Catholics relinquish their animosity on account of the laws. The question is not stated by the member; it is not whether you will keep in a state of disqualification a few Irish Catholics, but whether you will keep in a state of languor and neutrality a fifth of the empire ; before you impose such a sentence on yourself you will require better arguments than those which the member has advanced; he has substantially told you that the Irish Catholic Church, which is, in fact, more independent than the Catholic Church here, is the worst in Europe; that the Irish Catholics, our own kindred, are the worst of papists; that the distinction, a distinction made by the law, propounded by ourselves, and essential to the State, between temporal and spiritual power, is a vain discrimination, and that the people of Ireland, to be good Catholics, must be bad subjects: and finally, he has emphatically said, " that an Irish Catholic never is, never was, never will be, a faithful subject to a British Protestant King": his words are, “ they hate all Protestants and all Englishmen.” Thus has he pronounced against his country three curses : eternal war with one another, eternal war with England, and eternal peace with France ; so strongly does he inculcate this, that if a Catholic printer were, in the time of invasion, to publish his speech, that printer might be indicted for treason, as the publisher of a composition administering to the Catholics a stimulative to rise, and advancing the authority of their religion for rebellion. His speech consists of four parts :—First, an invective uttered against the religion of the Catholics ; Second, an invective uttered against the present generation ; Third, an invective against the past; and the Fourth, an invective against the future: here the limits of creation interposed, and stopped the member. It is to defend those different generations, and their religion, I rise ; to rescue the Catholic from his attack, and the Protestant from his defence.

The civil interference of the Pope, his assumed power of deposition, together with the supposed doctrine, that no faith was to be kept with heretics, were the great objections to the claims of the Catholics; to convict them, the learned doctor has

« PreviousContinue »