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BEFORE THE UNION : GRATTAN'S PARLIAMENT.
BY J, A, STRAHAN.
BEFORE the rise of Grattan's 80 busy draining the rest of Parliament the administration the country.” of Ireland was oontrolled from The Irish Parliament was England. Owing to the fre- the mere phantom of a living quent absence of the Lord Parliament. Colleetively, it Lieutenant, usually it was in bad no control over the ad. the hands of the Lords Justices, ministration of the country, who commonly were the Arch- though individually its membishop of Armagh, the Lord bers, as local magistrates and Chanoellor, and the Speaker of grand jurors, had a great deal the House of Commons, who too much. The Parliament of ran it largely for their own Great Britain was entitled, benefit. The English authori. under the Declaratory Act, to ties intervened chiefly to make legislate for Ireland without raids for their followers on the its consent; and it, by Poyn. Irish treasury, or to fill up ings Act, was not entitled to Irish appointments with Eng. do so without the consent of lish derelicts. Many of the the English Privy Coanoil. It Judges were Englishmen whose did not wield the power of the chief qualifioations for the seat purse, since the hereditary of justice were their families revenues of the Crown were or their follies : it was a Bar more, and, if they had been saying about one of them that honestly collected, much more he was of so kindly a disposic than enough to provide for all tion that he never passed sen- the needs of the Government. tenoe on a prisoner without The Judges did not hold their "a drop in his eye." Many of seats at its will, but at the will the Bishops were Englishmen of the Crown; and the Army who by charaoter or intel- was not subject to its Matiny leot
better fitted for Aot, but to the Mutiny Act of bagnios or Bedlam than bishop- the British Parliament. rios. As for the Lord Lieu- Probably, however, it postenants, what the public sessed just as much authority thought of them may be as its constitution entitled it gathered from Sir Heroules to olaim. The House of Lords Lengrishe's reply to one who was dominated by the Bishops, asked why his predecessors all, of course, nominees of the had never drained & swamp Crown. The House of Com. in Phoenix Park: “Well, yomons consisted of three hun. gee,” replied Sir Heroales, dred members, all supposed to
" “they hadn't time; they were be elected by the people. At
the atmost stretch not more differenoe between the parties than eighty of them oould be was this, that the Government said to be so eleoted : that party were the party who had is, the sixty-four members the jobs and the Patriot party representing the thirty-two were the party that wanted oounties, the fourteen repre- them. When a Patriot got senting the seven cities, and a job he changed his party. the two representing the Uni. That is what their brilliant versity. The two hundred leader, Henry Flood, did. and twenty remaining were But it mattered little what returned by one hundred and the objeots of the Patriot party ten small boroughs, twenty-five were: they could accomplish of which contained less than nothing. They had nothing ten eleotors eacb. Grattan, whatever bebind themwhen he turned reformer, de- neither the support of physical olared truthfully enough that force nor that of popular opintwo-thirds of the representa- ion. All of a sudden a change tion in the country was private foreseen by none gave them property, and treated as such both. by the owners of the land on The Amerioan Colonies were which the boroughs were situ- in revolt against English rule, ate. It was openly and freely and France had come to the sold when the owner had no aid of the Colonists—a suicidal relative or friend whom he polioy on the
the part of the wished to nominate.
Frenoh monaroby, much like Nevertheless there were two the recent polioy of the Russian parties in this phantom Par. autocraoy in joining the free liament—the Government and English and French in the the
Patriot. The Patriot overthrow of the fellow-autoparty no doubt objected to orsoy in Germany. England, many laws and proceedings sorely pressed which harassed the Protestant withdrew all her soldiers from interest in the country: no- Ireland for servioe in the war. body, of course, ever thought Then, to the consternation of of the Catholios, who were the Government, Paul Jones ap. the vast bulk of the nation. peared in Belfast Lough, sank They objected to the trammels the solitary guardship there, imposed on trade, the perver- and threatened to raid Belfast. sion of Irisb revenue for As the Government could not English pensions, and above proteot them, the Ulstermen, all, to the most profitable as their custom is, resolved to places in Ireland being filled protect themselves. Thusoriginfrom England. But still, for ated the first Ulster Volunteers. praotioal purposes, the chief The Soottish were the first
1 Even boroughs of reasonable size had no real share in electing their members. Belfast's M. P.'s, when there were 15,000 inhabitants in the borough, were elected by twelve persons under the direction of the Marquis of Donegall.
and the readiest to take to ment, and an Irish Mutiny Act
Before a year was out was passed. The Patriot party there were tens of thousands announoed that the millennium of them, led by their own had arrived; and the whole eleoted officers and fully trained Irish nation rejoiced to think and equipped as soldiers. All that a body of Irish gentlemen, danger of a Frenoh or American who represented nobody but invasion was now at an end, themselves, would henceforth 80 the Volanteers began to have unlimited powers of think of other things. They making laws for it. were far from being satisfied The Irish Patriots-with a with the way the country was few exceptions-now deolared governed, and they determined their gratitude for the conto alter its government. They cessions made so readily by the held a Convention at a Pres. Parliament of Great Britain. byterian meeting-house at Dan. This was the first of the many gannon, in sounty Tyrone, unions of bearts between the and after muoh discussion, two islands. A hundred years settled their polioy. That, put later & Liberal Minister, disshortly, was free trade and an ooursing on the Disestablishindependent Parliament for ment of the Irish Church, Ireland. Grattan, now the announoed another:
“Tbe S0000880r to Flood in the Liberal Ministry," he said, leadership of the Patriot party, "resolved to knit the hearts of gaw his chanoe and took it. the Empire together into one With the streets of Dublin harmonious oonoord, and knit lined with Volunteers with they were accordingly.” That fixed bayonets, and oannon union of hearts was followed ready to fire, he moved in the by the Parnellite movement, Dablin Parliament the resolu- The late Liberal Government tion that Ireland was an inde- caused another union of hearts pendent nation distinot from by passing its latest and most Great Britain, and was subjeot ap-to-date Home Rule Act only to the laws made by her (whieh Mr Lloyd George, one own King, Lords, and Commons, of its sponsors, now admits and the resolution was carried that nobody in Ireland or ananimously. The British elsewhere wants); and that Government had no force in was followed by the Sinn Ireland, or for that matter Fein movement. Now & new in England, to cope with the anion of hearts is about to be Volanteers, and so there was proposed by the undaunted Mr nothing else for it to do but Lloyd George. I wonder what soquiegoe, Poyninge Law and it will be followed by ? the Doolaratory Aot were re
All the Irish M.P.'s were pealed, Ireland was granted perfeotly delighted with their free trade, the Irish Judges Independent Parliament. Of were made irremovable, except course the real government of on petition of the Irish Parlia. the country remained in the
hands of the Lord Lieutenant, “if he had an older one he who came and went with the would have given you her.” British Government who ap- That high-born wife was, 80pointed him. But the Inde- cording to all accounts, not pendent Parliament became entirely a blessing to Sir the
very best debating society Boyle. She was by way of the world has ever seen. To being a blue-stooking; and, the gentry of Ireland and their thinking that the best trainladies its meetings were soon a ing for a publio man was a far greater attraction than the thorough knowledge of Gibplay. Time after time they bon's Decline and Fall of the deserted their favourite actors Roman Empire,' she insisted in Smook Alley or Fishamble on Sir Boyle reading it from Street to listen to their fa- cover to cover. Sir Boyle vourite orators in College never forgot this ordeal, and Green and in this they ever afterwards, when in his showed their good taste, for oups, would startle his comthe orators gave not merely a panions occasionally by burstmore intelleotual, but a more ing into a long series of oaths entertaining performance than against historians in general the actors.
and Gibbon in partioular, Then, besides the orators, It oannot be denied that if there were the wits and the the chief purpose of a national buffoons, who afforded the oomio Parliament is to develop the relief to the rhetorio of the oratorioal powers of a nation, orators. The chief wit was Grattan's Parliament fully algo one of the chief orators- discharged it. Grattan him Curran, The chief beyond self, Hussey Brugh, Bushe, question of the buffoons was Sir Curran, and perhaps above Boyle Roobe. The two were all, Plunkett-to mention only on opposite sides, for the old the greatest-are among the parties soon had revived; and British orators who are fit in the renoontres between them to rank with the greatest of I am not sure that the buffoon those of ancient Greece and did not come off best. Nothing Rome. And they were real oould be neater than his com- speakers, who fasoinated their ment on Curran's declaration hearers while they spoke, not that he himself was the deliverers of delightful but guardian of his own honour. dull literary essays like Barke, "I congratulate the honourable who was called the dinner-bell member the nice little of the House of Commons. sinecare he holds." Curran Few of these Irish orators were perhaps got his own baok when after the Union heard in the Sir Boyle boasted that the British House of Commons. great Sir John Cave had given Grattan and Plunkett, howhim his eldest daughter in ever, were; and it preferred, marriage. “And I'm sure, Sir as might have been expected, Boyle," said Curran gravely, the severity, restraint, and
oold passion of the Ulsterman, ents. Indeed of all their forms Years after Plunkett's death, of eloquenoe, vituperation, I his oratory was in the House think, ranks first. I doubt if of Commong the test applied any orator ever surpassed by old members to the speeches Grattan himself in this accomof all who struggled to be plishment. His assaults on great. After his first Reform Flood and Egan are perhaps speech, as Sir George Trevel- the best known, but I prefer yan tells, “Macaulay overheard to cite that shorter one not with delight & knot of old known go well and not demembers illustrating their livered in the House, in which criticisms by recolleotions of he expressed his opinion of the Lord Plunkett. He had rea- man who ventured to question son to be pleased, for he had his right to vote for Sir been thought worthy of the Jonah Barrington, when that compliment which the judg. gentleman was & candidate ment of Parliament reserves for Dublin. for & supreme oooasion. In The objeotor was per1866, on the second reading of son called John Giffard. He the Franchise Bill, when the was, as Barrington admits, a orowning oration of that mem- most amiable and worthy man orable debate had come to its in private life, and a map, olose amidst a tempest of ap- moreover, who never feared plause, one or two veterans any danger. He was, however, of the lobby, forgetting Mac- a furious partisan of the Gov. aulay on Reform-forgetting, ernment, and a hater beyond it may be, Mr Gladstone him. expression of Romanists and self on the Conservative Bud- rebels, which hatred no doubt get of 1852 — pronounoed, had been aggravated before amidst the willing ansent of the time Grattan asgailed him & younger generation, that by the fact that one of his there had been nothing like sons had been murdered in it sinoe Plankett."
cold blood in
& rising in I think the old veterans Kildare. must have been comparing the
This is how Grattan received two orators by contrast, for the objection to his vote: there could be nothing more “Mr Sheriff, when I observe unlike than the terse the quarter whenoe the objeotenoes of Plunkett, in which tion comes, I am not surprised an unnecessary word never at its being made. It proceeds appeared, and the verbose from the hired traducer of his eloquence of Gladstone. oountry-the excommunioated
One point on which the of his fellow-oitizens—the regal orators of Grattan's Parlia- rebel-the unpunished ruffian ment far outshone the lights -the bigoted agitator! In the of eloquence in other spheres, city a firebrand—in the court was in most ferocious personal a liar–in the streets a bullyabuse of their politioal oppon- in the field a coward! And so