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and undeviating rectitude of his public career. Though not liable to all the exceptions, which sound criticism and correct taste may justly make against that which is called the Irish school, his mode of speaking was far from being untinctured by its faults. His best and most popular harangues may be said to be a string of antitheses; and he appeared more solicitous to produce effect by strong and pointed sentences, than by continuous and systematic reasoning. We certainly perceive, and to a great degree we feel, in this extraordinary orator, a style glowing, animated, and enthusiastic but at the same time we find it incongruous, and not formed according to the best taste; nearly all the members of the composition being equally laboured and expanded, without any due selection or subordination of parts. He is generally too epigrammatic, and his manner wants variety. There is an eloquence far beyond this sort ;-the eloquence of reason, and of Fox :-which, conscious (as it were) of its native might, threw off when it started on its gigantic race all the trappings and ornament of a vulgar rhetoric, as incumbrances to its career. This was not the oratory of Grattan. He did not trust himself, like the Athenian, to the athletic and invincible strength of unadorned argument; but, infected with the prevailing taste of his countrymen, he could not resist the temptations which a figurative and metaphorical diction holds out to ardent and impassioned minds. We must add, also, the unconquerable love of point and antitheses, to which we have already made a passing allusion. It was this fault, which is hardly redeemed by a world of beauties, that imparted what may be called a mannerism to his mode of speaking that, on many occasions, counteracted the strength and impetuosity of his reasoning, and left the ear tired and sated with a ceaseless jingle of epigram and sentences. In early life, however, he was uninfected with this species of bad rhetoric ; which grew on him towards the close of his career.
It is much to be lamented that scarcely a memorial exists of Mr. Grattan's first speeches, which are pre-eminently the best: but the true criterion of their excellence is manifest in the benefit which they were instrumental in effecting for Ireland. With respect to that country, it may be said of him as it was said of Augustus with respect to Rome, “ Latentiam invenit, marmoream reliquit." Ireland, before the time of Mr. Grattan, had scarcely a merchant, a manufacturer, or a name of note in literature the desert was planted by his hands. It is not easy, also, to imagine a more critical conjuncture than that in which he first appeared on the stormy theatre of Irish politics; which then exhibited, on one side, violence and power,--on the other, servitude and sedition ;—a series of disgraceful alternations between exorbitant authority, sullen submission, secret repinings, and open rebellion.
Undoubtedly, no small part of these evils arose from the popery. laws;-the professed object of which was to reduce the Catholics to the condition of a miserable and despised race, without property and without education, and bound to the rest of the community by no ties of sympathy, no bond of common interest, no motives of affection. They divided the nation into two distinct bodies, one of which was to possess all the franchises, all the property, and all the education. Violence of conquest and tyranny of regulation, uninterunitted for nearly a hundred years, had gradually reduced the people to a degraded mob, without estimation themselves, and holding in no estimation the
rank and influence of others. To palliate these disorders, Mr. Grattan, and a few who accorded with his views of policy, exerted themselves to raise an interest of property and education among them, and to hold out to them the animating expectation of participating in the benefits of a constitution," which,” as Mr. Burke somewhere observes, " is not made for great, general, and proscriptive exclusions."
Having entered on his career with the most ardent resolutions to restore the independence of Ireland, Mr. G. introduced his celebrated Declaration of Irish Rights, the first step towards the recovery of that legislative power of which the country had been deprived for centuries. His great speech on this occasion was delivered on the 9th of April, 1790, and it is said to have been electrical in its effect. That the subject of it may be better apprehended, we must be permitted to make a few preliminary observations.
The right of Ireland to make laws was first invaded by the 10th Henry VII. in a parliament held before the deputy, Sir Edward Poynings: which enacted that no parliament should set in Ireland without a certificate, under the great seal, of the acts that were to be passed ; that they should be affirined in England by the King in council; and that his license to summon a parliament must be obtained under the great seal of England. Thus the English Privy Council acquired the right of altering or suppressing acts of the Irish legislature, which consequently was deprived of the power to originate, alter, or amend. Ireland lost, moreover, her judicial rights. Against this usurpation, Molyneux protested in his celebrated “Case of Ireland,” which was burned by the hands of the common hangman. The English House of Lords, however, persisted in reversing on appeal the decrees of the House of Lords in Ireland; and the disputes on this memorable subject at last gave rise to the declaratory act, 6 Geo. I., stating that Ireland was a subordinate and dependant kingdom; that the King, Lords, and Commons of England had power to make laws to bind Ireland ; that the House of Lords of Ireland had no jurisdiction ; and that all proceedings before that court were void. Although the Irish nation sullenly and reluctantly yielded, the spirit of the times began to awaken, and the arming of the volunteers gave weight and efficacy to their remonstrances. They had extorted a free trade from Great Britain ; and many circumstances conspired to rouse them to a sense of their condition, and to an ardent aspiration after their rights. These circumstances are well introduced by Mr. Grattan:
"If this nation,” said he, “after the death-wound given to her freedom, had fallen on her knecs in anguish, and besought the Almighty to frame an occasion in which a weak and injured people might recover their rights, prayer could not have asked, nor God have furnished, a inoment more opportune for the restoration of liberty, than this, in which I have the honour to address you.
“England now smarts under the lesson of the American war; the doctrine of Imperial legislature she feels to be pernicious; the revenues and monopolies annexed to it she has found to be untenable ; she lost the power to enforce it; her enemies are a host, pouring upon her from all quarters of the earth; her armies are dispersed; the sea is not hers; she has no minister, no ally, no admiral, none in whom she long confides, and no general whom she has not disgraced; the balance of her fate is in the hands of Ireland; you are not only her last connexion, you are the only nation in Europe that is not her enemy. Besides, there does, of late, a certain damp and spurious supineness overcast her arms and councils, miraculous as that vigour which has lately inspired yours ;--for with you every thing is the reverse ; never was there a parliament in Ireland so possessed of the confidence of the people; you are the greatest political assembly now sitting in the world; you
are at the head of an immense army; nor do we only possess an unconquerable force, but a certain unquenchable public fire, which has touched all ranks of men like a visitation.
“ Turn to the growth and spring of your country, and behold and admire it; where do you find a nation who, upon whatever concerns the rights of mankind, expresses herself with more truth or force, perspicuity or justice? not the set phrase of scholastic men, not the tame unreality of court-addresses, not the vulgar raving of a rabble, but the genuine speech of liberty, and the unsophisticated oratory of a free nation.
“ See her military ardour, expressed not only in 40,000 men, conducted by instinct as they were raised by inspiration, but manifested in the zeal and promptitude of every young member of the growing community. Let corruption tremble; let the enemy, foreign or domestic, tremble; but let the friends of liberty rejoice at these means of safety and this hour of redemption. Yes; there does exist an enlightened sense of rights, a young appetite for freedom, a solid strength, and a rapid fire, which not only put a declaration of right within your power, but put it out of your power to decline one. Eighteen counties are at your bar; they stand there with the compact of Henry, with the charter of John, and with all the passions of the people. Our lives are at your service, but our liberties, we received them from God; we will not resign them to man.
The peroration of this exquisite piece of oratory is singularly powerful :
“ There is no policy left for Great Britain but to cherish the remains of her empire, and do justice to a country who is determined to do justice to herself, certain that she gives nothing equal to what she received from us when we gave her Ireland.
“With regard to this country, England must resort to the free principles of government, and must forget that legislative power which she has exercised to do mischief to herself; she must go back to freedom, which, as it is the foundation of her constitution, so is it the main pillar of her empire; it is not merely the connexion of the crown, it is a constitutional annexation, an alliance of liberty, which is the true meaning and mystery of the sisterhood, and will make both countries one arm and one soul, replenishing from time to time, in their immortal connexion, the vital spirit of law and liberty from the lamp of each other's light; thus combined by the ties of common interest, equal trade and equal liberty, the constitution of both countries may become immortal, a new and milder empire may arise from the errors of the old, and the British nation assume once more her natural station—the head of mankind.
“ That there are precedents against us I allow-acts of power I would call them, not precedents; and I answer the English pleading such precedents, as they answered their kings when they urged precedents against the liberty of England, such things are the weakness of the times; the tyranny of one side, the feebleness of the other, the law of neither; we will not be bound by them; or rather, in the words of the declaration of right, no doing judgment, proceeding, or any wise to the contrary, shall be brought into precedent or example. Do not then tolerate a power--the power of the British parliament over this land, which has no foundation in utility or necessity, or empire, or the laws of England, or the laws of Ireland, or the laws of nature, or the laws of God,-do not suffer it to have a duration in your mind.
“ Do not tolerate that power which blasted you for a century, that power which shattered your loom, banished your manufactures, dishonoured your peerage, and stopped the growth of your people ; do not, I say, be bribed by an export of woollen, or an import of sugar, and permit that power which has thus withered the land to remain in your country and have existence in your pusillanimity.
“ Do not suffer the arrogance of England to imagine a surviving hope in the fears of Ireland; do not send the people to their own resolves for liberty, passing by the tribunals of justice and the high court of parliament; neither imagine that, by any formation of apology, you can palliate such a commission to your hearts, still less to your children, who will sting you with their curses in your grave for having interposed between them and their Maker, robbing them of an immense occasion, and losing an opportunity which you did not create, and can never restore.
“ Hereafter, when these things shall be history, your age of thraldom and poverty, Vol. I. No. 3.-Museum.
your sudden resurrection, commercial redress, and miraculous armament, shall the historian stop at liberty, and observe,—that here the principal men among us fell into mimic trances of gratitude,-they were awed by a weak ministry, and bribed by an empty treasury, and when liberty was within their grasp, and the temple opened her folding doors, and the arms of the people clanged, and the zeal of the nation urged and encouraged them on, that they fell down, and were prostituted at the threshold.
“I might, as a constituent, come to your bar, and demand my liberty. I do call upon you, by the laws of the land and their violation, by the instruction of eighteen counties, by the arms, inspiration, and providence of the present moment, tell us the rule by which we shall go,-assert the law of Ireland, - declare the liberty of the land.
“I will not be answered by a public lie, in the shape of an amendment; neither, speaking for the subjects' freedom, am I to hear of faction. I wish for nothing but to breathe, in this our island, in common with my fellow subjects, the air of liberty. I have no ambition, unless it be the ambition to break your chain, and contemplate your glory. I never will be satisfied so long as the meanest cottager in Ireland bas a link of the British chain clanking to his rags: he may be naked, he shall not be in iron; and I do see the time is at hand, the spirit is gone forth, the declaration is planted; and though great men should apostatize, yet the cause will live; and though the public speaker should die, yet the immortal fire shall outlast the organ which conveyed it, and the breath of liberty, like the word of the holy man, will not die with the prophet but survive him."
The great Irish patriots of that day had indeed undertaken an arduous enterprise. They did not however faint by the way-side, but proceeded with temper and with firmness. While Mr. Grattan was attacking the supremacy of the British parliament, Mr. Flood and Mr. Yelverton (afterward Lord Avonmore) attacked the law of Poynings; Mr. Gervase Bushe assailed the perpetual Mutiny Bill; and Mr. Gardiner and Sir Hercules Langrishe opposed the Penal Code. The plans of the political campaign were laid at Charlemont-House.
Ireland is chiefly indebted, however, to her Volunteers for the celebrated revolution of 1782, though various other causes had their share in it; such as the losses of Great Britain in America, and the irresolution, weakness, and subsequent dissolution of Lord North's administration, which hastened it onwards. The Fox-party then came into power, and, as the first act of the new ministry, the Duke of Portland was sent to Ireland: when, by way of amendment to the address, Mr. Grattan moved a declaration of right, which was unanimously carried. The exordium of his speech on that occasion is so affectingly solemn, that we cannot abstain from extracting it. It is not, indeed, secure from criticism, for the characteristic habits of Mr. Grattan's style frequently appear in it:--but who can stop to make petty exceptions to a rapid and impetuous eloquence, pronounced on one of the most awful and interesting subjects that can affect the dignity, the happiness, or the destiny of man?
“I am now to address a free people: ages have passed away, and this is the first moment in which you could be distinguished by that appellation.
“I have spoken on the subject of your liberty so often, that I have nothing to add, and have only to admire by what heaven-directed steps you have proceeded until the whole faculty of the nation is braced up to the act of her own deliverance.
“I found Ireland on her knees, I watched over her with an eternal solicitude; I have traced her progress from injuries to arms, and from arms to liberty. Spirit of Swift! spirit of Molyneux! your genius has prevailed! Ireland is now a nation! in that new character l'hail her! and bowing to her august presence, I say, Esto perpetua!
« She is no longer a wretched colony, returning thanks to her governor for his rapine, and to her king for his oppression; nor is she now a squabbling, fretful
sectary, perplexing her little wits, and firing her furious statutes with bigotry, sophistry, disabilities, and death, to transmit to posterity insignificance and war.
“Look to the rest of Europe, and contemplate yourself, and be satisfied. Holland lives on the memory of past achievements; Sweden has lost her liberty; England had sullied her great name by an attempt to enslave her colonies. You are the only people,-you, of the nations in Europe, are now the only people who excite admiration, and in your present conduct you not only exceed the present generation, but you equal the past. I am not afraid to turn back and look antiquity in the face: the Revolution,—that great event, whether you call it ancient or modern I know not, was tarnished with bigotry; the great deliverer (for such I must ever call the Prince of Nassau,) was blemished with oppression: he assented to, he was forced to assent to acts which deprived the Catholics of religious, and all the Irish of civil and commercial rights, though the Irish were the only subjects in these islands who had fought in his defence. But you have sought liberty on her own principle: see the Presbyterians of Bangor petition for the freedom of the Catholics of Munster. You, with difficulties innumerable, with dangers not a few, have done what your ancestors wished, but could not accomplish ; and what your posterity may preserve, but will never equal: you have moulded the jarring elements of your country into a nation, and have rivalled those great and ancient commonwealths, whom you were taught to admire, and among whom you are now to be recorded: in this proceeding you had not the advantages which were common to other great countries; no monuments, no trophies, none of those outward and visible signs of greatness, such as inspire mankind and connect the ambition of the age which is coming on with the example of that going off, and forms the descent and concatenation of glory: no; you have not had any great act recorded among all your misfortunes, nor have you one public tomb to assemble the crowd, and speak to the living the language of integrity and freedom.
“ Your historians did not supply the want of monuments ; on the contrary, these narrators of your misfortunes, who should have felt for your wrongs, and have punished your oppressors with appression's natural scourges, the moral indignation of history, compromised with public villany and trembled; they excited your violence, they suppressed your provocation, and wrote in the chain which entrammel. led their country. I am come to break that chain, and I congratulate my country, who, without any of the advantages I speak of, going forth as it were with nothing but a stone and a sling, and what oppression could not take away, the favour of Heaven, accomplished her own redemption, and left you nothing to add and every thing to admire."
We could have wished that no memorial existed of the memorable dispute between Mr. Grattan and Mr. Flood, on the subject of the Repeal of the Declaratory Act. The controversy was, in fact, merely verbal : but the invective of Mr. Grattan, though not unprovoked, was unmeasured in satire, poignancy, and bitterness. The disputants were in after-life reconciled; and it is to be lamented that even a transient cloud lowered over two eminent men, engaged in the sacred cause of their country's deliverance.
It is by his exertions in behalf of the Irish Catholics, that Mr. Grattan has formed the most lasting monument of his greatness. Never was perseverance in effecting a great object of policy and justice more steadily, and, we may add, more beautifully exhibited. The great law of Christian tolerance and religious charity seemed the inexorable rule of Mr. Grattan's political life but it is disgraceful to an age abounding in the mature fruits of literature and pħilosophy, to state that, down to 1782, the Catholics had no rights of property and education. The bill which enabled them to acquire lands by purchase, grant, descent, devise, &c., restored them to the free exercise of their religion, secured them from the confiscation of their houses and property, and removed their disabilities as to education, was first carried with out a division) in that year.
Thus slowly do the vain prejudices of man fade before the increasing