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into the void of space, we ought to rush into the centre to be consumed there. No; I say to this rash arraigner of the dispensations of the Almighty, there are impulses from whose wholesome opposition eternal wisdom has declared the law by which we revolve in our proper sphere, and at our proper distance. So I say to the political visionary-from the opposite forces which you object to I see the wholesome law of imperial connexion derived—I see the two countries preserving their due distance from each other, generating and imparting heat, and light, and life, and health, and vigour; and I will abide by the wisdom and experience of the ages which are passed, in preference to the speculations of any modern philosopher.'
The freedom of speech then allowed or taken may be inferred from such language as this :-
* The example of the Prime Minister of England, inimitable in its vices, may deceive the noble Lord (Castlereagh). The Minister of England has his faults; he abandoned in his latter years the principles of reform, by professing which he had obtained the early confidence of the people of England, and in the whole of his political conduct he has shown himself haughty and intractable ; but it must be admitted that he has shown himself by nature endowed with a towering and transcendant intellect, and that the vastness of his moral resources keeps pace with the magnificence and unboundedness of his projects. I thank God that it is much more easy for him to transfer his apostacy and his insolence, than his comprehension and sagacity; and I feel the safety of my country in the wretched feebleness of her enemy. I cannot fear that the Constitution, which has been formed by the wisdom of sages and cemented by the blood of patriots and of heroes, is to be smitten to its centre by such a green and limber twig as this.' This "green and limber twig' had been eight years in Parliament, and continued rising in reputation and authority till he was one of the four or five real arbiters of the destinies of Europe.
Mr. H. Grattan states as a fact within his own knowledge that Bushe, afterwards Chief Justice, thus pourtrayed his own feelings after rejecting the overtures of the Treasury: 'I threw myself in my chair, and for a moment almost doubted whether it was right in me to keep in such a state so many human beings, when I thought of the splendid offers I had refused-offers that astonished, almost bewildered me. His talents prevented him from suffering for his integrity, and they were never displayed to greater advantage than in these debates. We can only spare room for a single extract:
What is it we are called upon to give up ? I speak not of national pride or dignity; I declaim not upon theoretical advantages; but I tell you
that you are called upon to give up that municipal parliament which has procured you within the memory of you all municipal advantages which no foreign parliament can supply. We hear of nothing but
imperial topics. Good God! is the Parliament nothing but an instrument of taxation? Is nothing understood of a House of Commons but that it is an engine for raising money, out of the pockets of the subject, and throwing it into the coffers of the Crown ? Take up any volume of your statutes upon that table, you will find the Municipal Acts of Parliament in the proportion of more than forty to one to the Imperial. What has, within the memory of many men alive, changed the face of your land? What has covered a country of pasture with tillage? What has intersected an impassable country with roads ? What has nearly connected by inland navigation the eastern channel with the western ocean? A resident parliament. This is not theory: look at your statutes and your journals, and there is not one of those improvements which you cannot trace to some document of your own public spirit now upon that table, and to no other source or cause under heaven. Can this be supplied in Westminster ? Could a Committee of this House make a road in Yorkshire ? No; nothing can supply a resident parliament watching over national improvement, seizing opportunities, encouraging manufacture, commerce, science, education, and agriculture, applying instant remedy to instant mischief, mixing with the constituent body, catching the sentiment of the public mind, reflecting public opinion, acting upon its impulse and regulating its excess.
The remarkable feature of this sitting was the entry of Grattan, who had been out of parliament since 1797. He had been elected for Wicklow while the debate was proceeding. The return was signed between twelve and one of that very morning. According to his son, the messenger arrived at his house in Dublin about five. Grattan had been very ill, and was then in bed, and turning round, he exclaimed, 'Oh! have they come ? why will they not let me die in peace? With difficulty he was got out of bed and dressed. He went into the parlour, loaded his pistols, and put them into his pocket, apprehending, it is alleged, “that he might be attacked by the Union party and be assassinated.' He was wrapped in a blanket and put into a sedan-chair. He entered the House about seven, supported by Mr. W. B. Ponsonby and Mr. Arthur Moore, and took his seat on the second opposition bench. It was remembered that Lord Chatham entered the House of Lords for the last time leaning on his son, William, and his son-in-law, Lord Mahon; and Grattan's enemies laughed at the scene as theatrical and got up. His friends recriminated that his late arrival was the result of a conspiracy to delay the return. He rose about seven and delivered, sitting, an obviously premeditated oration, marked by many of his wonted merits and defects: his mastery of his subject, his splendid imagination, his close logic, his earnestness, his love of antithesis, his redundancy of metaphor, not unfrequently
mixed and overstrained, and the constitutional intemperance of language which has descended to his biographer.
«« Well,” he exclaimed, “the minister has destroyed the constitution. To destroy is easy: the edifices of the mind, like the fabrics of marble, require an age to build, but ask only minutes to precipitate; and as the fall of both is an effort of no time, so neither is it a business of any strength; a pickaxe, and a common labourer, will do the one--a little. lawyer, a little pimp, a wicked minister, the other."
Corry replied, and replied bitterly; but their grand passage of arms was postponed till the 14th of February, when, the House being in Committee, they could speak as often as they chose. It had been sworn before a Committee of the Lords, that Grattan had been in treasonable communication with some leaders or promoters of the rebellion at his country seat. He admitted the interview, but denied the complicity. The Lords in their Report took the least favourable view of his conduct; and but for Lord Castlereagh's interposition, a Committee of the Commons would have done the same. Lord Brougham states that this, coming to Grattan's knowledge, subsequently prevented his pushing a quarrel with his generous adversary to extremities. The charge or suspicion was too good a weapon to be thrown away, and Corry employed it without mercy or compunction. He thus brought upon himself the well-known diatribe beginning:
I will not call him villain, because it is unparliamentary and he is a privy councillor; I will not call him_fool, because he. happens to be Chancellor of the Exchequer.' The best version is that of Mr. Charles Phillips, which differs materially from the one in the collected edition of Grattan's speeches :
“My guilt or innocence have little to do with the question here.I rose with the rising fortunes of my country-I am willing to die with her expiring liberties. To the voice of the people I will bow, but never shall I submit to the calumnies of an individual hired to betray them and slander me. The indisposition of my body has left me perhaps no means but that of lying down with fallen Ireland and recording upon her tomb my dying testimony against the flagitious corruption that has murdered her independence. . . . . The right honourable gentleman has suggested examples which I should have shunned, and examples which I should have followed. I shall never follow his, and I have ever avoided it. I shall never be ambitious to. purchase public scorn by private infamy—the lighter characters of the model have as little chance of weaning me from the habits of a life spent, if not exhausted, in the cause of my native land. Am I to renounce those habits now for ever, and at the beck of whom? I should rather say of what-half a minister-half a monkey-a’prentice politician, and a master coxcomb.
He has told you th
what he said
of me here, he would say any where. I believe he would say thus of me in any place where he thought himself safe in saying it.--Nothing can limit his calumnies but his fears--in parliament he has calumniated me to-night, in the king's courts he would calumniate me to-morrow; but had he said or dared to insinuate one half as much elsewhere, the indignant spirit of an honest man would have answered the vile and venal slanderer with-a blow.'
A duel ensued, Corry was wounded in the left arm, and then occurred the strange manoeuvre of which we have already spoken. Grattan told his son that he fired his second pistol over Corry's head, and did not know whether Corry fired his at all. The day following Grattan forced his way into his wounded adversary's room to offer his hand, and Corry turning round to his brother said: 'Edward, this is Mr. Grattan, who will shoot you if you do anything wrong.'
Mr. Henry Grattan, who professes to have witnessed these things, or to have drawn his information from the fountain-head, is an amiable and honourable man, incapable of a wilful misstatement, although the most violent of politicians, and peculiarly liable to what Bacon calls a prejudicate opinion. But taking only what is confirmed by calmer testimony, what curious compounds of head and heart, of right and wrong, of sense and nonsense, of gall and honey, of impulse and principle, of genius and absurdity, were these (with all their faults) great Irishmen; whose dimensions swell, instead of diminishing, to the mind's eye, when we contemplate them through the haze of half a century as relics and illustrations of the past.
In reference to the affair between Corry and Grattan, Lord Cornwallis writes :
Corry very unwisely made another attack on Grattan, who had rather the advantage afterwards in his replies, with respect to abuse, and then wounded him (Corry) in the arm, in a meeting in the Phoenix Park. This is unlucky, and tends rather to raise Grattan, who was as low before as his enemies could wish.'
It ought not to be forgotten that Sir Boyle Roche, as usual, bore off the palm in blundering wit. On its being sharply objected that England and Ireland were too closely related to be united in the indissoluble tie, he retorted that there were no
No one, after reading Mr. Charles Phillips's 'Specimens of Irish Eloquence,' will dispute the title of such speakers as Grattan, Bushe, Plunkett, and Curran (not to mention Burke and Sheridan, who belong to Ireland) to stand in the first rank of modern orators. These specimens are selected with admirable taste, and brought together from sources not generally accessible. The collection is unique of its kind, and no fair estimate can be formed of Irish eloquence without consulting it.
Levitical degrees between nations, and neither sin nor shame in marrying one's own sister.'
The fate of the measure remained dubious for some months after the division on the Address, on which the Government had a majority of forty-two. On January 29th Lord Castlereagh informs the Duke of Portland that the plan of counterbribery was at work. • If I can believe a member of parliament, 40001. was offered him for the return in Mr. Curran's favour. Curran was not returned till the following June, when Lord Cornwallis writes :- The Ponsonbys have occasioned great disgust by bringing Curran, a most disaffected though very able lawyer, into parliament.' The sum subscribed by the Opposition was roughly computed at 100,0001. ; but, as Lord Castlereagh suggests, possibly the payments did not keep pace with the signatures. At all events, enough was done in this line to render their subsequent outcry against corruption ridiculousenough to inflict upon them what Dr. Johnson calls the most poignant of regrets, the remorse for a crime committed in vain. Amongst the worthies who took their money, to the tune of 20001. down and as much more after the service had been performed, was · Jerusalem Waley,' who gained this soubriquet by a bet (which he won) that he would walk, except where a sea-passage was unavoidable, to the Holy City, play fives against the walls, and return within twelve months. Vehement efforts were also made to raise the rabble, and procure petitions against the measure amongst the militia. Some of Lord Downshire's regiment signed one, under an impression that it was to prevent the Union from being carried out of the country-an instance of credulity not grosser than that of the people in Oxfordshire in 1754, who, in allusion to the Bill for the Reform of the Calendar, mainly carried by Lord Macclesfield, called after his son when a candidate for the county, Give us back the eleven days we have been robbed of.'
On February 4th Lord Cornwallis reports that the indefatigable exertions, aided by the subscriptions, of the AntiUnionists, have raised a powerful clamour against the measure in many parts of the kingdom, and have put the capital quite in an uproar. Such was the popular phrenzy in Dublin, that, as was generally believed, if Corry had killed Grattan, he would not have escaped alive from the excited mob who surrounded them. Barrington relates with complacency a plan for seizing Lord Clare, and, by a refinement of insult, barnessing him to the Speaker's coach,-adding, that he fled, with a pistol in his hand, to a doorway in Clarendon Street, where he stood terrified whilst his pursuers laughed at him.' We have been assured