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The descendants of a great man hasty, violent, and capricious on the owe it to their birth and their country earth. The singular moral condition to tell the world all that can be wisely in which Ireland has found herself known of him who has illustrated their placed, by her at once possessing the name and his age. Biography con- highest rights of political freedom, and ducted on this principle of honest being subjected to the severest relipurpose, and exact detail, would be gious slavery, alone can account for among the most valuable legacies which her perpetual political disturbance. could be devised to a nation. History She is the only country of Europe in is on too large a scale for the guidance which complete freedom and comof individual life. It is the map of an plete superstition subsist side by side. empire, where we require the topo. She accordingly affords the most exgraphy of a village; essential to states- traordinary displays of the phenomena men as an especial study, and im- of those conflicting elements. The portant to all men as the contemplation collision of hot and cold, moist and of objects on that large scale which dry, which disturbs the tropics, is only enlarges the mind of the contemplatist, an emblem of her political atmosphere. placing before us all times, and their She is in a political monsoon. If freememorable men, in successive galleries, dom in other lands brings out their through which no man can pass without rankness along with the fertility of the feeling his standard of human nature soil, or if superstition makes some elevated. They want that fireside imperfect atonement for the stagnation portraiture in which we see the actual of the people in the silence of religious features of our own line. The solemn discord; in Ireland even those feeble stature and heroic costume of those palliatives are not to be found. The figures of intellectual and physical slave of the priest is the revolter against greatness, whom the common voice of the laws; the unquestioning subject mankind has placed in the universal of Rome is the intractable rebel to historic temple, are too remote from England; the man whose whole life the forms and habits of popular life is a series of prostrations to the Popish for our personal instruction; and we altar, never looks but with towering long to find some models more familiar defiance and arrogant hostility towards to our eyes, and more corresponding the British throne. to the exigencies of our career. This The causes which produced this is the first value of biography, and the eminently disastrous state of things, writer who gives us the fullest intelli- are best to be sought in the conduct gence of the progress, the pursuits, the of the chief men of the country; and difficulties to be overcome, and the of those Grattan was, beyond all commeans which lead to victory, in a petition, the chief himself. The “ Irish single mind, even though the career Constitution" was wholly his work. It were simple, and the success obscure, had subordinate labourers, some of would render a service for which remarkable vigour, and some of striking every man of sense must feel a debt of ability; some of remarkable dishonesty, gratitude.
and some, we shall not doubt, of But the service is unquestionably of unimpeachable virtue. But Grattan a higher order when it comprehends was the architect. It is true, that both public and private instruction. his model was as unwisely chosen, The history of the last fifty years of as his fabric was slightly built-that Ireland bears upon every page of it, instead of a temple he built a theatrethe name of the subject of this me- and that, giving way to the fantastic moir. Whether for ultimate good or fashion of his time, instead of preevil, Henry Grattan was always pro- paring the people for the calm and minent in the affairs of his country, decorous worship of liberty, he crowd. and that country one of the most ed them into his theatre to witness
Memoirs of the Life and Times of the Right Hon. Henry Grattan; by his Son Henry Grattan, M.P, 2 Vols. 1839.
his mingled melodrame, where tragedy after him up the steep of peace and and farce confused each other, until honour. the spectators themselves grew weary; Nor must we include in the tribute the manlier retired, the weak, the wild, any portion of the authorship before and the intoxicated only remained, us. Mr Henry Grattan, the son of a until the alarm of the empire was distinguished father, has only shown awakened by the furious follies of the how fatal possession may be the scene ; and, to prevent the name of frailties of a man of talent, without the constitution from being used the talent which relieved them of public as the pretext for a den of Papists ridicule, or the prudence which could and rebels, the doors were shut, and fling them off in times requiring public the fabric was left to fall by its natural and personal manliness. The fantasde cay.
tic antipathy to England, the love of The memory of Henry Grattan imaginary grievance, and even the holds the highest place in the recollec- coxcombry of the parental style, have tions of Ireland. No man before or been transmitted to the descendant after him has eclipsed it—no man with the most scrupulous exactness. has rivaled it- no man has even been In the father, those follies were forgotable to disturb it. The popularity ten in the first moment when his real of Irish leaders since his day has strength was to be put forth. They been built on foundations which must were the mere creations of his idle give way : public intrigue supporting hours-the weeds that gathered round scanty honesty--desperate appeals to the trunk of the tree, but were swept popular ignorance, supporting tainted off at the first blast of the storm. With character the brawling affectation of the son, they have climbed and covered patriotism, supporting notorious sel- the whole tree; and will climb, till they fishness-guilty temptation to peasant have brought it to the ground: he is violence, supporting the pretences of all over one parasite plant. Every a peacemaker. Such claims must be sentence which his pen drops, blisters seen through, and from that moment the
with bitterness against Engthey must be rejected. Their monu- land. An Irish member of Parliaments of such men are not merely ment, expressly brought in by the built of sand, but they are built op the priests, he complains against the slasea-shore. The natural progress of very of the Irish Papist
; indulging in opinion sweeps them away.
The the utmost extravagance of speech, he monument of men like Grattan is the tears his locks over the fettered free. watch-tower, to be washed perhaps by dom of Hibernian elocution; and, conthe tide, but to stand : in the season of temptuously aspersing all the political serenity a noble memorial of the in. opponents of Popery and O'Connellism dustry and power of the past—in the in England, he pronounces all the tempest, the object to which the eyes anathemas of an inflated fancy and a of the steersman of the state are natu- reckless tongue, against the English rally turned, to discover the true bear- injustice of charging faction with the ings of their course, and assure them disturbances of Ireland. of safety.
Of his style we have no desire to say But in this tribute to the talents of any thing. In the narrative of great Grattan, we must protest against give men and things, style is scarcely iming any share to his politics. In fact, portant. But the style adopted by one of the most important lessons to a great man, is a melancholy instrube learned from this book, by men ment in the hands of the smaller who are yet to emulate his ability, generation. The lion's hide that would be to avoid his footsteps. The hangs with such ease on the shoulders unhappy accident of early association of Hercules, suffocates the attendant involved him in Whiggism. The dwarf. The truth is, that the genuine public circumstances of Ireland held great man has no permanent style. him in the chain, until nearly the close Whatever affectations may have grown of his life. Grattan was forced to on him, they are matters which are drag the manacles of a partisan at the altogether extraneous to his mind.wheels of a faction; while he had They disappear at the first moment inherited faculties from nature to when the interest of his topic awakes have mounted a triumphal chariot of his powers. The lounging attitude, his own, and led his country rejoicing or the mincing step, are forgotten
when he once treads on the field. earth and heaven which regulate the The first impulse of a struggle worthy changes of empires. He was the poliof himself, brings out all his native tical astrologer, fantastic in his mys. proportions—the muscles are shown, tery, but a believer in his own reading and the coxcomb is lost in the cham- of the stars. The oracle was fallapion.
Grattan's chief fault was a cious, but it was not frakdulent; it style disfigured by antithesis ; but was wholly the reverse of that system this fault almost wholly disappeared of determined deception and imposture when he became once fully warmed with for pay, which characterises the orahis subject. They were but the clouds cles of Ireland in later times. The which gathered over his eloquence in charlatans who now mount the tripod, the hour of listlessness and tranquillity; are alike gross and evil, disgusting in but when the storm was up, they were their aspect, and dangerous in their drifted away before its breath. In announcements. We turn from them his argument he is often difficult and with disdain to the sincere dreams and obscure; but in his passion never. lofty credulity of the enthusiast who There all is plain ; he speaks with a once held the seat of the fancied inspi. force equal to his feeling, and the fruit ration, and whose language, erroneous of his feeling. He is never more though it be, still gives us images of successful than when he thus abandons unborrowed beauty, and the majestic his mind and his cause to the ardour rapture of a brilliant, though a wayof his impressions ; to this his chief ward mind. triumphs were due in Parliament; he But we must wholly remonstrate never showed greater genius, more of against the views which these volumes that unequivocal sense of mastery give of every individual whose public within, which constitutes the orator, opinions happen to fail of exact coin. than when, letting his ship drive under cidence with those of the author. Outbare poles, he steered her before the rageous in demanding his right to be wind, and when all guidance seemed heard, he insists on the silence of helpless, still exerted that fine science every other claim. Clamouring for which brought her into harbour. The the best construction of his own du. extraordinary questions which he car- bious motives, he denies that any man ried in the Irish Legislature, are an in possession of his senses can be other evidence of the not less extraordinary than a knave, unless he should happen ardour with which his passion furnish- to be a Whig ; and plunged in faction ed him, and which still, even in the to a depth which has palpably buried wrecks and remnants of Irish legisla. him from the light of common reason, tive history, remain specimens of the and the benefit of common knowledge, intense fire with which he less forged, he deals with history as if it were a than fused, the popular mind into the Papist witness, put in the jury-box to wildest shapes of his own will. How. prove against the fact. His character ever rugged, discordant, and intract- of George the Third, for example, is able he found the materials of party a continued extravagance: determined and the people, he subdued them, he to be malignant, without the skill to urged them into one mass, he vitrified be severe, he pours out upon the name them. We now regard those mea. of this best of men and monarchs, an sures with astonishment, alike at their expectoration of vulgar wrath, which rashness and the frenzied unanimity naturally falls back upon his own with which they were adopted; for visage. The sirople character of the Grattan's policy was as precipitate as king is stamped with a succession of his eloquence was powerful. It is to brands, each effacing the other. With the errors of this singular man that a a more than womanish spirit of defa. large share of the Irish disabilities formation, he alternately rails at the de. all rational government, and all pure ceased monarch as a monster, and a religion are owing, even to this hour, mime; as something too fearful to when they seem thickening more inve- approach, and too trilling to be worth terately than ever. But let justice be punishment; as a Machiavel on the done to the memory of genius. If he throne, and a simpleton every where: was a mistaken prophet, he was not a as a sullen hypocrite and a senseless willing deceiver.
devotee; as the cause of all the national His imperfect science betrayed him evils from the commencement of his into false calculations of those signs of reign, and as having no influence what..
ever beyond the range of his family that they could command ten thousand and his sycophants ; a cipher in the men; two of them are parsons, as you national sum,-a toy to be played with Whigs call them, another is lord mayor by the shuttlecocks of ministers--a of this city, and was knighted by his Grace nonentity among mankind. To quote a month or two ago ; but there is a certain one sentence on this topic is, we are
cousin of theirs, who is a Grattan, though persuaded, as much as any reader of his name be John Jackson, as worthy a these pages will endure—“ The em.
clergyman as any in this kingdom.” pire was lost when the King was in A letter of Swift, applying to the possession of his senses, it was re
Duke on behalf of this clergyman, is covered only when he was deprived of so characteristic of his habitual oddity, them. This is the summary way of ac- as to be well worth transcribing, counting for the Peninsularglories, and especially as we do not recollect to the conquest of the universal enemy.
have seen it before. Henry Grattan was born in Dublin,
“ Dublin, Dec. 30th, 1735. on the 3d of July 1746. His father
“ MY LORD, - Your Grace fairly owes was a barrister, for many years Re- me one hundred and ten pounds a-year corder of Dublin, and member of
in the church, which I thus prove : I deParliament for the city from 1761 sired you would bestow a preferment of until 1766, when he died. It was his
one hundred and fifty pounds a-year to a ill luck to have for his colleague in certain clergyman.
Your answer was, Parliament Dr Lucas, an individual that I asked modestly, that you would who, having failed in his profession not promise, but grant my request. of medicine, adopted the more thriving However, for want of good intelligence, one of demagogue, acted as the dis- and of being (after a cant word used turber of the public peace for some here) an expert kingfisher, that clergyman years, was a prodigious discoverer of took up with forty pounds a-year, and I grievances, and after wasting his life,
shall never trouble your Grace any more and impoverishing his family, died,
on his behalf. Now, by plain arithmetic,
it follows that one hundred and ten bequeathing to the nation a demand for the payment of his debts, and the pounds remain, and this arrear I have pensioning of his descendants. As assigned to one Mr John Jackson, a couthe Doctor was wholly ignorant of sin-german of the Grattans, who is vicar
of Santry, and has a small estate, with law, and his colleague, the Recorder,
two sons and as many daughters, all grown was a sound lawyer, they quarrelled
He has lain some years as a weight of course upon every possible subject.
upon me, which I voluntarily took up on Lucas appealed to the mob, and of
account of his virtue, piety, and good course had them on bis side, the Re.
sense, and modesty, almost to a fault. corder appealed to common law and Mr Jackson is condemned to live on his common sense, which in those times
own small estate, part whereof is his pahad no one on their side. The lawyer rish about four miles from hence, where was of course universally worsted, he has built a family house more expenand, as the narrative says, suffered sive than he intended. He is a clergyman this paltry contest to embitter, if not of long standing, and of a most unblemishto shorten bis days. If this be true, ed character; but the misfortune is, he has the lawyer was as great a fool as the not one enemy to whom I might appeal demagogue. An ancestor of Grattan for the truth of what I say." had been a senior fellow of the Dublin The mention of the Marlay family, College. His son, Grattan's grand- from whom Grattan was descended in father, a country gentleman, resided the female line, introduces an anecnear Quilca, Dr Sheridan's house, dote worth relating, for the benefit of which has been made so familiar to those who are fond of civil war. us from the life of Swift. It was by dical changes” in countries and conthis neighbourhood that Swift became stitutions may be happy topics to acquainted with the five brothers, round the periods of an itinerant who seem to have been considerable fa- orator, or indulge the theories of a vourites even with the tetchiness of the philosopher of the Reviews; but to celebrated Dean Swift, who, in a letter those who have any thing to lose, to Lady Betly Germain, thus writes: they are terrible things, and even to
“I went and told my Lord Duke (Dor. those who have nothing to lose, they set, then viceroy) that there was a cer- are not much better in the end. tain family here called the Grattans, and Sir John was a man of large fortune
at the commencement of the tumults boys, and desired the footman to call in 1640, a royalist, as was every ho him “ an idle boy." The footman had nest man in the kingdom, and about decency enough to decline the office, that period mayor of Newcastle. Be- and little Harry Grattan, insisting on ing summoned to surrender by the being subjected to the chance of such Earl of Leven, at the head of the indignities no longer, left the school. Scottish army (1644), he replied, like In 1763 he entered Dublin College, the honourable man that he was, where he became acquainted with “that he would not betray his trust Foster, afterwards Speaker of the or forfeit his allegiance.' The town House of Commons, and Fitz-Gibbon, was stormed, and his assailants were afterwards Lord Chancellor. Poliso infuriated by the spirit of his de- , tics raged in Ireland at this period, fence, that the general was obliged to and perverted all the inconsiderate, place a guard of soldiers over his all the ambitious, and all the poor, house. He had another result of the thus leaving the common sense and turn of popular freedom to undergo, common principle of the country in a for he was returned in the list of the hopeless minority. Grattan, in the principal persons sent to London to giddiness and ignorance of youth, a be tried, and was termed " that athe- Whig, quarrelled with his father, istical mayor and governor of the whose better knowledge, and more town, a most pestilent and desperate mature experience, had made him a malignant, and enemy to all goodness." Tory, and the quarrel went so far that “Such," says the biographer,“was the the family mansion was willed to anfanaticism of the times." A fanaticism, other. This act seems to have weighed however, which is copied every day heavily on the son, and to have produced of his life by his faction, and which a good deal of the melancholy tone would realize its menaces with even which characterises his early letters. more desperate fidelity. Marlay, who In one of those letters to an intimate had been so opulent as to be called the friend, he writes in this strain-" If rich knight, " was robbed of all his for you want my company, I am sure I tune by the republicans, and sustained want yours. A fluctuation of sentithe still heavier loss of three sons in bat- ment, a listless indolence, and the tle: his life was spared, and it seems to gloomy reflections that arise from it, have been the only thing that was left to make the chaos of my mind. But of him. It is painful, even at this distance this no more. A man who is not happy of time, to record, that this brave and finds his principal comfort in painting sincere man was neglected by that his own disquietude.” Those were the contemptible and selfish profligate, feelings of a philosopher of one-andCharles II. But the family evidently twenty ; but we soon find them still held a certain consideration among more strongly excited by the still more the loyalists; for his son was after- painful reality. His father died; and, wards a captain in the Duke of Or- as it appears, without sufficient recon. mond's regiment, and his grandson, a ciliation. On this occasion he thus barrister, rose rapidly through the writes to his friend Broome: ranks of his profession, till he arrived at the Chief Justiceship of the King's
“ I am determined upon the first occaBench in Ireland. The daughter of sion to retire with you to some country this distinguished public officer was
lodging, where we may enjoy each other's the mother of Grattan. His sons,
society, poverty, and independency.' I am beginning life with the advantages of
at present as retired as possible, perfectly their father's rank, made a respectable unconcerned about the time to come, very
little concerned about the time present; figure. One was a member of Par. liament, another rose to be a colonel melancholy, and contemplative, yet not
studious. I write this letter from Bellin the army, and a third became bi.
camp (the family mansion), where I have shop of Waterford.
been these three days, without any of the When a boy, Grattan gave a proof family, and where I intend to continue of his early spirit, by refusing to re
some days longer in the same solitude. I main at a school where he had been employ myself writing, reading, courting insulted by the master. The pedant, the muse, and taking leave of that place not content with disapproving of his where I am a guest, not an owner, and of translation of a passage in Ovid, or- which I shall now cease to be a spectator. dered him to kneel in presence of the I tell myself by way of consolation, that