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Mr. Grattan then moved the Declaration of mons, and he was voted down. He renewed Right; but the power of the English govern- the motion two years after, in connection with ment was too great in the Irish House of Com- | the speech which follows.
OF MR. GRATTAN IN THE IRISH HOUSE OF COMMONS ON MAKING HIS SECOND MOTION FOR A
DECLARATION OF IRISH RIGHT, DELIVERED APRIL 16, 1782.
INTRODUCTION. DURING the two years which bad elapsed since the preceding speech, great changes had taken place, both in England and in Ireland, which made the passing of the Declaration certain, if strongly insisted upon by the people. Mr. Grattan, therefore, in moving it a second time, uses not so much the language of arga. ment or persoasion, as of assured triumph. He speaks of it in his first sentence as if already carried.
SPEECH, &c. I am now to address a free people. Ages he was forced to assent to acts which deprived
have passed away, and this is the first the Catholics of religious, and all the Irish of The object already se moment in which you could be distin- civil and commercial rights, though the Irish cured.
- guished by that appellation. I have were the only subjects in these islands who had spoken on the subject of your liberty so often, fought in his defense. But you have sought that I have nothing to add, and have only to ad- liberty on her own principles. See the Presby. mire by what Heaven-directed steps you have terians of Bangor petition for the Catholics of proceeded, until the whole faculty of the nation the South! You, with difficulties innumerable, is braced up to the act of her own deliverance. with dangers not a few, have done what your I found Ireland on her knees. I watched over ancestors wisbed, but could not accomplish ; and her with an eternal solicitude, and have traced what your posterity may preserve, but will never her progress from injuries to arms, and from equal. You have molded the jarring elements arms to liberty. Spirit of Swift-spirit of Mol- of your country into a nation, and have rivaled yneux*—your genius has prevailed-Ireland is those great and ancient states whom you were now a nation in that new character I hail her; taught to admire, and among whom you are now and, bowing to her august presence, I say, Esto to be recorded. perpetua !
In this proceeding you had not the advantages She is no longer a wretched colony, returning which were common to other great Her inferior Comparison thanks to her Governor for his rapine, countries no monuments, no trophies, advantages. wihether and to her King for his oppression; none of those outward and visible signs of greatcountries. nor is she now a fretful, squabbling ness, such as inspire mankind, and connect the sectary, perplexing her little wits, and firing her ambition of the age which is coming on with furious statutes with bigotry, sophistry, disabili- the example of that which is going off, and ties, and death, to transmit to posterity insignifi forms the descent and concatenation of glory. cance and war. Look to the rest of Europe. No! You have not had any great act recorded Holland lives on the memory of past achieve among all your misfortunes; nor have you one menis. Sweden has lost her liberty. England public tomb to assemble the crowd, and speak has sullied her great name by an attempt to en- to the living the language of integrity and free. slave her colonies! You are the only people- dom. Your historians did not supply the want you, of the nations in Europe, are now the only of monuments. On the contrary, those narrators people-who excite admiration; and in your of your misfortunes who should have felt for your present conduct, you not only exceed the present wrongs, and have punished your oppressors with generation, but you equal the past. I am not oppression's natural scourge, the moral indignaafraid to turn back and look antiquity in the face. tion of history, compromised with public villainy, The Revolution, that great event-whether you and trembled; they recited your violence, they call it ancient or modern, I know not-was tar suppressed yoar provocation, and wrote in the nished with bigotry. The great deliverer-for chain that entrammeled their country. I am such I must ever call the Prince of Nassau- come to break that chain; and I congratulate was blemished by oppression. He assented to my country, who, without any of the advantages
I speak of, going forth, as it were, with nothing This speech and the preceding are from a copy but a stone and a sling, and what oppression corrected by Mr. Grattan, and published in 1821.
could not take away, the favor of Heaven, ac? William Molyneux, the mathematician and as
complished her own redemption, and left you tronomer, was originally bred to the law, and, being deeply interested for bis countrymen, be wrote bis non
nothing to add, and every thing to admire. You celebrated work on the rights of the Irish Parlia. want no trophy now-the records of Parliament ment, the first and ablest work ever produced on are the evidence of your glory. the subject. He was born in 1656, and died in 1698. I beg to observe, that the deliverance of Ire? Let her endure forever.
| land has proceeded from her own right hand
I rejoice at it; for, had the great acquisition of subjects and the duty of kings. Let other
of your freedom proceeded from the nations imagine that subjects are made for the ance achieved bounty of England, that great work Monarch; but we conceive that kings, and Par
hersell. would have been defective — would liaments like kings, are made for the subject. have been defective both in renown and secu- The House of Commons, honorable and right rity. It was necessary that the soul of the honorable as it may be; the Lords, noble and country should have been exalted by the act of illustrious as we pronounce them, are not originher own redemption, and that England should al, but derivative. Session after session they withdraw her claim by operation of treaty, and move their periodical orbit about the source of not of mere grace and condescension. A gratu- their being the nation. Even the King—Majitous act of Parliament, however express, would esty-must fulfill her due and tributary course have been revocable; but the repeal of her round that great luminary; and, created by its claim, under operation of treaty, is not. In that beam and upheld by its attraction, must incline case, the Legislature is put in covenant, and to that light or go out of the system. bound by the law of nations, the only law that Ministers—we mean the ministers who have can legally bind Parliament. Never did this been dismissed ;4 I rely on the good incountry stand so high. England and Ireland tentions of the present—former minis- torted on the treat ex æquo. Ireland transmits to the King ters, I say, have put questions to us. the Declara
tion. her claim of right, and requires of the Parlia- We beg to put questions to them.' ment of England the repeal of her claim of They desired to know by what authority this power, which repeal the English Parliament is nation had acted. This nation desires to know to make under the force of a treaty, which de- by what authority they acted. By what authorpends on the law of nations--a law which can ity did government enforce the articles of war? not be repealed by the Parliament of England. By what authority does government establish the I rejoice that the people are a party to this post-office ? By what authority are our mertreaty, because they are bound to preserve it. chants bound by the East India Company's There is not a man of forty shillings freehold charter ? By what authority has Ireland one that is not associated in this our claim of right, hundred years been deprived of her export and bound to die in its defense-cities, coun- | trade ? By what authority are her peers deties, associations, Protestants, and Catholics. It prived of their judicature ? By what authority seems as if the people had joined in one great has that judicature been transferred to the peers sacrament. A flame has descended from heay- of Great Britain, and our property, in its last reen on the intellect of Ireland, and plays round sort, referred to the decision of a non-resident, her head with a concentrated glory.
unauthorized, illegal, and unconstitutional tribuThere are some who think, and a few who nal? Will ministers say it was the authority Defense of declare, that the associations to which of the British Parliament ? On what ground, meer I refer are illegal. Come, then, let us then, do they place the question between the ciations try the charge. And first, I ask, what government on one side, and the people on the were the grievances ? An army imposed on us other? The government, according to their by another country—that army rendered perpet- own statement, has been occupied to supersede ual—the Privy Council of both countries made a | the lawgiver of the country, and the people to part of our Legislature-our Legislature de priv- restore him. His Majesty's late ministers thought ed of its originating and propounding power they had quelled the country when they bought another country exercising over us supreme leg the newspapers, and they represented us as wild islative authority—that country disposing of our men, and our cause as visionary; and they penproperty by its judgments, and prohibiting our sioned a set of wretches to abuse both; but we trade by its statutes! These were not grievanc- took little account of them or their proceedings, es, but spoliations; they left you nothing. When and we waited, and we watched, and we moved, you contended against them, you contended for as it were, on our native hills, with the minor the whole of your condition. When the minis-remains of our parliamentary army, until that ter asks by what right, we refer him to our minority became Ireland! Let those ministers Maker. We sought our privileges by the right now go home, and congratulate their king on which we have to defend our property against a the deliverance of his people. Did you imagine robber, our life against a murderer, our country that those little parties, whom, three years ago, against an invader, whether coming with civil you beheld in awkward squads parading the or military force, a foreign army, or a foreign streets, would arrive to such distinction and efLegislature. This is a case that wants no prec- fect? What was the cause ? For it was not edent. The revolution wanted no precedent; the sword of the volunteer, nor his muster, nor for such things arrive to reform a course of bad his spirit, nor his promptitude to put down acciprecedents, and, instead of being founded on dental disturbance, public discord, nor his own precedent, become such. The gazing world, unblamed and distinguished deportment: this whom they came to save, begins by doubt and was much; but there was more than this. The concludes by worship. Let other nations be 4 Lord North and his associates are bere referred to. deceived by the sophistry of courts—Ireland The " present” ministers were Lord Rockingham, has studied politics in the lair of oppression; Lord Shelburne, Mr. Fox, &c., composing the Wbig and, taught by suffering, comprehends the right I administration, which followed that of Lord North. upper orders, the property and the abilities of That bill must fall, or the Constitution can not the country, formed with the Volunteer; and the stand. That bill was originally limited by this volunteer had sense enough to obey them. This House to two years, and it returned from Enunited the Protestant with the Catholic, and the gland without the clause of limitation. What! landed proprietor with the people. There was a bill making the army independent of Parliastill more than this—there was a continence ment, and perpetual ? I protested against it which confined the corps to limited and legiti- then; I have struggled with it since; and I am mate objects. There was a principle which now come to destroy this great enemy of my preserved the corps from adultery with French country. The perpetual Mutiny Bill must vanpolitics. There was a good taste which guard ish out of the statute book. The excellent tract ed the corps from the affectation of such folly. of Molyneux was burned—it was not answered, This, all this, made them bold; for it kept them and its flame illumined posterity. This evil innocent, it kept them rational. No vulgar rant paper shall be burned; but burned like a felon, against England, no mysterious admiration of that its execution may be a peace-offering to the France, no crime to conceal, no folly to blush people, and that a Declaration of Right may be for, they were what they professed to be; and planted on its guilty ashes. A new Mutiny Bill that was nothing less than society asserting her must be formed, after the manner of England, liberty according to the frame of the British and a Declaration of Right flaming in its preConstitution-her inheritance to be enjoyed in amble. As to the legislative powers of the Pri. perpetual connection with the British empire. vy Council, I conceive them to be utterly inad. I do not mean to say that there were not divers missible, against the Constitution, against the violent and unseemly resolutions. The immensi- privileges of Parliament, and against the dignity ty of the means was inseparable from the ex- of the realm. Do not imagine such power to cess. Such are the great works of nature--such be a theoretical evil; it is, in a very high deis the sea; but, like the sea, the waste and ex- gree, a practical evil. I have here an inventory cess were lost in the immensity of its blessings, of bills, altered and injured by the interference benefits, and advantage; and now, having given of the Privy Councils—Money Bills originated a Parliament to the people, the Volunteers will, by them—Protests by the Crown, in support of I doubt not, leave the people to Parliament, and those Money Bills-prorogation following those thus close, pacifically and majestically, a great Protests. I have a Mutiny Bill of 1780, altered work, which will place them above censure and by the Council and made perpetual-a bill in above panegyrie. Those associations, like other | 1778, where the Council struck out the clause institutions, will perish; they will perish with the repealing the Test Act-a Militia Bill, where occasion that gave them being; and the gratitude the Council struck out the compulsory clause, of their country will write their epitaph : requiring the Crown to proceed to form a mili
“This phenomenon, the departed Volunteer, tia, and left it optional to his majesty's ministers justified by the occasion, with some alloy of whether there should be a militia in Ireland. I public evil, did more public good to Ireland than have the Money Bill of 1775, when the Council all her institutions. He restored the liberties of struck out the clause enabling his majesty to his country; and thus, from his grave, he an take a part of our troops for general service, swers his enemies."
and left it to the minister to withdraw the forces Connected by freedom, as well as by allegi- against act of Parliament. I have to state the England and ance,
and ance, the two nations, Great Britain altered Money Bill of 1771; the altered Money Irelani now and Ireland, form a constitutional con- Bill of 1775; the altered Money Bill of 1780.
de federacy as well as an empire. The The day would expire before I could recount Crown is one link, the Constitution another; and, their ill doings. I will never consent to bave in my mind, the latter link is the most powerful. men-God knows whom-ecclesiastics, &c., &c.; You can get a king any where ; but England is men unknown to the constitution of Parliament, the only country with whom you can get and / and only known to the minister who has breathparticipate a free Constitution. This makes En- ed into their nostrils an unconstitutional existgland your natural connection, and her king your ence-steal to their dark divan, which they call natural as well as your legal sovereign. This the Council, to do mischief, and make nonsense of is a connection, not as Lord Coke has idly said, bills which their Lordships, the House of Lords, not as Judge Blackstone has foolishly said, not or we, the House of Commons, have thought as other judges have ignorantly said, by con- good and meet for the people. No! These men quests; but, as Molyneux has said, and as I now have no legislative qualifications; they shall have say, by compact—that compact is a free Consti- no legislative power. 1st. The repeal of the For continul prin tution. Suffer me now to state some perpetual Mutiny Bill, and the dependency of ciples of the of the things essential to that free the Irish army on the Irish Parliament; 2d. The
Constitution. They are as follows: I abolition of the legislative power of the Council: The independency of the Irish Parliament-the 3d. The abrogation of the claim of England to exclusion of the British Parliament from any make law for Ireland; the exclusion of the Enauthority in this realm-the restoration of the glish House of Peers, and of the English King's Irish judicature, and the exclusion of that of Bench from any judicial authority in this realm; Great Britain. As to the perpetual Mutiny Bill, I the restoration of the Irish Peers to their final it must be more than liinited—it must be ellaced. I judicature; the independency of the Irish Par
liament in its sole and exclusive Legislature— one step farther, and proposed to impart the these are my terms.
privileges they enjoyed to the Roman Catholics, by making them voters. But this the Protest
ants of neither party were willing to do. The Mr. Grattan now moved the Declaration of Romanists comprised three quarters of the popRight, which was carried almost without a dis- ulation ; very few of them could read or write ; senting voice; and a bill soon after passed the and both parties—the Patriots as well as the British Parliament, ratifying the decision by re- Aristocracy-equally shrunk from the experipealing the obnoxious act of George I.
ment of universal suffrage among this class of The Parliament of Ireland was at last inde- their fellow-citizens. Under these circumstanpendent; but the beneficial results, so glowingly ces, the call for Parliamentary Reform was very depicted by Mr. Grattan, were never realized; faintly echoed by the great body of the people. all were sacrificed and lost through a spirit of | The Convention of Volunteers had none of that selfishness and faction. The Protestants of Ire- power which they had previously exerted on the land were divided into two parties, the Aristoc-question of Parliamentary Independence. A bill racy and the Patriots. The former were exclu was brought into the House of Commons by Mr. sive, selfish, and arrogant; the latter were eager Flood for extending the right of suffrage, but it for reform, but too violent and reckless in the was voted down in the most decisive manner. measures they employed to obtain it. The Par- The bitterest animosities now prevailed, and liament of Ireland was a borough Parliament, new subjects of contention arose from time to the members of the House of Commons being, time. Associations were formed, at a later pein no proper sense, representatives of the people, riod, under the name of United Irishmen, debut put in their places by a comparatively small signed to promote the cause of liberty. Rash number of individuals belonging to the higher men, in many instances, gained the ascendency; classes. These classes, while they were among | an insurrection was planned, and in part comthe foremost to demand that "England should menced; and measures of great severity were not give law to Ireland,” were equally determ- resorted to by the British government to restore ined that the Irish Parliament, in making laws, order. The more sober part of the community should do it for the peculiar benefit of the Aris became weary of these contentions, and some tocracy, and the support of their hereditary in-began to look to a union with England as the fluence. The Patriots, on the other hand, de- only safeguard of their persons and property. manded Parliamentary Reform, and clamored for The British ministry had the strongest motives universal suffrage. To enforce their claims, they to urge on this measure in order to prevent fuassembled a Convention of the Volunteers at ture troubles; and in the year 1800, to a great Dublin in 1783, with a view to influence, and extent by the use of bribes, the union was efperhaps overawe the Parliament. Their suc- fected, and from this time the Parliament of Ire. cess would have been certain if they had gone land became extinct.
INVECTIVE OF MR. GRATTAN AGAINST MR. FLOOD, DELIVERED OCTOBER 28, 1783. It has been said by Mr. Flood, that “the pen have been corrupt; and in the last, seditious; would fall from the hand, and the fetus of the that after an envenomed attack on the persons mind would die unborn,'' if men had not a privi- and measures of a succession of viceroys, and lege to maintain a right in the Parliament of En- aster much declamation against their illegalgland to make law for Ireland. The affectation | ities and their profusion, he took office, and beof zeal, and a burst of forced and metaphorical came a supporter of government when the proconceits, aided by the arts of the press, gave an fusion of ministers had greatly increased, and alarm which, I hope, was momentary, and which their crimes multiplied beyond example; when only exposed the artifice of those who were wick- your money bills were altered without reserve ed, and the haste of those who were deceived. by the Council ; when an embargo was laid on
But it is not the slander of an evil tongue that your export trade, and a war declared against can defame me. I maintain my reputation in the liberties of America. At such a critical public and in private life. No man who has not moment, I will suppose this gentleman to be a bad character can ever say that I deceived; corrupted by a great sinecure office to muzzle no country can call me cheat. But I will sup- his declamation, to swallow his invectives, to pose such a public character. I will suppose give his assent and vote to the ministers, and to such a man to have existence. I will begin become a supporter of government, its measures, with his character in its political cradle, and I its embargo, and its American war. I will sup. will follow him to the last state of political dis- pose that he was suspected by the government solution.
that had bought him, and in consequence thereI will suppose him, in the first stage of his of, that he thought proper to resort to the acts of life, to have been intemperate; in the second, to la trimmer, the last sad refuge of disappointed am
bition ; that, with respect to the Constitution of of office, I will suppose him to come forth, and his country, that part, for instance, which regard to tell his country that her trade had been de. ed the Mutiny Bill, when a clause of reference stroyed by an inadequate duty on English sugar, was introduced, whereby the articles of war, as her Constitution had been ruined by a Perwhich were, or hereafter might be, passed in petual Mutiny Bill! In relation to three fourths England, should be current in Ireland without of our fellow-subjects, the Catholics, when a bill the interference of her Parliament—when such was introduced to grant them rights of property a clause was in view, I will suppose this gentle and religion, I will suppose this gentleman to man to have absconded. Again, when the bill have come forth to give his negative to their was made perpetual, I will suppose him again pretensions. In the same manner, I will supto have absconded; but a year and a half after pose him to have opposed the institution of the the bill had passed, then I will suppose this gen-Volunteers, to which we owe so much, and that tleman to have come forward, and to say that he went to a meeting in his own county to preyour Constitution had been destroyed by the Per. vent their establishment; that he himself kept petual Bill. With regard to that part of the Con- out of their associations; that he was almost stitution that relates to the law of Poynings, I will the only man in this House that was not in unisuppose the gentleman to have made many a long, form, and that he never was a Volunteer until he very long disquisition before he took office, but, ceased to be a placeman, and until he became after he received office, to have been as silent on an incendiary. that subject as before he had been loquacious. With regard to the liberties of America, which That, when money bills, under color of that law, were inseparable from ours, I will suppose this were altered, year after year, as in 1775 and gentleman to have been an enemy, decided and 1776, and when the bills so altered were re- ; unreserved ; that he voted against her liberty, and sumed and passed, I will suppose that gentleman voted, moreover, for an address to send four thouto have absconded or acquiesced, and to have sup-' sand Irish troops to cut the throats of the Amerported the minister who made the alteration; but icans ; that he called these butchers “armed when he was dismissed from office, and a mem- negotiators,” and stood with a metaphor in his ber introduced a bill to remedy this evil, I will mouth, and a bribe in his pocket, a champion suppose that this gentleman inveighed against against the rights of America, the only hope of the mischief, against the remedy, and against Ireland, and the only refuge of the liberties of the person of the introducer, who did that duty mankind. Thus defective in every relationship, which he himself for seven years had abandoned. / whether to Constitution, commerce, or toleration, With respect to that part of the Constitution I will suppose this man to have added much priwhich is connected with the repeal of the 6th vate improbity to public crimes; that his probof George the First, when the inadequacy of the ity was like his patriotism, and his honor on a repeal was debating in the House, I will sup- level with his oath. He loves to deliver panepose this gentleman to make no kind of objec- gyrics on himself. I will interrupt him, and tion; that he never named, at that time, the i say, “Sir, you are much mistaken if you think word renunciation; and that, on the division on that your talents have been as great as your that subject, he absconded; but when the office life has been reprehensible. You began your he had lost was given to another man, that he parliamentary career with an acrimony and percame forward, and exclaimed against the meas- sonality which could have been justified only by ure; nay, that he went into the public streets to a supposition of virtue. After a rank and clamcanvass for sedition; that he became a rambling orous opposition you became, on a sudden, silent; incendiary, and endeavored to excite a mutiny in you were silent for seven years; you were silent the Volunteers against an adjustment between on the greatest questions; and you were silent Great Britain and Ireland, of liberty and repose, for money! In 1773, while a negotiation was which he had not the virtue to make, and against pending to sell your talents and your turbulence, an administration who had the virtue to free the you absconded from your duty in Parliament; country without buying the members.
you forsook your law of Poynings; you forsook With respect to commerce, I will suppose this the questions of economy, and abandoned all the gentleman to have supported an embargo which old themes of your former declamation. You ; lay on the country for three years, and almost' were not at that period to be found in the House. destroyed it; and when an address in 1778, to You were seen, like a guilty spirit, haunting the open her trade, was propounded, to remain silent lobby of the House of Commons, watching the mo- ! and inactive. And with respect to that other ment in which the question should be put, that you part of her trade, which regarded the duty on might vanish. You were descried with a crimsugar, when the merchants were examined in inal anxiety, retiring from the scenes of your past 1778, on the inadequate protecting duty, when glory; or you were perceived coasting the upper the inadequate duty was voted, when the act benches of this House like a bird of prey, with was recommitted, when another duty was pro- an evil aspect and a sepulchral note, meditating posed, when the bill returned with the inade.. to pounce on its quarry. These ways-they quate duty substituted, when the altered bill was were not the ways of honor-you practiced adopted, on every one of those questions I will pending a negotiation which was to end either suppose the gentleman to abscond; but a year in your sale or your sedition. The former tak. and a half after the mischief was done, be out ing place, you supported the rankest measures