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that ever came before Parliament; the embargo sorry game of a trimmer in your progress to of 1776, for instance. "O, fatal embargo, that the acts of an incendiary. You give no honest breach of law, and ruin of commerce! You sup- support either to the government or the people. ported the unparalleled profusion and jobbing of You, at the most critical period of their existLord Harcourt's scandalous ministry—the ad- ence, take no part; you sign no non-consumpdress to support the American war-the other tion agreement; you are no Volunteer; you opaddress to send four thousand men, which you pose no Perpetual Mutiny Bill; no altered Sugar had yourself declared to be necessary for the de- Bill; you declare that you lament that the Dec. fense of Ireland, to fight against the liberties of laration of Right should have been brought forAmerica, to which you had declared yourself a ward; and observing, with regard to both prince friend. You, sir, who delight to utter execra and people, the most impartial treachery and detions against the American commissioners of sertion, you justify the suspicion of your Sover1778, on account of their hostility to America- eigu, by betraying the government, as you had
you, sir, who manufacture stage thunder against sold the people, until, at last, by this hollow con· Mr. Eden for his anti-American principles— duct, and for some other steps, the result of mor
you, sir, whom it pleases to chant a hymn to the tified ambition, being dismissed, and another perimmortal Hampden-you, sir, approved of the son put in your place, you fly to the ranks of the tyranny exercised against America; and you, Volunteers and canvass for mutiny; you announce sir, voted four thousand Irish troops to cut the that the country was ruined by other men during throats of the Americans fighting for their free- that period in which she had been sold by you. dom, fighting for your freedom, fighting for the Your logic is, that the repeal of a declaratory law great principle, LibeRTY! But you found, at is not the repeal of a law at all, and the effect of last (and this should be an eternal lesson to men that logic is, an English act affecting to emanof your craft and cunning), that the King had cipate Ireland, by exercising over her the legisonly dishonored you; the court had bought, but lative authority of the British Parliament. Such would not trust you; and, having voted for the has been your conduct; and at such conduct worst measures, you remained, for seven years, every order of your fellow-subjects have a right the creature of salary, without the confidence of to exclaim! The merchant may say to you— government. Mortified at the discovery, and the constitutionalist may say to you—the Amerstung by disappointment, you betake yourself to ican may say to you—and I, I now say, and say the sad expedients of duplicity. You try the to your beard, sir—you are not an honest man!!!
OF MR. GRATTAN AGAINST MR. CORRY, DELIVERED DURING THE DEBATE ON THE UNION OF
IRELAND TO ENGLAND, FEBRUARY 14, 1800.
Has the gentleman done? Has he completely " traitor," unqualified by any epithet? I will done? He was unparliamentary from the begin- tell him ; it was because he dare not. It was ning to the end of his speech. There was scarce the act of a coward, who raises his arm to a word that he uttered that was not a violation of strike, but has not courage to give the blow. I the privileges of the House; but I did not call him will not call him a villain, because it would be to order. Why? Because the limited talents of unparliamentary, and he is a privy counselor. some men render it impossible for them to be se- I will not call him fool, because he happens vere without being unparliamentary; but before to be Chancellor of the Exchequer; but I say I sit down I shall show him how to be severe and he is one who has abused the privilege of Parparliamentary at the same time. On any other liament and the freedom of debate, to the utteroccasion I should think myself justifiable in treat- ing language which, if spoken out of the House, ing with silent contempt any thing which might I should answer only with a blow. I care not how fall from that honorable member ; but there are high his situation, how low his character, how times when the insignificance of the accuser is contemptible his speech ; whether a privy counlost in the magnitude of the accusation. I know selor or a parasite, my answer would be a blow. the difficulty the honorable gentleman labored He has charged me with being connected with under when he attacked me, conscious that, on the rebels. The charge is utterly, totally, and a comparative view of our characters, public meanly false. Does the honorable gentleman and private, there is nothing he could say which rely on the report of the House of Lords for the would injure me. The public would not believe foundation of his assertion? If he does, I can the charge. I despise the falsehood. If such prove to the committee there was a physical ima charge were made by an honest man, I would possibility of that report being true; but I scorn answer it in the manner I shall do before I sit to answer any man for my conduct, whether he down. But I shall first reply to it when not be a political coxcomb, or whether he brought made by an honest man.
himself into power by a false glare of courage The right honorable gentleman has called or not. I scorn to answer any wizard of the me "an unimpeached traitor." I ask, why not Castle, throwing himself into fantastical airs ; but if an honorable and independent man were blow is aimed at the independence of our counto make a charge against me, I would say, “You try. charge me with having an intercourse with reb. The right honorable gentleman says I fled els, and you found your charge upon what is said from the country, after exciting rebellion; and to have appeared before a committee of the Lords. that I have returned to raise another. No such Sir, the report of that committee is totally and thing. The charge is false. The civil war had egregiously irregular.” I will read a letter not commenced when I left the kingdom ; and I from Mr. Nelson, who had been examined before could not have returned without taking a part. that committee; it states that what the report on the one side there was the camp of the rebel; represents him as having spoken is not what he on the other, the camp of the minister, a greater said. [Mr. Grattan here read the letter from traitor than that rebel. The strong-hold of the Mr. Nelson, denying that he had any connection Constitution was nowhere to be found. I agree with Mr. Grattan, as charged in the report; and that the rebel who rises against the government concluded by saying, "never was misrepresenta- should have suffered; but I missed on the scaltion more vile than that put into my mouth by the fold the right honorable gentleman. Two des. report.")
perate parties were in arms against the ConstiFrom the situation that I held, and from the tution. The right honorable gentleman beconnections I had in the city of Dublin, it was longed to one of those parties, and deserved necessary for me to hold intercourse with vari- death. I could not join the rebel- I could not ous descriptions of persons. The right honora- join the government. I could not join tortureble member might as well have been charged I could not join hall-hanging-I could not join with a participation in the guilt of those traitors; free quarter. I could take part with neither. I for he had communicated with some of those very was, therefore, absent from a scene where I could persons on the subject of parliamentary reform. not be active without self-reproach, nor indifferThe Irish government, too, were in communica ent with safety. tion with some of them.
Many honorable gentlemen thought differently The right honorable member has told me I de- from me. I respect their opinions ; but I keep serted a profession where wealth and station were my own; and I think now, as I thought then, that the reward of industry and talent. If I mistake the treason of the minister against the liberties of not, that gentleman endeavored to obtain those the people was infinitely worse than the rebellion rewards by the same means; but he soon desert- of the people against the minister. ed the occupation of a barrister for those of a par. I have returned, not, as the right honorable asite and pander. He fled from the labor of study member has said, to raise another storm- I have to flatter at the table of the great. He found the returned to discharge an honorable debt of gratLords' parlor a better sphere for his exertions than itude to my country, that conferred a great rethe hall of the Four Courts; the house of a great ward for past services, which, I am proud to say, man a more convenient way to power and to was not greater than my desert. I have replace; and that it was easier for a statesman of turned to protect that Constitution of which I middling talents to sell his friends than a lawyer was the parent and the founder, from the assas. of no talents to sell his clients.
sination of such men as the honorable gentleman For myself, whatever corporate or other bod- and his unworthy associates. They are cories have said or done to me, I, from the bottom of rupt-they are seditious—and they, at this very my heart, forgive them. I feel I have done too moment, are in a conspiracy against their counmuch for my country to be vexed at them. I try. I have returned to refute a libel, as false would rather that they should not feel or ac- as it is malicious, given to the public under the knowledge what I have done for them, and call appellation of a report of the committee of the me traitor, than have reason to say I sold theni. Lords. Here I stand, ready for impeachment or I will always desend myself against the assassin; wrial : I dare accusation. I defy the honorable but with large bodies it is different. To the gentleman; I defy the government; I defy the people I will bow; they may be my enemy-I whole phalanx. Let them come forth. I tell never shall be theirs.
the ministers I will neither give them quarter At the emancipation of Ireland, in 1782, I nor take it. I am here to lay the shattered retook a leading part in the foundation of that mains of my constitution on the floor of this Constitution which is now endeavored to be de- House, in defense of the liberties of my country. stroyed. Of that Constitution I was the author ; 1 in that Constitution I glory; and for it the hon- My guilt or innocence have little to do with orable gentleman should bestow praise, not in the question here. I rose with the rising for. vent calumny. Notwithstanding my weak statc tunes of my country-I am willing to die with of body, I come to give my last testimony against her expiring liberties. To the voice of the peothis Union, so fatal to the liberties and interest ple I will bow, but never shall I submit to the of my country. I come to make common cause calumnies of an individual hired to betray them with these honorable and virtuous gentlemen and slander me. The indisposition of my body around me; to try and save the Constitution; has left me, perhaps, no means but that of lying or is not save the Constitution, at least to save down with fallen Ireland, and recording upon her cur characters, and remove from our graves the tomb my dying testimony against the flagitious foul disgrace of standing apart while a deadly corruption that has murdered her independence. The right honorable gentleman has said that this purchase public scorn by private infamy—the was not my place—that, instead of having a voice lighter characters of the model have as little in the councils of my country, I should now stand chance of weaning me from the habits of a life a culprit at her barat the bar of a court of spent, if not exhausted, in the cause of my nacriminal judicature, to answer for my treasons. tive land. Am I to renounce those habits now The Irish people have not so read my history; forever, and at the beck of whom? I should but let that pass; if I am what he said I am, the rather say of what-half a minister-half a monpeople are not therefore to forfeit their Constitu- key-a 'prentice politician, and a master coxtion. In point of argument, therefore, the attack comb. He has told you that what he said of me is bad-in point of taste or feeling, if he had here, he would say any where. I believe he either, it is worse—in point of fact, it is false, would say thus of me in any place where he utterly and absolutely false—as rancorous a thought himself safe in saying it. Nothing can falsehood as the most malignant motives could limit his calumnies but his fears—in Parliament suggest to the prompt sympathy of a shameless he has calumniated me to-night, in the King's and a venal defense. The right honorable gen-courts he would calumniate me to-morrow; but tleman has suggested examples which I should had he said or dared to insinuate one half as have shunned, and examples which I should have much elsewhere, the indignant spirit of an honfollowed. I shall never follow his, and I have est man would have answered the vile and venal ever avoided it. I shall never be ambitious to | slanderer with a blow.
CHARACTER OF LORD CHATHAM.
The Secretary stood alone. Modern degen- ' A character so exalted, so strenuous, so varieracy had not reached him. Original and unac- ous, so authoritative, astonished a corrupt age, commodating, the features of his character had and the Treasury trembled at the name of Pitt the hardihood of antiquity. His august mind through all her classes of venality. Corruption overawed Majesty; and one of his Sovereigns imagined, indeed, that she found defects in this [George III.) thought royalty so impaired in his statesman, and talked much of the inconsistency presence, that he conspired to remove him, in of his glory, and much of the ruin of his victoorder to be relieved from his superiority. No ries—but the history of his country and the castate chicanery, no narrow system of vicious lamities of the enemy answered and refuted her. politics, no idle contest for ministerial victories, Nor were his political abilities his only talents; sunk him to the vulgar level of the great; but, his eloquence was an era in the Senate. Pecul. overbearing, persuasive, and impracticable, his iar and spontaneous, familiarly expressing giganobject was England-his ambition was fame. | tic sentiments and instinctive wisdom-not like Without dividing, he destroyed party; without the torrent of Demosthenes, or the splendid concorrupting, he made a venal age unanimous. flagration of Tully, it resembled, sometimes the France sunk beneath him; with one hand he thunder, and sometimes the music of the spheres. smote the house of Bourbon, and wielded in the Like Murray (Lord Mansfield], he did not conother the democracy of England. The sight of duct the understanding through the painful subhis mind was infinite, and his schemes were to tilty of argumentation ; nor was he, like Townaffect, not England, not the present age only, send,” forever on the rack of exertion, but rather but Europe and posterity. Wonderful were the lightened upon the subject, and reached the point means by which these schemes were accom- by the flashings of his mind, which, like those of plished, always seasonable, always adequate, the his eye, were felt, but could not be followed. suggestions of an understanding animated by ar- Upon the whole, there was in this man somedor, and enlightened by prophecy.
thing that could create, subvert, or reform; an The ordinary feelings which make life amiable understanding, a spirit, and an eloquence to sumand indolent—those sensations which soften and mon mankind to society, or to break the bonds of allure, and vulgarize, were unknown to him. No slavery asunder, and rule the wildness of free domestic difficulties, no domestic weakness, minds with unbounded authority; something reached him; but, aloof from the sordid occur that could establish or overwhelm empire, and rences of life, and unsullied by its intercourse, strike a blow in the world that should resound he came occasionally into our system to counsel through its history. and decide.
Mr. Charles Townsend. See his character in See page 63.
| Burke's speech on American Taxation.
MR. SHERIDAN. RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN was born at Dublin in September, 1751. His father, Thomas Sheridan, author of the first attempt at a Pronouncing Dictionary of our language, was a distinguished teacher of elocution, and during most of his life was connected with the stage. This fact very naturally turned the attention of young Sheridan, even from his boyhood, to theatrical composition ; and, being driven to strenuous exertion in consequence of an early marriage, he became a dramatic writer at the age of twenty-four. His first production was The Rivals, which, by the liveliness of its plot and the exquisite humor of its dialogue, placed him at once in the first rank of comic writers. His next work was the opera of The Duenna, which was performed seventy-five times during the season in which it was first produced, and yielded him a very large profit. In the year 1776, in conjunction with two friends, he purchased Garrick's half of the Drury Lane Theater; and becoming proprietor of the other half at the end of two years, he gave his father the appointment of manager. He now produced his School for Scandal, which has been regarded by many as the best comedy in our language. This was followed by The Critic, which was equally admirable as a farce; and here ended, in 1779, his “legitimate offerings on the shrine of the Dramatic Muse." He still, however, retained his proprietorship in Drury Lane, which would have furnished an ample support for any one but a person of his expensive and reckless habits.
Mr. Sheridan had cherished from early life a very lively interest in politics; and now that his thirst for dramatic fame was satiated, his ambition rose higher, and led him to seek for new distinction in the fields of oratory. He had already made the acquaintance of Lord John Townsend, Mr. Windham, and other distinguished members of the Whig party, and was desirous of forming a political connection with Mr. Fox. To promote this object, Townsend made a dinner-party early in 1780, at which he brought them together. Speaking of the subject afterward, he said, “I told Fox that all the notions he might have conceived of Sheridan's talents and genius from the Rivals,' &c., would fall infinitely short of the admiration of his astonishing powers which I was sure he would entertain at the first interview. Fox told me, after breaking up from dinner, that he had always thought Hare, after my uncle, Charles Townsend, the wittiest man he had ever met with, but that Sheridan surpassed them both, infinitely.” Sheridan, on his side, formed the strongest attachment for Mr. Fox as a man and a political leader, and was soon after placed on terms of equal intimacy with Mr. Burke. He was admitted to Brooks's Club-house, the head-quarters of the Whigs,' and soon after became a member for Stafford, at an expense of £2000.
Mr. Sheridan's maiden speech was delivered on the 20th of November, 1780. The House listened to him with marked attention, but his appearance did not entirely satisfy the expectations of his friends. Woodfall, the reporter, used to relate that 1 The following lines of Tickell give the character of Brooks:
And know, I've bought the best Champagne from Brooks;
Exults to trust, and blushes to be paid.
Sheridan came up to him in the gallery, when the speech was ended, and asked him, with much anxiety, what he thought of his first attempt. "I am sorry to say,” replied Woodfall, “that I don't think this is your line—you had better have stuck to your former pursuits.” Sheridan rested his head on his hand for some minutes, and then exclaimed, with vehemence, “ It is in me, and it shall come out of me.!" He now devoted himself with the utmost assiduity, quickened by a sense of shame, to the cultivation of his powers as a speaker ; and having great ingenuity, ready wit, perfect self-possession, and a boldness amounting almost to efirontery, he made himself at last a most dexterous and effective debater.
During the short administration of the Marquess of Rockingham, in 1782, Mr. Sheridan came into office as Under Secretary of State; but on the decease of Rockingham, he resigned in common with Fox, Burke, and others, when Lord Shelburne was made prime minister in preference to Mr. Fox. Mr. William Pitt now came into the ministry, at the age of twenty-three, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, and undertook, soon after, to put down Mr. Sheridan by a contemptuous allusion to his theatrical pursuits. “No man,” said he “admires more than I do the abilities of that right honorable gentleman-the elegant sallies of his thought, the gay effusions of his fancy, his dramatic turns, and his epigrammatic point. If they were reserved for the proper stage, they would no doubt receive the plaudits of the audience; and it would be the fortune of the right honorable gentleman,“ sui plausu gaudere theatri.'' Mr. Sheridan replied to this insolent language, with admirable adroitness, in the following words : “ On the particular sort of personality which the right honorable gentleman has thought proper to make use of, I need not comment. The propriety, the taste, and the gentlemanly point of it must be obvious to this House. But let me assure the right honorable gentleman that I do now, and will, at any time he chooses to repeat this sort of allusion, meet it with the most perfect good humor. Nay, I will say more. Flattered and encouraged by the right honorable gentleman's panegyric on my talents, if I ever engage again in the composition he alludes to, I may be tempted to an act of presumption, and attempt an improvement on one of Ben Jonson's best characters, that of the Angry Boy, in the Alchymist.” The effect was irresistible. The House was convulsed with laughter; and Mr. Pitt came very near having the title of the Angry Boy fastened on him for the remainder of his life.
When the administration of Lord Shelburne gave way to the Coalition Ministry of Mr. Fox and Lord North, in 1783, Sheridan was again brought into office as Secretary of the Treasury. The defeat of Mr. Fox's East India Bill threw him out of power at the close of the same year; and from that time, for more than twenty-two years, he was a strenuous and active opponent of Mr. Pitt.
In the year 1787, Mr. Burke, who had devoted ten years to the investigation of English atrocities in India, called forth the entire strength of the Whig party for the impeachment of Warren Hastings. To Mr. Sheridan he assigned the management of the charge relating to the Begums or princesses of Oude. It was a subject peculiarly suited to his genius; and, aided by an intimate knowledge of the facts, which was supplied him by the researches of Burke, he brought forward the charge in the House of Commons, on the 7th of February, 1787. His speech on this occasion was so imperfectly reported that it may be said to be wholly lost. It was, however, according to the representation of all who heard it, an astonishing exhibition of eloquence. The whole assembly, at the conclusion, broke forth into expressions of tumultuous applause. Men of all parties vied with each other in their encomiums; and Mr. Pitt concluded his remarks by saying that "an abler speech was perhaps never delivered.” A motion was made to adjourn, that the House might have time to recover their calmness and collect their reason,” after the excitement they had
• To exult in the applause of his own theater.