Imágenes de páginas









"Had your advice been followed, when we were fellow-labourers years ago in the
Society for the Improvement of Ireland, we should not now be in the wretched state
to which bad government and men have reduced us."-Letter from Lord Cloncurry,
6th December, 1849.







tution but a degree removed from starvation. The corn, the cattle, the manufactures of Ireland, such as they are, are all exported to meet the demands of tax gatherers, and the enormous rents remitted to absentees and to English corporations, who refuse to give leases sufficiently long to justify an outlay in the improvement of the country by proper cultivation, or by building, or the erection of factories, even in localities where they are most required. Thus in Ireland everything languishes. Her marts are unfrequented. Of foreign commerce she has none. England absorbs all, devours all, and gives nothing in return but unwise legislative enactments unsuited to the country, and which leave us in a worse condition than before.

Berkeley, the celebrated philosopher, a Fellow of Trinity College, and afterwards Bishop of Cloyne, pointed out those evils, and suggested various means for their removal. Swift, Dean of Saint Patrick's, powerfully pleaded for Ireland, and oclaimed her wrongs. In one of his addresses he advised the Irish to burn everything that came from England, except their coals. In a letter to the Lord Lieutenant, among other suggestions, he recommends him to endeavour to obtain the support of the GRATTANS, for their influence with the Irish public was equal to two regiments of infantry.

Whether it be from hereditary teaching or some instinctive impulse of patriotic devotion, it is not easy to say, but the GRATTAN name in Ireland has since then more than maintained its original place in public opinion, for of this name and lineage was HENRY GRATTAN, my father's kinsman.

HENRY GRATTAN, returned as a representative through the patronage of the Earl of Charlemont, by his eloquence and liberal views soon became a leader in the Irish parliament. He was a strenuous advocate for Catholic emancipation. He claimed and obtained free trade for Ireland. Supported by the Irish Volunteers, he set the English minister at defiance, and compelled England, terrified by her ignominious defeat in the war with the United States, to ratify his resolution that no power on earth has authority to make laws for Ireland except the King, Lords, and Commons of IRELAND.

Such were the services rendered to Ireland by Henry Grattan. From the year 1782, when the legislative independence of Ireland was acknowledged by England, a period of unexampled prosperity ensued. But in brief time Ireland's rapid advancement excited England's jealousy and fear-jealousy of her commercial and manufacturing rivalry, and fear lest a reformed Irish parliament, no longer submissive to the will of an English cabinet, might adopt measures opposed to the prejudices of George III., and leading to the extinction of the exclusive privileges then and still possessed by the British aristocracy.

By corruption openly avowed, and by an insurrection in Ireland encouraged for the purpose, the foul fraud of the Union between Great Britain and Ireland was perpetrated. The admission of one hundred Irish place-seekers, anxious to sell their country to the English minister, and thanking God that they had a country to sell, gave to Ireland the mockery of constitutional representation, and to England the assumed right of ruling Ireland for the benefit of the empire-meaning thereby, for the benefit of England alone.

The Union accomplished, Grattan's mission was at an end. He made a few feeble and ineffective efforts in favour of Catholic emancipation, a measure then nearest to his heart. But the mephitic atmosphere of the English House of Commons possessed no vitality for him. The aged oak, uprooted and planted elsewhere, never thrives. Henry Grattan in England, far from the balmy air and invigorating breezes of Ireland, pined and died. To do him honour, forsooth, they have buried him in Westminster Abbey. There in a foreign land he lies, and will there remain, until Ireland, restored to life and assuming her natural position among the nations, shall prepare for him a tomb worthy of his name, and to which Irishmen may in after time lead their sons, telling them to emulate his patriotism, and like him to labour always for the honor and independence of their native land.

GRATTAN, a patriot of inflexible integrity, an orator of singular ability, mouldering in his grave, and the bright flame of his powerful eloquence extinguished, has gone

where all must go. His son, an enthusiastic supporter of Ireland's rights, has also died, leaving no male issue. But the name survives notwithstanding. In my person it has not been dishonoured. I have reached my eightieth year, and am, at least in age, the head of the Grattan clan. My efforts, however feeble, have always been in accord with the principles of Henry Grattan-not as a servile imitator, but from an honest conviction of their wisdom and their truth. In the discharge of my mission, whatever it may be, I have chosen for myself a walk different from that of mere political and party agitation. I have devoted my attention chiefly to the improvement of the social condition of the hard-working and industrious classes. I have endeavoured to bring their claims before the public, to plead for them, and at the same time suggest the means whereby many of the grievances of which they complain may be removed.

The struggle on the part of Ireland has been hard and protracted. Of the objects which Henry Grattan laboured to accomplish-Catholic Emancipation, Free Trade, and Civil and Religious Equality have, after long years of incessant agitation, been reluctantly conceded by England. It is to be regretted that those great changes in the system of governing this country were not made when Ireland would have accepted them gratefully, aud have been thereby strengthened in her attachment to England. They have come too late to conciliate. Other grievances are surging up like the successive waves of an angry sea, each more formidable than that which preceded it. We have now got the Poor Law question, the Land, the Education questions, to settle. These are certain to cause much trouble, and the more so because, while everyone says they must be settled, no one knows how. Speeches are made, resolutions passed, petitions forwarded to both Houses, agreeing in nothing but the lame and impotent conclusion of leaving everything to the wisdom of Parlia


I have no faith in the wisdom, no confidence in the justice of an English Parliament in its dealings with Ireland. An English Parliament never yet yielded anything to Ireland which it could withhold, as long as it felt it could safely

do so.

It is only by a resolute and determined effort, compressing England and almost strangling her, that Ireland has obtained even an instalment of justice. From the date of that foul stain upon English honour-the violation of the capitulation of Limerick, what has been the history of Ireland but a succession of protestations against English misrule, or of open insurrections against her authority?

In this hatred of oppression no men have been more prominent than Protestants, the descendants of the Saxon or the Norman. Protestants have carried with them, and planted in every land in which they sojourned, the sturdy independence of their remote ancestors. Born in Ireland, dwelling in Ireland, Irish in feeling, and bound to their fellow countrymen by the strong ties of a common nationality and of mutual interest, there never have been wanting amongst them brave hearts and strong minds to resist aggression, from whatever quarter it might come.

If the unrighteous ministers of William had not violated the Treaty of Limerick, if, even when the Act of Union was carried by means the most atrocious, the English minister had redeemed his pledges, and emancipated the Catholics, in virtue of a distinct compact entered into with their bishops, Ireland would have been tranquillized, sectarian differences would have died away, and we should have become as one people. But this was not to be. Bad ministers and an insane king ruled it otherwise. It was only when the people, placing no reliance on ministers or kings, put forth their strength, and demanded their rights, that they obtained them. This fact should be held in remembrance by us. It should teach us that which the English assure us we so much want-self-reliance! We should rely neither on ministers nor on princes. A wise, educated, and intelligent people should know how to make their own laws, to amend and to alter them. In France nothing originates with the people; every public act is directed by those in authority; the people are merely ordered to carry it into effect, so that popular liberty there is a shadow, nothing more. A Frenchman, having observed something in the government of Switzerland which he thought objectionable, said to a Swiss, "Your government

« AnteriorContinuar »