« PreviousContinue »
not feared any odium whatsoever, in the long warfare which we nave carried on with the crimes, with the vices, with the exorbitant wealth, with the enormous and overpowering influence of Eastern corruption.
My Lords, it has pleased Providence to place us in such a state that we appear every moment to be upon the verge of some great mutations. There is one thing, and one thing only, which defies all mutation that which existed before the world, and will survive the fabric of the world itself, I mean justice; that justice which, emanating from the Divinity, has a place in the breast of every one of us, given us for our guide with regard to ourselves and with regard to others, and which will stand, after this globe is burned to ashes, our advocate or our accuser, before the great Judge, when He comes to call upon us for the tenor of a well-spent life.
My Lords, the Commons will share in every fate with your Lordships; there is nothing sinister which can happen to you, in which we shall not all be involved; and, if it should so happen that we shall be subjected to some of those frightful changes which we have seen, if it should happen that your Lordships, stripped of all the decorous distinctions of human society, should, by hands at once base and cruel, be led to those scaffolds and machines of murder upon which great kings and glorious queens have shed their blood, amidst the prelates, amidst the nobles, amidst the magistrates, who supported their thrones, - may you in those moments feel that consolation which I am persuaded they felt in the critical moments of their dreadful agony!
My Lords, if you must fall, may you so fall! but, if you stand,and stand I trust you will, together with the fortune of this ancient monarchy, together with the ancient laws and liberties of this great and illustrious Kingdom, may you stand as unimpeached in honor as in power; may you stand, not as a substitute for virtue, but as an ornament of virtue, as a security for virtue; may you stand long, and long stand the terror of tyrants; may you stand the refuge of afflicted Nations; may you stand a sacred temple, for the perpetual residence of an inviolable justice!
62. TO THE ELECTORS OF BRISTOL. - Edmund Burke.
GENTLEMEN, I have had my day. I can never sufficiently express my gratitude unto you for having set me in a place wherein I could lend the slightest help to great and laudable designs. If I have had my share in any measure giving quiet to private property and private conscience; if by my vote I have aided in securing to families the best possession, peace; if I have joined in reconciling kings to their subjects, and subjects to their prince; if I have assisted to loosen the foreign holdings of the citizen, and taught him to look for his protection to the laws of his country, and for his comfort to the good will of his countrymen; if I have thus taken my part with the best of men in the best of their actions, — I can shut the book; - I might wish
"Every dog has his day,
to read a page or two more, but this is enough for my measure. have not lived in vain.
And now, Gentlemen, on this serious day, when I come, as it were, to make up my account with you, let me take to myself some degree of honest pride, on the nature of the charges that are against me. I do not here stand before you accused of venality, or of neglect of duty. It is not said that, in the long period of my service, I have, in a single instance, sacrificed the slightest of your interests to my ambition, or to my fortune. It is not alleged that, to gratify any anger or revenge of my own, or of my party, I have had a share in wronging or oppress ing any description of men, or any one man in any description. No! the charges against me are all of one kind, — that I have pushed the principles of general justice and benevolence too far, further than a cautious policy would warrant, and further than the opinions of many would go along with me. In every accident which may happen through life, in pain, in sorrow, in depression and distress, - I will call to mind this accusation, and be comforted.
63. MARIE ANTOINETTE, 1790.* - Edmund Burke.
It is now sixteen or seventeen years since I saw the Queen of France, then the Dauphiness, at Versailles; and surely never lighted on this orb, which she hardly seemed to touch, a more delightful vision. I saw her just above the horizon, decorating and cheering the elevated sphere she just began to move in, glittering like the morning star, full of life, and splendor, and joy. O! what a revolution! and what a heart must I have, to contemplate without emotion that elevation and that fall! Little did I dream, when she added titles of veneration to those of enthusiastic, distant, respectful love, that she should ever be obliged to carry the sharp antidote against disgrace concealed in that bosom; little did I dream that I should have lived to see such disasters fallen upon her, in a Nation of gallant men, in a Nation of men of honor, and of cavaliers! I thought ten thousand swords must have leaped from their scabbards, to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult.
But the age of chivalry is gone; that of sophisters, economists and calculators, has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished forever. Never, never more, shall we behold that generous loyalty to rank and sex, that proud submission, that dignified obedience, that subordination of the heart, which kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of an exalted freedom! The unbought grace of life, the cheap defence of Nations, the nurse of manly sentiment and heroic enterprise, is gone! It is gone, that sensibility of principle, that chastity of honor, which felt a stain like a wound, which inspired courage whilst it mitigated ferocity, which ennobled whatever it touched, and under which vice itself lost half its evil, by losing all its grossness.
* Born, 1755; beheaded, 1792.
64. DECLARATION OF IRISH RIGHTS, 1780.-
Henry Grattan, one of the most renowned of Irish orators, was born in Dublin, on the 3d of July, 1746, and died in 1820. In December, 1775, he took his seat in the Irish House of Commons; and from that time till 1800, he figured politically in that body chiefly. The Ir sh Revolution of 1782 was carried mainly by his efforts. Although a Protestant, he was a most earnest advocate of the entire emancipation of the Catholics from all invidious distinctions and disabilities. In 1805 Grattan took his seat in the British Parliament, where he became the leading Champion of Catholic rights. The passages from his speeches in this collection bearing date anterior to 1805 were pronounced in the Irish Parliament; those of a subsequent date were delivered before the popular branch of the Imperial Parliament. Of Grattan we may add, in the words of the Rev. Sydney Smith:-"No Government ever dismayed him; the worl could not bribe him: he thought only of Ireland; lived for no other object; dedicated to her his beautiful fanty, his manly courage, and all the splendor of his astonishing eloquence."
SIR, I have entreated an attendance on this day, that you might, in the most public manner, deny the claim of the British Parliament to make law for Ireland, and with one voice lift up your hands against it. England now smarts under the lesson of the American war; her enemies are a host, pouring upon her from all quarters of the earth; her armies are dispersed; the sea is not hers; she has no minister, no ally, no admiral, none in whom she long confides, and no general whom she has not disgraced; the balance of her fate is in the hands of Ireland; you are not only her last connection, you are the only Nation in Europe that is not her enemy. Let corruption tremble; but let the friends of liberty rejoice at these means of safety, and this hour of redemption. You have done too much not to do more; you have gone too far not to go on; you have brought yourselves into that situation in which you must silently abdicate the rights of your country, or publicly restore them. Where is the freedom of trade? Where is the security of property? Where is the liberty of the People? I therefore say, nothing is safe, satisfactory or honorable, nothing except a declaration of rights. What! are you, with three hundred thousand men at your back, with charters in one hand and arms in the other, afraid to say you are a free People? If England is a tyrant, it is you have made her so; it is the slave that makes the tyrant, and then murmurs at the master whom he himself has constituted.
The British minister mistakes the Irish character; had he intended to make Ireland a slave, he should have kept her a beggar. There is no middle policy: win her heart by the restoration of her rights, or cut off the Nation's right hand; greatly emancipate, or fundamentally destroy. We may talk plausibly to England, but so long as she exercises a power to bind this country, so long are the Nations in a state of war; the claims of the one go against the liberty of the other, and the sentiments of the latter go to oppose those claims to the last drop of her blood. The English opposition, therefore, are right; mere trade will not satisfy Ireland. They judge of us by other great Nations; by the Nation whose political life has been a struggle for liberty, America! They judge of us with a true knowledge and just deference for our character; that a country enlightened as Ireland, chartered as Ireland, armed as Ireland, and injured as Ireland, will be satisfied with nothing less than liberty.
I might, as a constituent, come to your bar and demand my liberty
I do call upon you, by the laws of the land and their violation, by the instruction of eighteen centuries, by the arms, inspiration and provi dence of the present moment, tell us the rule by which we shall go, assert the law of Ireland; declare the liberty of the land. I will not be answered by a public lie in the shape of an amendment; neither, speaking for the subject's freedom, am I to hear of faction. I wish for nothing but to breathe, in this our island, in common with my fellow-subjects, the air of liberty. I have no ambition, unless it be the ambition to break your chain, and contemplate your glory. I never will be satisfied so long as the meanest cottager in Ireland has a link of the British chain clanking to his rags. He may be naked,- he shall not be in iron. And I do see the time is at hand, the spirit is gone forth, the declaration is planted; and though great men should apostatize, yet the cause will live; and though the public speaker should die, yet the immortal fire shall outlast the organ which conveyed it, and the breath of liberty, like the word of the holy man, will not die with the prophet, but survive him.
65. REPLY TO MR. FLOOD, 1783.-Henry Grattan.
At the time of this speech in the Irish Parliament, Flood and Grattan, although previously friends, stood before the British public as rival leaders. A bitter animosity had arisen betwee them; and Grattan having unfortunately led the way in personality, by speaking of his opponent's "affectation of infirmity," Flood replied with great asperity, denouncing Grattan asa mendicant patriot," who, “bought by his country for a sum of money, then sold his country for prompt payment." He also sneered at Grattan's "aping the style of Lord Chatham." To these taunts Grattan replied in a speech, an abridginent of which we here give. An arrangement fr a hostile meeting between the parties was the consequence of this speech; but Flood was arrested, and the crime of a duel was not added to the offence of vindictive personality, of which both had been guilty. Grattan lived to regret his harshness, and speak in generous terms of b.s
It is not the slander of an evil tongue that can defame me. I maintain my reputation in public and in private life. No man, who has not a bad character, can ever say that I deceived. No country can call me a cheat. But I will suppose such a public character. I will suppose such a man to have existence. I will begin with his character in his political cradle, and I will follow him to the last stage of political dissolution. I will suppose him, in the first stage of his life, to have been intemperate; in the second, to have been corrupt; and in the last, seditious; — that, after an envenomed attack on the persons and measures of a succession of viceroys, and after much declamation against their illegalities and their profusion, he took office, and became a supporter of Government, when the profusion of ministers had greatly increased, and their crimes multiplied beyond example.
With regard to the liberties of America, which were inseparable from ours, I will suppose this gentleman to have been an enemy decided and unreserved; that he voted against her liberty, and voted, moreover, for an address to send four thousand Irish troops to cut the throats of the Americans; that he called these butchers "armed nego tiators," and stood with a metaphor in his mouth and a bribe in his pocket, a champion against the rights of America, of America, the only hope of Ireland, and the only refuge of the liberties of mankind
Thus defective. in every relationship, whether to constitution, commerce, and toleration, I will suppose this man to have added much private improbity to public crimes; that his probity was like his patriotism, and his honor on a level with his oath. He loves to deliver panegyrics on himself. I will interrupt him, and
Sir, you are much mistaken if you think that your talents have been as great as your life has been reprehensible. You began your parliamentary career with an acrimony and personality which could have been justified only by a supposition of virtue; after a rank and clamorous opposition, you became, on a sudden, silent; you were silent for seven years; you were silent on the greatest questions, and you were silent for money! You supported the unparalleled profusion and jobbing of Lord Harcourt's scandalous ministry. You, Sir, who manufacture stage thunder against Mr. Eden for his anti-American principles, -- you, Sir, whom it pleases to chant a hymn to the immortal Hampden; — you, Sir, approved of the tyranny exercised against America, and you, Sir, voted four thousand Irish troops to cut the throats of the Americans fighting for their freedom, fighting for your freedom, fighting for the great principle, liberty! But you found, at last, that the Court had bought, but would not trust you. Mortified at the discovery, you try the sorry game of a trimmer in your progress to the acts of an incendiary; and observing, with regard to Prince and People, the most impartial treachery and desertion, you justify the suspicion of your Sovereign by betraying the Government, as you had sold the People. Such has been your conduct, and at such conduct every order of your fellow-subjects have a right to exclaim! The merchant may say to you, the constitutionalist may say to you, the American may say to you,- and I, I now say, and say to your beard,
- you are not an honest man!
66. NATIONAL GRATITUDE, 1780.— Henry Grattan.
I SHALL hear of ingratitude. I name the argument to despise it, and the inen who make use of it. I know the men who use it are not grateful they are insatiate; they are public extortioners, who would stop the tide of public prosperity, and turn it to the channel of their own emolument. I know of no species of gratitude which should prevent my country from being free; no gratitude which should oblige Ireland to be the slave of England. In cases of robbery and usurpation, nothing is an object of gratitude except the thing stolen, the charter spoliated. A Nation's liberty cannot, like her treasure, be meted and parcelled out in gratitude. No man can be grateful or liberal of his conscience, nor woman of her honor, nor Nation of her liberty. There are certain unimpartable, inherent, invaluable properties, not to be alienated from the person, whether body politic or body nat ural. With the same contempt do I treat that charge which says that Ireland is insatiable; saying that Ireland asks nothing but that which Great Britain has robbed her of,- her rights and privileges. To say