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FOR JULY, 1822.
Art, T. The Speeches of the Right Honourable Henry Grattan, in the
Irish and in the Imperial Parliament. Edited by his Son. In 4
pious affection of his son have collected in the present publi-, cation, long occupied a prominent place in the public attention. His vast talents and unintermitted labours, dedicated to the noblest objects, the moral and political melioration of his. country, entitle him to a high rank among those whose lives have been honourable and beneficial to mankind. The recorded services of such men are the most imperishable monuments: that can be reared to their memory.
Henry Grattan was born in 1746, at Dublin, for which city his father sat in Parliament. He was educated at the University of Dublin, and in 1767, entered as a student of the Middle Temple. While prosecuting his studies in the Temple, hefrequently attended the debates in Parliament. He was peculiarly struck with the masculine vigour of Lord Chatham's eloquence ; and those who busy themselves with fanciful analogies, have imagined a sort of affinity between the style and character of those great speakers. Mr. Grattan frequently took down in writing entire speeches as pronounced by Lord Chatham; and there is now extant in his hand-writing a speech of that great statesman’s, which is not to be found in any printed collection. Among the contemporaries with whom Mr. Grattan set out in life, were Mr. Macauley Boyd, one of the supposed authors of Junius, and Mr. (afterwards Mr. Justice) Day. For the latter, he entertained an affection whick grew with his years, and was extinguished only at his death,
Mr. Grattan was called to the Irish Bar in 1772. At this time he lived in familiar intercourse with the many distinguished individuals who formed the gay, the polished, and Vol. XVIII. N.S.
the intellectual circle of the Irish metropolis. Among these were Mr. Parker Bushe, Mr. Flood, Sir Hercules Langrishe, and the Bishop of Waterford (Dr. Marlay). In concert with Mr. Flood, he wrote several jeux d'esprit in ridicule of Lord Townsend's administration, which were afterwards inserted in a collection called “ Baratariana.” But the friendship which was the purest satisfaction of his life, and afterwards the subject of its most tender and pleasing recollections, was that of the accomplished Lord Charlemont. It was at the house of that nobleman, that the patriotic band who delivered Ireland, were wont to assemble; and it was through his influence that, in 1775, Mr. Grattan was returned to Parliament for the town of Charlemont. In 1790, he was elected for the city of Dublin. · In 1800, he was returned for Wicklow, to oppose the Union. In 1805, he came into the Imperial Parliament for Malton. In 1806, he was re-elected for his native city, and sat for that place in the several parliaments summoned in 1807, 1813, 1818, and 1820. Upon the accession of his present Majesty, he came over to take his seat, contrary to the advice of his physicians and the remonstrances of his friends. which filled his soul and animated its expiring efforts, was the Catholic question. But he had tasked his strength beyond his powers of physical endurance. Not being able to bear a journey by land, he went by water from Liverpool to London in a canal barge, emptied of its lumber, and hung round with garden mats. For six days, he sat up in a chair without moving, and continued travelling one entire night; such was his anxiety to bear with his latest breath his testimony to the cause of religious tolerance, and to perform what he considered as his last duty to his country. After much suffering, he expired a few days after his arrival in London, on the 4th of June, 1820, and thus finished, by a species of political martyrdom, a patriotic and honourable course of public service.
: His private life well corresponded to the purity of his public one. There was an interesting simplicity in his character, not urlike that which was the charm and ornament of the domestic retirement of Mr. Fox. He loved to forget the statesman in the friend. Upon the subjects that incidentally arise in social conterse, philosophy, politics, poetry, he was equally pleasing and instructive. Every topic was illumined with the bright, though softened rays of that powerful intellect which was alike capable of elucidating the most perplexed, and of adorning the simplest matters on which it touched. Playful or grave, ha delighted the young, and age itself was improved by his experience. His private conversations were replete with the
purest morality. He was never the momentary apologist of vice or profligacy. An instinctive, innate horror of every thing low or corrupt, a religious devotion to public and private principle, and a rooted conviction that boih were inseparably intwined together in their ethical relations, a contempt for money, the surest indication of a lively sensibility to the wants and sufferings of others, were the chief outlines of his domestic life and habits. His life,' says his son, (and we regret that on account of the bad taste discovered in the composition, we cannot adopt more of the biographical sketch prefixed to these volumes,) his life was one continued, gentle, moral lesson. It ' was impossible in his society, not to become enamoured of virtue.'
Thus lived, and thus died a man whom every age does not witness. Never was there an individual exposed to the stormy elements of political strife, who experienced more of the proverbial levity of the people ;-of that people whose political and moral depression he deplored, and devoted his whole life to meliorate. The object of their fondest idolatry one day, he was, on the next, rejected and decried ; in 1798, denounced as an enemy to his country; deified afterwards as the strenu'ous assertor of the constitution ; traduced again, as the betrayer of the civil liberties of Ireland ; in 1812, elected by the unanimous voice; and in 1818, almost stoned to death in the midst of his native city.
To the honour of England, never insensible to native or to foreign worth, his death was universally mourned, and the sighs of the great and the good attended him to his grave. The interest of the sad solemnities was deepened by the upostentatious attendance at his funeral of all that was elevated in rank, or ennobled by talent; the warmest of his political opponents joining in the procession, as if solicitous to bury in his tomb the passing animosities and contentions of the hour. The spot of earth dedicated to his mortal remains, adjoins that which encloses the dust of Pitt and of Fox. Atqui hæc sunt • indicia solida et expressa; hæc signa probitatis, non fucata • forensi specie, sed domesticis inusta notis veritatis.'*
Concerning the character of Mr. Grattan's eloquence, a greater variety of opinion may be fairly indulged, than can be entertained of the manly and undeviating rectitude of his public career. Though not liable to all the exceptions which sound criticism and correct taste may justly take to that which is called the Irish school, his mode of speaking, was far from being untinctured by its vices. His best and most popular
Cicero. Orat. pro Plancio.
harangues may be said to be a string of antitheses. He peared more solicitous to produce effect by strong and pointed sentences, than by continuous and systematic reasoning. We certainly perceive, and to a great degree we feel in this extraordinary orator, a style, glowing, animated, enthusiastic. At the same time, we find it incongruous, and not in the best taste of composition, all the members of the piece being pretty equally laboured and expanded, without any due selection or subordination of parts. He is generally too epigrammatic, and his manner wants variety. There is an eloquence far beyond this, the eloquence of reason, the eloquence of Fox, which, conscious, as it were, of its native might, threw off, as it started on its gigantic course, the trappings and incumbrances of a vulgar rhetoric. He did not trust himself, like Demosthenes, to the athletic and invincible strength of argument.
Infected with the prevailing taste of his countrymen, he could not resist the temptations which figurative and coloured diction holds out to ardent and impassioned minds. We have already alluded to his love of point and antithesis. It was this fault, a fault seldom redeemed by the brightest excellencies, that imparted what may be called a mannerism to his public speaking, and upon many occasions, counteracted the strength and impetuosity of his reasoning, leaving the understanding neutral and unconvinced, while it sated and tired the ear with a ceaseless jingle of sentences and epigrams.
How far the peculiar style of Mr. Grattan was influenced by the character of what is called Irish eloquence, might be curious as a matter of inquiry ; but we shall not now pursue it. It would be injustice, however, to his great powers, to class him with those public speakers who best illustrate, by their vices and defects, the peculiar qualities of that school. Mr. Curran in many instances, and Mr. Charles Philipps in all his speeches, are admirable specimens of the worst deformities of that style of eloquence. They furnish us with all the diagnostics of the disease,-a perpetual affectation, the glitter of discordant imagery, common-places tricked out in the tarnished finery and ragged embroidery of that indigence which appears .still more indigent from its ostentation. But their master vice is, that they sacrifice every thing to effect. The fact to be stated, the inference to be enforced, are as nothing to the diction and the manner. The decorations of the discourse are considered as holding no connexion with the matter. How completely at variance with the precepts of antiquity is a style thus constituted! • Etenim er rerum cognitione efflorescat et redundet • oratio, quæ nisi subest res ab oratore percepta et cognita, inanem
quandem habet elocutionem, et pæne puerilem.' Every topic,