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neither Catholic nor Protestant in Ireland, for she had wronged both. The time had clearly come for concession, and fearing Catholics more than Protestants, she resolved to appease them first. Accordingly, before the end of the year 1778, the first great breach was made in the Penal Code. An Act was passed allowing Catholics to hold land on leases of 999 years, and to inherit land in the same way as Protestants, and this was unquestionably a substantial measure of justice.
*You are now,' wrote Edmund Burke, on the passing of this Act, to the Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, 'beginning to have a country, and ... I am persuaded that when that thing called a country is once formed in Ireland, quite other things will be done than were done whilst the zeal of men was turned to the safety of a party, and whilst they thought its interests provided for in the distress and destruction of everything else.'
Events were indeed tending to make Ireland a country.' Irish and Colonists, Catholics and Protestants had been brought together by common misfortunes. The Catholics fought for religious liberty, the Protestants for commercial freedom-both for political independ
In October 1779, Hussey Burgh, the friend of Grattan, moved an amendment to the address in favour of Free Trade, which was carried by an overwhelming majority. Then the members of the House of Commons went in a body to present their petition to the lord-lieutenant.
The volunteers lined the way and presented arms as they passed. Thus, as Mr Lecky happily says, due emphasis' was given to the demand. But the lord-lieutenant sent back an evasive answer, saying that he would give a favourable consideration to all questions 'conducive to the public welfare,' and no more. Grattan and the National Party were, however, in no temper to be trifled with. Dublin was in a state of intense excitement. Volunteers and citizens filled the streets. As members of parliament passed to and fro, they were met by angry mobs who threatened them with chastisement if they did not support the demand of Grattan.
On the 4th November the volunteers paraded around the statue of William III. in College Green, and fired salutes, which were heard with startling effect at the Castle. On either side of the statue cannon was placed with the inscription, Free Trade or this —;' and every means were taken to show the earnestness and determination of the people. On November 24th Grattan moved that no new taxes should be voted until the popular demands were granted; and Hussey Burgh delivered a famous speech which well expressed the popular feeling." Talk not to me,' he said, 'of peace; it is not peace, but smothered war. England has sown her laws as dragons' teeth, and they have sprung up in armed men.'
The government at length felt it was hopeless to hold out; and on December 13th the English minister introduced, in the English parliament, a Bill to repeal the Commercial Code. The measure met practically with no opposition, and took its place on the Statute Book in February 1780. All restrictions were removed to the export of Irish wool, woollen manufacture and glass, and the trade of the colonies was thrown open to Ireland. Thus, in a moment, were the obnoxious laws of Charles II. and William III. swept utterly away.
But the greatest question of all, the question of political independence, remained, and Grattan did not allow it to slumber. Ireland could have no guarantee for good laws, he urged, until the Irish parliament was free of English control. It had been free in times past-free from 1295 to 1494.
Then its rights were invaded by an English viceroy, and Poynings' Law was passed. But since then its independence had been asserted again and again-in 1641 by an Irish Catholic House of Commons; in 1642 by Irish Catholic peers in their petition to Charles I. ; in 1645 by the Irish Catholic Confederates ; and in 1689 by the Catholic parliament of James II.
When, after, and in violation of, the Treaty of Limerick, the voice of the Catholics had been silenced, the cry was taken up by the Protestant colonists, by Molyneux, by Swift, by Lucas; and Grattan was resolved that it should not now be allowed to die. "The time had come,' he said,
when the issue should be fought out and settled for ever.'
On April 19th 1780, he brought the subject before parliament, and moved, that the (king)
Lords and Commons of Ireland, are the only power competent to enact laws to bind Ireland.' This motion struck at Poynings' Law, which enabled the English parliament to make laws for Ireland, and at the Act of George I. which declared that the parliament of Ireland was dependent on England. But the House of Commons was not yet ready to support Grattan, and feeling that if he pressed the question he would be defeated, he wisely dropped it for that session. But it was not dropped in the country. Throughout 1780 and 1781 a vigorous agitation was kept up. In 1781, the volunteers numbered some 80,000 men, and, with arms in their hands, they demanded the restoration of Ireland's legislative rights. Great meetings were held, spirited resolutions were passed, and every determination was shown to push the question to a speedy issue.
In the autumn, 1781, another great disaster befell the arms of England in America. The English commander, Lord Cornwallis, after sustaining a vigorous siege, was forced to surrender, with his whole army, numbering 7000 men, at Yorktown, on October 19. a crushing blow, and while England was still reeling under it, the volunteers pressed forward with their demands.
In February 1782, they held a convention at Dungannon, and passed strong resolutions, not only in favour of legislative independence, but of Catholic Emancipation as well. Two months afterwards (April 16th), Grattan once more brought the question before parliament, and, in
a speech of remarkable power and eloquence, moved the famous ‘Declaration of Irish Rights.” Dublin was filled with volunteers. Cavalry, infantry, artillery, were, Grattan's son tell us, posted on the quays, bridges and approaches to the Houses of Parliament; and it was through their parted ranks that Grattan passed to move the emancipation of his country.'1 Twelve months previously the House of Commons would not support him. But now there was no opposition, The English minister had, in fact, expressed his willingness to grant the Irish demand before Grattan had entered the House of Commons on that memorable 16th of April. And it was with this knowledge that Grattan began his famous speech with these immortal words,
'I am now to address a free people ! Ages have passed away, and this is the first moment in which you could be distinguished by that appellation. I have spoken on the subject of your liberty so often, that I have nothing to add, and have only to admire by what Heavendirected steps you have proceeded, until the whole faculty of the nation is braced up to the act of her own deliverance.
'I found Ireland on her knees; I watched over her with an eternal solicitude; I have traced her progress from injuries to arms, and from arms to liberty. Spirit of Swift, spirit of Molyneux, your genius has prevailed. Ireland is now a nation. In that new character I hail