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They had, among other things, manipulated the borough representation during the recess, so that, as a Nationalist member put it, 'A string of men who are against the Union are to go out [in order] that a string of men who are for it may come in;' and the elections--thirty-nine in numberwhich were to produce this result had not yet taken place !

But the Nationalists were resolved to force the hand of the government; and, accordingly, one of their number—Sir Laurence Parsonsraised the question of the Union by moving that the independence of the Irish parliament, as settled in 1782, should be maintained. A debate, which lasted for twenty hours, followed, and was signalised by, at least, one striking, dramatic scene.

Grattan had left parliament in 1797, and had taken no part in public life since. He spent some time in England. His health failed, and he took up his residence at the Isle of Wight. The rebellion of '98 and the project of the Union had filled him with anguish and indignation, and, weighed down by anxiety for the future of Ireland, his constitution, never very robust, had become seriously enfeebled. He returned to Dublin towards the end of 1799, shattered in body, distracted in mind, and utterly prostrated by acute nervous depression. He had no wish to enter parliament again. He felt that his work was done; and, overwhelmed by the disasters of his country, was indeed anxious to die. But, as the day of the final struggle approached, his spirit rose under every


adversity, and he resolved to fling hinaself into the fight and to join his old comrades in their last battle for Irish freedom. Just as parliament was about to meet, a vacancy occurred in the borough of Wicklow. Through the kind offices of a friendly sheriff, the election was held on the 15th January, and at midnight Grattan

declared duly elected. A messenger hastened to Dublin to apprise him of the fact. The scene which followed has been graphically described by Mrs Grattan :

'The messenger arrived in Dublin about five in the morning, when we heard a loud knocking at the door. Mr Grattan had been very ill, and was then in bed; and, turning round, he exclaimed, “Oh! here they come; why will they not let me die in peace?" The question of union had become dreadful to him; he could not bear the idea or listen to the subject or speak on it with any degree of patience. He grew quite wild, and it almost drove him frantic. I shall never forget the scene that followed. I told him he must get up immediately and go down to the House ; so we got him out of bed and dressed him. I helped him downstairs. Then he went into the parlour and loaded his pistols, and I saw him put them in his pocket, for he apprehended he might be attacked by the Union party and assassinated.

We wrapped a blanket round him, and put him in a sedan-chair ; and, when he left the door, I stood there, uncertain whether I should ever see him again. Afterwards, Mr M'Cann came to me and said that I





need not be alarmed, as Mr Grattan's friends had determined to come forward in case he was attacked, and, if necessary, take his place in the event of any personal quarrel. When I heard that, I thanked him for his kindness, but told him, “My husband cannot die better than in defence of his country !”?

Grattan arrived at the House at seven o'clock on the morning of the 16th. Thin, weak, emaciated, he presented a melancholy figure, as, dressed in the uniform of the volunteers and supported by George Ponsonby and Arthur Moore, he tottered to the table to take the oaths. The ministers bowed to him. The Opposition bowed to him. The occupants of the strangers' galleries looked down upon the scene with breathless interest, and a thrill of excitement ran through the House as the great orator and statesman was borne to his place in the ranks of the Nationalists. Between seven and eight a.m. he rose to speak, but finding it impossible to stand, he begged the permission of the House to address them sitting. The request being granted, he then delivered a speech of two hours' duration, which, listened to at first in breathless silence, was soon interrupted by rapturous applause, as, inspired by the grandeur of his theme, the orator warmed to his work, and the old fire and eloquence blazed forth, showing that the energies of the mind had conquered the feebleness of the body, and that, in heart and soul and intellect, Henry Grattan was himself again. Clear statement, convincing facts, sound constitutional doctrines, pungent argument, sparkling epigrams, fierce denunciation, ardent appeals to honour and consistency filled the speech and electrified the audience. Relying upon the compact of '82, and reminding the House of the finality' of that arrangement, he took his stand upon the highest ground of constitutional law and political morality, and, condensing the sum and substance of his whole address in a single sentence, said,—The thing the minister proposes to buy is what cannot be sold—liberty.' But in the face of law and morals it was 'sold'meanly, basely sold; meanly, basely purchased. If, indeed, genius and eloquence could have saved the Irish parliament, Grattan would have saved it. But its fate was sealed. The seductions of the minister were proof against the eloquence and enthusiasm of the patriot.

At ten o'clock on the morning of the 16th January a division was taken, and the Nationalists were defeated by a majority of forty-two. Grattan had spoken to corrupt ears.

The minister had succeeded beyond his expectations. Still the government did not feel sure of their mercenary majority. 'I trust this first success,' wrote the lord-lieutenant, 'will cement our party ; it is still composed of loose materials, much more intent on the personal than the public question.'

The 'loose materials' were, however, 'cemented,' and on February 6th, a motion in favour of the Union was carried by a majority of forty-three.

The final struggle took place on May 26th. The Nationalists now knew that their cause




was lost, but they fought to the end, if not for victory, for honour, and in the hope that the liberties of the country, though crushed for the moment, might yet revive under happier auspices. 'I know,' said Gould, that the minister must succeed, yet I will not go away with an aching heart, because I know the liberties of the people must ultimately triumph. The people must at present submit, because they cannot resist 120,000 armed men; but the period will occur when, as in 1782, England may be weak and Ireland sufficiently strong to recover her lost liberties.'

Grattan made one of his most brilliant efforts, and warned the government that the measure would bring neither peace nor contentment to Ireland, and that the sentiment of nationality would survive the destruction of the parliament. “The constitution,' he exclaimed, ‘may for a time be lost, but the character of the people cannot be lost. The ministers of the Crown may perhaps at length find out that it is not so easy to put down for ever an ancient and respectable nation by abilities, however great-or by corruption, however irresistible. Liberty may repair her golden beams, and with redoubled heat animate the country. The cry of loyalty will not long continue against the principles of liberty. Loyalty is a noble, a

a a judicious and a capacious principle, but in these countries loyalty distinct from liberty is corruption, not loyalty. The cry of the connection will not in the end avail against the principles of liberty. Connection is a wise and

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