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A MEMOIR

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HENRY GRATTAN.

Few things in the perusal of history are more striking than the total dissimilarity in character of ages that closely succeed each other. In one country and within the space of a single century, it is possible to observe a remarkable contrast between the successive passions and prejudices, tastes and manners of the same people. The English of the times of James the First and Lord Bacon, were as unlike their countrymen in the days of Cromwell and Milton, as these gain were totally dissimilar from the contemporaries of King William and John Locke. So also in the eighteenth century the dissimilarity between the age of Walpole and Bolingbroke, and the era of Pitt and Fox, was as marked as the difference in Irish politics between the days of Swift and those of Flood -between the times of Grattan and those of O'Connell.

When, therefore, we examine the character of any public man, it is absʊlutely necessary to consider closely the nature of that society in which he existed, and the influence of the passions of his age. A political leader is not like the poet or philosopher, who lead isolated lives, renote from the passions of their contemporaries. The existence of a public man is necessarily blended with that of the community at large; between him and the people around him there is an active reciprocating influence, which is influential on the character of the leader as well as his followers. Of course, the really great public man is not the creature of his own times. If he were, his life would hardly be worth studying: but neither can he have a character totally at variance with that of his contemporaries. His life is a compromise between his own individuality and that of the public whom he strives to govern and direct. In proportion a he sympathizes with the aspirations of his own times, does he obtain present and popular authority; in the same degree as he rises superior to the transient prejudices of his age, and guides his course by general principles and exalted views, will he obtain posthumous fame. And in apprehending with intuition the exact confines between theory and practice, between the far-sighted views which reach to posterity, and those which regard the pressing claims of the passing hour, may be said to consist the art of all great and genuine statesmanship, as distinguished from the charlatanism, which, grovelling in the precept is sure to meet with the contemptuous oblivion of future ages.

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It will be particularly necessary to keep these considerations in mind v-ben we are estimating the character of the illustrious subject of the present memoir

HENRY GRATTAN, was born in Dublin on the 3rd of July, 1746. His father, James Grattan, was for many years Recorder of Dublin, and represented the city in Parliament from 1761 to 1766. His family was eminent and respectable, and more than one of its members was held in high regard by Dean Swift.

The mother of Henry Grattan was Mary, daughter of Chief Justice Marlay; and there are reasons for believing that (as in the case of other celebrated men) it was to his mother that our great patriot was indebted for his natural genius. The family of Marlay claims to be of the race of the De Merlys of Normandy; and if their physical appearance were admitted as evidence in support of the pedigree they exhibit, it would be readily conceded that the Marlays were Norman in their origin. The immediate ancestor of the family was Sir John Marlay, one of the Royalists of 1640, and a distinguished officer amongst the Cavaliers. His son Anthony was captain in the Duke of Ormond's regiment in 1667, and settled in Ireland, where his grandson Thomas rose to be Chief Justice of the Queen's Bench. He was a man of talents and literary accomplishments. He prided himself on being an expert swordsman, and a very droll anecdote is recorded of his having run an opponent through the body with a long sword, on which were stamped the Twelve Apostles! The wound was not mortal; and the Chief Justice, who was a man of humour, remarked that his adversary had "got the benefit of the trial by jury, and that the twelve had allowed him to escape!"

Chief Justice Marlay had several children, of whom the most eminent was Colonel Marlay, who distinguished himself at the battle of Minden. He was held in the highest respect by his celebrated nephew, who had recourse to his advice on more than one trying occasion. Another son of the Chief Justice was Richard Marlay, afterwards Bishop of Waterford. He was a man of lively mind and genial character. His intellect was highly cultivated, and he was held in deserved esteem by his contemporaries. Indeed, few families in Ireland could boast of a greater union of talent, learning, and virtue, than were to be found in the Marlays.

Young Grattan was sent to school to one Ball, who lived in Great Ship Street. At his very first school he gave a striking indication of the native energy of his character. On his master having subjected him to a degrading punishment, which he did not merit, the boy was so outraged that he insisted on his father sending him to another school: he was then sent to Mr. Young's in Abbey Street, where Anthony Malone and Hussey Burgh had been educated. At this latter school he was held to be a boy of great spirit, and in after timehis schoolfellows loved to dilate upon the early development of his fine character.

In his eighteenth year he was seized with severe illness, which repeatedly returned to him at the most critical periods of his life. His physical organization bore little proportion to the remarkable ardour of his temperament. His body was rather a frail tenement for a spirit so eminently aspiring.

At this period of his life, his uncle, Colonel Marlay, appears to have discerned the character of his young uephew. In their correspondence the Colonel addresses Grattan in a tone more suited to a grown man than a forward youth.

In the year 1763, Grattan entered Trinity College, Dublin, where he became acquainted with John Foster (afterwards Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, and representative of the Ligh Protestant National Party), Robert (afterwards Judge) Day, and John Fitzgibbon, afterwards Earl of Clare.

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His most intimate companion was young Broome, who was not a member of the University. Their friendship seemed to have been based upon a community of taste and feeling. They had a strong love of poetry and rural scenery, and

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decided taste for literature. It was odd enough that Broome was a military man; he was a cornet of horse when he made the acquaintance of young (irattan. The two friends became voluminous correspondents; and the letters of young Grattan to Broome are remarkably suggestive of the writer's character, and require particular notice.

Through all those letters, written in the twentieth year of his age, traces of the same style as that which he preserved through life are visible. In tone rather affected, they are uniformly artificial in their composition; they abound in expressions often incorrect, but often most forcible, and even picturesque. They are all formed on the model of style set by the letters of Pope, whose genius was much admired by Grattan. It may be needless to remind the reader tha in 1765 (when we get the first samples of Grattan's style) Pope was regarded as the poet. Polished, clear, and artificial-seldom abandoned to enthusiasmexhibiting more care in finishing, than genius in inventing; sceptical without impiety-and caustic without coarseness-the poetry of Pope, the bard of prudence, possessed a sort of complexional resemblance to the character of English society during the latter part of the lifetime, and for twenty years subsequent to the death, of the author of the "Essay on Man". It was an age of modish, town-bred philosophy; of manners elaborately artificial; of a certain conventional elegance, which was constantly aspiring after the Beautiful in taste, and as constantly violating in practice the principles of natural grace. It was an Ege of the Theatre-but the Drama was indebted to incomparable actors rather than to original authors for support. It was Garrick, and not Shakspeare, who obtained the admiration of the town; and the Macklins, Mossops, Quins, were more thought of by an elegantly finical public, than the Massingers, Ben Jonsons, and Shirleys of the old English Drama. The manners of the time were favourable to luxury rather than to enjoyment. The fine gentleman of that day aspired to an artistic refinement of manner, but never thought of attaining ease. The woman of fashion was all powder and toupée-hoops and high-heeled shoes. Everything was modish, artificial, and unreal. Even the pulpit partook of that character. The great divines of England were extinct, and a race of petit maitre prelates, of neat, shallow, sparkling, superficiai preachers, occupied the places of the Barrows and Tillotsons of former times. The genteel had prevailed over the grand; the elegantly small was everywhere visible; and the sublime was nowhere to be seen in English life, save in one conspicuous instance—the great Lord Chatham, whose grandeur was heightened by contrast with the petty objects around him; like a forest tree amidst the shrubs of a trim suburban garden.

The character of that age (between the close of the Jacobite contest and the American Revolution) had considerable effect on the mind and style of Grattan. ks effects on the development of his genius were decidedly injurious. The young orator was naturally given to emotion; his cast of mind was melancholy, poetical, and rather vague; he was besides eager, passionate, and withal reflective in his habits. He loved others intensely, and the warmth of his friendship was universally reciprocated. He delighted in wandering in the open country, and his love of rural scenery had the nature of a passion. He was also fitful, rather wayward, and subject to abrupt transition of feelings. On the whole, the poetical element largely entered into his composition.

But never was there an age less favourable to the poetical spirit than the

period (1766) when Grattan was attaining to manhood. Yet it so happened that the times influenced Grattan's mind, and accordingly we find that he restrained the expression of his natural emotions; became modish, affected, and finical; gave up racy originality for striking affectation, and tortured his powerful genius into the painful adoption of unnecessary epigrams and fantastical antithesis. But his genius was too strong for him; the artificial culture on false principles which would have destroyed an ordinary mind, was only able to spoil but not to smother Grattan's splendid powers.

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On a cool and critical contemplation of his original mind and charater, it may be fearlessly asserted that he was far more a poet than an orator or statesIt is confessedly admitted on all sides that he is the most poetical of orators, ancient or modern. Nor does his failure in the poems he wrote contradict in any degree the theory now put forward, namely, that Grattan is to be considered rather as the poet of Irish political passion and national ambition, than as the statesman expounding her wants, and providing for her necessities. It will be found that the facts of his life and the subsequent character of his eloquence, go far to corroborate this mode of estimating his character.

In 1767 he became a member of the Middle Temple, and repaired to London during the period required for eating his way to the Bar. When he arrived in London, it was but natural that so susceptible a mind would have partaken of whatever was most exciting in its nature, and accordingly politics soon aroused him. His glowing intensity of mind found an object for admiration in Lord Chatham, who was the idol of Grattan. The commanding powers of Chatham —his vast moral influence—his vivid, electrical eloquence-all these combined with his brilliant deportment to fascinate the young Irishman, who became an habitual attendant at the Bar of the House of Lords.

Sorrow for the death of a sister whom he passionately loved, drove him from London, and in conjunction with his friend, Robert Day, he took a house in Windsor Forest. Here he led a desultory life, more congenial with the unsettled reverie of a poetical mind, than with the hard ambition of a politician. His ways it must be admitted were rather eccentric. The common part of mankind would have believed him out of his senses. He spent whole nights rambling about the forest; and delighted to lose himself in the thickest plantations. The scenery had all the charms of poetical association, besides its own natural beauties, to engage the cultivated mind and impassioned nature of young Grattan. He seems to have intensely enjoyed the liberty of wandering by himself through the forest on the moonlight nights; now startling a herd of deer from their bed of fern, or anon losing himself in some shadowy thicket. During these poetical rambles, his mind we may be well assured was not idle, and the habit of indulging in poetical sensations may be said to have coloured his whole existence. If he had in those days bravely relied upon nature and given us his own sympathy with her charms, the world might have had some fine poetry. But the moment he came to write verse, he only could see with the eyes of "Mr Pope". With an impetuous temperament and ardent imagi nation, he chose for his model a poet, whose style, admirably suited for a mine of keen social perception, was little suited for the rapturous expression of exquisite emotion. Instead of choosing a model congenial, with his own mind, he selected one adapted for a totally different nature, and soon became disgusted with his attempts. He says of the productions of his muse-"that they are the efforts of her mind rather than the nature of it". But in truth, the greatest poetical genius has often been destroyed by the adoption of uncongenial models. Dryden would not be remembered by posterity, if he had continued to write

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