« PreviousContinue »
against the law! I see the magistrates prostrate, and I see Parliament witness of these infringements, and silent-silent or employed to preach moderation to the people, whose liberties it will not restore! I therefore say, with the voice of three million people, that, notwithstanding the import of sugar, beetle-wood, and panellas, and the export of woolens and kerseys, nothing is safe, satisfactory, or honorable, nothing except a declaration of right.
What! are you, with three million men at your back, with charters in one hand and arms in the other, afraid to say you are a free people ? Are you, the greatest House of Commons that ever sat in Ireland, that want but this one act to equal that English House of Commons that passed the Petition of Right, or that other that passed the Declaration of Right,are you afraid to tell the British Parliament you are a free people? Are the cities and the instructing counties, which have breathed a spirit that would have done honor to old Rome when Rome did honor to mankindare they to be free by connivance? Are the military associations, those bodies whose origin, progress, and deportment have transcended, or equaled at least, anything in modern or ancient story-is the vast line of the northern army,
-are they to be free by connivance? What man will settle among you ? Where is the use of the Naturalization Bill ? What man will settle among you? Who will leave a land of liberty and a settled government for a kingdom controlled by the Parliament of another country, whose liberty is a thing by stealth, whose trade a thing by permission, whose judges deny her charters, whose Parliament leaves everything at random; where the chance of freedom depends upon the hope that the jury shall despise the judge stating a British Act, or a rabble stop the magistrate executing it, rescue your abdicated privileges, and save the Constitution by trampling on the Government,-by anarchy and confusion!...
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 counties, by the arms, inspiration, and providence of the present moment, to 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 declar. ation is planted ; and though great men shall 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.
THE EPITAPH OF ENGLAND (From Grattan's speeches in the British House of Commons, we offer the following brief but telling example of fervent eloquence.]
The Kingdom of Ireland, with her imperial crown, stands at your Bar. She applies for the civil liberty of three-fourths of her children. Will you dismiss her without a hearing? You cannot do it!
I say you cannot finally do it! The interest of your country would not support you ; the feelings of your country would not support you : it is a proceeding that cannot long be persisted in. No courtier so devoted, no politician so hardened, no conscience so capacious! I am not afraid of occasional majorities. A majority cannot overlay a great principle. God will guard His own cause against rank majorities. In vain shall men appeal to a church-cry, or to a mock thunder ; the proprietor of the bolt is on the side of the people.
It was the expectation of the repeal of Catholic disability which carried the Union. Should you wish to support the minister of the crown against the people of Ireland, retain the Union, and perpetuate the disqualification, the consequence must be something more than alienation. When you finally decide against the Catholic question, you abandon the idea of governing Ireland by affection, and you adopt the idea of coercion in its place.
You are pronouncing the doom of England. If you ask how the people of Ireland feel towards you, ask yourselves how you would feel towards us if we disqualified three-fourths of the people of England forever. The day you finally ascertain the disqualification of the Catholic, you pronounce the doom of Great Britain. It is just it should be so. The king who takes away the liberty of his subjects loses his crown; the people who take away the liberty of their fellow-subjects lose their empire. The scales of your own destinies are in your own hands; and if you throw out the civil liberty of the Irish Catholic, depend on it, old England will be weighed in the balance, and found wanting : you will then have dug your own grave, and you may write your own epitaph thus :-"England died because she taxed America, and disqualified Ireland.”
ITALIAN ORATORS CAMILLO DI CAVOUR AND FRANCESCO CRISPI Cavour became famous about the middle of the 19th Century in the troublesome times of Italy. He was a man of rare wisdom, vigor and courage. Crispi was an orator and Prime Minister of Italy in the latter half of the Century. As an orator he had remarkable powers.
FAMOUS EUROPEAN ORATORS AND STATESMEN
JOHN PHILPOT CURRAN (1750-1817)
THE HUMOROUS ORATOR OF THE IRISH BAR
EVER had Ireland another legal orator like Curran. He was a
member of the Irish Parliament after 1783, but his career
there was quite eclipsed by that at the Bar. His eloquence, humor and sarcasm brought him an extensive practice. In crossexamination he was inimitable; "he argued, he cajoled, he ridiculed, he mimicked, he played off the various artillery of his talent upon the witness," Charles Philips says. “There never lived a greater advocate; certainly never one more suited to the country in which his lot was cast. His eloquence was copious, rapid and ornate, and his power of mimicry beyond all description.” He began his career with a defect in speech, the school-boys calling him “Stuttering Jack Curran."
Like Demosthenes, he overcame this by earnest effort, practicing before a glass, declaiming celebrated orations and other means. Antony's oration over the dead body of Cæsar was his favorite model of eloquence.
THE PENSION SYSTEM [As an example of Curran's sarcasm, we append a brief extract from his remarks in 1780 on the Pension System.]
This polyglot of wealth, this museum of curiosities, the Pension List, embraces every link in the human chain, every description of men, women, and children, from the exalted excellence of a Hawke or a Rodney, to the debased situation of the lady who humbleth herself that she may be exalted. But the lessons it inculcates form its greatest perfection; it teacheth that Sloth and Vice may eat that bread which Virtue and Honesty may starve for after they have earned it. It teaches the idle and dissolute to look up for that support which they are too proud to stoop and earn. It directs the minds of men to an entire reliance on the ruling Power of the State, who feeds the ravens of the Royal aviary, that cry