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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Henry Grattan (1746–1820)
Critical and Biographical Introduction
 
HENRY GRATTAN, eminent among Irish orators and statesmen, was born in Dublin, July 3d, 1746. He graduated from Trinity College in 1767, became a law student of the Middle Temple, London, and was admitted to the bar in 1772. He soon became drawn into open political life, entering the Irish Parliament in 1775.  1
  In Parliament he espoused the popular cause. His memorable displays of oratory followed fast and plentifully. On April 19th, 1780, he attacked the right of England to legislate for Ireland. With that address his reputation was made. He became incessant in his efforts to remove oppressive legislation. By his eloquence he quickened into life a national spirit, to culminate in a convention at Dungannon on February 15th, 1782, where resolutions in favor of legislative independence were stormily adopted. Presently, after a speech of surpassing power from him, the Declaration of Rights Bill was passed unanimously by both houses, with an unwilling enactment from England. The idol now of Ireland, Grattan was voted by its Parliament a grant of £50,000 “as a testimony of national gratitude for great national services.” The next eighteen years saw him resolute to secure for Ireland liberal laws, greater commercial freedom, better conditions for the peasantry, the wiping out of Parliamentary corruption, and especially the absolute emancipation of the Roman Catholics. After the Union he lived in retirement, devoting himself to the study of the classics and to the education of his children until 1805. Then at the request of Fox he entered the imperial Parliament, making his first speech in favor of Fox’s motion for a committee on the Roman Catholic Petition, an address described as “one of the most brilliant speeches ever made within the walls of Parliament.” In 1806 he was elected a member for Dublin, which city he represented until his decease. His last speech was made on May 5th, 1819, in favor of Roman Catholic emancipation. It is to be noted that he was by profession and conviction a Protestant. He died in 1820. He was buried in Westminster Abbey, near the graves of Chatham and Fox.  2
  In spite of great natural drawbacks, Grattan achieved the highest rank as an orator; and his passionate eloquence has rarely been equaled in fervor and originality.  3
 
 
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