Henry Grattan’s last words to the Irish House of Commons 1800

21 Jan 11

“The constitution may for a time seem lost. The character of the country cannot be lost. The ministers of the Crown will find that it is not so easy to put down for ever an ancient and respectable nation by abilities, however great, and by power and corruption, however irresistible. Liberty may repair her golden beam, and with redoubled heat animate the country.

 

The cry of loyalty will not be long continued against the principles of liberty. Loyalty is a noble, a judicious, and a capricious principle; but in these countries loyalty, distinct from liberty, is corruption, not loyalty.

 

The cry of the connexion will not in the end avail against the principles of liberty. Connexion is a wise and a profound policy; but connexion without an Irish Parliament is connexion without its own principle; without analogy of condition, without the pride of honour which should attend it, is innovation, is peril, is subjugation – not connexion. The cry of disaffection will in the end avail against the principles of liberty. Identification is a solid and imperial maxim necessary for the preservation of freedom, necessary for that of empire; but without union of hearts, with a separate Government, and without a separate Parliament, identification is extinction, is dishonour, is conquest – not identification.

 

Yet I do not give up my country. I see her in a swoon, but she is not dead. Though in her tomb she lies helpless and motionless, there is on her lips a spirit of life, and on her cheek a glow of beauty.

Thou art not conquered, beauty’s ensign yet
Is crimson on thy lips and on thy cheek;
And death’s pale flag is not abroad there.’

 

While a plank of the vessel holds together I will not leave her. Let the courtier present his loyal sail to the breeze, and carry the barque of his faith with every wind that blows: I will remain anchored here; with fidelity to the fortunes of my country, faithful to her freedom, faithful to her fall.”

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