“The Commons’ House of Parliament, on the last evening, afforded the most melancholy example of a fine, independent people, betrayed, divided, sold, and, as a State, annihilated. British clerks and officers were smuggled into her Parliament, to vote away the constitution of a country to which they were strangers, and in which they had neither interest nor connexion. They were employed to cancel the royal charter of the Irish nation, guaranteed by the British Government, sanctioned by the British Legislature, and unequivocally confirmed by the words, the signature, and the Great Seal of their monarch.
“The situation of the Speaker on that night was of the most distressing nature. A sincere and ardent enemy of the measure, he headed its opponents; he resisted with all the power of his mind, the resources of his experience, his influence, and his eloquence. It was, however, through his voice that it was to be proclaimed and consummated. His only alternative (resignation) would have been unavailing, and could have added nothing to his character. His expressive countenance bespoke the inquietude of his feeling; solicitude was perceptible in every glance, and his embarrassment was obvious in every word he uttered.
“The galleries were full, but the change was lamentable; they were no longer crowded with those who had been accustomed to witness the eloquence and to animate the debates of that devoted assembly. A monotonous and melancholy murmur ran through benches, scarcely a word was exchanged amongst the members, nobody seemed at ease, no cheerfulness was apparent, and the ordinary business, for a short time, proceeded in the usual manner.
“At length the expected moment arrived. The order of the day for the third reading of the Bill for a ’Legislative Union between Great Britain and Ireland,’ was moved by Lord Castlereagh. Unvaried, tame, coldblooded, the words seemed frozen as they issued from his lips; and, as a simple citizen of the world, he seemed to have no sensation on the subject.
“At that moment
he had no country, no God but his ambition: he
his motion, and resumed his seat with the utmost composure and
“Confused murmurs again ran through the House; it was visibly affected. Every character in a moment seemed involuntary rushing to its index—some pale, some flushed, some agitated; there were few countenances to which the heart did not despatch some messenger. Several members withdrew before the question could be repeated, and an awful momentary silence succeeded their departure. The Speaker rose slowly from that chair which had been the proud source of his honours and of his high character; for a moment he resumed his seat, but the strength of his mind sustained him in his duty, though his struggle was apparent. With that dignity which never failed to signalize his official actions,