03 January 2008

Fare Thee Well, Henry Grattan

I really love all the Bay Ridge blogs. They make me feel all warm n' cozy, like I live in sleepy Lake Wobegon... Dare to dream.

So, the famous neighbourhood watering hole Henry Grattan's had its final last call last night.

The Salty Dog people have bought the jernt and will be turning it into a "high-end" Mexican restaurant.

High-end Mexican
makes about as much sense to me as high-end Chinese food but, hey, what do I know?

Henry Grattan was a member of the Irish House of Commons and a campaigner for legislative freedom for the Irish Parliament in the late 18th century. He opposed the merger of the Kingdoms of Ireland and Great Britain.

Like his boy Henry Flood, Henry Grattan worked on his natural eloquence and oratory skills by studying models such as Bolingbroke and Junius.

One of the first acts of Grattan's parliament was to prove its loyalty to the Constitution by passing a vote for the support of 20,000 sailors for the navy. Grattan was loyal to the crown and the English connection.

The most searching scrutiny of his private life only increases the respect due to the memory of Grattan as a statesman and the greatest of Irish orators. His patriotism was untainted by self-seeking; he was courageous in risking his popularity for what his sound judgment showed him to be the right course.

As Sydney Smith, the English writer and clergyman, said with truth of Grattan soon after his death:
“No government ever dismayed him. The world could not bribe him. He thought only of Ireland; lived for no other object; dedicated to her his beautiful fancy, his elegant wit, his manly courage, and all the splendour of his astonishing eloquence.”