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opinion of the civilised world is rapidly gaining an ascendancy over mere brutal force. It is already able to oppose the most formidable obstruction to the progress of injustice and oppression; and, as it grows more intelligent and more intense, it will be more and more formidable. It may be silenced by military power, but it cannot be conquered. It is elastic, irrepressible, and invulnerable to the weapons of ordinary warfare. It is that impassable, unextinguishable enemy of mere violence and arbitrary rule, which, like Milton's angels,
“ Vital in every part,
Cannot, but by annihilating, die.” Until this be propitiated or satisfied, it is vain for power to talk either of triumphs or of repose. No matter what fields are desolated, what fortresses surrendered, what armies subdued, or what provinces overrun. In the history of the year that has passed by us, and in the instance of unhappy Spain, we have seen the vanity of all triumphs, in a cause which violates the general sense of justice of the civilised world. It is nothing that the troops of France have passed from the Pyrenees to Cadiz; it is nothing that an unhappy and prostrate nation has fallen before them; it is nothing that arrests, and confiscation, and execution, sweep away the little remnant of national resistance. There is an enemy that still exists to check the glory of these triumphs. It follows the conqueror back to the very scene of his ovations, it calls upon him to take notice that Europe, though silent, is yet indignant; it shows him that the sceptre of his victory is a barren sceptre ; that it shall confer neither joy nor honour, but shall moulder to dry ashes in his grasp. In the midst of his exultation it pierces his ear with the cry of injured justice, it denounces against him the indignation of an enlightened and civilised age; it turns to bitterness the cup of his rejoicing, and wounds him with the sting which belongs to the consciousness of having outraged the opinion of mankind.'
Strange inconsistency! this passage is applauded, learnt by heart, and recited by the whole rising generation, in a land which doggedly retains millions of human beings in the most degrading state of slavery, in direct defiance of the opinion of the world!
The people of the United States are proud of having fulfilled one poetic promise; when will they fulfil another, made for them by a poet who never let slip an opportunity of showing kindness w an American?
'Assembling here, all nations shall be blest,
The sad be comforted, the weary rest;
And He shall rule the world he died to save.'*
• Rogers, The Voyage of Columbus.
† Curran's Speech for Archibald Hamilton Rowan. his doom may be pronounced,' &c. &c.
No matter in what language
• In 1826 Mr. Webster was elected a member of the Senate, and in 1833 the same honour was conferred upon him. This is the field in which he has gathered most of his laurels; his resistance to the nullifying doctrines of the South Carolina delegates having been the principal means of preserving the entirety of the Union, which was seriously endangered by the threatened resistance of that state. Mr. Webster's profound knowledge of the constitution gave him a decided advantage in the resulting contest with Mr. Calhoun and Mr. Hayne, who were both antagonists of a calibre to call forth all his energies. His chief speech, in answer to Mr. Hayne, occupied three days in the delivery, and abounds in fine passages, besides giving ample evidence of his power as a debater in the English sense. For example :
I shall not acknowledge that the honourable member goes before me in regard for whatever of distinguished talent, or distinguished character, · South Carolina has produced. I claim part of the honour, I partake in the pride, of her great names. I claim them for countrymen, one and all. The Laurences, the Rutledges, the Pinckneys, the Sumpters, the Marions-Americans, all-whose fame is no more to be hemmed in by state lines, than their talents and patriotism were capable of being circumscribed within the same narrow limits. In their day and generation they served and honoured the country, and the whole country, and their renown is of the treasures of the whole country. Him, whose honoured name the gentleman himself bears-does he esteem me less capable of gratitude for his patriotism, or sympathy for his sufferings, than if his eyes had first opened upon the light of Massachusetts, instead of South Carolina? Sir, does he suppose it in his power to exhibit a Carolina name so bright as to produce envy in my bosom? No, sir, increased gratification and delight, rather. I thank God, that, if I am gifted with little of the spirit which is able to raise mortals to the skies, I have yet none, as I trust, of that other spirit, which would drag angels down. When I shall be found, sir, in my place here, in the Senate, or elsewhere, to sneer at public merit, because it happens to spring up beyond the little limits of my own state, or neighbourhood; when I refuse, for any such cause, or for any cause, the homage due to American talent, to elevated patriotism, to sincere devotion to liberty and the country; or, if I see an uncommon endowment of Heaven - if I see extraordinary capacity and virtue in any son of the South-and if, moved by local prejudice, or gangrened by state jealousy, I get up here to abate the tithe of a hair from his just character and just fame, may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!
'Sir, let me recur to pleasing recollections—let me indulge in refresh. ing remembrance of the past, let me remind you that in early times no states cherished greater harmony, both of principle and feeling, than Massachusetts and South Carolina. Would to God that harmony might again return! Shoulder to shoulder they went through the revolution -hand in hand they stood round the administration of Washington, and felt his own great arm lean on them for support. Unkind feeling, if it
exist, alienation and distrust, are the growth, unnatural to such soils, of false principles since sown. They are weeds, the seeds of which that same great arm never scattered.
Mr. President, I shall enter on no encomium upon Massachusetts-she needs none. There she is--behold her, and judge for yourselves. There is her history: the world knows it by heart. The past, at least, is secure. There is Boston, and Concord, and Lexington, and Bunker Hill-and there they will remain for ever. The bones of her sons, falling in the great struggle for Independence, now lie mingled with the soil of every state, from New England to Georgia ; and there they will lie for ever. And, sir, where American Liberty raised its first voice, and where its youth was nurtured and sustained, there it still lives, in the strength of its manhood and full of its original spirit. If discord and disunion shall wound it-if party strife and blind ambition shall hawk at and tear it-if folly and madness—if uneasiness under salutary and necessary restraint-shall succeed to separate it from that union, by which alone its existence is made sure, it will stand, in the end, by the side of that cradle (Boston) in which its infancy was rocked: it will stretch forth its arm with whatever of vigour it may still retain, over the friends who gather round it; and it will fall at last, if fall it must, amidst the proudest monuments of its own glory, and on the very spot of its origin.'
The extract relating to Greece contains a quotation from Milton, and the last a paraphrase of Dryden. These, with Shakspeare, form the bulk of Mr. Webster's poetical reading; and we are by no means sure that it is useful for an orator to be familiar with any poets but those which are in the mouths and memories of the people ; for what avail allusions which it requires notes or an appendix to explain ?
It is obvious, however, that he has made a careful study of the best English orators, particularly Burke. The following instances of resemblance, in the hands of a sharp critic, might be converted into plausible proofs of plagiarism.
Mr. Webster speaks of affections which, running backwards, and warming with gratitude for what our ancestors have done for our happiness, run forward also to our posterity ;' and Burke says, they seldom look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors. The appeal to Lafayette, in the speech on laying the corner-stone of the Bunker's Hill monument, Fortunate, fortunate man! with what increase of devotion will you not thank God for the circumstances of your extraordinary life! you are connected with two hemispheres and with two generations,'—is only a fresh application of the allusion to Lord Bathurst. In the same speech (p. 72) we find,— Like the mariner, whom the ocean and the winds carry along, till he sees the stars which have directed his course, and lighted his pathless
way, descend, one by one, beneath the rising horizon, we should have felt that the stream of time had borne us onward, till another great luminary, whose light had cheered us, and whose guidance we had followed, had sunk away from our sight. This was evidently suggested by an image which the late Charles Butler terms the finest in modern oratory: • Even then, Sir, before this splendid orb was entirely set, and whilst the western horizon was in a blaze with his descending glory, in an opposite quarter of the heavens arose another luminary, and for his hour became lord of the ascendant.'
But many others have been laid under contribution besides Burke. A passage in the eulogium of Adams and Jefferson beginning—Their work doth not perish with them. The tree which they assisted to plant will flourish although they water it and protect it no longer'--probably owed something to the noble peroration of Grattan : "The spirit is gone forth, the declaration is planted,' &c. The passage beginning—Is any man so weak as to hope for a reconciliation,' &c. is almost a translation from the Philippics of Demosthenes. The invocation against slavery— • I would invoke those who fill the seats of justice and all wlio minister at her altar,'—is borrowed from Lord Chatham's • I call upon the bishops to interpose the unsullied sanctity of their lawn ; upon the judges to interpose the purity of their ermine, to save us from this pollution. The sudden and effective turn in the peroration of his speech for Prescott— For myself, I am willing here to relinquish the character of an advocate, and to express opinions by which I am willing to be bound as a citizen of the community'-is imitated from Erskine, in his defence of Captain Bailey : •My lords, I address you no longer as an advocate, but as a man, as a member of that state whose very existence depends upon her naval power.'
This peroration is one of those which American schoolboys recite on holiday occasions; and the circumstance is always worthy of note as an indication of popular taste.
Mr. Webster's taste is not uniformly refined, and he is by no means nice in his choice of language : but then his style is not of the feeble order which depends upon the collocation of an epithet; it is of granite strength and texture; and, if the asperities were polished off, would still present the solidity of the rock. His voice is one of extraordinary power; his personal appearance, as many of our readers can bear testimony, is singularly impressive-nay grand; his dark deep-set eyes blaze with lustre when he is animated, and his broad black overhanging eyebrows, in particular, give an almost unnatural air of energy and determination to his face. We may be pardoned for adding that his un
affected simplicity and perfect modesty as well as dignity of bearing in society, were universally appreciated during his late visit to Great Britain.
Miss Martineau speaks of his 'indolent, pleasure-loving disposition ;' and it is a common saying in the United States, that •Webster must be pushed. Just so Dumont describes Mirabeau's manner as ‘un peu trainante' till he got under weighjusqu'à ce qu'il se füt animé et que les soufflets de la forge fussent en fonction. Lord Chatham used frequently to speak in a care. less manner, and in an undertone, for a quarter of an hour or more at a time, and then break out into one of his brilliant passages. Lord Brougham would often take as long to get clear of the long-entangled sentences-parenthesis within parenthesis
- with which it was his pleasure to begin : but then it is our firm conviction that he often finds himself upon his legs without having made up his mind as to what he is going to say.
In compliance with the suggestion of David Hume,—who says that criticism is nearly useless unless the critic quotes innumerable examples,—we have given specimens enough to enable our readers to form an opinion for themselves regarding the degree of excellence attained by the public speakers of the United States; but we have naturally been more anxious to illustrate their merits than their demerits, and must be pardoned, therefore, for briefly noting their two prominent defects, which otherwise could hardly be collected from this article. These are their lengthiness (to borrow one of their own words) and their magniloquence. Few American orators appear to have the slightest notion that too many words or topics may be employed, or that an effect may be produced by simplicity. Reversing the method of Demosthenes,—who, according to Lord Brougham, never came back upon the same ground, and always ended quietly,—they never know when they have said enough, and generally conclude, like a melodrame, with a blaze.
It is an ordinary occurrence in Congress for a member to speak two or three days, and his fellow-members make it a point to listen, or at least to suffer with decency. Captain Hall recommended the introduction of coughing, but was told that the state of manners did not admit of such a cure. Some Kentucky representative might adopt the late Mr. Richard Martin's example, and propose a bullet as 'the best pill for the honourable gentleman's complaint;' or a dozen bowie-knives might start from their sheaths to revenge a catarrh that threatened him with insult. Besides, as we formerly observed, the evil is inherent in the very VOL. LXVII. NO. CXXXIII.