Зображення сторінки

as to his popularity and as to his abi- us to raise, in our endeavours to imitate lity. “The South,” said a contempo- the magnificent structures which they rary of him, “has not his superior, nor have left us. the North his equal." In March, 1805, “A spot,” he said, “ so distinguished, Mr. Webster was admitted to practise so connected with interesting memorials in the Suffolk Court of Common Pleas; as Greece, may naturally create some in May, 1807, he was attorney and warmth and enthusiasm...We counsel of the Superior Court of New must, indeed, fly beyond the civilized Hampshire. In 1808, he married Miss world, we must pass the dominion of Grace Fletcher, daughter of a New law and the boundaries of knowledge, Hampshire clergyman, and by whom we must more especially withdraw ourhe had four children, Grace, Fletcher, selves from this place, and the scenes Julia and Edward; only one of these and objects which here surround us, if survives him, Fletcher, å naval officer. we would separate ourselves entirely

The time was now fast approaching from the influence of all those memorials when Webster was to distinguish him which ancient Greece has transmitted self in a larger sphere than that of a for the admiration and benefit of manbarrister, however well known, and kind. This free form of government, however large his fees, and these latter this popular assembly, the common were very heavy; he had, in fact, be-council held for the common good, come so much sought after that his where have we contemplated its earliest assistance was difficult to be obtained, models? This practice of free debate and his power of oratory was so well and public discussion, the contest of acknowledged that counsel dreaded to mind with mind, and that popular elohave him against them.

quence, which, if it were now here on a At the age of thirty, in May 1813, he subject like this, would move the stones took his seat as representative in Con of the capitol-whose was the language gress, and soon distinguished himself. in which all these were first exhibited ? At the adjournment of Congress he left Even the edifice in which we now ashis residence in Portsmouth, and estab- semble, these proportioned columns, lished himself in Boston. Towards the this ornamented architecture, all reclose of the year 1822, the inhabitants mind us that Greece has existed, and of Boston determined to be represented that we, like the rest of mankind, ara by one who should reflect a credit on her debtors.”. Not contented, however, their city, and they so strongly urged with an illustration, at once so beauthis upon Webster that he allowed him- tiful and so appropriate, the orator, self to be put in nomination, and was warming as he proceeded, showed his elected, after being absent from the audience that the Greeks claimed a National Legislature for a term of six sympathy above even that of a grateful years. In 1823, he delivered perhaps pupil to its teachers, the sympathy of one the most powerful speech he had yet Christian nation to another. “The Greeks made, in a proposition looking to an address the civilized world with a paearly recognition of Greek independ- thos not easy to be resisted, they invoke ence. A part of this speech, which we our favour by more moving considerashall quote, will let the reader partly tions than can well belong to the coninto the secret of Webster's success in dition of any other people. They stretch oratory. He calls to men's minds the their arms to the Christian communities ancient glories of the country of Plato of the earth, beseeching them, by a geand Alcibiades, of Xenophon and Prax- nerous recollection of their ancestors, iteles, of Poetry and Art, and connects by the consideration of their own desothis reverential regard with the present lated and ruined cities and villages, by life and feelings of his audience by the their wives and children sold into an familiar illustration of the interior of accursed slavery, by their own blood the house in which they sat, the house which they seem willing to pour out of representatives, which is of exceeding like water, by the common faith, and beauty, a beauty which, as he said, it in that Name which unites all Chrisowes to the arts of Greece. He wishes tians, that they would extend to them to raise a sympathy with a people at least some token of compassionate struggling for freedom, and he does so regard.” by pointing to the polished marble The American Press circulated this column which their forefathers taught powerful speech-part of which, by the way, might well have been applied to plausibility to be based upon, and certain wives and children sold in sla-clearly deducible from, the Virginia very in their own free land-throughout and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 and their vast continent, and in the glow 1799, which are known to have been of admiration excited by it Webster drafted respectively by Jefferson and was said to equal Burke, and superior | Madison, and repeatedly reaffirmed as to Chatham. In the same year he con- containing the democratic creed resistently favoured the acknowledgment specting the powers of the Federal of South American independence; and Government, and their rightful limitain 1824 made what is called his great tions. Mr. Webster inexorably deFree-trade speech, which was deemed monstrated the incompatibility of this the ablest ever delivered on the subject. doctrine with any real power or force

In the same year, John Quincy in the federal government, and, admitAdams was put forward by the New ting fully the right of revolution as Englanders for President. To this superior to all governments, showed election Webster, although it was that a state could not remain in the known that he was no admirer of Mr. Union and assume to nullify acts of Adams, gave his unflinching support, Congress upheld by the supreme court; from the belief that Mr. Adams would that the contrary assumption was condo well for the country. Daniel Web-demned by the Constitution itself, and ster and John Randolph were tellers utterly at war with the public tranon the occasion, and Quincy Adams quillity and safety. Mr. Webster's was elected by the vote of thirteen speeches arrested the Jackson party on States to eleven; Webster became one the brink of committing itself irretriev. of the ablest supporters of the adminis-ably to the doctrine of nullificationtration of Adams and Clay. In 1826 committal which would have proved an he was chosen a Senator of the United | act of suicide. States, and took his seat in the Upper In the Senate he also advocated the House. Towards the close of 1827 his recharter of the second United States first wife died, whilst he was on his way | Bank, opposing the re-election of Geto Washington to take his seat in the neral Jackson, and supporting Mr. Senate. The next year, 1828, was sig- Clay in opposition to him; vigorously nalized by the defeat of John Quincy opposing nullification when attempted Adams, and the accession of General to be put in practice in 1833; opposing Jackson to the Presidency.

the tariff compromise of that year, the During the session of 1829-30, oc-removal of deposits, &c. He was cancurred the memorable debate on Foote's didate for the Presidency in 1836, but resolution respecting the Public Lands, received the 12 votes of Massachusetts wherein Mr. Webster, in replying to only. In 1839 he visited Europe, Colonel Hayne, of South Carolina, vin- where, with the exception of some dicated his right to rank first among weeks spent on the Continent, he living debaters. It is hardly too passed his time in England, where he much to say of his great and lesser was received by our statesmen, and by speech on that occasion, that they all with the greatest attention and rescued the Federal Constitution from civility. a construction fast becoming popular, He continued in the senate warmly which, once established as correct, advocating General Harrison's election, must have proved its destruction. The and upon that event taking place was constitutional right of any State of the called to fill the place of Secretary of Union to nullify an act of Congress, State, or head of the Cabinet. This whether by its ordinary legislature, or he continued to fill after Harrison's by a convention specially called, once lamented and untimely death, and readmitted as legal, would strip the fede- mained in it till 1843. During his ral authority of all just claim to be con- administration the relations of England sidered a government, and throw us and America seemed likely to become back upon the inefficiency and semi. embroiled through a disputed line of anarchy of the old Continental Confe- boundary. This dispute was known deration. Yet that doctrine of nullifi. here as the Oregon question. Oregon cation, so frankly propounded and ably extends from 42 deg. to 54 deg. 4 min. defended by Colonel Hayne, in a de north lat., and from the Rocky Mounbate with Webster, claimed, with much tains to the Pacific Ocean. The terri. tory, vast and valuable from its products Brunswick, and Canada. The treaty and furs, north of the Columbia River, being signed in 1842, and terminating and south of the parallel of 49 deg. N. a dispute which, through a Mr. Macleod lat., is that which was in disputo be setting fire to an American vessel, had tween the governments of Great Britain threatened the worst consequences to and the United States. The first ne the two nations. On March the 7th, gotiation that took place about this 1850, while the country and congress much-disputed territory was in 1844, were agitated by questions connected when the discussion was left open. with the organization of territories reAmerica, it would seem, claimed more cently acquired from Mexico, and the than that for which her claim was valid. proposed interdiction of slavery therein, In 1818 a convention was made which Mr. Webster made a very eloquent threw open for a term of ten years the speech, taking stand in favour of a comdebateable land to the subjects of both promise respecting the territories and nations; America, on this, tried to against any act or proviso by congress populate the territory as quickly as aiming to exclude slavery therefrom. possible, so as to make her claim na He argued that such an act was wholly tional. In 1826 Mr. Canning and Mr. uncalled-for; that the law of God had Huskisson proposed that a boundary interdicted slavery therein, and needed line should be drawn along the 49th no re-enactment by man. Previously parallel of latitude from the Rocky to this he had been opposed to the Mountains to the north eastern branch Mexican war on the principle that the of the Columbia River. America re- acquisition of so vast a territory would fused to agree to this, and made a pro- weaken rather than strengthen the posal by which Britain would have been United States. When he found that he cut off from the Columbia River, the was in the minority in regard to the navigation of which was indispensable invasion, he did not withhold his supto her commerce. This was rejected. port from the government in voting In 1827 the convention was renewed sufficient supplies, thinking that the for an indefinite period. Throughout war, if carried on at all, should be carthe whole of this time the claims of ried on efficiently. In American parAmerica seem to have grown larger and lance, Mr. Webster "invested a son” in advanced with time. In 1827 the claim this war, who was appointed Major in the advanced to the 49th deg. N.; and in Massachusetts regiment of volunteers; 1843 the President enlarged his claim but the fatigue, coupled with the eneragain, on this occasion embracing the vating and distressing climate, proved whole territory up to the 54th parallel; fatal to the promising young officer. the cry being throughout the States, Upon the accession of President Fill“all or none." In England some were more, Mr. Webster again became Secrefor calling in the sword for arbitration, tary of State, in which office he conbut, fortunately, in Lord Ashburtontinued till his death. At the Baltimore and in Daniel Webster more efficient convention, to elect in the room of Fillarbitrators were found. America, under more, he was nominated to the Presiher wise and conciliatory adviser, with- dency, but the delegates gave him but drew her exorbitant claims without 33 out of 293 votes. This, and it is losing her honour, and on the 13th of said having personally to congratulate June, 1846, it was finally settled by the President elect, killed the ambitious convention that the boundary should man. - It became evident that his be continued westwards along the 49th life was drawing to a close. He himparallel to the middle of the channel self was aware of this, and had the male which separates America from Vancou- members of his family and his only surver's Island, and thence south through viving son, Fletcher Webster, sent for. the middle of the said channel and He desired them to remain near his the Fuca Strait to the Pacific Ocean room, and more than once enjoined on

Before this, which was to us in those present, who were not of his imEngland the most noticeable action of mediate family, not to leave Marshfield his life, during Webster's administration till his death had taken place. Reas Secretary of State, Lord Ashburton, assured by all that his every wish would Minister Extraordinary of Great Bri- be religiously regarded, he then adtain at Washington, had settled the dressed himself to his physicians, makeastern boundaries of Maine, New ing minute inquiries as to his own condition, and the probable termination of of death, I fear no evil, for Thou art with his life. Conversing with great exact me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comness, he seemed to be anxious to be able fort me." to mark to himself the final period of Mr. Webster said immediately: “The his dissolution. He was answered that fact, the fact. That is what I want: it might occur in one, two, or three Thy rod, Thy rod-Thy staff, Thy hours, but that the time could not be staff.” definitely calculated. “ Then,” said Mr. A lethargy followed, from which he Webster, “I suppose I must lie here soon after aroused, his countenance quietly till it comes." The retching animated, and his eye flashing with its and vomiting now recurred again. Dr. usual brilliancy. He exclaimed, “I Jeffries offered to Mr. Webster some- still live," and immediately sank into thing which he hoped might give him tranquil unconsciousness. These were ease. “Something more, Doctor-more; the last words of the world-renowned I want restoration.” Speaking to an Daniel Webster. His breathing now old friend, Mr. Peter Harvey, he said, became fainter, and his strength seemed “I am not so sick, Harvey, but I know entirely gone. He lingered in this conyou, and love you, and call down dition until twenty minutes before three heaven's blessing upon you and yours. o'clock, when his spirit returned to God. Harvey, don't leave me till I am dead So died, after a long and useful life, don't leave Marshfield till I am a dead Daniel Webster, who, if we are to beman.” Then, as if speaking to himself, lieve the eulogies of the journalists pubhe said: “On the 24th of October, all lished immediately after his death, was that is mortal of Daniel Webster will the greatest, or almost the greatest, be no more.” He now prayed in his statesman ever produced by America. natural, usual voice-strong, full, and Their leading journal contained on the clear-ending with “ Heavenly Father, day after his death these words : forgive my sins, and receive me to thy- “Who is there left behind to fill his self, through Christ Jesus."

I place? Who shall venture to occupy At half-past seven o'clock, Dr. J. M. that lofty intellectual eminence? One Warren arrived from Boston to relieve of the mightiest lights of the age has Dr. Jeffries, as the immediate medical gone out; a light whose radiance was attendant. Shortly after, he conversed seen and admired, not only in the with Dr. Jeffries, who said he could do New World, but the Old-everywhere nothing more for him than to administer throughout the earth where Civilization occasionally a sedative potion. “Then," has planted her altars, and erected her said Mr. Webster, “I am to be here shrines, and where liberty, and letters, patiently till the end. If it be so, may and oratory, and eloquence are known it come soon!"

and appreciated. The name of Daniel Between ten and eleven o'clock, he Webster and his fame are indeed worldrepeated somewhat distinctly the words, wide." “Poet, poetry, Gray, Gray." Mr. And a poetess of no mean power adFletcher Webster repeated the first line dressed him in the following lofty strain of the elegy: “ The curfew tolls the of hyperbole : knell of parting day.” “ That's it, that's

1. The honeyed words of Plato still it," said Mr. Webster, and the book was

Float on the echoing air; brought and some stanzas read to him, The thunders of Demosthenes which seemed to give him pleasure. Ægean waters bear;

And the pilgrim in the Forum hears From twelve o'clock till two, there was

The voice of Tully there. much restlessness, but not much suffering. The physicians were quite confi

And thus thy memory shall live,

And thus thy fame resound, dent that there was no actual pain. A While far off future ages roil faintness occurred, which led him to Their solemn cycle round;

And make this wide, this fair New World think that his death was at hand. While

An ancient classic ground. in this condition, some expressions fell from him indicating the hope that his

Then with thy country's glorious name

Thine own shall be entwinedl; mind would remain to him completely Within the Senate's pillared hall until the last. He spoke of the diffi Thine image shall be shrined;

And on the nation's law shall gleam culty of the process of dying, when Dr.

Light from thy giant mind." Jeffrios repeated the verse : “ Though I walk through the valley of the shadow Furthermore she would prognosticate


Their solar future a

that in the total ruin of America the clusively local interest, such as the anname of Webster would survive! Surely nexation of Texas, the Mexican war, these praises are tinctured with that the reception of new states into the exaggeration which frequently is the union, and the compromise of slavery pardonable fault of a generous nation ! disputes, bis voice was heard on the Rather let us take the estimate of that side of moderation and equity, indeed, power of Europe, which, wearing no when not biassed by the temptations of crown upon its head, and employing no party, or swayed by the pressure of a army, nay, nor weapon save the pen, political crisis, he was far too sagacious and dealing not in titles or princely to be seduced into error or excess, and ministers, yet sways more willing sub- his support might be confidently anticijects than the greatest, by its talent, its pated by the supporters of right and moderation, and its wisdom. We quote reason."* from the English Times: “He is But possibly the greatest renown and spoken of in America almost as Peel worship was won for Daniel Webster by was spoken of in England. The jour- his oratory, and this was greatly aided nals of the States appear in mourning by his personal appearance. All who for the departed statesman; writers of saw him on bis visit to England were all denominations concur in eulogistic struck with his intellectual appearance biographies, and the reception of the and his manly and somewhat English intelligence in every town of the Unioncarriage. He had about him a certain is chronicled with uniform testimony “presence which was not to be put by," to the popularity of the subject." and this in the exaggerated expression of

The writer then goes on with a the Americans was termed godlike. His searching, deep, and wise analysis, to features were dark, so dark as to be almost show us the grounds of this reverential swarthy in some Nights, but yet delifavour. The passage is marked by a cately chiselled, although extremely large. great knowledge of the people of Ame- His thin lip was ever firmly closed when rica. “In him they saw an American the orator was not speaking; and his who had not only carried American large, dark brilliant eyes, deeply set in elections and guided the discussions of his head, were surmounted by a towerCongress, but who had met the diplo- ing and broad forehead which gave matists of Europe, on fair grounds much nobility to his expression. without discredit, and who enjoyed in He had the good fortune before he the capitals of the Old World a distinc-went to Congress, to have established tion which in other cases was limited for himself a first-rate reputation as an to the towns of the Union.” But in orator at the Bar, or before literary and spite of all this lavish praise and love, popular assemblies; and hence from the "It cannot be denied that the questions first he was listened to in the senate of the Bay Fisheries and the Lobos with attention. His style was peculiar Islands in which he had only looked to himself, and to his country. Cool, to the immediate profit of America, not well-arranged, and clear; perfectly into her honour) placed the departed telligible, seldom warm in the beginstatesman in no favourable light either ning, but frequently rising into the as a minister or a civilian. In his highest poetry in the peroration, his earlier views of foreign policy he was speeches took the listener captive by both more successful and correct. At their strong and manly sense, then various times it became his duty to convinced the reason, finally also to assist at, or to conduct some of the enamour the imagination. Hence with most important negotiations in which those who had heard him the impression the government of the Union was ever was lasting. He reminds us frequently engaged. The north-eastern boundary, also of the philosophical deduction of the provisions of mutual extradition, Burke, but his style is more pure and the right of search on the high seas, not so involved and glittering, yet there and the Oregon frontier, constituted is scarcely a paragraph but which consuccessive questions of policy involving tains some truth; and the greatest the highest interests of more than one praise should be awarded them from the State, and in all these discussions the fact of their never rambling, but always influence of Mr. Webster's authority being addressed to the point in consiwas both powerfully and meritoriously evinced. On points, too, of more ex

* Article in “ Times," Nov. 1852,

« НазадПродовжити »