Зображення сторінки

a religious, i. e. a disinterested devotion to its duties. Daniel Webster was one of those who fell before the seductions of his place. He was not one of those who find in the happiness and prosperity of their country, and in the esteem of their fellowcitizens, their own sufficient and abundant reward for serving her. He pined for something lower, smaller, — something personal and vulgar. He had no religion, - - not the least tincture of it; and he seemed at last, in his dealings with individuals, to have no conscience. What he called his religion had no effect whatever upon the conduct of his life; it made him go to church, talk piously, puff the clergy, and“ patronize Providence,” no more. He would accept retaining fees, and never look into the bundles of papers which accompanied them, in which were enclosed the hopes and the fortune of anxious households. He would receive gifts of money, and toss into his waste-paper basket the list of the givers, without having glanced at its contents; thus defrauding them of the only recompense in his power to grant, and the only one they wished. It shocked him if his secretary came to the dinner-table in a frock-coat, and he would himself appear drunk before three thousand people. And yet, such was the power of his genius, such was the charm of his manner, such the affectionateness of his nature, such the robust heartiness of his enjoyment of life, that honorable men who knew his faults best loved him to the last, not in spite of them, but partly in consequence of them. What in another man they would have pronounced atrocious, appeared in him a kind of graceful rollicking helplessness to resist.

Such, as it seems to our very imperfect judgment, was Daniel Webster, one of the largest and one of the weakest of men, of admirable genius and deplorable character; who began life well and served his country well and often, but held not out faithful to the end. American statesmen are called to a higher vocation than those of other countries, and there is nothing in the politics of America which can reward a man of eminent ability for public service. If such a person feels that his country's happiness and greatness will not be a satisfying recompense for anything he ran do for her, let him, as he values his peace and soul's health, cling to the safe obscurity of private life.




HERE were two ways of getting to South Carolina in Colonial

times. The first immigrants, many of whom were men of capital, landed at Charleston, and, settling in the fertile low country along the coast, became prosperous planters of rice, indigo, and corn, before a single white inhabitant had found his way to the more salubrious upper country in the western part of the Province. The settlers of the upper country were plain, poorer people, who landed at Philadelphia or Baltimore, and travelled southward along the base of the Alleghanies to the inviting tablelands of the Carolinas. In the lower country, the estates were large, the slaves numerous, the white inhabitants few, idle, and profuse. The upper country was peopled by a sturdier race, who possessed farms of moderate extent, hewn out of the wilderness by their own strong arms, and tilled by themselves with the aid of few slaves. Between the upper and the lower country there was a waste region of sandy hills and rocky acclivities, uninhabited, almost uninhabitable, which rendered the two sections of one Province separate communities scarcely known to one another. Down almost to the beginning of the Revolutionary War, the farmers of the upper country were not represented in the Legislature of South Carolina, though they were then as numerous as the planters of the lower country. Between the people of the two sections there was little unity of feeling. The lordly planters of the lower country regarded their Western fellow-citizens as provincial or plebeian; the farmers of the upper country had some contempt for the planters as effeminate, aristopratic, and Tory. The Revolution abased the pride, lessened the wealth, and improved the politics of the planters; a revised Con.

[ocr errors]

stitution, in 1790, gave preponderance to the up-country farmers in the popular branch of the Legislature ; and thenceforth South Carolina was a sufficiently homogeneous commonwealth.

Looking merely to the public career of Calhoun, the special pleader of the Southern aristocracy, we should expect to find him born and reared among the planters of the low country. The Calhouns, on the contrary, were up-country people, farmers, Whigs, Presbyterians, men of moderate means, who wielded the axe and held the plough with their own hands, until enabled to buy a few “new negroes,” cheap and savage ; called new, because fresh from Africa. A family party of them (parents, four sons, and a daughter) emigrated from the North of Ireland early in the last century, and settled first in Pennsylvania ; then removed to Western Virginia; whence the defeat of Braddock, in 1755, drove them southward, and they found a permanent abode in the extreme west of South Carolina, then an unbroken wilder

Of those four sons, Patrick Calhoun, the father of the Nullifier, was the youngest. He was six years old when the family left Ireland ; twenty-nine, when they planted the “ Calhoun Seta tlement” in Abbeville District, South Carolina.

Patrick Calhoun was a strong-headed, wrong-headed, very brave, honest, ignorant man. His whole life, almost, was a battle. When the Calhouns had been but five years in their forest home, the Cherokees attacked the settlement, destroyed it utterly, killed one half the men, and drove the rest to the lower country ; whence they dared not return till the peace of 1763. Patrick Calhoun was elected to command the mounted rangers raised to protect the frontiers, a duty heroically performed by him. After the peace, the settlement enjoyed several years of tranquillity, during which Patrick Calhoun was married to Martha Caldwell, a native of Virginia, but the daughter of an Irish Pres byterian emigrant. During this peaceful interval, all the family prospered with the settlement which bore its name ; and Patrick, who in his childhood had only learned to read and write, availed himself of such leisure as he had to increase his knowledge. Besides reading the books within his reach, which were few, he learned to survey land, and practised that vocation to advantage

« НазадПродовжити »