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student as a man intrusted with public business ought to be Hence he originated nothing and established nothing. His speeches will long be interesting as the relics of a magnificent and dazzling personality, and for the light they cast upon the history of parties; but they add scarcely anything to the intellectu. al property of the nation. Of American orators he was the first whose speeches were ever collected in a volume. Millions read them with admiration in his lifetime; but already they have sunk to the level of the works “ without which no gentleman's library is complete,” — works which every one possesses and no one reads.
Henry Clay, regarded as a subject for biography, is still untouched. Campaign Lives of him can be collected by the score; and the Rev. Calvin Colton wrote three volumes purporting to be the Life of Henry Clay. Mr. Colton was a very honest gentleman, and not wanting in ability ; but writing, as he did, in Mr. Clay's own house, he became, as it were, enchanted by his subject. He was enamored of Mr. Clay to such a degree that his pen ran into eulogy by an impulse which was irresistible, and which he never attempted to resist. In point of arrangement, too, his work is chaos come again. A proper biography of Mr. Clay would be one of the most entertaining and instructive of works. It would embrace the ever-memorable rise and first triumphs of the Democratic party; the wild and picturesque life of the early settlers of Kentucky; the war of 1812; Congress from 1806 to 1852 ; the fury and corruption of Jackson's reign ; and the three great compromises which postponed the Rebellion. Al! the lead. ing men and all the striking events of our history would con. tribute something to the interest and value of the work. Why go to antiquity or to the Old World for subjects, when such a subject as this remains unwritten ?
F words spoken in recent times, few have touched so many
hearts as those uttered by Sir Walter Scott on his death. bed. There has seldom been so much of mere enjoyment crowded into the compass of one lifetime as there was into his. Even his work — all of his best work — was only more elaborate and keenly relished play; for story-telling, the occupation of his maturity, had first been the delight of his childhood, and remained always his favorite recreation. Triumph rewarded his early efforts, and admiration followed him to the grave. Into no human face could this man look, nor into any crowd of faces, which did not return his glance with a gaze of admiring love. He lived precisely where and how it was happiest for him to live; and he had above most men of his time that disposition of mind which makes the best of bad fortune and the most of good. But when his work and his play were all done, and he came calmly to review his life, and the life of man on earth, this was the sum of his reflections, this was what he had to say to the man to whom he had confided his daughter's happiness : “ Lockhart, I may have but a minute to speak to you. My dear, be a good man, — be virtuous, - be religious, - be a good man. Nothing else will give you any comfort when you come to lie here."
So do we all feel in view of the open coffin, much as we may differ as to what it is to be good, virtuous, and religious. Was this man, who lies dead here before us, faithful to his trust? Was he sincere, pure, just, and benevolent? Did he help civilization, or was he an obstacle in its way? Did he ripen and improve to the end, or did he degenerate and go astray? These are
the questions which are silently considered when we look upon the still countenance of death, and especially when the departed was a person who influenced his generation long and powerfully. Usually it is only the last of these questions which mortals can answer with any certainty ; but from the answer to that one we infer the answers to all the others. As it is only the wise who learn, so it is only the good who improve. When we see a man gaining upon his faults as he advances in life, when we find him more self-contained and cheerful, more learned and inquisitive, more just and considerate, more single-eyed and noble in his aims, at fifty than he was at forty, and at seventy than he was at fifty, we have the best reason perceptible by human eyes for concluding that he has been governed by right principles and good feelings. We have a right to pronounce such a person good, and he is justified in believing us.
The three men most distinguished in public life during the last forty years in the United States were Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun, and Daniel Webster. Henry Clay improved as he grew old. He was a venerable, serene, and virtuous old man. The impetuosity, restlessness, ambition, and love of display, and the detrimental habits of his earlier years, gave place to tranquillity, temperance, moderation, and a patriotism without the alloy of personal objects. Disappointment had chastened, not soured him. Public life enlarged, not narrowed him. The city of Washington purified, not corrupted him. He came there a gambler, a drinker, a profuse consumer of tobacco, and a turner of night into day. He overcame the worst of those habits very early in his residence at the capital. He came to Washington to exhibit his talents, he remained there to serve his country; nor of his country did he ever think the less, or serve her less zealously, because she denied him tbe honor he coveted for thirty years. We cannot say this of Calhoun. He degenerated frightfully during the last twenty years of his life. His energy degenerated into intensity, and his patriotism narrowed into sectionalism. He became unteachable, incapable of considering an opinion opposite to his own, or even a fact that did not favor it. Exempt by his bodily constitution from all temptation to physical