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excesses, his body was worn out by the intense, unhealthy work. ing of his mind. False opinions falsely held and intolerantly maintained were the debauchery that sharpened the lines of his face, and converted his voice into a bark. Peace, health, and growth early became impossible to him, for there was a canker in the heart of the man. His once not dishonorable desire of the Presidency became at last an infuriate lust after it, which his natural sincerity compelled him to reveal even while wrathfully denying it. He considered that he had been defrauded of the prize, and he had some reason for thinking so.
Some men avenge their wrongs by the pistol, others by invective; but the only weapons which this man could wield were abstract propositions. From the hills of South Carolina he hurled paradoxes at General Jackson, and appealed from the dicta of Mrs. Eaton's drawing-room to a hair-splitting theory of States' Rights. Fifteen hundred thousand armed men have since sprung up from those harmless-looking dragon's teeth, so recklessly sown in the hot Southern soil.
Of the three men whom we have named, Daniel Webster was incomparably the most richly endowed by nature. In his lifetime it was impossible to judge him aright. His presence usually overwhelmed criticism ; his intimacy always fascinated it. It so happened, that he grew to his full stature and attained his utmost development in a community where human nature appears to be undergoing a process of diminution, — where people are smaller-boned, less muscular, more nervous, and more susceptible than their ancestors. He possessed, in consequence, an enormous physical magnetism, as we term it, over his fellow. citizens, apart from the natural influence of his talents and understanding. Fidgety men were quieted in his presence, women were spellbound by it, and the busy, anxious public contemplated his majestic calm with a feeling of relief, as well as admiration. Large numbers of people in New England, for many years, reposed upon Daniel Webster. He represented to them the maj. esty and the strength of the government of the United States. He
gave them a sense of safety. Amid the flighty politics of the time and the loud insincerities of Washington, there seemed one solid thing in America, so long as he sat in an arm-chair of the Senate-chamber. When he appeared in State Street, slowly pacing, with an arm behind him, business was brought to an ab. solute stand-still. As the whisper passed along, the windows filled with clerks, pen in mouth, peering out to catch a glimpse of the man whom they had seen fifty times before; while the bankers and merchants hastened forth to give him salutation, or exchange a passing word, happy if they could but catch his
At home, and in a good mood, he was reputed to be as entertaining a man as New England ever held, - a gambolling, jocund leviathan out on the sea-shore, and in the library overflowing with every kind of knowledge that can be acquired without fatigue, and received without preparation. Mere celebrity, too, is dazzling to some minds. While, therefore, this imposing person lived among us, he was blindly worshipped by many, blindly hated by some, calmly considered by very few. To this hour he is a great influence in the United States. Perhaps, with the abundant material now accessible, it is not too soon to attempt to ascertain how far he was worthy of the estimation in which his fellowcitizens held him, and what place he ought to hold in the esteem of posterity. At least, it can never be unpleasing to Americans to recur to the most interesting specimen of our kind that has lived in America since Franklin.
He could not have been born in a better place, nor of better stock, nor at a better time, nor reared in circumstances more favorable to harmonious development. He grew up in the Switzerland of America. From a hill on his father's New Hampshire farm, he could see most of the noted summits of New England. Granite-topped Kearsarge stood out in bold relief near by , Mount Washington and its attendant peaks, not yet named, bounded the northern horizon like a low, silvery cloud; and the principal heights of the Green Mountains, rising near the Connecticut River, were clearly visible. The Merrimack, most serviceable of rivers, begins its course a mile or two off, formed by the union of two mountain torrents. Among those hills, high up, sometimes near the summits, lakes are found, broad, deep, and still; and down the sides run innumerable rills, which form those noisy brooks that rush along the bottom of the hills, where now the roads wind along, shaded by the mountain, and enlivened by the music of the waters. Among these hills there are, here and there, expanses of level country large enough for a farm, with the addition of some fields upon the easier acclivities and woodlands higher up. There was one field of a hundred acres upon Captain Webster's mountain farm so level that a lamb could be seen on any part of it from the windows of the house. Every tourist knows that region now, — that wide, billowy expanse of dark mountains and vivid green fields, dotted with white farm-houses, and streaked with silvery streams. It was rougher, seventy years ago, secluded, hardly accessible, the streams unbridged, the roads of primitive formation ; but the worst of the rough work had been done there, and the production of superior human beings had become possible, before the Webster boys were born.
Daniel Webster's father was the strong man of his neighborhood; the very model of a republican citizen and hero, - stalwart, handsome, brave, and gentle. Ebenezer Webster inherited no worldly advantages. Sprung from a line of New Hampshire farmers, he was apprenticed, in his thirteenth year, to another New Hampshire farmer; and when he had served his time, he enlisted as a private soldier in the old French war, and came back from the campaigns about Lake George a captain. He never went to school. Like so many other New England boys, he learned what is essential for the carrying on of business in the chimney-corner, by the light of the fire. He possessed one beautiful accomplishment: he was a grand reader. Unlettered as he was, he greatly enjoyed the more lofty compositions of poets and orators; and his large, sonorous voice enabled him to read them with fine effect. His sons read in his manner, even to his rustic pronunciation of some words. Daniel's calm, clear. cut rendering of certain noted passages
favorites in his early home was all his father's. There is a pleasing tradition in the neighborhood, of the teamsters who came to Ebenezer Webster's: mill saying to one another, when they had discharged their load and tied their horses, “ Come, let us go in, and hear little Dan
read a psalm.” The French war ended, Captain Wehscer, in compensation for his services, received a grant of land in the mountain wilderness at the head of the Merrimack, where, as miller and farmer, he lived and reared his family. The Revolutionary War summoned this noble yeoman to arms once more.
He led forth his neighbors to the strife, and fought at their head, with his old rank of captain, at White Plains and at Bennington, and served valiantly through the war. From that time to the end of his life, though much trusted and employed by his fellow-citizens as legislator, magistrate, and judge, he lived but for one object, the education and advancement of his children. All men were poor then in New Hampshire, compared with the condition of their descendants. Judge Webster was a poor, and even embarrassed man, to the day of his death. The hardships he had endured as soldier and pioneer made him, as he said, an old man before his time. Rheumatism bent his form, once so erect and vigorous. Black care subdued his spirits, once so joyous and elastic. Such were the fathers of fair New England.
This strong-minded, uncūltured man was a Puritan and a Federalist, - a catholic, tolerant, and genial Puritan, an intolerant and almost bigoted Federalist. Washington, Adams, and Hamilton were the civilians highest in his esteem; the good Jefferson he dreaded and abhorred. The French Revolution was mere blackness and horror to him; and when it assumed the form of Napoleon Bonaparte, his heart sided passionately with England in her struggle to extirpate it. His boys were in the fullest sympathy with him in all his opinions and feelings. They, too, were tolerant and untheological Puritans; they, too, were most strenuous Federalists; and neither of them ever recovered from their father's influence, nor advanced much beyond him in their fundamental beliefs. Readers have, doubtless, remarked, in Mr. Webster's oration upon Adams and Jefferson, how the stress of the eulogy falls upon Adams, while cold and scant justice is meted out to the greatest and wisest of our statesmen. It was Ebenezer Webster who spoke that day, with the more melodious voice of his son. There is a tradition in New Hampshire that Judge Webster fell sick on a jozrney in a town of Republi
tan politics, iind besought the doctor to help him speedily on his way home, saying that he was born a Federalist, had lived a Federalist, and could not die in peace in any but a Federalist town.
Among the ten children of this sturdy patriot and partisan, eight were ordinary mortals, and two most extraordinary, - Ezekiel, born in 1780, and Daniel, born in 1782, – the youngest of his boys. Some of the elder children were even less than ordinary. Elderly residents of the neighborhood speak of one halfbrother of Daniel and Ezekiel as penurious and narrow; and the letters of others of the family indicate very plain, good, commonplace people. But these two, the sons of their father's prime, inherited all his grandeur of form and beauty of countenance, his taste for high literature, along with a certain energy of mind that came to them, by some unknown law of nature, from their father's mother. From her Daniel derived his jet-black hair and eyes, and his complexion of burnt gunpowder; though all the rest of the children except one were remarkable for fairness of complexion, and had sandy hair. Ezekiel, who was considered the handsomest man in the United States, had a skin of singular fairness, and light hair. He is vividly remembered in New Hampshire for his marvellous beauty of form and face, his courtly and winning manners, the weight and majesty of his presence. He was a signal refutation of Dr. Holmes's theory, that grand manners and high breeding are the result of several generations of culture. Until he was nineteen, this peerless gentleman worked on a rough mountain farm on the outskirts of civilization, bus his ancestors had for a hundred and fifty years before him; but he was refined to the tips of his finger-nails and to the buttons of his coat. Like his more famous brother, he had an artist's eye for the becoming in costume, and a keen sense for all the proprieties and decorums both of public and private life. Limited in his view by the narrowness of his provincial sphere, as well as by inherited prejudices, he was a better man and citizen than his brother, without a touch of his genius. Nor was that half. brother of Daniel, who had the black hair and eyes and
gunpow der skin, at all like Daniel, or equal to him in mental power.