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then without a representative in Congress. His tall, tossing form, his long, sweeping gestures, and, above all, his musical yet thrilling tones, made an impression upon me which I can never forget."
Mr. Clay, at length, had completed his preparations. He moved for a committee of the House to confer with a committee of the Senate. He himself wrote out the list of members whom he desired should be elected, and they were elected. At the last conference of the joint committees, which was held on a Sunday, Mr. Clay insisted that their report, to have the requisite effect upon Congress and the country, must be unanimous; and unanimous it was. Both Houses, with a surprising approach to unanimity, adopted the compromise proposed; and thus was again postponed the bloody arbitrament to which the irrepressible controversy has since been submitted.
Clay's masterly conduct on this occasion added his name to the long list of gentlemen who were mentioned for the succession to Mr. Monroe in 1825. If the city of Washington had been the United States, if the House of Representatives had possessed the right to elect a President, Henry Clay might have been its choice. During the thirteen years of his Speakership not one of his decisions had been reversed ; and he had presided over the turbulent and restive House with that perfect blending of courtesy and firmness which at once restrains and charms. The debates just before the war, during the war, and after the war, had been violent and acrimonious; but he had kept his own temper, and compelled the House to observe an approach to decorum. On one occasion he came into such sharp collision with the excitable Randolph, that the dispute was transferred to the newspapers, and narrowly escaped degenerating from a war of “cards” to a conflict with pistols. But the Speaker triumphed ; the House and the country sustained him. On occasions of ceremony the Speaker enchanted every beholder by the superb dig. nity of his bearing, the fitness of his words, and the tranquil depth of his tones. What could be more eloquent, more appropriate, than the Speaker's address of welcome to Lafayette, when the guest of the nation was conducted to the floor of the House
of Representatives? The House and the galleries were proud of the Speaker that day. No one who never heard this captivator of hearts can form the slightest conception of the penetrating effect of the closing sentences, though they were spoken only in the tone of conversation.
“ The vain wish has been sometimes indulged, that Providence would allow the patriot, after death, to return to his country, and to contemplate the intermediate changes which had taken place; to view the forests felled, the cities built, the mountains levelled, the canals cut, the highways constructed, the progress of the arts, the advancement of learning, and the increase of population. General, your present visit to the United States is a realization of the consoling object of that wish. You are in the midst of posterity. Everywhere you must have been struck with the great changes, physical and moral, which have occurred since you left us. Even this very city, bearing a venerated name, alike endeared to you and to us, has since emerged from the forest which then covered its site. In one respect you behold us unaltered, and this is in the sentiment of continued devotion to liberty, and of ardent affection and profound gratitude to your departed friend, the father of his country, and to you, and to your illustrious associates in the field and in the cabinet, for the multiplied blessings which surround us, and for the very privilege of addressing you which I now exercise. This sentiment, now fondly cherished by more than ten millions of people, will be transmitted with unabated vigor down the tide of time, through the countless millions who are destined to inhabit this continent, to the latest posterity.”
The appropriateness of these sentiments to the occasion and to the man is evident to every one who remembers that Lafayette's love of George Washington was a Frenchman's romantic passion. Nor, indeed, did he need to have a sensitive French heart to be moved to tears by such words and such a welcome.
From 1822 to 1848, a period of twenty-six years, Henry Clay lived the strange life of a candidate for the Presidency. It was enough to ruin any man, body and soul. To live always in the gaze of millions ; to be the object of eulogy the most extravagant and incessant from one half of the newspapers, and of vituperation still more preposterous from the other half; to be sur rounded by flatterers interested and disinterested, and to be
confronted by another body intent on misrepresenting every act and word; to have to stop and consider the effect of every utterance, public and private, upon the next "cainpaign ”; not to be able to stir abroad without having to harangue a deputation of political friends, and stand to be kissed by ladies and pump-handled by men, and hide the enormous bore of it beneath a fixed smile till the very muscles of the face are rigid ; to receive by every mail letters enough for a large town; to have your life written several times a year; to be obliged continually to refute calumnies and " define your position"; to live under a horrid necessity to be pointedly civil to all the world; to find your most casual remarks and most private conversations getting distorted in print, this, and more than this, it was to be a candidate for the Presidency. The most wonderful thing that we have to say of Henry Clay is, that, such were his native sincerity and healthfulness of mind, he came out of this fiery trial still a patriot and a man of honor. We believe it was a weakness in him, as it is in any man, to set his heart upon living four years in the White House ; but we can most confidently say, that, having entered the game, he played it fairly, and bore his repeated disappointments with genuine, high-bred composure. The closest scrutiny into the life of this man still permits us to believe that, when he said, “I would rather be right than be President,” he spoke the real sentiments of his heart; and that, when he said to one of his political opponents, “ Tell General Jackson that, if he will sign my Land Bill, I will pledge myself to retire from public life and never to re-enter it,” he meant what he said, and would have stood to it. It is our privilege to believe this of Henry Clay; nor do we think that there was ever anything morbidly excessive in his desire for the Presidency. He was the head and choice of a great political party; in the principles of that party he fully believed ; and we think he did truly desire an election to the Presidency more from conviction than ambition. This may not have been the case in 1824, but we believe it was in 1832 and in 1844.
The history of Henry Clay's Presidential aspirations and defeats is little more than the history of a personal feud. In the
year 1819, it was his fortune to incur the hatred of the best hater then living, - Andrew Jackson. They met for the first time in November, 1815, when the hero of New Orleans came to Washington to consult with the administration respecting the Indian and military affairs of his department. Each of these eminent men truly admired the other. Jackson saw in Clay the civil hero of the war, whose fiery eloquence had powerfully seconded its military heroes. Clay beheld in Jackson the man whose gallantry and skill had done most to justify the war in the sight of the people. They became immediately and cordially intimate. Jackson engaged to visit Ashland in the course of the next summer, and spend a week there. On every occasion when Mr. Clay spoke of the heroes of the war, he bestowed on Jackson the warmest praise.
In 1818 General Jackson invaded Florida, put to death two Indian chiefs in cold blood, and executed two British subjects, Arbuthnot and Armbrister.* During the twenty-seven days' debate upon these proceedings, in 1819, the Speaker sided with those who disapproved them, and he delivered a set speech against Jackson. This speech, though it did full justice to General Jackson's motives, and contained a fine eulogium upon his previous services, gave the General deadly offence. Such was Jackson's self-love that he could not believe in the honesty of any opposition to him, but invariably attributed such opposition to low personal motives. Now it was a fact well known to Jackson, that Henry Clay had expected the appointment of Secretary of State under Mr. Monroe; and it was part of the gossip of the time that Mr. Monroe's preference of Mr. Adams was the reason of Clay's occasional opposition to measures favored by the administration. We do not believe this, because the measures which Mr. Clay opposed were such as he must have disapproved, and which well-informed posterity will forever disapprove. After much debate in the Cabinet, Mr. Monroe, who was peculiarly bound to Jackson, and who had reasons of his own for not offending him, determined to sustain him in toto, both at home and in
• This is the correct spelling of the name, as we learn from a living relative of the unfortunate man. It has been hitherto spelled Ambrister.
the courts of Spain and England. Hence, in condemning General Jackson, Mr. Clay was again in opposition to the administration; and the General of course concluded, that the Speaker designed, in ruining him, merely to further his own political schemes. How he boiled with fury against Mr. Clay, his published letters amusingly attest. “ The hypocrisy and baseness of Clay," wrote the General, “ in pretending friendship to me, and endeavoring to crush the Executive through me, makes me despise the villain."
Jackson, as we all know, was triumphantly sustained by the House. In fact, Mr. Clay's speech was totally unworthy of the occasion. Instead of argument and fact, he gave the House and the galleries beautiful declamation. The evidence was before him; he had it in his bands ; but, instead of getting up his case with patient assiduity, and exhibiting the damning proofs of Jackson's misconduct, he merely glanced over the mass of papers, fell into some enormous blunders, passed over some most material points, and then endeavored to supply all deficiencies by an imposing eloquence. He even acknowledges that he had not examined the testimony. “It is possible," said he, “ that a critical examination of the evidence would show” that Arbuthnot was an innocent trader. We have had occasion to examine that evidence since, and we can testify that this conjecture was correct. But why was it a conjecture? Why did Mr. Clay neglect to convert the conjecture into certainty? It fell to him, as representing the civilization and humanity of the United States, to vindicate the memory of an honorable old man, who had done all that was possible to prevent the war, and who had been ruthlessly murdered by men wearing the uniform of American soldiers. It fell to him to bar the further advancement of a man most unfit for civil rule. To this duty he was imperatively called, but he only half did it, and thus exasperated the tiger without disabling him.
Four years passed. In December, 1823, General Jackson reappeared in Washington to take his seat in the Senate, to which he had been elected by his wire-pullers for the purpose of promoting his interests as a candidate for the Presidency. Before