Графични страници
PDF файл

is permeated by feeling, and works with all the force of passion, his style has a corresponding swiftness and energy, and seems endowed with power to sweep all obstacles from its path. In those inimitable touches of wit and sarcasm, also, where so much depends upon the collection and collocation of apt and expressive language, and where the object is to pelt and tease rather than to crush, his diction glides easily into colloquial forms, and sparkles with animation and point. In the speech in reply to Hayne, the variety of his style, is admirably exemplified. The pungency and force of many strokes of sarcasm, in this celebrated production, the rare felicity of their expression, the energy and compression of the wit, and the skill with which all are made subsidiary to the general purpose of the orator, afford fine examples of what may be termed the science of debate. There is a good-humored mockery, covering, however, much grave satire, in his reference to the bugbear of Federalism.

“We all know a process,” he says, “ by which the whole Essex Junto could, in one hour, be washed white from their ancient federalism, and come out, every one of them, an original democrat, dyed in the wool ! Some of them have actually undergone the operation, and they say it is quite easy. The only inconvenience it occasions, as they tell us, is a slight tendency of the blood to the head, a soft suffusion, which however, is very transient, since nothing is said by those they join calculated to deepen the red in the cheek, but a prudent silence is observed in regard to all the past."

We have not considered Daniel Webster as a politician, but as an American. We do not possess great men in such abundance as to be able to spare one from the list. It is clearly our pride and interest to indulge in an honest exultation at any signs of intellectual supremacy in one of our own countrymen. His talents and acquirements are so many arguments for republicanism. They are an answer to the libel, that, under our constitution, and in the midst of our society, large powers of mind and marked individuality of character cannot be developed and nourished. We have in Mr. Webster the example of a man whose youth saw the foundation of our government, and whose maturity has been spent in

exercising some of its highest offices; who was born on our soil, educated amid our people, exposed to all the malign and beneficent influences of our society; and who has acquired high station by no sinuous path, by no sacrifice of manliness, principle, or individuality, but by a straight-forward force of character and vigor of intellect. A fame such as he has obtained is worthy of the noblest ambition; it reflects honor on the whole nation; it is stained by no meanness, or fear, or subserviency; it is the result of a long life of intellectual labor, employed in elucidating the spirit of our laws and government, in defending the principles of our institutions, in disseminating enlarged views of patriotism and duty, and in ennobling, by the most elevated sentiments of freedom and religion, the heroical events of our natural history. And we feel assured, when the animosities of party have been stilled at the tomb, and the great men of this generation have passed from the present feverish sphere of excitement into the calm of history, that it will be with feelings of unalloyed pride and admiration, that the scholar, the lawyer, the statesman, the orator, the American, will ponder over the writings of Daniel Webster.



The voices of national eulogy and sorrow unite to tell us, Daniel Webster is numbered with the dead. Seldom has mortality seen a sublimer close of an illustrious career. No American, since Washington, has, to so great an extent, occupied the thoughts, and moulded the minds of men. The past may hold back its tribute, and the present give no light, but the futurewill show in colors of living truth the honor which is justly due him as the political prophet, and great, intellectual light of the New World.' His life-time labors have been to defend the Constitution, to preserve the Union, to honor the great men of the Revolution, to vindicate International Law, to develop the resources of the country, and transmit the blessings of good government to all who should thereafter walk on American soil.

It is right that mourning should shroud the land. A star of magnitude and lustre has left the horizon and gone down to the realm of death. Wherever on earth patriotism commands regard, and eloquence leads captive the soul, it will be seen and felt that a truly great man has been called away, and left a void which none can fill.

New Hampshire has lost her noblest column. She has no more such granite left. Massachusetts will not soon cease weeping for her adopted son. Plymouth Rock, Faneuil Hall, and Bunker Hill, will forever speak of him whose eloquence has made them hallowed spots in the remembrance of mankind. His ennobling flights of reason, and lofty outbursts of oratorical power, give us evidence clearer than the light of day, that genius will leave an impress on

the human heart which time can not corrode, nor circumstance destroy.

True greatness is not born in a day. It requires many years to lay an adamantine foundation. Webster did not dazzle the world with a sudden outburst of glory. But like the sun rising amid clouds and dispelling sudden storms, he slowly attained the meridian, and when at last called to set behind the horizon, left " the world all light—all on fire—from the potent contact of his own great spirit.” His genius was not of that order which for a few years illuminates the world, and then goes out, to be remembered no more forever; but, like the majesty of the monuments which ages of Egyptian toil had raised on the sands of the desert, and which still mock the corrodings of time, his mind slowly matured, and when it was brought into active life gave clear and conclusive evidence that monuments would crumble to dust and the sea lave the shore no more before it would fail of grateful mention and lasting homage.

It has been said that national ingratitude sent Webster home to Marshfield to die. It is a base slander on his glorious career. When his mission was filled, he went home to the grave undisturbed by political clamor, or the thunders of a mercenary press. All were unable to dethrone the majestyof his mind, to quench his ardor and patriotism, or make less strong his love for, and devotion to American LIBERTY and Union. When Adams and Jefferson died, Faneuil Hall was shrouded in mourning, and its arches rung with his lofty and just commendations of their services to liberty and mankind. From his eulogy on the occasion of their deaths, with its sublime bursts of eloquence, will their fame go down to the future in a manner more imperishable than sculptured marble or monumental pile. Again, when the oration was pronounced upon the landing of the Pilgrims on the rock of Plymouth, it was felt by all, who in his burning words called to mind that lonely bark tossed on the surges of an unknown sea, bearing as its freight liberty to worship God according to the dictates of conscience that wheresoever, in

all coming years the sons of that immortal band should spread the light of civilization and blessings of good government — the words which he then and there uttered, would be read and kindle the fires of patriotism on every hearth-stone, from the Eastern to the Western Ocean. Demosthenes, when in the pride of his manhood and strength of mind, wrote and delivered the Oration on the Crown. It has become the classical study of every age since then. Webster, also, when in the maturity of his intellect, on Bunker Hill, which in days of revolutionary history had been watered with the blood of American Freemen, gave evidence to the world that although Demosthenes and the gates of Athens had crumbled away to dust, a greater than Demosthenes now lived to give a lasting influence to the character and destiny of the New World. The reply to Hayne settled in the minds of all reasonable men the question of State Rights and Nullification, then broached in Congress, to the great danger of the Union. May the Heavens be rolled away as a scroll, and the elements melt with fervent heat, before such sentiments shall fail of the knowledge and respect of the American people. Webster's intellect resembled the glory of noontide sun-his profound reason would admit of no successful answer. Equally at home, at the Bur, or in Congressional Halls, he has won, in the noblest elements of manhood, the name of God-like.

The sphere of eloquence is directly with the minds of the masses. It is a spontaneous spirit of genius, ever ready to show its power. It the patriotism of a continent, and leaves its impress on the hearts of the people. Intelligence will bask in its sunshine. Ignorance will bow down and worship a power which it cannot comprehend. Oral tradition will transmit from generation to generation. It cannot be dimmed by lapse of ages, or lost in any revo. lution of human affairs.

Sad and unwelcome are the events which mark the age. Death has thrown a deep and sombre pall over the land. Tearful is Columbia's eye, and desolate is her heart. Her temple is shrouded in

« ПредишнаНапред »