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At a time when the relations between shire. In a speech delivered by him in England and America are looked at 1840, at Saratoga, Mr. Webster himself with interest, and when that vast and alluded, with evident pride, to his birthincreasing country is regarded as our place, a very humble farm-house, and to natural ally, in the event of a combina- the lowly condition of his family at the tion of the despotic powers against us, time: it was not unnatural that the death of “ It did not happen to me to be born one of her greatest statesmen, and of in a log cabin; but my elder brothers one who was brought immediately into and sisters were born in a log cabin contact with our government in the raised amid the snow-drifts of New important settlement of the Oregon Hampshire, at a period so early as that, question, should be looked at with in- when the smoke first rose from its rude terest, and the events of his life should chimney, and curled over the frozen be inquired after with some curiosity. hills, there was no similar evidence of
On the other side of the Atlantic a white man's habitation between it ocean his loss was felt as national. and the settlements on the rivers of The whole of the press teemed with Canada. Its remains still exist. I memorials and reviews of his life; and make to it an annual visit. I carry my what was more honourable to him, even children to it, to teach them the hardthose most opposed to him politically, ships endured by the generations which -and America it must be remembered have gone before them. I love to dwell is a country wherein party spirit runs on the tender recollections, the kindred high, -were the first to offer their tes- ties, the early affections, and the touchtimony to his talent, his integrity, and ing narratives and incidents which his thorough political honesty. mingle with all I know of this primi
A man who could so interest a vast tive family abode. I weep to think that country, so pervade the hearts of his none of those who inhabited it are now fellow men, must needs be remarkable; living; and if ever I am ashamed of it, and such indeed was DANIEL WEBSTER. or if I 'ever fail in affectionate veneraIn tracing his life, we shall find how tion for him who reared it, and defended unvarying an accompaniment is success it against savage violence and destructo industry and determination, and we tion, cherished all the domestic virtues shall read some useful lessons, in the beneath its roof, and, through the fire history of one who commenced life as a and blood of a seven years' revolutionschoolmaster, and rose to Secretary of ary war, shrunk from no danger, no state, to our own too exclusive and aris- toil, no sacrifice, to serve his country, tocratic government.
and to raise his children to a better One of the very first settlers in New condition than his own, may my name, Hampshire was Thomas Webster, who and the name of my posterity, be blotted had himself come originally from Scot- for ever from the memory of mankind."* land, and whose character, earnest, stern His earlier youth appears to have and unbending, seems to have fallen upon been entirely spent under the guidance his descendants. From this same Tho- of his mother, who, on account of his mas proceeded in the direct male line, weakness, herself superintended his Ebenezer Webster, an old revolutionary education at that period. His father, soldier, serving as a captain under Ma- like many other American gentlemen, jor-General Henk, and who finally died turned, it would appear, every possible whilst performing the duties of the judge source of income to account, being himof the Court of Common Pleas, in New self but a poor man: a fact, which made Hampshire; leaving by his second wife, him also take out his son to help him Abigail Eastman, a lady of a Welsh in his business, when he should have family, five children, three daughters been at school. But by this Webster and two boys, Ezekiel and Daniel lost little, as the following anecdote Webster.
will testify: The younger of these, and the sub
“ Near his birthplace and in the bed ject of this paper, was born on the 18th of a little brook are the remains of an of January, 1782, in the town of Salisbury, Merrimac county, New Hamp- * Webster's Speeches, 6 vole. Boston,
old mill which once stood in a dark dull stories told of him at this period glen, and was then surrounded by a in the Personal Memorials," published majestic forest which covered the neigh- at Philadelphia, we relate nothing, the bouring hills. The mill was a source of book having nothing curious about it income to Ebenezer Webster, and he but its benighting dulness. kept it in operation. To that mill, In 1797 the future statesman entered Daniel, though a small boy, went daily Dartmouth College as a freshman. to assist his father in sawing boards. The students of that day were very He was apt in learning anything use- different from the smart and dandified ful, and soon became so expert in doing youths of our time. Daniel set out in everything required, that his services, à suit entirely of domestic manufacture, as an assistant, were valuable. But mounted upon the least valuable of his his time was not mispent or misapplied. father's horses, the one which could After setting the saw and ' hoisting the best be spared from the farm, and the gate,' and while the saw was passing whole of his wardrobe and library dethrough the log from end to end, which posited in two saddle-bags. Through occupied from ten to fifteen minutes for rain and storm the student proceeded each board, Daniel was usually seen on his slow-paced nag, unmindful of reading attentively the books in the the weather, being obliged to join at way of history and biography which he the commencement of term, and arwas permitted to take from the house. rived at last in a very piteous condition.
“There, in that old saw-mill, sur- He joined his class the next day, and rounded by forests, in the midst of the at once took his position, as a first-rate great noise which such a mill makes, man, a position which he has since and this, too, without materially neg. held in the intellectual world. lecting his task, he made himself fami- He went through college in a manliar with the most remarkable events ner creditable to himself, and gratifying recorded by the pen of history, and with to his friends. He graduated in 1801, the lives and characters of the most ce- and it was thought that he would relebrated persons who had lived in the ceive the additional honour of the olden time. He has never forgotten Valedictory; but this honour was bewhat he read there. So tenacious is stowed upon some other, less distinhis memory, that it is said by those who guished in after life than his less forknow, he could recite long passages from, tunate rival. He received, however, and state with accuracy the contents of, a diploma, which “common-place compages in the old books which he read pliment,” to quote from one who knew there and had scarcely looked at since."* him well, only displeased him. This
Even at so early an age, there seemed authority indeed adds a story of his with the future statesman, a perfect assembling his class-mates the consciousness of the value of life, and, college green, and tearing up the honowhat seems stranger possibly to us than rary document with the exclamation, to his own countrymen, where boyish My industry may make me a great foresight is not uncommon, a complete man, but this misera le parchment knowledge of the ways by which that cannot;” an act which, if true, redounds life was to be made rich, honourable, and by the way, very little to his credit. successful; for he himself has told us, On his retnrn from college, his leadthat when a mere boy, the motto which ing wish seems to have been that his prompted all his conduct was: “ Since brother Ezekiel (a great love appears I know nothing, and have nothing, I ever to have subsisted between the bromust learn and earn."
thers) should have the benefit of a col. His education was, it would seem, legiate education as well as himself. the average education of an American But his father's circumstances were too citizen, the difference consisting, as it poor to admit of this; and to accomin truth does with most of us, in the use plish it, Daniel accepted the situation made of the time occupied in education. Of schoolmaster, with the determination After being under various masters, of of devoting part of his earnings towards whom perhaps the most known was the expenses of his brother's education. Joseph S. Buckminster, he went to The place where Mr. Webster spent college. Of the puerile and intensely the most of his time as a schoolmaster
was Freyburg, in the state of Maine. * Personal Memorials of Daniel Webster.
He had been invited thither by a friend
of his father, who was acquainted with formidable to your enemies, and you the circumstances of the family. His will have nothing to fear." school was quite large, and his salary The student listened attentively to 350 dollars, to which he added a con- these sound arguments, and had the siderable sum by devoting his evenings good sense to appreciate them. His to copying deeds in the office of the determination was immediately made; county recorder, at twenty-five cents and now came the dreaded business of per deed. He also found time during advising his father as to his intended this period to go through with his first course. He at once sought him and reading of Blackstone's Commentaries, finding him alone spoke gaily about the and other substantial works, which have office; expressed his great obligation been so good a foundation to his after to their honours, and his intention to fame. At the drudgery of engrossing write them a most respectful letter: if he laboured a great part of the night, he could have consented to record anyand there now exist in his hand- body's judgments, he should have been writing two large folios as proofs of his proud to have recorded their honours', labours and industry. By economy at &c., &c. He proceeded in this strain the end of the first year he was enabled till his father exhibited signs of amazeto pay 100 dollars to support his brother ment, it having occurred to him, finally, at college. To add to this, Ezekiel that his son might all the while be taught an evening school for sailors at serious. “Do you intend to decline Boston as well as a private school. this office ?" he said at length. “ Most
In the year 1805, and of course in certainly," replied his son. “I cannot the twenty-third year of his age, Mr. think of doing otherwise. I mean to Webster was tendered the vacant clerk- use my tongue in the courts, not my ship of the Court of Common Pleas for pen; to be an actor, not a registrar of the county of Hillsborough, New Hamp- other men's actions." shire. His father was one of the judges “For a moment Judge Webster seemed of court, and the appointment had angry. He rocked his chair slightly, a been bestowed upon his son by his flash went over his eye, softened by colleagues as a token of personal age, but even then black as jet, but it regard. The office was worth some soon disappeared, and his countenance 1500 dollars, which in those days and regained its usual serenity. Well, my that section of country, was equal to son,' said Judge Webster finally, “your the salary of secretary of state of the mother always said that you would present day.
come to something or nothing, become That son was then a student in the a somebody or anobody; it is now settled office of Mr. Gore, in Boston. He that you are to be a nobody.' In a few ceived the news with sensations of glad- days the student returned to Boston, ness that he had never before experi- and the subject was never afterwards enced. With a throbbing heart he mentioned in the family."* announced the tidings to his legal coun- Not long after this, and in a surprissellor and friend, and to his utter aston- ingly short time to a European mind, ishment that far-seeing and sagacious who do not consider how rapidly things man expressed his utter disapprobation are carried forward in a new country of the proposed change in his pursuits. like America, we find Mr. Webster ac“But my father is poor, and I wish to cumulating sufficient money from his make him comfortable in his old age," legal practice to pay the debts of his replied the student.
father; and after another short interval "That may all be,” continued Mr. we find him in possession of a large Gore, “ but you should think of the fu- practice at Portsmouth,“ doing the ture more than of the present. Become heaviest law business of any man in once a clerk and you will always be a New Hampshire,” retained in all the clerk, with no prospect of attaining a important causes, and but seldom aphigher position. Go on and finish your pearing as a junior counsel. His powers legal studies; you are indeed poor, but as an advocate were at once conceded; there are greater evils than poverty; but his manners at the bar were by live on no man's favour; what bread some thought to be a little too severe you do eat, let it be the bread of in- and sharp, but there was no question dependence; pursue your profession; make yourself useful to the world and * March's Reminiscences of Congress.
as to his popularity and as to his abi- | 11s to raise, in our endeavours to imitate lity. "The South,” said a contempo- the magnificent structures which they rary of him, “has not his superior, nor have left us. the North his equal." In March, 1805, A spot," he said, “ so distinguished, Mr. Webster was admitted to practise so connected with interesting memorials in the Suffolk Court of Common Pleas; as Greece, may naturally create some in May, 1807, he was attorney and warmth and enthusiasm.
We counsel of the Superior Court of New must, indeed, fly beyond the civilized Hampshire. In 1808, he married Miss world, we must pass the dominion of Grace Fletcher, daughter of a New law and the boundaries of knowledge, Hampshire clergyman, and by whom we must more especially withdraw ourhe had four children, Grace, Fletcher, selves from this place, and the scenes Julia and Edward ; only one of these and objects which here surround us, if survives him, Fletcher, à naval officer. we would separate ourselves entirely
The time was now fast approaching from the influence of all those memorials when Webster was to distinguish him- which ancient Greece has transmitted self in a larger sphere than that of a for the admiration and benefit of manbarrister, however well known, and kind. This free form of government; however large his fees, and these latter this popular assembly, the common were very heavy; he had, in fact, be- council held for the common good, come so much sought after that his where have we contemplated its earliest assistance was difficult to be obtained, models? This practice of free debate and his power of oratory was so well and public discussion, the contest of acknowledged that counsel dreaded to mind with mind, and that popular elohave him against them.
quence, which, if it were now here on a At the age of thirty, in May 1813, he subject like this, would move the stones took his seat as representative in Con- of the capitol—whose was the language gress, and soon distinguished himself. in which all these were first exhibited ? At the adjournment of Congress he left Even the edifice in which we now ashis residence in Portsmouth, and estab- semble, these proportioned columns, lished himself in Boston. Towards the this ornamented architecture, all reclose of the year 1822, the inhabitants mind us that Greece has existed, and of Boston determined to be represented that we, like the rest of mankind, are by one who should reflect a credit on her debtors." Not contented, however, their city, and they so strongly urged with an illustration, at once so beauthis upon Webster that he allowed him- tiful and so appropriate, the orator, self to be put in nomination, and was warming as he proceeded, showed his elected, after being absent from the audience that the Greeks claimed a National Legislature for a term of six sympathy above even that of a grateful years. In 1823, he delivered perhaps pupil to its teachers, the sympathy of one the most powerful speech he had yet Christian nation to another. The Greeks made, in a proposition looking to an address the civilized world with a paearly recognition of Greek independ- thos not easy to be resisted, they invoke
A part of this speech, which we our favour by more moving considerashall quote, will let the reader partly tions than can well belong to the coninto the secret of Webster's success in dition of any other people. They stretch oratory. He calls to men's minds the their arms to the Christian communities ancient glories of the country of Plato of the earth, beseeching them, by a ge and Alcibiades, of Xenophon and Prax- nerous recollection of their ancestors, iteles, of Poetry and Art, and connects by the consideration of their own desothis reverential regard with the présent lated and ruined cities and villages, by life and feelings of his audience by the their wives and children sold into an familiar illustration of the interior of accursed slavery, by their own blood the house in which they sat, the house which they seem willing to pour out of representatives, which is of exceeding like water, by the common faith, and beauty, a beauty which, as he said, it in that Name which unites all Chrisowes to the arts of Greece. He wishes tians, that they would extend to them to raise a sympathy with a people at least some token of compassionate struggling for freedom, and he does so regard." by pointing to the polished marble The American Press circulated this column which their forefathers taught powerful speech--part of which, by the way, might well have been applied to plausibility to be based upon, and certain wives and children sold in sla- clearly deducible from, the Virginia very in their own free land-throughout and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 and their vast continent, and in the glow 1799, which are known to have been Cof admiration excited by it Webster drafted respectively by Jefferson and was said to equal Burke, and superior Madison, and repeatedly reaffirmed as to Chatham. In the same year he con containing the democratic creed resistently favoured the acknowledgment specting the powers of the Federal of South American independence; and Government, and their rightful limitain 1824 made what is called his great tions. Mr. Webster inexorably deFree-trade speech, which was deemed monstrated the incompatibility of this the ablest over delivered on the subject. doctrine with any real power or force
In the same year, John Quincy in the federal government, and, admitAdams was put forward by the New ting fully the right of revolution as Englanders for President. To this superior to all governments, showed election Webster, although it was that a state could not remain in the known that he was no admirer of Mr. Union and assume to nullify acts of Adams, gave his unflinching support, Congress upheld by the supreme court; from the belief that Mr. Adams would that the contrary assumption was condo well for the country. Daniel Web-demned by the Constitution itself, and ster and John Randolph were tellers utterly at war with the public tranon the occasion, and Quincy Adams quillity and safety. Mr. Webster's was elected by the vote of thirteen speeches arrested the Jackson party on States to eleven; Webster became one the brink of committing itself irretrievof the ablest supporters of the adminis-ably to the doctrine of nullification—a tration of Adams and Clay. In 1826 committal which would have proved an he was chosen a Senator of the United act of suicide. States, and took his seat in the Upper In the Senate he also advocated the House. Towards the close of 1827 his recharter of the second United States first wife died, whilst he was on his way Bank, opposing the re-election of Geto Washington to take his seat in the neral Jackson, and supporting Mr. Senate. The next year, 1828, was sig- Clay in opposition to him; vigorously nalized by the defeat of John Quincy opposing nullification when attempted Adams, and the accession of General to be put in practice in 1833; opposing Jackson to the Presidency.
the tariff compromise of that year, the During the session of 1829-30, oc- removal of deposits, &c. He was cancurred the memorable debate on Foote's didate for the Presidency in 1836, but resolution respecting the Public Lands, received the 12 votes of Massachusetts wherein Mr. Webster, in replying to only. In 1839 he visited Europe, Colonel Hayne, of South Carolina, vin- where, with the exception of some dicated his right to rank first among weeks spent on the Continent, he living debaters.
It is hardly too passed his time in England, where he much to say of his great and 'lesser was received by our statesmen, and by speech on that occasion, that they all with the greatest attention and rescued the Federal Constitution from civility. a construction fast becoming popular,
He continued in the senate warmly which, once established as correct, advocating General Harrison's election, must have proved its destruction. The and upon that event taking place was constitutional right of any State of the called to fill the place of Secretary of Union to nullify an act of Congress, State, or head of the Cabinet. This whether by its ordinary legislature, or he continued to fill after Harrison's by a convention specially called, once lamented and untimely death, and readmitted as legal, would strip the fede- mained in it till 1843. During his ral authority of all just claim to be con- administration the relations of England sidered a government, and throw us and America seemed likely to become back upon the inefficiency and semi- embroiled through a disputed line of anarchy of the old Continental Confe- boundary. This dispute was known deration. Yet that doctrine of nullifi- here as the Oregon question. Oregon cation, so frankly propounded and ably extends from 42 deg. to 54 deg. 4 min. defended by Colonel Hayne, in a de north lat., and from the Rocky Mounbate with Webster, claimed, with much tains to the Pacific Ocean. The terri.