Page images
PDF
EPUB

so long and so conspicuously before the general eye; his actions, his opinions, on all things which had been large enough to agitate the public mind for the last thirty years and mose, had had importance and consequences so remarkable-anxiously waited for, passionately canvassed, not adopted always into the particular measure, or deciding the particular vote of government or the country, yet sinking deep into the reason of the people-a stream of influence whose fruits it is yet too soon for political philosophy to appreciate completely; an impression of his extraordinary intellectual endowments, and of their peculiar superiority in that most imposing and intelligible of all forms of manifestation, the moving of others' minds by speech—this impression had grown so universal and fixed, and it had kindled curiosity to hear him and read him so wide and so largely indulged; his individuality altogether was so absolute and so pronounced, the force of will no less than the power of genius; the exact type and fashion of his mind, not less than its general magnitude, were so distinctly shown through his musical, transparent style; the exterior of the man, the grand mystery of brow and eye, the deep tones, the solemnity, the sovereignty, as of those who would build states, where every power and every grace did seem to set its seal, had been made-by personal observation, by description, by the exaggeration even, of those who had felt the spell — by art, the daguerreotype and picture and statue—so familiar to the American eye, graven on the memory like the Washington of Stuart; the narrative of the mere incidents of his life had been so often told (by some so authentically and with such skill), and had been so literally committed to heart,—that when he died there seemed to be little left but to say when and how his change came; with what dignity, with what possession of himself, with what loving thought for others, with what gratitude to God, uttered with unfaltering voice, that it was appointed to him there to die; to say how thus, leaning on the rod and staff of the promise, he took his way into the great darkness undismayed, till death should be swallowed up of life; and then to relate how they laid him in that simple grave, and turning and pausing, and joining their voices to the voices of the sea, bade him hail and farewell. ...

2. But there were other fields of oratory on which, under the influence of more uncommon springs of inspiration, he exempli

fied, in still other forms, an eloquence in which I do not know that he has had a superior among men. Addressing masses by tens of thousands in the open air, on the urgent political questions of the day; or designated to lead the meditations of an hour devoted to the remembrance of some national era, or of some incident marking the progress of the nation, and lifting him up to a view of what is, and what is past, and some indistinct revelations of the glory that lies in the future, or of some great historical name, just borne by the nation to his tomb—we have learned that then and there, at the base of Bunker Hill, before the corner-stone was laid, and again when from the finished column the centuries looked on him; in Faneuil Hall, mourning for those with whose spoken or written eloquence of freedom its arches had so often resounded ; on the rock of Plymouth; before the Capitol, of which there shall not be one stone left on another before his memory shall have ceased to live-in such scenes, unfettered by the laws of forensic or parliamentary debate ; multitudes uncounted lifting up their eyes to him ; some great historical scenes of America around; all symbols of her glory and art and power and fortune there; voices of the past, not unheard ; shapes beckoning from the future, not unseensometimes that mighty intellect, borne upwards to a height and kindled to an illumination which we shall see no more, wrought out, as it were in an instant, a picture of vision, warning, prediction: the progress of the nation; the contrasts of its eras; the heroic deaths; the motives to patriotism ; the maxims and arts imperial by which the glory has been gathered and may be heightened-wrought out, in an instant, a picture to fade only when all record of our mind shall die.

3. We seem to see his form and hear his deep, grave speech everywhere. By some felicity of his personal life; by some wise, deep, or beautiful word spoken or written ; by some service of his own, or some commemoration of the services of others, it has come to pass

our granite hills, our inland seas, prairies, and fresh, unbounded, magnificent wilderness;" our encircling ocean ; the resting place of the Pilgrims; our new-born sister of the Pacific ; our popular assemblies; our free schools; all our cherished doctrines of education, and of the influence of religion, and national policy and law, and the Constitution. give us back

that "

his name. What American landscape will you look on ; what subject of American interest will you study; what source of hope or of anxiety, as an American, will you acknowledge, that it does not recall him ? ....

4. But it is time that this eulogy was spoken. My heart goes back into the coffin there with him, and I would pause. I went

-it is a day or two since—alone, to see again the home which he so dearly loved, the chamber where he died, the grave in which they laid him—all habited as when

“His look drew audience still as night,
Or summer's noontide air"-

till the heavens be no more. Throughout that spacious and calm scene all things to the eye showed at first unchanged. The books in the library; the portraits; the table at which he wrote; the scientific culture of the land ; the course of agricultural occupation; the coming-in of harvests, fruit of the seed his own hand had scattered; the animals and implements of husbandry; the trees planted by him in lines, in copses, in orchards, by thousands; the seat under the noble elm, on which he used to sit to feel the southwest wind at evening, or hear the breathings of the sea, or the not less audible music of the starry heavens, all seemed at first unchanged. The sun of a bright day, from which, however, something of the fervors of midsummer were wanting, fell temperately on them all, filled the air on all sides with the utterances of life, and gleamed on the long line of ocean. Some of those whom on earth he loved best still were there. The great mind still seemed to preside; the great presence to be with you; you might expect to hear again the rich and playful tones of the voice of the old hospitality. Yet a moment more, and all the scene took on the aspect of one great monument, inscribed with his name, and sacred to his memory.

5. And such it shall be in all the future of America! The sensation of desolateness and loneliness and darkness with which you see it now will pass away; the sharp grief of love and friendship will become soothed; men will repair thither as they are wont to commemorate the great days of history; the same glance shall take in, and the same emotions shall greet and bless, the harbor of the Pilgrims and the tomb of Webster.

FROM THE SPEECH IN REPLY TO HAYNE.

[INTRODUCTION.—The speech of which the first of the subjoined extracts forms the exordium, and the second the peroration, is known as Webster's Second Speech on Foot's Resolution. In the latter part of 1829, Senator Foot, of Connecticut, moved in the Senate a resolution in relation to the disposal of the public lands in the West. On this subject Webster delivered a brief speech, to which Senator Hayne, of South Carolina, responded. In his speech Hayne departed widely from the subject of the resolution, opening up a variety of political and constitutional questions. This course rendered a response incumbent upon Webster, who acquitted himself in the magnificent speech delivered before the United States Senate, January 26, 1830.]

I. 1. When this debate, sir, was to be resumed, on Thursday morning, it so happened that it would have been convenient for me to be elsewhere. The honorable gentleman, however, did not incline to put off the discussion to another day. He had a shot, he said, to return, and he wished to discharge it. That shot, sir, : which he thus kindly informed us was coming, that we might stand out of the way or prepare ourselves to fall by it and die with decency, has now been received. Under all advantages, and with expectation awakened by the tone which preceded it, it has been discharged, and has spent its force. It may become me 10 to say no more of its effect than that, if nobody is found, after all, either killed or wounded, it is not the first time in the history of human affairs that the vigor and success of the war have not quite come up to the lofty and sounding phrase of the manifesto.*

15

2. The gentleman, sir, in declining to postpone the debate, told the Senate, with the emphasis of his hand upon his heart, that

LITERARY ANALYSIS.-1-3. When elsewhere. What kind of sentence grammatically? Rhetorically?

4. He had a shot, etc. What is the figure of speech? (See Def. 20.)

5-10. That shot ... force. To what use does Webster in these sentences turn Hayne's metaphor ?—Point out any ironical expression.

10–15. It... manifesto. What kind of sentence rhetorically?

16-48. The gentleman ... aimed. It will be noted that, as in paragraph i Webster occupies himself with tossing his antagonist on the point of his own metaphor, so in paragraph 2 he takes up another of Hayne's remarks and adroitly turns the edge of it against him.

there was something rankling * here, of which he wished to rid himself by an immediate reply. In this respect, sir, I have a great advantage over the honorable gentleman. There is nothing here, sir, which gives me the slightest uneasiness; neither fear, nor anger, nor that which is sometimes more troublesome than either the consciousness of having been in the wrong. There is nothing either originating here or now received here by the gentleman's shot. Nothing originating here, for I had not 25 the slightest feeling of unkindness towards the honorable member. Some passages, * it is true, had occurred since our acquaintance in this body which I could have wished might have been otherwise; but I had used philosophy and forgotten them. I paid the honorable member the attention of listening with re- ja spect to his first speech ; and when he sat down, though surprised, and I must even say astonished, at some of his opinions, nothing was farther from my intention than to commence any personal warfare. Through the whole of the few remarks I made in answer, I avoided, studiously and carefully, everything which 35 I thought possible to be construed into disrespect. And, sir, while there is thus nothing originating here, which I have wished at any time, or now wish, to discharge, I must repeat, also, that nothing has been received here which rankles, or in any way gives me annoyance.

I will not accuse the honorable member of vio- 40 lating the rules of civilized war; I will not say that he poisoned his arrows. But whether his shafts were, or were not, dipped in that which would have caused rankling if they had reached their destination, there was not, as it happened, quite strength enough in the bow to bring them to their mark. If he wishes now to 45

LITERARY ANALYSIS. 20–23. There is ... wrong. How is the general statement in the first part of the sentence enforced by the latter part?

24, 25. There is ... shot. In this sentence a double denial is made : show what sentences carry out the first denial, and what the second.

31, 32, though surprised. Supply the ellipsis.

40. I will not, etc. What is there in the form of statement that adds great force to this sentence ?-Point out the metaphor.

42-45. But whether ... mark. Where is the sting in this sentence?

45-48. If he ... aimed. Compare the last sentence of paragraph 2 with the last of paragraph 1: note that the former is, in a modified form, an iteration of the latter ; but, as hurled forth in paragraph 2, what prodigious increase of momentum the statement has gained !

« PreviousContinue »