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him a leader among his neighbors, and in the latter part of his life he was made a judge of the local court.
At a very early age Daniel began to go to school; sometimes in his native town, sometimes in another, as the district school moved from place to place. He thus describes his boyhood : “I read what I could get to read, went to school when I could, and when not at school was a farmer's youngest boy, not good for much for want of health and strength, but expected to do something."
That “something" consisted generally in tending his father's saw-mill, but the reading went on even there. He would set a log, and while it was going through would devour a book. There was a small circulating library in the village; and young Webster read every thing it contained, committing most of the contents of the volumes to memory, for books were so scarce that he believed this to be their chief purpose.
The elder Webster, though in straitened circum-. stances, had it greatly at heart that his son should enjoy the advantages of that education he had himself missed. Accordingly, after rather lasty preparation, Daniel contrived in 1797 to enter Dartmouth College, where he pursued his studies till he took his degree in 1801. Though not a fine scholar in the technical sense of the term, he was recognized both by the professors and by his fellow-students as the foremost man in the college. All were conscious of something in him indefinable, but conveying a sense of greatness.
The four years following Webster's leaving college were passed in the study of law, varied by some experience as a country schoolmaster. Soon after his admission to the bar he took up his residence at Portsmouth, where he pursued his profession, and began to take part in politics.
The distinction won by Webster in the discussion of questions connected with the war of 1812 led to his election to the national House of Representatives as a member for New Hampshire. He took his seat in 1813, was re-elected in 1815, and at the end of his second term retired for a while from public life. Though but thirty-two years of age when he entered Congress, he was after a few months of service acknowledged to be one of the foremost men in the House, and the strongest leader of the Federal party.
In 1816 Webster removed from Portsmouth to Boston, where he at once took rank with the best lawyers, and speedily built up a large and lucrative practice. In 1822 he was chosen to the House of Representatives as member from Boston, and was a member of that body till 1827, when he was elected to the United States Senate, where his greatest triumphs were to be achieved. He continued to represent Massachusetts in the Senate for twelve years, when he was appointed Secretary of State by President Harrison. On the accession of President Tyler, Webster, unlike the rest of the Harrison cabinet, remained in office; and in 1842 he concluded the famous treaty with Lord Ashburton, defining the north-eastern boundary between the United States and Canada. In 1845 Massachusetts again sent him to the Senate; and he was a member of that body during the eventful period of the Mexican War, and during the
administration of Taylor. Webster remained in that position until 1850, when he was made Secretary of State by President Fillmore. In this high office death found him. He died at Marshfield, Mass., Oct. 24, 1852. The last words that passed his lips were, “I still live.”
Webster's person was imposing: he was of commanding height and well proportioned; his head was of great size, and his eyes were deep-seated, large, and lustrous. His voice was powerful, sonorous, and flexible; his action, without being remarkably graceful, was appropriate and impressive. Carlyle, in a letter to Emerson written in 1839, thus describes the appearance of Webster, then on a visit to England :
“Not many days ago I saw at breakfast the notablest of all your notabilities, Daniel Webster. He is a magnificent specimen; you might say to all the world, “ This is your Yankee Englishman, such limbs we make in Yankeeland!' As a logic-fencer, advocate, or parliamentary Hercules, one would incline to back him at first sight against all the extant world. The tanned complexion, that amorphous crag-like face; the dull black eyes under their precipice of brows, like dull anthracite furnaces, needing only to be blown; the mastiff-mouth, accurately closed :- I have not traced as much of silent Berserkir-rage, that I remember • of, in any other man.”
Webster's productions are pre-eminently national. His works all refer to the history, the policy, the laws, the government, the social life, and the destiny of his own land. They came from the heart and understanding of one into whose very nature the life of his coun
try had passed. His patriotism became part of his being. It prompted the most majestic Aights of his eloquence. It gave intensity to his purposes, and lent the richest glow to his genius. It made his eloquence a language of the heart, felt and understood over every portion of the land it consecrates. On Plymouth Rock, on Bunker Hill, at Mount Vernon, by the tombs of Hamilton and Adams and Jefferson and Jay, we are reminded of Daniel Webster.
Webster was undoubtedly the greatest forensic orator that America has produced. He has been compared to Burke, but they differed greatly. In strength and richness of imagination Burke was incomparable ; he was, as Dr. Johnson described him, emphatically a “constellation.” Webster, paying little heed to the arts of the rhetorician, produced his effects by powerful logic, high-souled enthusiasm, and a perfect manliness of style. Yet there was one form of eloquence in which he was pre-eminently great, — the eloquence of the civic oration; that is, the oration on some high theme of national history. Says Rufus Choate, “In 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, he exemplified an eloquence in which I do not know that he has had a superior among men."
1.- THE CHARACTER OF WASHINGTON.
[The following, though not one of the grandest examples of Webster's civic orations, is a very noble discourse, and has special interest from its subject. It was pronounced Feb. 22, 1832, in Washington City, at a public dinner for the purpose of commemorating the centennial anniversary of Washington's birthday.)
I RISE, gentlemen, to propose to you the name of that great man in commemoration of whose birth, and in honor of whose character and services, we have here assembled.
I am sure that I express a sentiment common to every one present, when I say that there is something more than ordinarily solemn and affecting in this occasion.
We are met to testify our regard for him whose name is intimately blended with whatever belongs most essentially to the prosperity, the liberty, the free institutions, and the renown of our country. That name was of power 2 to rally a nation, in the hour of thick-thronging public disasters and calamities; that name shone amid the storm of war, a beacon light to cheer and guide the country's friends; it flamed, too, like a meteor, to repel her foes. That name, in the days of peace, was a loadstone, attracting to itself a whole people's confidence, a whole people's love, and the whole world's respect. That name, descending with all
1 I am ... occasion. How many | plain the grammatical construcclauses in this complex sentence ? tion. Explain the metaphor. was of power. Substitute a
was a loadstone. What is the synonymous expression.
figure of speech? Change to a 8 shone.
a beacon light. Ex-simile.