Obrazy na stronie

to recite it in the ordinary course of in dustry, perseverance, and punctuality, as struction. He also read Cicero with great his subsequent career. It may safely be delight. These were his favorite authors. questioned whether any undergraduate of Their beautiful thoughts he treasured in any of our American colleges ever left behis memory, and quoted them, with re hind him so many written and printed markable facility, in after life. The eye proofs of his talents and application as of the classical scholar will also detect the Mr. Webster. He always scorned the influence of these ancient writers in the imputation of idleness. When informed style, imagery, and costume of his iminor that such a tradition prevailed among stutal thoughts. He devoted less than two dents, he exclaimed: "What fools they months to the study of Greek. His im must be, to suppose that a man could perfect preparation, in this language, he make any thing of himself without hard always regretted. It made the study of study.” He then gave an account of his it a task rather than a pleasure in college. habits of study when in college, and, by it, As late as January, 1851, he said to a left the impression upon the minds of classmate," would that I had pursued those who listened, that he regarded Greek, till I could read and understand every hour of his student life as sacred to Demosthenes, in his own language!” study and reflection; that his first object Official duties and professional engage was a thorough mastery of his daily tasks, ments prevented his obtaining the object and his next purpose was to store his he so earnestly desired; and they have mind with useful knowledge. His solialso deprived the world of the commen tary wanderings were devoted to reflectary of a critic, who was as competent to tion, and frequently to the composition of appreciate the Greek orator as any man his themes; his social intercourse was that has lived since his day. Mr. Webster rendered profitable by literary conversaentered college in August, 1797. The tion. From gentlemen of the highest usual mode of travel was on horseback. respectability, who were classmates or Of course, his wardrobe and library were college acquaintances of Mr. Webster, I very limited. His dress was entirely of have the most decisive testimony to his domestic manufacture. One of his class high scholarship, his earnest devotion to mates under date of November 12, 1852, duty, and his unblemished morals. One says: “It is singular that I should re classmate writes: “Mr. Webster's habits, member any thing about his dress, re at college, were good. He had the highest specting which you inquire. This, how sense of honor and integrity. He was ever, was a matter of conversation in the

sure to understand the subject of his reciclass. For two years, he dressed like tation; sometimes, I used to think, in a other farmers' sons. But after the com more extended and comprehensive sense mencement of his junior year, he dressed than his teacher. He never liked to be decidedly better than the average of his confined to small technicalities or views; class, but not foppishly.”

With respect

but seemed to possess an intuitive knowto his habits of study, respect for law, and ledge of whatever subject he was considdevotion to the required exercises of col ering. He did not find it necessary, as lege, Mr. Webster's character has been was the case with most of us, to sit down grossly misrepresented. I have learned to hard work three or four hours to make this from his own lips, as well as from himself master of his lesson, but seemed many of his college associates. Tradition to comprehend it in a larger view, and represents him as indifferent to the severer would, sometimes, procure other books on studies of the collegiate course, devoting the same subject, for further examination, much time to general reading, and to his and employ hours in close thought, either favorite amusements of hunting and fish in his room or in his walks, which would ing. I have reason to know that his re enlarge his views and, at the same time, putation, as a scholar, was very dear to might with some give him the character him; that he felt as keenly the thought of not being a close student. He was a less misrepresentation propagated by in favorite with the class generally ; interterested idlers, respecting his student life, esting and instructive in conversation; as he did the malicious assaults of inter social and very kind in his feelings; not ested partisans, upon his official acts. It intimate with many. His compositions has been so commonly reported, about our and college themes, exercises in the socicolleges, that Webster was not a labori ety and occasional orations, all showed the ous student, that many gentlemen who marks of great genius, and thorough study have written eulogies upon the illustrious of history and politics, for one of his statesman and orator, have felt bound to years." This gentleman was an intimate apologize for him as a scholar. This is friend of Mr. Webster, and still retains all wrong. His early life was as strongly more than fifty letters of his, written characterized by those homely virtues, in during his student life. He often wrote

to his friends in poetry. Some of these together, and men together; and now we epistles are perfect gems of their kind, are growing old together; but you always written in his happiest moods, and with occupy the same place in my rememthe warm, gushing affections of his great brance and good wishes." Mr. Webster heart. Many of them are confidential, never forgot an early friend. The terms and will never meet the public eye. of endearment employed by him, in adOthers are playful and humorous ; and, dressing them, during the last years of perhaps, on that account, will be excluded his life, are as cordial and affectionate as from the biography of the great states those employed in his youth. Another man. Another classmate, under date of classmate of Mr. Webster, in a recent November 12, 1852, writes as follows: letter to me says: “ Mr. Webster's ha“In a class of about thirty, Webster, bits of study were good. I never knew from the beginning, was one of the best him to waste the hours of study. He scholars. But, for two years, I doubt was constant at the recitation, and always whether he was singled out as the best by well prepared. You ask, how did be any authority. As the class gave more

recite ?'To the best of my recollection, attention to English branches, the latter always well-no one before him. He was part of the sophomore year, and the junior peculiarly industrious. le read more year, Webster's character, particularly as than any one of his classmates and rea writer and extemporaneous speaker, be

membered all. He would accomplish came developed; and he was unquestion more business in a given time than any ably the best belles-lettres scholar in the one of his associates. You ask, “how did class. The fact that when a junior, he he rank ?' I say the first in his class, was appointed to deliver a Fourth of July and so would four-fifths of the class say. oration to the villagers, shows in what es He was good in every branch of study, timation he was held as a writer. Ile and as a writer and speaker he had no also wrote a long dialogue or drama of an equal. The truth is, that, by his thorough hour or two in length, which the society investigation of every, subject and every with which he was connected exhibited study, whilst in college, together with his on the evening of commencement at the giant mind, he rose to the very pinnacle close of his junior year.” This gentleman of fame; and since he left college, all he also knew him intimately, and corres had to do was to sustain his elevated posiponded with him for many years. The tion and fame would roll in upon him early letters of Mr. Webster which he has from all quarters; and all his classmates preserved show the depth and sincerity have been compelled to look up high to of his friendship, whose fires he never suf see him, which I have always been proud fered to expire, and even kindled them to do.” This language shows us that the anew but a short time before his decease. friendship formed, before their majority; The tone of these early letters is some between the prospective clergyman and times grave and sometimes gay; but no lawyer, has not been broken by lapse of one of them is destitute of instruction. In years or diversity of pursuits, nor chilled all his youthful correspondence are found by the frosts of age. Another eminent elevated sentiment and well-digested divine, who knew Mr. Webster well in opinions which would not dishonor his college, says: As a classical and bellesriper years. An extract of two or three lettres scholar, and as a speaker and desentences from letters written at widely bater, he stood far above all the other different periods, will show the character members in the college. Though young, istic sincerity of Mr. Webster's friend he gave such unequivocal evidence of a ship.

powerful genius, that some, I remember, In 1803, he wrote to his young predicted his future eminence.” Another friend :

gentleman who has occupied the highest “I thank you for the expressions of official stations in his native State, and friendship your letter contained, and for held a seat in the Senate with Mr. Webthe assurance that a part of your time is ster, though an opponent in politics, writes devoted to me. At this period of our ac from his own knowledge as follows: quaintance. I need not tell you what plea "He was so decidedly beyond any one sure I received from your letters; nor else, that no other student in his class with what exultation my heart glows was ever spoken of as second to him. The under the impression, that our early con students who knew him best, and judged genial attachinents will never be sunder of his merit impartially, felt that no one ed.” To the same gentleman, in 1849, he connected with the college, at the time of wrote: " It gives me very true pleasure his graduation, deserved to be compared to hear from you, and to learn that you with him. His habits and moral charare well. Years have not abated my af

were entirely stainless. I never fectionate regard. We have been boys

We have been boys heard them questioned, during our college



acquaintance." A gentleman who was connected with the college as a teacher, when Mr. Webster was graduated, says that he was as regular as the sun; always in his place, and with a decorum suited to it. He had no collision with any one, nor appeared to enter into the concerns of others, but, emphatically, minded his own business." The testimony respecting his contempt of disorder, his reverence for the Sabbath and its solemn services, his respect for authority, and his uniformly dignified deportment at all times, is equally full and explicit. I have not yet found the first witness (and I have questioned many), who can point out a single action, in the student life of Daniel Webster, which would be derogatory to the character of a Christian gentleman. He is represented as being above the suspicion of any the least violation of the rules of decorum; so much so, that one of his classmates says, he should as soon have suspected John Wheelock, the President, of disorderly conduct as Dániel Webster. With this character of the young student, all his early compositions correspond. During the last two years of his college life, he made frequent contributions to a newspaper published at that time in Hanover. His earliest published productions evince an elevation of thought and a solemnity of style above his years. His first printed composition is on "Hope." It is written both in prose and verse.

This passage occurs in it: * Through the whole journey of man's life, however deplorable his condition, Hope still irradiates his path and saves him from sinking into wretchedness and despair. Thanks to Heaven, that human nature is endowed with such an animating principle! When man is reduced to the lowest spoke of fortune's wheel; when the hard hand of pinching poverty binds him to the dust; when sickness and disease prey upon his body; yea, when meagre death approaches him, what then supports and buoys him over the abyss of misery ?

Tis Hope.” The close is as follows: “But ' first of all, go ask the dying soul whose all, whose only portion lies, beyond the narrow confines of this earthly realm, how thus he can support affliction's weight, and grapple with the mighty foe of man. He says 'tis faith, 'tis Hope.

* By these he penetrates death's dreary vale,

And lol a blest eternity appears."

The next published article is on “Charity." A short extract will show its character.

* Let hate and discord vanish at thy sight,
And every fibre of the human breast
Be tuned to genuine sympathy and love.
When thou in smiles descendest from the skies,
VOL. 1.-34

Celestial radiance shines around thy path,
And happiness, attendant on thy steps,
Proclaims, in cheerful accents, thine approach."

His early poetic compositions are all
redolent of the truths of God's word.
The religious instruction with which his
pious parents “trained him up” from in-
fancy, made an indelible impression upon
his intellect and heart. One poem of con
siderable length, in blank verse, contains
the whole history of human redemption.
Two extracts, one from the opening, and
the other from the close, will reveal the
character of the entire composition.
" When that grand period in the eternal mind,
Long predetermined, had arrived, behold
The universe, this most stupendous mass
of things, to instant being rose. This globe,
For light and heat dependent on the sun,
By power supreme was then ordained to roll
And on its surface bear immortal Max,
Complete in blise, the image of his God.
His soul, to gentle harmonies attuned,
Th'ungovern'd rage of boisterous passions knew not.
Malice, revenge, and hate, were then unknown;
Love held its empire in the human heart-
The voice of love alone escaped the lip,
And gladdening nature echoed back the strain.
Oh, happy statel too happy to remain;
Temptation comes, and man a victim falls!
Farewell to peace, farewell to human bliss,
Farewell, ye kindred virtues, all farewell!
Ye flee the world, and seek sublimer realms.
Passions impetuous now possess the heart,
And hurry every gentler feeling thence.
Is it now asked why man for slanghter pants,
Raves with revenge, and with detraction burns !
Go ask of Ætna why her thunders roar,
Why her volcanoes smoke, and why she pour
In torrents down her side the igneous mass
That hurries men and cities to the tomb !
These but the effects of bursting fires within,
Convulsions that are hidden from our sight,
And bellow under ground. Just so in man;
The love of conquest and the lust of power
Are but the effects of passion unsubduel.
T'avert the effects, then deeply strike the cause,
O'ercome the rage of passion, and obtain
The empire over self. This once achieved,
Impress fair virtue's precepts on the heart,
Teach t'adore his God, and love his brother;
War then no more shall raise the rude aların,
Widows and orphans then shall sigh no more,
Peace shall return, and man again be bless'd."

Near the commencement of his senior year,

Mr. Webster was called to mourn the death of a classmate to whom he was warmly attached. During his illness, he alludes to him with great solicitude. To a friend he said: “My first object is to inquire about Simonds. Oh that I could be assured that he is recovering! But perhaps that is a happiness never to be allowed us. Let our prayers ascend together for his well-being."

After the decease of his friend, he was invited to pronounce his eulogy, which was published. In that he takes occasion to speak in the highest terms of the Christian character of the deceased. “To surviving friends," he said, "gladdening is the reflection, that he died, as he lived, a firm believer in the sublime doctrines of Christianity. *


* Whoever knew him in life, or saw him in death, will com

dially address this honorable testimony close his eyes on the pillow of religious to his memory, —

hope, and sink to repose in the bosom of his • He taught us how to live, and oh, too high

Maker? Why, then, is the object of our exThe price of knowledge, taught us how to die.'” istence unattained? Why does man relent He then discourses, at length, upon the

less draw the sword to spill the blood of

man! Why are the fairest countries on power of religion to sustain and console

earth desolated and depopulated with the the believer, in scenes of sorrow, persecu ravages of war? Why are the annals of tion, and death. The thoughts and style the world crowded with the details of murof the whole eulogy are such as might der, treason, sacrilege, and crimes, that have been expected from the pen of Jer strike the soul with horror but to name emy Taylor, rather than from a youth of them? Oh, corrupted nature! Oh, deeighteen years. After listening to the praved man! Those who are delighted warm commendations of a classmate, he

with tales of bloodshed and destruction remarked, “If the funeral oration be find a rich repast in the daily accounts thought decent, I am contented; equal to

from Europe, where the subject it is not. The death of Si Gigantic slaughter stalks with awful strides, monds was a theme on which the first

And vengeful fury pours her copious tides' writers ought to be proud to point their

But to the child of humanity, to the man pens. Hei mihi, qualis erat!'

of true benevolence, it is a sad and painful He loved his young friends with the

reflection, that iniquity should usurp the intensity and sincerity of woman's affec

reign of justice, that the liberties and the

lives of millions should be sacrificed to s&tion. In his heart there was a native

tiate the ambition of individuals, and that gentleness, which shrunk instinctively

tyrants should wade through seas of blood from all rudeness to others, or thought

to empire and dominion. War, under cerless trifling with their feelings.

tain circumstances is proper, is just. When A little incident in his college life hap men take arms to burst those chains which pily illustrates this trait in his character. have bound them in slavery, to assert and A fellow-student had a fond conceit of his maintain those privileges, which they justly own powers as a poet. He measured his claim as natural rights, their object is noble, verses with a pair of dividers. The man

and we wish them success." ufacture of an acrostic was quite original, The whole essay is of a like tenor; and entirely mechanical. After marking and in reading it, we are forced to exclaim, the termini of the lines, he placed at the for the thousandth time, “How forcible beginning of them those words whose

are right words!” inicial letters would make the required From all the statesmen and patriots of name; and at the end words in pairs, that

the world, Mr. Webster selected Washwould rhyme with each other, and then

ington as his model to study and imitate. filled (or stuffed, as the phrase was) the In one of his earliest poetic compositions, intermediate spaces.

Of course, such a there is found a beautiful apostrophe to poet had frequent calls for public recita “the Father of his Country.” tions. Mr. Webster pitied his simplicity,

“Ah, Washington! thou once didst guide the helm, and, in company with a friend, called on

And point each danger to our infant realm; the poet, and revealed to him the true Didst show the gulf where Faction's tempests sweep state of public sentiment. The deluded

And the big thunders frolic o'er the deep;

Through the red wave didst lead our bark, nor stood youth very promptly informed them that Like Moses, on the other side the flood. they were envious of his fame, and only

But thou art gone-yes, gone

and we deplora

The man, the Washington, we knew before. designed to injure him."

But when thy spirit mounted to the sky, “Nullum ultra verbum, aut operam insumebat

And scarce beneath thee left a tearless eye

Tell! what Elisha then thy mantle caught inanem, Quin sine rivali seque, et sua solus amaret."

Warm'd with thy virtue with thy wisdom fraught." Mr. Webster early manifested a deep

The question that interested the youthseated aversion to cruelty, oppression, and

ful poet has been once solved; and we An extract from an essay published

are now prepared to repeat it, with penby him, in his seventeenth year, shows sive earnestness, over the tomb of Webhow early in life he entertained pacific

ster. The recorded opinions of his early sentiments.

life furnish abundant proof of his rooted ** Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war!'

aversion to war, and his warm devotion

to peace. He often wrote upon political "For what was man created, but to cul.

topics. tivate the arts of peace and friendship, to

The young student discoursed beam charity and benevolence on all around

ably and eloquently upon those very subhim, to improve his own mind by study

jects which afterwards called forth the and reflection, to serve his God with all the mightiest energies of the peerless orator powers of his soul, and finally, when the and statesman. The Constitution and days of tais years are numbered, to bid the Union were as dear to him at sevenadieu to eartily objects with a smile, to teen as at seventy. At the age of eigh



teen he wrote a political letter to a friend, the “United Fraternity” and Social which was published in the Dartmouth Friends." They were then secret sociGazette, from which I will copy a para eties, and embraced a majority of the graph.

members of college. The Fraternity was " Internally secure, we have nothing to somewhat depressed. Mr. Webster befear.

Let Europe pour her embattled came its champion, and gave it a more millions around us; let her thronged co elevated position in the college. The re horts cover our shores from the St. Law cords of that society have been mutilated, rence to the St. Mary's, yet United Co and the manuscript oration of Mr. Weblumbia shall stand unmoved; the manes ster, which was delivered by him at the of her deceased Washington shall still time of his graduation, before the society, guard the liberties of his country and di has been purloined by some literary thief, rect the sword of freedom in the day of who ought to be disfranchised from the rebattle. Heaven grant that the bonds of public of letters. our federal union may be strengthened ;

" Is intestabilis et sacer esto." that Gallic emissaries and Gallic principles may be spurned from our land; that

The records, so far as they exist, contraitors may be abashed, and that the

tain the following entries respecting Mr.

Webster:stars and stripes of United Columbia may wave triumphant !” Two years later he

“His initiation occurred Nov. 7, 1797. wrote as follows:-"Our constitution has "The society met, according to adjournleft, it is true, a wide field for the exer

ment, at Brother Webster's room, Nov. 21,

1797." tions of popular intrigue, while it has

“At the election of officers, Aug. 14, 1798, strongly fortified against executive en

Freshman Webster was chosen 'Inspector croachments. This is the general nature

of Books.'' and construction of governments perfectly

“May 7, 1799, Sophomore Webster was free. They are much better secured

chosen Librarian.'" against tyranny than against licentious “Aug. 20, 1799, Messrs. Webster & Brack

Yet it has been said, with as much ett were chosen to write ‘a Dialogue' for truth as eloquence, that 'the thunderbolt exhibition at the next commencement.' of despotism is not more fatal to public “Oct. 15, 1799, Voted to deposit in the liberty than the earthquake of popular archives of the United Fraternity an Oracommotion.' It would be a phenomenon

tion delivered by Junior Webster." in history; it would be like a comet which

Nov. 25, 1799. A voluntary oration

from Brother Webster elosed the exercises." appears but once in a hundred centuries, if there should be found a government ad

“Dee. 3, 1799. 'An oration from Brother

Webster opened the meeting.' vancing to despotism by regular and pro

May 27,

1800. At the choosing of offigressive encroachment. The path of des

cers, Junior Webster was “Vice-President.'» potism leads through the mire and dirt

May 19, 1800. Junior Webster was apof uncontrolled democracy. When this pointed Orator' for the ensuing comgovernment falls, it will owe its destruc

mencement.” tion to some administration that sets out “Oct. 7, 1800. An oration on 'ambition,' in its career with much adulation of the by Brother Webster, completed the exersovereign people, much profession of economy and reform, and it will then pro

“Nov. 25, 1800. Daniel Webster was ceed to prostrate the fairest institutions

elected President of the Society." of government by the pretext of saving The entire record of Mr. Webster's seexpense, but really with the purpose of nior year is lost. His labors during that destroying constitutional checks."

year are said to have exceeded those of Poetry was a favorite species of com the three preceding years. It should be position with Mr. Webster while in col remembered also, that it was not the cus lege. Besides his contributions to the tom of the secretary to record the names press and poetic epistles to his friends, he of the speakers who participated in the often wrote in verse for public exhibitions. extemporaneous debates, which at that Early in his college course, he wrote his period were very frequent. Here Mr. own declamations for the stage, while Webster was unanimously admitted to be others were permitted to speak selected facile princeps; and, so far as the society pieces. A classmate of his informs me that or college was concerned, it might with he remembers one poetic composition truth be said: which he spoke, of which every line ended “ Unde nil majus generatur ipso, in i-o-n.

Nec viget quidquam simile, aut secundum." Mr. Webster also took a prominent part At a public exhibition of his class, in in the exercises of the literary society of the Sophomore year,

a poem” was aswhich he was a member. There existed signed to Mr. Webster, which he wrote at that time an intense rivalry between and recited. My informant further re


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