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manner and to an extent, most propitious for his own fame, and for the honor and benefit of his country; presenting at once a splendid model of the character developed under our republican institutions, and an illustrious instance of the power of character, thus developed, to preserve and improve those institutions.
To an extent of practice and a degree of success in the profession of the Law, rarely equalled in any age or country; to experience in public affairs as great as his years allow; to singular powers of conception, habits of discrimination, and the faculty of popular reasoning such as renders his eloquence peculiar, and gives it in a great degree a character of its own ; to large and liberal views of things; to a surprising familiarity with the great features of our own domestic and foreign policy since the foundation of the government, and with the course of other governments,—to all these traits of Mr. WEBSTER's character and history, we are, by a coincidence as uncommon as it is admirable, permitted to add the most pure and honorable principle, all the domestic and social virtues, containing in themselves the only certain pledges of public good faith and love of country, and consecrating the man to the affections of his age and of posterity.
We look upon it as eminently fortunate, for the country and for mankind, that such a man has not merely left the impress of his mind on the professional and official transactions in which he has been engaged, but has already found occasion to secure a perpetual memorial of many of his opinions upon our history, institutions, and principal objects of legislation and jurisprudence; as well as a monument of his patriotic and humane sentiments, in the literature of his country. Of other individuals of splendid genius, and powerful influence in their day, death has left an impalpable shadow only, with posterity. Mr. Webster, should he be cut off without another opportunity of exerting his powers for the benefit of the public or his friends, cannot thus pass from the memory of men. He would still be to be seen, in the true features of his character, in those productions of his mind, which are already before the public.
In conclusion we may be permitted to add, that several of the speeches and addresses contained in this volume, possessing a character of more permanent and general interest, have been translated and published in most of the languages of Europe. And we are not without authority for saying, that they have been regarded, by men of enlightened judgments and cultivated taste, as fine examples of forensic and popular eloquence. In the language of one of the most eminent statesmen of England, some of these speeches have been read in that country, with “no less admiration of their eloquence, than satisfaction in the soundness and ability of their general views.” This tribute, coming as it does from those who are not apt to over-estimate the intellectual power or literary taste of our country, may be regarded by us, with an honest pride, as evidence of uncommon merit. As such, we offer this volume of Mr. WEBSTER's speeches to our countrymen, in full confidence that they will sustain the high reputation they have acquired for political wisdom and true eloquence.
DELIVERED AT PLYMOUTH, IN COMMEMORATION OF THE FIRST
SETTLEMENT OF NEW ENGLAND. DEC. 22, 1820.
Let us rejoice that we behold this day. Let us be thankful that we have lived to see the bright and happy breaking of the auspicious morn, which commences the third century of the history of New England. Auspicious indeed; bringing a happiness beyond the common allotment of Providence to men; full of present joy, and gilding with bright beams the prospect of futurity, is the dawn that awakens us to the commemoration of the landing of the Pilgrims.
Living at an epoch which naturally marks the progress of the history of our native land, we have come hither to celebrate the great event with which that history commenced. Forever honored be this, the place of our fathers' refuge! Forever remembered the day which saw them, weary and distressed, broken in everything but spirit, poor in all but faith and courage, at last secure from the dangers of wintry seas, and impressing this shore with the first footsteps of civilized man!
It is a noble faculty of our nature which enables us to connect our thoughts, our sympathies, and our happiness, with what is distant, in place or time; and, looking before and after, to hold communion at once with our ancestors and our posterity. Human and mortal although we are, we are nevertheless not mere insulated beings, without relation to the past or the future. Neither the point of time, nor the spot of earth, in which we physically live, bounds our rational and intellectual enjoyments. We live in the past by a knowledge of its history; and in the future by hope and anticipation. By ascending to an association with our ancestors; by contemplating their example and studying their character; by partaking their sentiments, and imbibing their spirit; by accompanying them in their toils, by sympathizing in their sufferings, and rejoicing in their successes and their triumphs, we mingle our own existence with theirs, and seem to belong to their age. We become their contemporaries, live the lives which they lived, endure what they endured, and partake in the rewards which they enjoyed. And in like manner, by running along the line of future time, by contemplating the probable fortunes of those who are coming after us; by attempt