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has secured to him, it is his solace in life, and it may well be his consolation in death, that his country stands pledged, by the faith which it has plighted to all its citizens, to protect his children from ignorance, barbarism and vice." p. 211.
How Mr. Webster's education was advanced immediately after he left these primary schools, is, we believe, not known. It was, however, with great sacrifices on the part of his family, and severe struggles on his own. At last, when he was fifteen or sixteen years old, after a very imperfect preparation, he was entered at Dartmouth College ; at least, so we infer, for he was graduated there in 1801. What were his principal or favourite pursuits during the three or four years of his academic life, we do not know. We remember, however, to have met formerly, one of his classmates, who spoke with the liveliest interest of the generous and delightful spirit he showed among his earliest friends and competitors, in the midst of whom, he manifested, from the first, aspirations entirely beyond his condition, and, when the first year was passed, developed faculties which left all rivalship far behind him. Indeed, it is known, in many ways, that, by those who were acquainted with him at this period of his life, he was already regarded as a marked man; and that, to the more sagacious of them, the honours of his subsequent career have not been unexpected.
Immediately after leaving college, he began the study of the law in the place of his nativity, with Mr. Thompson, soon afterwards a member of Congress; a gentleman who, from the elevation of his character, was able to comprehend that of his pupil and contribute to unfold its powers. But the res augustæ domi pressed hard upon him. He was compelled to exert himself for his own support; and his professional studies were frequently interrupted and impaired by pursuits, which ended only in obtaining what was needful for his mere subsistence.
Circumstances connected with his condition and wants at this time, led him to Boston, and carried him, when there, into the office of Mr. Gore. This was, undoubtedly, one of the deciding circumstances of his life. Mr. Gore was a lawyer of eminence, and a gentleman, in the loftiest and most generous meaning of the word. His history was already connected with that of the country. He had been appointed district attorney of the United States for Massachusetts, by Washington; he had served in England as our commissioner under Jay's treaty; and he was afterwards governor of his native state, and its senator in Congress. His whole character, private, political, and professional, from its elevation, purity and dignity, was singularly fitted to influence a young man of quick and generous feelings, who already perceived within himself the impulse of talents and the stirrings of an ambition whose direction was yet to be determined. Mr. Webster felt, that it was well for him to be there; and Mr. Gore obtained an influence over his young mind, which the peculiarly kind and frank manners of the instructer permitted early to ripen into an intimacy and friendship that were interrupted only by death.
Mr. Webster finished the study of his profession in Boston, and was there admitted to the bar in 1805;~Mr. Gore, who presented him, venturing, at the time, to make a prediction to the court respecting his pupil's future eminence, which has been hardly more than fulfilled by all his present fame. At first, he began the practice of his profession in Boscawen, a small village adjacent to the place of his birth; but in 1807, he removed to Portsmouth, where, no doubt, he thought he was establishing himself for life.
As a young lawyer, about to lay the foundations for future success, his portion could, perhaps, hardly have been rendered more fortunate and happy than it was now in Portsmouth. He rose rapidly in general regard, and was, therefore, almost at once, ranked with the first in his profession in his native state. course, his associations and intercourse were with the first minds. And, happily for one like him, the presiding judge of the highest tribunal in New Hampshire was then Mr. Smith, afterwards governor of the state, whose native clearness of perception, acuteness, and power, united to faithful and accurate learning in his profession, and the soundest and most practical wisdom in the fulfilment of his duties on the bench, and in his intercourse with the bar, gave him naturally and necessarily great influence over its younger members. Mr. Webster, as the most prominent among them, came much in contact with him, and profited much from his sagacious foresight and wise and discriminating kindness. He came, too, still more in contact with Mr. Mason, afterwards a senator in Congress, and then and still the leading counsel in New Hampshire. Mr. Mason was his senior by several years, but there was no other adversary capable of encountering him; and the intellect with which Mr. Webster was thus called to contend on equal terms was one of the highest order, of ample resources, and of the quickest penetration ; whose original reach, firm grasp, and unsparing logic, left no safety for an adversary, but in a vigour, readiness and skill, which could never be taken unprepared or at disadvantage. It was a severe school ; but there is little reason to doubt, Mr. Webster owes to its stern and rugged discipline much of that intellectual training and power, which render him, in his turn, so formidable an adversary. He owes to it, also, notwithstanding their uniform and daily opposition in court, the no less uniform personal friendship of Mr. Mason in private life.
It was in the midst, however, of this period, both of discipline and success as a lawyer, in New Hampshire, that he entered public life. In the government of his native state, we believe, he never took office of any kind ; and his first political place, therefore, was in the thirteenth Congress of the United States. He was chosen in 1812, soon after the declaration of war; and as he was then hardly thirty years old, he must have been one of the youngest members of that important Congress. His position there was difficult, aand he felt it to be so. He was opposed to the policy of the war; he represented a state earnestly opposed to it; and he had always, especially in the eloquent and powerful memorial from the great popular meeting in Rockingham, expressed himself fully and frankly on the whole subject. But he was now called into the councils of the government, which was carrying on the war itself. He felt it to be his duty, therefore, to make no factious opposition to the measures essential to maintain the dignity and honour of the country ; to make no opposition for opposition's sake; though, at the same time, he felt it to be no less his duty, to take good heed that neither the constitution, nor the essential interests of the nation, were endangered or sacrificed-ne quid detrimenti respublica accipiat. This, indeed, seems to have been his motto up to the time of the peace; and his tone in relation to it is always manly, bold, and decisive. When Mr. Monroe's bill for a sort of conscription was introduced, he joined with Mr. Eppes, and other friends of the administration, in defeating a project, which, except in a moment of great anxiety and excitement, would probably have found no defenders. But when, on the other hand, the bill for "encouraging enlistments” was before the house, he held, in January 1814, the following strong and striking language, in which, now the passions of that stormy period are hushed, all will sympathize.
“ The humble aid which it would be in my power to render to measures of government, shall be given cheerfully, if government will pursue measures which I can conscientiously support. If, even now, failing in an honest and sincere attempt to procure a just and honourable peace, it will return to measures of defence and protection, such as reason, and common sense, and the public opinion, all call for, my vote shall not be withholden from the means. Give up your futile projects of invasion. Extinguish the fires that blaze on your inland frontiers. Establish perfect safety and defence there by adequate force. Let every man that sleeps on your soil sleep in security. Stop the blood that flows from the veins of unarmed yeomanry, and women and children. Give to the living time to bury and lament their dead, in the quietness of private sorrow. Having performed this work of beneficence and mercy on your inland border, turn, and look with the eye of justice and compassion on your vast population along the coast. Unclench the iron grasp of your embargo. Take measures for that end before another sun sets upon you. With all the war of the enemy on your commerce, if you would cease to make war upon it yourselves, you would still have some commerce. That commerce would give you some reve. nue. Apply that revenue to the augmentation of your navy. That navy, in turn, will protect your commerce. Let it no longer be said, that not one ship of force, built by your hands since the war, yet floats upon the ocean. Turn the current of your efforts into the channel, which national sentiment has already
* These are the last words of the speech; and the sentiment they contain in favour of a navy and naval protection, has been maintained with great earnest ness by Mr. Webster for nearly thirty years, on all public occasions. In an ora
party consisting almost entirely of friends of the administration, who wished for a bank, provided it were such a one as they thought would not only regulate the currency of the country, and facilitate the operations of the government, but also afford present and important aid by heavy loans, which the bank was to be compelled to make, and to enable it to do which, it was to be relieved from the necessity of paying its notes in specie ;in other words, it was a party that wished to authorize and establish a paper currency for the whole country. The third party wished for a bank with a moderate capital, compelled always to redeem its notes with specie, and at liberty to judge for itself, when it would, and when it would not, make loans to the government.
The second party, of course, was the one that introduced into Congress the project for a bank at this time. The bill was originally presented to the Senate ; and its main features were, that the bank should absorb a large amount of the depreciated public debt of the United States, and grant to the government heavy loans on the security of a similar debt to be created ; that its capital should consist of fifty millions of dollars, of which five millions only were to be specie, and the rest depreciated government securities; and that the bank, when required, should lend the government thirty millions. At the time when this plan was brought forward, all the numerous state banks south of New-England had refused to redeem their notes, or, as it was called “to ears polite,” had “suspended specie payments,” in consequence of which, their notes had fallen in value from 10 to 25 per cent., and specie, of course, had risen proportionally in value, and disappeared from circulation entirely. To afford the contemplated national bank any chance for carrying on its operations, or even for beginning them, it was to be authorized “to suspend specie payments," which meant, that it was to be authorized never to begin them ; for, without this authority, their specie would be drained the moment their notes should be issued equal to its amount. On the other hand, all the taxes and revenues of the government were to be receivable in the paper of the bank, however much it might fall in value. In short, the whole scheme was one of those vast Serbonian bogs, where, from the days of Laws's Mississippi Company, armies whole of legislators and projectors have sunk, without leaving even a monument behind them to warn their followers of their fate.
We must not, however, be extravagantly astonished, that a project which we now know was in its nature so wild and dangerous, should have found favourers and advocates. The finances of the country were then in a critical, and even distressing position; and all men were anxious to devise some means to relieve VOL. IX.-NO. 18.