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always attends fulness of emotion. From the sea of upturned faces before him, the orator beheld his thoughts reflected as from a mirror. The varying countenance, the suffused eye, the earnest smile, the everattentive look, assured him of his audience's entire sympathy. Mf among his hearers there were those who affected at first an indifference to his glowing thoughts and fervent periods, the difficult mask was soon laid aside, and profound, undisguised, devoted attention followed. In the earlier part of his speech, one of his principal opponents seemed deeply engrossed in the careful perusal of a newspaper he held before his face; but this, on nearer approach, proved to be upside down. In truth, all, sooner or later, voluntarily, or in spite of themselves, were wholly car. ried away by the eloquence of the orator.

Those who had doubted Mr. Webster's ability to cope with and overcome his opponents were fully satisfied of their error before he had proceeded far in his speech. Their fears soon took another direction. When they heard his sentences of powerful thought, towering in accumulative grandeur, one above the other, as if the orator strove, Titan. like, to reach the very heavens themselves, they were giddy with an apprehension that he would break down in his flight. "They dared not believe that genius, learning, and intellectual endowment however uncommon, that was simply mortal, could sustain itself long in a career seemingly so perilous. They feared an Icarian fall.


“What New England heart was there but throbbed with vehement, tumultuous, irrepressible emotion, as he dwelt upon New England suf. ferings, New England struggles, and New England triumphs during the war of the Revolution ? There was scarcely a dry eye in the Senate; all hearts were overcome; grave judges and men grown old in dignified life turned aside their heads, to conceal the evidences of their emotion.

“In one corner of the gallery was clustered a group of Massachusetts men. They had hung from the first moment upon the words of the speaker, with feelings variously but always warmly excited, deepening in intensity as he proceeded. At first, while the orator was going through his exordium, they held their breath and hid their faces, mind. ful of the savage attack upon him and New England, and the fearful odds against him, her champion ;-as he went deeper into his speech, they felt easier; when he turned Hayne's flank on Banquo's ghost, they breathed freer and deeper. But now, as he alluded to Massachusetts, their feelings were strained to the highest tension; and when the orator, concluding his encomium of the land of their birth, turned, intentionally or otherwise, his burning eye full upon them, they shed tears like girls !

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“No one who was not present can understand the excitement of the

No one who was, can give an adequate description of it. No word-painting can convey the deep, intense enthusiasm, the reverential attention, of that vast assembly, nor limner transfer to canvas their earnest, eager, awe-struck countenances. Though language were as subtile and flexible as thought, it still would be impossible to represent the full idea of the scene. There is something intangible in an emotion, which cannot be transferred. The nicer shades of feeling elude pursuit. Every description, therefore, of the occasion, seems to the narrator him. self most tame, spiritless, unjust.

“ Much of the instantaneous effect of the speech arose, of course, from the orator's delivery, — the tones of his voice, his countenance, and

These die mostly with the occasion that calls them forth; the impression is lost in the attempt at transmission from one mind to another. They can only be described in general terms. Of the effec. tiveness of Mr. Webster's manner in many parts,' says Mr. Everett, 'it would be in vain to attempt to give any one not present the faintest idea. It has been my fortune to hear some of the ablest speeches of the greatest living orators on both sides of the water, but I must confess I never heard any thing which so completely realized my conception of what Demosthenes was when he delivered the Oration for the Crown.'


“ The variety of incident during the speech, and the rapid fluctuation of passions, kept the audience in continual expectation and ceaseless agitation. There was no chord of the heart the orator did not strike, as with a master-hand. The speech was a complete drama of comic and pathetic scenes; one varied excitement; laughter and tears gaining alternate victory.

“A great portion of the speech is strictly argumentative; an exposition of constitutional law. But grave as such portion necessarily is, severely logical, abounding in no fancy or episode, it engrossed throughout the undivided attention of every intelligent hearer.Abstractions, under the glowing genius of the orator, acquired a beauty, a vitality, a power to thrill the blood and enkindle the affections, awakening into earnest activity many a dormant faculty. His ponderous syllables had an energy, a vehemence of meaning in them, that fascinated, while they startled. His thoughts in their statuesque beauty merely would have gained all critical judgment; but he realized the antique fable, and warmed the marble into life. There was a sense of power in his lan. guage, - of power withheld and suggestive of still greater power, - that subdued, as by a spell of mystery, the hearts of all. For power, whether intellectual or physical, produces in its earnest development a feeling closely allied to awe. It was never more felt than on this occasion. It


pad entire mastery. The sex which is said to love it best, and abuse it most, seemed as much or more carried away than the sterner one. Many who had entered the hall with light, gay thoughts, anticipating at most a pleasurable excitement, soon became deeply interested in the speaker and his subject; surrendered him their entire heart; and when the speech was over, and they left the hall, it was with sadder, perhaps, but surely with far more elevated and ennobling emotions.

“ The exulting rush of feeling with which he went through the peroration threw a glow over his countenance, like inspiration. Eye, brow, each feature, every line of the face, seemed touched, as with a celestial fire.

“ The swell and roll of his voice struck upon the ears of the spellbound audience, in deep and melodious cadence, as waves upon the shore of the far-resounding' sea. The Miltonic grandeur of his words was the fit expression of his thought, and raised his hearers up to his theme. His voice, exerted to its utmost power, penetrated every recess or corner of the Senate, penetrated even the ante-rooms and stairways, as he pronounced in deepest tones of pathos these words of solemn significance : “When my eyes shall be turned to behold, for the last time, the sun in heaven, may I not see him shining on the broken and dishonored fragments of a once glorious Union; on States dissevered, discordant, belligerent; on a land rent with civil feuds, or drenched, it may be, in fraternal blood! Let their last feeble and lingering glance rather behold the gorgeous ensign of the republic, now known and honored throughout the earth, still full high advanced, its arms and trophies streaming in their original lustre, not a stripe erased or polluted, nor a single star obscured, bearing for its motto, no such miserable interrogatory as, “What is all this worth ? " nor those other words of delusion and folly, “ Liberty first and Union afterwards”; but everywhere, spread all over in characters of living light, blazing on all its ample folds, as they float over the sea and over the land, and in every wind under the whole heavens, that other sentiment, dear to every American heart, - LIBERTY AND UNION, NOW AND FOR EVER, ONE AND INSEPARABLE !!


“ The speech was over, but the tones of the orator still lingered upon the ear, and the audience, unconscious of the close, retained their positions. The agitated countenance, the heaving breast, the suffused eye, attested the continued influence of the spell upon them. Hands that, in the excitement of the moment, had sought each other, still remained closed in an unconscious grasp. Eye still turned to eye, to receive and repay mutual sympathy; and everywhere around seemed forgetfulness of all but the orator's presence and words.” — pp. 132 – 148. VOL. I.


After having spoken about three hours on the 26th of January, Mr. Webster gave way for an adjournment. He resumed and concluded the speech on the following day. During most of the time that he was speaking, Mr. Hayne occupied himself in taking notes, and rose to reply at the conclusion of Mr. Webster's argument. An adjournment was proposed by one of Mr. Hayne's friends, but he wisely determined to terminate all that he intended to say on the subject upon the spot. He accordingly addressed the Senate for about half an hour upon the constitutional question which formed the most important portion of Mr. Webster's speech. These remarks of Mr. Hayne were, in the newspaper report, expanded into an elaborate argument, which occupies nineteen pages in the register of Congressional debates. When Mr. Hayne sat down, Mr. Webster, in turn, rose to make a brief rejoinder. “ The gentleman,” said he, “has in vain attempted to reconstruct his shattered argument”; and this formidable exordium was followed up by a brief restatement of his own argument, which, for condensation, precision, and force, may be referred to as a specimen of parliamentary logic never surpassed. The art of reasoning on moral questions can go no further.

Thus terminated the day's great work. In the evening the Senatorial champions met at a friend's house, and exchanged those courteous salutations which mitigate the asperity of political collision, and prevent the conflicts of party from embittering social life.

The sensation produced by the great debate on those who heard it was but the earnest of its effect on the country at large. The length of Mr. Webster's speech did not prevent its being copied into the leading newspapers throughout the country. It was the universal theme of conversation. Letters of acknowledgment and congratulation from the most distinguished individuals, from politicians retired from active life, from entire strangers, from persons not sympathizing with all Mr. Webster's views, from distant parts of the Union, were addressed to him by every mail. Immense editions of the speech in a pamphlet form were called for. A proposal was made to the friends of Mr. Hayne to unite in the publication of a joint edition of the two speeches for general circulation throughout the country, but this offer was declined. Mr. Webster's friends in Boston published a pamphlet edition of the speeches of Mr. Hayne and Mr. Webster. It is no exaggeration to say, that throughout the country Mr. Webster's speech was regarded, not only as a brilliant and successful personal defence and a triumphant vindication of New England, but as a complete overthrow of the dangerous constitutional heresies which had menaced the stability of the Union.

In this light it was looked upon by a large number of the most distinguished citizens of New York, who took occasion to offer Mr. Webster the compliment of a public dinner the following winter. Circumstances delayed the execution of their purpose till some time had elapsed from the delivery of the speech, but the recollection of it was vivid, and it was referred to by Chancellor Kent, the president of the day, as the service especially demanding the grateful recognition of the country. After alluding to the debate on Foot's resolution and to the character of Mr. Webster's speech, the venerable Chancellor added :

“ The consequences of that discussion have been extremely beneficial. It turned the attention of the public to the great doctrines of national rights and national union. Constitutional law ceased to remain wrapped up in the breasts, and taught only by the responses, of the living oracles of the law. Socrates was said to have drawn down philosophy from the skies, and scattered it among the schools. It may with equal truth be said that constitutional law, by means of those senatorial discussions and the master genius that guided them, was rescued from the archives of our tribunals and the libraries of our lawyers, and placed under the eye and submitted to the judgment of the American people. Their verdict is with us, and from it there lies no appeal.

With respect to Mr. Foot's resolution it may be observed, that it continued before the Senate a long time, a standing subject of discussion. One half at least of the members of the Senate took part in the debate, which daily assumed a wider range and wandered farther from the starting-point. Many speeches were made which, under other circumstances, would have attracted notice, but the interest of the controversy expired with the great effort of the 26th and 27th of January. At length, on the 21st of May, a motion for indefinite postpone

Chancellor Kent's remarks are given entire in the introduction to Mr. Webster's Speech at the New York Dinner, Vol. I. p. 194.

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