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Select Speeches of Daniel Webster, 1817-1845   By: (1782-1852)

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SELECT SPEECHES OF DANIEL WEBSTER

1817 1845

WITH PREFACE, INTRODUCTION, AND NOTES BY

A. J. GEORGE, A.M.

Instructor in Rhetoric and English Literature in the Newton, Mass., High School

"The front of Jove himself; An eye like Mars to threaten and command; A combination and a form indeed, Where every god did seem to set his seal, To give the world assurance of a man"

Boston, U.S.A. D.C. Heath & Co., Publishers 1903

TO THE HON. GEORGE F. HOAR, LL.D. A WORTHY SUCCESSOR OF DANIEL WEBSTER IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

Blest Statesman He, whose Mind's unselfish will Leaves him at ease among grand thoughts: whose eye Sees that, apart from magnanimity, Wisdom exists not; nor the humbler skill Of Prudence, disentangling good and ill With patient care. What tho' assaults run high, They daunt not him who holds his ministry, Resolute, at all hazards, to fulfil Its duties; prompt to move, but firm to wait; Knowing, things rashly sought are rarely found; That, for the functions of an ancient State Strong by her charters, free because imbound, Servant of Providence, not slave of Fate Perilous is sweeping change, all chance unsound.

Preface.

Burke and Webster are models in the forensic literature of our own language as truly as are Demosthenes and Cicero in the language of the ancient classics. Each has distinct and inimitable characteristics which give force and beauty to his work. The study of each should be ordered in such a way as to put one in touch with those qualities of mind and heart, of intellectual and moral manhood, by which each became a leader in political philosophy and a model in literary style. One who studies such authors in order to formulate a historical or a personal estimate merely, or to compare each as to certain externals of rhetorical form, has lost the true perspective of literary judgment.

Reading in the school and in the home is far too often pursued with a purpose to controvert and prove rather than to weigh and consider. Reading which does not result in enlarging, stimulating, and refining one's nature is but a busy idleness. The schools must see to it that the desultory and dissipating methods of reading, so prevalent in the home, are not encouraged. Pupils must be stimulated first of all to enjoy what is beautiful in nature and in art: for here is

"A world of ready wealth, Their minds and hearts to bless Spontaneous wisdom breathed by health, Truth breathed by cheerfulness."

The wisdom of the classroom is too often "art tongue tied by authority," and hence it is not wisdom at all, but a sham and a pretence. Not until pupils rise to the spontaneity which betokens a genuine love for the work in hand do they secure the richest results.

The publication of the masterpieces of the epic, the lyric, and the drama; of the novel, the essay, and the oration, in a convenient form and at such a price as to bring them within the reach of our schools, makes it inexcusable if pupils are allowed to be ignorant of the great literary, ethical, and artistic impulses which have touched and quickened the life of the past.

Burke's American Orations present him at his best as a statesman, an orator, and a stylist. When the edition of those speeches was prepared, a selection from Webster's great speeches was contemplated as a companion volume. The present edition represents Webster in the various and distinct fields in which his genius manifested itself so powerfully and so nobly. He is here seen before a jury, before the Supreme Court of the United States, on a great historical occasion, in the Senate of the United States, in a great national canvass, and as a eulogist.

Had it not been for making the volume too large for school use I should have included the famous speech delivered in the Senate on the 7th of March, 1850. This speech has been considered by many as the vulnus immedicabile of Mr... Continue reading book >>




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