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thousands were printed and sold before the joke was discovered. The Democrats were delighted—the Whigs furious, especially Mr. Greeley, of The Tribune, who had come over to hear Mr. Webster, and who bought several copies of the old speech, thinking it the new one. But Mr. Webster enjoyed it hugely; and when his friend, George Ashmun, handed him my Extra, he laughed heartily, and said, “I think Forney has printed a much better speech than the one I made last night." Was not that genuine manliness? The other incident happened after his defeat for the Whig nomination for President in 1852. I was then Clerk of the House of Representatives of the United States, and one of the editors of the Washington Union, published by that fine specimen of manhood, General Robert Armstrong, of Tennessee. Every body knew that Mr. Webster keenly felt his rejection by the party he had so honored and served. The brilliant effort of Rufus Choate to make him the candidate in the Baltimore Whig National Convention, though ineffectual to prevent the foreordained selection of the brave but vain-glorious Scott, had gone to the hearts of the people, adding not only to the grief of Mr. Webster's friends, but, as the result proved, to the forces of the Democrats, who were largely assisted by their old opponents in the ensuing election which made Franklin Pierce President. Indifferent to or ignorant of this fact, a large concourse of the Whigs of Washington City concluded to serenade Mr. Webster at his residence on Louisiana Avenue. I followed the procession. It was an exquisite moonlight summer evening. The crowd was dense; the music delicious; the cheers inspiring. A long time elapsed before the statesman appeared, and when he did he looked like another Coriolanus. Robed in his dressing-gown, he spoke a few minutes, but in a manner I shall never forget. His voice, always clear and sonorous, rolled with deeper volume over the crowd. There was no bitterness, but an inexpressible sadness in his words, and when he bade them good-night, and said he should sleep well and rise with the lark at the purpling of the dawn-dropping no syllable in favor of General Scott—the serenaders retired as if they had heard a funeral sermon. I walked to my
editorial den and wrote a leader on the scene, so full of the emptiness of human ambition and the ingratitude of political parties. The following verse from Byron closed the article :
“As the struck eagle, stretched upon the plain,
Drank the last life-blood of his bleeding breast.” Franklin Pierce succeeded to the Presidency in 1853, aided by many Old-line Whigs and by most of the Anti-slavery Democrats now in the Republican ranks. The political events of his administration are historical. Let me say a word about the man.
He was at once the kindest, most courteous, and most considerate public officer I ever knew. As President he was a model of high breeding. Receptive, cordial, hospitable to his political friends, he delighted to welcome his political adversaries, and to make them at home. Let me give one specimen of his liberality. It was my misfortune to differ from the Southern leaders at an early day, and they resolved to defeat my reelection as Clerk of the House. My mistaken “Forrest Letter" was made their pretext. I say mistaken, for, though I wrote it with the most honest purpose, I did not venture to defend the unjust but plausible construction that I had written it to obtain false testimony against a woman. My friends, and none more than Mr. Forrest himself, knew the motive that prompted me; but I have never stopped to explain it. That letter was seized upon by the Southern leaders, who knew my settled determination to resist the further encroachments of slavery; and they
used it with so much effect that my defeat was believed to be
On the night of the caucus, President Pierce sent for me and told me that he believed I could not be renominated, but that he was resolved, if I was not, to send my name into the Senate for an important mission to one of the South American States. I got through the struggle triumphantly, but I can never forget the act of the man who, in the darkest hour, extended his helping hand. Nor did his magnanimity stop here. Many of his adherents believed I ought to have supported him for President in 1856, when his name was used as a candidate for re-election; but he said: “I do not complain of you, my friend, for going with your State for Mr. Buchanan, whom you have known so long, though I fear you will be disappointed if he is President.” I could not approve the removal of Governor Reeder, of Kansas, for his refusal to help to make Kansas a slave State, in 1854, '5, any more than I could the removal by Mr. Buchanan of Governor Walker, in 1858, for his refusal to sanction the Lecompton frauds; but how different the toleration of Pierce from the persecution of his successor. While the whole Democratic press was denouncing Reeder and applauding his removal, President Pierce did not ask me to join in the crusade against my friend, and the Washington Union, of which I was then the editor, contained no line from my pen against him. Five years later I was proscribed and hunted down, simply because I would not sanction a proceeding far more despotic and unjust. While I was in the midst of this struggle with the Administration of Mr. Buchanan, I visited New England to see ex-President Pierce. He was, as usual, in earnest sympathy with the extreme South; but he received me and treated me like a brother, and the day I spent with him lives in my memory like a picture painted by angel hands.
As I find leisure I will try to give you a few more anecdotes of the public men I have met or known, or heard others speak of. These recollections will be free from personal or partisan prejudice. I propose to show that many of those who have served the State, however abused and misrepresented, were not without the elements of a true humanity.
January 15, 1871.]
There is no habit of modern education so happy as that of keeping a regular diary of events. It provides the choicest
all historical material. Pleasant to cultivate, it constitutes the most profitable and pleasant of all our reading. From Pepys, in 1669, to Crabb Robinson, in 1869, with the intermediate works of Barrington, Boswell's Johnson, and Walpole's Letters-nothing survives so entirely the wreck and waste of time as these daily and delightful records of human experience. It is said that the journal of John Quincy Adams is the best monument of his stupendous industry. He kept it during all the working years of his working life. Reared to scholarship, diplomacy, and statecraft, he began it with his youth, and to the final hour, when he exclaimed, “This is the last of earth,” ob. served the custom. The rare summary of the second President of a really great family, covering nearly two generations, has not yet seen the light, and will not, I understand, till most of the actors of whom it treats, doubtless with caustic freedom, have been gathered to their fathers. Other Presidents and statesmen were not so industrious, with perhaps the possible exception of Mr. Buchanan, whose biography has not appeared, owing to unexpected events. When it is published, we have his own pledge that it will be unstained by the use of any private correspondence, as we have the assurance from the high abilities of Hon. W.B. Reed, the gentleman selected to prepare
it, that it will be a production of consummate interest. The diary of Mr. Buchanan will be a treasure to his historian.
One realizes the broad distinction between memory and memoranda, in the attempt to make the one a substitute for the other. The written record of a Life, which is a photograph of every day's doings, is incomparably superior to the faded and fading images of the mind. Hence the failure of those who give dates and names from their unaided recollections. If I do not fall into this error in these familiar sketches, it will be because I shall adventure nothing calculated to give offense, nothing not susceptible of easy vindication and general credence.
But I must emphasize the suggestion that our young men and young women can employ one or two hours every day no more agreeably and usefully than by keeping a journal. Begun after school-time while they are boys and girls, and continued as they advance in life, it will be at once monitor and guide to themselves, and may be of incalculable value in the crystallization of history.
I remember a dinner-party at the time I lived in Washington during the administration of General Pierce, which requires no diary to keep fresh in my heart. It took place at my residence, and in the house now known as the Waverley, on Eighth Street, back of The Chronicle office, where I resided up to 1856, when I left Washington to help make Mr. Buchanan President, and never returned, save to join in the work of overthrowing him after he broke the promise of justice to Kansas, which alone elected him. There were present some twenty of the leaders of the Democratic party, North and South, among them Mr. Slidell, Mr. Breckinridge, and I think Mr. Douglas. One of my guests was Dr. William Elder, my friend at that day, though we differed widely about slavery, just as he is to-day, when we closely agree in opposing it. I had met him on a former visit to Philadelphia, and invited him to come to Washington and sojourn under my roof. He came on the evening before the