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“Link'd with success, assumed and kept with skill,
That moulds another's weakness to its will ;
“I suppose, sir, the Senator from South Carolina did not intend to be personal in his remarks to any of his peers upon this floor. If I had thought so I would have noticed them at the time. I am, sir, with one exception, the youngest in years of the Senators upon this floor. It is not long since I served an apprenticeship of five years at one of the most laborious mechanical trades pursued by man-a trade that from its nature devotes its follower to thought, but debars him from conversation. I would not have alluded to this if it were not for the remarks of the Senator from South Carolina; and the thousands who know that I am the son of an artisan and have been a mechanic, would feel disappointed in me if I did not reply to him. I am not proud of this. I am sorry it is true. I would that I could have enjoyed the pleasures of life in my boyhood days; but they were denied to me. I say this with pain. I have not the admiration for the men of the class from which I sprang that might be expected; they submit too tamely to oppression, and are prone to neglect their rights and duties as citizens. But, sir, the class of society to whose toil I was born, under our form of government, will control the destinies of this nation. If I were inclined to forget my connection with them, or to deny that I sprang from them, this chamber would not be the place in which I could do either. While I hold a seat I have but to look at the beautiful capitals adorning the pilasters that support this roof, to be reminded of my father's talent and to see his handiwork.
“I left the scenes of my youth and manhood for the ‘Far West' because I was tired of the struggles and jealousies of men of my class, who could not understand why one of their fellows should seek to elevate his condition upon the common
level. I made my new abode among strangers, where labor is honored. I had left without regret; there remained no tie of blood to bind me to any being in existence. If I fell in the struggle for reputation and fortune, there was no relative on earth to mourn my fall. The people of California elevated me to the highest office within their gift. My election was not the result of an accident. For years I had to struggle, often seeing the goal of ambition within my reach; it was again and again taken from me by the aid of men of my own class. I had not only them to contend with, but almost the entire partisan press of my state was subsidized by Government money and patronage to oppose my election. I sincerely hope, sir, the time will come when such speeches as that from the Senator from South Carolina will be considered a lesson to the laborers of the nation.”
Prophetic words indeed!
The last time I saw Broderick was one night in April, 1859, at the corner of Sixth and Chestnut Streets, Philadelphia, where he took the omnibus to the New York dépôt, intending to sail in a few days for San Francisco. The shadow of his fate was upon him. He was much depressed. We had broken the Administration party to pieces in most of the Northern States, obliterated the pro-slavery majority in the House, and had given prospective and substantial freedom to Kansas. Our little phalanx had made a breach in the columns of the Democracy that was to widen into a chasm never to be closed. California was to vote on the 7th of September, and Broderick was going back to meet his people. His magnificent campaign against the Southern policy of forcing slavery into Kansas had aroused the bitterest resentment, and the worst elements were organized against him in his own State. “I feel, my dear friend, that we shall never meet again. I go home to die. I shall abate no jot of my faith. I shall be challenged, I shall fight, and I shall be killed." These were his words. I tried to rally him on these forebodings; told him he was young and brave, and would live to be even more honored in the years to come. “No," he said, with a sad smile I shall never forget; “no, it is best; I am doomed. You will live to write of me and to keep my memory green; and now good-by forever.” On the 7th of September, the very day of the election, I predicted the duel which took place on the 13th of the same month, and on the 16th my poor friend died from a wound received at the hands of the proslavery Democrat leader, David S. Terry, who was living at the last accounts in the State of Nevada. The Democrats carried the election on the 7th, and the heroic Broderick died on the 16th. But the blood of the martyr was the seed of the redemption of California. The people rose at the sight of a tragedy so deliberate, fore-planned, and anticipated. Had Broderick fallen before the election of 1859 California would have repudiated the Buchanan Administration. He himself postponed the duel till the ballots were cast, and then he passed to his death. But that death saved California to the Union. The traitors who tried to hand her over to the rebellion were baffled by the uprising that followed his sacrifice. The Broderick Democrats joined the Republicans and held California fast to her allegiance, and so proved at once their love of their great country and their gratitude to their unselfish leader.
[February 12, 1871.)
It is one of the penalties, if penalty it be, of those who abstain from national affairs, that they are rarely heard of outside their own vicinage. Many a mediocrity becomes a celebrity when his name figures in the Congressional yeas and nays, just as many a nobler intellect remains rooted to the spot of its birth, full of knowledge of a world that knows it not. There is
CONRAD AND BARTON.
hardly a county in the United States of which this statement is not true, more or less. There is not a reader of these sketches who can not point out eminent men of his own acquaintance who would suffer for want of national reputation if they had not studiously disregarded it, and honestly preferred the comforts of home and the golden opinions of their own neighbors.
Two men lived in Pennsylvania a little more than twenty years ago who came partly within this category. They were, indeed, known far beyond their vicinity; but as they did not seek for notoriety, they are not as well remembered as if they had been aspirants for Congressional honors. I refer to Robert T. Conrad, of Philadelphia, and George Washington Barton, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. They differed in almost every thing. Conrad, in his prime, was a model of manly beauty. His auburn hair, his delicate complexion, his musical voice, made a strong contrast with the tall, somewhat ungainly figure, swarthy skin, black hair, and discordant tones of Barton. Conrad was a Whig, Barton was a Democrat; and though frequently in conflict, they were, the best part of their lives, devoted friends. knew them and loved them both, and as I never shared in their temporary differences, I was always a sort of peacemaker between them. Their very incongruities seemed to attract them to each other. Barton and myself were born in the same town, and for many years his star shone unrivaled as a consummate orator. Conrad came along from Philadelphia as a lecturer and Whig speaker. He was as much the idol of his party as Barton was of ours. They seemed to “take to" each other from the first, and when Barton moved to Philadelphia and was associated with Conrad in the local judiciary, they became almost constant companions. They were born in the same year, 1810, and died all too early, for their gifts were precious indeed, and deserved to be enjoyed for a long time alike by themselves and their country. Conrad lived until 1858, when he was forty-eight years old; and Barton is supposed to have been drowned in
the Bay of San Francisco, on the 25th of January, 1851, when he was only forty-one. Yet, short as their experiences were, they are remembered by thousands as among the most brilliant in the records of human genius.
As my sketches are not biographies in any sense, but rather glances at public men, I will not, therefore, follow these experiences in detail, but confine myself to a few instances of marked individuality, more to show how much real merit is found outside of the National Councils than to do justice to extraordinary talents. That is a duty I should conceive it a special honor to discharge if I had at once the material and the ability.
Barton was an orator I have never heard surpassed in either House of Congress, and I may safely say this, as I never heard Henry Clay. He lived, unhappily, in the days when shorthand reporting was in its infancy. His utterance was so rapid, his retorts so quick, his humor so eccentric, that it would have required a rare adept to follow him.
He was the favorite of every social circle-was sought after for his wit, his scholarship, and his memory. Mr. Buchanan delighted to have him at his frequent dinner-parties, and to introduce him to his distinguished guests as a prodigy. He read much and recollected every thing, and thus acquired a style all
His declamation was peculiar to himself, but his English was exact and pure. Rich and figurative to a degree, it was always classic and correct. Some of his similes and outbursts, if reported at the time, would survive like the best of Curran, Phillips, or Webster. He resembled Rufus Choate in astonishing rapidity of speech and in splendor of diction. How often I have regretted that his memorable passages were not preserved. The courts of Pennsylvania and the Democratic conventions resounded with his unparalleled eloquence, and when he reached San Francisco he leaped into a practice that promised to lead all others. His last speech in that city is still spoken of as one never equaled and never forgotten. I will