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has been highly prejudicial to the tone of the House, and its consequent estimation in the country. It has frequently happened that the decisions of the Speaker, as such, have commanded no respect. An appeal has been taken from them almost as a matter of course. The state of things is very different in the body most nearly resembling the houses of Congress. Such a thing as an appeal from the decision of the Speaker on a point of order is hardly known in the British House of Commons, and the disposition of all parties to acquiesce in, if not to support, the decisions of the chair, is one of the characteristic features of that assembly.
The proceedings of the Massachusetts convention were ably reported, from day to day, in the Boston Daily Advertiser; but a contemporary report usually implies much abridgment of the speeches. Much that was said by Mr. Webster, as by other prominent speakers, appeared but in a condensed form; and it is believed, that, even when reported at greatest length and with most care, it was without the advantage of personal revision by the speakers. The third volume of the present collection contains Mr. Webster's remarks on those provisions of the constitution which related to oaths of office and formed a kind of religious test, which Mr. Webster was disposed to abolish; a speech upon the basis of senatorial representation; and another upon the independence of the judiciary.
In the speech on the basis of the Senate, Mr. Webster defended the principle, which was incorporated into the original constitution, and is recognized by the liberal writers of greatest authority on government, that due regard should be had to property in establishing a basis of representation. He showed the connection between the security of republican liberty and this principle. He first called attention in this country to the fact, that this important principle was originally developed in Harrington's Oceana, a work much studied by our Revolutionary fathers. The practical consequence which Mr. Webster deduced from the principle was, that constitutional and legal provision ought to be made to produce the utmost possible diffusion and equality of property.
It is a melancholy instance of the injustice of party, that these views of Mr. Webster, which contain the philosophy of constitutional republicanism as distinct from a mere democracy of numbers, have, even down to the present day, served as the basis of a charge against him of anti-popular principles. Having observed in the speech referred to, "that it would seem to be the part of political wisdom to found government on property, and to establish such a distribution of property by the laws which regulate its transmission and alienation, as to interest the great majority of society in the protection of the government," the former part of this sentence has often been quoted as a substantive rule in favor of a moneyed aristocracy, and the latter uncandidly suppressed. It is hardly necessary to observe, that the point at issue was the constitution of the senatorial districts on the basis of the valuation; and that it was never proposed by Mr. Webster, or by any body else, to apply the principle to individuals. The poor man in the rich senatorial district possessed as much political power as his wealthy neighbor. The principle, in fact, is but another form of that which gave the first impulse to the American Revolution, namely, that representation and taxation ought to go hand in hand.
While the Massachusetts convention was in session, Mr. Webster appeared before the public in another department of intellectual effort, and with the most distinguished success. It is hazardous for a person of great professional eminence to venture out of his sphere; perhaps the experiment has never before been so triumphantly made. In 1820, Mr. Webster was invited by the Pilgrim Society at Plymouth to deliver a discourse on the great anniversary of New England, the evermemorable 22d of December. Several circumstances contributed on this occasion to the interest of the day. The peaceful surrender by Massachusetts of a portion of her territory, greatly exceeding in magnitude that which she retained, in order to form the new State of Maine, was a pleasing exemplification of that prosperous multiplication of independent commonwealths within the limits of the Union, which forms one of the most distinctive features in our history. It was as much an alienation of territory from the local jurisdiction of Massachusetts, as if it had been ceded to Great Britain, and yet the alienation was cordially made. At this very time a controversy existed between the United States and England, relative to the conflicting title of the two governments to a very small portion, and that the least valuable part, of the same territory, which, after the aggravations and irritations of forty years of controversy, was in 1842 adjusted by Mr. Webster and Lord Ashburton, at a moment when war seemed ah1 but inevitable. In. any other country or age of the world, Maine could have been severed from Massachusetts only by a bloody revolution. Their amicable separation by mutual consent, although neither the first nor the second similar event in the United States, was still an occurrence which carried back the reflections of thoughtful men to the cradle of New England.
These reflections gathered interest from the convention then in session. It was impossible not to feel with unusual force the contrast between the circumstances under which the first simple compact of government, the germ of the American constitutions, was drawn up on board the Mayflower, and those under which the assembled experience, wisdom, and patriotism of the State were now engaged in reorganizing the government. Several of the topics which presented themselves to Mr. Webster's mind, and were discussed by him at Plymouth, had entered into the debates of the convention a few days before. Still more, the close of the second century from the landing of the Fathers, with all its mighty series of events in the social, political, and moral world, gave the highest interest to the occasion. Six New England generations were to pass in review. It was an anniversary which could be celebrated nowhere else as it could be at Plymouth. It was such an anniversary, with its store of traditions, comparisons, and anticipations, as none then living could witness again. The Pilgrim Society gave utterance to the unanimous feeling of the community, in calling upon Mr. Webster to speak for the whole people of New England, at home and abroad, on this great occasion.
The discourse delivered by him in pursuance of their invitation, in some respects the most remarkable of his performances, begins the series of his works contained in the present collection. The felicity and spirit with which its descriptive portions are executed; the affecting tribute which it pays to the memory of the Pilgrims; the moving picture of their sufferings on both sides of the water; the masterly exposition and analysis of those institutions to which the prosperity of New England under Providence is owing; the eloquent inculcation of those great principles of republicanism on which our American commonwealths are founded; the instructive survey of the past, the sublime anticipations of the future of America, — have long since given this discourse a classical celebrity. Several of its soul-stirring passages have become as household words throughout the country. They are among the most favorite of the extracts contained in the school-books. An entire generation of young men have derived from this noble performance some of their first lessons in the true principles of American republicanism. It obtained at once a wide circulation throughout the country, and gave to Mr. Webster a position among the popular writers and speakers of the United States scarcely below that which he had already attained as a lawyer and a statesman. It is doubtful whether any extra-professional literary effort by a public man has attained equal celebrity.
In the course of a few years, when the corner-stone of the Bunker Hill Monument was to be laid, on the fiftieth anniversary of the battle, the general expectation again pointed to Mr. Webster as the orator of the day. This, too, was a great national and patriotic anniversary. For the first time, and after the lapse of a half-century, the commencement of the war of the American Revolution was to be publicly celebrated under novel, significant, and highly affecting circumstances. Fifty years had extinguished all the unkindly associations of the day, and raised it from the narrow sphere of local history to a high place in the annals of the world. A great confederacy had sprung from the blood of Bunker Hill. This was too important an event in the history of the world to be surrendered to hostile and party feeling. No friend of representative government in England had reason to deplore the foundation of the American republics. No one can doubt that the development of the representative principle in this country has contributed greatly to promote the cause of Parliamentary reform in Great Britain. Other considerations gave great interest to the festival of the 17th of June, 1825. Fifty years of national life, fortune, and experience, not exhibiting in their detail an unvarying series of prosperity, (for it was fifty years in the history, not of angels, but of men,) but assuredly not surpassed in the grand aggregate by any half-century in the annals of the world,
were now brought to a close. Vast as the contrast was in the condition of the country at the beginning and close of the period, there were still living venerable men who had acted prominent and efficient parts in the opening scenes of the drama. Men who had shared the perils of 1775 shared the triumph of the jubilee. More than a hundred of the heroes of the battle were among the joyous participators in this great festival. Not the least affecting incident of the celebration was the presence of Lafayette, who had hastened from his more than royal progress through the Union to take a part in the ceremonial.
It is unnecessary to say, that on such an occasion, with all these circumstances addressed to the imaginations and the thoughts of men, in the presence of a vast multitude of the intelligent population of Massachusetts and the other New England States, with no inconsiderable attendance of kindred and descendants from every part of the Union, an address from such an orator as Mr. Webster, on such a platform, on such a theme, in the flower of his age and the maturity of his faculties, discoursing upon an occasion of transcendent interest, and kindling with the enthusiasm of the day and the spot, may well be regarded as an intellectual treat of the highest order. Happy the eyes that saw that most glorious gathering! Happy the ears that heard the heart-stirring strain!
Scarcely inferior in interest was the anniversary celebration, when the Bunker Hill Monument was finally completed, in 1843, and Mr. Webster again consented to address the immense multitude which the ceremonial could not fail to bring together. In addition to all the other sources of public interest belonging to the occasion, the completion itself of the structure was one to which the community attached great importance. It had been an object steadily pursued, under circumstances of considerable discouragement, by a large number of liberal and patriotic individuals, for nearly a quarter of a century. The great work was now finished; and the most important event in the history of New England was henceforward commemorated by a monument destined, in all human probability, to last as long as any work erected by the hands of man. The thrill of admiration which ran through the assembled thousands, when, at the commencement of his discourse on that occasion, Mr. Webster apostrophized the mon