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ument itself as the mute orator of the day, has been spoken of by those who had the good fortune to be present as an emotion beyond the power of language to describe. The gesture, the look, the tone of the speaker, as he turned to the majestic shaft, seemed to invest it with a mysterious life; and men held their breath as if a solemn voice was about to come down from its towering summit. This address does not appear to have had the advantage possessed by those of Plymouth in 1820, and of Bunker Hill in 1825, in having been written out for the press by Mr. Webster. It seems to have been prepared for publication from the reporter's notes, with some hasty revision, perhaps, by the author.
On the 4th of July, 1826, occurred the extraordinary coincidence of the deaths of Adams and Jefferson, within a few hours of each other, on the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence; an event with which they were both so' closely connected, as members of the committee by which the ever-memorable state paper was prepared and brought into the Continental Congress. The public mind was already predisposed for patriotic emotions and sentiments of every kind by many conspiring causes. The recency of the Revolutionary contest, sufficiently illustrated by the fact that many of those engaged in it were still alive and had been the subjects of liberal provision by Congress; the complete, though temporary, fusion of parties, producing for a few years a political lull, never witnessed to the same extent before or since; the close of the halfcentury from the commencement of the Revolutionary War, and the commemoration of its early conflicts on many of the spots where they occurred; the foundation of the Bunker Hill Monument, and of a similar work on a smaller scale at Concord; the visit of Lafayette; abroad, the varying scenes of the Greek revolution and the popular movement in many other parts of Europe, — united in exciting the public mind in this country. They kindled to new fervor the susceptible and impulsive American temperament. The simultaneous decease of the illustrious patriarchs of the Revolution, under these circumstances of coincidence, fell upon a community already prepared to be deeply affected. It touched a tender chord, which vibrated from one end of the Union to the other. The affecting event was noticed throughout the country. Cities and States vied with each other in demonstrations of respect for the memory of the departed. The heart of the country poured itself forth in one general utterance of reverential feeling. Nowhere was the wonderful event noticed with greater earnestness and solemnity of public sentiment than in Boston. Faneuil Hall was shrouded in black. Perhaps for the first time since its erection an organ was placed in the gallery, and a sublime funeral service was performed. It is unnecessary to dwell upon the effect of preparations like these upon an intelligent audience, assembled under highly wrought feeling. They produced a tone of mind in unison with the magnificent effort of thought which was to follow.
It has, perhaps, never been the fortune of an orator to treat a subject in all respects so extraordinary as that which called forth the eulogy on Adams and Jefferson; a subject in which the characters commemorated, the field of action, the magnitude of the events, and the peculiar personal relations, were so important and unusual. Certainly it is not extravagant to add, that no similar effort of oratory was ever more completely successful. The speech ascribed to John Adams in the Continental Congress, on the subject of declaring the independence of the Colonies, — a speech of which the topics of course present themselves on the most superficial consideration of the subject, but of which a few hints only of what was actually said are supplied by the letters and diaries of Mr. Adams, — is not excelled by any thing of the kind in our language. Few things have taken so strong a hold of the public mind. It thrills and delights alike the student of history, who recognizes it at once as the creation of the orator, and the common reader, who takes it to be the composition, not of Mr. Webster, but of Mr. Adams. From the time the eulogy was delivered to the present day, the inquiry has been often made and repeated, sometimes even in letters addressed to Mr. Webster himself, whether this exquisite appeal is his or Mr. Adams's. An answer to a letter of this kind will be found appended to the eulogy in the present edition.
These discourses, with the exception of the second Bunker Hill Address, were delivered within about five years of each other; the first on the 22d of December, 1820, the last on the 2d of August, 1826. With the exception named, Mr. Webster has excused himself from the delivery of public addresses of this class, though continually invited from almost every part of the country and upon occasions of every kind. Within the last twelvemonth, however, he has yielded himself to the pe'culiar and urgent condition of public affairs, and has addressed his fellowcitizens on several occasions not immediately connected with senatorial or professional duty, and with the power and felicity which mark his earlier efforts. The most remarkable of these recent addresses is his speech delivered at Washington on the 4th of July, 1851, at the ceremonial of the laying of the cornerstone of the addition to the Capitol. This ceremonial, itself of no ordinary interest, and the aspect of public affairs under which it was performed, gave a peculiar fervor and solemnity to Mr. Webster's treatment of the subject. Never, perhaps, were the principles to which the great day is consecrated unfolded in a few paragraphs with greater precision and comprehensiveness; or the auspicious influence of these principles on the progress of the country more happily set forth. The contrast between the United States of 1793, when the corner-stone of the original Capitol was laid by President Washington, and the United States of 1851, when this enlargement became necessary, is brought out with great skill and discrimination. The appeal to the Southern States, whether the government under which the Union has grown and prospered is a blessing or a curse to the country, is a burst of the highest eloquence. The allusion and apostrophe to Washington will be rehearsed by the generous youth of America as long as the English language is spoken on this side of the Atlantic Ocean.
This great oration, perhaps not premeditated so carefully, as far as the mere language is concerned, as those of an earlier date with which we have classed it, is not inferior to either of them in the essentials of patriotic eloquence. It belongs, in common with them, to a species of oratory neither forensic, nor parliamentary, nor academical; and which might perhaps conveniently enough be described by the epithet which we have just applied to it, — the patriotic. These addresses are strongly discriminated from the forensic and the parliamentary class of speeches, in being from the nature of the case more elaborately prepared. The public taste in a highly cultivated community would not admit, in a performance of this kind, those marks of extemporaneous execution, which it not only tolerates, but admires, in the unpremeditated efforts of the senate and the bar. The latter shines to greatest advantage in happy impromptu strokes, whether of illustration or argument; the former admits, and therefore demands, the graceful finish of a mature preparation.*
It is not, indeed, to be supposed, that an orator like Mr. Webster is slavishly tied down, on any occasion, to his manuscript notes, or to a memoriter repetition of their contents. It may be presumed that in many cases the noblest and the boldest flights, the last and warmest tints thrown upon the canvas, in discourses of this kind, were the unpremeditated inspiration of the moment of delivery. .The opposite view would be absurd, because it would imply that the mind, under the high excitement of delivery, was less fertile and creative than in the repose of the closet. A speaker could not, if he attempted it, anticipate in his study the earnestness and fervor of spirit induced by actual contact with the audience; he could not by any possibility forestall the sympathetic influence upon his imagination and intellect of the listening and applauding throng. However severe the method required by the nature of the occasion, or dictated by his own taste, a speaker like Mr. Webster will not often confine himself " to pouring out fervors a week old."
The orator who would do justice to a great theme or a great occasion must thoroughly study and understand the subject; he must accurately, and if possible minutely, digest in writing beforehand the substance, and even the form, of his address; otherwise, though he may speak ably, he will be apt not to make in all respects an able speech. He must entirely possess himself beforehand of the main things which he wishes to say, and then throw himself upon the excitement of the moment and the sympathy of the audience. In those portions of his discourse which are didactic or narrative, he will not be likely to wander, in any direction, far from his notes; although even in those portions new facts, illustrations, and suggestions will be apt to ^pring up before him as he proceeds. But when the topic rises, when the mind kindles from within, and the strain becomes loftier, or
* The leading ideas in this and the following paragraph may be found in a review of Mr. Webster's Speeches, in the North American Review, Vol. XLI. p. 241, written by the author of this Memoir.
bolder, or more pathetic, when the sacred fountain of tears Is ready to overflow, and audience and speaker are moved by one kindred sympathetic passion, then the thick-coming fancies cannot be kept down, the storehouse of the memory is unlocked, images start up from the slumber of years, and all that the orator has seen, read, heard, or felt returns in distinct shape and vivid colors. The cold and premeditated text will no longer suffice for the glowing thought. The stately, balanced phrase gives place to some abrupt, graphic expression, that rushes unbidden to his lips. The unforeseen incident or locality furnishes an apt and speaking image; and the discourse instinctively transposes itself into a higher key.
Many illustrations of these remarks may be found in the following volumes. We may refer particularly to the address to the survivors of the Revolution and the apostrophe to Warren in the first discourse on Bunker Hill. These were topics too obvious and essential, in an address on laying the corner-stone of the monument, to have been omitted in the orator's notes prepared beforehand. But no one will think that the entire apostrophe to Warren, as it stands in the reported speech, was elaborated in the closet and committed to memory. In fact there is a slight grammatical inaccuracy, caused by passing from the third person to the second in the same sentence, which is at once the natural consequence and the proof of an unpremeditated expansion or elevation of the preconceived idea. We see the process. When the sentence commenced, " But, ah! him!" it was evidently in the mind of the orator to close it by saying, "How shall I speak of him?" But in the progress of the sentence, forgetful, unconscious, of the grammatical form, but melting with the thought, beholding, as he stood upon the spot where the hero fell, his beloved and beautiful image rising from the ground, he can no longer speak o/him. Willing subject of his own witchery, he clothes his conception with sensible forms, and speaks to the glorious being whom he has called back to life. He no longer attempts to discourse of Warren to the audience, but passing, after a few intervening clauses, from the third person to the second, he exclaims, "How shall I struggle with the emotions that stifle the utterance of thy name! Our poor work may perish, but thine shall endure! This monument may moulder away; the solid ground it rests upon may sink down to a level with the sea; but thy memory shall not fail!"