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[103] the art which he practised so admirably. The highly conscious art which we see in Sterne, or in Walter Pater in our own time, to take two examples at random, and which is so effective in its results, is not apparent in Webster. He would probably not have been one of the greatest of orators if it had been, for then the writer would have absorbed the speaker. We are conscious of his art, although he does not seem to be conscious of it himself. Yet, however much we may speculate as to the proportions of intentional art and of unaided natural gifts in the style of all he said, there can be no question that he possessed and had mastered the rare combination which confers the lasting quality of literature upon the speech without losing the living force of the written word. It is this most rare achievement which gives to Webster, who never wrote book or essay or verse, his uncontested place in the history of American literature.

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