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[97] he was an authority on many policies and on the interpretation of the Constitution. But there have been others of whom all this might be said—there were kings before Agamemnon—but they are rarely quoted, while Webster is quoted constantly. He had strong competitors in his own day and in his own field, able, acute, and brilliant men. He rose superior to them, it appears, in his lifetime; and now that they are all dead Webster's words are familiar to hundreds while his rivals are little more than names. So far as familiarity in the mouths of men goes, it is Eclipse first and the rest nowhere. That which has made this possible is his rare combination of speech and literature; it is the literary quality, the literary savour which keeps what Webster said fresh, strong, and living. When we open the volumes of his speeches it is not like unrolling the wrappings of an Egyptian mummy, to find within a dry and shrivelled form, a faint perfume alone surviving faintly to recall the vanished days, as when
Some queen, long dead, was young.

Rather it is like the opening of Charlemagne's tomb, when his imperial successor started back before the enthroned figure of the great emperor looking out upon him, instinct with life under the red glare of the torches.

Let us apply another and surer test. How many speeches to a jury in a criminal trial possessing neither political nor public interest survive in fresh remembrance seventy years after their delivery? One can hardly think of jury speeches of any kind which stand this ordeal except, in a limited way, some few of Erskine's, and those all have the advantages of historical significance, dealing as they do with constitutional and political questions of great moment. But there is one of Webster's speeches to a jury which lives to-day, and no more crucial test could be applied than the accomplishment of such a feat. The White murder case was simply a criminal trial, without a vestige of historical, political, or general public interest. Yet Webster's speech for the prosecution has been read and recited until well-nigh hackneyed. It is in readers and manuals. and is still declaimed by schoolboys. Some of its phrases are familiar quotations and have passed into general speech. Let us recall a single passage:

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