You will read Webster's letters to Lord Ashburton. They are the poetry of diplomacy. I know of no such papers in our history,—in dignity and strength of composition, in the stately pace of the argument, and the firmness of the conclusion. The letter on ‘Impressment’ is magnificent. He thinks it his best. The former letter on McLeod was a great production; the two on Mexican affairs are equally so. The demand for the surrender of the Santa Fe prisoners is epic. If I find leisure, I will write an article for the ‘North American’ on these despatches as a new era in State papers. The only one in our history comparable to his is perhaps the famous paper of Jefferson, in which he announced the neutrality of the administration of Washington: but I have not read this lately; and I doubt if it can be compared with Webster's. You will see that Lord Ashburton has used the word ‘apology’ with regard to the ‘Caroline’ affair. I understand that Webster spent two days and a night with Lord Ashburton, before he brought him to the important word. It is fortunate for the country that a person of Webster's knowledge and power had the management of this negotiation. Under Forsyth, there never would have been any settlement. Who excels, who equals, Webster in intellect? I mean in the mere dead weight of intellect. With the moral elevation of Channing, he would become a prophet. Webster wants sympathy with the mass,—with humanity, with truth. If this had been living within him, he never could have written his ‘Creole’ letter. Without Webster's massive argumentation, Channing sways the world with a stronger influence. Thanks to God, who has made the hearts of men respond to what is elevated, noble, and true! Whose position would you preter,—that of Webster or Channing? I know the latter intimately; and my admiration of him grows constantly. When I was younger than I am now, I was presumptuous enough to question his power. I did not find in him the forms of logical discussion and the close, continuous chain of reasoning; and I complained. I am glad that I am wise enough to see him in a different light. His moral nature is powerful, and he writes under the strong instincts which this supplies; and the appeal is felt by the world. In England, he stands at the head of American writers. The elevation and purity of his views always diffuse about him a saint-like character. You asked me to call Channing's attention to a matter stated in your article on Afghanistan. The last time I saw him, his daughter was speaking of Hillard's beautiful and most successful article in the ‘North American;’ and I asked him if he had read it. He told me that he never read the ‘North American’! I should like to send you my friend Mann's oration on the Fourth of July. It is the noblest production ever called forth by that celebration. An edition of twenty thousand has already been exhausted, and more are printing. I doubt not that one hundred thousand copies will be circulated in the country. It is a plea for education. To this cause Mann has devoted himself as an apostle. It is beautiful to see so much devotion and such exalted merit joined to such modesty. . . .
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Chapter 16 : events at home.—Letters of friends.— December , 1837 , to March , 1839 .—Age 26 - 28 .
Chapter 17 : London again.—characters of judges.—Oxford.—Cambridge— November and December , 1838 .—Age, 27 .
Chapter 18 : Stratford-on-avon.—Warwick.—London.—Characters of judges and lawyers.—authors.—society.— January , 1839 , to March , 1839 .—Age, 28 .
Chapter 19 : Paris again.— March to April , 1839 .—Age, 28 .
Chapter 20 : Italy .— May to September , 1839 .—Age, 28 .
Chapter 21 : Germany .— October , 1839 , to March , 1840 .—Age, 28 - 29 .
Chapter 22 : England again, and the voyage home.— March 17 to May 3 , 1840 . —Age 29 .
Chapter 23 : return to his profession.— 1840 - 41 .—Age, 29 - 30 .
Chapter 24 : Slavery and the law of nations.— 1842 .—Age, 31 .
Chapter 25 : service for Crawford .—The Somers Mutiny.—The nation's duty as to slavery.— 1843 .—Age, 32 .
Chapter 27 : services for education.—prison discipline.—Correspondence.— January to July , 1845 .—age, 34 .
Chapter 28 : the city Oration,— the true grandeur of nations. —an argument against war.— July 4 , 1845 .—Age 34 .
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