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[214] the respectability of Boston. . . . I am glad to perceive that there is a real hearty difference among the Whigs here with regard to Mr. Webster. The Governor and a large number of prominent gentlemen—some of them in Boston, but more in the country—are earnest against his speech, and in private express their opinions.1 That long list of names attached to the letter to Mr. Webster shows some remarkable absences, particularly noticeable by all familiar with Massachusetts politics. Our Supreme Court gave judgment yesterday in the colored school case against my argument made last November. I lament this very much. Is everything going against us?

To George Sumner, April 15:—

It is evident that there will be a new Cabinet soon. I have for several weeks thought that Webster would be Secretary of State, but I have some reason now to doubt whether Taylor would take him. He wishes to get out of the Senate, and I think desires to be Secretary. He can hardly dare confront the people of Massachusetts at the next election, as he must do if he is a candidate for re-election. The disaffection towards him among leading Whigs of the North, particularly of Massachusetts, is very strong. To me his present position seems deplorable. With all his majestic powers, he is a traitor to a holy cause. Franklin Dexter says strongly that he has deliberately committed a crime.

To John Jay, May 13:—

I am sick at heart when I observe the apostasies to freedom. There is one thing needful in our public men,—backbone.2 In this is comprised that moral firmness, without which they yield to the pressure of interests of party, of fashion, of public opinion. . . . . In reading the life of wilberforce, I was pleased to follow the references to your grandfather, who seems to have seen much of the great abolitionist.

To Lord Morpeth, May 21:—

The same steamer that takes this note will carry our friend Prescott to see and enjoy English life. In long gossips together, recently, we have talked much of you, on whose friendship he counts. . . . Our politics are full of vileness. The question of opposing the extension of slavery into territories now free should have united all the North, and I would say the South, too. But one politician after another has given way to slaveholding urgency, until at last Daniel Webster gave way. His intellect is mighty, but “unstable as water, thou shalt not excel.” His excuse for waiving a prohibition of slavery in the new territories is that by a law of “physical geography,” of “the formation of the earth,” slavery cannot go there,—thus arguing blindly from physical premises to moral conclusions. In his recent course he shows the same obliquity, amounting to incapacity for moral distinctions, which led him to tell

1 Governor Briggs was without courage, and took no public position against Webster.

2 See emphatic repetition of this term in the speech of Nov. 6, 1850. Works, vol. II. p. 422.

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