In the summer of 1852, Horace Greeley
performed the melancholy duty of finishing Sargent
's Life of Henry Clay
He added little, however, to Mr. Sargent
's narrative, except the proceedings of Congress on the occasion of Mr. Clay
's death and funeral.
One paragraph, descriptive of the last interview between the dying statesman and the editor of the Tribune, claims insertion:
‘Learning from others,’ says Mr. Greeley
, ‘how ill and feeble he was, I had not intended to call upon him, and remained two days under the same roof without asking permission to do so. Meantime, however, he was casually informed of my being in Washington
, and sent me a request to call at his room.
I did so, and enjoyed a half hour's free and friendly conversation with him, the saddest and the last!
his state was even worse than I feared; he was already emaciated, a prey to a severe and distressing cough, and complained of spells of difficult breathing.
I think no physician could have judged him likely to live two months longer.
Yet his mind was unclouded and brilliant as ever, his aspirations for his country's welfare as ardent; and, though all personal ambition had long been banished, his interest in the events and impulses of the day was nowise diminished.
He listened attentively to all I had to say of the repulsive aspects and revolting features of the Fugitive Slave Law
and the necessary tendency of its operation to excite hostility and alienation on the part of our Northern people, unaccustomed to Slavery, and seeing it exemplified only in the brutal arrest and imprisonment of some humble and inoffensive negro whom they had learned to regard as a neighbor.
I think I may without impropriety say that Mr. Clay
regretted that more care had not been taken in its passage to divest this act of features needlessly repulsive to Northern sentiment, though he did not deem any change in its provisions now practicable.’
A strange, but not inexplicable, fondness existed in the bosom of Horace Greeley
for the aspiring chieftain of the Whig party.
Very masculine men, men of complete physical development, the gallant, the graceful, the daring, often enjoy the sincere homage of souls superior to their own; because such are apt to place an extravagant value upon the shining qualities which they do not possess.
, the great over-Praised, the false god of cold New England