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[21] law, but the profession was not congenial to his tastes or in harmony with his temperament. He had the quick perceptions, the ready tact, and the easy elocution which are so important in the trial of causes, but he disliked the drudgery of preparation and was not patient in the investigation of legal questions. This repugnance might have been overcome, had he continued a few years longer in the practice of his profession, but such was not destined to be his fate. His whole course of life received a new direction in consequence of the election of General Harrison to the office of President of the United States in the autumn of 1840. Mr. Daniel Webster became Secretary of State, and Colonel Webster removed to Washington, where he acted as private secretary to his father, and occasionally as assistant Secretary of State. This was a sphere of duty congenial to his tastes. He was a clear and ready writer, and was fond of the discussion of political questions. His father has said that no one could prepare a paper, in conformity with verbal instructions received from him, more to his satisfaction than his son Fletcher; and this was a point on which Mr. Daniel Webster's parental affection would not have blinded him. He was very fond of his son, and was not only happy in having him near him, but his happiness was always imperfect if his son were absent from him. So far as the son's advancement in life was concerned, it might have been better that he should have been left to make his way alone, and that his father should have consented to the sacrifice of affection which such a separation would have required; but, now that both are gone from earth, who will not pardon a mistake—if mistake it was—which had its source in the best affections of the human heart?

In 1843 Mr. Caleb Cushing was appointed Commissioner to China, and Colonel Webster accompanied him as Secretary of Legation. He remained in China till the objects of the mission were accomplished, and reached home on his return in January, 1845. In the course of the year after his return, he frequently lectured in public on the subject of China, and gave interesting reminiscences of his own residence there.

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