A memorial of Daniel Webster, from the city of Boston online

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DANIEL A\' E E S T E 11 ,





EI 3^0

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1853, by

Little, Brown akd Company,

in the Clerk's OfBcc of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.




The death of Mr. Webster, mourned throughout the
Mhole country as a great national loss, fell with pecu-
liar weight upon the community among whom he had
so long lived ; and the expressions of feeling which
followed were proportionately numerous and emphatic.
The object of the present volume is to gather up and
preserve, in a permanent form, the various testimonials
of respect to his memory which were called forth in
Boston, whether by the City Government, or the vari-
ous Associations of the citizens themselves. It was
supposed that such a collection would be valued and
cherished by the people of Boston and its vicinity,
and not without interest to the community generally.
The task of the editor has been little more than that
of selection and arrangement. The account of the ill-
ness and death of Mr. Webster was drawn up by
Mr. Ticknor, from notes and memoranda taken at

Marshfield at the time.

G. s. H.

Boston, December, 1852.



Mr. Webster's Last Autlmx at Marshfield .... 1
Illness and Death 13

Proceedings of the City Council.

Proceedings in the Board of Mayor and Aldermen . . 29
Proceedings in the Common Council 33

Proceedings in the Court of Common Pleas .... 39

Meeting at Faneuil Hall 45

Proceedings of the Circuit Court of the United
States for the District of Massachusetts ... 73

Proceedings in the Supreme Judicial Court op Mas-
sachusetts 123

Proceedings of the Boston School Committee . . . 137

Proceedings and Resolutions of various Associa-

Proceedings of the Webster Executive Committee . . . 159

Proceedings of the Whig Ward and County Convention 161

Proceedings of Granite Club, No. 1 163

Proceedings of the Webster Under- Voters 167

Meeting of the Boston Merchants 169

Proceedings of the Board of Brokers 171

Proceeding.-; of the Mercantile Librarv Association . . 173



Proceedings of the Mechanic Aj^prentices Library Asso-
ciation 175

Proceedings of Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati 177

Orders of the Governor of Massachusetts 181

Proceedings of the Bunker Hill Monument Association 183
Proceedingrs of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics'

Association 185

Proceedings of the Boston Marine Society 187

Proceedings of the Sons of New Hampshire . . . .189
Proceedings of the President and Fellows of Harvard

College 191

Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society . .193
Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and

Sciences 195

Funeral 201

Procession and Services on the Thirtieth of No-
vember . • • 217



The following ai'ticle, written by Professor Felton, appeared in the
Boston Courier of October 20. It was prompted by a presentiment in
the mind of the writer that the illness, under which Mr. Webster had
been long laboring, must terminate fatally, and by a wish to prepare the
public for the great loss that was so soon to fall upon them. On this
account, as well as from its appropriate tone of thought and feeling, it Is
here republished.

, , «(« li ')f'



Thk illnes^j, under Avliich ]\[r. AVelj.ster has siiftered
at Marshfield, has excited serious ahiriii. The loss of
this emment and illiistrious statesman at the present
moment would not only he a heavy calamity to the
great interests of the country, hut would strike the
national heart Avith unspeakahle sorrow. At his age,
the disease, which has greatly impaired his physical
strength, could Init excite sad forel)odings of the result.
At all events, the day cannot be far distant when that
comprehensive wisdom and consummate genius will be
taken away from us, in the ordinary course of the life
of man. There is now, however, reason to think that
repose, and the invigorating breath of sea and laud at
INIarshfield, Avill restore the health of the great Secre-
tary, and send him, in due time, back to his post in
Washington, to close the important questions still pend-
ing between our government and foreign countries. A
few weeks longer, passed in the midst of the beloved
scenes to which Mr. Webster has for so many years
delighted to withdraw from the cares of public and
professional life, will, it is earnestly hoped, carry him


safely through this annual attack, and strengthen liis
heart for another winter of strenuous toil in the ser-
vice of his country. We can ill spare Mr. Webster at
any time ; but, at the present hour, his luminous intel-
lect and commanding state smanshij^, and his influence,
potent for liis country's good throughout the world, are
needed in no common measure. Let us pray God that
his life may still be spared, to meet and overcome the
pressing urgency of our foreign affairs, and to shed
upon us the light of his calm wisdom for many years
to come. Whether in office or out of office, the know-
ledge that Mr. Webster is still among us strengthens
our confidence that all will be well with the country.
We know that we can still trust in the powers of an
intellect that never fell below the requirements of the
most critical occasion, and a patriotism that never
shrunk from any labor or any sacrifice, wliieh the su-
preme good of the country demanded. We have seen
liim defend the Constitution, with logic and eloquence
never equalled in parliamentary history, when the admi-
ration and applause of the world rewarded the great
achievement. But this is not the hardest task to per-
form, nor the highest claun to a nation's gratitude. It
is a nobler duty of patriotism to save the country from
itself; to protect it from the excess of excited feelings,
and passions overwrought; to step in between contend-
ing frenzies, and arrest their heady coui'se before they
grapple in a struggle to the death; to expose one's
self to heavy blows on either side ; to fall, it may be,
between the exasperated parties, and, at the risk of
temporarily losing every object of personal desire, to
rescue the commonweal. And this lofty duty of pa-


triotism becomes severer when the excesses of che-
rished sentiments of philantln(»py are to be rebuked,
and the resentments of warm-hearted, philanthropic men
and i)arties are to be encountered in checking their
headlong race, before the safety of the country is fatally
imperilled. The leading passion of our age, and of
this part of the country, is enthusiastic devotion to
the idea of the universal rights and the brotherhood
of man. We are not content to bide the slow course
of time ; but inish, with fierce philanthropy, to the
overthrow of institutions inconsistent with these ideas,
— running every hazard, and trampling down every
obstacle, however deeply rooted, that lies in the way
of the immediate accomplishment of our generous de-
sires. We despise the wisdom of the paralde of the
Tares and the Wheat ; we insist on plucking out the
one, even at the risk of destroving the other. We

» CD

chafe impatiently at the restraints which the Consti-
tution lays upon us, and which seem to forbid our
eager aspii'ations to right a theoretic wrong. We
struggle against its refj[uii-ements, and seek, in fine-
spun reasoning, the pretext on which we may break
the guaranties our fathers undoubtedly meant in good
faith to establish. This has been the tendency of the
abolition and the anti-slavery movement at the North.
The danger that sentiments, in themselves just and
flowing from deep sources in the human heart, may
overstep the bounds of constitutional action, has long
been a cause of anxiety among men, on whom the
burden of sustaining the government of the country
rests. The influence of Mr. Webster's genius carries
with it a hea^^ responsibility, as to the direction in


which that influence shall he exerted. Ordinary men
may ride their hohbies, and the world look on with
indiflerence ; they may declaim commonplaces of sen-
timental philanthropy, with all the comfort of knowing
that the course of events will not be in the least
affected thereby ; they gain with their partisans all
the honors of devotion to a great cause, with no fear
of hazardous consequences resulting from the utter-
ance of extreme or fanatical opinions.

But this cheap philanthropy of phrases and rheto-
rical commonplace is an indulgence which men, placed
by intellect or position at the head of affairs, cannot
safely indulge in. The strong tendency of generous
sentiment, when not restrained by prudence, to over-
ride the prescriptive rights secured by constitutions
and compacts, the great statesman and guide of men
must sternly resist, even if resistance expose him to
slander and vituperation, to the distrust of former
friends, to the misunderstanding of his motives, to the
charge of being a traitor to principles which his whole
life has jdedged him to uphold. Such crises, requir-
ing the highest order of statesmanship and a moral
courage that shrinks from no personal sacrifice for the
general good, — periods when reipublicce solus est sii-
2)rema lex, — arise in the history of every great nation ;
and woe to that nation which has not the men of civic
virtue equal to the peril of the time. This test of
greatness and statesmanship Mr. Webster has nobly
dared to stand ; and he has reaped the consequences
of calumny and vehement attack, made with an un-
scnipulous disregard of truth, a rutliless contempt of
the decencies of controversy, in proportion to the great-


ness of the service, and the ardor of the philanthropic
passions whose mad career he has helped to arrest.
The violence of the storm is passed ; the weight of
character and intelligence in the country is on his
side ; the verdict of approval has been pronounced
by a vast majority of the calm and clear-headed citi-
zens of the United States. Thousands, who thought
him wrong at first, now see that he was right, and
lieartily acknowledge the debt of gratitude they owe
to his firmness and sagacious forecast. The union of
the States, having been on both sides rudely assailed,
is again consolidated. Hostile and incongruous fima-
ticisms may beset the Conservator on this side and
on that. lie has measured their force, breasted their
onset, and foiled their purposes of mischief Both
great parties of the country have vindicated his wis-
dom, by acquiescing in the patriotic course marked
out by liis far-seeing policy, for the settlement of the
most dangerous question that ever menaced the wel-
fare of the nation. A vindictive pliilanthropy, here
and there and from time to time, reopens the flood-
gates of slander, in the vain hope of disturbing the
great statesman's repose. The firm earth does not
stand with more unshaken solidity against the racing
sea, as it roars and beats upon his Marshfield beach,
than he stands unmoved in the magnanimity of his
character, and the upholding power of conscious recti-
tude, looking down upon the ignominious efforts of
foiled enemies to undermine the grandeur of his posi-

" The Farm " at Marshfield is worthy to be the rest-
ing-place of its illustrious owner. It is shielded, by


;i r:ino-e of beautiful liills, from the violence of our
north-easterly storms. It has a distant view of the
ocean, beyond the loAvlands, "svliich every high tide
overflows. On one side, a wooded promontory juts
into the sea ; and on the other rises a sloping high-
land, on the brow of which, in the deep repose of
nature, his kindred rest in their long sleep, with no
sounds above or around them but the murmurs of the
wind through the foliage of the drooping trees, or the
song of birds, or the solemn voice of the sea, speak-
ing eternally from its vast depths. The undulating
surface sweeps up from the marshes and forms a table-
land, on which the house is built 5 then gently falls
into a smooth and spreading lawn ; then, by a steeper
slope, it ascends to the western range of hills, which,
on that side, shut in the picture, and bound a scene
of harmonious, j'et richly varied and sweetly contrasted
beauty. As you look down from these liills, your
heart beats with the unspeakable emotion that such
objects inspire ; but the charm is heightened by the
reflection, that the capabilities of nature have been
unfolded by the skill and taste of one whose fame
fills the world ; that an illustrious existence has here
blended its activity with the processes of the genial
earth, and Ijreathed its power into the breath of heaven,
and drawn its inspiration from the air, the sea, and
the sk}', around and above ; and that here, at this
momeni, tlic same illustrious existence is, for a time,
struggling in a doubtful contest with a foe, to whom
nil iiKii must, sooner or later, lay down their arms.
Here, Ijut a low weeks since, Mr. Webster was accus-
tcjmed to drive the transient guest over his estate ;


visiting his fields, liis ocean shore, his flocks, and his
herds ; pointing out the prospect, and speaking with
tender emotion of the sad and happy memories the
varied views recalled ; conversing with the rustic neigh-
bors whom he chanced to meet in kind and genial
tones, and on subjects which he and they understood
alike ; uttering, from time to time, glorious thoughts,
suggested by the scene, in language of massive beauty
and grandeur, which made the moment memorable in
the listener's life. But this has been in some measure
interrupted. That noble form, that surpassing strength
of constitution, have drooped under the protracted ill-
ness which has withheld him from the turmoil raging
outside of that secluded spot; the drives over the
hills, and along the loud-resounding sea, which he
loved so much, have ceased. Solemn thoughts ex-
clude from his mind the inferior topics of the fleeting
hour ; and the great and awful themes of the future,
now seemingly o|)ening before him, — themes to which
his mind has always and instinctively turned its pro-
foundest meditations, — now fill the hours won from
the weary lassitude of illness, or from the public du-
ties, which sickness and retirement cannot make him
forget or neglect. The eloquent speculations of Cicero
on the immortality of the soul, and the admirable
arguments against the Epicurean philosophy, put into
the mouth of one of the colloquists, in the book on
the Nature of the Gods, share liis thoughts with the
sure testimony of the Word of God. But no day
passes that the affairs of the country do not occupy
his attention. His great mind never applied itself
with a calmer or more comprehensive grasp to the



duties of his department. The intellectual power as-
serts its supremacy over physical weakness and tedious
disease, with an unfaltering energy of soul that in
itself is a stronger argument of its immortality than
Cicero ever uttered in the majestic accents of the Latin

These are the dignified pursuits that grace the days
of suffering passed hy the illustrious statesman of
Marshfield. The respectful sympathies of the country-
surround him in his hours of illness, and the prayers
of good men go up to Heaven for his speedy restora-
tion. If it is written in the inscrutable decrees of God
that he is to be recalled from the scene of his earthly
labors before his work is completed, — if so hea\y a
bereavement is soon to fall on the American people, —
may no man have cause to reproach himself that he
strove to embitter the last moments of so illustrious
a life by harsh imputations or slanderous speech.
When Mr. Webster is withdrawn from the scenes of
this world, the party asperities which have raged so
fiercely round him will be drowned in the tears of a
nation's grief; and he who has so far forgotten the
claims of patriotic greatness as to join in the ignoble
work of calumniating a long life, exhausted in memo-
rable services to the country and the age, will bear
in his heart the burden of an upbraiding conscience,
and a sense of wrong done to the common benefjictor
of every American citizen, long after the day of atone-
ment is passed. For, whatever heated partisans may
say while ]Mr. Webster lives, hereafter, when the histo-
rian sliall look back upon the first century of the
American Ilepublic, the two names which will shine


with most unfading lustre and the serenest glory, high
above all others, are Washington and Webster. There
are men who are remembered only as the revilers of
Washington ; there may be men who will be remem-
bered only as the slanderers of Webster.



Mr. Webster died at Marshfield, on Sunday morn-

ing, October 24tli, 1852.

His health, as has been intimated in the preceding
paper, had failed dunng the summer from his severe
public labors and from the progress of an obscure
disease in the liver of long standing, accelerated, no
doubt, by the shock which his whole system had re-
ceived when he was thrown from his carriage in the
preceding May. lie was aware of his decline, and
watched it with a careful observation; frequently giv-
ing intimations to those nearest to him of the failure
in strength which he noticed, and of the result which
he apprehended must be approaching. Towards the
end of September he seemed, indeed, to rally a little ;
but it was soon apparent to others, no less than to
himself, that, as the days passed on, each brought "vnth
it some slight proof of a gradual decay in his bodily
powers and resources.

On Sunday evening, October 10, he desired a friend,
who was sitting with him, to read to him the passage
in the ninth chapter of St. Mark's Gospel, where the


man brings his child to Jesus to l)e cured, and the
Saviour tolls him, " If thou canst believe, all things
are possible to him that believeth ; and straightway
the Mlier of the child cried out, with tears, Lord, I
believe, help thou mine unbelief" "Now," he conti-
nued, " turn to the tenth chapter of St. John, and
read from the verse where it is said, ' Many of the
Jews believed on him.' " After this he dictated a
few lines, and directed them to be signed with his
name and dated, Sunday Evening, October 10, 1852.
" This," ho then added, " is the inscription to be placed
on my monument." A few days later, — on the 15th,
— he recurred to the same subject, and revised and
corrected with his own hand what he had earlier dic-
tated, so as to make the whole read as follows : —

" Lord, I believe ; lielp tliou
mine unbelief."

argument, especially
tliat drawn fi-om tlie vastness of
the Universe, jin comparison "witli tlie
apparent insignificance of this globe, has some-
times shaken my reason for the faith which is in me ;
but my heart lias always assured and reassured me, that the
Gospel of Jesus Christ must be a Divine Reality. The
Sermon on the Mount cannot be a merely human
production. This belief enters into the
ver}' depth of my conscience.
The whole hlstoiy of man
proves it.

Daniel Webster.


When lie first dictated this inscription, he said to
the friend who wrote it down — "If I get well, and
write a book on Christianity, about wliich we have
talked, we can attend more fully to this matter. But,
if I should be taken away suddenly, I do not wish
to leave any duty of this kind unperformed. I want
to leave somewhere a declaration of my belief in
Christianity. I do not -wish to go into any doctrinal
distinctions in regard to the person of Jesus, but I
wish to express my belief in his di\ine mission ; " —
solemn and remarkable words, by which it is plain
that, having given the deliberate testimony of his
life to the truth of Christianity, as a miraculous reve-
lation of God's will to man, he desired, though dead,
still to bear the same testimony from his grave to
the same great truth. The monument on wliich he
intended this striking inscription should be placed, he
has elsewhere directed should be of " exactly the same
size and form" with the modest monuments he had
already erected, within the same inclosure, for his
children and for their mother.

On Tuesday, the 19th of October, he was too feeble
to appear at the dinner-table, and desired that his son
might take his place at its head, till he should be
able again to go down stairs ; " or," he added, " until
I give it up to him altogether." That evening was
the last time his friends had the happiness to see
him in liis accustomed seat at his own hospitable fire-

Warned by his increasing debility he had already
given some directions concerning a final disposition of
his worldly afiairs ; but he now desired that his will



iniglit be immediately drawn up iu legal form, and
the next day lie dictated a considerable portion of it
with great precision and a beautiful appropriateness
of phraseology. Some of its directions are very strik-
ing, not only from their import, but from the simpli-
city with which their meaning is set forth : —

" I wish to be buried," he says, " without the least
show or ostentation, but in a manner respectful to my
neighbors, whose kindness has contributed so much to
the happiness of me and mine, and for whose pros-
perity I offer sincere prayers to God."

After this, every thing relating to his personal con-
cerns is wisely and well provided for, and all his
immediate kindred tenderly remembered. He then
goes on : —

"My servant, William Johnson, is a free man. I
bought his freedom not long ago for six hundred dol-
lars. No demand is to be made upon him for any
portion of this sum; but, so long as is agreeable, I
hope he will remain with the family. Monicha Mc-
Carty, Sarah Smith, and Ann Bean, colored persons,
now also, and, for a long time, in my service, are all
free. They are very well-deserving, and whoever comes
after me, must be kind to them."

And then, with the usual legal forms, this remark-
able and characteristic document is closed.

The day when the preparation of the will was com-
pleted — Thursday — was one in which Mr. Webster
had attended to much public business, besides gi\ing
his usual careful directions about every thing touch-
ing his household and his large estate. It was in-
tended, therefore, to postpone the final signing and


execution of that papet until the next morning ; more
especially as his forenoons were uniformly more com-
fortiible than the later portions of the day. But, in

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Online LibraryBostonA memorial of Daniel Webster, from the city of Boston → online text (page 1 of 15)