Famous Americans of Recent Times eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 523 pages of information about Famous Americans of Recent Times.

[Footnote 2:  Daniel Webster once said of him in conversation:  “Mr. Clay is a great man; beyond all question a true patriot.  He has done much for his country.  He ought long ago to have been elected President.  I think, however, he was never a man of books, a hard student; but he has displayed remarkable genius.  I never could imagine him sitting comfortably in his library, and reading quietly out of the great books of the past.  He has been too fond of the world to enjoy anything like that.  He has been too fond of excitement,—­he has lived upon it; he has been too fond of company, not enough alone; and has had few resources within himself.  Now a man who cannot, to some extent, depend upon himself for happiness, is to my mind one of the unfortunate.  But Clay is a great man; and if he ever had animosities against me, I forgive him and forget them.”

These words were uttered at Marshfield when the news reached there that Mr. Clay was dying.]

[Footnote 3:  This is the correct spelling of the name, as we learn from a living relative of the unfortunate man.  It has been hitherto spelled Ambrister.]

DANIEL WEBSTER.

Of words spoken in recent times, few have touched so many hearts as those uttered by Sir Walter Scott on his deathbed.  There has seldom been so much of mere enjoyment crowded into the compass of one lifetime as there was into his.  Even his work—­all of his best work—­was only more elaborate and keenly relished play; for story-telling, the occupation of his maturity, had first been the delight of his childhood, and remained always his favorite recreation.  Triumph rewarded his early efforts, and admiration followed him to the grave.  Into no human face could this man look, nor into any crowd of faces, which did not return his glance with a gaze of admiring love.  He lived precisely where and how it was happiest for him to live; and he had above most men of his time that disposition of mind which makes the best of bad fortune and the most of good.  But when his work and his play were all done, and he came calmly to review his life, and the life of man on earth, this was the sum of his reflections, this was what he had to say to the man to whom he had confided his daughter’s happiness: 

“Lockhart, I may have but a minute to speak to you.  My dear, be a good man,—­be virtuous,—­be religious,—­be a good man.  Nothing else will give you any comfort when you come to lie here.”

So do we all feel in view of the open coffin, much as we may differ as to what it is to be good, virtuous, and religious.  Was this man, who lies dead here before us, faithful to his trust?  Was he sincere, pure, just, and benevolent?  Did he help civilization, or was he an obstacle in its way?  Did he ripen and improve to the end, or did he degenerate and go astray?  These are the questions which are silently considered when we look upon the still countenance

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Famous Americans of Recent Times from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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