Famous Americans of Recent Times eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 624 pages of information about Famous Americans of Recent Times.
What a delicious picture of this large, healthy Son of Earth Mr. Lanman gives us, where he describes him coming into his bedroom, at sunrise, and startling him out of a deep sleep by shouting, “Awake, sluggard! and look upon this glorious scene, for the sky and the ocean are enveloped in flames!” He was akin to all large, slow things in nature.  A herd of fine cattle gave him a keen, an inexhaustible enjoyment; but he never “tasted” a horse:  he had no horse enthusiasm.  In England he chiefly enjoyed these five things, the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Smithfield Cattle Market, English farming, and Sir Robert Peel.  Sir Robert Peel he thought was “head and shoulders above any other man” he had ever met.  He greatly excelled, too, in describing immense things.  In speaking of the Pyramids, once, he asked,

“Who can inform us by what now unknown machines mass was thus aggregated, to mass, and quarry piled on quarry, till solid granite seemed to cover the earth and reach the skies.”

His peculiar love of the Union of these States was partly due, perhaps, to this habit of his mind of dwelling with complacency on vastness.  He felt that he wanted and required a continent to live in:  his mind would have gasped for breath in New Hampshire.

But this enormous creature was not an exception to the law which renders giants harmless by seaming them with weakness, but for which the giants would possess the earth.  If he had been completed throughout on the plan on which he was sketched, if he had been as able to originate as he was powerful to state, if he had possessed will proportioned to his strength, moral power equal to his moral feeling, intellect on a par with his genius, and principle worthy of his intellect, he would have subjugated mankind, and raised his country to a point from which it would have dropped when the tyrannizing influence was withdrawn.  Every sphere of life has its peculiar temptations, which there is only one thing that can enable a man to resist,—­a religious, i.e. a disinterested devotion to its duties.  Daniel Webster was one of those who fell before the seductions of his place.  He was not one of those who find in the happiness and prosperity of their country, and in the esteem of their fellow-citizens, their own sufficient and abundant reward for serving her.  He pined for something lower, smaller,—­something personal and vulgar.  He had no religion,—­not the least tincture of it; and he seemed at last, in his dealings with individuals, to have no conscience.  What he called his religion had no effect whatever upon the conduct of his life; it made him go to church, talk piously, puff the clergy, and “patronize Providence,”—­no more.  He would accept retaining fees, and never look into the bundles of papers which accompanied them, in which were enclosed the hopes and the fortune of anxious households.  He would receive gifts of money, and toss into his waste-paper basket the list of the givers, without

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