LAW AND POLITICS IN NEW HAMPSHIRE.
The occasion of Mr. Webster’s first appearance in court has been the subject of varying tradition. It is certain, however, that in the counties where he practised during his residence at Boscawen, he made an unusual and very profound impression. The effect then produced is described in homely phrase by one who knew him well. The reference is to a murder trial, in which Mr. Webster gained his first celebrity.
“There was a man tried for his life, and the judges chose Webster to plead for him; and, from what I can learn, he never has spoken better than he did there where he first began. He was a black, raven-haired fellow, with an eye as black as death’s, and as heavy as a lion’s,—that same heavy look, not sleepy, but as if he didn’t care about anything that was going on about him or anything anywhere else. He didn’t look as if he was thinking about anything, but as if he would think like a hurricane if he once got waked up to it. They say the lion looks so when he is quiet.... Webster would sometimes be engaged to argue a case just as it was coming to trial. That would set him to thinking. It wouldn’t wrinkle his forehead, but made him restless. He would shift his feet about, and run his hand up over his forehead, through his Indian-black hair, and lift his upper lip and show his teeth, which were as white as a hound’s.”
Of course the speech so admired then was infinitely below what was done afterwards. The very next was probably better, for Mr. Webster grew steadily. This observer, however, tells us not what Mr. Webster said, but how he looked. It was the personal presence which dwelt with every one at this time.