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Dear Sir, I have received your favor of the 7th.instant, and am not surprised at the feeling it manifests in regard to the conduct of the gentleman in New York, who has ventured to put forth such bold views and opinions in relation to his friend, Mr. Webster, nor at the wish you express that this conduct should be made known to the latter gentleman.
But I feel that I can not, and ought not, to consent to have such communication made by or through me, for various reasons, one of which, and that decisive, is, that the matters mentioned in my letter were imparted to me in strict confidence, and under such injunctions of secresy as would forbid their going abroad, most especially in that particular direction. Another reason is, that, although I had a conversation with Mr. Weed, predicated entirely on the facts communicated by him through my nephew, I can not now be positive whether the whole of these facts were distinctly stated by both, or by one, and which of them, only.
As you may not have correctly understood that part of my nephew's communication, I will now state it a little more at large.
Mr. Curtis was made to say that Mr. Webster was a great and ambitious man ; that his affections had been_long set upon the Presidency ; that he had recently been quite unfortunate in his private pecuniary speculations, and repeated disappointments in these had already given a dyspeptic or hypochondriacal hue to his mind and feelings ; and that his friends were afraid that he might fall into the indulgence of habits which such a state of despondency is too liable to produce, and would prove ruinous to him ; that it was, therefore, incumbent on them to treat him with great delicacy, and rather to encourage than to thwart him in his ambitious aspirations ; and that it was under such views of Mr. Webster's situation that Mr. Curtis thought it inexpedient to disclose to him, at present, his real opinion in regard to Mr. Webster's future prospects for the Presidency.
- Peter Buell Porter
- The Private Correspondence of Henry Clay, Edited by Calvin Colton, Ll.D. 1856