Want to save this letter now that you've found it?
It's easy - just create your own collection of letters after signing up for a free account.
HEALTH to my friends ! began my earliest song, Health to my friends ! my latest shall prolong, Nor health alone be four more blessings thine, Cash and the Fair one, Friendship and the Nine. Are these too little ? Dost thou pant for fame ? Give him ye Powers the bubble of a name ! Ask all of Heaven an honest man should dare, And Heaven will grant it, if it hear my prayer. 'Tis true, let Locke deny it to the last, Man has three beings, Present, Future, Past, We are, we were, we shall be ; this contains The field of all our pleasures and our pains. Enjoyment makes the present hour its own, And Hope looks forward into worlds unknown ; While backward turn'd, our thoughts incessant stray And mid the fairy forms of memory play. Say, does the present ill afflict thee more, Than that impending o'er a future hour ? Or does this moment's blessing more delight, Than hope's gay vision fluttering in thy sight ? Call now the events of former years to view, And live in fancy all thy life anew. Do not the things that many years ago, Gave woe or joy, now give thee joy or woe ? In this review, as former times pass by, Dost thou not laugh again, or weep or sigh ? Dost thou not change, as changing scenes advance, Mourn with a friend, or frolic at the dance ? Think when thy worth attracted SIMONDS first, And with new sorrow give him to the dust ? With present time thus Hope and Memory join, This to bear back, and that to extend the line, And all must own, except some learned dunce, That every man lives three times and at once. I'll state a case ; but Vanity, the elf, Obliges me to state it of myself.
In latitude some more than forty-three,
And longitude, say seventy-first degree,
Where Saco rolls, (a name so rough and fierce
It frights the Muse to bring it into verse,)
Tied to my school, like cuckold to his wife,
Whom God knows he'd be rid of, runs my life.
Six hours to yonder little dome a day,
The rest to books, to friendship, and my tea ;
And now and then, as varying fancies choose,
To trifle with young Mary, or the Muse.
This life, tho' pleasant of its kind, is yet
Much too inactive, I'm resolved to quit.
Now Spring comes on, her milder sceptre wields,
And fairly fights stern Winter from our fields.
Yon grassy glade with gaudiest tulip dressed,
Where the Muse wanders " willing to be pressed,"
Where " Doves " gay frolicking on ulmar " boughs "
Force one to instant rhyme, of " Loves " and " Vows,"
Would be delightful, were that thing called mind
Pleased with the present and to fate resigned ;
But on the soul if wild ambition seize,
Farewell, as Horace sings, I think, to peace !
Our college life, whate'er the proud may say,
To our existence is the month of May.
O then I knew not, or I felt not, care ;
Thoughts, free as nature, and as light as air.
Yet even then, ingratitude how base !
We thought we lived in quite a piteous case,
E'en then we deemed our fates were much to blame,
And called Miss Fortune many a saucy name,
Though life's gay stream ran dimpling all along,
Smooth as the numbers of a tuneful song.
There we had friends enough, and books a score,
Appointments some and disappointments more ;
Could court the Muse and as you know dispense,
For pretty little rhymes, with all our sense.
Could sit down sociable as mother Bunch,
And " dip in sentiment," or " dip in punch"
May Heaven forgive the man who with all these
Cannot find cause enough to be at ease !
God gave me pride I thank him ; if he choose,
To give me what shall make that pride of use,
Chance and the talent, I'll adore his Will ;
If he deny them, I'll adore it still.
Now Hope leans forward on Life's slender line,
Shows me a doctor, lawyer, or divine,
Ardent springs forward to the distant goal,
But indecision clogs the eager soul.
Heaven bless my friend, and when he marks his way,
And takes his bearings o'er life's troubled sea,
In that important moment may he find
Choice and his friends and duty all combined !
And Heaven grant me, whatever luck betide,
Be fame or fortune given or denied,
Some cordial friend to meet my warm desire,
Honest as John and good as Nehemiah.
- Daniel Webster
- Private Correspondence of Daniel Webster, Edited by Fletcher Webster, Volume I, 1857