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MY DEAR FRIEND, I have frequently taken up my pen to write to you since I arrived here, and have as often laid it down again without executing my purpose. The truth is, I was willing to write you something a little better than my correspondents generally have the fortune to receive. But, after all, I am commencing in my old way, resolved not to delay tilt chance might inspire me with an idea worth your reading, lest you should suppose me backward in entering into a correspondence, which I contemplate with pleasure.
You must therefore console yourself with reflecting that correspondence is a kind of commerce, where the greatest gain per cent, uniformly attaches to the greatest capital, and that there is as much to be learned in writing a good letter, as in reading one. Besides, you will remember that I am in Pequawket, a most savage name, and you will therefore suppose a most savage country. Whenever, therefore, I am dull and blundering you must not charge the fault upon me, but upon Pequawket ; thus I shall shift much responsibility from my own shoulders. I will, if you please, devote this to giving you some little account of my situation, business, amusements, and so forth ; and beg of you a description of yours. Whatever relates to my school you can guess in the general, and particulars cannot be interesting. This village is new but growing, already much crowded with merchants, doctors, and lawyers. There are here a good number of men of information and conversable manners, whom I visit without ceremony, and chat with as I should with you and Bingham. Among these are Mr. Dana, whom you know, and Mr. McGaw, who boards and lodges with me.
Fame has told me, though she is said to be a notorious liar, that you are a finished gallant ; it will be natural therefore for you to inquire about the number and beauty of our Misses.
In point of beauty, I do not feel competent to decide. I cannot calculate the precise value of a dimple, nor estimate the charms of an eyebrow, yet I see nothing repulsive in the appearance of Maine Misses. When Mr. McGaw told me he would introduce me to the Pequawket constellation, it sounded so
oddly, that I could not tell whether he was going to show me Virgo, or Ursa major. Yet I had charity to put it down for the former, and have found no reason to alter my decision. Being a pedagogue and having many of the ladies in school, I cannot set out in a bold progress of gallantry, though I now and then make one of them my best bows and say a few things piano, as the musicians have it.
When I go into the study of a friend, I look about and inquire for the books he is reading ; to save you that trouble, I will tell you my reading at present. I think it may be advantageous to communicate mutually an account of our studies, and reciprocate any new ideas that are worth it. I am now upon Williams's Vermont, which I never read before. 'Tis my object to investigate some facts relating to the political history of the United States.
I have been perusing, as an amusement, the " Pursuits of Literature," the book which has excited so much curiosity among the learned, and called down so much condemnation of democracy. I am not certain you ever read it, because I do not recollect having seen it at Hanover. I think it well worth a reading. The scantiness of the Poem itself, and the abundance of Notes, bring to my memory Sheridan's elegant metaphor of " a neat rivulet of text meandering thro' a meadow of margin.". . .
Report has just reached me that the marshal of N. H. is removed. I confess I did not much expect it, but these are Jefferson's doings, and they are marvellous in our eyes.
Adieu, my good friend. D. WEBSTER.
P. S. I congratulate the people of Hanover on the election of their anniversary orator ; and wish him better success than some of his predecessors.
Wednesday Morning, June 9. Since I wrote the within, which I had intended for the mail, Messrs. Hall and Whitmore have called on me. I am quite sure you did not know of the opportunity of sending me by them. They tell me that Politics stand 120 to 14 ; good, good. The sun is everywhere rising. The waning orb of democracy must soon be eclipsed. The penumbra begins to come on already.
Pray put a line in next mail, for one who is much your friend.
- Private Correspondence of Daniel Webster, Edited by Fletcher Webster, Volume I, 1857