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LOVELY BOY, When one has nothing to say you would think he might as well be silent. But you know there are folks whose words are in inverse proportion to the ideas they convey. If I could write you one concise, elegant letter, which met my ideas of perfection, I would be mute for a season with great willingness ; but I find myself obliged to send one written messenger to apologize for a former, and in this way am never like to be out of business. Some ten weeks ago, as I should think, I did myself the honor to address to you a huge folio, the longest I ever wrote, which is saying a good deal; and the dullest too, I fear, which is saying much more. I am suspicious you did not receive it, as it went by private hand, and as you never have answered it; to have answered it methodically, would be like a comment on the Law of Nations, yet you would certainly have notified me of the receipt of it. Your last letter, which I have received, was dated early in April. One, two, three, almost four months since ! a vast while truly. Yet it proves that you are agreeably employed ; for if you are at all like me, when " grief sits heavy at the heart," friends will occupy the next place.
Friday r , 23. Since writing the above that " urbanic and extended figure," A. Alden has called, and spent a day with us. He possesses, I find, a " mind not to be changed by time nor place," and bating some extravagant eccentricities, would be an amusing fellow. He tells me that Mrs. Bingham is about removing to Oxford, since the death of her husbandman. I lately received a letter with this indifferent and insensible postscript, " Mr. Bingham is dead." It instantly struck me. that . . . and I was chilled to petrifaction ; God be praised, I could otherwise account for the postscript !
Augustus informs me, that the 5th of July was kept with rejoicing, and that friend Merrill delivered an oration well calculated to " magnify the federal cause and make it honorable." I have engaged him, " the said Merrill," in a correspondence, for I think him a worthy fellow, and almost the only S. R, who possesses any liberality of mind ; though those pious folks would be very angry at me for saying so. By the way, Daniel Abbott writes me that he has been at Charlestown ; that he saw and instantly knew you; that he shall no longer distrust physiognomy, and that you parted under agreement of correspondence. I rejoice if my name has been the means of introducing two of the best men in the world to each other. I would indeed give rny pipe and its contents to see you together this lovely morning, before school, and that is more than I would do to see half the people in the world together. The hours devoted to the effusions of the heart are to me the most dear. In participation of sentiment and feeling, emotions of a tender and pleasing kind are excited ; and the rhetoric of the eye and the hand puts me in rhapsodies sooner than that of Cicero or Chatham. " One may as well not be, as be " and be alone in the midst of society, devoted to himself, and excluded by suspicious jealousies from the bosom of others.
With much pleasure I observe the name of your worthy father on the list of Federal representatives this year. The Jacobins in the middle of the State had calculated with confidence, as I found when I was there, upon having a legislature after their own image. They were drunk with joy at the prospect ; but the gentlemen may now " put a little water to their wine."
As to our friends, I can tell you but little. I correspond with few, and others I know nothing of. Brackett writes me that he is well situated at Rhinebeck, on Hudson River. He humorously informs me how he has been caught in the lure of an Albany hen-ess, like a pheasant in a snare. We ought, I think, to wish him, rather than her, a safe delivery. Clark informs me that he is still at Flushing, easy and contented, " living on the fat of the land." From Hanover I hear as often as the old gentleman Zek. sees fit to write to me, and now and then, though very seldom, I have a line from somebody else. And now, having modestly enough spent the bulk of three pages in talking about myself, I will reserve this space for a postscript, to acknowledge as I hope the receipt of one from you by the mail which is expected soon.
Good-bye, give your father the best respects of
P. S. Well, the mail comes, but no wished-for letter. Yet Hervey will think of me soon and let me know it.
I have seen a letter from Portsmouth, which informs me that J. Wentworth, the democratic lawyer and ode-maker, has had a most severe flagellation from Jere. Mason, Esq., for personal abuse, and another from the editor of The Oracle.
- Daniel Webster
- Private Correspondence of Daniel Webster, Edited by Fletcher Webster, Volume I, 1857