The Great Speeches and Orations of Daniel Webster: With An Essay on Daniel Webster as a Master of English Style

By Edwin P. Whipple; Daniel Webster | Go to book overview
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REPLY TO MR. CALHOUN.

A SPEECH DELIVERED IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES, ON THE 22D OF MARCH, 1838, IN ANSWER TO MR. CALHOUN.

[ON Thursday, the 22d of March, Mr. Calhoun spoke at length in answer to Mr. Webster's speech of the 12th of March.

When he had concluded, Mr. Webster immediately rose, and addressed the Senate as follows.]

MR. PRESIDENT, -- I came rather late to the Senate this morning, and, happening to meet a friend on the Avenue, I was admonished to hasten my steps, as "the war was to be carried into Africa," and I was expected to be annihilated. I lost no time in following the advice, Sir, since it would be awkward for one to be annihilated without knowing any thing about it.

Well, Sir, the war has been carried into Africa. The honorable member has made an expedition into regions as remote from the subject of this debate as the orb of Jupiter from that of our earth. He has spoken of the tariff, of slavery, and of the late war. Of all this I do not complain. On the contrary, if it be his pleasure to allude to all or any of these topics, for any purpose whatever, I am ready at all times to hear him.

Sir, this carrying the war into Africa, which has become so common a phrase among us, is, indeed, imitating a great example; but it is an example which is not always followed with success. In the first place, every man, though he be a man of talent and genius, is not a Scipio; and in the next place, as I recollect this part of Roman and Carthaginian history, --the gentleman may be more accurate, but, as I recollect it, when Scipio resolved upon carrying the war into Africa, Hannibal was not at home. Now, Sir, I am very little like Hannibal, but I am at home; and when Scipio Africanus South-Caroliniensis brings the war into my territories, I shall not leave their defence to Asdrubal, nor Syphax, nor anybody else. I meet him on the shore, at his landing, and propose but one contest.

"Concurritur; horæ Momento cita mors venit, aut victoria læta."

Mr. President, I had made up my mind that, if the honorable gentleman should confine himself to a reply in the ordinary way, I would not say another syllable. But he has not done so. He has gone off into topics quite remote from all connection with revenue, commerce, finance, or sub-treasuries, and invites to a discussion which, however uninteresting to the public at the present moment, is too personal to be declined by me.

He says, Sir, that I undertook to compare my political character and conduct with his. Far from it. I attempted no such thing. I compared the gentleman's political opinions at different times with one another, and expressed decided opposition to those which he now holds. And I did, certainly, advert to the general tone and drift of the gentleman's sentiments and expressions for some years past, in their bearing on

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