Edward Everett, Orator and Statesman

Edward Everett, Orator and Statesman

Edward Everett, Orator and Statesman

Edward Everett, Orator and Statesman

Excerpt

The Life of Edward Everett never has been written. About three years after his death his two surviving sons, H. Sidney Everett and William Everett, published a fourth and final volume of the 'Orations and Speeches.' In the preface to that posthumous volume they made this statement: 'The republication of other writings of Mr. Everett's, and a memoir of his life, are in contemplation.'

This promise never was fulfilled. The private papers, letters, and journal all passed into the possession of William Everett, who apparently made one or two beginnings on a Life, but never carried the undertaking far. With all his brilliant mental gifts William Everett lacked the precious quality of perseverance. Year by year, therefore, as he became absorbed in other lines of work, he postponed the filial task, until at length all reference to the subject caused him pain.

Dr. Andrew P. Peabody wrote as late as 1888, 'The public still awaits, with an impatience diminishing as the years roll on, the Memoir of Mr. Everett which his sons undoubtedly will furnish, it is to be hoped, before the desire for it dies away.' Whether that desire can be rekindled, after all these years, remains to be seen. But at least it has seemed worth attempting. John Bright said of himself when some one referred to a possible biography, 'My life is in my speeches.' But as the younger Trevelyan remarked in his admirable Life of that great orator, 'After two generations have gone by not even the greatest speeches can be widely read or completely understood except by the help of historicalcomment.'

The same might be said of Edward Everett. He died sixty years ago, and the younger generations hardly know of his existence. But he was a great American, and one of the greatest of all American orators. He achieved distinction in many lines, and his brilliant career deserves to be rescued from oblivion. If the present volume does no more than re-

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