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

REMARKS ON THE POLITICAL COURSE OF
MR. CALHOUN, IN 1838.

FROM THE SAME SPEECH.

HAVING had occasion, Mr. President, to speak of nullification and the nullifiers, I beg leave to say that I have not done so for any purpose of reproach. Certainly, Sir, I see no possible connection, myself, between their principles or opinions, and the support of this measure.1 They, however, must speak for themselves. They may have intrusted the bearing of their standard, for aught I know, to the hands of the honorable member from South Carolina; and I perceived last session what I perceive now, that in his opinion there is a connection between these projects of government and the doctrines of nullification. I can only say, Sir, that it will be marvellous to me, if that banner, though it be said to be tattered and torn, shall yet be lowered in obeisance, and laid at the footstool of executive power. To the sustaining of that power, the passage of this bill is of the utmost importance. The administration will regard its success as being to them, what Cromwell said the battle of Worcester was to him, "a crowning mercy." Whether gentlemen, who have distinguished themselves so much by their extreme jealousy of this government, shall now find it consistent with their principles to give their aid in effecting this consummation, remains to be seen.

The next exposition of the honorable gentleman's sentiments and opinions is in his letter of the 3d of November.

This letter, Sir, is a curiosity. As a paper describing political operations, and exhibiting Political opinions, it is without a parallel. Its phrase is altogether military, It reads like a despatch, or a bulletin from head-quarters. It is full of attacks, assaults, and repulses. It recounts movements and counter-movements; speaks of occupying one position, falling back upon another, and advancing to a third; it has positions to cover enemies, and positions to hold allies in check. Meantime, the celerity of all these operations reminds one of the rapidity of the military actions of the king of Prussia, in the Seven Years' war. Yesterday, he was in the South, giving battle to the Austrian; to-day he is in Saxony, or Silesia. Instantly he is found to have traversed the Electorate, and is facing the Russian and the Swede on his northern frontier. If you look for his place on the map, before you find it he has quitted it. He is always marching, flying, falling back, wheeling, attacking, defending, surprising; fighting everywhere, and fighting all the time. In one particular, however, the campaigns described in this letter are conducted in a different manner from those of the great Frederick. I think we nowhere read, in the narratire of Frederick's achievements, of his taking a Position to cover an enemy, or a position to hold an ally in check. These refinements in the science of tactics and of war are of more recent discovery.

Mr. President, public men must cer-

____________________
The Sub-Treasury.

-453-

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