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

THE LANDING AT PLYMOUTH.

A SPEECH DELIVERED ON THE 22D OF DECEMBER, 1843, AT THE PUBLIC DINNER OF THE NEW ENGLAND SOCIETY OF NEW YORK, IN COMMEMORATION OF THE LANDING OF THE PILGRIMS.

THE great Pilgrim festival was celebrated on the 22d of December, 1843, by the New England Society of New York, with uncommon spirit and success. A commemorative oration was delivered in the morning by Hon. Rufus Choate, in a style of eloquence rarely equalled. The public dinner of the Society, at the Astor House, at which M. H. Grinnell, Esq. presided, was attended by a very large company, composed of the members of the Society and their invited guests. Several appropriate toasts having been given and responded to by the distinguished individuals present, George Griswold, Esq. rose to offer one in honor of Mr. Webster. After a few remarks complimentary to that gentleman, in reference to his services in refuting the doctrine of nullification anti in averting the danger of war by the treaty of Washington, Mr. Griswold gave the following toast :--

" DANIEL WEBSTER,--the gift of New England to his country, his whole country, and nothing but his country."

This was received with great applause, and on rising to respond to it Mr. Webster was greeted with nine enthusiastic cheers, and the most hearty and prolonged approbation. When silence was restored, he spoke as follows.]

MR. PRESIDENT:--I have a grateful duty to perform in acknowledging the kindness of the sentiment thus expressed towards me. And yet I must say, Gentlemen, that I rise upon this occasion under a consciousness that I may probably disappoint highly raised, too highly raised expectations. In the scenes of this evening, and in the scene of tiffs day, my part is an humble one. I can enter into no competition with the fresher geniuses of those more eloquent gentlemen, learned and reverend, who have addressed this Society. I may perform, however, the humbler, but sometimes useful, duty of contrast, by adding the dark ground of the picture, which shall serve to bring out the more brilliant colors.

I must receive, Gentlemen, the sentiment proposed by the worthy and distinguished citizen of New York before me, as intended to convey the idea that, as a citizen of New England, as a son, a child, a creation of New England, I may be yet supposed to entertain, in some degree, that enlarged view of my duty as a citizen of the United States and as a public: man, which may, in some small measure, commend me to the regard of the whole country. While I am free to confess, Gentlemen, that there is no compliment of which I ant more desirous to be thought worthy, I will add, that a compliment of that kind could have proceeded from no source more agreeable to my own feelings than from the gentleman who has proposed it,--an eminent merchant, the member of a body of eminent merchants, known throughout the world for their intelligence and enterprise. I the more especially feel this, Gentlemen, because, whether I view the present state of things or recur to the history of the past,

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