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In private life, Mr. Clay exhibits the noblest characteristics of human nature, which may be expressed by one word — openheartedness. He is kind and liberal to a fault. Says one who is intimate with hiin, “his door and his purse are alike open to the friendless stranger and the unfortunate neighbor. Frank, open, and above the meanness of deception himself, and consequently never searching for duplicity and treachery in those around him, he has more than once suffered from the vile ingratitude of men who have been cherished by his bounty and upheld by his influence.
• The curse of aristocracy has never chilled the warm flow of his natural feelings. His heart is as warm, his hand is as free, and his smile as familiar as they were forty years ago, when, without friends and without influence, he first responded to the hearty welcome of the Kentuckian. His feelings have never changed with his fortunes.'
Mr. Clay is admirably qualified for the interchange of social and friendly feelings, in which he indulges most judiciously. His convivial interviews are enlivened by enjoyments of a marked intellectual character. His readiness at repartee, and aptitude for reply, are conspicuous features in his character. No emergency, however sudden or unexpected, finds him unprepared, or disarms him. He perceives the bearing of remarks, with the quickness of intuition, however vague or ambiguous they may be, and with the suddenness of thought frames and utters a suitable reply. An instance, illustrative of this rare attribute, occurred not long after his return from Ghent. It grew out of the subjects of the fisheries, and the navigation of the Mississippi river, which came before the commissioners during their negotiations at that place, two of whom, on the part of the United States, were Messrs. Clay and Adams. It is well known that Mr. Adams, whose constituents were deeply interested in the fisheries, insisted strenuously upon their preservation, and seemed disposed to grant to Great Britain the equivalent which she demanded for them - the right to navigate the Mississippi. It is equally well known that Mr. Clay as strenuously opposed the granting of that right to her, even if the loss of the fisheries in question should be the price of the refusal to grant it. Soon after the return of the commissioners, Mr. . Adams received a huge Codfish, probably from some person or persons concerned in the fisheries, as a testimonial of appreciation of his services in advocating their maintenance. The fish was an enormous one, weighing something like eighty pounds; indeed, it was so large that no dish could be found suficiently capacious to contain the monster when cooked, as Mr. Adams desired it to be whole. Consequently he was under the necessity of getting one constructed suited to the dimensions of his fishship. After he had completed his arrangements for having it served up according to his fancy, taking special care in ordering it to be placed in the
most conspicuous part of the dining-table, that its appearance might be as imposing as possible, he invited several of his personal friends to dine with him, among whom was Mr. Clay. When dinner was announced, Mr. Adams led the way to the dining room, closely followed by Mr. Clay, who, on beholding the huge fish, started back, with the exclamation of what on earth is that, Mr. Adams!' That, sir?' replied Mr. Adams, that is a codfish, from my constituents of Marblehead! I will not touch it,' said the facetious and witty statesman; • I will not touch it! Why not sir-why not?' was the very natural inquiry. • Because,' said he, "every bone of it would stick in my throai like a Mississippi Snag.
The most exemplary accuracy and fidelity characterizes all Mr. Clay's business habits. He makes it a point never to be indebted to any man; to live within his income, and to maintain strict punctuality in all his engagements.
It is his habitual usage, whenever he receives a communication, to return an answer instantly. All his papers are filed and arranged in the utinost neatness and order. He rises early, and observes such method in the divison of his time and distribution of his business plans, as to enable him to accomplish an amount of labor truly surprising.
That Mr. Clay has faults, we do not pretend to deny; this would be asserting of human nature that from which it never was, and never will be, exempt; but they are such as originated in early life, in his ardent temperament, leading bim to seek scenes of excitement, where he was frequently betrayed into errors and indiscretions. To the vice of gambling he is said to have been considerably addicted in early life-a vice which no one more sincerely deprecates than himself, as the following anecdote will show.
In the spring of 1819, we had the pleasure of being a fellow passenger with Mr. Clay, from New Orleans 10 Louisville. After a general acquaintance had been established among the cabin passengers, to pass away the time more agreeably it was proposed to have a game of cards, in which one of the number was requested to invite Mr. Clay to join. When the invitation was given, he inquired what game was proposed. The reply was, Bragg.
' The sudden compression of the lips, and the change from easy politeness to the dignified deportment of one entitled to give advice, evinced, at once, a determination not to engage in the game. • Excuse me, gentlemen,' said he, “I have not played a game of any kind of hazard for more than twelve years, and I take this occasion to warn you all to avoid a practice destructive of a good name, and drawing after it evil consequences of incalculable magnitude. In earlier days it was my misfortune, owing to a lively and ardent temperament, to fall into this vice, and to a considerable extent, and no one can lament more sincerely the evil and the consequences of it, than I do. These have followed me into nearly all the walks of life, and though I have long since abandoned the pernicious practice which led to them, it seems that they will never abandon me.' We remarked, that it was reported 'you won large sums of the British commissioners, at Ghent.' So the papers reported,' said he, “but not truly. The only game played at Ghent was whist, and that not over a guinea a corner.'
Whatever may be Mr. Clay's defects, we are happy to be able to state, that they do not grow out of principle, but that they are referable to the sanguineous nature of his constitution, rendering him easily excitable and irritable; in other words, his errors are those of feeling, and venial ones, if any are. Our surprise is, not that he occasionally suffered its impetuous tide to control his judgment, momentarily, but our astonishment, on the other hand, is, that this was not borne entirely away by it, and stranded among the quicksands of folly and violence, set upon, as he was, at every stage of his career, by political harpies and vampyres, and bayed by the furious mastiffs of unprincipled and licentious faction, as if he had been a beast of prey, prowling through the land to devour its substance. Fatigued, exhausted, and lacerated, with such a temperament as he possessed, it must have required, if possible, more than the patience of Job, to bear in silence the most painful inflictions which the ingenuity of his legion of tormenters could devise. It is not surprising that he should turn to the 'quiet shades of Ashland,' to seek that repose for which he had long pined, the enjoyment of which, for a lengthy period, he had debarred himself, that his country might receive the benefits of his labors. Amid these shades, we leave him, in an attitude interesting, becoming, and dignified, dividing his time between the employments and enjoyments of agriculture and literature, and so wisely as daily to give increasing evidence of his ability to sustain the threefold character which he has long borne, of enlightened statesman, devoted patriot, and genuine republican. Heaven grant, the time may not be far distant, when it shall be changed to fourfold, by the addition of another character, which the people only can confer; and one, which, if any individual can merit, at their hands, by laborious, lengthy, and most exalted services in their behalf, that individual is HENRY CLAY.
ON DOMESTIC MANUFACTURES.
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES, APRIL 6, 1810.
(This is the first speech on record, of Mr. Clay's efforts during his congressional
He had been previously elected to fill a vacancy in the United States senate, for a single session, in 1806, during which, in 1807, he delivered an able speech on internal improrement, which we regret has not been preserved. In 1809, the legislature of Kentucky again elected him a United States senator, and in the following remarks, he avowed himself in favor of the policy of encouraging domestic manufactures, which policy he had before advocated in the legislature of his own state. His early support of these two branches of national policy, which he afterwards called 'the American System,' is thus shown by his two first speeches in congress, and his name and intluence have become identified with the cause, of which he has always stood forth the distinguished champion.]
The local interest of the quarter of the country, which I have the honor to represent, will apologize for the trouble I may give you on this occasion. My colleague has proposed an amendment to the bill before you, instructing the secretary of the navy, to provide supplies of cordage, sail-cloth, hemp, &c. and to give a preference to those of American growth and manufacture. It has been moved by the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Lloyd) to strike out this part of the amendment; and, in the course of the discussion which has arisen, remarks have been made on the general policy of promoting manufactures. The propriety of this policy is, perhaps, not very intimately connected with the subject before us; but it is, nevertheless, within the legitimate and admissible scope of debate. Under this impression I offer my sentiments.
In inculcating the advantages of domestic manufactures, it never entered the head, I presume, of any one, to change the habits of the nation from an agricultural to a manufacturing community