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more deeply-seated and generally-extended conviction of the purity, disinterestedness, and inestimable value of his services, which, in view of our own experience, we firmly believed would be the invariable issue of a careful and candid examination of them. That we sincerely and strongly wished the dissemination and establishment of this conviction we gladly affirm, not because we attached the slightest importance to it, considered as a mere isolated fact, but because we knew it would be productive of great and permanent good in the minds of all where it should find a lodgment.
It is a well known and prominent truth, that those who are familiar with the beauties and sublimities of the natural world, are distinguished for expansive, liberal, and noble views. An effect parallel to this is distinctly seen in those who are surrounded by the magnificent scenery of the mental and moral world, and whose dwellings are irradiated by their effulgent luminaries. Hence, a sage custom of the ancient Greeks, as related by one of their historians, of causing their youth to be similarly circumstanced - especially those who were being educated with direct reference to the assumption of the duties and responsibilities of public life. In qualifying these appropriately to discharge the former and sustain the latter, their guardians and preceptors deemed it of vital importance to place before them the noblest scenes and subjects. In close connection with the precept ' know thyself,' they enjoined that of "know the good and great of others.' To them it was well known, that the contemplation of deeds of mental and moral grandeur was most salutary -- that it generated a desire to imitate and surpass them
- nay, more; that it limned them the walls of the soul, and filled it with the most beautiful intellectual imagery, which would eventually develope itself in action
- magnanimous, patriotic, and conservative of the best interests of mankind. To attempt to prove that such deeds thickly adorn the field of Mr. Clay's history would be superfluous, since the fact is well established in all civilized countries.
So much in relation to the motives for our undertaking. A brief statement of the manner and circumstances of its performance may not be inappropriate.
Our visions of anticipated pleasure, at its commencement, were fully realized during its progress. We had expected to be rewarded by the discovery of intellectual diamonds of the first water, but not in such rich profusion as we found them. In consequence of the frequent struggles between our inclination and inability to gather and bring away all, we fear that many of intrinsic value have been left behind; but we trust and believe, that the most beautiful and impor.
tant specimens, will be found in our collection. Entire originality for it is not claimed, but aid from various sources has been received in its formation. Deeming the facts and events of Mr. Clay's career public property, we have freely taken and appropriated them, wherever found, without considering it incumbent upon us to designate their locality.
With regard to the Speeches of Mr. Clay, no labor has been spared in seeking for them, and it is believed that few, if
which have been reported, will be found wanting in our collection. A brief memoir has been prefixed to each, illustrative of the subject and occasion on which it was delivered, and the fate of the question. In this labor, we have been materially assisted by Mr. EDWIN WILLIAMS, the former secretary of the American Institute; a gentleman well known for his accuracy and ability in historical and statistical matters.
In giving the result of our investigations, we express our fears that it will be found to contain imperfections, notwithstanding our endeav. ors to guard against them It has been exceedingly difficult to speak of Mr. Clay's eminent acts, without sliding imperceptibly into the path of eulogy. This, perhaps, has led to the error of saying too much sometimes, and too little at others. For defects of this nature, however, the intelligent reader will require no apology. But the deficiency most prominent, and one which we lament most sincerely, is, that of not having done justice to his transcendent talents and abilities as an orator. For this, an excuse must be furnished by our incompetency; the consciousness of which fell upon us, with overwhelming force, as we stood in the presence of his eloquence. We watched its wonderful and spirit-like movements and operations, and turned away from the task of adequate description, as we would have shrank from the fruitless endeavor to take the dimensions of a boundless and unfathomable ocean. Attempts at describing it we have indeed made, but they are abortive — dim shadows of its noble substance, and tenantless abodes of its beauty. Our belief of the utter impossibility to convey an adequate idea of it through the medium of written or verbal statement, has been confirmed by the opinion of those who have often beheld its manifestations. A distinguished senator remarked to us very recently, that Mr. Clay's eloquence was absolutely intangible to delineation — that the most labored and thrilling description could not embrace it, and that, to be understood, it must be seen and felt. Neither is it contained in those inimitable productions of mind — his speeches. Abundant evidences of its magic influence are found in these. The monuments heaved up by its hand of power, stand thick about its gorgeous pathway, which runs
through them all like a golden tissue, but it is not there. Its nature is too closely allied to etheriality to find a fit terrestrial abode.
What has been said of Mr. Clay's eloquence, is, to a great extent, true of his philanthropy and patriotism. No individual was ever less controlled by sectional feeling. The height of benevolence on which he planted himself was so lofty as to enable him, while legislating for his own country, in particular, to have an eye to, and care for, the interests of all other countries. In what manner and to what extent they have been benefited, by his exalted and humane services, it is believed an ample and authentic source of information will be found in our compilation of them. In the full assurance that these will endure the ordeal of the closest and most philosophic scrutiny to the end of time, we present them to the public, and cannot avoid giving utterance to the desire that they may be speedily subjected to it, and in the same liberal spirit which distinguished their performance. Should such a result be realized, we shall consider the time employed in gathering and arranging them most profitably occupied.
LIFE OF HENRY CLAY.
BIOGRAPHIC usage might require us to give the pedigree of the distinguished individual who forms the subject of the following memoir. Many considerations, however, combine to induce a departure from this usage. In the first place, we are strongly disposed to question the practical utility of it; and in the second, to doubt our ability, even after the most diligent search, to exhibit what is ordinarily the object of such a search — an illustrious pedigree. Indeed, we regard it as very problematical, whether we should be able to get beyond the pale of republican simplicity. But the most cogent consideration is the belief that our efforts would not be more highly appreciated than were those of the emperor of Austria by Napoleon Bonaparte. The Austrian monarch, desirous of proving his future son-in-law royally descended, was busily engaged in making the searches requisite to establish the fact. Napoleon, becoming acquainted with his intention, immediately visited him, and exclaimed, “Stop, stop, sire! I alone am the author of my fortune, and desire it to be so understood: neither royal descent nor royalty has contributed any thing to its achievement, and though I might legitimately claim both, would not inention either. We do not know that a similar indifference is felt by Mr. Clay, in relation to his lineage, but his plain, unostentatious habits, and firm adherence to republican principles, warrant us in presuming that such is the case. Certain it is, however, that for his present elevated position, he is as little indebted to any adventitious advantages of birth or fortune, as was the mighty conqueror; and with equal propriety might he say, in view of the means by which he had aitained that position, I alone am the architect of my fortune. Without attempting, therefore, to invest his origin with the splendors of a titled ancestry, it may suffice to observe, that family reminiscences render it certain that his imme
diate progenitors were distinguished for sterling worth, virtue and integrity. His father, a Baptist clergyman, labored in his official capacity with great acceptance, in a district of country in Hanover county, Virginia, familiarly denominated The Slashes, where, on the 12th of April, 1777, his fifth child, Henry, was born. He was not destined to enjoy those instructions and counsels which a father only knows how to impart, — for when he had attained his fifth year, his father died. This event consigned him entirely to the care of his mother a woman of an uncommonly vigorous mind, richly adorned with feminine graces, and every way competent to superintend his incipient education.
Unfortunately, the embarrassed condition of her husband's estate at his death, besides greatly augmenting her cares, prevented her from giving Henry that thorough course of study which she designed him to pursue. So far, therefore, from receiving a liberal, he did not receive a good elementary education. The lowly district school of that region, to which his instructions were limited, was deficient in almost every essential respect. But even under these inauspicious circumstances, in early boyhood he manifested a strong desire for knowledge, which in consequence of the pecuniary difficulties before mentioned, could not be gratified. All that the fondest maternal tenderness could do, was to lead him to the rills of learning, whose sweet waters, instead of allaying, rendered that desire more intense, and induced the resolution to seek its gratification at their unadulterated source. This, in after life, by his indomitable
he was enabled to execute. The means of education afforded him, though meagre in the extreme, he did not uninterruptedly enjoy. The straitened circumstances of the family made it necessary for him, in common with his brothers, to devote large portions of time to manual employments. He was no stranger to the use of the plough, the spade, and the hoe, over which literally by the sweat of his brow he earned his daily bread. He gained for himself the title of • Mill Boy of the Slashes,' by his frequent visits to a neighboring grist-mill, on the Pamunkey river. These he usually made, seated on a bag of grain thrown across a horse, which he thus rode with a rope bridle, without a saddle.
He appears not to have shrunk from any employment, however humble, when directed to it by his beloved mother. To her his attachment was most ardent, and often has he expressed his deep regret that he was permitted to enjoy her society during so brief a period. In 1792 she was married to Mr. Henry Watkins, and removed to Woodford county, Kentucky, accompanied by all her children, except Henry and his eldest brother. At the age of fourteen we find him in a small drug store, in Richmond, Virginia, kept by Mr. Richard Denny. His stay here was short, and at the commencement of 1792 he entered the office of Mr. Peter Tinsley,