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CHARLES W. MARCH.
145 NASSAU STREET AND 36 PARK ROW.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 185'J, by BAKER AND SCRIBNER, In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York.
It was the original design of the author to have given a series of descriptive sketches of scenes and persons in Congress, unconnected with any antecedents or relations of the individuals introduced; but, finding on examination of what had been written that Mr. Webster formed the principal figure in each effort of his pen, he concluded to give the book a more personal character, and make it an approximation to a biography. This change of design will be detected in any, the most cursory, glance at the book; there being a want of congruity or unity too easily discernible throughout.
The writer need not say that he has not attempted a complete biography. It is difficult, if not absolutely impossible, to write the life of the living. It is not merely that friendship would be too partial, or enmity too censorious, to present a true estimate of the character and conduct of the person illustrated—the difficulty in obtaining correct information is greater during the life of a person, paradoxical as it may seem, than after his decease. When one eminent in life has gone down to the grave, numbers come forward with ambitious haste, some with letters, some with anecdotes, some with facts illustrative of the character and pursuits of the deceased, and of their relationship to him. The grief we feel at the departure of a distinguished friend is greatly mitigated by the public sympathy with our loss, and we hasten to give that sympathy a proper direction.
Besides, of what we gain as authentic, we are obliged to suppress a part; if not from regard to the feelings of the person, who is the subject of our memoir, yet from regard to the feelings of others whose relations with him might be affected unfavorably through our indiscreetness. There are many things told, in the intimacy of friendship, in the abandon of social intercourse, that it would be grossly reprehensible as well as indelicate to give publicity to.
The earlier part of Mr. Webster's life, rapidly sketched, it was thought, would lend new interest to his public career; —we like to trace greatness, if possible, to its seminal principle, and dwell upon its gradual development. The writer of these pages might have given a fuller account of this part of Mr. Webster's life, had he not been restrained