페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

that I should find an overmatch if I ventured on a contest with his friend from Missouri. If, sir, the honor. able member, et gratia modestie, bad chosen thus to defer to his friend, and to pay him a compliment, with out intentional disparagement to others, it would have been quite according to the friendly courtesies of debate, and not at all ungrateful to my own feelings. I am not one of those, sir, who esteem any tribute of regard, whether light and occasional, or more serious and deliberate, which may be bestowed on others, as so much unjustly withholden from themselves. But the tone and manner of the gentleman's question forbid me thus to interpret it. I am not at liberty to consider it as nothing more than a civility to his friend. It had an air of taunt and disparagement, a little of the loftiness of as serted superiority, which does not allow me to pass it over without notice. It was put as a question for me to answer, and so put as if it were difficult for me to answer, whether I deemed the member from Missouri an overmatch for myself in debate here. It seems to me, sir, that is extraordinary language, and an extraordinary tone for the discussions of this body.

Matches and overmatches ! Those terms are more applicable elsewhere than here, and fitter for other assembiies than this. Sir, the gentleman seems to forget where and what we are. This is a Senate; a Senate of equals; of men of individual honor and personal character, and of absolute independence. We know no masters; we acknowledge no dictators. This is a hall for mutual consultation and discussion, not an arena for the exhibition of champions. I offer myself, sir, as a match for no man; I throw the challenge of debate at no man's feet. But then, sir, since the honorable member has put the question in a manner that calls for an

answer, I will give him an answer; and I tell him that, holding myself to be the humblest of the members here, I yet know nothing in the arm of his friend from Missouri, either alone or when aided by the arm of his friend from South Carolina, that need deter even me from espousing what opinions I may choose to espouse, from debating whenever I may choose to debate, or from speaking whatever I may see fit to say on the floor of the Senate. Sir, when uttered as matter of commendation or compliment, I should dissent from nothing which the honorable member might say of his friend. Still less do I put forth any pretensions of my own. But when put to me as matter of taunt, I throw back, and say to the gentleman that he could possibly say nothing less likely than such a comparison to wound my pride of personal character. The anger of its tune rescued the remark from intentional irony, which otherwise, probably, would have been its general acceptation. But, sir, if it be imagined that by this mutual quotation and commendation; if it be supposed that, by casting the characters of the drama, assigning to each his part—to one the attack, to another the cry of onset-or if it be thought that by a loud and empty vaunt of anticipated victory any laurels are to be won here; if it be imagined, especially, that any or all these things will shake any purpose of mine, I can tell the honorable member, once for all, that he is greatly mistaken, and that he is dealing with one of whose temper and character he has much to learn. Sir, I shall not allow myself on this occasion -I hope on no occasion—to be betrayed into any loss of temper; but if provoked, as I trust I never shall allow myself to be, into crimination and recrimination, the honorable member may, perhaps, find that in that contest there will be blows to take as well as blows to give; that others can state comparisons as significant, at least, as his own; and that his impunity may, perhaps, demand of him whatever powers of taunt and sarcasm he may possess. I commend him to a prudent husbandry of his resources.

DANIEL WEBSTER.

THE FIRST QUARREL.

AIT a little,” you say; right; an' I work an' I

wait to the end. I am all alone in the world, an' you are my only friend.

“WAIT

Doctor, if you can wait, I'll tell you the tale o' my

life. When Harry an' I were children, he call’d me his own

little wife; I was happy when I was with him, an' sorry when he

was away, An' when we play'd together, I loved him better than

play; He workt me the daisy chain-he made me the cowslip

ball, He fought the boys that were rude, an' I loved him

better than all. Passionate girl tho’I was, an' often at home in disgrace, I never could quarrel with Harry—I had but to look in

his face.

There was a farmer in Dorset of Harry's kin, that had

need Of a good stout lad at his farm; he sent, an' the father

agreed; So Harry was bound to the Dorsetshire farm for year

an' for years; I walked with him down to the quay, poor lad, an' we

parted in tears.

The boat was beginning to move, we heard them a-ring

ing the bell, “I'll never love any

but you,

God bless you, my own little Nell."

And years went over till I that was little had grown so

tall, The men would say of the maids “ Our Nelly's the flower

of 'em all.” I didn't take heed o' them, but I taught myself all I

could To make a good wife for Harry, when Harry came home

for good.

Often I seem'd unhappy, and often as happy too,
For I heard it abroad in the fields, “I'll never love any

but you ;” “I'll never love any but you,” the morning song of the

lark, “I'll never love any but you,” the nightingale's hymn

in the dark.

And Harry came home at last, but he look'd at me

sidelong and shy, Vexť me a bit, till he told me that so many years had

gone by,

I had grown so handsome and tall—that I might ha'

forgot him somehowFor he thought~there were other lads—he was fear'd to

look at me now.

Hard was the frost in the field, we were married o'

Christmas day, Married among the red berries, and all as merry a3

May

Those were the pleasant times, my house an' my man

were my pride, We seem'd like ships i' the Channel a-sailing with wind

an' tide.

But work was scant in the Isle, tho' he tried the villages

round, So Harry went over the Solent to see if work could be

found; An' he wrote “I ha' six weeks' work, little wife, so far

as I know; I'll come for an hour to-morrow, an' kiss you before I

go.”

So I set to righting the house, for wasn't he coming that

day? An' I hit on an old deal-box that was push'd in a cor

ner away, It was full of old odds an' ends, an' a letter along wi’

the rest, I had better ha' put my naked hand in a hornet's nest.

“Sweetheart”-this was the letter—this was the letter I

read"You promised to find me work near you, an' I wish I

was deadDidn't you kiss me an' promise ? you haven't done it,

my lad,

An' I almost died o' your going away, an' I wish that I

had."

I to wish that I had—in the pleasant times that had

past, Before I quarrel'd with Harry--my quarrel--the first

an' the last.

« 이전계속 »