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grand proportions and arrangements, before the foundation-stone was laid. The first thing with the sculptor, the architect, or the painter is the grand design. This being fixed, everything afterward is directed toward its perfect consummation. So it should be with the great work of life. When the course is determined upon, to secure the object in view it should be steadily pursued. You will pardon an illustration of the importance of this consideration by a reference to an incident in the life of one of the most distinguished men of our own country. I allude to Mr. Webster.
He, it may be known to you, was the son of a New Hampshire farmer of very limited means. All the hopes of the father were centered in his son. To put him through college was an object of great desire to him. This he succeeded in doing, but not without some pecuniary embarrassment, as may be the case with some of those fathers whom I now address, in their efforts to give an education to some of these young gentlemen now about to leave this seat of learning.* Before young Daniel had left the walls of his Alma Mater he had made up his mind to devote himself to the law. For the first year after his graduation he taught school for the stipulated salary of three hundred and fifty dollars. At the expiration of that time, with this small capital in hand, he set out for Boston to enter upon the course that he had marked out for himself. He was admitted as a student of law in the office of a distinguished counselor in that city. Soon after, and while he was still pursuing his studies, the clerkship of the Court of Common Pleas of his native county of Hillsborough, in New Hampshire, became vacant. The emoluments of that office were about fifteen hundred dollars per annum. Some of his friends, from the best of motives, no doubt, procured the appointment for young Webster, supposing that it would be very acceptable to him. The information was first given to his father, and he was requested to forward it to his son. The father was delighted, and he conveyed the intelligence to the son in language that left no doubt of his earnest desire for its prompt acceptance. Such was his respect for the feelings of his father, that Mr. Webster would not send a reply in writing, but went immediately, in person, to make known to him that he could not accept the place. This he did by gradually unfolding his views and inclinations on the subject.
* The extract is from an address delivered by Mr. Stephens before the Literary Societies of Emory College, Oxford, Georgia, July 21, 1852.
What," said the father, after he found from the son's conversation that he was speaking against accepting the place,
"what, do you
"Most assuredly," replied the son, when the question came direct, "I cannot think of doing otherwise."
The father at first seemed angry; then assuming the air of one who feels the pangs of disappointment in realizing long-cherished hopes, he said, "Well, my son, your mother always said that you would come to something or nothing; become a somebody or a nobody." The emphasis showed that he thought his son was about to become a "nobody.".
The reply of the son was: I intend, sir, to use my tongue in court, and not my pen; to be an actor, and not a register of other men's actions."
Nobly has that pledge been redeemed.
The decision with Webster, though young, as to his future course, had been made. The ideal of that character which he desired to establish had been formed. And to the fixedness of purpose with which he adhered to it on that trying occasion, when the strongest inducements of parental entreaty and pecuniary gain were presented to divert him from it, the world is indebted for that name and fame which are the pride and admiration of his countrymen, and that towering reputation which sends its light and effulgence to the remotest regions of civilization.
Another example of the same principle of fixedness of purpose may be given in the character of Mr. Calhoun, who was so long one of Mr. Webster's most distinguished rivals in the Senate of the United States. They both entered life about the same time, though under very different circumstances. And the lives of both afford striking illustrations of that element of character of which I am now speaking. Mr. Calhoun from his earliest youth fixed his mind upon politics. Not the arts and tricks and chicanery of the mere politician or diplomatist, but what may be more properly termed the science of government; the knowledge and thorough understanding of those principles and laws of human action which lie at the foundation of all civil society, in whatever form it may be found; and the regulations and modifications of which are necessary for the surest enjoyment of rational constitutional liberty.
In no branch of learning, perhaps, has mankind been slower in
their progress than in understanding the true principles of government, the origin of its necessity, the sauction of its obligations, together with the correlative powers and duties of those who govern and those who are governed.
To this most abstruse subject, which had engaged so much of the time and attention of the profoundest thinkers that the world ever produced, the great Carolinian brought all the energies of his subtile and powerful intellect. It seems to have been the absorbing theme of his life. Nothing diverted him from it. To master it was his object. Nor was he unequal to the work undertaken. All questions of public policy, whether in the cabinet or in the legislative councils, seem to have been considered, examined, and analyzed by him according to the strictest principles of abstract philosophy. But his labors were not confined to the consideration and investigation of temporary questions connected with the administration of his own government. His objects were higher. His purposes were more comprehensive. He looked to achievements more permanent, as well as more substantial, than the acquisition of those transitory honors which accompany a forensic display or a triumphant reply in debate. To such an end his efforts for years were directed. The result was the production of a Treatise, or Disquisition as he calls it, on Government, which has been published since his death, and which, though it has as yet produced but little sensation in the public mind, at no distant day will doubtless be regarded as the crowning glory of his illustrious life. This treatise has no particular reference to the government of the United States; but it discusses the elements and principles of all forms of government, reduces them to system and the rules of science.
I have one other point only to present; that is, energy in execution. By this I mean application, attention, activity, perseverance, and untiring industry in that business or pursuit, whatever it may be, that is undertaken. Nothing great or good can ever be accomplished without labor and toil. Motion is the law of living nature. Inaction is the symbol of death, if it is not death itself. The hugest engines, with strength and capacity sufficient to drive the mightiest ships "across the stormy deep," are utterly useless without a moving power. Energy is the steam power, the motive principle, of intellectual capacity. It is the propelling force; and as in physics, momentum is resolvable into quantity of matter and velocity, so in metaphysics, the extent of hu
man accomplishment may be resolvable into the degree of intellectual endowment and the energy with which it is directed. A small body driven by a great force will produce a result equal to, or even greater than, that of a much larger body moved by a considerably less force. So it is with minds. Hence we often see men of comparatively small capacity, by greater energy alone, leave, and justly leave, their superiors in natural gifts far behind them in the race for honors, distinction, and preferment.
This is, perhaps, the most striking characteristic of those great minds and intellects which never fail to impress their names, their views, ideas, and opinions, indelibly upon the history of the times in which they live. To this class belong Columbus, Luther, Cromwell, Watt, Fulton, Franklin, and Washington. It was to the same class that General Jackson belonged. He had not only a clear conception of his purpose, but a will and energy to execute it. And it is in the same class, or amongst the first order of men, that Henry Clay will be assigned a place; that great man whose recent loss the nation still mourns. Mr. Clay's success, and those civic achievements which will render his name as lasting as the history of his country, were the result of nothing so much as that element of character which I have denominated energy. Thrown upon life at an early age, without any means or resources save his natural powers and abilities, and without the advantages of anything above a common-school education, he had nothing to rely upon but himself, and nothing upon which to place a hope but his own exertions. But, fired with a high and noble ambition, he resolved, as young as he was, and cheerless as were his prospects, to meet and surmount every embarrassment and obstacle by which he was surrounded. His aims and objects were high, and worthy the greatest efforts; they were not to secure the laurels won upon the battle-field, but those wreaths which adorn the brow of the wise, the firm, the sagacious and far-seeing statesman. The honor and glory of his life was,
"Th' applause of list'ning senates to command,
To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,
This great end he most successfully accomplished. In his life and character you have a most striking example of what energy and indomitable perseverance can do, even when opposed by the most adverse circumstances.
HENRY WARD BEECHER, the most distinguished preacher of his day, not only in America, but in the world, was born at Litchfield, Connecticut, in 1813. He is the son of Rev. Dr. Lyman Beecher, himself a clergyman of positive character and commanding abilities, and is one of a large family of brothers and sisters, each of whom has won distinction in literature or the pulpit. Henry Ward graduated at Amherst College in 1834, and in 1837 was settled as pastor of a Presbyterian church at Lawrenceburgh, Indiana. Two years later he removed to Ind'anapolis, whence the first glimmer of his great genius surprised and fascinated the public. After eight years' service at this post, he accepted a call to the pastorate of Plymouth Church, Brooklyn, which is still the theater of his labors. His rank as a pulpit orator has already been indicated in the first lines of this paragraph. In that character he has won his fame, and in it he will go down in history with Massillon and Bossuet, and the great preachers of the English Church. His connection with literature is almost exclusively via the pulpit; what he speaks to attentive thousands in his church reappears in his many books, lacking, it is true, the magnetic and intensifying charm of his personal presence, yet instinct and eloquent with the lofty thoughts and the noble catholicity which are fundamental constituents of his nature. The limitations which restrict this notice forbid any adequate analysis of the sources of his power; but it may be suggested that Mr. Beecher's success as a moral teacher is largely due to the practical and sympathetic qualities of his mind. He knows how to put himself in direct rapport with his hearers or readers, knows their needs, their modes of thinking; puts himself in their place, in fact, and manipulates an audience of thousands as easily and effectively as he would conduct his part of a colloquy. A briefer definition of his exceptional intellectual equipment would be, -a marvelous knowledge of human nature, touching which he would almost seem to have received a special illumination. In his sermons and addresses every one recognizes a personal application, so many-sided and many-eyed is Mr. Beecher's mind; he speaks not merely to those in his presence, but to all humanity. His first book, Lectures to Young Men, was published in 1850, and has passed through nearly a score of editions. The Star Papers, First and Second Series, two volumes made up of his contributions to a New York weekly paper, and Life Thoughts, a collection of extracts from his extemporaneous sermons, have had great popularity. Within a year has been issued his Fale Lectures on Preaching, a series of vigorous and suggestive discourses delivered before the students of the Yale Divinity School. Mr. Beecher's most ambitious literary work is The Life of Jesus, the Christ, which is still unfinished, only one volume having been published. One of the most noteworthy advantages possessed by Mr. Beecher is his power of adapting his style to his subject. Our extracts illustrate this, and an examination of other specimens of his composition would disclose a still wider range of his versatility. His homiletic style is simple, yet singularly vigorous, compact in form, yet euphonious and flowing; his rhetoric is marked by frequent illustrations drawn from universal knowledge or experience, and by occasional passages of dramatic fervor and picturesque beauty. But in all his writings all considerations are held strictly subordinate to strength and substance.
1. JANUARY! Darkness and light reign alike. Snow is on the ground. Cold is in the air. The winter is blossoming in frostflowers. Why is the ground hidden? Why is the earth white? hath God wiped out the past, so hath he spread the earth like an unwritten page for a new year! Old sounds are silent in the forest and in the air. Insects are dead, birds are gone, leaves have perished, and