« ZurückWeiter »
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1879, by
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.
UNIversity PREss: John Wilson AND SoN.
THE object of the present volume is not to supersede the standard edition of Daniel Webster's Works, in six octavo volumes, edited by Edward Everett, and originally issued in the year 1851, by the publishers of this volume of Selections. It is rather the purpose of the present publication to call attention anew to the genius and character of Daniel Webster, as a lawyer, statesman, diplomatist, patriot, and citizen, and, by republishing some of his prominent orations and speeches of universally acknowledged excellence, to revive public interest in the great body of his works. In the task of selection, it has been impossible to do full justice to his powers; for among the speeches omitted in this collection are to be found passages of superlative eloquence, maxims of political and moral wisdom which might be taken as mottoes for elaborate treatises on the philosophy of law and legislation, and important facts and principles which no student of history of the United States can overlook without betraying an ignorance of the great forces which influenced the legislation of the two Houses of Congress, from the time Mr. Webster first entered public life to the day of his death. It is to be supposed that, when Mr. Everett consented to edit the six volumes of his works, Mr. Webster indicated to him the orations, speeches, and diplomatic despatches which he really thought might be of service to the public, and that he intended them as a kind of legacy, — a bequest to his countrymen.
The publishers of this volume believe that a study of Mr. Webster's mind, heart, and character, as exhibited in the selections contained in the present volume, will inevitably direct all sympathetic readers to the great body of Mr. Webster's works. Among the eminent men who have influenced legislative assemblies in Great Britain and the United States, during the past hundred and twenty years, it is curious that only two have established themselves as men of the first class in English and American literature. These two men are Edmund Burke and Daniel Webster; and it is only by the complete study of every thing which they authorized to be published under their names, that we can adequately comprehend either their position among the political forces of their time, or their rank among the great masters of English eloquence and style.