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[From the same.]
THE BLIND PREACHER.
It was one Sunday, as I travelled through the County of Orange, that my eye was caught by a cluster of horses tied near a ruinous old wooden house in the forest, not far from the roadside. Having frequently seen such objects before, in travelling through these states, I had no difficulty in understanding that this was a place of religious worship
Devotion alone should have stopped me to join in the duties of the congregation ; but I must confess that curiosity to hear the preacher of such a wilderness was not the least of my motives. On entering, I was struck with his preternatural appearance. He was a tall and very spare old man ; his head, which was covered with a white linen cap, his shrivelled hands, and his voice, were all shaking under the influence of a palsy, and a few moments ascertained to me that he was perfectly blind.
The first emotions which touched my breast were those of mingled pity and veneration. But, ah !
how soon were all my feelings changed! The lips of Plato were never more worthy of a prognostic swarm of bees than were the lips of this holy man. It was a day of the administration of the sacrament, and his subject, of course, was the passion of our Saviour. I had heard the subject handled a thousand times ; I had thought it exhausted long ago. Little did I suppose that, in the wild woods of America, I was to meet with a man whose eloquence would give to this topic a new and more sublime pathos than I had ever before witnessed.
As he descended from the pulpit to distribute the mystic symbols, there was a peculiar, a more than human solemnity in his air and manner which made my blood run cold, and my whole frame shiver.
He then drew a picture of the sufferings of our Saviour ; his trial before Pilate, his ascent up Calvary, his crucifixion, and his death. I knew the whole history, but never, until then, had I heard the circumstances so selected, so arranged, so colored. It was all new, and I seemed to have heard it for the first time in my life. His enunciation was so deliberate that his voice trembled on every syllable, and every heart in the assembly trembled in unison. liar phrases had that force of description that the original scene appeared to be, at that moment, acting before our eyes. We saw the very faces of the Jews ; the staring, frightful distortions of malice and rage ; we saw the buffet. My soul kindled with a flame of
indignation, and my hands were involuntarily and convulsively clinched.
But when he came to touch on the patience, the forgiving meekness, of our Saviour ; when he drew, to the life, his blessed eyes streaming in tears to heaven ; his voice breathing to God a soft and gentle prayer of pardon on his enemies, “ Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” the voice of the preacher, which had all along faltered, grew fainter and fainter, until, his utterance being entirely obstructed by the force of his feelings, he raised his handkerchief to his eyes, and burst into a loud and irrepressible flood of grief. The eff:ct is inconceivable. The whole house resounded with the mingled groans, and sobs, and shrieks of the congregation.
It was some time before the tumult had subsided so far as to permit him to proceed. Indeed, judging by the usual, but fallacious, standard of my own weakness, I began to be very uneasy for the situation of the preacher. For I could not conceive how he would be able to let his audience down from the height to which he had wound them, without impairing the solemnity and dignity of his subject, or perhaps shocking them by the abruptness of the fall. But, no ; the descent was as beautiful and sublime as the elevation had been rapid and enthusiastic.
The first sentence with which he broke the awful silence was a quotation from Rousseau, “Socrates died like a philosopher, but Jesus Christ like a God.”
I despair of giving you any idea of the effect produced by this short sentence, unless you could perfectly conceive the whole manner of the man, as well as the peculiar crisis in the discourse. Never before did I completely understand what Demosthenes meant by laying such stress on delivery. You are to bring before you the venerable figure of the preacher ; his blindness, constantly recalling to your recollection old Homer, Ossian, and Milton, and associating with his performance the melancholy grandeur of their geniuses ; you are to imagine that you hear his slow, solemn, well-accented enunciation, and his voice of affecting, trembling melody ; you are to remember the pitch of passion and enthusiasm to which the congregation were raised ; and then the few minutes of portentous, death-like silence which reigned throughout the house ; the preacher, removing his white handkerchief from his aged face, even yet wet from the recent torrent of his tears, and slowly stretching forth the palsied hand which holds it, begins the sentence, “Socrates died like a philosopher" - then pausing, raising his other hand, pressing
them, both clasped together, with warmth and energy to his breast, lifting his “sightless balls ” to heaven, and pouring his whole soul into his tremulous voice, “but Jesus Christ — like a God!” If he had been indeed and in truth an angel of light, the effect could scarcely have been more divine.
Whatever I had been able to conceive of the sublimity of Massillon, or the force of Bourdaloue, had fallen far short of the power which I felt from the delivery of this simple sentence. The blood which just before had rushed in a hurricane upon my brain, and, in the violence and agony of my feelings, had held my whole system ils suspense, now ran back into my heart, with a sensation which I cannot describe a kind of shuddering, delicious horror! The paroxysm of blended pity and indignation to which I had been transported, subsided into the deepest self-abasement, humility, and adoration. I had just been lacerated and dissolved by sympathy for our Saviour as a fellow-creature, but now, with fear and trembling, I adored him as - "a God.”
Henry Clay was born in Hanover County, near Richmond, Va., April 12, 1777. His father died in his infancy, and his mother, having married again (1792), emigrated to Kentucky. The lad was employed four years in the office of the clerk of the Chancery Court, and there acquired, among other things, a handsome style of penmanship. While in this place he attracted the attention o: Chancellor Wythe, who employed him as an amanuensis, and gave him good counsel upon his reading and study. He obtained a license to practise law before he was twenty-one years of age, and then removed to Lexington, Ky., where he opened an office. His fine person, engaging manners, and enthusiastic temper gained him hosts of friends and clients. After service in the state legislature, he was elected to the United States Senate to fill an unexpired term in 1806, and again in 1809. In 1811 he was elected a member of the national House of Representatives for the first time, and was immediately chosen speaker. This was at the time when war with Great Britain was in prospect, and Mr. Clay threw the whole weight of his personal and official influence in favor of the war party. He remained in Congress and in the speaker's chair until January, 1814, when he was made one of the commissioners whose efforts finally brought about a satisfactory peace by the treaty of Ghent. Bei elected again a member of Congress, in 1815, he was again chosen speaker. With the exception of a single term, during which he resumed the practice of law to repair some pecuniary losses, he remained in Congress till 1824, when, having been an unsuccessful candidate for the presidency, he resigned to accept the place of secretary of state under John Quincy Adams. As Mr. Clay gave the deciding vote in favor of Adams, the election having devolved upon the house, his
acceptance of the highest office under the man whom his vote had made president raised a storm of obloquy throughout the country. John Randolph termed the transaction a “a coalition between a Puritan and a blackleg” The phrase “bargain and corruption" was bandied about, and, notwithstanding the denial of both Adams and Clay, and the corroborative testimony of La Fayette
(to whom Clay had, in advance, declared his determination to vote for Adams), an impression was made upon the public mind that was never wholy removed.
In 1831 Mr. Clay was again chosen senator, and in 1832 was again defeated as a presidential candidate. He was brought forward again in the convention held at Harrisburg in December, 1839, and was undoubtedly the first choice of a large plurality of his party ; but in the end General Harrison obtained the nomination In 1842 he took leave of the Senate in a speech of great power and feeling, a portion of which is here given. He was again an unsuccessful candidate for the presidency in 1844. The opposition of Clay to the an. nexatio of Texas lost him southern suprort, and the rise of the third party, based upon opposition to slavery, threw the plurality of several great northern states against him. Once more, in 1848, Mr. Clay's hopes were deferred, and, this time, forever; the doctrine of expediency again prevailed, and the hero of the Mexican war received the coveted nomination.
Mr. Clay's farewell to the Senate proved not to be final, for he appeared again in 1849, and remained a member until his death, which occurred June 23, 1852.
The nature of Mr. Clay's mind, no less than the circumstances of his life, made him a practical rather than a speculative mın, a student of human nature rather than of books, a ready debater rather than a finished orator. Few men have been so marked out by nature as popular leaders, and few have had the boldness to originate and contend for a system of domestic and foreign policy with such undaunted perseverance. The great idea of Mr. Clay was to develop home manufactures, and create home markets for the results of industry by means of a protective tariff.
In the light of his numerous fai ures to aitain the place of chicf magistrate, it is clear y evident that talents, statesmanship, and public services color nothi:g in the estimat on cf party managers, and that the ambitious aspirant may be assured that his very gifts will weigh him down and make him fail in the race with the mediocrity that fortune may bring out against hiin.
The purely literary merit of Mr. Clay's speeches is not very high, but his ideas are clearly and forcibly expressed, and the generous enthusiasm of his nature breaks out at times in passages of true eloquence. His works have been published, with a memoir by the Rev. Calvin Coltoa, in six volumes.
[From his Farewell Address to the United States Senate in 1842.] FROM 1806, the period of my entrance upon this noble theatre, with short intervals, to the present time, I have been engaged in the public councils, at home or abroad. Of the services rendered during that long and arduous period of my life it does not become me to speak. History, if she deign to notice me, and posterity, if the recollection of my humble actions shall be transmitted to posterity, are the best, the truest, and the most impartial judges. When death has closed the scene, their sentence will be pronounced, and to that I commit myself. My public conduct is a fair subject for the criticism and judgment of my fellow-men ; but the motives by which I have been prompted are known only to the great Searcher of the human heart and to myself; and I trust I may be pardoned for repeating a declaration made some thirteen years ago, that, whatever -and doubtless there have been many
may be discovered in a review of my public service, I can with unshaken confidence appeal to that divine Arbiter for the truth of the declaration, that I have been influenced by no impure purpose, no personal motive; have sought no personal aggrandizement; but that in all my public acts I have had a single eye directed, and a warm and devoted heart dedicated, to what, in my best judgment, I believed the true interests, the honor, the union, and the happiness of my country required.
During that long period, however, I have not escaped the fate of other public men, nor failed to incur censure and detraction of the bitterest, most unrelenting, and most malignant character; and though not always insensible to the pain it was meant to inflict, I have borne it in general with composure, and without disturbance here [pointing to his breast), waiting, as I have done, in perfect and undoubting confidence for the ultimate triumph of justice and of truth, and the entire persuasion that time would settle all things as they should be, and that whatever wrong or injustice I might experience at the hands of man, He to whom all hearts are open, and fully known, would, by the inscrutable dispensations of his providence, rectify all error, redress all wrong, and cause ample justice to be done.
But I have not, meanwhile, been unsustained. Everywhere throughout the extent of this great continent, I have had cordial, warm-hearted, faithful, and devoted friends, who have known me, loved me, and appreciated my motives. To them, if language were capable or fully expressing my acknowledgments, I would now offer all the return I have the power to make for their genuine, disinterested, and persevering fidelity and devoted attachment, the feelings and sentiments of a heart overflowing with never-ceasing gratitude. If, however, I fail in suitable language to express my gratitude to them for all the kindness they have shown me, what shall I say, what can I say, at all commensurate with those feelings of gratitude with which I have been inspired by the state whose humble representative and servant I have been in this chamber?
I emigrated from Virginia to the State of Kentucky, now nearly forty-five years ago ; I went as an orphan boy, who had not yet attained the age of majority ; who had never recognized a father's smile, nor felt his warm caresses ; poor, penniless, without the favor of the great, with an imperfect and neglected education, hardly sufficient for the ordinary business and common pursuits of life ; but scarce had I set my foot upon her generous soil when I was embraced with parental fondness, caressed as though I had been a favorite child, and patronized with liberal and unbounded munif