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The Revolt of the Netherlands

Friedrich Schiller


Esoteric Buddhism

A. P. Sinnett


Mortal Coils

Aldous Huxley


The Characters of Theophrastus

Theophrastus


Life of Daniel Webster

by George Ticknor Curtis

Excerpt:

PREFACE.

"A/TR. WEBSTEK, who died on the 24th of October, 1852, -*-*-*- made the following provision in his will, which he executed a few hours before his death :

" I appoint Edward Everett, George Ticknor, Cornelius Conway Felton, and George Ticknor Curtis, to be my literary executors ; and I direct my son, Fletcher AVebster, to seal up all my letters, manuscripts, and papers, and, at a proper time, to select those relating to my personal history and my professional and public life, which, in his judgment, should be placed at their disposal, and to transfer the same to them, to be used by them in such manner as they may think fit. They may receive valuable aid from my friend George J. Abbott, Esq., now of the State Department."

After the probate of the will, Mr. Fletcher Webster transferred to the literary executors all the papers which were supposed to be embraced within the purpose of this provision; and steps were taken to collect from other sources whatever else might be in existence which would be important to the preparation of a Life of Mr. Webster. The result was the accumulation of a large mass of papers and documents of a very important character, among which were a number of exceedingly interesting reminiscences in MS., furnished by the surviving few who had known Mr. Webster from his youth. Great pains were taken in collecting these materials, which were chiefly gathered by Mr. Ticknor, acting for his associates in the literary executorship. The whole of these collections, with the exception of those which belonged to Mr. Ticknor's personal relations with Mr. Webster, were then passed over to Mr. Everett, with the full understanding, however, that every thing else would be at his service whenever he should think it proper to undertake the writing of a Life of Mr. Webster.

As I was the draughtsman of Mr. Webster's will, and as he conversed freely with me respecting all of its provisions, I may mention what occurred in reference to this literary c-xecutorship. After naming Mr. Everett and Mr. Ticknor as the friends whom he most desired to place in this relation, he dictated to me the substance of the clause as it now stands. When it had been written down, he added, after a short pause : " Put in also Professor Felton's name and your own ; it is the only way I have to mark my affection for him and for you, and four will be as good as two." When I assented to this addition of my own name, there seemed to me scarcely a remote possibility that it would fall to me to perform the office which was evidently in Mr. Webster's contemplation in making this provision; and, when the will had taken effect, and for years afterward, it was always tacitly assumed among us that Mr. Everett would, at some period, be the person on whom that office would devolve. But Mr. Everett did nothing, I believe, after this time, toward the preparation of a full Life of Mr. Webster. Nothing, at least, was found, after his own lamented death, to show that he had begun to write one. His numerous avocations, public and private, and perhaps a continuing doubt whether the period had arrived when a Life of Mr. AYebster could be judiciously undertaken, led him to postpone a task for which he was eminently fitted, which his associates in the literary executorship were always unanimously anxious to have him assume, and for which they were eager to afford him all the aid in their power. It should not be forgotten, however, that one part, of what may be considered his duty to his illustrious friend, had been already performed by him, with all the diligence and devotion of his own time to the concerns of others that marked his character. In 1851, when filling the very laborious and responsible office of President of Harvard College, Mr. Everett had edited a full collection of Mr. Webster's Works, to which he prefixed a beautiful and carefully-written biographical memoir. At a later period, he sanctioned the publication, in 1857, by Mr. Fletcher Webster, of two volumes of Mr. Webster's Correspondence, and partly assisted in carrying them through the press. In the preface to that publication, it was suggested that the letters embraced in it would be of value as a collection of materials for a Biography of Mr. Webster, when the time should arrive for the composition of such a work.


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