Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 18.djvu/45

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.


of Thomas F. Marnhnll. 45

In 1851 the claims of both Crittenden and Dixon to a seat in the United States Senate were being urged with zeal and warmth by their respective friends. The rivalry of two such champions created quite a breach in the Whig party of the State. Mr. Marshall being a warm personal and political friend of Crittenden, urged his claims to the position with his accustomed energy and ability. Misrepre- sentation grew out of his course. He was accused of hostility to Clay, and he was more than once charged with being mainly instrumental in bringing about the unfortunate disruption of the party. In defence of himself, and to give more fully his views with regard to the sena- torial contest, he wrote a vigorous letter to the Louisville Journal in November, 1851. Apart from its value as an epitome of then current political history, it was one of the happiest literary successes, and has merits of the highest order. Bold in its originality, grand in its conception, of brilliancy, depth and classic finish, it will vie with similar productions of the ablest masters. We give an extract which forms a very picturesque characterization of Henry Clay:

"Mr. Clay did fall in 1828, and from a lofty height; but sprang, as he always springs, like the antique wrestler, the stronger from his fall, more terrible on the rebound than he was ere shaken from his feet. I have studied his life, his speeches, his actions, his character;' I have heard him at the bar and in the Senate; I have seen him in his con- tests with other men, when all the stormy passions of his tempest- uous soul were lashed by disappointment and opposition to the foaming rage of the ocean ; when all the winds are unchained, and sweep in full career over the free and bounding bosom of the deep. He owes less of his greatness to education or to art than any man living. He owes less of his commanding influence to other men than any great leader I have ever known, or of whom I have ever heard. He consults nobody, he leans upon nobody, he fears nobody ; he wears nature's patent of nobility forever on his brow; he stalks among men with an unanswerable and never-doubting air of com- mand; his sweeping and imperial pride, his indomitable will, his unquailing courage, challenge from all submission or combat. With him there can be no neutrality. Death, tribute, or the koran is his motto. Great in speech, great in action, his greatness is all his own. He is independent alike of history or the schools; he knows little of either, and despises both. His ambition, his spirit, and his eloquence are all great, natural, and entirely his own. If he is like anybody, he does not know it. He has never studied models, and if he had, his pride would have rescued him from the fault of imitation. He