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only twenty-five years of age, came forward to vindicate the measures of congress; and wrote a series of papers on the subject under the signature of HONORIUS, which were published in the Connecticut Courant, and read extensively throughout the state. The effect was great. At the next election, in April, 1784, a large majority of the legislature were supporters of congress in their measures. So highly were Mr. WEBSTER's services appreciated on this occasion, that he received the thanks of Governor Trumbull in person, and was publicly declared by a member of the council, to have done more to allay popular discontent, and support the authority of congress at this crisis, than any other man.”

These occurrences in his native state, together with the distress and stagnation of business in the whole country, resulting from the want of power in congress to carry its measures into effect, and to secure to the people the benefits of a stable government, convinced Mr. WEBSTER, that the old confederation, after the dangers of the war were past, was utterly inadequate to the necessities of the people. He therefore published a pamphlet in the winter of 1784–5, entitled Sketches of American Policy,” in which, after treating of the general principles of government, he endeavored to prove, that it was absolutely necessary for the welfare and safety of the United States, to establish a new system of government, which should act not on the states, but directly on individuals, and vest in congress full power to carry its laws into effect. Being on a journey to the southern states, in May, 1785, he went to Mount Vernon, and presented a copy of this pamphlet to General Washington. It contained, the writer believes, the first distinct proposal made through the medium of the press,

for a new constitution of the United States. One object of Mr. WEBSTER's journey to the south was, to petition the state legislatures for the enactment of a law, securing to authors an exclusive right to the publication of their writings. In this he succeeded to a considerable extent; and the public attention was thus called to a provision for the support of American literature, which was rendered more effectual by a general copy-right law, enacted by congress soon after the formation of our government. At a much later period in the years 1830-31,) Mr. WEBSTER passed a winter at Washington, with the single view of endeavoring to procure an alteration of the existing law, which should extend the term of copy-right, and thus give a more ample reward to the labors of our artists and literary men. In this design he succeeded; and an act was passed more liberal in its provisions than the former law, though less so, than the laws of some European governments on this subject.

On his return from the south, Mr. WEBSTER spent the summer of 1785, at Baltimore, and employed his time in preparing a course of lectures on the English language, which were delivered during the year 1786, in the principal Atlantic cities, and were published in 1789, in an octavo volume, with the title of “ Dissertations on the English Language."

The year 1787 was spent by Mr. WEBSTER at Philadelphia, as superintendent of an Episcopal academy. The convention which framed the present constitution of the United States, were in session at Philadelphia during a part of this year; and when their labors were closed, Mr. WEBSTER was solicited by Mr. Fitzsimmons, one of the members, to give the aid of his pen in recommending the new system of government to the people. He accordingly wrote a pamphlet on this subject, entitled an “ Examination of the leading principles of the Federal Constitution.

In 1788, Mr. WEBSTER attempted to establish a periodical in New York, and for one year published the American Magazine, which, however, failed of success; as did also an attempt to combine the efforts of other gentlemen in a similar undertaking. The country was not yet prepared for such a work.

In 1789, when the prospects of business became more encouraging, after the adoption of the new constitution, Mr. WEBSTER married a daughter of William Greenleaf, Esq., of Boston, and established himself at Hartford in the practice of the law, which he pursued for some years with increasing success.

This employment he was induced to relinquish, in 1793, by an interesting crisis in public affairs. General Washington's celebrated proclamation of neutrality, rendered necessary by the efforts of the French minister, Genet, to raise troops in our country for the invasion of Louisiana, and to fit out privateers against nations at peace with the United States, had called forth the most bitter reproaches of the partisans of France; and it was even doubtful, for a time, whether the unbounded popularity of the FATHER OF HIS COUNTRY, could repress the public effervescence in favor of embarking in the wars of the French revolution. In this state of things, Mr. WEBSTER was strongly solicited to give the support of his pen to the measures of the administration, by establishing a daily paper in the city of New York. Though conscious of the sacrifice of personal case which he was called upon to make, he was so strongly impressed with the dangers of the crisis, and so entirely devoted to the principles of Washington, that he did not hesitate to accede to the proposal. Removing his family to New York in November, 1793, he commenced a daily paper under the title of the Minerva, and afterwards a semi-weekly paper, with that of the Herald, names which were subsequently changed to those of the Commercial Advertiser, and New York Spectator. This was the first example of a paper for the country, composed of the columns of a daily paper, without recomposition, a practice which has now become very common. In addition to his labors as sole editor of these papers, Mr. WEBSTER published, in the year 1794, a pamphlet which had a very extensive circulation, entitled “ The Revolution in France."

The publication of the treaty negotiated with Great Britain by Mr. Jay, in 1795, aroused an opposition to its ratification of so violent a nature as to stagger for a time the firmness of Washington, and to threaten civil commotions. Mr. WEBSTER, in common with General Hamilton, and some of the ablest men of the country, came out in vindication of the treaty. Under the signature of Curtius, he published a series of papers which were very extensively reprinted throughout the country, and afterwards collected by a bookseller of Philadelphia, in a pamphlet form. Of these, ten were contributed by himself, and two by Mr., afterwards Chancellor, Kent. As an evidence of their effect, it may not be improper to state, that Mr. Rufus King expressed his opinion to Mr. Jay, that the essays of Curtius had contributed more than any other papers of the same kind, to allay the discontent and opposition to the treaty; assigning as a reason, that they were peculiarly well adapted to the understanding of the people at large.

During the residence of Mr. Webster in New York, the yellow fever prevailed at different times in most of our large Atlantic cities; and a controversy arose among the physicians of Philadelphia and New York, on the question whether it was introduced by infection, or generated on the spot. The subject interested Mr. WEBSTER deeply, and led him into a laborious investigation of the history of pestilential diseases at every period of the world. The facts which he collected, with the inferences to which he was led, were embodied in a work of two volumes, octavo, which, in 1799, was published both in this country, and in England. This work has always been considered as a valuable repository of facts; and since the prevalence of the cholera, the theories of the author seem to have received so much confirmation, as to excite a more than ordinary interest in the work, both in Europe and America. It is understood, that a gentleman from Hamburgh is employed in translating it into the German language.

During the wars which were excited by the French revolution, the power assumed by the belligerents to blockade their enemies' ports by proclamation, and the multiplied seizures of American vessels bound to such ports, produced various discussions respecting the rights of neutral nations in time of war. These discussions induced Mr. WEBSTER to examine the subject historically; and in 1802, he published a treatise full of minute information and able reasoning on the subject. A gentleman of competent abilities, who said he had read all that he could find on that subject, in the English, French, German, and Italian languages, declared that he considered this treatise as the best he had seen. The same year he also published “Historical Notices of the origin and state of Banking Institutions, and Insurance Offices," which was republished in Philadelphia by one Humphrey, without giving credit to the author; and a part of which, taken from this reprint, was incorporated into the Philadelphia edition of Rees' Cyclopædia.

At this time Mr. WEBSTER resided at New Haven, to which place he removed in the spring of 1798. For a short period after his departure from New York, he wrote for the papers mentioned above, which, although placed under the care of another editor, continued for a time to be his property. He very soon succeeded, however, in disposing of his interest in them; and from that time devoted himself entirely to literary pursuits.

In 1807, he entered on the great work of his life, which he had contemplated for many years, that of compiling a new and complete dictionary of the English language. As preliminary to this, he had published, in 1806, a dictionary in the octavo form, containing a large number of words not to be found in any similar work, with the definitions corrected throughout, though necessarily expressed in very brief terms. From this time, his reading was turned more or less directly to this object. A number of years were spent in collecting words which had not been introduced into the English dictionaries; in discriminating with exactness the various senses of all the words in our language, and adding those significations which they had recently received. Some estimate may be formed of the labor bestowed on this part of the work, from the fact, that " The American Dictionary of the English Language" contains twelve thousand words, and between thirty and forty thousand definitions, which are not to be found in any preceding work. Seventy years had elapsed since the publication of Johnson's Dictionary; and scarcely a single improvement had been attempted in the various editions through which it had passed, or the numerous compilations to which it had given rise, except by the addition of a few words to the vocabulary. Yet in this period, the English mind was putting itself forth in every direction, with an accuracy of research, and a fertility of invention which are without a parallel in any other stage of its history. A complete revolution had taken place in almost every branch of physical science; new departments had been created, new principles developed, new modes of classification and description adopted. The political changes which so signally marked that period; the excitement of feeling and conflict of opinion resulting from the American and French revolutions; and the numerous modifications which followed in the institutions of society, had also left a deep impress on the language of politics, law, and general literature. Under these circumstances, to make a defining dictionary adapted to the present state of our language, was to produce an entirely new work ; and how well Mr. WEBSTER executed the task, will appear from the decision of men best qualified to judge, both in this country and in Europe, who have declared that his improvements upon Johnson are even greater than Johnson himself made on those who preceded him. Still more labor, however, was bestowed on another part of the work, viz., the etymology of our leading terms. In this subject, Mr. WEBSTER had always felt a lively interest, as presenting one of the most curious exhibitions of the progress of the human mind. But it was not till he had advanced considerably in the work as originally commenced, that he found how indispensable a knowledge of the true derivation of words is, to an exact development of their various meanings. At this point, therefore, he suspended his labors on the defining part of the dictionary, and devoted a number of years to an inquiry into the origin of our language, and its connexion with those of other countries. In the course of these researches, he examined the vocabularies of twenty of the principal languages of the world, and made a synopsis of the most important words in each; arranging them under the same radical letters, with a translation of their significations, and references from one to another, when the senses are the same or similar. He was thus enabled to discover the real or probable affinities between the different languages; and in many instances, to discover the primary, physical idea of an original word, from which the secondary senses have

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