Clay by Horace Greeley

The Dryads are plainly no American divinities. A reverence for trees and groves, for woods and forests, is not an American passion. As our fathers and many of ourselves have spent the best of our strength in wrestling with, prostrating, using up the leaf-crowned monarchs, gray with the moss of age ere Columbus set foot on Cat Island, to expect us to love and honor their quiet majesty, their stately grace, were like asking Natty Bumpo or Leather-stocking to bow down to and worship Pontiac or Brandt, as the highest ideal of Manhood. An uncouth backwoodsman lately stated our difficulty with immediate reference to another case, but the  principle is identical: "When I was a boy," said he, plaintively, "it was the rule to love rum, and hate niggers; now they want us to hate rum, and love niggers: For my part, I stick to the old discipline." And so it were unreasonable to expect the mass of Americans now living, to go into heroics over the prospect of a comely and comfortable mansion, surrounded by a spacious lawn or "opening" of luxuriant grass, embracing the roots and lightly shaded by the foliage of thrifty and shapely trees.

Why is it, then, that the American's pulse beats quicker, and his heart throbs more proudly as, walking slowly and thoughtfully up a noble avenue that leads easterly from Lexington,—once the capital and still the most important inland town in Kentucky,—he finds the road terminating abruptly in front of a modest, spacious, agreeable mansion, only two stories in height, and of no great architectural pretensions, and remembers who caused its erection, and was for many years its owner and master?

That house, that lawn, with the ample and fertile farm stretching a mile or more in the distance behind them, are hallowed to the hearts of his countrymen by the fact, that here lived and loved, enjoyed and suffered, aspired and endured, the Orator, the Patriot, the Statesman, the illustrious, the gifted, the fiercely slandered, the fondly idolized Henry Clay.

A friend who visited Ashland as a stranger in May, 1845, thus writes of the place and its master:

"I have at last realized one of my dearest wishes, that of seeing Mr. Clay at Ashland. I called on him with a friend this morning, but he was absent on his farm, and Charles, his freed slave, told us he would not be at home till afternoon; so  we returned to Lexington, and, at five P.M., we retraced our steps to Ashland. Mr. Clay had returned; and meeting us at the door, took hold of our hands before I could even present a letter of introduction, and made us welcome to his home. His manners completely overcame all the ceremonies of speech I had prepared. We were soon perfectly at home, as every one must be with Henry Clay, and in half an hour's time we had talked about the various sections of the country I had visited the past year, Mr. Clay occasionally giving us incidents and recollections of his own life; and I felt as though I had known him personally for years.

"Mr. Clay has lived at Ashland forty years. The place bore the name when he came to it, as he says, probably on account of the ash timber, with which it abounds; and he has made it the most delightful retreat in all the West. The estate is about six hundred acres large, all under the highest cultivation, except some two hundred acres of park, which is entirely cleared of underbrush and small trees, and is, to use the words of Lord Morpeth, who staid at Ashland nearly a week, the nearest approach to an English park of any in this country. It serves for a noble pasture, and here I saw some of Mr. Clay's fine horses and Durham cattle. He is said to have some of the finest in America; and if I am able to judge I confirm that report. The larger part of his farm is devoted to wheat, rye, hemp, &c., and his crops look most splendidly. He has also paid great attention to ornamenting his land with beautiful shade trees, shrubs, flowers, and fruit orchards. From the road which passes his place on the northwest side, a carriage-road leads up to the house, lined with locust, cypress, cedar, and other rare trees, and the rose, jasmine, and ivy, were clambering about them, and peeping through the grass and the boughs, like so many twinkling fairies, as we drove up. Mr Clay's mansion is nearly hidden from the road by the trees surrounding it, and is as quiet and secluded, save to the throng of pilgrims continually pouring up there to greet its more than royal possessor, as though it were in the wilderness."

Here let the house, the lawn, the wood, the farm, pass, if they will, from the mind. They are all well in their way, and were doubtless well adapted in his time to smooth the care-worn brow, and soothe the care-fraught breast of the lofty, gallant, frank, winning statesman, who gave and still gives them all their interest. Be our thoughts concentrated on him who still lives, and speaks, and sways, though the clay which enrobed him has been hid from our sight for ever, rather than on the physical accessories which, but for him, though living to the corporal sense, are dead to the informing soul.

For it was not here, in this comfortable mansion, beneath those graceful, hospitable, swaying trees, that The Great Commoner was born and reared; but in a rude, homely farm-house, which had any man given five hundred dollars for, he would have been enormously swindled, unless he paid in Continental money,—in a primitive, rural, thinly peopled section of Hanover County (near Richmond), Virginia; where his father, Rev. John Clay, a poor Baptist preacher, lived, and struggled, and finally died, leaving a widow and seven young children, with no reliance but the mother's energies and the benignant care of the widow's and orphan's God. This was in 1782, near the close of the Revolutionary War, when so much of the country as had not been ravaged by the enemy's  forces, had been nearly exhausted by our own, and by the incessant exactions of a protracted, harassing, desolating, industry-paralyzing civil war. The fifth of these seven children was Henry, born on the 12th of April, 1777, who remained in that humble home until fourteen years of age, when his mother, who had married a second time, being about to remove to Kentucky, placed him in a store at Richmond, under the eye of his oldest brother, then nearly or quite of age, but who died very soon afterwards, leaving Henry an orphan indeed. He was thus thrown completely on his own exertions, when still but a child, and without having enjoyed any other educational advantages than such as were fitfully afforded by occasional private schools, in operation perhaps two or three months in a year, and kept by teachers somewhat ruder than the log tenement which circumscribed their labors. Such was all the "schooling" ever enjoyed by the ragged urchin, whose bright summer days were necessarily given to ploughing and hoeing in the corn-fields, barefoot, bareheaded, and clad in coarse trowsers and shirt, and whose daily tasks were diversified by frequent rides of two or three miles to the nearest grist-mill, on a sorry cob, bestrode with no other saddle than the grain-bag; whence many of his childhood's neighbors, contrasting, long afterward, the figure he cut in Congress, at Ghent, in Paris or London, with that which they had seen so often pass in scanty garb, but jocund spirits, on these family errands, recalled him to mind in his primitive occupation as The Mill-Boy of the Slashes, by which sobriquet he was fondly hailed by thousands in the pride of his ripened renown.

Forty-five years after his childish farewell to it, Henry Clay stood once more (in 1840), and for the last time, in the humble home of his fathers, and was rejoiced to find the house where he was born and reared, still essentially unchanged. Venerable grandames, who were blooming matrons in his infancy, had long since indicated to their sons and daughters the room wherein he was born; and the spring whence the family had drawn their supplies of water wore a familiar aspect, though the hickory which formerly shaded it, and was noted for the excellence of its nuts, had passed away. Over the graves of his father and grandparents the plough had passed and repassed for years, and he only fixed their position by the decaying stump of a pear-tree, which had flourished in his childhood, and often ministered to his gratification. Beyond these, nothing answered to the picture in his memory, and he would not have recognized the spot, had he awoke there unconscious of the preceding journey. Familiar groves and orchards had passed away, while pines which he left shrubs, just dotting with perennial green the surface of the exhausted "old fields," unhappily too common throughout the Southern States, had grown up into dense and towering forests, which waved him a stately adieu, as he turned back refreshed and calmed, to the heated and dusty highway of public life.

The boy Henry, spent five years in Richmond,—only the first in the store where his mother had placed him; three of the others in the office of Mr. Clerk-in-Chancery Peter Tinsley; the last in that of Attorney-General Brooke. From Mr. Tinsley, he learned to write a remarkably plain, neat, and elegant hand,—more like a schoolmistress's best, than a great lawyer and politician, and this characteristic it retained to the last. From Mr. Tinsley, Mr. Brooke, and perhaps still more from the illustrious Chancellor Wythe, who employed him as his  amanuensis, and repaid him with his friendship and counsel, young Clay derived his knowledge of the principles of Common Law, whereof he was, all his life, a devoted champion. At length, in November, 1797, when still lacking some months of his legal majority, he left Richmond and Virginia, for the location he had chosen—namely, the thriving village of Lexington, in the then rapidly growing Territory of Kentucky—the home of his eventful adult life of more than half a century. How he here was early recognized and honored as a Man of the People, and rapidly chosen (1803) member of the Legislature, once (1806) appointed to fill a vacancy in the United States Senate, and soon after (1809) elected out of, and by the legislature, to fill another and longer vacancy in that same dignified body; chosen in 1811 a Member of the more popular branch of Congress, and, immediately on his appearance on its floor, elected its Speaker—probably the highest compliment ever paid to a public man in this country—appointed thence (1814) a Plenipotentiary to Göttingen (afterwards changed to Ghent), to negotiate a Treaty of Peace with Great Britain, which was signed near the close of that year; re-elected, immediately on his return, to a seat in the House, and to the Speakership, which he retained thenceforth (except during a temporary retirement from public life, rendered necessary by heavy pecuniary losses as an indorser), down to March 3d, 1825, when he finally retired from the House on being appointed Secretary of State by President John Q. Adams; quitting this station for private life on the Inauguration of President Jackson in 1829, returning to the Senate in 1831, and continuing one of its most eminent and influential members till 1842, when he retired, as he supposed for ever; but  was returned, by an unanimous vote of the Legislature, in 1849, and dying a Senator in Washington on the 29th of June, 1852, aged more than seventy-five years, of which more than half had been spent in the public service, and nearly all, since his majority, in active, ardent, anxious familiarity with public men and public measures,—this is no place to set forth in detail. The merest glance is all we can give to the public, official career of Henry Clay.

For our business is not here with Tariffs, Banks, Vetoes, and Presidential contests or aspirations. Our theme is the man Henry Clay,—what he was intrinsically, and in his daily dealings with, and deportment toward, his fellow-beings. If there be a better mode of developing his character than Plutarch's, we have not now time to ascertain and employ it, so we must e'en be content with that.

A tall, plain, poor, friendless youth, was young Henry, when he set up his Ebenezer in Lexington, and, after a few months' preliminary study, announced himself a candidate for practice as an attorney. He had not even the means of paying his weekly board. "I remember," he observed in his Lexington speech of 1842, "how comfortable I thought I should be, if I could make £100 Virginia money, per year; and with what delight I received my first fifteen shilling fee. My hopes were more than realized. I immediately rushed into a lucrative practice."

Local tradition affirms that the Bar of Lexington, being unusually strong when Mr. Clay first appeared thereat, an understanding had grown up among the seniors, that they would systematically discountenance the advent of any new aspirants, so as to keep the business remunerating, and  preserve each other from the peril of being starved out. It was some time, therefore, before young Clay obtained a case to manage in Court; and when he did appear there, the old heads greeted the outset of his argument with winks, and nods, and meaning smiles, and titters, intended to disconcert and embarrass him. So they did for a few minutes; but they soon exasperated and roused him. His eyes flashed, and sentence after sentence came pouring rapidly out, replete with the fire of eloquence and genius. At length, one of the old heads leaned across the table and whispered to another, "I think we must let this young man pass." Of course they must!—the case was as plain as the portliest of noses on the most rubicund of faces. Henry Clay passed, nem. con., and his position and success at that Bar were never more disputed nor doubted.

General Cass, in his remarks in the Senate on the occasion of Mr. Clay's death, has the following interesting reminiscence:

"It is almost half a century since he passed through Chilicothe, then the seat of government of Ohio, where I was a member of the Legislature, on his way to take his place in this very body, which is now listening to this reminiscence, and to a feeble tribute of regard from one who then saw him for the first time, but who can never forget the impression he produced by the charms of his conversation, the frankness of his manner, and the high qualities with which he was endowed."

That an untaught, portionless rustic, reared not only in one of the rudest localities, but in the most troublous and critical era of our country, when the general poverty and insecurity rendered any attention to personal culture difficult, almost impossible, and graduating from a log school-house, should have been celebrated for the union in his manners, of grace with  frankness, ease with fascination, is not unworthy of remark. Of the fact, those who never knew Mr. Clay personally, may have abundant attestations, which none others will need.

While in Europe as a negotiator for Peace with Great Britain, Mr. Clay was brought into immediate and familiar contact, not only with his associates, the urbane and cultivated John Quincy Adams, whose life had been divided between seminaries and courts; the philosophic Gallatin and the chivalric Bayard, but also with the noble and aristocratic Commissioners of Great Britain, and with many others of like breeding and position, to whom the importance of their mission, its protracted labors and its successful result, commended our Plenipotentiaries. A single anecdote will illustrate the impression he every where produced. An octogenarian British Earl, who had retired from public life because of his years, but who still cherished a natural interest in public men and measures, being struck by the impression made in the aristocratic circles of London by the American Commissioners, then on their way home from Ghent, requested a friend to bring them to see him at his house, to which his growing infirmities confined him. The visit was promptly and cheerfully paid, and the obliging friend afterwards inquired of the old Lord as to the impression the Americans had made upon him. "Ah!" said the veteran, with the "light of other days" gleaming from his eyes, "I liked them all, but I liked the Kentucky man best." It was so every where.

One specimen has been preserved of Mr. Clay's felicity of repartee and charm of conversation, as exhibited while in Paris, immediately after the conclusion of Peace at Ghent. He was there introduced to the famous Madame de Stael,  who cordially addressed him with—"Ah, Mr. Clay! I have been in England, and have been battling your cause for you there." "I know it, madame; we heard of your powerful interposition, and are grateful and thankful for it." "They were much enraged against you," said she: "so much so, that they at one time thought seriously of sending the Duke of Wellington to command their armies against you!" "I am very sorry, madame," replied Mr. Clay, "that they did not send his Grace." "Why?" asked she, surprised. "Because, madame, if he had beaten us, we should have been in the condition of Europe, without disgrace. But, if we had been so fortunate as to defeat him, we should have greatly added to the renown of our arms."

At his next meeting with "Corinne," at her own house, Mr. Clay was introduced by her to the conqueror at Waterloo, when she related the above conversation. The Duke promptly responded that, had it been his fortune to serve against the Americans, and to triumph over them, he should indeed have regarded that triumph as the proudest of his achievements.

Mr. Clay was in London when the tidings of Waterloo arrived, and set the British frantic with exultation. He was dining one day at Lord Castlereagh's, while Bonaparte's position was still uncertain, as he had disappeared from Paris, and fled none knew whither. The most probable conjecture was that he had embarked at some little port for the United States, and would probably make his way thither, as he was always lucky on water. "If he reaches your shores, Mr. Clay," gravely inquired Lord Liverpool (one of the Ministers), "will he not give you a great deal of trouble?" "Not the least," was the prompt reply of the Kentuckian; "we shall  be very glad to receive him; to treat him with all hospitality, and very soon make him a good democrat." A general laugh here restored the hilarity of the party.

The magnetism of Mr. Clay's manner and conversation have perhaps received no stronger testimony than that of Gen. Glascock, a political antagonist, who came into Congress from Georgia, during the fierce struggle which followed the removal of the Deposits. "Gen. Glascock," said a mutual friend, at a party one evening, "shall I make you acquainted with Mr. Clay?" "No, Sir!" was the prompt and stern response; "I choose not to be fascinated and moulded by him, as friend and foe appear to be, and I shall therefore decline his acquaintance."

Mr. Clay had a natural repugnance to caucuses, conventions, and the kindred contrivances whereby great men are elaborated out of very small materials, and was uniformly a candidate for Congress "on his own hook," with no fence between him and his constituents. Only once in the course of his long Representative career was he obliged to canvass for his election, and he was never defeated, nor ever could be, before a public that he could personally meet and address. The one searching ordeal to which he was subjected, followed the passage of the "Compensation Act" of 1816, whereby Congress substituted for its own per diem a fixed salary of $1,500 to each Member. This act raised a storm throughout the country, which prostrated most of its supporters. The hostility excited was especially strong in the West, then very poor, especially in money: $1,500 then, being equal to $4000 at present. John Pope (afterward Gen. Jackson's Governor of Arkansas), one of the ablest men in Kentucky, a federalist of the old school, and a personal antagonist of Mr. Clay, took the stump as his competitor for the seat, and gave him enough to do through the canvass. They met in discussion at several local assemblages, and finally in a pitched battle at Higbie; a place central to the three counties composing the district, where the whole people collected to hear them. Pope had the district with him in his denunciation of the Compensation Bill, while Clay retorted with effect, by pressing home on his antagonist the embittered and not very consistent hostility of the latter to the war with Great Britain, recently concluded, which uniformly had been very popular in Kentucky. The result was decisive: Mr. Clay was re-elected by about six hundred majority.

That excited canvass was fruitful of characteristic incidents like the following:

While traversing the district, Mr. Clay encountered an old hunter, who had always before been his warm friend, but was now opposed to his re-election on account of the Compensation Bill. "Have you a good rifle, my friend?" asked Mr. Clay. "Yes." "Did it ever flash?" "Once only," he replied. "What did you do with it—throw it away?" "No, I picked the flint, tried it again, and brought down the game." "Have I ever flashed but upon the Compensation Bill?" "No!" "Will you throw me away?" "No, no!" exclaimed the hunter with enthusiasm, nearly overpowered by his feelings; "I will pick the flint, and try you again!" He was afterward a warm supporter of Mr. Clay.

An Irish barber in Lexington, Jerry Murphy by name, who had always before been a zealous admirer and active supporter of Mr. Clay, was observed during this canvass to  maintain a studied silence. That silence was ominous, especially as he was known to be under personal obligation to Mr. Clay for legal assistance to rescue him from various difficulties in which his hasty temper had involved him. At length, an active and prominent partisan of the speaker called on the barber, with whom he had great influence, and pressed him to dispel the doubt that hung over his intentions by a frank declaration in favor of his old favorite. Looking his canvasser in the eye, with equal earnestness and shrewdness, Murphy responded; "I tell you what, docthur; I mane to vote for the man that can put but one hand into the Treasury." (Mr. Pope had lost one of his arms in early life, and the humor of Pat's allusion to this circumstance, in connection with Mr. Clay's support of the Compensation Bill, was inimitable.)

Mr. Clay was confessedly the best presiding officer that any deliberative body in America has ever known, and none was ever more severely tried. The intensity and bitterness of party feeling during the earlier portion of his Speakership cannot now be realized except by the few who remember those days. It was common at that time in New England town-meetings, for the rival parties to take opposite sides of the broad aisle in the meeting-house, and thus remain, hardly speaking across the line separation, from morning till night. Hon. Josiah Quincy, the Representative of Boston, was distinguished in Congress for the ferocity of his assaults on the policy of Jefferson and Madison; and between him and Mr. Clay there were frequent and sharp encounters, barely kept within the limits prescribed by parliamentary decorum. At a later period, the eccentric and distinguished John Randolph, the master of satire and invective; and who, though not avowedly a Federalist, opposed nearly every act of the Democrat Administrations of 1801-16, and was the unfailing antagonist of every measure proposed or supported by Mr. Clay, was a thorn in the side of the Speaker for years. Many were the passages between them in which blows were given and taken, whereof the gloves of parliamentary etiquette could not break the force: the War, the Tariff, the early recognition of Greek and South American Independence, the Missouri Compromise, &c. &c., being strenuously advocated by Mr. Clay and opposed by Mr. Randolph. But of these this is no place to speak. Innumerable appeals from Mr. Clay's decisions, as Speaker, were made by the orator of Roanoke, but no one of them was ever sustained by the House. At length, after Mr. Clay had left Congress, and Mr. Randolph been transferred to the Senate, a bloodless duel between them grew out of the Virginian's unmeasured abuse of the Kentuckian's agency in electing J.Q. Adams to the Presidency; a duel which seems to have had the effect of softening, if not dissipating Randolph's rancor against Mr. Clay. Though evermore a political antagonist, his personal antipathy was no longer manifested; and one of the last visits of Randolph to the Capitol, when dying of consumption, was made for the avowed purpose of hearing in the Senate the well-known voice of the eloquent Sage of Ashland.

On the floor of the House, Mr. Clay was often impetuous in discussion, and delighted to relieve the tedium of debate, and modify the sternness of antagonism by a sportive jest or lively repartee. On one occasion, Gen. Alexander Smythe of Virginia, who often afflicted the House by the verbosity of his harangues and the multiplicity of his dry citations, had paused  in the middle of a speech which seemed likely to endure for ever, to send to the library for a book from which he wished to note a passage. Fixing his eye on Mr. Clay, who sat near him, he observed the Kentuckian writhing in his seat as if his patience had already been exhausted. "You, sir," remarked Smythe addressing the Speaker, "speak for the present generation; but I speak for posterity." "Yes," said Mr. Clay, "and you seem resolved to speak until the arrival of your auditory."

Revolutionary pensions were a source of frequent passages between eastern and western members; the greater portion of those pensions being payable to eastern survivors of the struggle. On one occasion when a Pension Bill was under discussion, Hon. Enoch Lincoln (afterwards Governor of Maine) was dilating on the services and sufferings of these veterans, and closed with the patriotic adjuration, "Soldiers of the Revolution! live for ever!" Mr. Clay followed, counselling moderation in the grant of pensions, that the country might not be overloaded and rendered restive by their burden, and turning to Mr. Lincoln with a smile, observed—"I hope my worthy friend will not insist on the very great duration of these pensions which he has suggested. Will he not consent, by way of a compromise, to a term of nine hundred and ninety-nine years instead of eternity?"

A few sentences culled from the remarks in Congress elicited by his death, will fitly close this hasty daguerreotype of the man Henry Clay.

Mr. Underwood (his colleague) observed in Senate that "his physical and mental organization eminently qualified him to become a great and impressive orator. His person was tall, slender and commanding. His temperament, ardent, fearless,  and full of hope. His countenance, clear, expressive, and variable—indicating the emotion which predominated at the moment with exact similitude. His voice, cultivated and modulated in harmony with the sentiment he desired to express, fell upon the ear with the melody of enrapturing music. His eye beaming with intelligence and flashing with coruscations of genius. His gestures and attitudes graceful and natural. These personal advantages won the prepossessions of an audience even before his intellectual powers began to move his hearers; and when his strong common sense, his profound reasoning, his clear conceptions of his subject in all its bearings, and his striking and beautiful illustrations, united with such personal qualities, were brought to the discussion of any question, his audience was enraptured, convinced and led by the orator as if enchanted by the lyre of Orpheus.

"No man was ever blessed by his Creator with faculties of a higher order than Mr. Clay. In the quickness of his perceptions, and the rapidity with which his conclusions were formed, he had few equals and no superiors. He was eminently endowed with a nice discriminating taste for order, symmetry, and beauty. He detected in a moment every thing out of place or deficient in his room, upon his farm, in his own or the dress of others. He was a skilful judge of the form and qualities of his domestic animals, which he delighted to raise on his farm. I could give you instances of the quickness and minuteness of his keen faculty of observation, which never overlooked any thing. A want of neatness and order was offensive to him. He was particular and neat in his handwriting and his apparel. A slovenly blot or negligence of any  sort met his condemnation; while he was so organized that he attended to, and arranged little things to please and gratify his natural love for neatness, order, and beauty, his great intellectual faculties grasped all the subjects of jurisprudence and politics with a facility amounting almost to intuition. As a lawyer, he stood at the head of his profession. As a statesman, his stand at the head of the Republican Whig party for nearly half a century, establishes his title to pre-eminence among his illustrious associates.

"Mr. Clay was deeply versed in all the springs of human action. He had read and studied biography and history. Shortly after I left college, I had occasion to call on him in Frankfort, where he was attending court, and well I remember to have found him with Plutarch's Lives in his hands. No one better than he knew how to avail himself of human motives, and all the circumstances which surrounded a subject, or could present themselves with more force and skill to accomplish the object of an argument.

"Bold and determined as Mr. Clay was in all his actions, he was, nevertheless, conciliating. He did not obstinately adhere to things impracticable. If he could not accomplish the best, he contented himself with the nighest approach to it. He has been the great compromiser of those political agitations and opposing opinions which have, in the belief of thousands, at different times, endangered the perpetuity of our Federal Government and Union.

"Mr. Clay was no less remarkable for his admirable social qualities, than for his intellectual abilities. As a companion, he was the delight of his friends; and no man ever had better or truer. No guest ever thence departed, without feeling happier for his visit."

Mr. Hunter of Virginia (a political antagonist) following, observed: "It may be truly said of Mr. Clay, that he was no exaggerator. He looked at events through neither end of the telescope, but surveyed them with the natural and the naked eye. He had the capacity of seeing things as the people saw them, and of feeling things as the people felt them. He had, sir, beyond any other man whom I have ever seen, the true mesmeric touch of the orator,—the rare art of transferring his impulses to others. Thoughts, feelings, emotions, came from the ready mould of his genius, radiant and glowing, and communicated their own warmth to every heart which received them. His, too, was the power of wielding the higher and intenser forms of passion, with a majesty and an ease, which none but the great masters of the human heart can ever employ."

Mr. Seward of New-York, said: "He was indeed eloquent—all the world knows that. He held the key to the hearts of his countrymen, and he turned the wards within them with a skill attained by no other master.

"But eloquence was nevertheless only an instrument, and one of many, that he used. His conversation, his gestures, his very look, were magisterial, persuasive, seductive, irresistible. And his appliance of all these was courteous, patient, and indefatigable. Defeat only inspired him with new resolution. He divided opposition by the assiduity of address, while he rallied and strengthened his own bands of supporters by the confidence of success, which, feeling himself, he easily inspired  among his followers. His affections were high, and pure, and generous; and the chiefest among them was that one which the great Italian poet designated as the charity of native land. In him, that charity was an enduring and overpowering enthusiasm, and it influenced all his sentiments and conduct, rendering him more impartial between conflicting interests and sections, than any other statesman who has lived since the Revolution. Thus, with great versatility of talent, and the most catholic equality of favor, he identified every question, whether of domestic administration or foreign policy, with his own great name, and so became a perpetual Tribune of the People. He needed only to pronounce in favor of a measure or against it, here, and immediately popular enthusiasm, excited as by a magic wand, was felt, overcoming and dissolving all opposition in the Senate Chamber."

In the House, about the same time, Mr. Breckenridge of Kentucky (democrat), spoke as follows:

"The life of Mr. Clay, sir, is a striking example of the abiding fame which surely awaits the direct and candid statesman. The entire absence of equivocation or disguise in all his acts, was his master-key to the popular heart; for while the people will forgive the errors of a bold and open nature, he sins past forgiveness who deliberately deceives them. Hence Mr. Clay, though often defeated in his measures of policy, always secured the respect of his opponents without losing the confidence of his friends. He never paltered in a double sense. The country never was in doubt as to his opinions or his purposes. In all the contests of his time, his position on great public questions was as clear as the sun in the cloudless sky. Sir, standing by the grave of this great man, and considering these things, how contemptible does appear the mere legerdemain of politics! What a reproach is his life on that false policy which would trifle with a great and upright people! If I were to write his epitaph, I would inscribe as the highest eulogy, on the stone which shall mark his resting-place, 'Here lies a man who was in the public service for fifty years, and never attempted to deceive his countrymen.'"

Let me close this too hasty and superficial sketch, with a brief citation from Rev. C.M. Butler, Chaplain of the Senate, who, in his funeral discourse in the Senate Chamber, said:

"A great mind, a great heart, a great orator, a great career, have been consigned to history. She will record his rare gifts of deep insight, keen discrimination, clear statement, rapid combination, plain, direct, and convincing logic. She will love to dwell on that large, generous, magnanimous, open, forgiving heart. She will linger with fond delight on the recorded or traditional stories of an eloquence that was so masterful and stirring, because it was but himself struggling to come forth on the living words—because, though the words were brave and strong, and beautiful and melodious, it was felt that, behind them, there was a soul braver, stronger, more beautiful, and more melodious, than language could express."

Such was the master of Ashland, the man Henry Clay!


After this article was in type, we received from a Western paper the following notice of the sale of the Ashland estate.

"We are glad to learn that Ashland, the home of Henry Clay,  which was sold September 20th, at public auction, was purchased by James B. Clay, eldest son of the deceased statesman. The Ashland homestead contained about 337 acres. It lies just without the limits of the city of Lexington. The country immediately surrounding it, is justly regarded as the garden spot of the West, and Ashland, above all others, as the most beautiful place in the world. The associations about it are of the most interesting character. When Kentucky was, in fact, the 'dark and bloody ground,' the country around Lexington was the only oasis—every where else, the tomahawk and the rifle were more potent than laws. How many incidents of these terrible days are garnered in the minds of the descendants of the old families of Kentucky! In those thrilling days, Ashland belonged to Daniel Boone, whose name is connected with many of the daring tragedies enacted in the then Far West. It passed from his hands into those of Nathaniel Hart, who fell, gloriously fighting, in the battle at the River Raisin, where so many Kentuckians offered up their lives in defence of their country. Henry Clay married Lucretia Hart, to whom the demesne of Ashland descended.

"There is so much of the Arab in the habits of the Americans,—there is so much migratoriness, and so little love for old homesteads,—we were afraid the children of Henry Clay would allow classic Ashland to pass into other and alien hands. But our fears are to gladness changed; and Ashland is still the dwelling-place of the Clays.

"Mr. Clay was thoroughly versed in agricultural matters, and was never better contented (as the editor of the Ohio Journal truly remarks), than when surrounded by his neighbors, many of whom knew and loved him when he was quite young and obscure, and afterwards rejoiced at his fame, and followed his fortunes through every phase of a long and eventful career. The residence does not present any imposing appearance, but is of a plain, neat, and rather antique architectural character, and the grounds immediately surrounding it are beautifully adorned, and traversed by walks; not in accordance with the foolish and fastidious taste of the present day, for this, in every thing connected with the place has been neglected, and the only end seems to have been to represent Nature in its proudest and most imposing grandeur. Many of the walks are retired, and are of a serpentine character, with here and there, in some secluded spot along their windings, a rude and unpolished bench upon which to recline. The trees are mostly pines of a large growth, and stand close together, casting a deep and sombre shade on every surrounding object. The reflections of one on visiting Ashland are of the most interesting character. Every object seems invested with an interest, and although the spirit with whose memory they are associated, has fled, one cannot repel the conviction, that while reposing under its silent and sequestered shades, he is still surrounded by something sublime and great. Old memories of the past come back upon him, and a thousand scenes connected with the life and history of Henry Clay, will force themselves upon you. The great monarchs of the forest that now stretch their limbs aloft in proud and peerless majesty, have all, or nearly all been planted by his hand, and are now not unfit emblems of the towering greatness of him who planted them.

"The walks, the flowers, the garden and the groves, all, all  are consecrated, and have all been witnesses of his presence and his care. In the groves through which you wander, were nursed the mighty schemes of Statesmanship, which have astonished the world and terrified the tyrant, beat back the evil counsels for his country's ruin, and bound and fettered his countrymen in one common and indissoluble bond of Union."