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A Fair View of both sides of the Slavery Question.
ROBERT CRISWELL, Esq.
LETTERS FROM THE SOUTH AND WEST.
“ The master of a well ordered home, knoweth to be kind to his
PRINTED AND PUBLISHED BY D, FANSHAW,
No. 108 Nassau-street,
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1852, by D. FANSHAW in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York.
Whose lamented death, (shrouding the Nation in mourning, and filling the hearts of his countrymen with sorrow and regret,) occurring while these pages were in the hands of the publisher ; this Book is dedicated, with heartfelt sorrow, as a small token of admiration of his great services in behalf of his country, and more especially of the last great act in the drama of his lifc, (to which it is supposed he fell a martyr,) viz: his noble efforts in endeavoring to allay the great agitation on the Slavery question, between the North and the South.
As every thing relating to that great man,
Whose like we ne'er shall see again,"
Is deeply interesting, I will here introduce an incident which took place about the time he offered his celebrated compromise resolutions to the Senate.
A word of explanation in regard to the subject will be
A few years ago I visited the tomb of Washington, at Mount Vernon, and while searching for relics in the old vault, (his remains having been removed from it in 1837, to a new vault near by,) I fortunately found a fragment of his coffin with parts of the pall attached to it by two brass nails, which fragment I presented to Mr. Clay.
The same morning, whilst speaking before the Senate, he alluded to the subject as follows:
"I cannot omit, before I conclude, relating an incident, a thrilling incident which occurred prior to my leaving my lodgings this morning.
“A gentleman came to my room—the same at whose instance, a few days ago, I presented a memorial calling upon Congress for the purchase of Mount Vernon for the use of the public and, without being at all aware of what purpose I entertained in the discharge of my public duty to-day, he said to me, “Mr. Clay, I heard you make a remark the other day which induces me to suppose that a precious relic in my possession would be acceptable to you. He then drew from his pocket and presented to me the object.which I now hold in my hand. And what, Mr. President, do you suppose it is? It is a fragment of the coffin of Washington--a fragment of that coffin in which now repose in silence, in sleep and speechless, all the earthly remains of the venerated Father of his country. Was it portentious that it should have been thus presented to me? Was it a sad presage of what might happen to that fabric which Washington's virtue, patriotism and valor established ? No, sir, no. It was a warning voice, coming from the grave to the Congress now in Session, to beware, to pause, to reflect before they lend themselves to any purposes which shall destroy that Union which was cemented by his exertions and example. Sir, I hope an impression may be made on your mind, such as that which was made on mine, by the reception of this precious relic."
This incident illustrates Mr. Clay's tact and ingenuity in seizing and turning to good account this and like circumstances. Little did I think when presenting that fragment, that two or three hours after, it would be, in the hands of Henry Clay, the means of producing more deep feeling and sensation in the Senate than had been witnessed for years. The Senators ceased talking and writing, and gave their whole attention to the Speaker, while profound silence reigned throughout the crowded galleries. Many were moved to tears.
What a subject this would have been for an artist! The venerable and immortal Clay, his commanding form stretched to its full height, and his eagle eye beaming with patriotism, holding in his right hand a part of the coffin of Washington, and conjuring his brother Senators, in the name of that great and good man, to spare that Union which was cemented by his exertions and ex
example. Though Mr. Clay was much engaged at the time I presented him with the relic, the next day I received the following note from him, which has not been given to the public before :
“H, Clay, with his respects, presents to Mr. Criswell many thanks for the fragment from the coffin of Washington, which he did him the favor to present to him. It is a precious relic, which Mr. Clay will carefully preserve.