Noah Webster - American Men of Letters
by Horace E. Scudder
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In the edition of 1828 Webster laid down the rule that verbs ending in a single consonant, but having the accent on the first syllable, or on a syllable preceding the last, ought not to double the final consonant in the derivatives. Thus he wrote travel, traveler, traveling. The editors of the latest edition find no occasion to revise this rule, and report that other lexicographers advise a conformity to it, but they record a large number of exceptions to satisfy "the prejudice of the eye." His corresponding rule is "that monosyllabic verbs, ending in a single consonant, not preceded by a long vowel, and other verbs ending in a single accented consonant, and of course not preceded by a long vowel, double the final consonant in all the derivatives which are formed by a termination beginning with a vowel." This applies to fit, fitted, compel, compelled. This rule, like the other, is retained by the later editors, though both rules are more exactly framed. No question has been raised upon this point, and the nice correspondence of the two rules is likely in process of time to break down those exceptions to the former which usage now makes familiar.

Does the reader, when he writes, hesitate perilously before the words distil or distill, control or controll, recal or recall? It can only be said that neither Webster nor his editors could frame a rule which they were ready to follow. They agree in their inconsistencies, and have brought over other lexicographers in some cases to their disposition to double the l. The indecision, however, which one feels before skilful or skillful is more painful,—are we to say painfull? Here again the first and latest editions of Webster are at one with each other, and at variance with old and established usage. The editors of Webster appear to yield the ground a little by conceding that skilful, dulness, and like words are so written by many. Webster's change in this respect seems therefore to have made no headway except in his own family.

There are other words which may be grouped in classes, but I will content myself with a further enumeration, somewhat at random, of words which Webster trifled with, as his enemies might say, or reduced to order, as he would claim; placing in parallel columns the spelling adopted in the first edition and that followed in the latest:—


ax ax } axe}

controller comptroller} controller }

contemporary contemporary} cotemporary }

defense defense} defence}

ambassador embassador} ambassador}

gantlet} gantlet } gauntlet} gauntlet}

drouth drought

group} group groop}

height} heighth} height} hight} hight }

maneuver maneuver } man[oe]uvre}

melasses molasses

mold mold } mould}

molt molt } moult}

plow plow } plough}

tongue} tongue tung }

wo woe

crum crumb

pontif pontiff

ake } ache ache}

maiz maize

gimblet gimlet

feather} feather fether }

steady} steady steddy}

mosk mosque

ribin ribbon

cutlas cutlass

skain skain} skein}

sherif sheriff

porpess porpoise

It should be added that in many cases where the later editors have receded from Webster's advanced position they have added a note approving his innovation as etymologically correct and preferable. There can be no doubt that Webster was careless and inconsistent in his entry of these words, since he would venture his improvement under the word, fling scorn at the current usage, and then, when using the word elsewhere in definition or in compounds, forget his improvement and follow the customary orthography. From our rapid survey of the orthography, however, it may be said in general that Webster's decision in the case of classes of words has been maintained in subsequent editions, but his individual alterations have been regarded as contributions to an impossibly ideal correct orthography, and quietly dropped. The fact illustrates Webster's strength and weakness. His notions on the subject of uniformity were often very sensible, and he had the advantage of reducing to order what was hopelessly chaotic in common usage. But his sense of the stability of usage was imperfect, and when he moved among the words at random, arranging the language to suit his personal taste, he discovered or his successors did that words have roots of another kind than what etymologists regard.

Webster was wont to defend himself against the common charge of proposing new forms of words, by showing that, if one went far enough back, he would be sure to come upon the same forms in English literature; that his aim was to restore, not to invent, and to bring back the language to its earlier and historic shape. This is a defense familiar to us in these later days of spelling reform; and no one doubts, who knows the chaos of English spelling before the days of printing, that authority could be found for any favorite mode of spelling a word. Webster claimed the same conservative principles in the matter of pronunciation, and stoutly declared that he was a champion for historic English sounds as opposed to the innovations offered by Sheridan, Walker, and Jamieson. "The language of a nation," he says in his Introduction, "is the common property of the people, and no individual has a right to make in-roads upon its principles. As it is the medium of communication between men, it is important that the same written words and the same oral sounds to express the same ideas should be used by the whole nation. When any man, therefore, attempts to change the established orthography or pronunciation, except to correct palpable errors and produce uniformity by recalling wanderers into the pale of regular analogies, he offers an indignity to the nation. No local practice, however respectable, will justify the attempt. There is great dignity, as well as propriety, in respecting the universal and long-established usages of a nation. With these views of the subject, I feel myself bound to reject all modern innovations which violate the established principles and analogies of the language, and destroy or impair the value of alphabetical writing. I have therefore endeavored to present to my fellow-citizens the English language in its genuine purity, as we have received the inheritance from our ancestors, without removing a landmark. If the language is fatally destined to be corrupted, I will not be an instrument of the mischief."

These are certainly brave words, and there are even people who would doubt if Webster had the courage of such convictions. In his Dictionary he seems to have somewhat underestimated the importance of noting the pronunciation. He devotes a number of pages, it is true, in the Introduction, to a discussion of the principles involved, but in marking the words he used only the simplest method, and disregarded refinements of speech. The word culture, for instance, is marked by him cul'ture, while in the latest edition it appears as cŭlt'ūre (kŭlt'yur). He had a few antipathies, as to the tsh sound then fashionable in such words as tumult, and with a certain native pugnacity he attacked the orthoepists who at that time had elaborated their system more than had the orthographists; he did not believe that nice shades of sound could be represented to the eye by characters, and he appears to have been somewhat impatient of the whole subject. He maintained that the speech which generally prevailed in New England in his day represented the best and most historic pronunciation. The first ministers had been educated at the universities, and the respect felt for them had led to a general acceptance of their mode of speech. He himself said vollum for volume, and pătriot, and perce for pierce. He regarded Sheridan, Walker, Perry, Jones, and Jamieson as having, in their attempts at securing uniformity, only unsettled the old and familiar speech,—a curious commentary on his own performances in orthography. He does not here, either, forget his loyalty to America. "In a few instances," he says, "the common usage of a great and respectable portion of the people of this country accords with the analogies of the language, but not with the modern notation of English orthoepists. In such cases it seems expedient and proper to retain our own usage. To renounce a practice confessedly regular for one confessedly anomalous, out of respect to foreign usage, would hardly be consistent with the dignity of lexicography. When we have principle on our side, let us adhere to it. The time cannot be distant when the population of this vast country will throw off their leading-strings, and walk in their own strength; and the more we can raise the credit and authority of principle over the caprices of fashion and innovation, the nearer we approach to uniformity and stability of practice."

The absence of the finer qualities of scholarship in Webster's composition is indicated by his somewhat rough and ready treatment of the subject of pronunciation; perhaps no more delicate test exists of the grain of an educated person's culture than that of pronunciation. It is far more subtle than orthography or grammar, and pleasure in conversation, when analyzed, will show this fine sense of sound and articulation to be the last element.

If any one had asked Webster upon what part of his Dictionary he had expended the most time and now set the highest value, he would undoubtedly have answered at once the etymology, and whatever related to the history and derivation of words. The greater part of the time given continuously, from 1807 to 1826, to the elaboration of his Dictionary was spent upon this department; his severest condemnation of Johnson was upon the score of his ignorance in these particulars, and the credit which he took to himself was frank and sincere. There can be no doubt that he worked hard; there can be no doubt, either, that he had his way to make almost unaided by previous explorers. The science of comparative philology is of later birth; the English of Webster's day were no better equipped than he for the task which he undertook, except so far as they were trained by scholarship to avoid an empirical method. Horne Tooke was the man who opened Webster's eyes, and him he followed so long as he followed anybody. But Tooke was a guesser, and Webster, with all his deficiencies, had always a strong reliance upon system and method. He made guesses also, but he thought they were scientific analyses, and he came to the edge of real discoveries without knowing it.

The fundamental weakness of Webster's work in etymology lay in his reliance upon external likenesses and the limitation of his knowledge to mere vocabularies. It was not an idle pedantry which made him marshal an imposing array of words from Oriental languages; he was on the right track when he sought for a common ground upon which Indo-European languages could meet, but he lacked that essential knowledge of grammatical forms, without which a knowledge of the vocabulary is liable to be misleading. His comparison of languages may be compared to the earlier labors of students in comparative anatomy who mistook merely external resemblances for structural homology. It would be idle to institute any inquiry into the agreement of the 1828 edition with the latest edition. All of Webster's original work, as he regarded it, has been swept away, and the etymology reconstructed by Dr. Mahn, of Berlin, in accordance with a science which did not exist in Webster's day. The immense labor which Webster expended remains only as a witness to that indomitable spirit which enabled him to keep steadfastly to his self-imposed task through years of isolation.

The definitions in Webster's first edition offer an almost endless opportunity for comment. He found Johnson's definitions wanting in exactness, and often rather explanations than definitions. For his part he aimed at a somewhat plainer work. He was under no temptation, as Johnson was, to use a fine style, but was rather disposed to take another direction and use an excessive plainness of speech, amplifying his definition by a reference in detail to the synonymous words. It must be said, however, that Webster was often unnecessarily rambling in his account of a word, as when, for instance, under the word magnanimity he writes: "Greatness of mind; that elevation or dignity of soul which encounters danger and trouble with tranquillity and firmness, which raises the possessor above revenge, and makes him delight in acts of benevolence,—which makes him disdain injustice and meanness, and prompts him to sacrifice personal ease, interest, and safety for the accomplishment of useful and noble objects;" in the latest Webster the same terms are used but with a judicious compression. Johnson's account reads, "Greatness of mind; bravery; elevation of soul." Webster was disposed also to mingle rather more encyclopaedic information with his definitions than a severer judgment of the limits of a dictionary now permits. Thus under the word bishop, besides illustrative passages, he gives at length the mode of election in the English Church, and also that used in the Episcopal Church in America. But this fullness of description was often a positive addition. Here again a comparison may be made with Johnson. Under the word telescope, Johnson simply says: "A long glass by which distant objects are viewed." Webster: "An optical instrument employed in viewing distant objects, as the heavenly bodies. It assists the eye chiefly in two ways: first, by enlarging the visual angle under which a distant object is seen, and thus magnifying that object; and secondly, by collecting and conveying to the eye a larger beam of light than would enter the naked organ, and thus rendering objects distinct and visible which would otherwise be indistinct and invisible. Its essential parts are the object-glass, which collects the beams of light and forms an image of the object, and the eyeglass, which is a microscope by which the image is magnified." The latest editors have found nothing to change in this definition and nothing to add, except a long account of the several kinds of telescopes. In the introduction and the definition of words employed in science Webster was for the time in advance of Johnson, as the present Webster is far in advance of the first from the natural increase in the importance and number of these terms. But Webster did not merely use his advantages; he had a keener sense than Johnson of the relative weight of such words. Johnson harbored them as unliterary, but Webster welcomed them as a part of the growing vocabulary of the people.

Webster claimed to have nearly doubled the number of words given in Johnson, even after he had excluded a number which found their place in Johnson. He swelled the list, it is true, by the use of compounds under un and similar prefixes, but the noticeable fact remains that he incorporated in the Dictionary a vast number of words which previously had led a private and secluded life in special word-books. His object being to make a dictionary for the American people, his ambition was to produce a book which should render all other books of its class unnecessary. Webster himself enumerates the words added in his Dictionary under five heads:—

1. Words of common use, among which he notes: grand-jury, grand-juror, eulogist, consignee, consignor, mammoth, maltreatment, iceberg, parachute, malpractice, fracas, entailment, perfectibility, glacier, fire-warden, safety-valve, savings-bank, gaseous, lithographic, peninsular, repealable, retaliatory, dyspeptic, missionary, nervine, meteoric, mineralogical, reimbursable; to quarantine, revolutionize, retort, patent, explode, electioneer, reorganize, magnetize.

2. Participles of verbs, previously omitted, and often having an adjective value.

3. Terms of frequent occurrence in historical works, especially those derived from proper names, such as Shemitic, Augustan, Gregorian.

4. Legal terms.

5. Terms in the arts and sciences. This was then the largest storehouse, as it has since been, and the reader may be reminded that this great start in lexicography was coincident with the beginning of modern scientific research.

The greatest interest, however, which Webster's vocabulary has for us is in its justification of the title to his Dictionary. It was an American Dictionary, and no one who examines it attentively can fail to perceive how unmistakably it grounds itself on American use. Webster had had an American education; he made his dictionary for the American people, and as in orthography and pronunciation he followed a usage which was mainly American, in his words and definitions he knew no authority beyond the usage of his own country. Webster's Dictionary of 1807 had already furnished Pickering with a large number of words for his vocabulary of supposed Americanisms, and Webster had replied, defending the words against the charge of corruption; the Dictionary of 1828 would have supplied many more of the same class. The Americanism, as an English scholar of that day would have judged it, was either in the word itself or in some special application of it. Webster, like many later writers, pointed out that words which had their origin in English local use had here simply become of general service, owing to the freedom of movement amongst the people and the constant tendency toward uniformity of speech. The subject has been carefully treated, and it is unnecessary to consider it here. Enough for us to remember that Webster was not singling out words as Americanisms, but incorporating in the general language all these terms, and calling the record of entire product an American Dictionary of the English Language. The reader may be entertained by a selection of these words and definitions, taken somewhat at random from the vast number of undiscriminated words in the Dictionary, and containing often Webster's rather angry championship.

"Whittle, v. t. To pare, or cut off the surface of a thing with a small knife. Some persons have a habit of whittling, and are rarely seen without a penknife in their hands for that purpose. [This is, I believe, the only use of this word in New England.]

"Tackle, v. t. To harness; as to tackle a horse into a gig, sleigh, coach, or wagon. [A legitimate and common use of the word in America.] 2. To seize; to lay hold of; as, a wrestler tackles his antagonist. This is a common popular use of the word in New England, though not elegant. But it retains the primitive idea, to put on, to fall or throw on." The former of these definitions is followed in the latest Webster by the brief parentheses [Prov. Eng. Colloq. U. S.].

"Roiling, ppr. Rendering turbid; or exciting the passion of anger. [NOTE: This word is as legitimate as any in the language.]

"Memorialist, n. One who writes a memorial. Spectator. 2. One who presents a memorial to a legislative or other body, or to a person. U. States.

"Emporium. A place of merchandize; a town or city of trade; particularly, a city or town of extensive commerce, or in which an extensive commerce centers, or to which sellers and buyers resort from different countries: such are London, Amsterdam, and Hamburg. New York will be an emporium.

"Emptyings, n. The lees of beer, cider, etc.

"Fall, n. The fall of the leaf; the season when leaves fall from trees; the autumn.

"Avails, n., plu. Profits or proceeds. It is used in New England for the proceeds of goods sold, or for rents, issues, or profits.

"Ball, n. An entertainment of dancing; originally and peculiarly at the invitation and expense of an individual; but the word is used in America for a dance at the expense of the attendant.

"Beadle. An officer in a university whose chief business is to walk with a mace, before the masters, in a public procession; or, as in America, before the president, trustees, faculty, and students of a college in a procession, at public commencements.

"Commemoration, n. The act of calling to remembrance, by some solemnity; the act of honoring the memory of some person or event, by solemn celebration. The feast of shells at Plymouth, in Massachusetts, is an annual commemoration of the first landing of our ancestors in 1620.

"Calculate, v. i. To make a computation; as, we calculate better for ourselves than for others. In popular use, this word is often equivalent to intend or purpose, that is, to make arrangements and form a plan; as, a man calculates to go a journey. This use of the word springs from the practice of computing or estimating the various circumstances which concur to influence the mind in forming its determinations.

"Shaver, n. A boy or young man. This word is still in common use in New England. It must be numbered among our original words.

"Span, n. A span of horses consists of two of nearly the same color, and otherwise nearly alike, which are usually harnessed side by side. The word signifies properly the same as yoke, when applied to horned cattle, from buckling or fastening together. But in America, span always implies resemblance in color at least; being an object of ambition with gentlemen and with teamsters to unite two horses abreast that are alike.

"Likely, a. Such as may be liked; pleasing; as a likely man or woman. [This use of likely is not obsolete as Johnson affirms, nor is it vulgar. But the English and their descendants in America differ in the application. The English apply the word to external appearance; and with them likely is equivalent to handsome, well-formed, as a likely man, a likely horse. In America the word is usually applied to the endowments of the mind, or to pleasing accomplishments. With us a likely man is a man of good character and talents, or of good dispositions or accomplishments, that render him pleasing or respectable.]

"Clever, a. In New England, good-natured, possessing an agreeable mind or disposition. In Great Britain this word is applied to the body or its movements, in its literal sense; in America it is applied chiefly to the mind, temper, disposition. In Great Britain a clever man is a dextrous man, one who performs an act with skill or address. In New England a clever man is a man of a pleasing, obliging disposition and amiable manners, but often implying a moderate share of talents.

"Raise, v. t. To cause to grow; to procure to be produced, bred or propagated; as, to raise wheat, barley, hops, etc.; to raise horses, oxen, or sheep. New England. [The English now use grow in regard to crops; as, to grow wheat. This verb intransitive has never been used in New England in a transitive sense, until recently some persons have adopted it from the English books. We always use raise, but in New England it is never applied to the breeding of the human race, as it is in the Southern States.]

"Realize, v. t. To bring into actual existence and possession; to render tangible or effective. He never realized much profit from his trade or speculation.

"Locate, v. t., 2. To select, survey, and settle the bounds of a particular tract of land; or to designate a portion of land by limits; as, to locate a tract of a hundred acres in a particular township. U. States. 3. To designate and determine the place of; as, a committee was appointed to locate a church or a court-house. N. England.

"Rail, n., 1. A cross beam fixed at the ends in two upright posts. Moxon. [In New England this is never called a beam; pieces of timber of the proper size for rails are called scantling.] 2. In the United States a piece of timber cleft, hewed, or sawed, rough or smooth, inserted in upright posts for fencing. The common rails among farmers are rough, being used as they are split from the chestnut or other trees. The rails used in fences of boards or pickets round gentlemen's houses and gardens are usually sawed scantling, and often dressed with the plane. 4. A series of posts connected with cross beams, by which a place is inclosed. Johnson. In New England we never call this series a rail, but by the general term railing. In a picket fence, the pales or pickets rise above the rails; in a ballustrade, or fence resembling it, the ballusters usually terminate in the rails.

"Tallow, n. A sort of animal fat, particularly that which is obtained from animals of the sheep and ox kinds.... The fat of swine we never call tallow, but lard or suet. I see in English books, mention is made of the tallow of hogs, but in America I never heard the word thus applied.

"Prairy, n. [Fr. prairie.] An extensive tract of land, mostly level, destitute of trees, and covered with tall, coarse grass. These prairies are numerous in the United States, west of the Alleghany Mountains, especially between the Ohio, Mississippi, and the great lakes.

"Widen, v. t. To make wide or wider; to extend in breadth; as, to widen a field; to widen a breach. [Note. In America, females say, to widen a stocking.]

"Window, n. An opening in the wall of a building for the admission of light, and of air when necessary. This opening has a frame on the sides, in which are set movable sashes, containing panes of glass. In the U. States the sashes are made to rise and fall, for the admission or exclusion of air. In France windows are shut with frames or sashes that open and shut vertically, like the leaves of a folding door.

"Chore, n. [Eng. char.] In America this word denotes small work of a domestic kind, as distinguished from the principal work of the day. It is generally used in the plural, chores, which includes the daily or occasional business of feeding cattle and other animals, preparing fuel, sweeping the house, cleaning furniture, etc. (See char.)"

* * * * *

From these examples one may gather some notion of Webster's method of treating words which were either exclusively American, or had undergone some change in meaning and use. He regards them all not as departures from the English standard of the day, but diversities from an older use, like the English current forms, and it was no disgrace in his eyes for a word to be an Americanism, nor did it require apology or defense of any kind. There are indeed many words not to be found in Johnson, of American origin, or at least of American adoption, which he enters silently with the belief that they have quite as fair a claim to a place in his Dictionary as if they had been used by Dryden or Addison. I have already quoted the passage in his preface relating to the illustrative quotations; the promise made by Webster is faithfully kept, and the diligent reader may garner many of the brief thoughts of Mason, Smith, Barlow, and other American writers whose light has now faded.

By all these means, by a certain contempt of Great Britain, by constant reference to American usage, by citations from American authors, Webster made the title to his Dictionary good in every part of it, while by the exercise of individual caprice and of a personal authority, which had grown out of his long-continued and solitary labor, he attached his own name to it. Both names remain. The existing Dictionary is "An American Dictionary of the English Language," and bears indubitable evidence of its application to American use, but it is no longer the organ of an over-zealous patriotism. It bears Noah Webster's name on the title-page, but the work has been revised, not out of all likeness to its original form, but with a fullness and precision which, being impossible to any one man, required the cooperation of a company of scholars. His original Preface to the edition of 1828 has been preserved as a memento of his attitude in the presence of his great work, but his Introduction and Advertisement and Grammar of the English Language have been swept away, and their place supplied by the maturer and more scholarly work of Webster's successors.

It has been said by some nice critic, anxious to be just before he was generous, that the book commonly known as Webster's Dictionary, sometimes, with a ponderous familiarity, as The Unabridged, should more properly be called The Webster Dictionary, as indicating the fact that the original private enterprise had, as it were, been transformed into a joint stock company, which might, out of courtesy, take the name of the once founder but now merely honorary member of the literary firm engaged in the manufacture and arrangement of words. Indeed, the name Webster has been associated with such a vast number of dictionaries of all sizes and weights, that it has become to many a most impersonal term, and we may almost expect in a few generations to find the word "Webster" defined in some revised edition of the Unabridged as the colloquial word for a Dictionary. The bright-eyed, bird-like looking gentleman who faces the title-page of his Dictionary may be undergoing some metempsychosis, but the student of American literature will at any time have little difficulty in rescuing his personality from unseemly transmigration, and, by the aid of historical glasses, may discover that the Dictionary maker, far from being either the arid, bloodless being which his work supposes, or the reckless disturber of philological peace which his enemies aver, was an exceedingly vigilant, determined American school-master, who had enormous faith in his country, and an uncommon self-reliance, by which he undertook single-handed a task which, once done, prepared the way for lexigraphical work far more thorough and satisfactory than could have been possible without his pioneer labor. Not only have the successive Dictionaries which bear his name resulted from his labor, but it is not unfair to refer the other great lexicon begun and carried out by one of his early assistants to the impetus which he gave. Indeed, the commercial success of the great American Dictionary may reasonably have been taken as a ground of confidence for the production of the corresponding works of an encyclopaedic and dictionary character which attest the enterprise of American publishers and the thoroughness of American scholars.



The publication of "An American Dictionary" in 1828 was followed by increased activity on Dr. Webster's part. He was more than ever ambitious to secure a standard, especially in orthography, and he began the arrangement of his various text-books in a series which should constitute an imposing phalanx, each supporting its neighbor. The work of preparation, revision, and publication occupied the rest of his life. The quarto Dictionary in two volumes cost twenty dollars. He provided soon an abridgment in octavo, and a "Dictionary for Schools, the Counting-House, and for Families in Moderate Circumstances;" he was constantly revising his most lucrative book, the "Elementary Spelling-Book," and he issued new editions of his "History of the United States," his "Teacher," a supplement to the "Elementary," his "Improved Grammar," and he prepared a "Manual of Useful Studies." All of these books had friends and enemies, and one of the most energetic of the latter, Lyman Cobb, published "a Critical Review of the Orthography of Dr. Webster's Series of Books for Systematick Instruction in the English Language," which, in spite of some injustice and much quibbling, is a most searching and exhaustive commentary on Webster's weaknesses. The contest over Webster's Dictionary, however, did not assume great proportions until after the publication of Worcester's Dictionary, which afforded Webster's opponents a flag about which they could rally. The war of the dictionaries occurred after Webster's death, and it is not within the province of this sketch to enter upon that military campaign. Within Webster's own life-time a revision of the Dictionary appeared in 1840-1841, and he was at work upon a further revision when he died in 1843.

Our study of Webster has easily led us away from Webster's personal history, except so far as this has illustrated social, literary, and historical movements. There are still living those who, as young men, were associated with him in New Haven, and these with his grandchildren, as well as his only surviving daughter, bear a memory of his person entirely distinct from its public reputation. The resolute old man, working at his lexicography to the last moment, was for them also the tender-hearted head of a family, coming out from his study to hear the music he loved so well, joining in the home life, making affectionate pilgrimages to the old homestead in West Hartford, and putting in a plea there for the preservation of the old fruit trees and vines which dated from his childhood. He was a sturdy, upright man, with the courtesy of an old Federalist, and his figure was a familiar one in the streets of New Haven. It was there that he died, May 28, 1843, in the eighty-fifth year of his age, surrounded by his family, and cheerful with the sense of a full life and of Christian trust and expectation.

Noah Webster's name abides, connected with the great work which he initiated, and the monument will keep his name imperishable. It never can be an uninteresting study to the people how the man, whose name is a household word, wrought and achieved; the solid expression of character, which I have tried to outline, is worthy of a fuller, more thorough treatment; and it is to be hoped that the sturdy life of more than three score years and ten, which he lived, with its dreams, its discoveries, its ventures, its toil, and its honest achievements may some day be told with all the minuteness which records, researches, and reminiscences will permit. Yet I do not believe the fullest account of Webster would disclose any important traits not discovered by the exhibition of such of his writings and labors as we have included in this survey. There was nothing concealed in his nature. His vanity made him open, and his strong self-reliance gave him a boldness of expression which makes it possible for any student to measure his aims.

The chief discovery yet to be made of Webster, if any is possible, lies in the direction of history. I do not suppose that if the entire correspondence of Webster with his contemporaries could be produced, we should find him any more potent as a public man than we have seen him to be; but a more thorough comprehension of the forces at work in the organization of national life may yet enable us to see with greater distinctness the degree of Webster's power and function. The last result of historical study is the determination of national genius, and for that time and the slow evolution of national character are requisite. I am sure that the dignity of Webster's position in our history is more intelligible to-day than it was in his own time. I am confident that the twentieth century will give him a juster meed than we are giving him to-day.

It was at once his fortune and his misfortune to pass his life contemporaneously with the birth and adolescence of a great nation, and to feel the passion of the hour. There is unquestionably a parochial sort of nationality which it is easy to satirize. No one could well set it out in stronger light than Webster himself in those passages in the preface to his Dictionary which I have already quoted. He is judiciously silent concerning the American poets of his time, being careful, even,—most unkindest cut!—not to commit himself to the support of Joel Barlow's heroic verse; but he produces a list of American prosaists, whom he places back to back with their English fellows. He has a proper sense of the importance of language to a nation, and appears to be perplexed by the implied question: If Englishmen and Americans speak the same language, how in the world are we to tell them apart and keep them apart? Then again, since there has been a revolution resulting in governmental independence, what stands in the way of a complete independence, so that the spick and span new nation may go to the language tailors and be dressed in a new suit of parts of speech? "Let us seize the present moment," he cries, "and establish a national language as well as a national government." Never was there such a chance, he thinks, for clearing away the rubbish which has accumulated for generations in our clumsy, inelegant language. Hand him the Bible which people have foolishly regarded as a great conservator of the English tongue, and he will give you a new edition "purified from the numerous errors." Knock off the useless appendages to words which serve only to muffle simple sounds. Innocent iconoclast, with his school-master ferrule!

It is worth our while to make serious answer to these serious propositions, since the true aspect of native literature may thus be disclosed. The Revolution, which so filled Webster's eyes, was unquestionably a great historic event by reason of its connection with the formal institution of a new nation; but the roots of our national life were not then planted. They run back to the first settlements and the first charters and agreements; nor is the genesis of the nation to be found there; sharp as are the beginnings of our history on this continent, no student could content himself with a conception of our national life which took into account only the events and conditions determined by the people and the soil of America. Even in actual relations between America and Europe there never has been a time when the Atlantic has not had an ebbing as well as a flowing tide, and the instinct which now sends us to the Old World on passionate pilgrimages is a constituent part of our national life, and not an unfilial sentiment. In the minds of Webster and many others, England was an unnatural parent, and the spirit of anger, together with an elation at success in the severing of governmental ties, made them impatient of even a spiritual connection. But the Revolution was an outward, visible sign of an organic growth which it accelerated, but did not produce; and the patriotic outcries of the generation were incoherent expressions of a profounder life which had been growing, scarcely heeded, until wakened by this event. The centripetal force of nationality was at work, and it is possible now, even from our near station, to discover the conjunction of outward circumstance and inward consciousness which marks nationality as an established fact. It was a weak conception of nationality which was bounded by Webster's definition; but his belief in his country and his energetic action were, in reality, constantly overpassing that conception. In spite of the disposition to regard a written constitution as the bottom fact, there was the real, substantial, organic nation, and that saved the paper nation from erasure,—a fate which easily overtakes South American republics. A nation which could immediately be placed in the world's museum, duly ticketed and catalogued, with its distinct manners, dress, language, and literature,—this was a conception which resulted logically from theories which held the nation itself to be the creation of popular will or historic accident; but a nation slowly struggling against untoward outward circumstance and inward dissension, collecting by degrees its constituent members, forming and reforming, plunging with rude strength down dangerous ways, but nevertheless growing into integral unity,—this has been the historical result of the living forces which were immanent in the country when the nation was formally instituted.

Now there never has been a time from Webster's day to this when Americans have not believed and asserted that nationality consisted mainly in independence, and waxed impatient not merely of foreign control and influence, but even of hereditary influence: the temper which calls for American characteristics in art and literature is often scarcely less hostile to the past of American history than to the present of European civilization. It is a restless, uneasy spirit, goaded by self-consciousness. It finds in nature an aid and abettor; it grows angry at the disproportionate place which the Cephissus, the Arno, the Seine, the Rhine, and the Thames hold on the map of the world's passion. We are all acquainted with the typical American who added to his name in the hotel book on the shores of Lake Como, "What pygmy puddles these are to the inland seas of tremendous and eternal America!" But these are coarser, more palpable signs of that uneasy consciousness which frets at a continued dependence on European culture.

There is no doubt that Webster was right when he set himself the task of Americanizing the English language by a recourse to the Spelling-Book. He succeeded very largely in determining the form of words; but he did more than this, while he failed in the ambitious and preposterous task which he set himself. He did more; by his shrewdness and his ready perception of the popular need he made elementary education possible at once, and furnished the American people with a key which moved easily in the lock; he failed where he sought the most, because language is not a toy or a patent machine, which can be broken, thrown aside at will, and replaced with a better tool, ready-made from the lexicographer's shop. He had no conception of the enormous weight of the English language and literature, when he undertook to shovel it out of the path of American civilization. The stars in their courses fought against him. It is so still. We cannot dispense with European culture, because we refuse to separate ourselves from the mighty past, which has settled there in forms of human life unrepresented among us. We cannot step out of the world's current, though it looks sluggish beside our rushing stream, because there is a spiritual demand in us which cries louder than the thin voice of a self-conscious national life. This demand is profoundly at one with the deeper, holier sense of national being which does not strut upon the world's stage. The humility of a great nation is in its reverence for its own past, and, since that is incomplete, in its admiration for whatever is noble and worthy in other nations. It is out of this reverence and humility and this self-respect that great works in literature and art grow, and not out of the overweening sensitiveness which makes one's nationality but a petty jealousy of other people.

It is possible for us thus to discriminate between a nationality which is a mere posture and that which is a plain expression of positive organic life. When we measure the force of the latter we are compelled to a finer analysis, and its illustrations are to be sought in subtler manifestations. Webster well exemplifies, by the very rudeness of his mind, phases of Americanism which may be traced in more delicate lines elsewhere. There can be no doubt that self-reliance, which was both the cause and the effect of local self-government long practiced, has been a powerful factor in American life; that an indifference to the past has often been only the obverse of an elastic hope, a consciousness of destiny; that a fearlessness and a spirit of adventure have been invited by the large promises held out by nature; that an expansiveness of mind, and an alertness and facility in intellectual device, have been encouraged by the flexile condition of American society. All things have seemed possible to the ardent American, and each has secretly said to himself:—

"I ... had resolved to be The maker of my destiny."

These elements of character have entered into literature, the exponent of character; and Webster, with his self-reliance, his indifference to the past, his consciousness of destiny, his courage and resolution and quick fitting into his country's work, stands easily as the first aggressive American in our literature. In him we see roughly marked what future critics will discern of men more readily assigned a place in universal literature. The Americanism of Hawthorne, for example, differs from that of Webster in quality rather than in essence. They were both content with America and New England. Hawthorne, with his shrug at old buildings and his wish that all over two hundred years of age should be burnt down, was repeating Webster's contempt of the musty halls of collegiate Cambridge; and Hawthorne, Yankeeizing the Greek myths, and finding all Rome but the background for his Puritan maiden, was asserting that new discovery of Europe by America which has ever since been going on, and was illustrated by Webster's excursions in language to bring back English variations from American usage.

The ease with which Webster walked about the Jericho of English lexicography, blowing his trumpet of destruction, was an American ease, born of a sense that America was a continent and not a province. He transferred the capital of literature from London to Boston, or New York, or Hartford,—he was indifferent so long as it was in the United States. He thought Washington as good an authority on spelling as Dr. Johnson, and much better than King George. He took the Bible as a book to be used, not as a piece of antiquity to be sheltered in a museum, and with an American practicality set about making it more serviceable in his own way. He foresaw the vast crowds of American children; he knew that the integrity of the country was conditioned on the intelligibility of their votes, and he turned his back on England less with indifference to her than with an absorption in his own country. He made a Speller which has sown votes and muskets; he made alone a Dictionary, which has grown, under the impulse he gave it, into a national encyclopaedia, possessing an irresistible momentum. Indeed, is not the very existence of that book in its current form a witness to the same Americanism which Webster displayed, only now in a firmer, finer, and more complex form?

In the high walks of scholarship, where nationality would seem to be effaced, we have had very recently a capital illustration of the inevitable tendency of national traits to seek expression. The Appendix to the "Revised Version of the New Testament" contains the variations proposed by the American company from the text as otherwise determined. There were in the English company men of radical temperament and of conservative; there were in the American company like distinctions; nevertheless the final separation between the two companies is largely on this line, and one can easily see how much sympathy, Webster, for example, would have expressed with the position which the American company took, a position not of dissent but of independent assertion.

The separation between England and America which was so effectual in Webster's conception, and thus determined much of his thought, was really incipient and not complete. The two countries are more widely separate to-day than they were then, while the outward signs of separation are in many ways less conspicuous. The forces of national life have been diverging, and the resultant in character and literature is more sure and ineffaceable.

It should be observed that the individualism which characterizes American life was more marked in the first years of the republic than it is now. After we have reasoned away all we will of a revolutionary cataclysmal element in the separation of the United States from the British Empire, there still remains a sharp determination of individual life, historically evident, and very influential in the formation of national character. In the earliest years the centripetal force for union was barely superior to the centrifugal force for state independence; but the political thought which justified state sovereignty had its logical issue in an isolated individuality. Common sense and prudence, to be sure, are always defeating logic; but the logical conception helps us to understand tendencies, and it is not difficult to see that the word independence, which was on every one's lips at the close of the last century, was not the sign of a political thought only, but expressed the habit of mind with which persons everywhere regarded life in its varied relations. The breaking up of old political connections not only unsettled the social fabric, it affected necessarily all the relations which the person held to society; and it was only as a profounder political unity disclosed itself in the nation that each man put forth more confidently his hand to his fellow. The historian of the Union will not fail to observe how with the growth of that Union there began to spring up societies and corporations of every kind, the interdependence of the States extending itself to the interdependence of all interests involved in the State, and the whole fabric of society feeling its web and woof grow firmer and denser.

The career of Webster illustrates this truth. He worked alone, and his solitariness was not wholly due to his idiosyncrasies. It was in part the penalty paid by a student of the time. The resolution and self-reliance of an American were his, and so was the individuality. That such enterprises are not now conducted single-handed is owing not to a lack of courage but to the greater complexity of life, the more constant sense of interdependence, the existence of greater solidarity in intellectual pursuits. Webster was unable to believe that a company of scholars could ever be formed who should carry forward a revision of the Bible, and therefore he made the attempt himself. Individual criticism has been abundant ever since, but no one, however learned or popular, has ever been able to impress his work upon the community. The most carefully organized body of scholars submits the results of its ten years' conference to the votes of the world. The history of Webster's Dictionary is parallel with the growth of national life out of individualism.


Adams, John and Abigail, letters of, compared with those of John and Margaret Winthrop, 49.

Adams, J. Q., 22.

Adams, Samuel, a pet aversion of the Hartford wits, 99, 100.

"Address to the President of the United States, on the subject of his Address," by N. W., 144.

Advertisement of school at Sharon, 10.

Agricultural life as determining social conditions, 13; its comprehensive character in New England, 14.

Alexandrian Library, N. W.'s views on its destruction, 4.

Almanac, the, as light literature, 24.

America, condition of literature in, in 1800, 105, 110.

American, an average, as drawn by N. W., 150.

"American Dictionary of the English language, An," first promised, 235; published, 236; the earlier and later editions compared, as to orthography, 245-254; as to pronunciation, 255-257; as to etymology, 258, 259; as to definitions, 260; as to vocabulary, 261-263; its Americanism, 264-274; N. W.'s property in the present edition, 275.

Americanism, appeal to, 45; in politics, 147; in national morals, 163; in literature, 241; N. W.'s estimate of it, 282; of what it consists, 283-292.

"American Magazine, The," character of, 77; established by N. W., 78.

"American Spelling Book," by N. W., 38; cautions in, 39; first publication of, 69; contracts concerning, 70; sales of, 71; Timothy Pickering on, 72; the Macon issue, 74.

Ames's Almanac, 25, 26.

Amherst, N. W.'s removal to, 186.

Andrus, Mr., who wrote a dialogue, 48.

Barlow, Joel, N. W.'s classmate, 4; a classic author, 48; memorializes Congress on copyright laws, 50; his poetry lightly esteemed by N. W., 281.

Beers, Isaac, entertains Washington, 6.

Belknap, Jeremy, difficulties of, in securing publication of his history, 69; measures taken for same, 75; his opinion of N. W., 79; his dealings with him, 80-94.

Bible, N. W.'s edition of, 168-181.

"Boston Argus" mocked, 100.

Boston, literary resources in, 22.

Boy that stole Apples, The, 40.

Bradford, William, an ancestor of N. W.'s, 3.

Buckminster, Tutor, 5.

Bushnell, Horace, upon Sunday in his boyhood, 31; on grasping the handle of one's being, 182.

Cabinet, relative importance of officers in, 136.

Cambridge, England, N. W.'s dispassionate opinion of, 238.

Canfield, John, 54.

Cicero against Verres, 48.

Citizens, training of, in New England, 19.

Clark, L. Gaylord, letter to, from N. W., 112.

Classic writers, respect felt for, in New England, 147.

Clergyman, the position of the, in New England society, 16; his prominence among college graduates, 17; his ideal character, 31.

"Collection of Essays and Fugitiv writings on Moral, Historical, Political, and Literary subjects, A," 187.

"Columbian, The," an early magazine of short life, 80, 81, 82, 88.

"Compendious Dictionary of the English Language, A," 216.

Congress, on copyright laws, 55, 56, 62-67.

Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, 161.

Connecticut, legislature of, in connection with copyright laws, 56; discontents in, written about by N. W., 112.

Connecticut Valley, the, a strong-hold of Puritanism, 12.

Constitution, origin of the, 116; an examination of its leading principles, 129.

Copyright laws, origin of, 52; N. W.'s efforts in securing, 53-56; letter to D. Webster on, 57-61; reply by D. W., on, 61, 62; petition by authors for, 63; movements in Congress concerning, 62-67; their connection with N. W.'s writings, 67, 68.

"Courant, The Connecticut," started in Hartford, 1764, 24; N. W. writes for it under signature of Candor, 130.

Curtius, a signature of N. W., 137.

Definitions in N. W.'s Dictionary, 260.

Delaware legislature in connection with copyright laws, 56.

Dictionary, Encyclopaedic character of the, introduced by N. W., 216, 217.

Dilworth, Thomas, and his New Guide, 34; compared with N. W. and his Spelling-Book, 36, 87.

Doctor, the, in New England life, 17; of the Indian school, 18.

Dwight, Timothy, 55.

Dyche and Pardon's Dictionary, 216.

East Windsor, at convenient distance from Hartford, 11.

"Echo, The," 98-104.

"Effects of Slavery on Morals and Industry, On the," by N. W., 139.

"Elementary," N. W.'s, 34.

Ellsworth, Oliver, N. W. lives in the family of, 9.

Epidemic Diseases, N. W.'s Treatise on, 105.

"Errors in Johnson's Dictionary and other Lexicons," by N. W., 219.

"Essay on the Rights of Neutral Nations," by N. W., 142.

Etymology, N. W.'s studies in, 258.

Everett, Edward, lends George Ticknor Meidinger's Grammar, 21.

"Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution, An," 129.

Federal Catechism, A, 39.

Federalism, N. W.'s, 46, 113.

Fowler, William Chauncey, quoted, 28-30.

Fox and the Swallow, The, illustration to, 41.

France in American politics, 131.

Franklin, Benjamin, N. W. compared with, 152, 160; views of, on spelling reform, 190.

French Revolution, The, 131, 133.

Freneau, Philip, 48, 133.

Genet, Citizen, 130, 131, 132.

Gibbon repeated in N. W., 239.

Glastonbury, temporary seat of a section of Yale College, 7; school at, taught by N. W., 8.

Goodrich, Chauncey, on N. W.'s mental habits, 215.

Goodrich, S. G., describes N. W., 237

Goshen, N. W. conceives his Spelling-Book at, 33; Spelling-Book revised at, 54.

Goths and Vandals disapproved of in New England, 5.

Grammar, N. W.'s, 41.

"Grammatical Institute, A." N. W.'s earliest work, 34; compared with Dilworth's New Guide, 35, 37; meant for the farmers' children, 38; second part of, a grammar, 41; third part of, a reader, 46; 182, 183.

Greenleaf, Rebecca, N. W.'s wife, 96.

Hamilton, Alexander, 114; compared with N. W., 115; his connection with the French difficulties, 132; what Jefferson thought of him, 137.

Harrison, Governor, of Virginia, 56.

Hartford, 1; N. W. teaches school at, 9; a village only, 13; North Church in, 48.

Hartford Convention, N. W.'s part in, 146.

Hartford Wits, The, 97, 104.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel, and N. W. compared, 289.

Hazard, Ebenezer, 68, 75; his opinion of N. W., 79; dealings with him, as brought out in correspondence with Belknap, 80, 94.

Hillard, George Stillman, quoted, 22.

"History of New Hampshire," Belknap's, 69, 75, 76.

"History of the United States," by N. W., 277.

Holst, H. Von, quoted, 116.

Ingersoll, Mr., representative from Connecticut, 62.

Izard, Ralph, 55.

Jackson, Andrew, election of, 145.

Jay's Treaty defended by N. W., 137, 143.

Jefferson, Thomas, 119, 132; his opinion of N. W.'s anonymous work, 137; his address attacked by N. W., 144.

Johnson, Samuel, the Magnus Apollo of Lexicographers, 218; criticised by N. W., 219-225; N. W.'s preface compared with S. J.'s, 242; his Dictionary and N. W.'s compared, 246, 260-263, 273.

Jonas, Mr. Jacob Abbott's, a type, 14.

Kent, Chancellor, 137.

King, Rufus, 137, 138.

Language, a national, 202.

Lawyers in Connecticut, 18.

Lee, Charles, 6.

"Letter on the Value and importance of the American Commerce of Great Britain, addressed to a Gentleman of Distinction in London, A," by N. W., 142.

"Letter to the Governors," N. W.'s, quoted, 44.

Litchfield, N. W. reads law at, 9.

Livingston, Governor, of New Jersey, on copyright laws, 53, 83.

Lodge, H. C., quoted, 137.

Lord's Almanac, 25.

Lowth's "Short Introduction to the English Grammar," 41.

Lyman, Joseph, and the Hartford Convention, 146.

McFingal, Trumbull's, 102.

Madison, James, 55; his correspondence with N. W., 114; his connection with the French party, 132.

Mahn, Dr., 260.

Mansfield, Lord, on copyright laws, 61.

"Manual of Useful Studies" by N. W., 278.

Massachusetts legislature in connection with copyright laws, 55.

Massachusetts Magazine, The, 89.

Mein, John, and his bookstore, 22.

Mile stones and bridges, requiring toll from belles, 11.

Military life in New England, 20.

Miller, Ashur, N. W.'s class-mate, 4.

Miller v. Taylor, case of, 6.

"Minerva, American," N. W.'s paper, 130; amount of work done on it by N. W., 142.

Mirabeau, quoted by N. W. 47.

Monarch, The, a title given to N. W. by two of his contemporaries, 79, 115.

Neutrals, N. W. on, 142-144.

New England in its educative influences, 12.

New England Primer, The, as a work of art, 40.

New Haven, visited by Washington and Lee, 6.

New Jersey in connection with copyright laws, 53, 55.

New Rochelle, 12.

Newspaper, the, in N. W.'s youth, 24; its condition when he engaged in it, 111.

"New York Commercial Advertiser," 130.

New York legislature in connection with copyright laws, 54.

Orthography, N. W.'s supposed innovations in, 245-254.

Otis, Harrison Gray, 146.

Pardee, Rebecca, a friend of N. W., 11.

"Peculiar Doctrines of the Gospel explained and defended, The," by N. W., 167.

Perkins, Nathan, N. W.'s teacher, 4; what books he found at Yale College Library, 23.

Pickering, John, is to be instructed in N. W.'s speller, 73; later in life, appears as a critic of N. W., 225; goes to him for Americanisms, 264.

Pickering, Timothy, sits up late at night to read N. W.'s Spelling-Book, 72.

"Porsenna in pursuit of the Kingdom of Felicity," 25.

Priestley, Joseph, lectures the young America, 104; and draws down upon himself a letter by N. W., 105.

Princeton, N. J., visit to, by N. W., 53.

"Prompter, The," by N. W., 153; extracts from, 154-160.

Pronunciation, in different parts of the United States, 209; N. W.'s treatment of in his Dictionary, 255-257.

Quincy, Josiah, letter to, by N. W., 185.

Ramsay, Dr., draws down N. W.'s criticism of Johnson, 219.

"Remarks on the Manners, Government, and Debt of the United States," by N. W., 163, 202.

Revision Committee's work and N. W.'s compared, 173, 175, 176, 181; the American company and N. W., 291.

Revolution, The, and its connection with American history, 283, 284.

Roman precedents, 49.

Rousseau, 119.

Rowan, Mr., 66.

Sabbath, the, as the shrine of Puritanism, 30.

Sabbath-Day Houses, 27; description of, by W. C. Fowler, 28-30.

Savage, James, and his sarcastic remarks on N. W., 95.

School-teaching by N. W., at Glastonbury, 8; at Hartford, 9; at Sharon, 10; at Goshen, 33.

Schuyler, Philip, 55.

Sharon, N. W. teaches school at, 9; advertisement of school there, 10.

"Sketches of American Policy," 113; N. W.'s publication of, 115; a specimen of political thought, 119; analyzed, 120-126.

Slavery, N. W. on, 139.

Sleighing parties, 11.

Smith, Samuel Stanhope, examines N. W.'s manuscript, 53.

Smith, Zephaniah, N. W.'s classmate, 4.

South, literature at the, in the War of 1861-1865, 74.

Spelling-reform, hints of by N. W., 40; his pioneer efforts at, 187; his formal views on, 192-202.

Stiles, Ezra, President of Yale College, 4; his impressive scholarship, 5.

Strong, Jedediah, 9.

Sunday, observance of, in New England, 27, 31.

Tetard, M., N. W.'s French teacher, 12.

Thomas, Isaiah, 89.

Ticknor, George, quoted, upon the difficulties in the way of a student, 21.

"Times, The," a series of papers by N. W., 134.

Tooke, Horne, N. W.'s teacher in grammar, 43; in derivations, 258.

Trumbull, Governor, of Connecticut, 95.

Trumbull, John, on N. W.'s prospects, 97.

Unabridged, The, 275.

Union, The, and its connection with social and individual life, 293.

Verplanck, Mr., 63, 66.

Washington, George, passes through New Haven, 5; is escorted by N. W., 6; his virtues commemorated in a spelling-book, 39; Mirabeau, conscious of his own defects, wishes children early taught the name of, 47; visited by N. W., 56; defended by N. W. against the Republicans, 131; his connection with the French difficulties, 132.

Waterston, R. C., 184.

Watson, James, 130.

Webster, Daniel, letter to, from N. W., 57; his part in passing copyright law, 66.

Webster, Mercy, 3.

Webster, Noah, born, 2; his ancestry, 3; his early education, 4; at Yale College, 4; escorts Washington and Lee through New Haven, 6; serves as private in the Revolutionary Army, 7; graduates and takes up school-teaching, 8; studies law and teaches in Hartford, 9; is admitted to the bar, 9; resumes teaching at Sharon, 9; has a tender regard for R. P., 11; goes on sleighing parties, 11; the influences about his youth, 13-32; enters upon the making of school-books, 33; his Grammatical Institute, 34; his portrait, 35; his aim in his early writings, 38; his hints at orthographic reform, 40; his early conversion in the matter of grammars, 42; issues a new grammar, 43; his views on usage, 44; appeals to the pride of his countrymen, 45; his Federalism, 46; his attention to the political interests of America in his reading-book, 47; not a mere Anglo-phobian, 50; his weakness and strength, 51; sets out to secure copyright laws, 52; makes a journey to Southern States, 56; writes a letter to Daniel Webster on copyright laws, 57-61; his publication of his Spelling-Book, 69; his contracts with book-sellers, 70; his venture in the American Magazine, 78; his magazine projects, 80-93; his enterprise, 94; his publication of Winthrop's Journal, 95; marries Rebecca Greenleaf, 96; is outside of the Hartford Wits, 97; writes a letter to Priestley, 104; contributes to the "Connecticut Courant," 111; publishes a pamphlet entitled "Sketches of American Policy," 113; the product of certain forces, 118; goes to Philadelphia at Franklin's request, 128; writes "An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution," 129; editor of "The Minerva," 130; his defense of the administration, 133; discusses the French Revolution, 134; writes "The Times," 134; publishes a pamphlet on the French Revolution, 136; defends Jay's Treaty, 137; mistaken for Hamilton by Jefferson, 138; his editorial skill, 138; what he thought of slavery, 139; closes his connection with "The Minerva," 142; publishes further political works, 142; his attack on Jefferson, 144; at the polls, 145; is concerned in the Hartford Convention, 146; the ephemeral character of his political writings, 148; his general average, 151; his likeness to Franklin, 152; writes "The Prompter," 153; his interest in the people, 161; his taste for statistics, 162; his theological writings, 167; his revision of the Bible, 168-181; is discouraged about his prospects, 184; his pecuniary resources, 186; his pioneer efforts in spelling reform, 187; his sympathy with Franklin, 190; his formal views on spelling reform, 192-202; his doctrine of usage, 208; his varied method of disseminating his views, 213; his mental habits, 215; his Compendious Dictionary, 216; introduces new features, 217; criticises Dr. Johnson, 219-225; replies to J. Pickering, 226-232; the improvement in his style, 233; his announcement of his great work, 235; his labor upon it, 236; visits Europe, 237; completes his work with Gibbonian emotion, 238; his individuality, 275; his proprietorship in the present edition of the Dictionary, 276; his industry after publication of the first edition, 277; his personal appearance, family life, and death, 278, 279; his place in history, 280; what he attempted, 282; and what he did, 286; a representative American, 289; his career illustrative of the individuality resident in early national life, 294.

Webster, Noah, Sr., a Connecticut farmer, 2; his character and offices, 3; captain in the alarm list, 7.

Webster, William G., 70.

West Hartford, N. W.'s birth-place, 1, 279.

Wethersfield, within driving distance of Hartford, 11.

"Whistle, The," 160.

Williamson, Hugh, 55.

Winthrop, John: his letters compared with those of Adams, 49.

Winthrop's Journal, published by N. W., 83, 85, 95, 96.

Wolcott, Oliver, N. W.'s classmate, 4; written to by Trumbull on N. W., 96.

Yale College, N. W.'s alma mater, 4; its impoverished condition during the war for independence, 8; distinctions in rank at, 16; proportion of ministers among the graduates of, 17; condition of its library in 1765, 23.

Yates, Mr. Justice, 61.


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