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umphantly passed by both houses, he was overjoyed. Many of his fellow Senators knew how dear the measure was to his heart and the announcement of its passage gave rise to a pleasing little scene on the floor which the reporters described with evident delight. “In his excitement and joy at the realization of his hopes [Morrill] forgot the dignity that is his most conspicuous characteristic and tossed a kiss across the chamber to Senator Voorhees;... who kissed his hand in return.” Senators waved their hands to the reporters' gallery. “A page was hurried off with the news to Librarian Spofford, who came ambling in and the three men embraced each other warmly”; there were general congratulations and handshakings, “and then the little love feast ended.” The same session witnessed another tribute to Morrill's influence and to the regard of his fellow Senators. While he was absent in July on account of illness, the matter of the appropriation of $50,000 for a federal building in Montpelier, Vermont, came up. The Senate had voted to omit such appropriations from the bill before them, but would not disappoint Morrill. Senator Spooner presented the matter: The Senator from Vermont she said] was anxious about this, and it has seemed to me that it would be a graceful and handsome compliment to that Senator, who for the first time in twenty years of service here, is absent from the Senate during its session, and who may justly be called the father of the Senate, if in his enforced absence this amendment is by common consent placed upon the bill, and I sincerely hope it may be done. Mr. Beck – I do not want to violate the rule, but if the Chair will ask unanimous consent to have the amendment put in, I hope it will be done by unanimous consent. Mr. Allison — I hope that unanimous consent will be asked and given. Mr. Spooner – I ask unanimous consent. The President — The Senator from Wisconsin asks unanimous

consent to insert the amendment. Is there objection? The Chair hears none, and it is accordingly inserted.


THE Democratic Administration relieved Morrill of many responsibilities and gave him leisure for a congenial and agreeable task — the revision and publication of his volume on “Self-Consciousness of Noted Persons.” The earlier interim of Democratic control from 1879 to 1881 had given him leisure to sift and arrange the garnerings of his reading for half a century and he had printed the book privately for his friends. The welcome which it had received had encouraged him to revise the collection, and he now issued it to the general public. Though it was his only book, it marked no break or departure from his usual way of life. He was always potentially a man of letters, as all his speeches showed, and if he had not turned to public life, it is a moral certainty that he would have given his mature years to literary work. There was the making of a competent author hidden under his senatorial toga. From his boyhood he had felt the ambition to write: before he was twenty-one he had begun to contribute articles and sketches to the local papers; while he was a clerk in Portland in 1828 he kept a journal avowedly to improve himself in writing; after his return to Strafford and while he was a busy store-keeper, he maintained his habit of writing by means of a commonplace book to which he confided his chance thoughts, brief essays and verses; his account of his journey to the West in 1841 we have already laid under tribute; his rough notes of this tour he copied into a leathercovered book which he dignified by a conventional title-page with colophon, poetic quotation, place, and year complete. Finally, he kept until his latest years, a pocket diary in which he jotted down phrases that pleased his ear, anecdotes or apt quotations, and notes for his speeches. His diaries from 1879 onward contained many jottings for his book which he intended at first as a kind of memento for his friends, but when he saw it seriously and respectfully reviewed as it was in a number of papers, he resolved to enlarge it, and publish it regularly. The first edition (1882) consisted of only 81 pages and contained only 116 “noted persons”; the second edition (1887) had 187 pages and contained examples of the self-consciousness of 171 notables. This was so well received and met with such generous praise both from the reviewers and from his friends that he was inspired to prepare a third edition for which he left many notes, a revised Preface, Introduction, and Conclusion. All three of the prefaces or introductions are modest: “I have taken,” says the first, “some leaves from my scrap-book, with extracts from various authors, showing both well-founded and ill-founded ambition to be held in remembrance by posterity.” And the notes for the third say, these “examples ... have been compiled with less labor than amusement, for which no more credit is asked than was called for by old Montaigne, who said, ‘I have only made a nosegay of culled flowers, and have brought nothing of my own but the thread that ties them.’” Those who turn to the book to-day will find it, as the readers of the first edition did forty years ago, a diverting and entertaining compilation which runs over a wide range of human history. The first edition began with Montaigne and ended with Sir Walter Scott, but the second followed in the main a chronological order, beginning with the ancients, but giving Saint Paul the place of honor, before Demosthenes and the rest of the great Greeks. A taste of the quality of the book may be had by his paragraphs on Ethan Allen, Owen Lovejoy, Dr. Samuel Johnson, Burke, and George IV of England. As a Vermonter he could hardly fail to include the man who took Fort Ticonderoga of whom he says:

On the Sunday following the capture, Parson Dewey, in his long prayer, thanked the Lord for the great deliverance. “Parson Dewey! Parson Dewey!” was heard in a whisper by those sitting near Allen; but the clergyman was too much absorbed in his own thoughts to notice interruptions, and only continued to thank the “Great Deliverer.” “Parson Dewey!” was then heard all over the church by every one except the preacher. Allen could stand it no longer, and shouted in his stentorian voice, “Parson Dewey, just mention that I was there!”

Morrill's inclusion of Owen Lovejoy, the Abolitionist, in this list is a tribute to one of the friends and causes of his youth:

Owen Lovejoy once told me, before he was in Congress, that when he preached a poor sermon he never let it out; for as likely as not half his congregation might call it very good.

To Dr. Johnson he gave more space in the book than to almost any other of the “noted persons” and conveyed a kindly view of the brusque old lexicographer:

The hold that Johnson has on the esteem of mankind, after the lapse of a century, proves that he was no unreal giant, but a hater of shams, and ever striving after the eternal verities, although unquestionably indebted to Boswell for his highest fame. He could not endure undeserved praise, and knew well enough that his tragedy of “Irene” added neither to his literary fame nor to the sum of his real merits. When a gentleman by the name of Pot was reported as having said that it “was the finest tragedy of modern times,” Johnson at once replied, “If Pot says so, Pot lies”; and that verdict the public has never reversed. Goldsmith really touched Johnson in his most vulnerable point when he said, “He makes his little fishes talk like whales.”

The closing paragraph about Burke, whom Morrill considered the most eminent of British statesmen, has the brevity of wit:

Single-speech Hamilton once had Burke for his private secretary and afterwards twitted him of being taken from a garret. “In that way,” proudly retorted Burke, “I let myself down to you.”

And one can conceive the satisfaction which the Vermont Republican found in his brief, epitaph-like passage about George IV:

George the Fourth was dissolute, and false in all things, and having nothing upon which even personal vanity could be truthfully supported, he strangely claimed to have been present at the Battle of Waterloo. This claim often taxed the politeness of the Duke of Wellington, who could only say in reply to his recollections, “I have often heard Your Majesty say so.”

The volume ends with a brief Conclusion full of the mild and tolerant philosophy which Morrill had applied for forty years to public and private affairs:

Vanity is very closely allied to the virtues, since a vain or proud man may be often kept on a high moral plane, above doing a mean thing, because it elevates his reputation among those whose good opinion is most to be valued. The spur to acquire a good name often keeps the work of men at their best, mindful of the upright and downright; pushing the pulpit and the bar to higher effort and eloquence; making the soldier brave in battle, the politician more of a patriot, and the statesman less willing “to give up to party what was meant for mankind.”

The book brought him many gratifying letters both from friends and strangers and led to a pleasant exchange of compliments with Miss Kate Sanborn, the clever daughter of his old friend Professor Sanborn, of Dartmouth. In his first edition he had used the phrase “Laurence Sterne, the Beecher of his day,” and Miss Sanborn took him to task for it:

Oct. 15, 1883


I send my talk on Conceited People to you to-day. It is very incomplete because I had used it as half of a lecture on Vanity

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