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Daniel Webster's First Speech

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Ebenezer Webster, Duiiel Webster's fatlier, was once very mucli annoyeil by a woodchui'k, which was wont to euter hls garden in the night and eat up many of the Une vegetables he found tliere. Daniel and his brotlier Ezekiel succeeded, aftor considerable trouble, in capturing the inii mier in a box trap. "Now, Mr. Woodchiick," said Ezekiel, "we will iix you. You have done miscliief enough. Dan, let's take him out into the lleld and open the trap and let the dog k 111 him." "Oh no, do not do thftt," said Daniel, who pitied the poor captlve. "Let's take hiui to the woods and let him go." The boys could not agree, and so they wentto the fathar about il, takinji the captlve along wil li i In-in. "lle ought to be killed," said Ezekiel, "hut Dan want's to let him jfo." "Well, boys," said the old gentleman, " ae you can't agree about ir, you may argue the caae before me. I will be the judge. You Ezekiel, may flrst give your reasons for the treatinent yon propose, and Daniel shall be the council for the prisoncr and plead bis cause. Theii Ezekiel opened the case agaiust the prisoner, and he wasdeeply in earneat. Tliis ia the substance of what he said: - "The woodchuck la very mischeivous animal, and tbia one done a great deal of h.iriti, as we all know. If had we uot OBUght him, he wouKl liaTfl destroyed a many of our vegetables, and pprliaps would have spoiledour garden. We have spent a great deal of time and labor in lus capture and, if he should be suffe red to live and go at laruc agaiu, there is little doubt thathe would begin hisdepredations anew and be cunning enough to escape pecapture. Beefde, it would be nothing more Iban strict justice for the woodchuck to be punlshedfor wli:it evil he has already done; and that puuishmcnt shotild bc siich :is would prevent htm fromdoin? evil in future. Itis Imponible to change bis evil nature, so nolhiiig but death or mprlsonmenl for Ufe can put a stop to his depredations. We cinnot afford to take care of him and ieed hiui; and, nioreover, if we should attempt to confine liiui, he might get away and go back to liis evil practiees. If we kill htm, his skin will be of sonie little value to us: but it will not repay half the damago he has already done. In case we let him go tree, even if he should not steal froin us again, lie will probably steal f rom otilen-; :herefore the public good requires that it should lie put to deatli." The father vM higlily pleased with this speech of Kzekiel's, and it was evident tliat lie was inöuenced again gt the woodchuck by the carnest and able argument to which he had listened. It was now Dinii-l's turn, and as he looked uron the soft and timid exprauloni of the Irembliug animal, his large brilliant black eyes were suffused with te.irs. His beart was moved with pity, and hia whole soul was aroused, as he appealed, with eloquent words for the lite and liberty of the captlve. "(jrd made the woodchuck," said he. "He made him to live. He made him to roam free in the flelds and woods, and to enjoy the pare air and the bright sunsliine. God did not make anytlilng in valn, - not even the woodchuek. He made him to UU his proper place in creation, and the woodchuck has as much right to live as any other living thing. He Í3 not a destructive animal, like the i ¦ . . 1 1 n nA tita t i ii 1 1 i 1 t i iTi-r I i ! , n. nnt won ana me rox anu uger. xieuoesnot killpoultry; he does not take lite; he does not destroy anything for mere sport ; lie siinply eats a few vegetable?, of wliicli we have an abundance and can well spare a part. The food tuat he eats to sustain life is as sweet to him and as necessary to liis existenne as is that for us which is served up on our mother's table. God furnishes our food. So, also the Blble tells us, 'He giveth lo his beast his food, and to the younjj ravens which cry.' Are we not also told to 'consider the ravens, which nelther have store-house nor barn, and God feedeth tliem ? ' So, also, he feedeth all duinb animáis, If man does not rob them of their just share. If God jíves us all we possess, even the vegetables in onr garden, shall we not share a little from our abundance for this poor duinb creature, who cannot speak for liinself, but is here mutely pleading for ife at our hands? We have no right to take that life away without good cause?, and is therea good cause? The woodchuck has never violated the laws of his nature of the laws of God, as man often loes; but he strictly follows the laws of lis beinj; which he has recelved from the tanda of the Creator of all things. Is it not quite s probable that we have taken that which God has designe 1 for the woodchuck as that the woodchuek has aken that which God designeil for Utf We have taken the land where he roamed, and have cut down the trees that supplied him with nuts and acorns. Shall we, i lien, take it into our hands topunish ;he woodchuck - to imprisou him or put 1 1 i ni to death - just for taking the food wlnoh God ha provicled for him? I say we have no right to deprive hini of either life or liberty. Wituess the inute but earnest pleadiug of the animal for that life which is so sweet to him. Oh ! let us not take it away in selfish eruelty and cold heartlessness; for, if we do, we must expeet a just and righteous punishment For our wanton act." During this earnest plea of Duniel's, tears stai ted from the father's eyes and run down his mimImii ni cheeks. His plty and xympathy were awakenad by tlie (oucbfng words of compassion and the eloquent and earnest appeal tor mercy to Lhe caplivej and, while Daniel was yet in tlic inidst ot his argument, the old man, ítívuijí way to his FeellOgl and forgettlug that he was acting as a ]tldge, ipraDg from liis chair, daslied tlic tears troin liis eyes, and exelaimtícl, " Zrkií, Zeke, you let that woodchuck go!"


Ann Arbor Courier
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