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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

To Mrs. Paige, On the Joy and Glory of the Morn

By Daniel Webster (1782–1852)

[From The Private Correspondence of Daniel Webster. Edited by Fletcher Webster. 1856.]

WHETHER it be a favor or an annoyance, you owe this letter to my habit of early rising…. This city has a “pleasant seat.” It is high,—the James River runs below it, and when I went out an hour ago, nothing was heard but the roar of the falls. The air is tranquil, and its temperature mild.

It is morning—and a morning sweet and fresh, and delightful. Everybody knows the morning, in its metaphorical sense, applied to so many objects, and on so many occasions. The health, strength, and beauty of early years, lead us to call that period the “morning of life.” Of a lovely young woman, we say, she is “bright as the morning,” and no one doubts why Lucifer is called “son of the morning.” But the morning itself, few people, inhabitants of cities, know anything about. Among all our good people of Boston, not one in a thousand sees the sun rise once a year. They know nothing of the morning. Their idea of it is, that it is that part of the day which comes along after a cup of coffee and a beefsteak, or a piece of toast. With them, morning is not a new issuing of light; a new bursting forth of the sun; a new waking up of all that has life, from a sort of temporary death, to behold again the works of God, the heavens and the earth; it is only a part of the domestic day, belonging to breakfast, to reading the newspapers, answering notes, sending the children to school, and giving orders for dinner. The first faint streak of light, the earliest purpling of the east, which the lark springs up to greet, and the deeper and deeper coloring into orange and red, till at length the “glorious sun is seen, regent of the day,” this they never enjoy, for this they never see.

Beautiful descriptions of the “morning” abound in all languages, but they are the strongest perhaps in those of the East, where the sun is so often an object of worship. King David speaks of taking to himself “the wings of the morning.” This is highly poetical and beautiful. The “wings of the morning” are the beams of the rising sun. Rays of light are wings. It is thus said that the Sun of righteousness shall arise “with healing in his wings;” a rising sun, which shall scatter light and health, and joy throughout the universe. Milton has fine descriptions of morning, but not so many as Shakespeare, from whose writings pages of the most beautiful images, all founded on the glory of the morning, might be filled.

I never thought that Adam had much advantage of us, from having seen the world while it was new. The manifestations of the power of God, like His mercies, are “new every morning,” and “fresh every evening.” We see as fine risings of the sun as ever Adam saw, and its risings are as much a miracle now as they were in his day, and I think a good deal more, because it is now a part of the miracle that for thousands and thousands of years he has come to his appointed time, without the variation of a millionth part of a second. Adam could not tell how this might be!

I know the morning; I am acquainted with it, and I love it, fresh and sweet as it is, a daily new creation, breaking forth, and calling all that have life, and breath, and being, to new adoration, new enjoyments, and new gratitude.

RICHMOND, VA., 5 A.M., 29 April, 1847.