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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 President Fillmore, From the Broad Acres of Marshfield

By Daniel Webster (1782–1852)

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

HAVING despatched Mr. Benjamin late last evening, I rose quite early this morning and went out upon the sea. The day has been delicious, and the sea-air seems to give me new life and strength. I ate more dinner on board the boat (cold salted beef and bread) than I have eaten any day since I left Capon Springs. Fishing for cod, haddock, and halibut is a common and coarse amusement, which the connoisseurs in angling reject. I like it, however, as it gives me occupation while we are out for the benefit of the air and the ocean. I caught thirty codfish to-day, weighing from eight to twelve pounds each, and as the boatmen were also fortunate we brought home a fare which astonished our neighbors. They represented fish as very scarce at this season, as they retire in hot weather into deep water. I told them that I thought I should know where to look for fish.

I never saw Marshfield look so well as it does now; the crops are heavy, the lawns and pastures perfectly green, and the trees remarkably bright and glossy. There are several hundred thousands of trees here, which I have raised myself from the seeds; they are all arranged in avenues, copses, groves, long rows by the roads and fences, and some of them make beautiful and impenetrable thickets on hills which were mere sand-hills when I came here. The herds and flocks are in fine order. Llamas from Peru feed in the pastures with the sheep. We have a little fresh-water lake, which is frequented not only by the ordinary ducks and geese, but by beautiful Canada geese or wild geese, which breed in retired places, but will always join their kindred in their emigrations, spring and fall, unless their wings are kept cropped. We have also China geese, India geese, and in short, the same birds from almost every quarter of the world. As to the poultry-yard, there is no end to the varieties which my man has collected. I do not keep the run of half the names and breeds.

The situation of this place is rather peculiar. Back of us, inland, rises a large forest, in which one may hide himself, and find as odorous an atmosphere as among the pines of Maine. In front of us, a mile distant, is the sea, every mast visible over the beach bank, and all vessels visible, hulls as well as masts, from the chambers of the house. A drive of one mile and a half, almost entirely over my own farm, brings us to what is called Duxbury beach, a breadth of clean, white, hard sand, seven miles long, which forms at low water a favorite ride or drive in hot weather.

These, my dear sir, are all trifles, and of course without much interest to any one but myself; but, I confess, that to me Marshfield is a charming place; perhaps one reason is that so many things about it which now appear handsome, are the result of my own attention. I sometimes try to read here, but can never get on, from a desire to be out-of-doors. In truth, I read nothing but my correspondence, and such official papers as it is my duty to peruse.

MARSHFIELD, 23 July, 1851.