Portrait Gallery

Lines on the Death of My Son Charles

by Daniel Webster

Written in 1825

MY son, thou wast my heart's delight,   Thy morn of life was gay and cheery; That morn has rushed to sudden night,   Thy father's house is sad and dreary.

I held thee on my knee, my son!   And kissed thee laughing, kissed thee weeping; But ah! thy little day is done,   Thou'rt with thy angel sister sleeping.

The staff, on which my years should lean,   Is broken, ere those years come o'er me; My funeral rites thou shouldst have seen,   But thou art in the tomb before me.

Thou rear'st to me no filial stone,   No parent's grave with tears beholdest; Thou art my ancestor, my son!   And stand'st in Heaven's account the oldest.

On earth my lot was soonest cast,   Thy generation after mine, Thou hast thy predecessor past;   Earlier eternity is thine.

I should have set before thine eyes   The road to Heaven, and showed it clear; But thou untaught spring'st to the skies,   And leav'st thy teacher lingering here.

Sweet Seraph, I would learn of thee,   And hasten to partake thy bliss! And oh! to thy world welcome me,   As first I welcomed thee to this.

Dear Angel, thou art safe in heaven;   No prayers for thee need more be made; Oh! let thy prayers for those be given   Who oft have blessed thy infant head.

My Father! I beheld thee born,   And led thy tottering steps with care; Before me risen to Heaven's bright morn,   My son! My father! guide me there.

Charles Webster was 2 years old when he died on Dec 18, 1824. Daniel Webster enclosed this poem in a letter to his wife in 1825. It has appeared in a variety of newspapers thoughout the 19th century and was published in The Letters of Daniel Webster in 1902. The Washington Post, August 20, 1894, p. 7, remarked that “The poetical quality is imperfect and crude, but the occasion and touching motif give the lines a peculiar interest.”

Read Mrs. Webster's reply.