"Often have I been so blessed as to be caused to shed tears of joy and pride at hearing proofs of his tenderness, kindness, and generosity related by the recipients of some token of his nobleness, but of which we never should have heard from himself."
A little incident may illustrate this trait of his disposition. In 1862, a "Loan Court" was held in London, at which there was a most magnificent display of jewels and plate of all kinds, contributed by their owners to be exhibited for the gratification of the public. A friend, who held him in the highest veneration, returning from this brilliant show, expressed regret that Mr. Webb had not furnished one of the stands, by sending the splendid silver candelabra presented to him by the French Emperor, with the many silver cups and medals he had won. Mr. Webb replied, that the mercies God had blessed him with, and the successes He had awarded to him, might have been sent to teach him humility, and not given to parade before the world.
It is one of the most striking proofs of his great and pure-heartedness, that, notwithstanding nearly forty consecutive years of vigorous and successful competition with the leading agriculturists of Great Britain and other countries, none of the victories he won over them, or the eminence he attained, ever made him an enemy. When we consider the eager ambitions and excited sensibilities that enter into these competitions, this fact in itself shows what manner of man he was in his disposition and deportment. Referring to this aspect of his character, the French writer already cited, M. De La Trehonnais, says of him, while still living -
"There exists no person who has gained the esteem and goodwill of his contemporaries to a higher degree than Mr. Webb. His probity, his scrupulous good faith, his generosity, and the affable equality of his character, have gained for him the respect and affection of every one. Since I have had the honor of knowing him, which is already many years, I have never known of his having a single enemy; and in my constant intercourse with the agricultural classes of England, I have never heard of a single malevolent insinuation respecting him. When we consider how much those who raise themselves in the world above others, are made the butt for the attacks of envy in proportion with their elevation, we may conclude that there are in the character of this wealthy man very solid virtues, well fixed principles, transcendant [sic] merit, to have passed through his long career of success and triumphs without having drawn upon himself the ill-will of a single enemy, or the calumnious shaft of envy."
Nor were these negative virtues, ending where they begun, or enabling him to go through a long life of energetic activities without an enemy. He not only lived at peace with all men, but did his utmost to make them live at peace with each other. Says one who knew him intimately - "I never heard him express a sentiment savoring of enmity to any person, nor could he bear to see it entertained by any one towards another. Even if he heard of an ill-feeling existing between persons, he would, if possible, effect a reconciliation; and his own bright example, and hearty, kind, genial manners always warmed all hearts towards himself. Notwithstanding the numerous calls upon his time, made by public and private business, he did not lose his sweet cheerfulness of temper, and was ever ready in his most busy moments to aid others, if he saw a possibility of so doing." Energy, gentleness, conscientiousness and courtesy were seldom, if ever, blended in such suave accord as in him. These virtues came out, each in its distinctive lustre, under the trials and vexations which try human nature most severely. All who knew him marvelled that he was able to maintain such sweetness and evenness of temper under provocations and difficulties which would have greatly annoyed most men. What he was in these outer circles of his influence, he was, to all the centralization of his virtues, in the heart of his family. Here, indeed, the best graces of his character had their full play and beauty. He was the centre and soul of one of the happiest of earthly homes, attracting to him the affections of every member of the hearth circle that moved in the sleepless light of his life. Here he did not rule, but led by love. It alone dictated, and it alone obeyed. It inspired its like in domestic discipline. Spontaneous reverence for such a father's wish and will superseded the unpleasant necessity of more active parental constraint. To bring a shade of sadness to that venerated face, or a speechless reproach to that benignant eye, was a greater punishment to a temporarily wayward child than any corporal correction could have inflicted.