Noah Webster and his Spelling-book 169
the entire support of his family, though his copyright receipts were less than a cent a book. The sales went on increasing up to the time of Mr. Webster's death, at the age of eighty-four. A million copies annually were then being called for and the total distribution had reached twenty-four millions.
In his person Webster was tall and slender. To the very end he was remarkably erect, and his step light and elastic. He was enterprising, self-reliant, and very methodical, and a most persevering worker. Besides the monumental labor of making his dictionary, he had much to do with newspapers and magazines, both as editor and contributor, and he wrote a great number of books and pamphlets on literary, historical, medical, religious, scientific, and political subjects, some of which were of very marked value in forming public opinion. He taught school in his early manhood for about ten years, and then, from 1789 to 1793, was a lawyer in Hartford. During other periods, he served as an alderman in New Haven, as a judge in one of the Connecticut courts, and as a member of the Massachusetts legislature. His activity was astonishing in amount and variety, and it was unceasing. Mental exertion seemed to be the native element of his soul.
Webster had originally intended to call his speller The American Instructor^ but by the advice of the president of Yale College, the title was changed to The First Part of a Grammatical Institute of the English Language', the other parts being a grammar and a reader issued shortly afterward. Profound names were to the liking of the old college presidents.