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[112] this warfare: ‘I've seen hard fighting with clubs and bullets; I've seen men falling all around me; but I tell you it takes more courage to stand up in one's seat in Congress and say the right thing, than to walk up to the cannon's mouth. There's no such courage as that of the anti-slavery men there.’

Now, Sumner's superb vitality, that hardy yeoman blood which his ancestors brought from England, stood him in excellent stead. His strong and active brain was based on a body muscular, vigorous, and healthy, incapable of nervous tremor, bearing him with a steady aplomb through much that would be confusing and weakening to men of less physical force. Sumner had not the character of a ready debater; not a light-armed skirmisher was he; he resembled rather one of the mailed warriors of ancient tourney. When he had deliberately put on his armor, all polished and finished down to buckle and shoe-latchet, and engraved with whatnot of classic, or Venetian, or Genoese device; when he put down his visor, steadied his lance, took sure aim, and went man and horse against his antagonist, all went down before him, as went down all before the lance of Coeur-de-Lion.

Such a charge into the enemy was his first great speech, ‘Freedom National, Slavery Sectional,’ which he directed against the Fugitive Slave Law. It was a perfect land-slide of history and argument; an avalanche under which the opposing party were logically buried, and it has been a magazine from which catapults have been taken to beat down their fortresses ever since.

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