of illustration, its affluent exhibit of historic study and reminiscence, and the winning witchery of its rendering.
The exception alluded to are the passages well into the second half of the address, where the questions are uttered, “What is the use of the standing army?” — “What is the use of the navy?” — “What is the use of the fortifications?” — “What is the use of the Militia of the United States?”
Then came after the latter inquiry the phrases, “farcical1 discipline,” — “shouldering arms, and carrying arms,” — “men closely dressed in padded and well-buttoned coats of blue besmeared with gold, surmounted by a huge mountaincap of shaggy bearskin, with a barbarous device typical of brute force, a tiger painted on oilskin, tied with leather to their backs,—Christians recognizing the example of beasts as worthy of imitation by man.”
The speaker, I suppose, here alluded to the knapsacks of the old Boston Light Infantry, some of whose past and present officers were present.
The device on the knapsacks of this corps was a teeth-showing tiger's-head, and the hurrahs of the men were always wound up by a growl,—whence spread the fashion, now so common, of the so-called tiger-growl after similar hurrahing.
After Mr. Sumner had uttered these sentences, and during a short pause which he made, an officer of high rank in our State Militia came along the alley up to my seat, not far from the platform, and said that he and many other officers, feeling officially assailed by the speaker as well as personally insulted, had decided to leave the hall in a body, and desired me to lead in the exit.
Reflecting a moment, I replied that I thought it would not be well to do so, and would be neither wise nor courageous,—not in good taste nor grateful as guests of the city; adding, in a playful way, that if we could not stand the speaker's oral pellets, it might be argued that we might show small pluck should we happen to be in more perilous times exposed to weightier assaults by leaden bullets.
My suggestions prevailing, we heroically faced all the rest of the attack.
The following are extracts2
from the oration taken from the contemporaneous edition, by a comparison of which with the latest edition included in his Works his changes of style may be traced3
It is in obedience to an uninterrupted usage in our community that, on this Sabbath of the Nation, we have all put aside the common cares of life, and seized a respite from the never-ending toils of labor, to meet in gladness and congratulation, mindful of the blessings transmitted from the past, mindful also, I trust, of the duties to the present and the future.
May he who now addresses you be enabled so to direct your minds, that you shall not seem to have lost a day!