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[358] believing it to be more a provocation than a means of allaying the warlike sentiment and propensity to violent measures, which in all ages had characterized the policy of nations,—their true grandeur and surer prosperity lying in a different direction. He earnestly disowned personal allusion, knowing and esteeming many gentlemen in the military and naval service; his allusions in the address were to principles, and not to men.

The orator's right, as a matter of good taste and propriety, to select a topic and conduct an argument offensive to any class of citizens, particularly to invited guests, was strongly questioned at the time, both at Faneuil Hall and in the published criticisms of the oration. Samuel A. Eliot, a leading citizen and former mayor, contended, in a correspondence with Sumner, that he had, by his choice of topic and method of treating it, perverted the occasion from its proper uses. There are, indeed, passages in the oration—for instance, the allusion to the military escort —which were not necessary to the argument, and were calculated to touch the sensibilities of persons in uniform, who believed that they were doing their duty. These, although spoken with no intention to wound feelings, cannot well be justified; but to limit an orator's right to the statement of views agreeable to all would take from his office all value and significance.

The newspapers did not print the oration; and only one— the Boston Post—gave any sketch of its argument. While nearly all dissented from it seriously or in satire, they recognized its eloquence and power, as well as the orator's courage. The ‘Post’ said: ‘It fell like an avalanche upon the military portion of the invited guests, who represented the army, navy, and militia, and occupied the first line of seats at the orator's feet.’ The ‘Transcript’ said: ‘The oration produced quite an excitement,—particularly so among the military and the friends of that right arm of our defence, on account of its freedom and boldness. It is admitted to have been a production of a high order of talent, eloquently written, and abounding with original thought and powerful expression. He attacked Slavery, the military, and other institutions like a gladiator. . . Many of the officers of the army, navy, and militia of the State— guests of the city—were present, and sat bravely under the infliction.’ The ‘Mail,’ while bearing witness to its eloquence, original thought, and power of expression, called it ‘an extraordinary discourse,’ with ‘absurd ultraisms’ and ‘the true Garrison style;’ and said: ‘He struck out into a new path, ’

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