men,—among whom were the Duke
, Sir Robert Peel
, the Earl
of Aberdeen, Lord Palmerston, and Lord John Russell
: one copy was sent to the venerable Thomas Clarkson
, and another, through the Bishop
, to the Queen
Mr. William Smith
, the Fleet Street
publisher, issued in May an edition, in a small volume, of two thousand copies of the entire oration, writing at the time to its author,—
I should rejoice to have succeeded in giving it a much more extensive circulation, believing it to be the best appeal to the common sense of rational men, and the religious profession of people who call themselves Christians, that I have yet met with on the subject of war. I sincerely hope it may have a wide circulation in America, and effect much good in checking any tendency to such a deplorable evil as a war with any country, and especially with England.
wrote from Edinburgh
to Mr. Rathbone
: ‘Struck with the scholarly elegance of Sumner
's address, as well as its powerful argument, I design to make one or two articles out of it for the journal with which I am connected.’
And his journal afterwards said: ‘The oration of Mr. Sumner
, for taste, eloquence, and scholarship, as well as for fearless intrepidity, has been rarely equalled in modern harangues.’1
The ‘Spectator,’ Feb. 28, 1846, thus noticed the oration:
The mere conception of it indicates great moral courage, much more its delivery on a day, &c. . . . A formal discourse on a frequent subject can seldom do more than urge its standard topics with individual force, appropriate illustration, and apt application to current events; all which Mr. Sumner accomplishes.
His style, though approaching the measured character of the pulpit, is distinct; and his sentences exceedingly well cut, to use a phrase of the atelier,—which indicates the removal of all that is not wanted, as well as the presence of all that is requisite, together with cleanness of workmanship.
The miseries of war are well impressed by a few striking examples from modern history; its general uselessness is shown by the fact that the status ante bellum is mostly the expressed or implied basis of all treaties of peace; its enormous cost is proved by the startling expense of the European armies and navies, as well as by the large sums spent upon the services in America, compared with the civil establishments. . . . Some of the positions may be considered extreme, at all events in the present state of the world; but Mr. Sumner's oration is entitled to consideration for itself, and still more for the occasion which produced it.
Aside from the merits of the oration, the pending question of the Oregon
boundary, which threatened war between the two