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[453] challenge comparison with the great speeches of Burke, to whom the Massachusetts senator in the ripened vigor of his abilities and in his varied accomplishments bears no small similitude. . . . I cannot more than allude to the inspiring eloquence and lofty moral tone which characterized and ran through this triumphant senatorial achievement.1

When Sumner closed his speech the storm broke forth. Cass was the first to rise, calling it ‘the most un-American and unpatriotic that ever grated on the ears of the members of this high body,’ and ‘open to the highest censure and disapprobation.’ Douglas followed with an invective which, unrelieved by wit, reeked in vulgarity and ribaldry. He attributed to Sumner ‘a depth of malignity that issued from every sentence;’ compared the speech to a ‘Yankee bedquilt made of old calico dresses of various colors;’ and assuming a virtuous censorship, he described it as ‘a dish of classics,’ its ‘classic allusions each one only distinguished for its lasciviousness and obscenity,. . . unfit for decent young men to read,’ coming from one whose ‘studies of the classics have all been in those haunts where ladies cannot go, and where gentlemen never read Latin.’ Descending further into personalities, he pictured Sumner ‘practising his speech every night before the glass with a negro boy to hold the candle and watch the gestures.’ He was most incensed that Sumner had called the Nebraska bill a ‘swindle and a crime,’ saying he had done so ‘a hundred times.’ Instead of replying to the speech itself, he recurred to the debate of two years before, and charged Sumner with being false to his oath, and with being ‘a traitor, . . . an avowed criminal,’ because he answered, ‘Is thy servant a dog that he should do such a thing?’ when asked if he would join in returning a fugitive slave. Two passages in Douglas's remarks were significant in connection with an event at hand, showing his disposition to stimulate others to violence, or to create a sentiment which was likely to break out in violence. Referring to Sumner's description of the Nebraska bill as a ‘swindle,’ voted for, as Douglas said, by three-fourths of the Senate, he inquired, ‘Is it his object to provoke some of us to kick him as we would a dog in the street, that he may get sympathy upon the just chastisement?’ Referring to Butler's absence, he said: ‘He, however, will be here in due time to speak for himself, and to act for himself too. I know what ’

1 William S. Thayer in the New York Evening Post, May 22.

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