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‘ [454] will happen. The senator from Massachusetts will go to him, whisper a secret apology in his ear, and ask him to accept that as satisfaction for a public outrage on his character.’ Mason came next with a bitter speech, scowling as he spoke, the main point of which was, that, while political necessities required Sumner to be tolerated in the Senate, he would not be acknowledged elsewhere ‘as possessing manhood in any form,’ his ‘presence’ would be ‘dishonor,’ and ‘the touch of his hand would be a disgrace.’ He also spoke of Sumner as ‘a cunning artificer or forger, who knows no other use of truth than to give currency to falsehood.’

Sumner would have been justified in letting these weak personalities pass in silence, but it was on the whole best that he should show himself nothing daunted. He replied briefly to his assailants, dismissing Cass's censure with a simple reference to old associations which forbade him to speak of that senator except in kindness. Of Douglas he spoke sharply, ‘pointing defiantly at him a and looking him square in the eye,’ 1 willing, as he said, to yield him ‘the privilege of the common scold,—the last word;’ but repelling the charge that he had been false to his oath, and recalling the personalities which the senator from Illinois had again and again launched against him. He ended his unpremeditated reply as follows:

Yet in the face of all this, which occurred in open debate on the floor of the Senate, which is here in the records of the country, and has been extensively circulated, quoted, discussed, and criticised, the senator from Illinois, in the swiftness of his audacity, presumes to assail me. Perhaps I had better leave that senator without a word more; but this is not the first, or the second, or the third, or the fourth time that he has launched against me his personalities. Sir, if this be agreeable to him, I make no complaint, though for the sake of truth and the amenities of debate I could wish that he had directed his assaults upon my arguments; but since he has presumed to touch me, he will not complain if I administer to him a word of advice.

Sir, this is the Senate of the United States, an important body under the Constitution, with great powers. Its members are justly supposed from years to be above the intemperance of youth, and from character to be above the gusts of vulgarity. They are supposed to have something of wisdom, and something of that candor which is the handmaid of wisdom. Let the senator

1 New York Evening Post, May 22. W. S. Thayer, the correspondent of that journal, wrote: ‘It was then that Sumner, advancing forward, his face kindled with the feelings of the moment, and apparently a foot higher than before in stature, made an impromptu effort which crowned the triumph of the day, and gave an emphatic lie to Douglas's vulgar insinuation that practising before a glass was a necessary preliminary for his speeches.’

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