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
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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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