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Woodruff in his speech imputed to Brooks a ‘lofty assumption of arrogance’ and a ‘mean achievement of cowardice.’ He was waited upon with the inquiry from Brooks if he would receive a challenge, but answering that he would not, the matter dropped. Brooks was offended by Comins's speech, but took no action concerning it. He challenged Wilson for describing the assault as ‘brutal, murderous, and cowardly.’ Wilson returned an answer reaffirming his words, but repudiating the duel, intimating at the same time that he should defend himself if assailed. He armed himself, and was ready for an assault; but no violence was attempted. Brooks also took notice of what had been said by Chaffee, a Massachusetts member, and by J. Watson Webb in a newspaper. With all this bluster, Republican members went unharmed.1

Brooks fought no duel, and made no further assault; nor was any duel fought, or any avenging assault made, on his behalf. Wilson and a dozen members, to say nothing of journalists and correspondents by scores, denounced him in far more opprobrious and offensive terms than any Sumner had applied to his distant kinsman, calling him not Don Quixote, as Sumner had called Butler, but stamping on him in bold and unqualified terms coward, ruffian, and bully; and yet he had no cane or pistol for them. The true explanation for his conduct was suggested at the time,2—that he knew now that he should find armed antagonists with wounds to give as well as to receive. His ‘chivalry’ was of a kind which selected victims unsuspecting, unarmed, and pinioned.

Judged by all the circumstances of his deed, Brooks was a coward. He took his victim at all possible disadvantage, stunning and disabling him before he could get the use of his limbs; he then, with all his might, struck a succession of blows aimed at the head and body of a man without power of resistance and no better than a lifeless mass. He had confederates in waiting to withstand any force which might intervene to put the assailed on an equal footing with the assailant; he was secretly armed with some deadly weapon in reserve for killing on the spot the unarmed senator if he had strength enough to wrest the bludgeon from him. It was not an encounter

1 Wilson's ‘Rise and Fall of the Slave Power,’ vol II. pp. 486, 487, 490-493.

2 New York Times, May 30.

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