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[515] seat and be quiet. My purpose is to leave here for Washington very soon. What I shall do there must depend upon my health. I long to speak and liberate my soul. If I am able to speak as I desire, I think that I shall be shot. Very well, I am content. The cause will live. But I cannot bear the thought that I may survive with impaired powers, or with a perpetual disability.1

To E. L. Pierce, Jan. 6, 1857:—

I am mending, but slowly, slowly. My general health is so far restored that a stranger would not know that I am still an invalid. The spinal cord continues morbidly sensitive, involving the whole back and shoulders, and finally the brain, from which it all proceeds. Nothing but time and repose will complete my restoration. I had hoped to be in my seat before now; but physicians and friends conspire to hold me back. But just so soon as this session expires I leave for Europe.

Sumner's re-election was assured even without the event of May, 1856. The Know Nothing party was dissolving, and its voters in Massachusetts, among whom the antislavery sentiment had always predominated over the ‘American,’ were ranging themselves with the Republicans in the national election. The popular inspiration in favor of supporting the Republican leaders was universal. The slavery question and the contest in Kansas had become the vital issue in the public mind. The repeal of the Missouri prohibition had changed altogether the position of antislavery leaders like Hale, Chase, and Wilson; and instead of being dismissed one after another from public life, they had been brought to the front. Sumner's course in the Senate since the struggle began on that repeal had made him the strongest public man in Massachusetts; and the sentiment of personal sympathy and devotion inspired by his sufferings, while doubtless increasing the enthusiasm in his favor, was now by no means essential to the continuity of his public career.

The Legislature of Massachusetts, meeting in January, 1857, and proceeding with more than usual despatch to the election,

1 Whittier's ‘Last Walk in Autumn,’ printed at this time, paid a tribute to Sumner in these lines:—

And he who to the lettered wealth
Of ages adds the lore unpriced,
The wisdom and the moral health,
The ethics of the school of Christ;
The statesman to his holy trust,
As the Athenian archon, just,
Struck down, exiled like him for truth alone,—
Has he not graced my home with beauty all his own?

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