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[523]

There was talk current at the time of Brooks's death, which found its way to the newspapers, that as soon as the flush of excitement was over he felt oppressed by his situation.1 He did not enjoy his honors as the representative of bullies, and, according to a statement of his colleague Orr to Wilson, so confessed.2 Northern members of Congress and their wives, who had been in pleasant social relations with him, avoided him, and his fellowships were only with his own party and section. His black hair turned to gray,3 and observers noted in him ‘nervous, stealthy glances from side to side’ as he walked.4 It is most likely that he felt the weight of the universal judgment of mankind, outside of the slaveholding States, which pronounced his deed ‘brutal, murderous, and cowardly.’

Wilson wrote to Sumner, January 27:—

A few moments ago the city was startled by the announcement of the death of Brooks. It came upon us all unexpectedly, and it will startle the country. He has gone to his Maker to render an account for his deeds. His enemies cannot but feel sympathy for his fate. What a name to leave behind him! The religious community will regard his sudden death as a visitation of Providence.

Again, January 29:—

My thoughts amid all the scenes of to-day (the day of Brooks's funeral) were of you and your condition, your long suffering, and of the scenes of last May. I could not but feel to-day that God had avenged the blows of May last; and I could not but feel that he will yet avenge the wrongs of the bondman and the insults we endure.

Butler did not long survive Brooks. At the close of the session, in March, 1857, he went home, but not to return. He died May 25. Keitt lived to die in battle in Virginia in June, 1864.

The pain and suffering which Sumner was called to endure did not, either at the time of the injury or during the whole period of his disability, produce in him any feeling of personal bitterness, either against the assailant or the Southern people.5 He attributed

1 New York Independent, Feb. 5, 1857; New York Herald, Jan. 31, 1857.

2 Rise and Fall of the Slave Power, vol. II. p. 495.

3 President Felton, who at Washington in his connection with the Smithsonian Institution, so wrote to Sumner, Nov. 8, 1860, and gave Memminger as authority.

4 New York Times, Dec. 18, 1856.

5 The absence of the spirit of personal revenge in Sumner was remarked by R. H. Dana, Jr., in his address in Faneuil Hall, March 14, 1874, and by G. F. Hoar in his eulogy in Congress April 27, 1874.

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