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[610] the character and responsibility of individual slaveholders; but he did not emphasize it. In private life no one was more charitable than he in judgments of persons; and when slavery fell with the Civil War, no one desired more than he that the passions of the conflict should cease altogether,—but he did not regard this as a fit time to weaken his argument by disclaimers and qualifications. In his ‘sacred animosity,’—a phrase of his own,—he was justified by the example of prophets, Christian fathers, and the reformers of the sixteenth century.1

There was now no disposition among the Southern men, at least among members of Congress, to resort again to violence; but there appeared to be an understanding on the part of the Democratic senators to treat Sumner's speech with contempt or offensive indifference. Some kept away from their seats; others rose to leave as he began; coming in later, they talked audibly with one another, gathering in groups; they were noisy in the space outside the desks, or in adjacent rooms, and indulged in derisive laughter. Once Sumner stopped, signifying that he was disturbed; and Fitzpatrick, still in the chair, called for order, but in a tone and manner that showed his sympathy with the disorderly senators. This air of indifference was observed by some of the spectators to be unreal.2 The most offensive figure of all was Wigfall of Texas, ill-favored by nature and not improved by art, who kept walking about, and doing his best to disconcert the speaker by looks and attitudes. Hunter, as usual, listened with respect, and maintained the decorum which becomes a senator. Crittenden, who thought to avert the dread issue by compromise, sat in front of Sumner, with eyes steadily fixed on him, and anxious countenance, as if imploring him to desist, and not make a peaceful settlement between North and South impossible.3 The Republican senators, generally in their seats, listened with respect; but excepting perhaps Preston

1 Milton justified ‘a sanctified bitterness against the enemies of truth.’ Whittier wrote of the speech: ‘There is something really awful in its Rhadamanthine severity of justice; but it was needed.’ Felton, on the other hand, in a friendly letter to Sumner, took exception to it as harsh and too sweeping in its treatment of slaveholding society.

2 In this description Mr. Dickson's account is followed; but perhaps in some passages it may be colored too highly.

3 Of Southern members of the House who occupied vacant seats of senators were Curry of Alabama and Lamar of Mississippi, who were both thought by spectators to be enjoying ‘the classic and scholarly feast before them.’ Keitt, the accomplice of Brooks, sat awhile near Senator Hammond. Near Sumner sat Wilson (his colleague), Burlingame, and Lovejoy, and Senators Bingham and Preston King,—all ready to protect him. Seward and C. F. Adams were present a part of the time.

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