ten, each from a different person, who during an hour was expected to instruct and entertain an audience with some theme relating to history, biography, society, or the conduct of life, and who received for the service, besides expenses for the journey, a fee of ten dollars,—sometimes, though rarely, one of fifteen or twenty or twenty-five.
Among speakers who were then in most request for such occasions were Henry Ward Beecher
, E. H. Chapin
, R. W. Emerson
, E. P. Whipple
, and Dr. O. W. Holes
Not only clergymen, and those who ranked distinctively as literary men, but also lawyers and statesmen, were easily persuaded to appear with some favorite topic before sympathetic and intelligent audiences.
Of such were David Paul Brown
, Rufus Choate
, R. H. Dana, Jr.
, and even Daniel Webster.
The patrons of the lyceums were of various religious and political beliefs, but the predominant sentiment among them was strongly opposed to slavery, and friendly to moral reforms.1
While the speaker was expected not to offend the sensibilities of any considerable part of his audience, he might in the general tone of his remarks, or in some indirect way, without any challenge of his right, help to spread ideas which lay near his heart.
Of this incidental privilege Sumner
always availed himself in his discourses on such occasions.
For five years he was one of the most welcome lecturers in the towns and cities of Massachusetts
, as well as in other places in New England
This service brought him into connection with the people of the State
, and drew public attention to him. The young of both sexes were greatly charmed with his style and presence.
In his lectures and orations at this period he got a hold on ‘earnest, progressive clergymen and warm-hearted, cultivated women,’2
such as no public man has ever had; and he kept it to the last.
It remained with him, as will be seen hereafter, an unfailing source of power when men governed by partisanship and expediency failed him.
first appeared before lyceums in the winter of 1845– 1846, taking for his topic ‘The Employment of Time.’
The lecture is a graceful production, intended to prompt the young to a faithful husbandry of the hours of life, dwelling on the prodigious