he had already commemorated by his pen, and all were his personal friends, though much older than himself.
He had known Pickering
at the bar and in private life; he had made frequent visits to Allston
's studio; he had drawn moral inspiration from Channing
; and he had been Story
's beloved pupil.
To describe their characters and to set forth their works and relations to mankind was a grateful service; and it was well performed.
Among all Sumner
's addresses on special occasions, this one is the most attractive to the reader; and it commanded at the time, more than any other, the assent and favor of his audience.
It is mellow in tone and lofty in sentiment, and less calculated in style and thought to provoke criticism and antagonism than some of his addresses and speeches.
In no other effort of his life was his success so great in moving the hearts of aspiring young men. He was never able in such efforts to suspend altogether the treatment of his favorite topics; and as he himself afterwards wrote, ‘he took advantage of the occasion to express himself freely, especially on the two great questions of slavery and war. In the sensitive condition of public sentiment at that time, such an effort would have found small indulgence if he had not placed himself behind four such names.
While commemorating the dead, he was able to uphold living truth.’1
in his Fourth of July oration, and in other earlier addresses, had spoken to miscellaneous audiences; but he was on this occasion to address one which represented the best culture of the period.
Scholars, writers, and professional men now heard his voice for the first time, and they were keen to observe whether the reputation he had won as a public speaker was deserved.
The address was delivered in the First Church
, the place where the college exercises were then held.
The procession of members of the Society and other graduates, entering the church at noon, filled the platform and centre aisle and the pews on either side, while ladies and the general public crowded the other parts.
Among those on the platform were Edward Everett
, who had recently taken the office of President
of the college; his predecessor, Josiah Quincy
, just leaving it; John Quincy Adams
, Robert C. Winthrop
, Governor McDowell
, of Virginia
; William Kent
, recently appointed professor in the Law School; and Rev. James Freeman Clarke
, who was the poet of the occasion.
The orator was never more attractive in