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[17] person than on this day. He wore, as was his custom at this period, a blue dress-coat with gilt buttons, buff waistcoat, white trousers and gaiters.1 He spoke with self-possession and a consciousness of power, and his delivery and voice, unfamiliar to many present, interested all. The oration was in his mind, and his memory was unaided by notes. His heart was in his theme, and he felt assured of the sympathy of his audience. Once in his earnestness he turned to the President, who was sitting behind him, and for some minutes kept on speaking with his back to the audience, whom he had for the time forgotten. It was observed that while he was describing the character and work of the four illustrious men, his thought was all the while on the causes of peace and freedom which he had espoused. One report says: ‘He spoke without notes, and with a clear and distinct elocution and easy manner, enchanting the attention of the audience for two hours. He was frequently interrupted by impassioned applause, and carried with him throughout the earnest attention and apparently the sympathy of the audience.’2 A large part of the audience were without seats, but their attention was unwearied to the end. As he concluded, many gathered about him to give their congratulations,—among them the venerable Ex-President Adams, who then attended the services of the Society for the last time.

This address affected materially the judgment of the educated class concerning Sumner. Many who, though familiar with his reputation as a public speaker, had hitherto distrusted his ability in other directions, now admitted his intellectual power. Rarely if ever has an academic address made so deep an impression on the thoughts and aspirations of youth. On the evening of the same day Longfellow wrote in his journal: ‘Phi Beta Kappa. A grand, elevated, eloquent oration from Sumner. He spoke it with great ease and elegance; and was from beginning to end triumphant.’ Rev. Edward Everett Hale wrote, September 4, to Sumner: ‘You must have been delighted, when all was ’

1 Right Rev. F. D. Huntington said, in 1886, that Sumner looked then ‘Apollo-like, with the most distinguished presence of any one of his age in Massachusetts.’ He was described in 1850 as ‘wearing a dark-blue coat, a white vest, crossed by a broad, black watch-guard.’ In Warrington's ‘Pen Portraits,’ p. 200, it is said that ‘he was always picturesquely dressed.’

2 Nathan Hale, Jr., in the Boston Advertiser, Aug. 28, 1846. BostonAtlas,’ August 28. E. P. Whipple, in the Boston Courier, August 28, noted ‘the vitality’ of the oration as pre-eminently deserving attention, and how ‘it came warm from the orator's own nature in the very language of thought and feeling.’

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