over, to remember how entirely you commanded and swayed your audience.
But at the time I thought you were unconscious of everything but your subject.’
One of the class graduating in 1846, who heard the address, George F. Hoar
, wrote in 1883:
There was a large audience in the church.
Mr. Sumner delivered the whole address, which I think took nearly or quite three hours. I had not, of course, at twenty years of age, heard many of the great orations of great orators.
But I had listened to Choate's Law School address and Everett's inaugural, and had been in the audience more than once when Webster had spoken.
Sumner held and delighted his hearers to the close.
His magnificent person was in the prime of its beauty.
His deep voice had not then the huskiness which it had in his later years, when a certain appearance of weariness was manifest.
He never got back the old magnetism after Brooks's attack upon him. There were many passages in the discourse which, I think, I could repeat now if it had never been printed, and which I remember with his look and voice as he spoke them.
I have read the address many times since; and many of its rounded periods and sonorous sentences, especially the opening passage, the sentences, “Lais and Phryne have fled,” etc.,1 and indeed the whole eulogy on Allston, make me a boy again as I recall them.
The admiration of Sumner
's person and eloquence was not confined to his own sex, but was even greater with the other.
One young lady described forty years later her impressions as she listened to him2
He seemed to me a new Demosthenes or Cicero, even like a Grecian god, as he stood on the platform.
I thought him the handsomest and the finest looking man I had ever seen.
His presence was superb, a trifle haughty perhaps; but that only added to his grandeur.
I remember the remark of a lady who was sitting beside me, that she was already in love with his hair.
It was heavy, and fell over one side of his brow.
Other contemporary testimony shows the immediate effect produced.
The public exercises at the church were followed by a dinner of the Society, where Ex-President Adams
offered as a toast, ‘The memory of the Scholar, the Jurist, the Artist
, the Philanthropist; and not the memory, but the long life of the kindred spirit who has this day embalmed them all.’
, while questioning Sumner
's statement that Allston
declined to paint ‘battle-pieces,’ commended warmly the oration a few days later in a letter, in which he forecast the orator's relations to existing and impending controversies:—