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[31] war and slavery. His thought was that the human race is capable of, and destined to, indefinite improvement; and that, spite of apparent exceptions and reactions in certain periods and countries, the progress of man is a fact of history not recognized till modern times, but now generally accepted. As usual with the author, there are frequent references to literature and biography. Like his other efforts at this period, this one was specially adapted to inspire educated young men with noble ideals of conduct and life. The style was finished, the tone subdued, and the performance as a whole calculated to win the favor of a cultivated audience. Sumner wrote at the time that it would be his last address of the kind, and so it proved to be; but it served as a lecture for lyceums the next winter, and perhaps later. While getting the oration in mind so as to deliver it without notes, he again occupied Longfellow's house while the family were absent, ‘ranging,’ as he wrote, July 21, to his friend, ‘through its ample corridors, and making them vocal.’

While en route to New York by boat, his pocket-book containing two hundred dollars was stolen from his stateroom, the door of which he had left, according to his custom, unlocked. ‘I never,’ said he, ‘locked a door in my life, not when sleeping in the wildest place.’ It was not a large sum, but it bore too considerable a proportion to his limited income. He wrote plaintively to Dr. Howe, ‘This little mishap has disconcerted me. I cannot afford the loss. My money does go as no other money seems to go. I verily believe, if I had a million it would slip through my open fingers.’ Similar mishaps befell him in later life, when he could better bear them.1 After delivering his address at Union College he visited Saratoga, where Dr. Howe joined him, and thence he made an excursion to Trenton Falls, Niagara, and Geneseo, at which last place he was a guest at the Wadsworths'. One who heard him at Union College wrote that he made an impression as ‘an orator in whom it is hard to say whether the gifts of nature or the accomplishments of art in its highest sense are most pre-eminent.’2 Sumner delivered this

1 He had another in 1859 on the train between Washington and Philadelphia, and still another about the same time at a station in Boston.

2 W. M. G. in the New York Tribune, July 29. George Ripley replied, June 8, 1849, in the same journal, to some criticisms on the address, and received a note of thanks from Sumner. This was the beginning of their acquaintance. Frothingham's Life of Ripley, p. 214. John Bigelow recalls that his acquaintance with Sumner began on this anniversary. It has been stated that Seward and John Van Buren were on the platform when the oration was delivered, and that they told Sumner at its conclusion that it was a Free Soil address in disguise. This is probable, though not verified by any record. Sumner remained to attend the Commencement exercises; and it is remembered by Professor John Foster that his face lighted up with smiles when President Nott pleasantly reproved the audience, largely made up of young ladies, for disturbing the exercises by their audible talk, saving, ‘It is difficult for the speakers to be heard while the attention of the audience is occupied by sweeter and more attractive voices.’ Chester A. Arthur, afterwards President of the United States, was one of the graduating class.

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