stout person, with a hard, red face and a dogmatic manner, had read a long report. To all appearance, it was to take the ordinary course of such documents, and, on the motion and seconding of some respectable persons, to be adopted without debate. But no sooner was the motion for adoption made, than a person rose in about the third pew at the left of the platform, and in a moment it was clear that the decorous routine of the meeting was being disturbed by some interloper whose name was not down on the card. Everybody was asking everybody who it could be. He was tall and rather slender, with a shock of black hair not very carefully arranged, dressed in a blue frock-coat, buttoned, with a velvet collar, and he held a bundle of papers in his hand. He did not stand for ceremony, but mounted upon the rail of his pew, and passed rapidly from pew to pew till he stood upon the platform. He scarcely recognized the president, but at once rushed into a vehement arraignment of Secretary Dwight, and a criticism of his report. Dr. Wayland did not appear to know who the intruder was, but turning to some person, inquired; and then rising, vexed apparently at the interruption, he came forward in his most dignified style, and said, “Mr. Sumner, gentlemen.” the speaker took little, if any, notice of the interruption, but rushed on for at least half an hour, threshing the report after a style which became quite familiar in later years. It was like the descent of some unknown and unexpected god from Olympus. There was anger and fear and impatience on the platform; but the congregation was with the speaker. He came like a breeze on a calm, dull day at sea. Everybody was on the qui vive, and relished the assault, and sympathized with the assailer all the more that there was such fluttering and wrath among the people on the platform. Opinion among the hearers went with the unscared aggressor; and pushing on, he compelled the reference of the report to a committee. As I remember, Mr. Dwight replied in an angry and inconclusive manner; and whatever speaking there was, flew in the face of the young knight Who had pushed into the lists like the unrecognized Richard on the field of arms at Ashby.Four members of the committee—Sumner, Howe, Eliot, and Dwight—inspected the Philadelphia prison on two successive days in October,1 and on the third day, which was Sunday, attended the religious exercises, which were conducted in one division by Miss D. L. Dix, and in another by Mr. Dwight. Naturally enough, the visiting members were confirmed in their previous impressions,—Sumner and Howe taking one view of what they saw, and Eliot and Dwight the opposite one. Richard Vaux,2 one of the directors, received the committee, and in 1876 recalled vividly the occasion. He found the visitors, who had come unannounced, at Jones's Hotel. Sumner was anxious for an
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.