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[83] immediate inspection, so that no preparation could be made, or be thought to have been made, for their reception. They therefore drove at once to the prison, and began their examination. To Mr. Vaux, Eliot and Dwight appeared listless and not at all enterprising; but Sumner's manner was that of one very serious and thoroughly in earnest. For two hours he went everywhere, talking with the prisoners and looking into everything. The committee, to whom every facility was given, contrary to the expectations of the critics of the system, renewed their examination the next day, and at the close of the visit held a formal interview with the directors, whom Sumner plied with many questions as to the working and effects of the system; and at the end he bore down heavily on Dwight, taking him to task for his misrepresentations. Mr. Vaux writes:—

The impression the scene made on me is vividly in my memory. Mr. Sumner was standing up; the light from the north window fell on his noble face; there was a majesty in his presence; there was an indignant expression on his face; he was straight and commanding as he spoke; the whole physical man was deeply in earnest, as the posture, mien, voice, and expression of his eye indicated. I shall never forget his appearance then; it was as that of Justice personified. Mr. Dwight said not a word. Mr. Eliot asked some questions, which were answered. Mr. Sumner entered into the conversation with energy. This was the first time I ever met him. Occasionally, since, I have met him, but he lives in my memory as I saw him first,—a bold, brave, honest, fearless, earnest man; young, comparatively, and striking by an impersonation of high attainments, culture, and aims. His appearance, his mien, his manner, his dress,—for this last so often characterizes the man,—all showed to the eye of one, too young then as I was to analyze it all, that he was an extraordinary man; and his life proved it.

The same autumn, Sumner contributed to the ‘Christian Examiner,’ at the request of its editor Rev. E. S. Gannett, an article on ‘Prisons and Prison Discipline.’1 It took for its texts nine recent publications on the subject, all but two of which were foreign. Beginning with a graceful tribute to Miss Dix, it is devoted chiefly to a statement of the points at issue between the separate and congregate systems, and gives the preference to the former as best promoting the reformation of the prisoner by excluding him from the contagion of evil associations. While recognizing Mr. Dwight's beneficent labors, it deals, though not harshly, with the unfairness and prejudice which had characterized his reports.

1 Christian Examiner, January, 1846. Works, vol. i. pp. 163-183.

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