One of the audience writes as follows:—
I was out of town when the meetings began, and on returning found everybody in wild excitement about a subject to which they had never before paid the slightest attention.
I think all the fashion of the city went and ranged on one side or the other.
The girls were excited, and became as strong partisans for the Philadelphia or Auburn systems (of which we had never heard before) as of the white rose or the red. Sumner took an active part in the debate when I was there.
I have a picture in my mind of him as he sat on the settee behind the speakers, with a heap of books and pamphlets, his legs crossed, with light trousers on, shaking his long dark locks from his forehead, and his face full of bright intelligence and action.
I never shall forget his readiness when Mr. Gray read a garbled extract from a report, and said, “I wish I had the report here to read you the whole passage.”
Sumner immediately jumped up, with the report in hand, saying, “Here it is, sir,” and the audience found Mr. Gray's part better than the whole.
Gray seemed to me very foxy.
Poor Dwight looked crushed.
He was astonished at the revelation of his own misdeeds.
Eliot was pompous and Boston personified, as usual.
The crowd enjoyed it heartily,—better than any play at the theatre.
I think Sumner was then unfashionable.
The Fourth of July oration had affected people; but nobody could help enjoying his spirit and eloquence, who Was not strongly prejudiced.
I remember very well, as many others do likewise, how my youthful feelings were carried away by the courtly presence and graceful eloquence of the man. A hero he certainly was to me at that time; and I gave myself up wholly to the pleasurable sensations of the moment without considering, as I was borne along by the glowing words, that there were two sides to every subject, and taking it wholly for granted that Mr. Sumner must be on the right side.
In this enthusiasm the audience shared, for there was never any lack of hearty applause.
, hard pressed in the controversy, missed the open support of Dr. Wayland
, who had joined him in the report, and who in 1845 had encouraged him to persevere in his effort to bring the Society back to a course of candor and justice.
Eminent as a moralist, and rarely wrong in his theoretic conclusions, the doctor lacked the nerve for controversy; and he was perhaps restrained by reasons of prudence from a contention which might affect injuriously his usefulness as head of a college.
He naturally regretted the personal turn which the discussion had taken, and gave this afterwards as one of the reasons of his absence.
He complained, without good cause, that Sumner
had read in the debate of 1847 the doctor's letter of support written in 1845, although it was free from personal matter, insisting upon his