wrote to him, June 29:—
You must not let the session close without speaking.
Should you do so, you would be openly denounced by nine tenths of our people.
They say they are daily tormented about your silence by the Whigs all over the State, and many of them think you will not speak at all.
wrote to him, July 5, a letter from New York, which reviewed at length the situation from a personal as well as public point of view, and enforced the vital importance of not allowing the session to close without a full discussion on his part of the slavery question.
was a student of public opinion, with ample time at his command; and among all Sumner
's friends no one at this time seems to have entered more sympathetically into his character and career.
's mind there was no shadow of distrust; but he revealed frankly the distrust which was making its way among antislavery men, and reported the talk of Compromise politicians, who were hoping to find in Sumner
a man as time-serving as they had been.
thought his failure to speak during the session would lose him his prestige with the antislavery people, and involve consequences momentous to him. Referring to the distrust of public men growing out of Webster
's course, he wrote:—
I know too well the strength and depth of your antislavery principles, and have been too recently assured of your anxiety to utter your full views touching the Fugitive law to the Senate and the country, to attribute your delay in doing so to any other reason than your belief that an expedient occasion has not yet arrived.
Others, however, who confound you with common politicians, . . . attribute your silence to the Southern atmosphere of the Capitol.
and profess to believe either that your opinions have become essentially modified, or that you are fearful of encountering the intellectual power of the defenders of Compromise, and incurring the odium and contempt with which the chivalry look down upon an abolitionist.
I need not tell you, my dear Sumner, how warmly and indignantly I have repelled, and will continue to repel, all such insinuations against your honor and your integrity, and how confidently I have told your defamers to wait a little while for the promised speech that would silence their croakings, and awaken the country anew with strains of eloquence like those uttered by you in Faneuil Hall. . . . Mr. Webster's awful treachery and shameless apostasy have so weakened the confidence of the people in the power of individuals to hold fast to unpopular truths that the meanness of such lesser traitors as Stanton and John Van Buren has excited no surprise.