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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Carlyle's laugh and other surprises, XXIV. a half-century of American literature (1857-1907) (search)
and several took leading parts, these lectures having much formative power over the intellect of the nation. Conspicuous among the lecturers also were such men as Gough, Beecher, Chapin, Whipple, Holland, Curtis, and lesser men who are now collectively beginning to fade into oblivion. With these may be added the kindred force of Abolitionists, headed by Wendell Phillips and Frederick Douglass, whose remarkable powers drew to their audiences many who did not agree with them. Women like Lucretia Mott, Anna Dickinson, and Lucy Stone joined the force. These lectures were inseparably linked with literature as a kindred source of popular education; they were subject, however, to the limitation of being rather suggestive than instructive, because they always came in a detached way and so did not favor coherent thinking. The much larger influence now exerted by courses of lectures in the leading cities does more to strengthen the habit of consecutive thought than did the earlier system;