« PreviousContinue »
of thought which they possess. In this particular, united with their literary merit, these productions have no equal among us. The one on the "True Grandeur of Nations" stands forth by itself, like a serene and majestic image, cut from the purest Parian marble. Those on "Peace and War," and two or three others, possess equal merit, equal beauty, and equal purity and dignity of thought. In our view, these orations approach nearer the models of antiquity than those of any other writer amongst us, unless it be Webster, whom Sumner greatly surpasses in moral tone and dignity of thought.
Many of the distinguished statesmen and scholars of our country, nou deceased, left on record their opinion of the character and value of Mr. Sumner's public services. From among these a few are selected.
From John Quincy Adams.
In a letter addressed to Mr. Sumner immediately after the delivery of the celebrated oration, "The Scholar, the Artist, the Jurist, the Philanthropist," Mr. Adams remarks:
"It is a gratification to me to have the opportunity to repeat the thanks which I so cordially gave you at the close of your oration last Thursday, and of which the sentiment offered by me at the dinner-table,* was but an additional pulsation from the same head. I trust I may now congratulate you on the felicity, first of your selection of your subject, and secondly, by its consummation in the delivery. But you will indulge me in the frankness and candor, which if they had not been the laws of a long life, would yet be imperative duties on its last stage, in the remark that the pleasure with which I listened to your discourse was inspired far less by the success, and all but universal acceptance and applause of the present moment, than by the vista of the future which it opened to my view. Casting my eyes back no further than the Fourth of July of the last year, when you set all the vipers of Alecto hissing, by proclaiming the Christian law of Universal Peace and Love, and then casting them forward perhaps, not much
The sentiment was, "The memory of the Scholar, the Jurist, the Artist, and the Philanthropist, and not the memory, but the long life of the kindred spirit who has this day embalmed them all."
further, but beyond my own allotted time, I see you have a mission to perform. I look from Pisgah to the Promised Land, — you must enter upon it."
From Edward Everett.
The late Hon. Edward Everett, in acknowledging the receipt of the two-volume edition of Mr. Sumner's speeches, published several years ago, said:
"Their contents, most of which were well known to me already, are among the most finished productions of their class in our language, in any language. I am sure they will be read and admired, as long as anything English or American is remembered."
From Chancellor Kent, of New York.
Of Mr. Sumner's speech on "The Right of Search on the Coast of Africa," Chancellor Kent remarked in a private letter:
"I have no hesitation in subscribing to it as entirely sound, logical, and conclusive. There is no doubt of it, and the neatness and elegance with which it is written are delightful."
The same eminent authority remarks of Mr. Sumner's Oration on "The True Grandeur of Nations,"
"I think the doctrine is well sustained by principle, and the precepts of the Gospel. The historical and classical illustrations are beautiful and apposite, and I cannot but think that such cogent and eloquent appeals to the heads and consciences of our people, must have effect."
Of Mr. Sumner's sketch of Hon. John Pickering, Chancellor Kent wrote:
"The biographical sketch of that extraordinary scholar and man, John Pickering, is admirable, and most beautifully and eloquently drawn."
Of Mr. Sumner's celebrated "Phi Beta Kappa Address," he remarks: "I think it to be one of the most splendid productions, in point of diction and eloquence, that I have ever read."
From Martin Van Buren.
President Van Buren said of the oration on the "Law of Human Progress":
"It has, be assured, afforded me the highest satisfaction to find a production affording such incontestable proof of the learning and great intellect of its author, proceeding from a gentleman who has established the strongest claims to my admiration and respect."
From Judge Story.
Of Mr. Sumner's oration on "The True Grandeur of Nations," Judge Story remarked in a private letter:
It is certainly a very striking production, and will fully sustain Mr. Sumner's reputation for high talent, various reading, and exact scholarship. There are a great many passages in it which are wrought out with an exquisite finish, and elegance of diction, and classical style . . . . . In many parts of the discourse I have been struck with the strong resemblance which it bears to the manly, moral enthusiasm of Sir James Mackintosh."
From William Jay.
I have just received your very acceptable present, acceptable from my esteem for the writer and for the great truths contained in the volumes, expressed with the elegance of the scholar and the fearless integrity of the Christian. When called to account for the use you have made of the talents intrusted to you, these volumes will testify that you have labored to do good in your day and generation.
In this connection the estimate entertained of Mr. Sumner by leading men in England, will be of interest. From the great multitude of similar opinions, the following are selected :
From the Edinburgh Journal.
Mr. Sumner's lectures are not ordinary addresses, they remind us rather of the orations of Demosthenes, of times when men of note, endowed with the highest understanding, gave full vent to the feelings that possessed them, and stirred their country with a fervid eloquence which was all the more impressive because it
related to the political circumstances in which their country was placed.
We have in our possession many of Mr. Sumner's speeches, and we confess that, for depth and accuracy of thought, for fulness of historical information, and for a species of gigantic morality which treads all sophistry under foot, and rushes at once to the right conclusion, we know not a single orator, speaking the English tongue, who ranks as his superior. He combines, to a remarkable extent, the peculiar features of our British Emancipationists, the perseverance of Granville Sharpe, the knowledge of Brougham, the enthusiasm of Wilberforce, and a courage, which, as he is still a young man, may be expected to tell powerfully on the destinies of the Republic.
From Richard Cobden.
You have made the most noble contribution of any modern writer, to the cause of Peace.
From the London Examiner.
We would recommend a close and earnest study of the speech on the Fugitive Slave Act, made by Mr. Charles Sumner in the Senate of the United States on the 26th of last August (1852). That speech will reward perusal. Apart from its noble and effective eloquence, it is one of the closest and most convincing arguments we have ever read on the policy of the earlier and greater, as contrasted with that of the later and meaner, statesmen of America.
From a Letter of Lord Shaftesbury to the London Times. Let us take a few lines descriptive of the terrible enactment from the speech of the Hon. Charles Sumner, one of those powerful intellects and noble hearts that have shone so brightly in our sister country, in the Senate of the United States. . . . . What noble eloquence! Carry these words, sir, by the vehicle of your almost universal paper to the press of every country, and to the heart of every human being- man, woman, or child—who has ever heard the divine rule, "Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them."
From the Poet, Samuel Rogers.
In a letter to the author, the poet, Samuel Rogers, wrote: "What can I say to you in return for your admirable oration? (The True Grandeur of Nations.') I can only say with what pleasure I have read it, and how truly every pulse of my heart beats in accordance with yours on the subject. . . . . Again and again must I thank you."
From Lord Carlisle.
Lord Carlisle in his preface to an English edition of "Uncle Tom's Cabin," in some pleasant reminiscences of interviews with "my own most valued friend, Mr. Charles Sumner," remarks:
"And now while I have been writing these lines, I have received the speech he has lately delivered in Congress on the bearings of the Fugitive Slave Law, which by the closeness of its logic, and the masculine vigor of its eloquence, proves to me how all the perfections of his mind have grown up to, and been dilated with the inspiration of the cause which he has now made his own.
From Chambers's Edinburgh Journal.
The oration ("The True Grandeur of Nations ") of Mr. Sumner, for taste, eloquence, and scholarship, as well as for fearless intrepidity, has been rarely equalled in modern harangues.
From the London Quarterly Review.
He presents in his own person a decisive proof that an American gentleman, without official rank or wide-spread reputation, by dint of courtesy, candor, an entire absence of pretension, an appreciative spirit, and a cultivated mind, may be received on a perfect footing of equality in the best circles, social, political, and intellectual, which, be it observed, are hopelessly inaccessible to the itinerant note-taker who never gets beyond the outskirts of the show-houses.