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Title: Oration on Charles Sumner, Addressed to Colored People

Author: Anonymous

Release date: January 7, 2019 [eBook #58645]

Language: English

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Oration on Charles Sumner, Addressed to Colored People.

Oration On Charles Sumner, Addressed To Colored People.
"And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me:
Blessed are the dead which die
In the Lord!
That they may rest from their labors,
And their works
Do follow them."—Rev. xiv., 13.


In Memoriam.

The nation's heart is sad!
Her best beloved son,
The great and good!
Has winged his flight from earth,
And white robed angels
Shift the gorgeous scenery of the sky
To let his soul pass onward
To his God!
Who sent his messenger to bid him "Come."
Sumner is dead!
Oh! many moons must come
And many go
Ere we be comforted again,
Or hush the sighs
That follow him up the golden stair,
Echoing through all the shining corridors
Of heaven,
Where our beloved one has gone to rest!
Sumner is dead!
Oh, sad refrain!
In which the teeming earth
Doth find a voice,
And nature's gentle hands
Are laid within the clasping of our own;
Stilling the joyous songs of long silent
That no awakening sound disturb our grief!
She casts her snow white mantle
O'er the whispering grass!
And hushes the hasty footfall
Of coming spring!
Calling to the swift March wind
To carry along the golden clouds
To waiting angels
The mournful tidings of our woe!
Sumner is dead!
O sad repeating words!
That beat upon our hearts
Like showers of frozen hail!
Melting in tears!
That swell the tidal wave of sorrow,
Sweeping adown the great Pacific slopes,
Rushing along
To the sorrowful shores of the broad Atlantic.
Sumner is dead!
And bitter tears
From our sad eyes
Doth make us little recompense
For his most noble life! Though
The nations of the earth rise up to comfort us;
The glorious Orient and the kindly Occident
Stretch forth their hands
To us
Across the spaces of the earth!
Sumner is dead!
And the tears of heaven
Are mingling with the tears of earth,
Above his new made grave.
Showers of stormy rain
Descend upon the grave of our beloved dead,
Whose most honored dust
Is heirloom
To all the sorrowing nations of the earth!
Sumner is dead!
O mournful hearts,
At whose red-lintel doors
The angel of sorrow knocks,
And knocks again!
O tear filled eyes! upon whose drooping fringes
The heavy foot of sorrow presses hard
Be comforted!
For God shall wipe the tears from your sad eyes.


There is a word,
When once spoken,
Fixes its meaning upon every human brain,
And finds a habitation,
Within the sacred chambers of the soul;
A word,
Whether spoken on the shores of the Orient,
Lying in slumbrous dreams
A-near the sun!
Or the land of the snow and ice,
Where gorgeous temples arise,
Whose translucent walls are
Builded without the sound of hammer or chisel!
Whether spoken
In the halls of learning or at the fireside,
On the ship's deck
Or the soldier's camp,
Finds an echo
In every human heart!
A word,
At whose sound
The pages of history open,
And the stirring deeds of our forefathers
Are marshaled forth to meet us!
Thousands of trusty swords leap from their scabbards,
And the hillsides
Are populous with rising life;
Long lines of shadowy soldier-forms
Start up,
Forming in dense array along the valleys,
Bearing evidence
Of the word,
Whose meaning
Has never been changed since
The Almighty traced the boundaries of the sea.
And bid the earth come forth
From the womb of waters!
That word is Freedom!
A word
Fraught with deepest meaning
To ye,
O ye down-trodden nation!
Who stood alone
Under the sombre shadow of the past, waiting
For the angel of the future, the sound
Of whose foot-falls made the present tremulous
With coming tidings!
A word,
Pregnant with joys to the poor fettered slave,
Toiling in the heat and burthen of the day
In southern fields,
Where the snowy cotton
Unfurls its fleecy banner to the breeze!
Or in the luxuriant tropics,
Where forests
Are all ablaze with gorgeous flowers, and birds,
And the odorous air
Is laden with orange and spice!
Or toiling
In northern latitudes,
Where his best efforts
And upward tendencies are clogged!
His life burdened with sorrow,
And ill-requited toil!
O ye men!
Over whose helpless nakedness
He cast the mantle of liberty, woven out!
Woof and weft!
Of the threads of his very life!
Ye men!
Whose faces were never so black as not to show
Behind their dark surface
The features of a brother!
Whose hands, unstained by crime, were never so black
As to be unfit for his grasp!
In loving token of a long lost
O ye men!
Whom he discovered
Prone in the valley of tribulation!
Looking with infinite longing, and sad yearning eyes,
At the solemn vault of heaven,
Where stars
Take their nightly course
Around a mysterious centre!
If within the folding of those azure doors,
There was room for you!
Ye men!
For whom this great apostle of liberty
Stretched forth the rod of justice,
And smote,
With a fearless blow, the stony rock of national caste,
Till all the waters of liberty
Flowed forth!
And he gave you to drink!
Ye may well
Stand with uncovered heads,
Above his new made grave,
Bowed down with a weight of woe—
A sense of loss too great for human expression!
For the good man,
Whom God called in the morning of his life,
To be a modern Moses
To an oppressed and down-trodden nation,
Upon whose lives
The iron-foot of bondage made its impress!
For the hand
That bore aloft the proud banner of freedom,
And scaled the walls of deep-rooted prejudice,
To demand
From the custodians of human liberty,
The scroll of your birth-right!
Lies cold and still
In death!
The strong right arm
That smote the pillar of
Your wrongs in the dust! Calling back
Fleeting generations, before whose revelations
The white faces of the earth
Stood still!
Trembling before outraged heaven.
Upon whose faithful pages every oppression,
Every lash of the whip,
Every tear
From long suffering eyes were registered
For future reference!
Said Sumner in his great appeal to humanity,
"Of the groans of wounded souls;
Oppress not to the uttermost
A single heart!
For one solitary sigh has power to overset
A whole world!"
O, ye freed people!
Scarce had the name of
Traced its guilty lines upon the page
Of that most consummate act
Of cruelty,
When a hundred guns from Boston's classic heights
Belched forth their teeming fire
In ratification
Of the great treaty of blood!
Like a ponderous knell!
Their jarring sound boomed out your death cry,
Upon the soul of Sumner!
And all the night, of that most lurid day,
Alone with his God.
His fast retreating and coming footsteps
Made his silent chamber eloquent with his agony.
And kept their mournful rhythm
With the throes of his soul!
This true man
Who stood up in your midst
Like a pillar of light!
Endowed with power to emit a radiance
All its own!
When friend and foe alike
Refusing the succor and protection
Of a common humanity;
Would force back the hapless,
Fugitive slave
To the hell of slavery;
"Thus openly DEFYING
Every sentiment of justice, humanity and christian duty."
Leaving to coming generations
A record of human wrongs,
"Amongst the crimes of history, another
Is about to be recorded,
Which no tears can blot out!"
Said the upright statesman.
As he stood
Amidst the surging tide
Of calumny and misconception,
Bearing up
Against the pressure of the waves of "caste."
His solemn words echoing through the senate:
"By the supreme law
Which commands me to do justice;
By the comprehensive
And conscientious law
Of brotherhood;
By the constitution
I have sworn to support,
I am bound to disobey this act!
And never,
In any circumstance, can I render voluntary aid to it!
Pains and penalties I will endure!
This great wrong I will not do.
Better be the victim,
Than the instrument of wrong!"
With Athenian eloquence,
Towering aloft in his noble manhood!
Bearing the grand proud form
Of a Cret'an hero!
The thunder of heaven
Upon the guilty heads
Of your inhuman and infamous oppressors,
Who would enslave
The very freedom of his speech!
And hang
The fetters of party strife
Upon his independent thoughts!
But he rose up in his giant strength,
Raising the prostrate column
Of your rights,
Manfully fighting for it, block by block,
Every inch of the ground
What wonder
That common minds,
Lacking the moral vertebræ (backbone)
Of a grand and noble humanity, should deem him
Yet, "what is life
Without passionate feeling
To false sentiment?
It is, indeed, a dangerous auxiliary;
But no true sentiment is complete
Without it."
And truer sentiments
Never lit the fires of eloquence in a purer breast
Than Sumner's!
A breast that heaved with indignation
For your bitter wrongs,
And the piteous spectacle of human nature
That Taney's mandate presented
To the eyes of the world!
"The black man
Has no rights the white man is bound to respect."
O! omnipotent
And omnipresent God!
Who made us in thine own image,
Thine own pure breath
Into our dust-created bodies!
Giving of thine own life
A semblance
So great in all its purity so grand in all its fulness,
That our humanity can scarce contain it!
So, whether our faces be black, or whether
They be white,
If we but retain thy semblance,
And keep within
The sacred
Cloister of our souls
The lamp that thou didst consecrate
And gave
Into our most solemn keeping
To illuminate the fair pages of our lives,
And shed
Its holy light upon the path
That lies along the shimmering moon-beams of the sky,
Upon whose silver stair
Expectant angels wait;
Whose luminous wings enfold us round about,
Bearing our happy souls
Beyond the sapphire gates
To the home
From whence we came
We are as one to thee!
And all the thinking, reasoning nations
Of the earth!
Once only
In the history of this nation,
The floor of the senate chamber
Dedicated to justice and liberty,
Is stained with the blood
Of a martyr!
He lay helpless and lifeless along that floor,
Like an Athenian warrior
Slain upon the altar of his country!
His grand, proud head
Dyed with the crimson tide
Of his own life blood!
His pale, cold face, and white soundless lips
Appealing in their speechless agony
To the banner of his country, that hung in starry folds
Above his head!
The hand that smote him to the earth,
Severed the life-chord of his
Physical well-being!
Out of the blood,
Out of the turmoil, the warfare and
Passionate strivings,
Out of the pain and anguish,
Out of the ruin and solitude,
Out of the great silence that lay upon his life,
There rose up
A spirit of grandeur
With the thews and sinews of Divine wisdom!
A grander, nobler, truer manhood
Wrought out of the fires
Of anguish and pain!
A wisdom that has gone its slow, sure round
Upon the wheels of time,
Calling out of your own nation a full man
To sit in the chair
Of him who smote your patriot and friend
At his post of duty!
From the ruin wrought
By a thoughtless and passionate hand!
Sumner, the Christian statesman
Arose grander than ever!
Daring to speak the truth
Having the moral courage to wear it proudly
Upon his lips!
Flooding its glorious light
Upon the actions of his life!
Oh ! How we revere
The man who speaks the truth!
Whose words and actions
Call no unhealthy effort to the mind!
In winnowing out the one bright grain
Of truth
From the chaff of shiftless falsehood!
The tired brain, weary with analyzing
Sought rest in his statements, nor placed them
Within its crucible!
O, truth!
Thou art born of God!
On thy fair brow
The jeweled crown of purity gleams!
Thy garments
Are luminous with shimmering star-light
O truth!
Thou semblance of the living God!
What have we not borne, what suffered
For thee!
Darkens thy fair features!
Misconstruction covers thee with her shadowy mantle!
Throwing wide
The flood-gates of sorrow
That rush from the bitter fountain
Of the grieved soul!
In thy right hand is a crown
Of glory! In thy left
A crown of thorns!
Is a spirit of glory!
A body of transcendent grandeur!
Sinewy and tenacious
For the human mind to grasp!
The nations of the Earth
Stand forth to honor
A man of truth,
And lay their tribute at his feet!
Alas! too often
After his human ear,
Strained to the utmost tension to catch
The far off sound,
After his throbbing heart!
Hungering for human sympathy, thirsting
For the cup of love
Starving for the kindly hand-grasp,
Tired, and worn, and weary,
Lays down to die!
The dread Saul's march
Thrilling its weird music
Above his grave,
Is but an echo of dead expectancy and woe!
That fall upon our hearts
Like the rustling leaves of autumn!
There are human faces
Meeting our eyes each day,
If they lay cold and still
The air would rend with our lamentations
And sorrow!
And our sad tears would vainly try
To wash the lines of care
From their dead faces!
That fill the haunted chamber of our souls
For evermore!
No word of sympathy,
No outstretched hand,
Bore to their full expectant hearts
A token!
No kindling glance
Of sympathetic brotherhood;
Bore to their asking eyes
"I have a care of thee!"
Thus we go on day after day, wrapping
The mantle of selfishness round our humanity!
Looking so earthward,
The tears of our grieving brother
Fall upon our feet!
O, have a care that
No such sin as this be recorded in Heaven's register
To burthen your free souls
As ye go upward!
The weary day
Lays down her tired head
Upon the dreamy pillow of the past,
Closing the silent gates of night
On her departing foot-falls!
Throwing back upon our thrilling senses
The curtains of mystery!
That float upon the silence and hush
Of the night season!
Making the soundless air
Tremulous with life!
'Tis then,
And not till then.
Pervaded by a divine restlessness
We kneel
And loose our earthly shoes from off our feet
For the ground whereon we stand
Is holy!
With the divine sculptor,
Whose unerring chisel,
Rounds off the uneven curves and awkward corners
Of our erring nature,
The heroic statue
Is wrought out of roughest marble!
So, the good man
Is moulded out of his very faults!
Thus the great master hand
With divine precision
Measured the breadth and depth and height
Of Sumner!
To fill with honor and credit
The royal shrine;
The grand and noble niche prepared for him
In heaven,
And in the stirring history
Of the world!
There are men
So utterly narrow-minded,
So wanting in moral vertebræ
And grand human nature, that they are never greatly
With discriminating acumen, seeks higher
Prey than these!
They are all too flimsy, weak, and crude
For his purposes!
Upon the men of moral breadth, of depths
Of human pity;
Of height of divine abiding! Some prince
Of the sons of the earth,
Whom God has chosen
For some great epoch in our history,
The whole artillery of hell
Is brought to bear!
Tried and trusted of God!
Fitted to go down to the arena,
"To fight the great fight," from the going down
To the rising of the sun!
Struggling with some deadly temptation that has
Locked him
In its sinewy embrace;
Or taking some wild passion
By the throat,
And strangling it out of existence.
The large-hearted, square-headed, high minded,
Men of history,
Are his best stock in trade!
To these temptation comes! and if they fall,
He lashes them to his chariot wheels,
And carries them in triumph
Into hell!
But Sumner,
The man of princely integrity,
Accepted no defeat, acknowledged no tempter!
The lobbyist,
Engaged in tunneling under human nature,
Fled from before his face!
The briber,
Whose soft insinuating palm
Takes kindly to the hands of his fellow man!
Who cometh with a smile,
And asketh for no receipt!
Whose loosened purse strings, bind
The tender conscience
With cords, gripped by the sinewy hand
Of Satan,
Turns aside to let Sumner pass on;
The utterly incorruptible!
'Tis thus,
Viewing the great
Defender of the constitution surrounded
By an atmosphere of bribery and corruption
Of men
Selling the very sinews of their country
For just so many dollars
Of bitter enemies,
Of unstable friends;
Of hurry and rush
Of weak legislation;
Of "the groans of wounded souls;"
Of falsehood and moral contagion
That we love him best.
For amidst the soulless throng
He stood up in his peerless manhood
Like a pillar of truth,
And carried with him the brightest
Stars of the age!
'Twas not in vain
He sat,
A studious disciple
At the royal feet of wisdom!
Culling the sweets of knowledge from her tomes!
Not in vain
Did he visit other lands, and other climes,
Filling up
The vast storehouses of his mind,
With the rarest
And richest gems of culture,
The grand position he had taken in the great
Human family
Needed this!
He stood like a great tree in the forest,
The branches of which stretched out
So far
As to cover the oppressed ones
Of the whole world!
Let us all
Kindle our aspirations
At his shrine! For the loftiest ideas
Flow from him!
This our modern Solomon who challenged
The admiration of the world!
Whose wise and pure character
Stands out before us to-night
As one
That fills the void in our highest ideas
Of manhood!
The light of his example
Throws its clear defining ray along
The pathway of our lives;
Keeping our eye upon that beacon of light
We shall not stumble,
But fulfill our duties truthfully, manfully,
And with a pure heart!
His character,
In its human and divine greatness,
Has a wondrous completeness!
In its compact firmness, its grasp of justice.
In its rounded purity, its magnanimous
In its fine intuitive sympathy!
In its lofty ideas of duty!
Has left us a rich inheritance not in lands
Or tenements,
But in jewels of silver, jewels of gold,
And precious stones!
Heir-looms that shall crown our lives
With honor!
These jewels
Dived for, in fathoms deep of the waters
Of tribulation,
Are our common heritage!
Nobility of character, caught from divine communing!
Devotion to truth and integrity of purpose!
Allegiance to pure principles and honor!
Grand moral and physical courage,
And his great humanity!
Towering in strength, like a giant tree
In the forest,
These are the casket of gems
He has willed to our keeping,
To adorn our lives!
We stand amazed
At the pyramid of work,
Of toilsome labors, he has raised up!
Associated with your rise, progression,
And preservation!
The pages of his life are illuminated with
The records of his toil!
These facts
Should pass into your lives, elevating and ennobling
Your efforts!
Raising you upward to
The true dignity of daily labor!
Ye diggers of the soil,
Remember that he was a digger amongst
The roots of wisdom!
Remember that he was pre-eminently
A laborer,
Whose deeds have passed securely
Into the history
Of the world!
Work is done!
The temple is built all but the crest,
And to tender and loyal hands he has left
The finishing thereof!
He has fulfilled the mission to which
God called him!
With the bright band of thinkers
And laborers,
Has brought you out of bondage, of Egyptian
To the glorious noon day of freedom,
The promised land
Is yours by divine and human right!
From his immense altitude, with the eyes
Of prophesy,
He could see you possessed of
Its every corner!
Wreath is woven!
Not upon the garniture of costly
But upon the loving and sorrowing hearts
Of four millions of freed people!
Not upon
The marble statue,
But upon the appreciative consciousness
Of the world at large!
His wreath is woven!
Every leaf bedewed with tears!
Every flower wreathed in with lamentations!
Tied with the heart-strings of a nation's love!
But, "we mourn not as one without hope!"
For "I am the resurrection and life
"Saith the Lord!
He who believeth in me, though he were dead
Yet shall he live."
Ye women!
Upon whose kindly bosoms
Lisping children nestle!
For the eyes that saw deepest into your human
And trembled in humid tenderness
For your degraded humanity,
Are closed for ever!
For the lips
That broke your galling fetters
With the fiery thunder of his manhood's
In all its God-given symmetry,
The disjointed framework
Of your human lives,
Are stilled!
Ye women!
Who stood alone,
On the outer fringes of proud
Appealing in your helpless degradation
To the pity of the world!
For the hand
That made room for you
Amongst the nations of the earth,
And placed a seat
For you
In the halls of civilization!
For the hand,
That dug out of the shifting sands
Of public opinion
The gem you wear proudly upon your bosoms,
Lies cold in death!
Ye women,
As ye take a last lingering look
At the face
Of your dead martyr,
On which the surging tide of calumny
And misconception
Have left their harrowing traces,
That he was
The great high priest of your nation,
To its highest aspirations!
The hand
That lies with such pathetic attitude
Above his quiet bosom,
Opened wide the gates of freedom
To your weary footsteps,
And let you in!
O ye women!
And take heed
What influence ye bring to bear upon
The coming generation!
For ye, too,
Form a strong link
In the chain of our civilization!
Woman, in all ages, in all climes,
White and black,
Have swayed an influence over the world
For evil or for good,
Which has swept the black tide of iniquity,
Whose waters reach down to the uttermost depths
Of hell;
Or the gentle waves of good, freighted with
A nation's blessings!
Upon the waves, whose reflex actions
Are the currents that flow
From heaven!
O ye women!
And forget not!
Your great patriot and friend
Left to your keeping
The jewels of divine and human greatness
Washed with his tears!
Brightened with his love!
And forget not!
The intertwining of your prayer extended hands
Forms a stairway
By which your nation hope
To reach all greatness,
All purity, all grandeur,
And at last
To follow your leader up the shining stair
To heaven!
The voice of sympathy
Hath a thousand tongues,
Making the silent mystery of night
Eloquent with gentle whisperings,
So, out of the seclusion of my quiet life,
To ye
O ye millions of freed people, I have come!
To ye my sympathies go forth to-night.
At whose fountain head, the angel of purity sits;
And from her sacred niche, beholds
The coming and the going thereof.
For ye
Whom he called his children, were knit in
With every fibre of his heart;
And your wrongs echoed
To the innermost chamber of his soul,
To ye
His loss is greatest!
O ye men!
Who loved him
With a love past telling!
Be the better for his noble efforts!
Let the picture of his glorious life
Hang ever before your eyes!
Sanctifying your efforts, ennobling your aspirations!
He suffered
In the throes of agony to give birth
To a higher manhood!
Be that manhood!
True, you have been buffetted and
Rudely tossed,
But that has passed into the oblivion of
The receding age!
The present and future
Are open to you as never before!
Helping hands are extended to you!
Take care of your opportunities!
Ye men
Cultivate truth!
For honor and independence
Follow quickly upon its footsteps!
'Tis true
The standard of Sumner is high!
But a-down the ladder of his life there are
Steps of granite mould
That will bear you upward
And onward!
Be ye governed by no ignoble motives!
The time is not far distant when the missing
Of the glorious mantle of liberty
Will be sewn on by loving hands!
Be prepared for it!
Receive it upon your knees,
With uncovered heads!
Remembering whose hand had
Wrought it out!
Be ye sure
It is borne to ye
Within the folding of an angel's wing!
'Tis yours!
By the voice of heaven!
'Tis yours!
By the voice of earth!
The pinnacle of your temple of freedom!
The flag that will flutter freely o'er its top!
"O, my bill! My bill!!"
He cried in the last agonies of death!
"Take care of my civil rights bill!"
Were his solemn words,
As the messenger of death stood upon
His threshold!
"O, don't let the bill fail!"
Was his dying injunction, as he sought out
With his glazing eye, the friend
Who kissed his hand in token of
The solemn covenant!
Care of your rights!"
Comes across the ocean of eternity,
A solemn message from your friend
And benefactor!
Be worthy of him!
Raise the standard of your people higher,
And higher still!
To-day is yours!
Grasp firm hold of it, for it cometh not
Again! Let the world see and note
The heroic fibre
Of which you are made!
Remember the gates of a great future
Are open to you!
Educate yourselves, your women and your children,
Inaugurate and carry on
Reform within yourselves;
Enlarge your minds! Quicken your
Intelligence, and follow in the footsteps
Of Sumner!
Ye men,
Look well and wisely
To your political welfare!
Let not the foul fingers of bribery
And corruption
Pollute the pure scroll of your
Remember the loving laborers upon the walls
Of liberty's republican temple.
A temple built on free soil!
"Its corner stone," said Sumner, "is freedom;
Its broad, all sustaining arches,
Truth, justice and humanity!
Like the ancient Roman capitol, at once
A temple and a citadel!
Fit shrine for the genius of American institutions."
A shrine at whose high Altar
The best and noblest of the land doth minister!
A temple wherein the lamp of human pity
Suspended by the chain of universal brotherhood
Swings its perpetual light!
Charles Sumner!
Thou friend of humanity, Adieu!
Never! Till the sun
Folds up his gorgeous mantle!
Hiding his burning head
In the dark valley of chaos!
Till the moon's pale hand
Forgets to throw her silver shower
A-down the ether track!
Till the angels forget
To replenish the glistening starlight
In the sky!
Till the great surging deep recedes
To the mysterious outlet,
From whence the voice of God
Called it forth!
Till the murmuring shells
Lying along the sunny shores
Forget their music!
Till the flowers hide their heads
Upon the dying heart of nature,
Sighing out the requiem
"There is no more life!"
And the birds go silently to their death!
Till human hearts
Throb out their last breath
Shalt thou be forgotten!
Nay! Not even then! For
As we go upward on our last journey
We'll see thy name with the names of the just
Written in letters of gold
Across the sky!

"It will take a long time to get the whole truth told about that noble man, and many voices to tell it."


Cambridge, May 11, 1874.

Transcriber's Notes:

Missing or obscured punctuation was corrected.

Typographical errors were silently corrected.