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Wendell Phillips
by [?]

Can you imagine anything more complete in way of endowment than all this? Did Destiny ever do more for mortal man?

There he sat waiting for clients. About this time he made the acquaintance of a cockeyed pulchritudinous youth, Ben Butler by name, who was errand-boy in a nearby office. It was a strange friendship–peppered by much cross-fire whenever they met in public–to endure loyal for a lifetime.

Clients are sure to come to the man who is not too anxious about them–sure to come to a man like Phillips–a youth clothed with the graces of a Greek–waiting on the threshold of manhood’s morning.

Here is his career: a successful lawyer and leader in society; a member of the Legislature; a United States Senator, and then if he cares for it–well, well, well!

But in the meantime, there he sits, not with his feet in the window or on a chair–he is a gentleman, I said, a Boston gentleman–the flower of a gracile ancestry. In the lazy, hazy air is the hum of autumn birds and beetles–the hectic beauty of the dying year is over all. The hum seems to grow–it becomes a subdued roar.

You have sat behind the scenes waiting for the curtain to rise–a thousand people are there just out of your sight–five hundred of them are talking. It is one high-keyed, humming roar.

The roar of a mob is keyed lower–it is guttural and approaches a growl–it seems to come in waves, a brazen roar rising and falling–but a roar, full of menace, hate, deaf to reason, dead to appeal.

You have heard the roar of the mob in “Julius Caesar,” and stay! once I heard the genuine article. It was in Eighty-four–goodness gracious, I am surely getting old!–it was in a town out West. I saw nothing but a pushing, crowding mass of men, and all I heard was that deep guttural roar of the beast. I could not make out what it was all about until I saw a man climbing a telegraph-pole.

He was carrying a rope in one hand. As he climbed higher, the roar subsided. The climber reached the arms that form the cross. He swung the rope over the crossbeam and paid it out until the end was clutched by the uplifted hands of those below.

The roar arose again like an angry sea, and I saw the figure of a human being leap twenty feet into the air and swing and swirl at the end of the rope.

The roar ceased.

The lawyer laid down the brand-new book, bound in sheep, and leaned out of the window–men were running down the thoroughfare, some hatless, and at Washington Street could be seen a black mass of human beings–beings who had forsaken their reason and merged their personality into a mob.

The young lawyer arose, put on his hat, locked his office, followed down the street. His tall and muscular form pushed its way through the mass.

Theodore Lyman, the Mayor, was standing on a barrel importuning the crowd to disperse. His voice was lost in the roar of the mob.

From down a stairway came a procession of women, thirty or so, walking by twos, very pale, but calm. The crowd gradually opened out on a stern order from some unknown person. The young lawyer threw himself against those who blocked the way. The women passed on, and the crowd closed in as water closes over a pebble dropped into the river.

The disappearance of the women seemed to heighten the confusion: there were stones thrown, sounds of breaking glass, a crash on the stairway, and down the narrow passage, with yells of triumph, came a crowd of men, half-dragging a prisoner, a rope around his waist, his arms pinioned. The man’s face was white, his clothing disheveled and torn. His resistance was passive–no word of entreaty or explanation escaped his lips. A sudden jerk on the rope from the hundred hands that clutched it threw the man off his feet–he fell headlong, his face struck the stones of the pavement, and he was dragged for twenty yards. The crowd grabbed at him and lifted him to his feet–blood dripped from his face, his hat was gone, his coat, vest and shirt were in shreds. The man spoke no word.