dr. Cunningham's speech. 385
Conningham rose ; and his rising was the signal for
almost tumultous applause. You will say this was
scarcely in keeping with the solemnity of the occa¬
sion, but to me it served to increase its grandeur and
gravity. The applause, though tumultuous, was not
joyous. It seemed to me, as it thundered up from
the. vast audience, like the fall of an immense shaft,
flung from shoulders already galled by its crushing
weight. It was like saying, " Doctor, we have borne
this burden long enough, and willingly fling it upon
you. Since it was you who brought it upon us, take
it now, and do what you will with it, for we are too
weary to bear it.
Doctor Cunningham proceeded with his speech,
abounding in logic, learning, and eloquence, and ap¬
parently bearing down all opposition ; but at the mo¬
ment—the fatal moment—when he was just bringing
all his arguments to a point, and that point being,
that neither Jesus Christ nor his holy apostles re¬
garded slaveholding as a sin, George Thompson, in a
clear, sonorous, but rebuking voice, broke the deep
stillness of the audience, exclaiming, "Hear! hear!
hear!" The effect of this simple and common ex¬
clamation is almost incredible. It was asif a granite
wall had been suddenly flung up against the advan¬
cing current of a mighty river. For a moment,
speaker and audience were brought to a dead silence.
Both the doctor and his hearers seemed appalled by
the audacit}^, as well as the fitness of the rebuke. At
length a shout went up to the cry of "Put him out! "
Happily, no one attempted to execute this cowardly
order, and the doctor proceeded with his discourse.