Worcester, January 9, 1857
I had various Kansas and other experiences, saw “old Captain Brown,” but not Governor Robinson. Captain B. expects quiet till spring, and then another invasion, and is trying for means to repel it.
The best thing I did, you will think, was to see Mr. Sumner at the Athenaeum Library. He seemed at first very well, looked as usual, while seated, and spoke as easily and in as firm a voice as ever. But finally I proposed to him to go up and see Page's Venus in the upper hall, of which I had the key, and when he rose I saw the change. He rose slowly, . . . holding both hands upon his back, and walked with a cane and quite feebly, instead of his peculiarly vigorous stride. He thinks of going to Washington this month, but I suspect he will be persuaded not to do it till the end of the session, if at all. He is obviously unfit to deliver his future speech, which, he says, will be to his last one “what first proof brandy is to molasses-and-water.” “I think I shall probably be shot,” he added; “I don't see what else they can do.” Perhaps it is so, though he had better not say it, still it was simply uttered, and I never saw him appear nobler or abler. But I do not think he will ever be, physically speaking, what he was.
SOURCE: Mary Potter Thacher Higginson, Editor, Letters and Journals of Thomas Wentworth Higginson, 1846-1906, p. 77-8