As the Citizens of Pompeii

“There are some periods of great conflagration where a whole epoch is lighted up with one great flame of idea, which takes perhaps a few decades to arise, blaze, and fall; during which time it shows all men in its glare. Willy nilly they can be and are seen by this light and by no other. Willy nilly their chief interest for the future lies in their relation to this idea. In spite of themselves they are thrilling, illustrative figures, seen in lurid and logical distortion, — abstracts and epitomes of human life. Nay, they stand forever as creatures that have been caught and held, cracked open, thrown living upon a screen, burned alive perhaps by a searching and terrible bonfire and recorded in the act — as the citizens of Pompeii were recorded by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.” (John Jay Chapman, William Lloyd Garrison)