Boston fancied itself the Athens of America when Thomas Starr King delivered his celebrated lecture on Socrates to rapt audiences. On January 29th, 1849, he wrote his friend Randolph Ryer: The first of the week I was engaged in retouching my lecture (before the Mercantile Library Association)… Such a house you never saw. It was jammed and crammed, the largest of the season, except when Webster spoke. Every seat was filled, two hundred extra ones were provided, and then at least a hundred people stood around the doors. It took with critics and people, the audience were amazingly still, except when they applauded, which was not seldom.