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[94]

In his argument of Dec. 4, 1849, against the constitutionality of separate colored schools in Massachusetts, Sumner thus referred to this last visit:—

In Italy, at the Convent of Palazzuola, on the shores of the Alban Lake, amidst a scene of natural beauty enhanced by historical association, where I was once a guest, I have for days seen a native of Abyssinia, recently from his torrid home and ignorant of the language spoken about him, mingling in delightful and affectionate familiarity with the Franciscan friars, whose visitor and scholar he was. Do I err in saying that the Christian spirit shines in these examples?

1

At Rome Sumner made the acquaintance of a young artist, then little known but afterwards distinguished, to whom he rendered a most important service. Thomas Crawford was then toiling in his studio, waiting for commissions, with narrow means and serious misgivings as to the future. Sumner recognized at once his genius, and was particularly struck with the ‘Orpheus’ on which he was at work. He not only cheered the artist with hopeful words, but wrote many letters home, urging friends to interest themselves in his behalf. He never failed, after leaving Rome, to set forth Crawford's merits as a sculptor to English and American travellers who were likely to invest in works of art. Nor did his zeal in the cause of the young artist end here, as the sequel will show. Crawford, truly grateful for this kindly interest, was anxious to take a bust of Sumner, who consented reluctantly upon Greene's assuring him that he would thereby render a service to his friend. It is the earliest representation of Sumner, and was thought at the time to be faithful to the original.2 Sir Charles Vaughan and John Kenyon, on different occasions, saw it in Greene's library a few months later, and each was so struck with the likeness that he gave Crawford a commission to take a bust of himself.

William W. Story writes, of this visit of Sumner to Rome:

It was during this visit that the world of art first opened to him; and though he liked living men better, the great statues and pictures he saw made a profound impression on him. When he returned, hour after hour he used to talk with me about them, and stirred my blood with his glowing descriptions. He took me, so to speak, by the hand, and carried me through the great galleries, and talked enthusiastically of the great works he saw there,—

1 Works, Vol. II. p. 375.

2 William H. Prescott wrote concerning it, in 1844: ‘It is a very good likeness and a beautiful piece of work, like every thing else from Crawford's chisel.’ The bust is among the works of art bequeathed by Sumner to the city of Boston, and is now in the Art Museum.

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