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Chapter 25: service for Crawford.—The Somers Mutiny.—The nation's duty as to slavery.—1843.—Age, 32.

The strong interest which while abroad Sumner took in Thomas Crawford, whose acquaintance he first made in Rome, has already appeared in his letters. He had then assured the young sculptor, who was waiting wearily for commissions, that eminent success was in store for him; and his efforts, next after the artist's genius, were to give fulfilment to the prediction. After leaving Rome, he sounded Crawford's praises in all circles where art was valued. From Europe he wrote in a most earnest strain to many friends in the artist's behalf, and at home renewed the appeal; but he did not rest content with words alone. The next winter he obtained, by personal solicitation, subscriptions to the amount of twenty-five hundred dollars for a marble copy of the ‘Orpheus,’ then only in plaster, to be placed in the Boston Athenaeum. He called attention to its merits in an article which, accompanied by a steel engraving of the statue, he contributed to the ‘Democratic Review.’1 The article related the legend which was the artist's theme, described the work itself, and cited the opinions of connoisseurs. The editor of the ‘Review,’ after stating in a note to the article that the statue had been purchased for the Athenaeum, said: ‘It may not be improper to mention here, to the credit of Mr. Charles Sumner (who is also the author of the above paper), that it is mainly to his exertions that his native city will owe the honor and advantage of possessing this noble sculpture.’

The article thus described the statue:—

It is the moment when Cerberus has yielded to the music, and closed the eyes of his three heads in sleep, that the artist has selected for his chisel. The dog lies on the ground, no longer offering any impediment to the passage.

1 May, 1843; Vol. XII. pp. 451-455. The article was republished in the Boston Advertiser, May 8, 1844. Sumner's early interest in Crawford is referred to in Mr. Hillard's notice of the artist in the ‘Atlantic Monthly,’ July, 1869, Vol. XXIV. pp. 40-54.

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