His memories of Italy
are recalled in his mention of Allston
's visit to that country:—
Turning his back upon Paris and the greatness of the Empire, he directed his steps towards Italy, the enchanted ground of literature, history, and art,— strewn with richest memorials of the past, filled with scenes memorable in the progress of man, teaching by the pages of philosophers and historians, vocal with the melody of poets, ringing with the music which St. Cecilia protects, glowing with the living marble and canvas; beneath a sky of heavenly purity and brightness.
with the sunsets which Claude has painted; parted by the Apennines, early witnesses of the unrecorded Etruscan civilization; surrounded by the snow-capped Alps, and the blue, classic waters of the Mediterranean Sea.
The deluge of war submerging Europe had subsided here, and our artist took up his peaceful abode in Rome, the modern home of art. Strange vicissitude of condition!
Rome, sole surviving city of antiquity, once disdaining all that could be wrought by the cunning hand of sculpture, who has commanded the world by her arms, her jurisprudence, her church, now sways it further by her arts.
Pilgrims from afar, where her eagles, her praetors, her interdicts never reached, become willing subjects of this new empire; and the Vatican, stored with the priceless remains of antiquity, and the touching creations of modern art, has succeeded to the Vatican whose thunders intermingled with the strikes of modern Europe.
With a soul kindling intensely at every story of magnanimous virtue, at every deed of self-sacrifice in a righteous cause, his clear Christian judgment saw the mockery of what is called military glory, whether in ancient thunderbolts of war or in the career of modern conquest.
He saw that the fairest flowers cannot bloom in soil moistened by human blood; that to overcome evil by bullets and bayonets is less great and glorious than to overcome it by good; that the courage of the camp is inferior to this Christian fortitude found in patience, resignation, and forgiveness of evil, as the spirit which scourged and crucified the Saviour was less divine than that which murmured, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
With fearless pen he arraigned that giant criminal, Napoleon Bonaparte.
Witnesses flocked from all his scenes of blood; and the pyramids of Egypt, the coast of Palestine, the plains of Italy, the snows of Russia, the fields of Austria, Prussia, Spain, all Europe sent forth uncoffined hosts to bear testimony against the glory of their chief.
Never before, in the name of humanity and freedom, was grand offender arraigned by such a voice.
The sentence of degradation which Channing has passed, confirmed by coming generations, will darken the name of the warrior more than any defeat of his arms or compelled abdication of his power.
These causes Channing upheld and commended with admirable eloquence, both of tongue and pen. Though abounding in beauty of thought and expression, he will be judged less by single passages, sentences, or phrases than by the continuous and harmonious treatment of his subject.
And yet everywhere the same spirit is discerned.
What he said was an effluence rather than a composition.
His style was not formal or architectural in shape