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Chapter 20: Italy.—May to September, 1839.—Age, 28.

Leaving Paris April 20, and going by way of Lyons, Sumner embarked at Marseilles, May 3, by steamer for Naples. On the route he visited Genoa,1 Leghorn, and Pisa, and was kept a day at the unattractive port of Civita Vecchia. While at Naples, where he remained about twelve days, he visited the well-known points of interest,—the Museum, Lake Avernus, Misenum, Baiae, Capri, Pompeii, and Vesuvius. Leaving Naples May 20, and riding during the night, he had the next day his first view of St. Peter's from the Alban hills. That moment a darling vision of childhood and youth was fulfilled. No pilgrim ever entered the Imperial City with a richer enthusiasm,— not even Goethe, who, in his German home, could not, for some time before he crossed the Alps, look at an engraving of Italian scenery or read a Latin book, because of the pang they gave him. Here Sumner remained till the close of August. Rome and the Campagna have attractions at this season which are withheld in winter, and he always regarded the time of his sojourn there as well chosen.2 He afterwards referred to these days as the happiest of his whole European journey. Thence he went, by way of Siena, to Florence, where he passed a fortnight; and then with a vetturino to Bologna, Ferrara, Rovigo, Padua, and ‘across the plains of Lombardy alone, in a light wagon with a single horse, [92] harnessed with ropes, old leather, and the like.’ Leaving Venice on the last day of September, after a week's visit, he arrived, Oct. 2, without breaking the journey, at Milan, where his Italian tour ended. Three days later, he took a seat in the malle-poste to cross the Alps by the Stelvio Pass for Innsbruck. Such, in brief, was his route at a period when as yet there was no railway in Italy.

His journey, as originally planned, included a visit to Greece, and he was provided with letters of introduction by Dr. Samuel G. Howe, which would have brought him at once into relations with the surviving leaders of the Greek Revolution; but he had lingered too long in Rome to allow him to extend his journey further east. Afterwards he much regretted this failure in his plan, though he felt his precious days in Rome had been only too few.

During his three months in Rome, Sumner was a devoted student. He determined not only to learn the language of the country, but to come into full communion with the thought and spirit of its literature. He kept aloof from society, and even his visits to galleries and ruins were made mostly in hours of needful recreation. Rising at half-past 6 o'clock in the morning, and breakfasting some hours later in his room, he was devoted to his books till five or six in the afternoon, when he sallied out for dinner or a walk. With such devotion, his progress even exceeded his expectations. He read not only Dante, Petrarch, Tasso, Boccaccio, Macchiavelli, Guicciardini, Alfieri, and Niccolini, but several minor authors, whose neglected works are explored only by the most assiduous students of Italian literature. Most of all he enjoyed the great work of an author then living,—the ‘Promessi Sposi’ of Manzoni.

Hillard wrote to him, Nov. 29: ‘You have made an admirable use of your opportunities in Italy. Nobody has ever done more so. The list of books which you have read absolutely startles me. I do not understand how you could have found time for any thing else.’

Sumner found at Rome, in the Consul of the United States, a scholar of kindred tastes, with whom he established a perpetual friendship. Some will remember that when, in his later years, he was to speak at Faneuil Hall, he brought with him to the platform a slightly built man of fine texture, scholarly mien, and imperfect sight, for whom he cared with singular delicacy. That [93] was George W. Greene, who at Rome, thirty years before, had assisted him in his studies, strolled with him among ruins and on the Campagna, and was associated with the memories of happiest days,—a friend whom Sumner was ever afterward quick to serve. Greene, the grandson of Washington's most trusted general, was born in the same year with Sumner. As a youth of sixteen, and again three years later, he had been Lafayette's guest at La Grange. In 1827, he met casually at Marseilles a pilgrim scholar like himself,—Henry W. Longfellow; and the two journeyed together to Rome. No scholar was ever more generous and patient than Greene in helping others to follow paths already familiar to himself; and favors and associations in common studies were always freshly remembered by Sumner, even in the absorbing pursuits of public life.

Professor Greene remembers well Sumner's habits at this time,—his prolonged studies, his bringing each day a list of questions suggested by his reading, his forgetting at dinner the food before him while his difficulties were being solved, his earnestness, apparent in his countenance as well as in voice and gesture, and his prodigious interest in books. If he was compelled to leave volumes unread, he would at least know their titles. Just before leaving the Convent of Palazzuola, he took down one by one all its books, the dust of which had not been disturbed for years; and before leaving Rome he did the same with Greene's library. His taste for art was then developing, but his interest in literature was greater. Of public life or fame as an orator he had no thought. Knowledge he appeared to seek for its own sake, and as a means of usefulness.3

From Rome he made two excursions,—one to Tivoli, where, with ‘Horace’ in hand, he observed the scenes commemorated by the poet; and the other, in company with Greene, to the Convent of Palazzuola, where for four days they were the guests of the monks.4 [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?


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.6 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,— [95] of Titian and Correggio, the Elgin marbles and Phidias; of all the great names. I remember his account of the Vatican, with its population of statues; and I well remember that one of the things which struck him most was the bust of the young Augustus; not so much because of its beauty and excellence of workmanship as because it was Octavius,—the Emperor, the Father of his country, the Augustus of history. The world of art, as art purely, was to him always a half-opened, if not a locked world. He longed to enter into it, and feel it as an artist does; but the keys were never given to him. His interest in it was historical and literary, not artistic. His judgment as to a work of art was poor; his sense of art very limited, though he ever strove to cultivate his taste and feeling for it. It was in Rome that he first made the acquaintance of Thomas Crawford,—the distinguished sculptor,—for whom he formed a strong friendship and sympathy. Crawford was then a young man, struggling up the first difficult steps of his art, with high ambition and very small means,—full of talent and vigor of mind and purpose, but hampered by the res angusta domi. Sumner, with that natural kindness and geniality of heart which always characterized him, sought his society, lent him encouragement, and prophesied for him the fame which he afterwards acquired. More than this: his friendship did not exhaust itself in words, but took the shape of earnest acts of kindness. Crawford was then modelling one of his first statues, representing Orpheus descending into Hades to redeem Eurydice; and Sumner, impressed by the beauty and spirit of the work, urged so strenuously upon his friends at home the propriety of giving a commission for this work in marble that he succeeded in his purpose; and Crawford owes to him his first commission for a statue, and his first great lift to fame. Many a long year after, walking in Rome with me, Sumner recounted the pleasant days spent with him; and pointing out his studio, said: “There, in the old days, I passed many a pleasant hour with our friend: there he confided to me his great ambition, and his small hope of success; and once when, almost in despair at his dark prospects, he poured forth his heart to me, I said: ‘Coraggio, Crawford! When I come again to Rome, you will be a great and successful sculptor, and be living in a palace.’ He smiled, and shook his head. Look now! Was I not a true prophet? He is now living in a palace; and he is a great sculptor.” This friendship, let me add, never abated through life. Crawford never forgot the debt of gratitude he owed him; and Sumner always took the most earnest and active interest in him and his works, and never failed to chant his praise. After Crawford's death, we went together over his studio; and the tears came into Sumner's eyes, as he spoke of the old days, and the untimely end of our friend.

Tidings reached Sumner at Rome of his father's death, which had taken place April 24. He had languished for several weeks, and the end was not unexpected. He had reached the age of sixty-three,—a year which he had, for some time, designated as likely to prove fatal to him. The family, in communicating the [96] event, urged Charles not to allow it to affect his plans of travelling, or to speed his return. The character of his father has already been given,—just, but severe and rigid. Felton wrote, in relation to his death: ‘President Quincy spoke of his character as a high-minded and honorable man in the most energetic terms; and that is the character which all ascribe to him.’ Charles reverenced his father's uprightness and fidelity to his convictions, and through life referred to him always in terms of filial respect. He had no undutiful conduct to recall. He had observed, in boyhood and in manhood, all the obligations of a son. ‘You were a good son,’ wrote Lieber, in a letter of condolence. Cleveland, who knew all the circumstances of his life at home, wrote: ‘That your duty to him was fully done, must now be a source of infinite satisfaction.’ But this narrative would be incomplete, if it said no more of this relation of father and son. The father's rigid nature imposed an iron rule at home, which bore heavily on the elder sons. Charles chafed under it; and after he was himself emancipated, and had taken lodgings away from home, he sympathized with his brothers and sisters whom he left behind. When he went to Europe, he besought from his father a milder regime for the younger children; and, indeed, a somewhat milder one followed the next year. The intervention, however, was not kindly received; and from that time a single letter from Charles was all that passed between the two. This feature of Sumner's early life was not a transient grief only. The want of a genuine sympathy between father and son leaves a void in one's being, which time and new relations never fill. While abroad, and for years after his return, he referred— though with no unfilial reproaches—to this unhappy experience of his youth, in words which showed how profoundly he had felt it. This was his first domestic calamity; but it was not to be his last!

At Florence, Sumner became much interested in Horatio Greenough, who was then at work on his ‘Washington’ and ‘Rescue,’ both now placed—the latter a group—at the east front of the National Capitol. Sumner was greatly impressed with Greenough's intellectual power, as well as his genius in his art, and much enjoyed his society. Greenough, answering a letter in which Sumner, after leaving Florence, made some suggestions as to the ‘Washington,’ wrote, Nov. 16, 1839:—

I look upon your advice respecting the accessory ornaments of my chair as having been most well-timed and fortunate for me,—not that I think the [97] figures you object to cannot be rendered poetical as well as effective; but because, as you convincingly observed, I ought, in a first great work, appealing to great national sympathies, to keep clear, quite clear, of debatable ground.

Sumner frequented at Florence the studio of Powers, who was then at work upon his ‘Eve.’ He formed at the same time a pleasant acquaintance with Richard Henry Wilde,—once a member of Congress from Georgia,—then pursuing researches for a Life of Dante, on which he was engaged. At Wilde's request, he traced out at Ferrara some manuscripts of Tasso, and afterwards at Venice others connected with Dante. In Florence, he met a tourist from Boston, already known to him, and younger than himself,—William Minot, Jr.,—in whom he took much interest, inspired in part by an ancient friendship which had existed between their fathers. Young Minot wrote to him from Florence, Sept. 26, 1839:—

I consider, my dear Mentor, my having met you at my entrance into Italy as a great piece of fortune. You have set me at once on the right track, have stimulated all my motives and tastes, and have made the path of improvement and pleasure clear to me. I shall bind up our conferences with my bundle of associations in Italy, mark them “number one,” and lay them in a very handy corner of my brain.

Mr. Minot, now a member of the Boston bar, writes:—

While in Italy, he devoted himself with great zeal to the study of Italian art and literature. I recollect being much impressed by his rapid acquisition and mastery of these subjects. He made himself familiar with, and incorporated into his own mind, the works and thoughts of the master minds of Italy. His intellectual food was of the richest and most nutritious kind, and was rapidly assimilated by his vigorous mind. His tenacious memory, his capacity for continuous work, and taste for acknowledged superiority secured to him a rich harvest. He was very kind and friendly to me personally, and full of anecdotes of the noted people he had met the previous summer in England,—especially Lord Brougham, with whom he had passed some time in Paris.

To his brother George, Sumner wrote from Florence a long letter full of counsel on various points,—the latter's proposed book on Russia, his study of languages, his style of writing, intercourse in society, manners, and dress,—in which he said:—

There is, perhaps, no other person in the world who would venture to make to you the suggestions in this letter. I judge others by myself; and [98] I should be truly grateful to any friend whose relations with me justified suggestions on such delicate subjects, who exercised the same freedom towards me that I now use with you. “Veniam petimusque damusque vicissiim.

Remembering, as he faithfully did, his family ties, he added:

I hope you have already written home stimulating mother to the education of the children. Lend me your influence. Teach your brothers and sisters to be ambitious, to aspire, and to look up. You can do a great deal of good in this way. I hope that Horace, when grown up, will not smart as I do under the mortification of a defective education.

From Venice he wrote a long letter to Judge Story, urging the adoption of a higher standard at Harvard College, where, as he thought, there was then a want of thoroughness in the system of instruction.7 Particularly he lamented the imperfect way in which the modern languages were taught,—a defect from which he had especially suffered. He wrote:—

Let a boy acquire one thing well, and he gets a standard of excellence to which he will endeavor to bring up his other knowledge; and, moreover, he will be conscious of his deficiencies by observing the difference between what he knows well and what indifferently. Let the requisites for admission be doubled, and subject all candidates for degrees to a most rigid examination. We must make a beginning, and where can it be done better than at Harvard? . . . I cannot forbear writing you, ex mero motu, to say that I think Felton's usefulness as a professor would be very much increased if he could come abroad: and such a tour as he proposes would be productive of benefit and honor to himself, the college, and our country. Thank God! I am an American. Much as there is to offend me in our country, yet it is the best country to be born in on the face of the globe.

In his tribute to Washington Allston, Aug. 27, 1846, there is a description of Italy which was inspired by the memories of these days:–

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, —strown 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. Rome, sole surviving city of antiquity, once disdaining all that [99] 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 strifes of modern Europe.



To George S. Hillard.

Naples, May 19, 1839.
Embarked at Marseilles, May 3, in the steamer Pharamond; touched and passed two days at Genoa, wandered among its palaces and groves of oranges, and enjoyed its paintings. Next stopped at Leghorn long enough to make a most delightful excursion to Pisa, to ascend its leaning tower, and admire its cathedral; then to Civita Vecchia, in which dirty hole we were kept a day, and then to Naples. How can I describe to you, my dear Hillard, the richness of pleasure that I have enjoyed! Here is that beautiful bay with its waters reflecting the blue of heaven, and its delicious shores studded with historical associations. What day's enjoyment has been the greatest I cannot tell,—whether when I walked amidst the streets of Pompeii, and trod the beautiful mosaics of its houses; or when I visited Baiae and Misenum, and looked off upon Capri and Procida; or when I mounted the rough lava sides of Vesuvius, and saw the furnace-like fires which glowed in its yawning cracks and seams. I should like much to go into details about these things, but your own mind will revive, on glancing at these hasty words, volumes that you have read. I think I do not say too much when I let you know that, with all my ardent expectations, I never adequately conceived the thrilling influences shed by these ancient classical sites and things. You walk the well-adjusted pavement of Pompeii, and distinctly discern the traces of wheels worn into its hard stone; and in the houses you see mosaics and frescos and choice marbles that make you start. But reach the Forum, and there you are in the midst of columns and arches and temples that would seem wonderful to us if found in a grand city, but are doubly so when disentombed in a humble town. What must Rome have been, whose porches and columns and arches excited the wonder of the ancient world, if this little place, of whose disastrous fate only we have heard an account, contained such treasures! I do not believe there is a single town of the size of the ancient Pompeii in modern Europe where you will find so much public or private magnificence, where you will enter so many private dwellings enriched by [100] the chisel and the pencil, or stand in a public square like her Forum. Would that Felton could see these things! How his soul would expand and palpably feel—what he has been groping after in books—the power and beauty of ancient art! Capo Miseno is on the opposite side of the bay. One day's excursion carried me over the scene of the Cumaean Sibyl (I would fain have sent you home a mistletoe from the thick wood), round the ancient Lake Avernus, even down the dark cave which once opened to the regions of night; by the Lucrine bank, whence came the oysters on which Horace and Juvenal fed; over the remains of Baiae, where are still to be seen those substructions and piles, by which, as our old poets said, their rich owners sought to abridge the rightful domain of the sea; and on the top of Capo Miseno, in the shade of the vine, with fresh breezes coming from Hesperus and the West; and in the ancient gardens of Lucullus I sat down to such a breakfast as the poor peasants of this fertile land could supply. Lucullus's servants, I doubt not, fared better than we did; but who, amidst such a scene, could think of the coarse bread and the poor wine? Then there is the Museum at Naples, where are collected all the spoils of Herculaneum and Pompeii, with other productions that are full of interest and beauty and grace. Several days are exhausted in examining its treasures. Here are the frescos that have been taken from the walls of the houses of Pompeii, and the bronzes and the marbles that have been there disentombed. But you know all this. Naples is a disagreeable place saving its fine scenery and its classical interests. Beggary is here incarnate. You cannot leave the house without being surrounded by half a dozen squalid wretches with most literally scarcely a rag to cover their nakedness; they travel with you, and go into the country with you—whenever you make a sortie from the town —as if joined to your person; and on the quays they stretch themselves at full length, while a hot sun is letting fall its perpendicular rays. The streets are narrow and dirty, and the famed Toledo is without a sidewalk (a good word, though American). I have several letters of introduction here, but I shall leave the place without taking advantage of any. I have travelled from Marseilles with three Frenchmen, young men of rank, in whose company I have made all my excursions, and for some time have not been in the way of hearing English. From my French friends I have learned some lessons in economy. It is to me astonishing to observe the nicety with which they drive a bargain; and as one of them has always held our common purse and acted as manager, I have had the benefit of it without the trouble. To-morrow we start together, in a carriage we have hired, for Rome.

Rome, May 21.

I am in the Eternal City. We passed through dirty Capua (shorn of all its soft temptations); with difficulty found a breakfast of chocolate and bread where Hannibal's victorious troops wasted with luxury and excess; enjoyed the perfume of the orange and lemon trees that line the way in the territories of Naples; at midnight awoke the last gendarme of his Neapolitan Majesty, who swung open the heavy gates through which we entered the territories of the Supreme Pontiff; rode all night; crossed for twenty-eight [101] miles the Pontine marshes; and at length, from the heights of Alba, near the tomb of the Curiatii, descried the dome of St. Peter's and Rome! I have now driven within sight of the Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine, and under Trajan's Column! My fondest expectations are all on tiptoe. Good-by and love to you all.

Most affectionately ever,

To William H. Prescott, Boston.

Piazza di Spagna, Rome, June 28, 1839.
my dear Sir,—Amidst saddening and perplexing intelligence from opposite quarters, I received your agreeable letter of the 18th April.9 I have done nothing worthy of the thanks you have been so good as to send me. The debt is on my side; for, over and above the great satisfaction I derived from the hasty perusal of your work (during a few of the odd hours rescued from society and sight-seeing), I experienced in England a constant pleasure from the honor which it has reflected upon our country, and the favorable impression it is calculated to inspire with regard to the American mind. Wherever I went I saw your history. It was on the tables of the London clubs—those great centres of the highest-toned literary and political circles—and in the cabinets or drawing-rooms of the best houses at which I had the honor of being received. From time to time, I have communicated to some of my friends at home a portion of what I heard about it; some of this may have reached you. I cannot refrain now from adding that no literary triumph could be more complete than yours. In the judgment of the best scholars of England, you have taken your place—
Con segno di vittoria incoronato
at the head of the literature of our country.

Ford, to whom you refer in your letter, is a sort of chevalier de la plume, who writes less to do the right than to show his own good mettle. His favorable judgment of an American work I should prize highly, while his unfavorable criticism would not disturb me. He is among the most ultra Tories and absolutists I have ever met, and hates our institutions and our great example. On Spanish subjects, and generally on Continental topics, I thought him acute and well informed, though prejudiced and perhaps unsound. He was pleased to solicit some information from me with regard to yourself, and generally with regard to American literature. All this I furnished to the best of my ability, and to his apparent great satisfaction; and on some points I thought he gave up some of his first-expressed opinions. His admiration of your labors was unfeigned; and he hoped that, if ever you came to England, you would take a note from me to him, that he might have the pleasure of making your personal acquaintance. In personal appearance and manners, [102] he is much the gentleman. He has a considerable place near Exeter, where he has built ornamental walls and houses in imitation of some of those old Moorish remains which he so loved in Spain. His article was to appear this June, but I should not be surprised if it went over till October. On the receipt of your letter I wrote him from Rome, to let him know that a large number of corrections had been made in the recent American edition. I also wrote Bentley, whom I saw when in London, communicating your wishes. ‘It is a far cry’ across the Atlantic Ocean, and not a short one from Rome; but I thought the two together—your Western call and my halloo from the East—would certainly be heard in Burlington Street. In London I met a Spaniard,10 an ex-professor of Madrid, who wrote the review of your history in the ‘Edinburgh.’ I have forgotten his name and address. Hillard, however, has both. He would be pleased to find himself in some way en rapportwith you. He has addicted himself to Spanish subjects, and collected very valuable manuscripts,—some illustrating the life of the Great Captain, to which you had not referred (so he told me); and he expressed the greatest willingness to communicate them to you. If you should care to enter into correspondence with him, you may do it freely, and be assured that he will be not a little gratified. I hope to see Capponi at Florence, through the kindness of our friend Greene, who has been reading your history with the greatest admiration,—a judgment which carries with it great weight, when it is known that for two years he has devoted himself to a subject, part of which falls within your work. If I should learn any thing from Capponi which I should deem interesting to you, I shall take the liberty of communicating it. From Italy I go into Germany, where, if I can serve you in any way, I shall be truly happy to do it.

Believe me ever, my dear sir, very sincerely yours,

P. S. Do you remember, in the Sala di Torre Borgia, at the Vatican, painted by Raphael, a portrait of your hero, Ferdinand the Catholic? It is one of the caryatides that supports the ‘Battle of the Saracens;’ and under it is inscribed, Christiani Imperii Propagator.Other caryatides are Charlemagne and Lothaire. You will find some mention of this in De Quincy's ‘Histoire de la vie et des ouvrages de Raphael,’ p. 176;11 though Lanzi makes no mention of it; nor Vasari, I think.

P. S. Let me take the great liberty, in this duplication of postscript, to mention that there is a young American sculptor here, Mr. Thomas Crawford, who has great merit, and has found considerable favor among artists. Laudatur et alget.Can't something be done for him in Boston? I shall write at length to Hillard or Longfellow about him, and should feel much gratified if you would counsel with them as to the proper way of promoting his interests.

C. S.


To George S. Hillard.

Rome, July 13, 1839.
dear Hillard,—I have now before me all your kind, very kind, letters of March 19, April 29, and May 23. In the first you say, ‘I wonder where you are just now, &c.’ I opened this letter and read it on the Capitoline Hill, with those steps in view over which the friars walked while Gibbon contemplated; the wonderful equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius before me; while thickening about in every direction were the associations of Old Rome. I need not say that your page was more interesting even than that mighty leaf of history then for the first time open before me. Your other letters have repeated to me what I first heard from my own family,—the death of my father; an event which has caused me many painful emotions,—not the less painful because beyond the reach of ordinary sympathy. To you, who so well understand my situation, I need say nothing. I do not know why I should return home, for I do not see any particular thing in which I could be useful. My father's business and property were always managed with such carefulness and exactness, as to leave little for any person to do who has the administration of his estate. It is of the education of my young brother and sisters that I most think; and I wish I were at home to aid them in their studies, to stimulate them, and teach them to be ambitious. I have written to my mother at length on this subject, for I know no one on whom the responsibility of their education now depends more than myself. I have no right to trouble you on this subject, but I cannot forbear saying that you would render me a very great service if you would advise with my mother about this. I have already referred her to you. I wish that the three younger children should have a competent French instructor to give them lessons,—daily I think they should be,— in speaking and reading this language. If school studies do not allow the devotion of much time to this, they can at least give the hour of the lesson, and that will be something. I am anxious that my sisters should have the best education the country will afford: this I know their portion of our father's estate will amply give them; and further, to that purpose most freely do I devote whatever present or future interest I may have in it. I do not understand well enough the terms of his will to know what this is—if it is any thing; but this may be counted upon, that, in any division of my father's property as regards my sisters, I am to be considered entirely out of the question; so that, if need be, reference may be had to this circumstance, in incurring the necessary expenditure for their education. This I communicate to your private ear,—not to be spoken of, but to be used for your government in any conversation you may have with my mother. Do pardon all this trouble—but would I not do as much for you if any circumstances gave me the opportunity?

What joys open to one here in Rome! My time has been saddened and perplexed by the intelligence which I have received here; but still I have enjoyed much. Art in these noble galleries, and antiquity in these noble ruins, afford constant interest. To these and to Italian literature I have [104] given myself here. Painting I have studied in the works of the masters before me, and in the various books in which their lives and merits are commemorated; and I have not contented myself by simply seeing and looking upon the ancient remains that have been preserved to us. My rule is with Horace,—‘Dona praesentis cape laetus horae;’ and while in any place to surrender myself as much as possible to all those things which make its life and peculiarity. What a day I passed at Tivoli! I was with French companions, one of whom lent me his pocket ‘Horace.’ The others strolled away to see some ruin or catch a nearer spray of the falling water. I lay on the grass with the praeceps Anio before me, in the very Tiburtine grove that Horace had celebrated; and there I read the first book of his odes, and on the spot saw and felt the felicity of his language. I am going to pass a few days in a convent with some Franciscan friars, on the banks of the beautiful Alban lake.

Ever affectionately yours,

C. S.
P. S. Ah, my Dante! how I have thrilled under his stern and beautiful measures! I shall write you and my friends a letter soon about an artist here, Mr. T. Crawford, for whom I am anxious that something should be done. In your letters always cover every spot; tell me all the news about everybody in Court Street, and State Street, and Beacon Street, &c. I shall be in Germany when your answer to this comes, away from sight of any American paper.

Greene, who is now with me, remembers you in Boston, and sends his regards. He has the highest admiration for you, and you should have the same for him, as he is one of the most accomplished scholars of our country, and is full of honorable ambition. Give my love to all. How is Longfellow?

When I leave my convent,—where I intend to live as I chiefly do here, on fruit, salads, and wine,—I shall go to Florence. But I shall write you from my hermitage, if Nature and the library spare me any time.

To George S. Hillard.

Convent of Palazzuola, July 26, 1839.
dear Hillard,—In my last, dated from Rome, I mentioned that there was an American sculptor there, who needs and deserves more patronage than he has. I wish now to call your particular attention to his case, and through you to interest for him such of my friends as you choose to mention it to. He is Mr. Thomas Crawford,12 of New York; he commenced life [105] humbly, learned something of sculpture in the study of Frazee, where among other things he worked on the heads of Judge Prescott and Judge Story; here he saved a little money and gained a love for his art; and on this capital—of which his devotion to his profession was the larger part—he came abroad to study here the great remains of ancient sculpture. He has studied diligently, and formed a pure, classical, and decided taste, loving and feeling the antique. Thorwaldsen, I have occasion to know, has shown him much kind consideration, which, of itself, is no mean praise; among the thousand young artists of Rome, and from the greatest sculptor of modern times, this is the ‘laudari a viro laudato.’ The three principal English sculptors here, whose names are well-known in their own country though they may not have reached you, speak of Crawford as a remarkable artist; and I will add that I think he gives promise of doing more than they have done. I have seen his bas-reliefs, the heads he has done, and some of his most important studies. They all show the right direction. They are simple, chaste, firm, and expressive, and with much of that air (heaven-descended, I would almost call it) which the ancients had, which was first reproduced in modern times by Canova, and has since been carried so far by Thorwaldsen. Crawford is now modelling an ‘Orpheus descending into Hell.’ The figure is as large as life. He has just charmed with his lyre the three-headed dog, and with an elastic step is starting on the facile descent: Cerberus is nodding at his feet. The idea is capital for sculpture. and thus far our countryman has managed it worthily. It is, without exception, the finest study I have seen in Rome, and if completed in corresponding style,—and I do not doubt that he will do this,—will be one of the most remarkable productions that has come from an artist of his years in modern times. Crawford is poor, and is obliged to live sparingly in order to continue his studies. If his soul were not in them, I think he would have abandoned them long ago. Strange to say, his best orders have come from foreigners,—English and Russians. Let him once have a good order from some gentleman of established character, and let the work be exhibited in America, and his way will be clear. Orders will then come upon him as fast as he can attend to them. This, you will understand, is predicated upon my confidence in his ability. It was the case with Greenough. Cooper saw him, was pleased with him, and gave him an order for his bust; this he executed finely. Cooper then ordered a group, which was the ‘Chanting Cherubs,’ and gave Greenough the privilege of exhibiting it in the principal cities. From that moment his success was complete. Before, he had been [106] living as he could; not long after, he was able to keep his carriage. Let me suggest, seriatim,some of the ways in which you and others may contribute to put Crawford in the same position. . . . I am sorry to trouble you so much, my dear Hillard, but I can do nothing at this distance but give my friends trouble. In the matter of this letter I feel a sincere interest, because the artist is young, amiable, and poor; and, benefiting him, you will be sowing the seed which will ripen to the honor of our country. Therefore,—

‘Assai ten priego
     E ripriego ch'l priego vaglia mille.’

I write this in a convent of Franciscans, where with Greene I am passing three or four days. It is on the ancient site of Alba Longa,—of which scarcely the least trace is now to be found,—and overlooks the beautiful Alban lake. No carriage can approach within two miles on either side, and it is surrounded by precipices and almost impenetrable forests. I do not remember ever to have seen a more lovely and romantic situation. Here we read the poets, chat with the fathers, ramble in the woods, and bathe in the clear water. The scene is so like a picture, that I sometimes look to see Diana in full chase with her nymphs about her. I was, the other day, lying on a bank in the shade of a broad tree (whether it was a beech I do not remember), reading the ‘Gerusalemme;’ a Capuchin, with his long beard, had just brought us wine. I showed the venerable father my book, and inquired if he had read it. ‘Ahi! non ho tanta scienza,’ was his reply.

Ever affectionately yours.

P. S. I wish you would show this to Cleveland, Felton, and Longfellow, and tell them to consider it as addressed to each and all. Can you not speak to Governor Everett, and Ticknor, and Prescott, in Crawford's behalf? But I will not say more, for you will understand my wishes, and I leave the whole to your discretion.

To Henry W. Longfellow, Cambridge.

Convent of Palazzuola, July 26, 1839.
my dear Longfellow,—FraGreene and myself have already withdrawn from the cares of this life,—‘the world forgetting, by the world forgot.’ We have sought quiet in a convent, among cowled, thick-robed, sandalled Franciscans. From our retreat, perched high among rocks, and well guarded by precipices and impenetrable forests, we look down upon that silver lake which once reflected the image of Alba Longa, and, for aught that we know to the contrary, of Narcissus; for its waters deserve to be the seat of the prettiest legends. You who have explored all ‘the dingles and alleys green’ of this country must remember our present seat. Ah! what a welcome we will give Felton,13 when he reaches our convent! The cellar should [107] send up its richest treasures—cellar, did I say? The grottosshall afford their most icy wines; and with him we will try to find, amidst these thick woods and precipitous descents, some remains of that noble city which was so long a match for Rome. In our garden we will show him a tomb with the fasces still boldly visible, where reposes the dust of a consul of the Republic! How those ancient Romans did build! Not for themselves, nor for their children simply; but for generations. Stimulate Felton to come abroad. If he comes, I am fully persuaded he will find his mind filled, his knowledge confirmed and enlightened, and his ambition aroused to do something that we shall all be proud of. How I shall rejoice to know that he has—

‘Shipped himself all aboard of a ship,
     The foreign countries for to see!’

Here, in our monastic retreat, we speculate upon his advent, and the burst of glorious emotions that he will feel; and then, his laugh! I hear it now: it has crossed the lake, and its echoes are rumbling along its rocky margins.

How pleased I shall be on my return to talk over with you the beautiful things of the Old World,—the skies of Italy, looking down upon fields and sites studded with breathing associations; the pictures and the sculpture; the remains of ancient glory; the verses of poets; the sayings of wise men, and the dark eyes of women. Ah! how the live-long day would be shortened to me, and what sunlight would be let into the dark places of my future pilgrimage! My soul will long for European sympathy,—for some one who has seen the things that I have seen, and who will join with me in reproducing them to our eager imaginations. And I look forward with hope to renewing our former intercourse under your happy roof.

. . . I thank you for all the kind things you have written about me to Greene. I have found him a most valuable friend. He is quite devoted to literature, and is one of the most accomplished persons I have ever met. He is full of honorable ambition, and for two years has been devoting himself to a great subject, which will occupy fifteen or twenty years more of his life.14 That is good. They build for immortality who calmly dedicate to a work so much time. I have written to Hillard about an American sculptor at Rome,—Mr. Thomas Crawford,—who is full of merit, and only wants some slight notice or patronage to have the fullest success. Greene and myself both take the greatest interest in him, and wish you and other friends to do something for him. If you cannot order a statue, you can at least write an article. Read my letter to Hillard about him, and then do your best. When you hear from me again,—or, rather, when I hear from you,—I shall be among the Tedeschi lurchi,as Dante calls the children of the Black Forest. Good-by. Success be with you!

Ever affectionately yours,


To Professor Simon Greenleaf.

Convent of Palazzuola, July 27, 1839.
my dear friend,—I wrote you once, I think, from the palace of an English Bishop: this will go to you from a monastery of Franciscans. In Rome, the heat is intense; and the fever-laden airs of the Campagna even enter the city. Here Greene and myself have come to pass a few days,—‘hermits hoar in solemn cell.’ An English noble would give a subsidy for such a site as this. In the background is the high mountain which was once dedicated to the Latial Jove, to whom Cicero makes his eloquent appeal in the oration for Milo; and on one side, clearly discernible from my window, is Tusculum, the favorite residence of the great Roman orator. The road over which I passed in coming here is that on which Milo encountered Clodius. The stillness and solemnity that is about me makes every day appear a Sabbath. My companion is the Consul at Rome,—a dear friend of Longfellow, and a most delightful and accomplished person. The monks have given us three rooms each, besides the grand hall: each of us has a bed-room, a cabinet, and an ante-chamber. My ante-chamber is vaulted, and covered with arabesques. My other two rooms are painted, so as to resemble the cell of a hermit,—the ceiling is arched,—and I seem to see the rude stones which the pious man has built in the wilderness; and at my bedside are the beads and the crucifix. The hall is hung with pictures of the most distinguished of the order; and a fresco on the high-vaulted ceiling represents the ascension of St. Francis, its patron. What would these Fathers have said, if they could have foreseen that their retreat was to be occupied by heretics; that the hospitality of their convent was to be extended to those who do not believe in the Pope or St. Francis? You know that this order is one of the most rigid of the Roman Church. They wear neither hats nor stockings, but simply sandals for their feet. The remainder of their dress is a thick, heavy robe, or gown,—‘Odious! in woollen! 'twould a saint provoke,’—which they wear alike at all seasons. They live upon charity. One of their number lately was begging for corn of a farmer, who was treading out with his oxen the summer's harvest. The farmer, in derision, and as a way of refusing, pointed to a bag which contained a load for three men, and told the monk he was welcome to that, if he would carry it off. The monk invoked St. Francis, stooped and took up the load, and quietly carried it away! The astonished farmer followed him to the convent, and required the return of his corn. His faith was not great enough to see a miracle. It was given up; but the story coming to the ears of the governor of the town, he summarily ordered the restoration of the corn to the convent.

I have amused myself not a little in examining the library here. It consists of about a thousand volumes, all in parchment, and in Latin and Italian. There is oneSpanish work, and one German! Our poor language has not a single representative. The monks have looked with astonishment upon the avidity with which I have examined their books; I doubt if they have had such an overhauling for a century. With gloves on, I took down [109] and scanned every book,—a large portion of them I found standing bottom upwards; and as I put them in their places properly (having had some experience in dealing with a library), I think the monks may be gainers by my visit. The librarian told me there were no Mss.; but I found more than a dozen. The work on geography, which seemed to be the standard of the convent in this department of knowledge, spoke of England as divided into seven kingdoms,—one of which was Mercia, another Northumberland, &c.; actually going back to the Heptarchy! The English possessions in America were represented as being taken (tolte)from Spain; and of these, Bostona was the capital; but the great commercial place of America was Vera Cruz. When I get home, I will tell you what sort of people monks are.

Only a few days ago, I received your kind letter of May 17. I deeply appreciate your sympathy in my father's death. Such a relation cannot be severed without awakening the strongest emotions; and though I cannot affect to feel entirely the grief that others have on such a bereavement, yet it has been to me a source of unfeigned sorrow, and has thrown a shadow across my Italian pleasures. In the education of my young brother and sisters I have always interested myself as much as I was allowed to, from the moment in which I had any education myself. I feel anxious to be at home, that I may take upon myself the responsibility which belongs to me as the eldest brother. Remember me to Mrs. Greenleaf, and believe me

Ever affectionately yours,

P. S. Rome, July 28.—I have just received a long letter from my brother George, who has penetrated the interior of Russia, Tartary, Circassia, Bithynia, and is now going to the Holy Land. He has seen more of Russia, I doubt not, than any foreigner alive. He is the most remarkable person of his age I know. Pardon this from a brother.

To William F. Frick, Baltimore.

Rome, Aug. 4, 1839.
my dear Frick,15—Your kind letter, now a year old, gave me great pleasure; and I have been much gratified to hear, from another source, of your being fairly and honorably embarked in your profession. I am half disposed to regret that you did not find it agreeable and convenient to give a year at Cambridge to the quiet study of the books of your profession; but I doubt not the able superintendence and advice of your father, and your own well-directed ambition, have answered as well. I have no right, now at least, to offer you my suggestions; but I cannot forbear saying that I hope you will propose to yourself a high rank, and accustom yourself to look with proper contempt on the shallow learning and pettifogging habits (I must use [110] the phrase) which characterize so large a part of the lawyers of America.16 . . .I shall be in Boston in December or January. Let me hear from you there at least, if not before; and believe me, as ever,

Most sincerely yours,

C. S.

To George W. Greene, Rome.

Florence, Sept. 11, 1839.
dear Greene,—I have thought of you every hour since I left Rome; but have delayed writing till I was on the point of quitting Florence, wishing to give you my final report upon this place. But things in the natural order. My journey was very pleasant,—four days and a half. My companions, a French officer, quite a gentleman and scholar, an Italian artist and a litterateur,—the latter Signor Ottavio Gigli.17 With him I became quite well acquainted. He took me, on his arrival in Florence, to old Abbate Missirini,18 and to the Marquesa Luzaris, and has given me a letter to Giordani.19 I found Gigli quietly engaged in literary pursuits, one of which is so akin to yours that I am anxious you should know him; and he is quite desirous of your acquaintance. He is preparing a ‘Storia Politica’ of Italy, and has collected from all the principal libraries such manuscripts as will illustrate his subject. He is an admirer of Botta, and is anxious to talk with you about this historian; A friend of his has in press at Milan a collection of letters from Botta. He is of our own age, and is amiable and agreeable. He will return to Rome in the course of a few weeks, and I have given him a note of introduction to you. In Florence I passed one night at Madame Hambet's, in the Piazza Trinita (not the S. Maria Novella, as you said), which cost me three francesconi;then decamped, and am now in the house at the corner of Lunga Arno and the Piazza, with Alfieri's palace near. Greenough20 I like infinitely. He is a person of remarkable character every way,—with scholarship such as few of our countrymen have; with a practical knowledge of his art, and the poetry of it; with an elevated tone of mind that shows itself equally in his views of art, and in all his conversation. I am firmly convinced that he is a superior person to any of the great artists now on the stage. I have seen something, you know, of Chantrey in England, David in France, [111] and those English fellows at Rome. As men—as specimens of the human race to be looked up to and imitated—these are not to be mentioned in the same breath with our countryman. Three cheers for the Stripes and Stars! I have seen his ‘Washington’ and studied it very carefully, and we have talked about it a great deal. It is truly great,—far beyond my expectation. The likeness is capital, and will be recognized at once; but the expression and tone of the whole are truly grand. It is in every way equal to the ‘Nerva’ of the Vatican, before which we have paused several times in our walks through that glorious gallery. The ‘Washington’ of Chantrey is childlike in comparison with it. I admire the thought and devotion that Greenough has given to his subject, and his determination to do his utmost in order to render the statue all that it should be. He is doubtful whether he shall get it finished to his satisfaction within a year from now; and he will not part with it, so long as he can hope to amend it by further labor. The other piece upon which he is engaged for the Capitol is not yet entirely set up; as far as he has gone it is very fine. It is intended to represent the surprise of a white settlement by the Indians.21 The group reminds me of the ‘Deluge,’ by Kessels,22 the drawing of which, by the way, Greenough has never seen. On the ground is a mother clasping her child, in order to save it from the uplifted tomahawk of an Indian who stands over her, but whose hand is arrested by a fearless settler, who is represented on a rock so that the upper half of his body appears above the Indian. This subject has capacities of all kinds. The woman is on the ground, so that she does not conceal the Indian, who is naked (except an accidental fold about his loins), and the settler, who appears above the savage, restraining his fury, is dressed in a hunter's shirt and cap. The passions are various,—the child, the mother, the father, the husband, the savage, the defender, &c.; all these various characters being blended in the group. The ‘Abdiel’ is taken just as he has concluded his speech to Satan and is turning to leave him. It is a winged, heaven-born Achilles. The subject was suggested to Greenough by Washington Allston, years ago. The statue is about three or four feet high; but Greenough means to make one as large as the Apollo Belvedere. He has also done a beautiful little bas-relief for Mr. Salisbury,—the angel telling St. John not to address his prayers to him but to God; and is now engaged on a bas-relief for Miss Gibbs, to be put in a church at Newport; also busts of Franklin, of Marquis Capponi, &c. I have seen a good deal of Powers.23 He is very pleasant and agreeable. His busts are truly remarkable, close likenesses without coarseness or vulgarity,—without Frazeeism.I asked Greenough if he thought Powers could make a young Augustus. ‘If he had a young Augustus to sit to him,’ was the reply. At present he has not gone beyond bust-making. He has made two fancy heads which are quite pretty, but rather [112] tame and insignificant; so that I am entirely at a loss with regard to his final success in the great walks of his profession. He is preparing to attempt higher things—paulo majora—an infant—being chiefly a copy from one of his own children—and an ‘Eve.’ His ‘Eve,’ of course, will be a beautiful woman, and he will represent her just inclining her ear to the voice of the serpent, who is to address her from a branch of a tree which is to be nearly on a level with her ear. This whole accessory of the serpent and the tree strikes me as impracticable. A serpent is not a sufficiently agreeable personage to look well in company with a beautiful woman. Powers is a very ingenious man, and has already invented a machine to use instead of compasses in transferring measurements from a cast to the marble on which one is working. This facilitates labor so much, particularly in bas-reliefs, that Greenough told me his men were only twelve days on one piece, when they would have been engaged thirty without Powers's ‘Scorpion.’ I hope Crawford will get one. Capponi24 I saw but once, as he has left town to be absent some six weeks. He inquired kindly after you. He said that he hoped to see Prescott's book translated. When I told him that Prescott used his eyes considerably now, he exclaimed in English: ‘God, what a happy man he must be!’ I like Capponi much, and regret that I saw so little of him. Of Wilde25 I have seen very little. I have called upon him and he upon me; but I have found him at home only once, and he has never found me at home. We all talk about you, and wish that you were in Florence. I have missed you not a little; you were my literary banker, who discounted all my drafts at sight: here I have been obliged to work along as I could. I have read nearly all of Macchiavelli. The ‘Storia’ I liked better than the ‘Discorsi;’ the ‘Mandragola’ is as witty and amusing as it is vulgar; and ‘L'Occasione’26 is a beautiful piece. But Guicciardini has pleased me more than Macchiavelli. He is a magnificent writer. On what broad-spread pinions he sails along! Not so correct and polished as Macchiavelli, but with greater glow and energy. Some of his speeches are splendid. Manzoni's tragedies are better than Niccolini (who is a languid writer); but both seem dull after Alfieri. They are Marsala wine after one has been drinking bumpers in Madeira that has made five times the voyage of the world. Alfieri's Life of himself is a rare production. I don't know whether it raises or sinks the writer. On the road I read the ‘Promessi Sposi.’ It is one of the finest romances, if not the finest, I have ever read in any language. [113] Its homage to truth and virtue I admire. The Pope should remit Manzoni27 ten thousand years through purgatory in consideration of ‘Fra Cristoforo’ and the ‘Cardinal Borromeo.’ When I read the asking of pardon by Cristoforo, though I was in a public vettura,and albeit unused to the melting mood, I yet found the spontaneous tear,—the truest testimony to the power of the writer. Young William Minot from Boston is here, having been through Greece. He is of a most respectable family, and is one of the few Americans who think of self-improvement by travel. I am desirous to join my recommendation to that of your other friends to procure for him your advice and countenance during his stay in Rome. He will be there in about a month, and wishes to study Italian literature and art. Ah, would that I could be there too! But I must be elsewhere. My next place is Venice, where I shall stay but two or three days or a week. If you do not write me I shall have nothing at Venice to read fresher than Paul Sarpi or Paruta. Nothing that I have seen alters my faith in Crawford. Let him go on, and his way is clear. Remember me most kindly to Mrs. Greene, and give one torment to Ponto,28 and believe me,

Ever most sincerely yours,

P. S. Signor Gigli would like to know Crawford, and will be happy to write about his works in some Italian journal. I have promised him that you will take him to Crawford's studio. Greenough has read me some essays of his on art, which are superior to any thing in the English language after Reynolds, and in some respects better than the British painter's. The style is beautiful, and many of the views are very valuable and original. I cannot help saying how sorry I am that Crawford has put those books under my bust. Can't you saw them off? It will seem to everybody a cursed piece of affectation and vanity on my part. Wilde is busy with the ‘Life of Dante.’ Have you seen Vol. I. of the ‘Reports of the Venetian Ambassadors?’ They will make twenty volumes when published.

I shall leave Florence Monday next; stay a day or two at Bologna, and five or seven at Venice.

To George S. Hillard.

Palazzo Giustiniani, Venice, Sept. 29, 1839.
my dear Hillard,—Among canals, amidst the cries and songs of gondoliers, and the gentle splash of their oars, from the isles of Venice, under the shadow of the Lion of St. Mark, I write you now. At the price of a blot I will mark on the above view the house and room where I am. [114] Would that you were here to look with me upon the gilded water, and then to stroll under the arcades of the great Piazza,—the ancient centre of the doings of that proud, rich, and cruel republic. When shall we be respected by Kings and Emperors as was Venice? All addressed her, even Charles V., as ‘Inclita Republica,—Serenissima Republica.’ A trumpet to rouse the pride of the people were those words. In a day or two I shall quit Italy,— with what reluctance I cannot describe; for here I have enjoyed myself beyond my most sanguine expectations, though, as you well know, my path has not been without the shadow of sad tidings. How different the whole country,—every thing, all that interests,—from England! How unlike my English life is this that I have passed in Italy! You already know something of the one. It was a series and round of intercourse with livingminds, in all the spheres of thought, study, conduct, and society. Here I have spent my time with the past. I arrived in Italy when the hot weather had commenced, when man's season was over, but God's had come. The sky and fields were in their carnival, and I was able to enjoy them, and all else that is rendered so much the more beautiful by their beauty. I saw pictures in clear day, and I could sit down amidst ruins, nor fear a winter damp or chill. Of society I have seen little, except incidentally, though I have known many individuals. In Naples I did not trouble myself to leave a single letter of introduction. In Rome, the Princess Borghese died two days after my arrival; the French Ambassador had left for the summer before I came. The Countess of Coventry29 had retired to Albano, where she invited me to visit her: I did not go. Others had fled in different directions. In Florence, the Marquesa Lenzonis Medicis—the last of this great family—invited me to her soirees:I went to one. The Marquis Strozzi called upon me: I had not the grace to return his call. The Count Graberg30 called upon me repeatedly: I called upon him once, &c. In Venice, I have letters to some of the first people: I shall not disturb them in my portfolio. With the little time that I have, I cannot embarrass myself with the etiquette of calls and society. The hot months passed quickly in Rome. My habits were simple. Rose at half past 6 o'clock, threw myself on my sofa, with a little round table near, well-covered with books, read undisturbed till about ten, when the servant brought on a tray my breakfast,—two eggs done sur le plat,a roll, and cup of chocolate; some of the books were pushed aside enough to give momentary place to the tray. The breakfast was concluded without quitting the sofa; rang the bell, and my table was put to rights, and my reading went on often till five and six o'clock in the evening, without my once rising from the sofa. Was it not Gray's heaven? I did not read Crebillon and his school; but I will tell you soon what I did read, and you shall say if it was not as good. At five or six got up, stretched myself, dressed to go out; dined in a garden under a mulberry tree, chiefly on fruits, salads, and wine, [115] with the occasional interjection of a soup or steak: the fruits were apricots, green almonds, and figs; the salads, those of the exception under the second declension of nouns in our old Latin Grammar; the wines, the light, cooling, delicious product of the country. By this time Greene came to me,—in accomplishments and attainments our country has not fivemen his peers,— and we walked to the Forum, or to San Pietro, or out of one of the gates of Rome: many an hour have we sat upon a broken column or a rich capital in the Via Sacra, or the Colosseum, and called to mind what has passed before them, weaving out the web of the story they might tell; and then, leaping countries and seas, we have joined our friends at home, and with them shared our pleasures. After an ice-cream we parted; I to my books again, or sometimes with him to his house, where over a supper not unlike the dinner I have described, we continued the topics of our walk. This was my day's round after I had seen the chief of those things in Rome that require mid-day, so that I was able to keep in the house. I read Dante, Tasso's ‘Gerusalemme,’ the ‘Decameron’ of Boccaccio, the ‘Rime’ of Politian, all the tragedies of Alfieri, the principal dramas of Metastasio —some six vols.,—the ‘Storia Pittorica’ of Lanzi, the ‘Principe’ of Macchiavelli, the ‘Aminta’ of Tasso, the ‘Pastor Fido’ of Guarini; and much of Monti, of Pindemonte, Parini, the histories of Botta, the ‘Corbaccio’ and ‘Fiammetta’ of Boccaccio, &c. Since I left Rome I have continued my studies; have read the ‘Promessi Sposi’ by Manzoni,—the finest romance I have ever read,—the ‘Rime’ of Petrarch, Ariosto, all of Macchiavelli—except his tract on the art of war—embracing his ‘Discorsi,’ his ‘Storia,’ his comedies; the ‘Storia’ of Guicciardini, the tragedies and ‘Rime’ of Manzoni, the principal plays of Niccolini, Nota, and Goldoni, ‘Lettere di Jacopo Ortis,’ &c., of Ugo Foscolo, the autobiography of Alfieri, and a great deal else that I cannot now call to mind, particularly of the lyrics, in which Italian literature so abounds. I now find myself in the midst of some of the most remarkable works of our age, and those too of our own profession. I mean those of Romagnosi; his introduction to the ‘Diritto Publico,’ is a specimen of masterly analysis, and strength of conception; his ‘Genesi del Diritto Penale’ is the most remarkable work I know on ‘Criminal Law,’—your codifiers should read it. And his work on the ‘Law of Waters’ is superior to any thing we have in its discussion and reasoning, though I am not prepared to say that it contains much that we can practically employ. I know no country that within a few years has produced such great, regenerating writers as this despised Italy. Alfieri is forty thousand strong. I am lost in wonder at his power. What an arch is that of Italian literature spanning from Dante to Alfieri,—two columns fit to sustain the mightiest pressure! I was not aware till I read the latter that such a mind had shone upon our times; the finding him out seems like getting near Homer or Shakspeare. And Manzoni still lives! All his writings are full of the most fervent morality, and the ‘Promessi Sposi’ will do the preaching of myriads of sermons. Botta writes with the heart of a Roman of the Empire, who saw the republic decline, but longed to bring [116] it back. As a writer I like Guicciardini better than Macchiavelli, though the latter is neater and more polished. Tasso and Ariosto pale before Dante. Tasso is too elaborate. Ariosto is tedious from his great length, and the constant succession of stories but slightly varied: he is a bright and beautiful kaleidoscope. Petrarch is always delicious. I read Dante with great attention, using four different editions, and going over a monstrous mass of notes and annotations. I have astonished some of the librarians in the places where I have been by my inquiries; that is, it seemed strange to them that an American should be dealing so minutely with their treasures. My aim has been to acquire the literature, and to see the country. Whether en voyageor stationary, I employ at least six hours a day in study: I do not find this inconsistent with seeing sights to my heart's content. What matters it to me if the road be dull, or my fellow-passengers sleepy? My poet is always interesting, and his eye is not heavy with slumber. Then if the scenery is fine or the conversation interesting, I give myself to them with a greater zest. I ought not to forget to mention among my reading, that of newspapers; I habitually read every American, English, French, Spanish, and Italian journal I can lay my hands on. I average ten a day; but, with my facility in handling these, I despatch the greater part while taking coffee or ice. You know the English papers well; perhaps the French not so well. The latter are conducted with great ability, and have a wide influence upon the Continent. Stop even in a small village,— or certainly in any town of considerable size,—and enter a cafe,and you will find one or more papers by the last post from Paris. It is the Paris press that supplies the news for the Continent; in Rome, I first learned Roman news through Paris, and I always looked to the French press for Oriental intelligence, though I was eight hundred miles nearer the source than Paris. What do you think of Maroto? Is he a traitor? The Milan and Venice press are branding him with the foulest terms. But Spain seems to be near repose.

Greenough at Florence is a wonderful fellow, an accomplished man, and master of his art,—I doubt not, the most accomplished artist alive,—a thinker of great force, and a scholar who does not trust to translations, but goes to the great originals. I came to know him very well, and the more I saw of him the better I liked him. He has written some beautiful and instructive essays on art, which he has promised to prepare for publication (though of this nothing is to be said). As a writer he will take a very high stand. I feel proud of him. . . . I have German to learn; but I have the consolation of knowing that I know as much about it now, as I did of Italian when I came to Italy. I did not understand the ‘Carta di Sicurezza’ that was given me at the gate of San Giovanni, when I entered Rome, the 21st of May. At the first town that I come to in Germany I shall stop, take a master, and commence an assault for one week; then move on, studying on the road to Vienna; three weeks in Vienna,—a master all the time; then to Prague, Dresden, Berlin, and probably next down to Heidelberg,—an immense sweep; then down the Rhine into Belgium, to London, where I expect to be [117] at the end of December or beginning of January. Venice is a sort of jumping-off place. I am here equally distant from Vienna and Athens. I can be at either in less than seven days. I have ordered my letters to Vienna, where I expect to find a batch of two months. This is a temptation to the North; but there are the Piraeus and Marathon! I am strongly tempted. My next will be to you from Vienna or Athens. Which had you rather it should be? Tell me in your next. I hope you will encourage Felton in his plan of travel. Speed him in every possible way.

As ever, affectionately yours,

P. S. Remember me to Forbes31 when you write him. It is something to send a wish from Venice to Canton vid Boston. It is equal to Pope's ‘Waft a sigh from Indus to the Pole.’

I have seen every thing in Venice now, and been in a gondola to my heart's content. A little boy asked me the other day if he should not go with me to sing ‘Tasso.’ The gondoliers are a better set of men than any of the cabmen or hackmen I have had to do with in other places.

To Thomas Crawford.

Milan, Oct. 5, 1839.
dear Crawford,—To-morrow I quit Italy with a beating heart. I love it, and am sad on leaving it. I have taken my place in a malle-poste,to cross the Alps by the Stelvio to Innsbruck. I hope your labors go on well. There will be many of our countrymen in Rome this winter, and I feel confident you will reap a full harvest. By accident, I encountered in this place two friends of my own age, who are bound for Rome via; Naples; so that they will not reach you short of a month or six weeks. Both of them wish to spend some money in paintings, engravings, and sculpture. I have promised them your friendly counsel, and have given them a letter of introduction to you, and also to Greene, and wish you would show them what you can about art in Rome. Go to the Vatican with them, and let them see the work of your studio. . . .

So be of good cheer! And yet I do not know that all these grounds of hope may not fail. I would not have you, therefore, too sanguine; though you should never lose the confidence of ultimate and distinguished success. I wish to be kept informed of your works; and am,

As ever, very sincerely yours,


To George W. Greene.

Milan, Oct. 5, 1839.
my dear Greene,—I was thankful for your letter at Venice, and only regretted that it was not closely written, like these lines that I am now scrawling. I read it again and again, as I plied about with luxurious motion in a gondola. When I last wrote, I was shortly to leave Florence. I still lingered several days; saw more of Wilde, and admired Greenough more. Left Florence with a vetturinofor Bologna, where I passed one day; then to Ferrara, Rovigo, Padua, and Venice; losing something at each of these towns,—a silk handkerchief at one, a cambric one at another, a shirt at another, and an umbrella at a fourth; to say nothing of a pair of gloves. At Venice passed one week; worked the gondoliers hard; heard the ‘Oreste’ of Alfieri; visited every thing; did not present a single letter of introduction; paid dear for my lodgings; left in the malle-postefor Milan; rode two nights and a day; read Italian, and talked that and French. In Milan I have stumbled upon a couple of friends, to whom I wish you to be kind, for various reasons,—inasmuch as they are my friends, and are quiet, pleasant, gentlemanly persons; and you will be pleased with them. One is Preston, of Virginia,—the brother of the Senator; the other is Lewis, of Connecticut. The latter spoke French before he left America. Both are desirous of acquiring Italian, but I fear will not have the energy to deal with it properly. I wish you would encourage them, and give them such assistance as you can. Within a week or fortnight, Sir Charles Vaughan will be in Rome. For twelve years, he was the much respected I may say, loved—Minister of England at Washington. All Americans owe him kindness and attention for the way in which he speaks about our country. He will call upon you; and I promised him that I would apprise you of his intention beforehand. Let this go for an introduction. He is about sixty-five; a bachelor, a little deaf, plain, frank, who swears hard occasionally, and has seen a great deal of the world. I wish you would offer to do any thing for him in Rome that you can.

To-morrow I enter the malle-poste,to cross the Alps for Innsbruck. I am sad to the heart at leaving Italy. My time here, as you know, has not been without its shadows; and yet I do not know that I have ever passed four happier months than the last. I have been over the field of Italian literature, the survey of which astonishes me now. To what I had read when I wrote you from Florence I have since added a great deal; and, among the rest, all of Ariosto, which I despatched on the road to Venice. My rule is at least six hours a day. There is no Italian which I cannot understand without a dictionary; there is hardly a classic in the language of which I have not read the whole, or considerable portions. I understand every thing that is said in a coach; can talk on any subject,—always making abundant mistakes, but with such facility that all the valets and waiters, even in this French-speaking place, address me in the language del bel paese la dove 'Zzzi si suona.And now, my dear Greene, to you are my thanks due for this invaluable acquisition, which is to be one of my pleasures at home. I feel no common [119] gratitude for all that you have done for me. You gave me the jewel I have; for I never should have learned Italian without you. I think that my highest, maddest ambition—without the expectation of ever gratifying that minimum—was to read the ‘Inferno’ of Dante! I wish I were in Rome now, to talk with Mrs. Greene in her own sweet tongue. Do not fail to write me at Vienna immediately,—care of Arnstein & Eskeles.

As ever, yours affectionately,

P. S. What a parcel of letters I shall find in Vienna,—the accumulation of two months and a half! I shall then hear from the letters about Crawford. How good it would be, if the ‘Franklin’ and ‘Orpheus’ were both ordered!

Take Preston to Thorwaldsen's studio and the Vatican. What a delicious thing the ‘Pastor Fido’ is!

1 See his description of Genoa, July 4, 1845, in ‘The True Grandeur of Nations:’ ‘She still sits in queenly pride as she sat then,—her mural crown studded with towers; her churches rich with marble floors and rarest pictures; her palaces of ancient doges and admirals yet spared by the hand of Time; her close streets thronged by a hundred thousand inhabitants,—at the foot of the Apennines as they approach the blue and tideless waters of the Mediterranean Sea, leaning her back against their strong mountain-sides, overshadowed by the foliage of the fig-tree and the olive, while the orange and the lemon with pleasant perfume scent the air where reigns perpetual spring. Who can contemplate such a city without delight?’—Works, Vol. I. p. 26.

2 Mr. Ticknor wrote to him, Dec. 3, 1839: ‘I agree with you about the season for seeing Italy. I have been there every month of the year except August, and give me the sunshine even at the expense of the heat.’

3 Professor Greene, now living on an ancestral farm at East Greenwich, R. I., became also an intimate friend of George Sumner. His writings have related not only to Italian literature, but also to American history and biography of the period of the Revolution. He was Consul at Rome, 1837-45, afterwards Professor of Modern Languages in Brown University, and later a professor in Cornell University.

4 His friend recalls that one evening, while they were gazing on the moonlit waters of the Alban Lake, Sumner suddenly exclaimed, as the thought of his deserted law-office came to his mind: ‘Let me see if I can draw a writ!’ Here, also, while the two friends were walking one day in the woods near the convent, and were for a moment separated, it happened that Sumner fell into a wolf-trap; Greene answered at once his call for help, and soon extricated him from his imprisonment.

5 Works, Vol. II. p. 375.

6 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.

7 It hardly needs to be noted, that in American colleges, and particularly in Harvard, great changes have been made since 1839 in the direction to which Sumner then pointed.

8 Works, Vol. I. pp. 275-276

9 Ante,Vol. I. p. 308, note.

10 Gayangos, ante,Vol. II. p. 64.

11 Bohn's ed., p. 298.

12 Thomas Crawford was born in New York, March 22, 1813, and died in London, Oct. 10, 1857. He visited Italy in 1835, and studied under Thorwaldsen at Rome. Among his chief works are the ‘Orpheus’ (1840), in the Boston Athenaeum; the colossal equestrian statue of Washington at Richmond; the colossal statue of ‘Liberty’ on the dome of the National Capitol; and the designs on the bronze doors of the Capitol, illustrating scenes in the history of the country. Among his statues are the ‘Beethoven’ in the Music Hall, Boston, and the ‘James Otis’ in the chapel at Mount Auburn.—Tuckerman's ‘Book of Artists,’ pp. 306-320; ‘Atlantic Monthly,’ July, 1869,—‘Thomas Crawford, A Eulogy,’ by George S. Hillard, pp. 40-54. Sumner, the day he arrived in Paris, in March, 1857, sought Crawford's lodgings, which he found only after a considerable effort. A fatal disease was upon him. Sumner wrote: ‘The whole visit moved me much. This beautiful genius seems to be drawing to its close.’ Sumner attended his funeral in New York, on December 5, and was one of the pall-bearers with George W. Greene, H. T. Tuckerman, and Dr. Lieber.

13 Felton was expecting to visit Europe soon; but circumstances prevented the visit for several years.

14 A ‘History of Italy,’ planned, but not executed.

15 For the letter which Sumner wrote, on sailing for Europe, to his young friend, see ante, Vol. I. pp. 206-209.

16 The omitted part of the letter is chiefly a strong plea for an interest in Crawford.

17 Gigli lived at Rome, and was well known among Italian scholars.

18 Canova's biographer.

19 Pietro Giordani, 1774-1848. He began his career as a lawyer; was afterwards a Benedictine monk; and at one time Professor of Eloquence at the University of Bologna. He published, in 1808, a panegyric of Napoleon.

20 Horatio Greenough, 1805-52. He passed most of his life, after leaving college, in Florence. He was a native of Boston, and died in its neighborhood. His chief works are the ‘Chanting Cherubs;’ ‘The Angel and Child;’ ‘Venus contending for the Golden Apple;’ the statue of Washington; and ‘The Rescue.’ The ‘Washington,’ for which the artist received a commission in 1832, cost him four years of active labor, and was not shipped from Italy till Oct., 1840. ‘The Rescue,’ designed in 1837, was completed in 1851. Greenough's ‘Essays,’ with a ‘Memoir’ by H. T. Tuckerman, were published after his death. Tuckerman's ‘Book of Artists,’ pp. 247-275.

21 ‘The Rescue.’

22 A Dutch sculptor, 1784-1836.

23 Hiram Powers, 1805-73. He was born in Vermont; removed to Cincinnati; went to Italy in 1837; exhibited his ‘Eve’ in 1838; and soon after executed the ‘Greek Slave.’ Tuckerman's ‘Book of Artists,’ pp. 276-294.

24 Marquis Gino Capponi was born in Florence in 1792, and died Feb. 3, 1876. He was at one time in public life in Tuscany, but was mainly devoted to literature. A ‘History of the Popes,’ and a ‘Treatise on Education,’ are among his works. He persevered in authorship notwithstanding his blindness. He was a correspondent of Mr. Prescott, and is frequently mentioned in the ‘Life’ of the historian.

25 Richard Henry Wilde, 1789-1847. He represented Georgia in Congress at different times, from 1815 to 1835; was in Europe from 1835 to 1840, residing much of the time in Florence; published a book on ‘The Love, Madness, and Imprisonment of Tasso;’ undertook a ‘Life of Dante,’ which he did not live to complete; and became, in 1847, Professor of Common Law in the University of Louisiana. He was fond of literary researches, and his name finds a place among American poets.

26 A poem of Macchiavelli, addressed to Filippo dea Nerli.

27 Alessandro Manzoni. 1784-1873. His rank is first among modern Italian writers. His eightieth birthday was celebrated with popular rejoicings, and his death was the occasion of a national tribute to his memory.

28 Greene's poodle dog. Sumner was quite fond of him, and enjoyed teasing him in his walks with Greene.

29 Lady Coventry was the daughter of Aubrey, sixth Duke of St. Albans, and the wife of George William, eighth Earl of Coventry, and the mother of Lady Holland. She died in 1845. Mr. Milnes (Lord Houghton) gave Sumner a letter of introduction to her.

30 1776-1847; a distinguished geographer, at one time Swedish Consul in Tripoli; author of an historical essay on the Scalds and ancient Scandinavian poets.

31 Captain R. B. Forbes, ante, Vol. I. p. 163

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