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Contributors to the improvement of Washington. 339

the site of a large square, or block of elegant houses, accommodating numerous families of wealthy citizens.

The name of L'Enfant is not only associated with the inauguration of our first president, but with a permanent monument to his name in the city of Washington. It is well known that Washington himself fixed upon the site of this city as the seat of government of the United States, and Major L'Enfant had the honour of designing the plan.

I republish from an anonymous writer the following:"When the present generation shall have passed away, and mixed with those beyond the flood; when party strife shall have ceased and be forgotten, it is to be hoped that the future historian of our city will do justice to the memory of all those who have struggled through so many difficulties to make what was lately a morass and forest, the abode of reptiles, wild beasts, and savages, a suitable habitation for legislators, ambassadors, presidents, ministers, and strangers of distinction. In that day, when our eyes shall be closed, and others shall look with delight on the majestic Potomac's placid stream, covered with the riches of the east and the west, the beautiful surrounding heights (now covered with woods) studded with elegant villas; the grand canal pouring into the city the produce of the west; when all private jealousies shall have entirely ceased, and the character of every man who has contributed to the rise and progress of our city shall be estimated by the good he has done-the names of Washington, John Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, J. Q. Adams, and Jackson, &c. will be recorded as the great patrons of the city; those of Carroll, Burns, Young, &c, the liberal donors; Major L'Enfant, for his genius in planning the city; Ellicott, Roberdeau, and the Kings, in laying it out; Thornton, Hadfield, Hallett, Latrobe, and Hoban, for their ingenious and chaste designs; and Blagden, Brown, Lenox, and Andre, for their good execution. To the enlightened efforts of Judge Thompson, of Pennsylvania, (now no more,) when he was in congress, we owe the erection of the penitentiary, and the consequent humane code of criminal laws, which was afterward carried through by the profound jurisconsult, the lamented Doddridge, and his liberal coadjutors. To Major Eaton, also, when he was in the senate, the city is indebted for his steady friendship; and to General Chambers, for his successful exertions in effecting various valuable appropriations for its benefit. There are others of both houses of congress who might be mentioned with gratitude; and among the patriots who have contributed to the useful institutions of the city, may be ranked

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a number now living, of our own citizens, whose names may hereafter be recorded as its benefactors.

"The plan of the city was made by Major L'Enfant, a French officer of great talents and of singular habits; who was too proud to receive such a compensation for his services as his friends and President Monroe thought just, (because less than what he claimed,) yet accepted an eleemosynary support from Mr. Digges and others, till his death. The site of the capitol, as well as that of the city, was selected by General Washington himself."

Major L'Enfant was of ordinary appearance, except that he had an abstracted manner and carriage in public. It appears that he had the irritability belonging to ambition, but which is falsely made appropriate to genius; and that he thought himself wronged. That he died poor is too certain.


Mr. Trumbull's parentage--education-enters Harvard college-copies Smybert's Cardinal Bentivoglio-first visit to Copley-enters the army to avoid the pulpit-stationed as an adjutant at Roxbury-becomes one of Washington's family-appointed a major of brigade-Gates and Schuyler-Mr. Trumbull, deputy adjutant general-goes to Rhode Island, and resigns his commission, March, 1777--studies painting in Boston until 1779-goes to London in 1780---studies with West---is arrested as a spy.


It will be seen, by the following pages, that this gentleman made his first effort at historical composition in the year 1774, and at the age of eighteen. But as I take the time of each artist's professional exertions, in this country, as the period for introducing his biography in my work, I must date that of Mr. Trumbull from 1789, the time at which he returned from his second visit to Europe, and appeared professionally in America. This painter was emphatically well-born; and we shall see that he reaped, as is generally the case, through life, the advantages resulting from the accident.

The many biographical sketches which have been given to the world of Mr. Trumbull afford me ample materials for my work, when combined with my own personal knowledge and the printed documents published with his name as author.— But I shall principally rely upon a narrative communicated by Mr. Trumbull to Mr. James Herring, secretary of the American Academy of Fine Arts, of which Mr. Trumbull is

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president, for the purpose of publication. This narrative I shall accompany with such remarks as may be suggested by it, and facts within my own knowledge.

The narrative says of the painter's ancestors :-"Two brothers first settled in Massachusetts about 1630. One or both of them removed to what is now Enfield, Connecticut. John Trumbull (the subject of the narrative) was born in Lebanon, Connecticut, on the 6th of June, 1756. He was the son of Jonathan Trumbull, first governor of the state of Connecticut of that name." I presume this alludes to the painter's brother Jonathan, who was afterwards governor of the state his father was first governor of Connecticut as an independent state, and had the additional honour of guiding her through the storms of the Revolution.

The narrative proceeds :-" His mother's name was Faith Robinson, the fifth in descent from the famous John Robinson, often called the father of the Pilgrims, who died in Holland, but whose son came into this country in the spring of 1621. The painter's ancestors resided in the county of Springfield, Massachusetts, until 1690, when his grandfather removed to Lebanon. The little boy had a feeble infancy, but recovered when about three years old.

In the National Portrait Gallery Mr. Herring says, "The carelessness or ignorance of the family physician had nearly consigned our infant genius to a life of idiocy or an early grave. After being afflicted with convulsions nine months, it was discovered that the bones of his skull had been allowed to remain lapped over each other from his birth: but by skilful applications and maternal care they were adjusted; and, as we have heard him express it with filial veneration," he owed his life a second time to his mother."

"At Lebanon he went to school to Nathan Tisdale, who kept one of the best schools of that or any other period, and whose reputation brought to his school youth from the southern colonies and from the West Indies. He received, under the tuition of this gentleman, an excellent education, and entered the junior class at Harvard in January, 1771 or 2, and graduated in 1793, "at the age of seventeen. This early entrance at college was, as he considers, one of the misfortunes of his life he found himself a better scholar than those with whom he was associated, and he became idle; but, by way of amusement, he frequently visited a French family in the neighbourhood which had been banished from Acadie, a respectable family in humble life, from whom he obtained a sufficient knowledge of the French language to read and write it. He


Early desire to devote himself to painting.

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ransacked the college library for books on the arts: among others he found Brook Taylor's Jesuit's Perspective made easy.' This work he studied thoroughly, and copied all the diagrams he also copied a picture which the college possessed of an irruption of Mount Vesuvius, painted by some Italian; and copied a copy of Vandyke, the head of Cardinal Bentivoglio, and Nicholas Coypell's Rebecca at the Well.He copied them in oil. He got his colours from a housepainter."

The advantages flowing from being well-born gave to young Trumbull one of the best educations the country could furnish. These advantages are no trifles, however they may be sneered at by those who become leaders in the world's affairs by their own energies, unassisted by wealth or ancestry. In the year 1773, and at the early age of seventeen, he had graduated at college, and had received instruction from the works of Smybert and Copley in that career he wished to pursue. The head of Cardinal Bentivoglio, here mentioned, is the same which Allston says first gave him an idea of colouring. The amanuensis proceeds :—

"He got, before he went to college, a book called the Handmaid to the Arts. He had somewhere picked up the title page, and requested his brother-in-law to send to London for the book. Copley was then in Boston, and young Trumbull's first visit to that distinguished artist happened to be made at a time when he was entertaining his friends, shortly after his marriage. He was dressed on the occasion in a suit of crimson velvet and gold buttons; and the elegance of his style and his high repute, impressed the future artist with grand ideas of the life of a painter."

The works of Smybert, Blackburn and Copley, at Boston, so immediately under the eye of the young man, doubtless strengthened his desire to become a painter; and on his return to Lebanon he made his first attempt at composition.The narrative proceeds thus:

"After leaving college he painted the Battle of Cannæ, which shows the bent of his mind, being particularly struck with the character of Paulus Emilius. This picture is now at Yale College. He painted several other pictures; among them one of Brutus condemning his sons. What has become of that is unknown. Very soon after, all other subjects were absorbed in the stirring incidents of the times."

"His father wished him to be a clergyman; he did not like it-his object was to be a painter. He hoped, that by being active in the political commotion of the time he should get

Enters the army to avoid the pulpit.


clear of being a clergyman. He obtained a book on military tactics; he was made an adjutant of militia before he had ever seen a regimental line formed; and a few days before the review was to take place, the battle of Lexington took place; and his mock adjutancy became a real one of the first Connecticut regiment which was stationed at Roxbury, under General Spencer."

Boston and its environs had become the seat of warfare, and the good old Governor Jonathan Trumbull was not backward in forwarding troops to the scene of conflict, in support of his country's rights. Thus we see that the young painter, glad to escape from the threatened prospect of a pulpit, at the age of nineteen was enrolled as an adjutant, and marched to join the undisciplined forces which were assembling round the head quarters of General Gage.

On the 17th of June, 1775, was fought the memorable battle of Breed's-hill, (commonly called Bunker's Hill,) at which time the young adjutant was stationed with his regiment at Roxbury. In the catalogue of his painting, which he published in 1831, after describing his beautiful small picture called "The Battle of Bunker's Hill," he says, "The artist was on that day, adjutant of the first regiment of the Connecticut troops, stationed at Roxbury, and saw the action from that point." This he repeats in 1832 in the catalogue written for Yale College, where the picture is deposited.

A foreigner, or a person not intimately acquainted with the topography of the town of Boston, and the neighbouring villages, might suppose that the painter meant to say, that he saw the battle he shows us in his admirable picture. This he could not mean. Roxbury is to the south of Boston, and the scene of action on the north. From Roxbury to Breed's-hill is three, or perhaps four miles; the town of Boston, (the trimountain town,) with its three hills, then towering undiminished, in mid-way between. Boston-neck is on the south, and part of the waters of the bay on the north of the elevated ground on which the town stands. The British ships of war added the smoke of their guns to that of the combatants, and of the burning village of Charlestown. And all these entervened between the painter and the battle. The inhabitants of the north side of Boston might see the landing of the British troops, and some of the movements on the hill, but a person at Roxbury, or at any point south of Boston-neck, could only know that a battle was being fought, by the noise of guns, and the clouds of smoke proceeding from the combatants,

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