« AnteriorContinuar »
dollars-while the probability was, that in the event, the public would have to pay 100,000 for it. An accurate estimate of the expense of the projected pictures, was unattainable the expense must depend upon the time and labour employed upon them--the time and labour upon the size of the pictures, and the size again upon the situations in which they were to be placed; respecting which there must necessarily be an arrangement between the painter and the architect. Upon the whole, however, Mr. Hopkinson thought that Mr. Calhoun's estimate would be the utmost.
Mr. ROBERTSON was against the resolution-nations, he said, like individuals, were bound to be just before they were generous, and he would not vote money to pay men for commemorating events, when the men who suffered in bringing about those events remained unrewarded. He would much rather pay the sufferers at New Orleans. He thought it best for the artist to execute his labours, and when done, present them for sale. He would, in short, rather first see the pictures.
Mr. HARRISON said, that if it were a mere question about the money to be paid, he might perhaps let it be negatived: but it respected a totally different object-it was to keep perpetually represented to the eyes of the representatives of the people, events which could not fail most powerfully to excite their patriotism. In this way, and for the same purpose, all republics had expended large sums, and as an instance he alluded to the high value set by the Athenians on a picture of the battle of Marathon. If the pictures were to cost four times as much, he would vote for them.
Mr. Forsyth explained. The picture of Marathon had long been destroyed, and yet the memory of the event remained unfaded. He put it to the good sense of the house whether they would have paintings before they had monuments, which he considered as much more likely to produce emotions of the kind gentlemen talked of. No painting in the world, he maintained, could produce such strong emotions as the present rude tomb of Washington.
Gen. Smith said, the great objection was to the money; and it had been thrown out that they ought to be just before they were generous, as if they had been found wanting in justice. But on what occasion, he asked, had they not been just? Were they so poor that they could not be generous as well as just, or that they could not afford to hand down to posterity a view of those men who voted
the declaration of independence, who won that independence at Trenton, at Saratoga and at York-and of Washington laying down his sword to congress, and like Cincinnatus retiring to the privacy of his farm, and to the plough. It was admitted by the world, and proved by a number of in. stances that the Americans had a natural genius for painting, and Vol. II.
on that account if on no other he hoped congress would not be parsimonious in encouraging the fine arts.
Mr. Pitkin said that Mr. Forsyth in objecting to the resolution, had mentioned that he did not know the feelings of the artist, and made this one of the grounds of his opposition. He therefore rose merely to state, for the information of the house, that at the commencement of the revolution, col. Trumbull took an active part in the defence of his country's rights, and, he believed, made one of Gen. Washington's family. Following, however, the strong bent of his inclination, in the course of the war he went to England to study under his celebrated countryman, Mr. West. While in England he was taken up as an American spy, and for some time was confined as a close prisoner in the tower. Through the interposition of Mr. West, he was afterwards liberated. At the close of the war he projected a series of paintings commemorative of some of the most important events of the American revolution, beginning with the battle of Bunker's hill, and ending with the scene of the immortal Washington's laying down his military command, and surrendering his sword to congress at the close of the war. Two of these, the battle of Bunker's hill and the death of Montgomery, the prints of which Mr. Truinbull presented to that house, were finished in England. This employment of his pencil threw him into the back ground in that country. It gave him no patronage then. In order to support himself he was obliged to defer his original plan, and engage in historical works more flattering to English pride. He accordingly painted the celebrated sortie of Gibraltar.
It was also well known (Mr. P. said) that colonel Trumbull was one of the commissioners under Mr. Jay's treaty on the subject of British spoliations, selected by Mr. Pinckney and Mr. Gore, the two other American commissioners, and that his vote gave our merchants many millions of dollars. These circumstances Mr. Pitkin trusted would satisfy the honourable gentleman and the house, that the feelings of this celebrated artist are and always have been, truly American.
Mr. TallmADGE observed that he knew the family of the Trumbulls well. The father of this artist was governor of the state of Connecticut during the revolutionary war, and his four sons were actively employed in the army. The whole family were unshaken patriots, and the present artist was among the most zealous in defending the rights of the country. Mr. Tallmadge further remarked that the present artist being personally conversant with the great events of the revolution, and acquainted with most of the patriots who planned, and the military characters who achieved our independence, was the only man on earth who could give their real likenesses. Mr. T. had examined the paintings now in the hall, and was ready to pronounce the likenesses very accurate so far as his knowledge of them
extended. He presumed colonel Trumbull, whose talent for historic painting had been justly celebrated in Europe, would do his best to accomplish the object he had in view; but he hoped there would be national pride enough displayed on this occasion to secure so valuable an exhibition of some of the most prominent events in the revolution. It was the only opportunity that would ever occur, and he hoped that congress would not by an overstrained parsimony, oblige the artist, their fellow citizen, to leave his native shores, nor deprive Americans of the delight of reading on canvass the history of those events.
Mr. RANDOLPH spoke with his usual animation and force in favour of the resolution. He enlarged with great felicity on the emotions produced by representations in painting of great and important national events who, he asked, could bear to have the old tapestry in the house of commons of England taken down, if it were for nothing else but for the beautiful apostrophe of the elder Pitt. He looked upon such things as he did on the old magna charta, which, in itself was but an old piece of parchment, but was a relic worth all the scapularies of the Ca. tholic church.
Mr. TAYLOR of New York, opposed the resolution, which was on the other hand ably supported by Messrs. .elson and Gaston, after which the resolution passed, the question being taken by ayes and nays-Yeas 114, nays 50.
TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH OF THE MEMOIRS OF MARSHAL COUNT DE
The troubles in America beginning to engage us in her quarrel, it was resolved to send to that country a corps of aus. iliary troops, of which the king gave me the command.
I had been preceded in that continent by the count d'Estaing, whose brilliant successes after the taking of Grenada, and the naval action which he had won over the English, were rendered fruitless at Savannah in Georgia; it was with 'much difficulty that he regained the coast of France, with a fleet disabled and dispersed by a violent storm.
The reverses which he experienced in this expedition, a projected attack by the English at New York upon Carolina, the depreciation of the continental money, all these causes together brought on an important crisis in the affairs of America; she had defended herself almost alone, since the beginning of her revolution, against the whole force of England. The more vigorous her efforts had been, the less was she able to renew them. Her congress, in this difficult moment, resolved to solicit from the king of France their ally, fresh succours in ships of war, troops and in money.–The king granted them a squadron of seven ships, to act on their coasts, a body of troops amounting to four thousand men, and a sum of money. The chevalier de Ternay was appointed to command the squadron.
In consequence of my representations about the insufficiency of the means with which I was furnished for acting at so great a
distance, the king immediately doubled the corps which was intended for me; the artillery too was doubled, as well as the munitions of every kind: every thing appertaining to the department of war was set in motion towards Brest with a diligence almost unexampled, and arrived at that port early in April, the time fixed for the embarkation. The department of the marine was not so expeditious; the sailing of the fleet of M. de Guichen with the supplies of munitions and troops which were sent to our own colonies, had drawn all the transportships from Brest. The minister of the marine gave tardy orders to have some brought from Bordeaux, but they were detained by contrary winds, so that upon my arrival at Brest I found only vessels enough to embark one half of the troops which were destined for America.
M. de Choiseul used to say, that the watch of M. de Sartine, the minister of marine, was always too slow; and upon this oecasion the remark was strictly applicable. The exertions of M. Héctor, commandant of the marine at Brest, procured a small addition, the whole sufficing for the embarkation of five thousand men. We made the strongest remonstrances to our respective departments against the impropriety of dividing into halves a body of troops already too weak; but the preparations which were making in England to arm a squadron to be sent in pursuit of us; the advantage which this squadron would possess in sailing without a convoy; the necessity of a prompt departure, and above all, the urgency of affairs in America, requiring a speedy and effective succour, determined the council to dispatch a positive order to us, to separate into two divisions the corps destined for the United States, and to set sail with the first favourable wind with what troops could be collected for the first. We were assured at the same time, that every means would be used to send off as early as possible the second division. Contrary winds detained the convoy and squadron in port until the 2d of May, 1780, and the same winds detained at Bordeaux the transports of the second division. At length we were obliged to obey peremptory orders. Fifteen days before this time, La Fayette, who was returning to the American army, with the rank of Major General, which his services in America had procured him, embarked in a frigate at the isle of Aix, with a commissary charged to announce the sailing, and prepare at Rhode Island, for the debarkation and supplies, of the French troops.
After a month of contrary winds and delay in Brest-roads, the chevalier de Ternay took advantage of a wind in the night of the 1st and 2d of May to set sail with his whole convoy, which got to sea without accident; but was met by a violent gale in the gulf of Gascony; the fleet was dispersed for four days during
which the storm lasted; but upon a change of wind