2. POULSON'S AMERICAN DAILY ADVERTISER,
* * *
Georgetown, DC, 30 September 1820
Shocking Case of Suicide. –On Friday afternoon last, Mr. Charles Sprague, master painter in the Navy Yard at Gosport; called on Commandant, Com[modore] Cassin and informed him that it was his purpose to give up his situation and to retire from the Yard, as he found his mind of late so much bewildered that he was conscious of not being able any longer to give satisfaction. The Commodore, with astonishment remarked, Why, you do not talk like one under the influence of mental derangement; and as for your work, so far from seeing anything about it to find fault with, I assure you it is quite the reverse. I advise you to consider of this matter –your situation is a desirable one, and there are very few of your calling that would not be eager to get it. I know very well, Commodore, said the unhappy man, that I have a mother and other relations dependent on me for support - and I that I am about to do a rash act. With these words he turned off and walked up the bow stage of the new 74 [USS Delaware*], went aft and precipitated himself head long from the stern, a lofty and perilous height, and falling upon some pieces of timber below was instantly killed.- It is supposed that pecuniary embarrassments, together with some severe family afflictions had combined to overpower his mind and impel him to this rash and deplorable act. Mr. S. was a native of Boston. – Norfolk Herald.
Charles Sprague master painter at Gosport Navy Yard is listed on Gosport Navy Yard 1819 payroll http://www.usgwarchives.net/va/portsmouth/shipyard/photos/names2.jpg
Commodore John Cassin http://www.usgwarchives.net/va/portsmouth/shipyard/nnysharp3.html
*USS Delaware construction began in 1817 and launched in 1820. In 1833 USS DELAWARE entered Drydock, the first dry docking of a vessel in North America.
POULSON'S AMERICAN DAILY ADVERTISER
(Philadelphia), Thursday, August 2, 1821.
USS Columbus stories
The following character and description of the United States ship Columbus, is given in the Boston Intelligencer and Evening Gazette of last Saturday.
The Columbus, commanded by Com. Bainbridge, which vessel arrived at this port from Gibraltar, in company with the U. S. brig Spark, Capt. Elton, on Sunday last, is perhaps the largest ship of the line that ever sailed in the European seas, under the American flag. She is about 2,400 tons burthen, according to the usual measurement, and carries 64 guns on her gun deck, and 36 carronades on her quarter deck and forecastle.—Her complement of men is 800. She draws 26 feet of water and measures 250 feet of altitude from the surface of the water to the highest point of her main top gallant royal mast truck. Commodore Bainbridge was relieved in the command of the Mediterranean squadron, by Commodore Jones, at Gibraltar, who went out in the United States’ ship Constitution for that purpose. Com. Bainbridge immediately set sail for the United States with the Columbus and Spark. On coming upon the coast on Friday last, the Columbus met with a school of Mackarel, which followed the ship all day; in the course of which period they caught the unparalleled number, according to an estimate, of 12,000 of that fish. There were near 600 lines used, and the people pulled in the fish as fast as they could throw their bait into the water. One of the Lieutenants counted 600 Mackarel which he caught with his own hands. The Columbus has brought out many rare plants, birds and animals—of the latter, two cattle of the celebrated white Tuscan breed are the most conspicuous.
* * * * *
STATUE OF WASHINGTON
Some persons have expressed a strong desire that the Statue of Washington, by Canova, the Italian Sculptor, now on board the Columbus, may be opened for the inspection of the curious, previous to it trans-shipment to North Carolina, under the authority of which state it was executed. Such a wish, though not unnatural, considering the patriotic feelings and almost devotional love of the people here for the memory of Washington, could not be gratified, without great hazard and inconvenience. The Statue consists of two parts—the pedestal and the figure—and to be seen to advantage must be viewed as it will appear when erected. The figure weighs about 8000 lbs. and the pedestal as much more. The Statue, therefore, is very large in its dimensions, and has been carefully packed by those persons in Italy whose profession it is to perform such labour. It might perhaps, be ultimately safe to open the case or cases and view the work of M. Canova; but it certainly would be a hazardous attempt, even if we could obtain the consent of the Governor of North Carolina, which it would be unreasonable to expect.
We have seen an elegant engraving of this Statue, brought out by an officer of the Columbus, said to be a very excellent resemblance of the marble. If this be true, we have no doubt the work will gratify the public for its classical elegance and masterly execution; but it will not convey to posterity a just idea of the likeness or costume of our Washington. It is the more extraordinary that Canova should have failed in the likeness, as perhaps no distinguished character of modern times, has ever been more faithfully represented, both in painting and sculpture, than Washington. His portraits by Stuart, and his bust by Hudon, the French artist, are illustrations of each other, and are finished likenesses of the original head. It could not have been difficult for Canova to have obtained copies of both. This likeness, it is said was taken from a portrait of Gen. Washington, in possession of the American Consul at Leghorn.
The question respecting the costume of the figure, we suppose, will excite much warmth of controversy. According to the theory of the modern Italian school all statuary should be in the antique taste. Canova has represented Washington seated, his body erect, with a table resting on his knee, and a style in his hand, composing, as may be supposed, the farewell address to his fellow citizens.—The Sword lays neglected at his feet. His arms and legs are bare, and he has some loose drapery thrown over him, in Grecian folds. The statue is noble and dignified—but it is neither Washington, nor the figure of a modern personage.
There is a great deal to be said in favour of a costume which is never out of fashion, and the beauty of which will last forever.—To attain to such an unsophisticated resemblance of an individual, as to secure present popularity and future renown, is a work difficult of execution. This, Canova has attempted, and the present popularity of the work, we suspect, will not be surpassed by its future renown.
Chantry, the English Sculptor, is engaged on the Statue of Washington, for the inhabitants of this State; but we understand he thinks it necessary to clothe his figures in the motley and changing fashions of the age in which the subject flourished.
To this style of drapery we have a very decided objection. There is an air of the grotesque in old fashioned pictures, arising from the oddity of ancient fashion and dresses.—And in some respects, the strangeness of the costume becomes absolutely ridiculous.—No drapery, we apprehend, is faster approaching to this point of the ludicrous than the old continental military uniform. It is amusing to be told that we must adhere to the triangular bat because it is true to nature. All modern personages must, of course, be covered—but there is no necessity for covering them grotesquely. During some period of a long life, every individual will, probably, have worn a becoming dress, a dress distinguished by no extravagance of local fashion—but indicating both elegance and good taste. Such a costume should be selected for Washington—and in such a custome, whether it be the plain robe, or a military cloak, would his figure be transmitted to posterity, to the admiration of all beholders.