I am anxious, my dear Sir, as to the location of the desired monument for General Washington. I do not pretend to be a critick [sic] in works of this kind or any other but certainly the merit of these consist chiefly in one or a very few points strengthened by simplicity.
The design published some time since was so disgusting to me that I was sorry and surprised it obtained any degree of approbation. [T]he multitude and complication of the Figures in my judgment were contrary to taste and the selection of them from the heathen mythology outraged Christianity[.] Such a monument in the time of paganism might have attoned [sic] in some measure for it's [sic] want of Taste from it's [sic] conformity to their idolatrous religion and thus have been esteemed for its piety but surely what would be in character for them will not be so for Christians. The only apology that I remember to have heard for such stuff is that the Figures are designed to represent the Divine Attributes: this seems not to mend the matter for if we are at liberty to symbolize the attributes at all had we not better choose from the works of nature.
But I think opinion may be settled by this test[:] suppose in giving the life and character of Genl. [General] Washington the orator had ransacked Homer and Virgil and introduced Mars[,] Minerva and the rest of them as instilling courage and wisdom into the General and covering him from wounds and death[,] would the orator have been thought in his sober senses[;] would not his audience have said he had better told us of the General's firm belief in a Superintending and governing Providence[,] his constant reliance on that Providence for the protection of his country and himself[,] and his grateful public acknowledgments on every proper occasion[?] Can any sentiment be conveyed and propitiated in marble by a Christian Republic with propriety which would not have graced and dignified a Christian discourse on the same subject. [sic]
I wish the true philosophic and Christian sentiment which so evidently governed the General[']s Life and Actions to be strikingly retained in the design it will be truly characteristic and the best lesson that can be taught to the present and future ages. But if Genius is exhausted or Marble cannot express the sentiment we had better copy the Painter as [illegible word] black leaf and leave Imagination free than labour [sic] what cannot be expressed.
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