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Trumbull

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TRUMBULL, John, American jurist and poet: b. Westbury (now Waterbury), Conn., 24 April 1750; d. Detroit, Mich., 10 May 1831. Graduated at Yale in 1767, he began in 1770 to contribute to the Connecticut Journal and New Haven Post-Boy a series of essays called 'The Correspondent,' patterned after 'The Specta tor,' in which he satirized the controversial writers of the time and the American slave traffic ; and published in that year 'An Essay on the Use and Advantages of the Fine Arts.' In 1771 he became a tutor in Yale and began the study of law, which he continued in John Adams' Boston office in 1773, in which year he was admitted to the bar. He practised at New Haven in 1774-76, at Westbury in 1776-81 and from that time at Hartford. In 1789-95 he was State's attorney for Hartford County, in 1792 and 1800 was elected to the legislature, in 1801-07 was judge of the Connecticut Superior Court, and in 1808-19 of the Court of Errors. From 1825 he resided at Detroit. His 'Progress of Dulness> (Part I, 1772; Part II, 1773) was his first elaborate work in verse. ft was a clever satire on the defective culture of contemporary American society, and its epigrammatic ridicule made a great stir. But he is known for 'Mc Fingal' (1782), a burlesque epic, in the metre and much in the style of 'Hudibras,> which it follows, however, without sacrifice of origi nality. It admirably developed the humorous

characteristics of that disturbed time, and from the first had an unprecedented popularity. Its hero is Squire McFingal, a Scottish-American Tory politician of Massachusetts, with a gift for tedious and inflated speechifying; his Whig opponent, Honorius, seems to be, according to Tyler, a portrait of John Adams. It was the most representative of the distinctly literary productions of the Revolution, to whose move ment it greatly contributed. No contempo raneous record presents so well the thought of the period. In pointedness, in ingenuity of rhyme, in the skilful arrangement of its ludi crous narrative, it is admirable. Many extracts such as: "No man e'er felt the halter draw, With good opinion of the law," passed into the general anthology of quotations. It was reprinted by Lossing, with introduction and notes, in 1857, and another edition of it appeared in 1881. In all, about 40 editions have been circulated in the United States and Eng land. For its full understanding the work now requires some study of the Revolutionary epoch. Trumbull's 'Poetical Works> were collected in 1820. Consult the excellent account in Tyler, 'Literary History of the American Revolution' (1897).