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  The research archive of Gary W. Ewer regarding the history of the daguerreotype

On this day (March 19) in the year 1840, the following notice appeared in "The Evening Star" (New York) Vol. 7, No. 149 (19 March 1840) not paginated, but the notice appears on the front page. This is the last letter to be found in "The Evening Star," at least in the issues I examined (April 14th, 1840 being the last date examined.) I do have one more related article from a Boston newspaper of June 26, 1840, and I will give that shortly rather than wait until the date of publication. - - - - - - - THE ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH!! Tantoene animis caeleatibus viae? (Virgil, Aen. lib. 1, v. 11.) Tant de fiel entre-t-il dans l'ame d'un bigot? (Bolieau, Luirin, ch. IV) MR. EDITOR: Still bending under the enthusiastic reception which I have met with in the midst of a community no less kind than enlightened, this is the first moment which I have had at my disposal to answer, in a few words, the libel launched forth against me by Mr. S. F. B. Morse, (don't mistake,) in your paper of the 3d inst. Having run my eyes over this diatribe, I had at first some difficulty in believing that it was the production of a man who seems to pass among a certain portion of the public for a person of such excellent temper and such unbounded generosity and christian benevolence; but after one moment's meditation upon that line of Virgil so cleverly translated by Boileau, I made up my mind at once, and made my bow to this new kick of the lion. The deep hue of hatred and anger with which this letter is coloured, this mass of injurious reproaches, the bitter black venom which he has poured out upon me, with an outbreak so coolly calculated, (for S. F. B. Morse (don't mistake) was five long days in preparing his libel,) all this, I say, would hardly have attracted my notice, if the libellist, in seeking to blacken my character, had addressed himself only to me; in this case I should most positively have answered him in the only manner worthy of such an effusion, not to say, indeed, of such an author, by the most complete and contemptuous silence, as I had already promised. But, since the name of Mr. Daguerre, of the respectable Mr. Daguerre, has been the shield from behind which my loyal adversary has invariably dealt his blows in the air, which, like a new Don Quixotte, he generously puts himself out of breath to bestow upon me in my absence, it is for the honor of this already great name, which he seeks to compromise by this unworthy attack, that I find myself forced to take up my pen, in order to do Mr. S. F. B. Morse (don't mistake) the too great honor of giving him another answer. My answer must necessarily be short, for if I condescend again to waste a time, extremely precious to me, in answering the attacks of one who quarrels with every body, who cannot exist without quarrelling, &c., &c., it is only to say to Mr. S. F. B. Morse (don't mistake) that hereafter I will positively answer his outcries only by the most absolute silence of contempt, if he again should think proper to insult me during my absence from New York, and only by the public tribunals which punish calumniators, if he should again outrage me by seeking to disparage my character in the eyes of the public. Indeed, to answer word for word the attacks of Mr. S. F. B. Morse (don't mistake) upon me, I should be forced to indulge in a train of feelings and adopt a line of conduct which are not, and never will be, habitual with me. Since Mr. S. F. B. Morse (don't mistake) volunteered to descend, headlong, from the height on which I supposed him placed, to the mire of invective, &c., let him paddle about there at his own pleasure. Neither the vocabulary which he employs with regard to me, nor the reflection of those feelings and thoughts which must have produced his last letter, could ever become my arms in any conflict. I thought I had addressed him in a tone of pleasantry, as a gentleman should address another, hoping for an answer in a tone at least somewhat similar, but, since I find myself mistaken, I never will consent to redeem my error in making use, against any one, of Don Basilio's panacea. Let Mr. S. F. B. Morse (don't mistake) continue, then, prodigally to pour out upon me, during my absence, all the balm of his kind disposition and christian charity; it matters little to me now, for is it not evident to any man of good feeling and sound judgment, who may have had the patience to read the last long Jeremiad of Mr. S. F. B. Morse, (don't mistake,) that in his pretended exposure of me, he has, in fact, only succeeded in exposing himself, and no one else? Is it not evident that in writing specially the last paragraph of his diatribe, he has let fall, at length, at his feet, the miserable corner of the mask which still remained, covering a part of his face? Who would ever recognize, in the writer of that letter, that man of honied aspect, of such affectionate grasping of the hand, of such open and heavenly smiles, of such sweet and mysterious voice, etc., etc.,? Let Mr. S. F. B. Morse (don't mistake) go on, say I, while he calumniates me, to try to persuade the public that he is a great friend to the heart of a great man on whom the world has its eyes now fixed. This matters not to me; this will only be, after all, one more in his long list of self-illusions.--Indeed, after having invented the Electric Telegraph, after having originated the brilliant conception of the picture representing the Hall of the House of Representatives, and the design, even more brilliant still, of the landing of the Puritan Fathers in New England, so well known at West Point and elsewhere-- after having, I say, originated all these, and a thousand other things not yet given to the world, what does Mr. S. F. B. Morse (don't mistake) do, but claim to have improved upon the Daguerreotype? And why? Why! because he has made an essay with a meniscus! Does he not recollect that I have shown to 3000 persons, at New York, two essays made in the same manner, five months since, in Paris? But what will not Mr. S. F. B. Morse (don't mistake) discover? What will he not improve? Here he comes, after having invented, among other things, even the Daguerreotype itself, (see some papers of August or September last,) having just discovered that he is an intimate friend of the greatest artist upon earth, after himself, be it understood! and that I am only an ASSOCIATE in business of M. Daguerre!! In what planet has Mr. Morse discovered this? Is it in that which contains the vials of Astolpho, (vide l'Orlando Furioso,) when, in a dream, he went there to seek for his demijun? Who ever heard me say that I was a partner of M. Daguerre? I pronounce him a shameless impostor who dares to report against me so revolting a calumny. No! I have never said to any one alive that I was an associate in business with M. Daguerre. M. Daguerre has never been engaged in any trade, least of all with the regard to the Daguerreotype; still less has he ever attempted, by tricks of legerdemain to appropriate to himself the fruits of the genius of his fellow citizens; never has he covered his face with the mask of hypocrisy; never has vanity, wrapped in the cloak of ignorance, become his idol; never has he abased himself to calumniate an honest man, with the low feeling of revenge. Yes, I have said and published that I was the duly accredited agent of Messrs. Giroux & Co. for all that related to the Daguerreotype in the New World; and Mr. S. F. B. Morse (don't mistake) himself has read over and over again, my official appointment, in all the papers of Paris of the 10th of November last, and where every one may see it again, himself, if he wishes.--I have said and published that, by a regular agreement between them, not a single apparatus came from the house of Messrs. Giroux & Co., the perfection of which was not guaranteed by the signature of M. Daguerre;--and this is a fact well known throughout France, which does not in any degree compromise Mr. Daguerre's character of artist--this is then the whole amount of the pretended partnership of which the chivalrous Mr. S. F. B. Morse (don't mistake) mounts his war-horse, with which to charge me? At all events, to what would have amounted the profits of this partnership, so invented by the fertile genius of this celebrated inventor? would it have been the NINE HUNDRED DOLLARS of my own money that I have LOST in introducing the Daguerreotype at New York? or to something better than the injurious abuses and scurrilities of Mr. S. F. B. Morse (don't mistake)?--yes, finally, I have said and published that I was the pupil of M. Daguerre! I am proud to repeat it now, and still prouder to sign myself so; and it will never be the calumnious insinuations of Mr. S. F. B. Morse (don't mistake) that it will be able to blacken my reputation in the eyes of any man of intelligence and proper feeling who shall have appreciated the infernal spirit that dictated the last paragraph of his letter; yes, infernal, this is the only proper word! for, would you know, you who have read these lines, with what design Mr. S. F. B. Morse (don't mistake) distilled them so against me?--With the design--ONLY (observe, I pray, the christian generosity of this worthy, gentlemanly, pious, charitable feeling) with the design of exciting against me the exquisite susceptibility, and the well known delicacy of Mr. Daguerre, IN ORDER TO RUIN ME IN THE MIND AND ESTIMATION OF THAT GREAT MAN! And who can say if, long ago, some generously circulated private communication of this kind has not been made already to Mr. Daguerre, in order to get some reply to be treacherously given to publicity, as an arm against me?--time only will answer that question. In the meantime let Mr. S. F. B. Morse (don't mistake) continue to sing forth against me the beautiful couplets of his charitable vein. If ever the poetry of his language and sentiments should reach the ear of the modest inventor of the Daguerreotype, "the consequence of whose discovery has been a meed of admiration that seldom falls to the lot of a living DISCOVERER, (don't mistake), his conscience and his gentlemanly taste, will know how to do justice to those sentiments, which have excited against me so Tartuffe-like an anger, and hatred on the part of the great Discoverer of the electric Telegraph, &c. &c. &c.!!! Let Mr. S. F. B. Morse (don't mistake,) continue to shower upon me the gros abuse of his gentlemanly Dictionary; let him continue to distill against me, privately or publicly, the gall of his bitterness, the bile of his wrath--the public will perhaps know, one of these days, should it become necessary, the whole history of the causes which have excited against me in so implacable manner, the jealousy, hatred and anger of Mr. S. F. B. Morse (don't mistake,) in the meantime I will fulfill my mission, without fear that posterity or my contemporaries, shall stamp on my forehead the title of scientific pirate, literary wrangler, or visionery artist; and if the kind reception which I have met from a people as generous as enlightened, among whom I have the happiness of now finding myself, should not prove sufficient to make me forget the annoyances, the ingratitude and the outrages, with which I have been overwhelmed at New York by some miserable charlatans, at least it will be ample recompense to me of which the recollection, always dear to my heart, will never be effaced. I remain, gentlemen, your most obedient servant, FRANCIS GOURAUD, Pupil of Daguerre. * * * * * All previous notices of both Morse and Gouraud appeared on the second page of the paper. Just to make sure that readers didn't miss anything, the following notice was inserted in the second page: Mr. Gouraud's reply to Professor Morse is on the first page. (I cannot guarantee the spelling accuracy of the Latin quote at the beginning of Gouraud's letter. The microfilm copy from which I worked wasn't very clear! --G. W. E.) -------------------------------------------------------------- 03-19-00

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