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

Two items today... On this day (March 27) in the year 1858, the following item appeared in "Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper": ---------------------------- CHARLES RICHARD MEADE, ESQ., DECEASED. For two or three years past it has been a matter of painful solicitude to the numerous friends of Mr. Meade that his health was failing him, but the most despondent did not indulge the idea that he was so near the grave. Quite recently, feeling that his case was becoming desperate, he visited Cuba and Florida, but too late to receive material benefit, for the little strength he possessed suddenly failed, and he died at St. Augustine on the 2d of March, at the early age of thirty-one years eleven months and nine days. In the year 1851 he was married to Miss Roff of Greenpoint, Long Island. This lady died less than three years ago. Mr. Meade has left behind him to mourn his loss a son and daughter, besides an uncommonly large circle of relatives and friends. As the brothers Meade have distinguished themselves in the Daguerrean and Photographic arts, it make a history of the achievements of C. R. Meade interesting. At the age of eight years he came to this country from England, and as soon as he became old enough to exhibit a taste for a profession, his mind settled upon the arts. Shortly after the discoveries of Daguerre, he commenced the business, in Albany, of taking pictures by the newly-discovered process, and, jointly with his brother, established galleries in Buffalo, Troy, Saratoga and other places, but finally, in 1850, settled in New York city, and at once took the position as one of the first in the profession in the country. The years 1848 and 1854 he spent in Europe, where he took the portraits of the most celebrated personages; his discoveries, meanwhile, in the Daguerrean art caused him to be elected a member of the Societe Libre des Beaux Arts, Paris, and obtained for him medals from almost every scientific institution in the world. His remains were brought to New York city, and interred in Greenwood cemetery on Thursday, March 25th. (The article is accompanied by a wood-engraving portrait of Meade.) - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - more - - - - - - - - (It is interesting to consider that at the time the following poem was written, few people would have yet seen a daguerreotype. --G.W.E.) The following poem appeared in the March, 1840 issue of the "Southern Literary Messenger" (Richmond; Vol. 6, No. 3) page 193: PICTURES BY THE SUN. I've studied thee, bright Sun, in many a lecture, And at thy power have been filled with wonder; But never dreamt that thou could'st make a picture, Without the least defect, or smallest blunder; Oh for a sight of those soft pictured pages Thou hast "Daguerreotyped" for countless ages! Of these, thou must have, doubtless, many legions, As well of this world as of those far hence; "Of Planets, Suns, and Adamantine regions Wheeling, unshaken, through the void immense."(1) Where hang those pictures?--in what mighty Louvre? And which, I pray thee, was thy great chef d'oeuvre? When first thou look'dst upon the world, then void-- When all was dark and things about were bandied-- In taking sketches, wer't thou then employ'd, As ev'ry object into form expanded?-- If so, and we could make thee, Sun, obey us, We'd have that scene august, of Ancient Chaos. We'd like to see our great first parent, Adam, As when he stroll'd about his charming garden; And as he gazed upon the first fair madam Who came to soften, but, alas! did harden. Give us old Noah and his sons and daughters, Just as they sailed upon the world of waters. We fain would see too, if we now were able, The plain of Shinar, whence "men's sons" were driven From that vast structure called the Tower of Babel, Whose top should reach unto the height of Heaven; We cannot for our lives and souls conjecture How People raised such piles of architecture. Shew us that picture--'twould be worth the shewing-- When miracles were wrought to save mankind; When all dry-shod, the Israelites were going Across the Red sea, wall'd up by the wind; And Pharaoh's iron chariots, and arm'd host, Were madly rushing in to be o'erwhelm'd and lost. Display that scene, when for the son of Nun, Thou stoodest still on Gibeon, and the Moon, At God's command, stopped over Ajalon;-- For one whole day refused ye to go down, While to Bethoron sped the flying Amorite, And Heaven's hailstones crush'd him in his headlong flight. How many famous scenes from ancient story, Of Athens, Rome and Egypt, rise before me! What monuments of art! what deeds of glory! "Give back the lost"--restore ye them! restore ye!-- Thy pass, Thermopylae! and, Marathon, thy fight! Oh Sun! bring such as these, with Salamis, to sight. But if, bright orb! the past be now denied us, The present time at least is in our power, Since with thy secret, Genius hat supplied us;-- Ye pupils of Daguerre! improve the hour-- Make hast to paint the fragments which are left us, Of what stern Time and Vandals have bereft us. Bring us the city of great Alexander Which once was so magnificent and vast; Amid her ruins we would like to wander And muse upon the glories of the past: Four thousand baths and palaces did fill her, All crumbled into dust round Pompey's Pillar. From Cairo's walls go bring that scene sublime, (And with out latest breath we'll bless the giver,) Of Pyramids still battling with old Time-- The land of Goshen and th' Eternal River! And tomb and monument, and obelisk that stands In solitary grandeur, mid the Desert's sands. Be quick, and let our eager eyes devour Old Hecatorapylos, though not as when Through every gate, she could at once outpour Two hundred chariots and ten thousand men; But of her mighty self, the granite skeleton Whose giant bones for miles lie whitening(2) in the sun. Imagination flags and falters on the rack-- Description's beggar'd, and in vain would rise Up to thy vastness, Luxor! and Carnac! Naught but the eye that scene can realize-- Give us the temples! columns! gateway! propylon!-- None but thy master-hand can do it, glorious Sun! Bring Edom's long lost Petra--she who made Her dwellings in the "rocky clefts"--all brought To desolation or in fragments laid, A thousand years unheard of and forgot!-- High as the Eagle's nest her palaces she built, But God did smite mer, for her haughtiness and guilt. Bring us each Grecian and each Roman wreck-- Th' Acropolis and Coliseum bring; And Tadmor or Palmyra, and Balbec-- The costly cities reared by Israel's King:(3) Collect the whole--all left by Turk, Goth, Vandal, Hun-- In one vast gallery of pictures by the Sun. NUGATOR. (1) Planets, Suns, and Adamantine spheres Wheeling, unshaken, through the void immense." Akenside. (2) They are neither gray nor blackened. They have no lichen nor moss, but like the bones of man, they seem to whiten under the sun of the Desert.--Stephens. (3) The universal tradition of the country, according to Wood, is that Balbec, as well as Palmyra, was built by Solomon. (I've substituted "numbers" for the original footnote "characters" for this email transcription.--G.E.) ----------------------------------------------------------------- 03-27-96

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