The Daguerreian Society

On this day (June 17) the following items appeared in their respective 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - the 1848 "Daily Republican" (Springfield, Mass., Vol. 5, No. 143):

  An Irish laborer, named Cowley, drank a swallow from a pitcher 
containing a solution of chloride of silver and cyanide of potassium, in 
a Daguerreotype room at Lowell, on Wednesday night' supposing it to be 
water.  The poison threw him into convulsions, and threatened almost 
instant death; he was barely living at last accounts.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * the 1851 "Daily Evening Transcript" (Boston, Mass.):

  THE HILLOTYPE.  "We have been favored," says the National 
Intelligencer, "with the following extract of a letter from Professor 
Morse to a friend in this city.  It cannot fail to interest our readers.  
The improvement by Baird, exhibited at the World's Fair, is spoken of as 
a great advance upon the silvered plate, as it cannot but be.  It is 
making a surface of porcelain susceptible to the sun's rays.  And now, 
in the very depth of our forests, has a discovery been perfected which 
leaves nothing to be desired by Daguerreotypists.  France, England, and 
America have thus each contributed to the perfection of the Photogenic 
  "You perhaps have seen it announced that a Mr Hill of this state, (New 
York) formerly a Baptist clergyman, was under the necessity, from ill 
health, of abandoning the ministry, and for a support practiced the 
Daguerreotype art, and has made the discovery of photographic in colors, 
or Chromotography.  The result is named (not by him) the Hillotype.  The 
magnificence of this discovery is as remarkable as the original 
discovery of photography by Daguerre.  Many affect to doubt the fact of 
this discovery by Mr Hill, but I have very reason to believe it strictly 
true.  A week or two since I received a most interesting letter from 
him, in consequence of his learning that I had expressed a hope that he 
would not think of attempting to secure his property in his discovery by 
a patent.
  I determined to visit him and save him, if possible, from the evils I 
had experienced.  So last week I went up to Kingston, and, hiring a gig, 
I set forth in a northwesterly direction in search of Westkill, in 
Greene county, some thirty-six miles to the interior, and after seven 
hours' drive through a wild region of the Western Catskill Mountains, 
passing into the very outskirts of civilization, through a deep gorge of 
mountain precipices that rose on each side of the road more than a 
thousand feet at an angle of forty-five degrees, I at length found the 
little village of some three hundred inhabitants of which I was in 
search, embosomed in the deep valley of the Westkill creek.  I had no 
difficulty in finding Mr Hill.
  He is unquestionably a man of genius, intelligence, and piety, 
retiring and sensitive; and his simple description of the effect upon 
him when the result of his discovery stood revealed before him, was true 
to nature, and among other things, demonstrated to me that his discovery 
was a fact.  I have not time to give you the details of the 
conversation; but I succeeded in dissuading him from thinking of a 
patent as a security, and in this I am rejoiced.  He shall not be 
plagued with law suits, have his life shortened and made miserable, and 
his just right in the property of his discovery snatched from him, if I 
can prevent it.  His discovery, fortunately for him, is one that can be 
kept secret, and his case furnishes a capital example of the reality and 
nature of property in invention or discovery.
  It can be seen at a glance in this stage of the matter that Mr Hill 
has that property now absolutely in his own possession, and no one has a 
right to demand it of him, nor to request it without paying him such a 
price as he may affix to his property.  I have a plan which pleased him, 
and which, I think, will secure the object aimed at, to wit, ample 
remuneration to him, and in such a shape as to leave him the use of his 
powers the remainder of his life (unlike my own case) for further 
research and scientific pursuits, without fear of fraud, of attacks on 
his character, and endless litigation.  More of this another time.
  I must now stop, simply remarking on the strangeness of the 
circumstances of this discovery:  the latter surrounded by every 
facility for experiment in the metropolis of refinement and science, the 
former surrounded by no facilities whatever for experiment, excepting 
such as were transported by him at great trouble and comparative 
expense, with limited pecuniary means, into the primeval forest, with 
scarcely an individual to consult with except his wife, and literally 
surrounded with wild beasts--the deer, the bears, the wolves, the wild-
cats, and the panthers, too, still inhabiting the wild mountain forests 
that enclose the village.  But four weeks ago (April 18) Mr Hill, while 
walking in his room at one o'clock in the morning, during a severe fit 
of coughing, upon casting his eye out of the window, saw trotting down 
the road before his house what he at first supposed to be a black cow, 
but which proved to be an enormous bear."

Posted for your enjoyment.      Gary W. Ewer       

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