Daguerreian Society

On this day (February 24) in the year 1840, the following notice 
appeared in "The Evening Star" (New York) Vol. 7, No. 128 (24 February 
1840) not paginated, but the notice appears on the second page:
- - - - - - -

To the Editors of the Evening Star:

   Gentlemen:  I have just been shown a note in your journal of last 
evening, under the signature of Francois Gouraud, in which an 
impression is attempted to be made, that any success with which I have 
met in the Daguerreotype process is owing to "two months instruction" 
from him.  Allow me to correct this impression.
   Some two or three weeks before the arrival of M. Gouraud in this 
country, I produced several photographic paintings of more or less 
perfectness, by following the minute directions of M. Daguerre, one of 
the first copies of whose work, descriptive of the process, was in my 
possession.  When M. Gouraud arrived with the beautiful collection of 
photographic paintings, made by M. Daguerre and several amateurs of 
Paris, he professed to be the intimate friend and pupil of the great 
discoverer.--Under these circumstances, I interested myself to procure 
for Mr. Gouraud every facility, both for his exhibition and proposed 
lectures.  I make no merit of this, since I felt that I was but 
repaying to the friend of M. Daguerre the kind attention shown me by 
that amiable and distinguished man, and others of his scientific and 
liberal minded countryman, while I resided in Paris;  and I was 
likewise desirous of possessing, in common with others, that minute 
knowledge of the instruments and the process, without which, I was 
repeatedly assured by M. Gouraud, I could produce nothing of 
consequence.  M. Gouraud was gratuitously lavish in his promises of 
teaching me a thousand little circumstances, not in the book of M. 
Daguerre, absolutely necessary.  It will suffice, at present, to say 
that after the "two months instruction," as his is pleased to term it, 
I learned (what ought to have occurred to me before) that the great 
discoverer, M. Daguerre, had been faithfully minute in his description, 
both of his instruments, and the photographic process, and that M. 
Gouraud either possesed no knowledge of the subject beyond the 
published account of M. Daguerre, or if he did, that he very studiously 
kept it to himself;  at least he revealed nothing new to me which, on 
experiment, I have not proved either frivolous or useless, and 
consequently have discarded.  The manipulation, by which I produced the 
photographic paintings, praised by many gentlemen of the press, is not 
that of M. Gouraud, nor do I owe to him a single hint in any part of 
the process.  My instructors have been, primarily, M. Daguerre's honest 
account of his own process, my own experiments, in conjunction with my 
colleague in the University, Professor Draper, and Dr. Chilton, the 
distinguished chemist, of Broadway.  All the instruction professed to 
be imparted by M. Gouraud, I have felt it necessary to forget.  I will 
only add that the notices, by the various editors, of my photographic 
painting, was spontaneous on their part, and their comparison of it 
with Daguerre's own productions, was an opinion for which I certainly 
am not responsible.  It was shown to them by a gentleman interested in 
furnishing the public with the silver plates, to give the ocular proof 
that the material which he could furnish was adapted to the purpose.
                                  I remain, gentlemen,
                                      Your obd't servant,
                                         SAM'L F. B. MORSE.
    New York, Feb. 22d, 1840.

Posted for your enjoyment.     Gary W. Ewer     

Return to: DagNews 2000

homepage society info search
resources galleries

Copyright 1995-2005, The Daguerreian Society -