Daguerreian Society

On this day (February 27) in the year 1840, the following notice 
appeared in "The Evening Star" (New York) Vol. 7, No. 131 (27 February 
1840) not paginated, but the notice appears on the second page:
- - - - - - -

To the Editor of the Evening Star:

   When I wrote you my little note of last Friday, my dear sir, nothing 
was further from my intentions than an attack upon the feelings of 
Professor Morse, or the excitement of his displeasure.  I thought only 
of asserting a fact which had been denied with a composure somewhat 
remarkable, and which seemed to be regarded as of very high importance-
-a fact, moreover, within the positive knowledge of very many persons 
in this city.  But I have surely been dreaming--yes, it must have been 
only in a dream, a long, long dream, that I saw Professor Morse 
continually beside me, ever since my arrival in this city, practising 
under my instructions the process of the Daguerreotype, with my own 
apparatus, my prepared plates, and all my materials.  It must have been 
in a dream that I stood with him for hours together at my window in 
Chambers street, taking views of the City Hall, before the eyes of many 
visitors to my exhibition, whose shadows were flitting around us like 
the ghosts in the Elysium of Homer.  It must have been in a dream that 
I fancied myself, not long ago, at the residence of Professor Morse, 
giving him, in the presence and company of Dr Chilton, a series of 
private and practical instructions, the result of which struck my 
dreaming fancy as tolerably successful.  And finally, I must have been 
dreaming so late as the day before yesterday, when it appeared to me 
that 40 or 50 individuals came to offer me their written attestation, 
if I wished it, that they had very often seen Professor Morse 
practising with the Daguerreotype at my rooms, and under my direction.
   Yes, I have been dreaming all these things, and I am nothing but a 
dreamer.  But why should so much ill-temper be exhibited against one 
guilty only of a dream?  When Professor Morse alleges that he has not 
derived from me "a single hint in any part of the process," the 
assertion may be allowed to pass; but it is not handsome of him to 
affirm that all the specimens in my collection were made by "several 
amateurs of Paris," after my repeated assurances to him, and to my 
other friends, that excepting three or four by M. Colignon, the son-in-
law of M. Daguerre, and the two by the great master himself, all the 
pieces in my collection were the fruits of my own efforts.  Yet I will 
not say that Professor Morse was dreaming when he paid this compliment 
of gratitude.--When he says, however, that among his instructors was 
"primarily" Mr. Daguerre's honest account of his own process," etc. 
etc.;  this must appear to many rather dream-like.
   But to return to the formal denial of Professor Morse--that he has 
not derived from me "a single hint in any part of the process."  Now, 
if I were disposed to enter upon a discussion of this point with the 
respectable professor, I might say to him "Give to the public the means 
of comparing what you had effected before my arrival--what you yourself 
called 'mere dreams of the Daguerreotype'--and what you are capable of 
producing now;"  and on this comparison let judgment be pronounced;  
but as my time is so valuable, I rather keep silent.
   "I have studied and practised much by myself," says Professor Morse.  
Undoubtedly, this is true:  but still it ran in my dream that the study 
and practice were under my direction.  This makes all the difference;  
and they who take an interest in the question, if there are any such, 
will believe either the professor or myself;  that is all.  But I leave 
New York this evening, and for this reason I shall say no more about 
it.  As for the services rendered me by Professor Morse as the friend 
of M. Daguerre, my friends and myself know in what light to regard 
those services; and the first line of electric telegraph established 
between New York and Paris shall convey the benefit to them to Messrs. 
Giroux & Co, the partners of M. Daguerre, of whom I shall not the less 
continue to be the public and accredited agent for all that concerns 
the Daguerreotype, on this side of the Atlantic, whatever may be 
insinuated touching the matter by Professor Morse.  In the meantime, I 
beg leave to offer this public acknowledgement of thanks to him, for 
his inestimable and most friendly services.
   A few words more.  When Professor Morse affirms that in two months 
of instruction he has not received from me a single hint of the 
process, I do not say that his assertion is not true;  and if he had 
more carefully read my little note of congratulation, the result of a 
dream so unpardonable, he would have perceived that I only claimed the 
merit of having for two months endeavored to give him all the knowledge 
in my power--not that I had been successful.  But after all, why make 
such a parade about procuring, unassisted, a good drawing with the 
Daguerreotype?  Is it because we may soon expect to see children 
producing them at the corners of the streets; and that without two 
months or four months of preparatory labor?  Such a result may well be 
hoped for, at least;  and that it is possible is proved by the fact 
which I am going to relate.  During my last lecture, I invited any 
person present to stand beside me, and go through the whole process 
under my direction, in order to show more emphatically its reality as 
well as its extreme simplicity.  Mr. L------, a respectable gentleman 
of this city, (34 Duane street,) was kind enough to step forward, amid 
the applauses of the audience, to assist me in this novel method of 
giving an experimental lesson.  He had never even seen a Daguerreotype 
apparatus before;  and yet he produced, from my directions, alone, 
before the whole assembly, a beautiful view of the City Hall, to the 
surprise and delight of every one who saw it.  But Mr. L------ is 
doubtless an awkward workman, wheras Professor Morse has been able, by 
his own skill, to overcome a host of difficulties, &c.
   But as I leave New York this evening, permit me, Mr. Editor, to give 
you, with the assurance of my high respect, that of never again 
troubling you with any communication of this nature.  It may be that 
the same kind of recompense will be awarded me by others for efforts I 
have made to please.  Again, I may receive the lion's kick in my 
absence, or perhaps after my return--but, henceforth my resolution is 
taken;  as a Christian I shall meet ingratitude only with regret for my 
inability to render greater service--and the injurious things that may 
be said or written of me, only with silence.
                                  I have the honor to be, &c.,
    lt*             FRANCOIS GOURAUD, pupil of Daguerre.

Posted for your enjoyment.     Gary W. Ewer     

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