Daguerreian Society

On this day (March 3) in the year 1840, the following notice appeared 
in "The Evening Star" (New York) Vol. 7, No. 135 (3 March 1840) not 
paginated, but the notice appears on the second page:
- - - - - - -

               For the Evening Star:
                 THE DAGUERREOTYPE.

   Mr. Editor,--If the exposure, which, in self-defence, Mr. Francois 
Gouraud compels me to make by his gratuitous and unprovoked attack upon 
me in your journal, should result in unpleasant consequences to him, he 
can only lay the blame upon his own rashness and folly.  I take no 
delight in being the instrument of his exposure.
   It seems that the offence given to Mr. Gouraud is the praise 
spontaneously bestowed by several editors of our public journals upon a 
Daguerreotype view of the City Hall, made by me.  This view, shown to 
them without any knowledge, and for objects wholly unconnected with any 
interest of mine, pecuniary, or otherwise, was the result of a process 
differing in some points from that published by M. Daguerre, the fruits 
of several weeks of experiments previous to Mr. Gouraud's arrival in 
this country.  The apparatus, also, constructed for the most part after 
the designs of M. Daguerre, I had varied in several particulars.  By 
the process and apparatus in question, I had taken several views in the 
month of October last and the first weeks in November.  Mr. Gouraud 
arrived in this country in the British Queen, the 23d of November.  
With these facts before them, the public can judge how much instruction 
I could have received from Mr. Gouraud three weeks before his arrival!
   Mr. Gouraud brought with him a splendid collection of Daguerreotype 
pictures.  They, of course, attracted my attention.  Mr. Gouraud, 
moreover, professed to be the intimate friend of M. Daguerre, with whom 
he said he was in correspondence.  As M. Daguerre had rendered me 
personal kindness when in Paris, showing me his own collection of the 
results of his then unpublished discovery, I unsuspectingly took Mr. 
Gouraud at his simple word, and determined to further his plans all in 
my power.  These he stated to be to exhibit his collection, for two or 
three weeks at farthest, to give a public practical explanation of the 
process, and then to depart by the 1st of January for Havana.  I 
procured him fine rooms for his exhibition rent free, during his stay, 
and when the locality of the rooms were made an objection to his 
accepting them, I spent most of my time in otherwise assisting him.  
Mr. G. was full of professions of gratitude and of promises, that the 
many secrets in his possession, for which he had paid large sums, 
should be fully imparted to me.  I was not deceived by these promises 
into a belief that M. Daguerre had kept from the public any matter of 
great importance;  but supposed there still might be some modifications 
in the manipulation which would facilitate the process.  After two 
months' waiting the fulfilment of Mr. G.'s promises, constantly 
procrastinated for various frivolous reasons, he at length performed 
the process in my presence at three different times, each time with a 
result inferior to those previously obtained by myself without his aid, 
and altogether occupying a space of time of about four hours.  This is 
the amount of his alleged two months instruction.  I have it from the 
best authority that he boasts (since I have found it necessary to cease 
all intercourse with him,) that he was prudent in not having revealed 
to me the most important secrets in his possession, and yet he asserts 
in his note that "he endeavored to give me all the instruction in his 
   I ceased intercourse with him for various reasons.  I had had 
evidence which satisfied me, that his pretence to be the possession of 
any secrets in the process was intended only to mislead and bewilder 
for reasons best known to himself.  I was the unwilling witness of 
little deceptions practised upon others in my presence, which, at 
length, led me to distrust every thing he had told me.
   I have charged him with intention to mislead me.  I produce one 
instance to support this charge.  A few days after his arrival I called 
on him, with another gentleman.  He was examining a box containing his 
chemical compounds, much broken.  With great apparent liberality he 
professed to impart to us what he called a secret concerning the iodine 
used in the Daguerreotype process.  Holding up a bottle of iodine, he 
told us that this iodine was prepared in Paris only, specially for the 
Daguerreotype;  that it was, as we saw, of a golden color;  that this 
was the true color of the pure iodine;  that it was called the iode 
d'oree'  and that no good proofs in the Daguerreotype could be taken 
without it.  When told that the pure iodine was of a steel color, he 
replied, "No: it was lately discovered in Paris that the purest was of 
a golden yellow."  Upon consulting soon after a distinguished chemist 
on this point, he informed me that it could not be true;  that if 
iodine was of a golden color, it was adulterated probably with sulphur, 
or iron, or both.  As this was an essential point in the Daguerreotype 
process, I noted it in my tablets.  Some weeks after, I watched M. 
Gouraud's first attempt to iodize a plate, and when he took out the 
iodine cup to adjust it, I observed that he iodine was of the usual 
steel color, precisely like that I had been using before his arrival.  
I reminded him of his remarks concerning the iode d'orre:  he had 
forgotten them, but coolly remarked that "it was of no consequence--the 
steel-colored iodine would do."  A few weeks ago he sent this identical 
bottle of gold colored iodine to the same chemist to be analyzed as he 
wished to know what impurities it contained:  it was unfit for the 
process.  These facts rest not on my assertion alone, and the public 
may judge from them what sort of enlightenment they are likely to 
receive from M. Gouraud.
   Long before M. Gouraud's arrival M. Daguerre's brilliant discovery 
had been spread in all its details through this whole land.  It was 
hailed with admiration by all.  Scientific men have every where 
repeated the process, and many with complete success;  and the 
consequence has been a meed of admiration for M. Daguerre that seldom 
falls to the lot of a living discoverer.  Now is it probable that M. 
Daguerre could have sent over a friend of his, a pupil, to give an air 
of charlatanry to his discovery;  to change this flow of admiration for 
his generosity, and that of his country, for their splendid gift to the 
world, into disgust, by seeing him entering into partnership with such 
an agent of his apparatus?  Has M. Daguerre pretended to give a 
discovery to the world, and bound himself to reveal it, in all its 
minutest particulars, and then kept back secrets to be hawked about 
this country for a dollar per head?  There needs no answer to these 
questions.  When we have the evidence that Mr. Daguerre has authorized 
his name to be thus used in connection with that of Francois Gouraud, 
then may these reflections be made.  In the meantime let not the names 
of Daguerre, or of France, be sullied by associating them with such 
unworthy arts.
             I remain, gentlemen, Your ob't serv't,
                                         SAM'L. F. B. MORSE.
    New York, Feb. 28th, 1840.

Posted for your enjoyment.     Gary W. Ewer     

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