Daguerreian Society

This is the last notice in my files regarding the dispute between 
Gouraud and Morse.  Rather than losing the momentum by waiting until 
June, the date of this text, I will give it today (although I will 
also archive today's post under the June date.)

On this day (June 26) in the year 1840, the following notice appeared 
in "The Boston Daily Evening Transcript."
- - - - - - -

   MR. GOURAUD.  We copy the following communication from the New York 
Commercial.  The letter we were permitted to read in the original when 
first received by Mr. Gouraud, and we could not suppress our 
indignation at the miserable vanity, or still more miserable cupidity, 
which could induce any man so far to degrade himself as to attempt to 
degrade another in the estimation of the best friend of the calumniated 
party.  We may well ask in echo to the question by Mr. Rendu, a true 
friend of Mr. Gouraud--Who is this Mr. Morse?  What is this National 
Academy?  Who are the Academicians?  Who and what is the man who signs 
himself President, and distributes diplomas?  He must be some monstrous 
charlatan--or a man of most remarkable idiocracy.  The best proof of 
this is Mr. Gouraud's own story--supported by his intelligent friend's 

                                           NEW YORK, June 1840.
   Messrs Editors:  During a controversy in which I unhappily found 
myself involved, some months ago, with Mr. S. F. B. Morse, and in a 
letter published in the Evening Star of March 19th, I used this 
expression, after replying to some injurious and unfounded assertions 
published by that individual:
   "Would you know, you who have read these lines, with what design Mr. 
Morse distilled them so against me?  With the design of exciting 
against me the exquisite susceptibility and the well-known delicacy of 
GREAT MAN!  and who can say, if long ago, some generously circulated 
private communication of this kind has not been made already to M. 
Daguerre, in order to get some reply to be treacherously given to 
publicity as an arm against me?  Time only will answer that question," 
   In truth, when I wrote that sentence I did not myself wholly believe 
it.  I could not wholly believe that a motive so base could have place 
in the bosom of one professing to be a Christian and a gentleman.  But 
I did myself injustice.  Here is a letter I have just received from a 
friend in Paris, which I submit to the judgment of all honorable men.

            From the Ministere of Public Instruction.
                                 PARIS, 25th April, 1840
   My Dear Gouraud:  I write in haste to give you some intelligence of 
high interest.  Intelligence of a nature hard to be believed, if my own 
ears had not been my informants.  The British Queen starts for New York 
on the 1st of May, and I have but a few hours to advise you that your 
good name is most shamefully attacked, and your position menaced by new 
enemies, whose attempts to ruin you are as unremitting as they are base 
and envious.
   As you suggested, I went this morning to see M. Daguerre.  I asked 
him if he had received your two letters;  and expressed to him the pain 
and anxiety which you suffered on account of his silence.  A silence 
which you could not understand, and of which he at once explained to me 
the cause.
   "I have reason to be offended," he said, "with M. Gouraud.  I have 
lately received a letter from one Mr Morse, president of the National 
Academy of New York, in which he tells me that M. Gouraud has 
represented himself in America as sent by me to speculate with the 
Daguerreotype, and that he has done so in an unworthy manner--a manner 
dishonoring to my invention.  I hesitated at believing this report, but 
as I received at the same time a diploma of honorary membership of the 
NATIONAL ACADEMY, of New York, signed by Mr Morse as PRESIDENT, I 
thought myself bound to credit the truly surprising information 
conveyed to me by him.  I have therefore disavowed M. Gouraud, as it 
was my duty to do, in a letter written to Mr Morse, for that purpose.
   Happily, my dear friend, there is nothing really injurious to you in 
M. Daguerre's disavowel:  I give it to you almost in the very words 
employed by him.  He wrote to Mr Morse that he had sent no person to 
America to speculate with his discovery in his name;  that he had 
indeed encouraged, assisted with his advice and experience, all young 
men of talent who were devoting themselves to the study and extension 
of the Daguerreotype;  that he had noticed M. Gouraud as one of the 
most enthusiastic and assiduous;  but that he had authorized no one to 
abuse his name and compromise his reputation.  At these words I begged 
permission to interrupt M. Daguerre, to express my surprise and 
indignation.  I assurred him that you were the victim of some new 
slanderer, for it was impossible, I said, that he who had shown himself 
the most assiduous, most devoted, and intelligent of his admirers, 
could descend to such an act of baseness.  I told him that I had read 
very many American newspapers, which teemed with evidences of the 
exertions you had made worthily to introduce his great discovery, and 
that far from having compromised his as well as your own reputation and 
dignity of character, you had done every thing to exalt his fame in the 
estimation of the most intelligent and most keenly-judging people in 
the world;  in a word, that I knew you too well, and that your good 
name was too well established in Paris, to admit of the belief that you 
were capable of any unworthy action.  I repeated that you were 
calumniated in the most artful and infamous manner;  for I saw in a 
moment that the title of honorary member of the NATIONAL ACADEMY had 
been given to M. Daguerre by this Mr Morse, only to give his slanders 
more effect, and secure for them a more certain triumph.  But what then 
is this Academy, and who are the Academicians?  Since I have had the 
honor to hold office in the ministry of public instruction, I have 
never known the President of an Academy, no matter what its nature, who 
could stoop so low as to be the calumniator of an absent man, deprived 
of an opportunity to defend himself.
   Let me know, at once, the causes that have excited against you this 
unworthy machination.  I can readily believe that envy, or some even 
viler feeling, holds a conspicuous place among them.  I feel confident, 
from words dropped by M. Daguerre, and from the expression of his 
countenance, that before I left him, he regretted having lent his ear, 
for a moment, to prejudicial reports concerning you.  Your devoted 
friend,                     ABEL RENDU, Attache au Ministere
                                     de l'Instruction Publique.

   Without enlarging upon this matter--with nothing more than a bare 
passing allusion to the unworthy and ungentlemanly character of this 
proceeding, on the part of Mr Morse--I conclude, Mr Editor, with the 
expression of a hope that the press of this city and of Boston, which 
has been the witness--allow me to say the kind and encouraging witness-
-of my efforts to disseminate, worthily, the knowledge of M. Daguerre's 
most brilliant discovery, and to make his fame known in America, will 
bear that public testimony in my behalf which every honorable man takes 
pleasure in affording, when its effect will be to disabuse a mind that 
has been poisoned by unjust calumnies.
        Yours, respectfully,              FRANCOIS GOURAUD.

Posted for your enjoyment.     Gary W. Ewer     

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