Referring to this academy the wife in New Haven, in a letter of February 25, 1821, says: “Mr. Silliman says he is not much pleased to hear that they have an academy for painting in Charleston. He is afraid they will decoy you there.”
On March 11, 1821, Morse answers thus: “Tell Mr. Silliman I have stronger magnets at New Haven than any academy can have, and, while that is the case, I cannot be decoyed permanently from home.”
I wonder if he used the word “magnets” advisedly, for it was with Professor Silliman that he at that time pursued the studies in physics, including electricity, which had so interested him while in college, and it was largely due to the familiarity with the subject which he then acquired that he was, in later years, enabled successfully to perfect his invention.
On the 12th of March, 1821, another daughter was born to the young couple, and was named Elizabeth Ann after her paternal grandmother. The child lived but a few days, however, much to the grief of her parents and grandparents.
Charleston had now given all she had to give to the young painter, and he packed his belongings to return home with feelings both of joy and of regret. He was overjoyed at the prospect of so soon seeing his dearly loved wife and daughter, and his parents and brothers; at the same time he had met with great hospitality in Charleston; had made many firm friends; had impressed himself strongly on the life of the city, as he always did wherever he went, and had met with most gratifying success in his profession. A partial list of the portraits painted while he was there gives the names of fifty-five persons, and, as the prices received are appended, we learn that he received over four thousand dollars from his patrons for these portraits alone.
On March 31, 1821, he joyfully announces his homecoming: “I just drop you a hasty line to say that, in all probability, your husband will be with you as soon, if not sooner than this letter. I am entirely clear of all sitters, having outstayed my last application; have been engaged in finishing off and packing up for two days past and contemplate embarking by the middle or end of the coming week in the steamship for New York. You must not be surprised, therefore, to see me soon after this reaches you; still don’t be disappointed if I am a little longer, as the winds most prevalent at this season are head winds in going to the North. I am busy in collecting my dues and paying my debts.”
MAY 23, 1821—DECEMBER 17, 1824