Morse prepared and delivered a number of lectures on various subjects pertaining to the fine arts, and most of these have been preserved in pamphlet form. In this connection I shall quote again from the letter of General Cummings before alluded to:—
“Mr. Morse’s connection with the Academy was doubtless unfavorable in a pecuniary point of view; his interest in it interfering with professional practice, and the time taken to enable him to prepare his course of lectures materially contributed to favor a distribution of his labors in art to other hands, and it never fully returned to him. His ’Discourse on Academies of Art,’ delivered in the chapel of Columbia College, May, 1827, will long stand as a monument of his ability in the line of art literature.
“As an historical painter Mr. Morse, after Allston, was probably the best prepared and most fully educated artist of his day, and should have received the attention of the Government and a share of the distributions in art commissions.”
That his efforts were appreciated by his fellow artists and by the cultivated people of New York is thus modestly described in a letter to his parents of November 18, 1825:—
“I mentioned that reputation was flowing in upon me. The younger artists have formed a drawing association at the Academy and elected me their president. We meet in the evenings of three days in a week to draw, and it has been conducted thus far with such success as to have trebled the number of our association and excited the attention and applause of the community. There is a spirit of harmony among the artists, every one says, which never before existed in New York, and which augurs well for the success of the arts.
“The artists are pleased to attribute it to my exertions, and I find in them in consequence expressions and feelings of respect which have been very gratifying to me. Whatever influence I have had, however, in producing this pleasant state of things, I think there was the preparation in the state of mind of the artists themselves. I find a liberal feeling in the younger part of them, and a refinement of manners, which will redeem the character of art from the degradation to which a few dissipated interlopers have, temporarily, reduced it.
“A Literary Society, admission to which must be by unanimous vote, and into which many respectable literary characters of the city have been denied admission, has chosen me a member, together with Mr. Hillhouse and Mr. Bryant, poets. This indicates good feelings towards me, to say the least, and, in the end, will be of advantage, I have no doubt.”
JANUARY 1, 1826—DECEMBER 5, 1829