“I am visiting old friends and renewing old associations in London. Twenty years make a vast difference as well in the aspect of this great city as in the faces of old acquaintances. London may be said literally to have gone into the country. Where I once was accustomed to walk in the fields, so far out of town as even to shoot at a target against the trees with impunity, now there are spacious streets and splendid houses and gardens.
“I spend a good deal of my spare time with Leslie. He is the same amiable, intelligent, unassuming gentleman that I left in 1815. He is painting a little picture—’Sterne recovering his Manuscripts from the Curls of his Hostess at Lyons.’ I have been sitting to him for the head of Sterne, whom he thinks I resemble very strongly. At any rate, he has made no alteration in the character of the face from the one he had drawn from Sterne’s portrait, and has simply attended to the expression.
“When I left Paris I was feeble in health, so much so that I was fearful of the effects of the journey to London, especially as I passed through villages suffering severely from the cholera. But I proceeded moderately, lodged the first night at Boulogne-sur-Mer, crossed to Dover in a severe southwest gale, and passed the next night at Canterbury, and the next day came to London. I think the ride did me good, and I have been exercising a great deal, riding and walking, since, and my general health is certainly improving. I am in hopes that the voyage will completely set me up again.”
Morse’s life almost equally divided into two periods, artistic and scientific.—Estimate of his artistic ability by Daniel Huntington.—Also by Samuel Isham.—His character as revealed by his letters, notes, etc.— End of Volume I.
Morse’s long life (he was eighty-one when he died) was almost exactly divided, by the nature of his occupations, into two equal periods. During the first, up to his forty-first year, he was wholly the artist, enthusiastic, filled with a laudable ambition to excel, not only for personal reasons, but, as appears from his correspondence, largely from patriotic motives, from a wish to rescue his country from the stigma of pure commercialism which it had incurred in the eyes of the rest of the world. It is true that his active brain and warm heart spurred him on to interest himself in many other things, in inventions of more or less utility, in religion, politics, and humanitarian projects; but next to his sincere religious faith, his art held chiefest sway, and everything else was made subservient to that.
During the latter half of his life, however, a new goddess was enshrined in his heart, a goddess whose cult entailed even greater self-sacrifice; keener suffering, both mental and physical; more humiliation to a proud and sensitive soul, shrinking alike from the jeers of the incredulous and the libels and plots of the envious and the unscrupulous.