“The struggles incident to the invention and development of telegraphy turned Morse from the practice of art, but up to the end of his life he was interested in it and aggressive in any scheme for its advancement.”
I think that from the letters, notes, etc., which I have in the preceding pages brought together, a clear conception of Morse’s character can be formed. The dominant note was an almost childlike religious faith; a triumphant trust in the goodness of God even when his hand was wielding the rod; a sincere belief in the literal truth of the Bible, which may seem strange to us of the twentieth century; a conviction that he was destined in some way to accomplish a great good for his fellow men.
Next to love of God came love of country. He was patriotic in the best sense of the word. While abroad he stoutly upheld the honor of his native land, and at home he threw himself with vigor into the political discussions of the day, fighting stoutly for what he considered the right. While sometimes, in the light of future events, he seems to have erred in allowing his religious beliefs to tinge too much his political views, he was always perfectly sincere and never permitted expediency to brush aside conviction.
We have seen that wherever he went he had the faculty of inspiring respect and affection, and that an ever widening circle of friends admitted him to their intimacy, sought his advice, and confided in him with the perfect assurance of his ready sympathy.
A favorite Bible quotation of his was “Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you.” He deeply deplored the necessity of making enemies, but he early in his career became convinced that no man could accomplish anything of value in this world without running counter either to the opinions of honest men, who were as sincere as he, or to the self-seeking of the dishonest and the unscrupulous. Up to this time he had had mainly to deal with the former class, as in his successful efforts to establish the National Academy of Design on a firm footing; but in the future he was destined to make many and bitter enemies of both classes. In the controversies which ensued he always strove to be courteous and just, even when vigorously defending his rights or taking the offensive. That he sometimes erred in his judgment cannot be denied, but the errors were honest, and in many cases were kindled and fanned into a flame by the crafty malice of third parties for their own pecuniary advantage.
So now, having followed him in his career as an artist, which, discouraging and troubled as it may often have seemed to him, was as the calm which precedes the storm to the years of privation and heroic struggle which followed, I shall bring this first volume to a close.