“December 1, 1811. I am pursuing my studies with increased enthusiasm, and hope, before the three years are out, to relieve you from further expense on my account. Mr. Allston encourages me to think thus from the rapid improvement he says I have made. You may rest assured I shall use all my endeavors to do it as soon as may be....
“This country appears to me to be in a very bad state. I judge from the increasing disturbances at Nottingham, and more especially from the startling murders lately committed in this city.
“A few mornings since was published an account of the murder of a family consisting of four persons, and this moment there is another account of the murder of one consisting of three persons, making the twelfth murder committed in that part of the city within three months, and not one of the murderers as yet has been discovered, although a reward of more than seven hundred pounds has been offered for the discovery.
“The inhabitants are very much alarmed, and hereafter I shall sleep with pistols at the head of my bed, although there is little to apprehend in this part of the city. Still, as I find many of my acquaintance adopting that plan, I choose rather to be on the safe side and join with them.”
JANUARY 18, 1812—AUGUST 6. 1812
Political opinions.—Charles E. Leslie’s reminiscences of Morse, Allston, King, and Coleridge.—C. B. King’s letter.—Sidney E. Morse’s letter.— Benjamin West’s kindness.—Sir William Beechy.—Murders, robberies, etc. —Morse and Leslie paint each other’s portraits.—The elder Morse’s financial difficulties.—He deprecates the war talk.—The son differs with his father.—The Prince Regent.—Orders in Council.—Estimate of West.—Alarming state of affairs in England.—Assassination of Perceval, Prime Minister.—Execution of assassin.—Morse’s love for his art.— Stephen Van Rensselaer.—Leslie the friend and Allston the master.— Afternoon tea.—The elder Morse well known in Europe.—Lord Castlereagh. —The Queen’s drawing-room.—Kemble and Mrs. Siddons.—Zachary Macaulay. —Warning letter from his parents.—War declared.—Morse approves.— Gratitude to his parents, and to Allston.
The years from 1811 to 1815 which were passed by Morse in the study of his art in London are full of historical interest, for England and America were at war from 1812 to 1814, and the campaign of the allied European Powers against Napoleon Bonaparte culminated in Waterloo and the Treaty of Paris in 1815.
The young man took a deep interest in these affairs and expressed his opinions freely and forcibly in his letters to his parents. His father was a strong Federalist and bitterly deprecated the declaration of war by the United States. The son, on the contrary, from his point of vantage in the enemy’s country saw things from a different point of view and stoutly upheld the wisdom, nay, the necessity, of the war. His parents and friends urged him to keep out of politics and to be discreet, and he seems, at any rate, to have followed their advice in the latter respect, for he was not in any way molested by the authorities.