“I never think of my situation in this country but with gratitude to you for suffering me to pursue the profession of my choice, and for making so many sacrifices to gratify me. I hope I shall always feel grateful to the best of parents and be able soon to show them I am so. In the mean time, if industry and application on my part can make them happy, be assured I shall use my best endeavors to be industrious, and in any other way to give them comfort. One of my greatest blessings here is Mr. Allston. He is like a brother to me, and not only is a most agreeable and entertaining companion, but he has been the means of giving me more knowledge (practical as well as theoretical) in my art than I could have acquired by myself in three years.
“In whatever circumstance I am, Mr. Allston I shall esteem as one of my best and most intimate friends, and in whatever I can assist him or his I shall feel proud in being able to do it.
“Mr. and Mrs. Allston are well. I dined with them yesterday at Captain Visscher’s, whom I have mentioned to you before as one of our passengers. He is very attentive to us, visits us constantly, and is making us presents of various kinds every day, such as half a dozen best Madeira, etc. He came out here with his lady to take possession of a fortune of L80,000 and was immensely rich before, having married Miss Van Rensselaer of Albany.”
SEPTEMBER 20, 1812—JUNE 13, 1813 Models the “Dying Hercules.”—Dreams of greatness.—Again expresses gratitude to his parents.—Begins painting of “Dying Hercules.”—Letter from Jeremiah Evarts.—Morse upholds righteousness of the war.—Henry Thornton.—Political discussions.— Gilbert Stuart.—William Wilberforce.—James Wynne’s reminiscences of Morse, Coleridge, Leslie, Allston, and Dr. Abernethy.—Letters from his mother and brother.—Letters from friends on the state of the fine arts in America.—“The Dying Hercules” exhibited at the Royal Academy.— Expenses of painting.—Receives Adelphi Gold Medal for statuette of Hercules.—Mr. Dunlap’s reminiscences.—Critics praise “Dying Hercules.”
The young artist’s letters to his parents at this period are filled with patriotic sentiments, and he writes many pages descriptive of the state of affairs in England and of the effects of the war on that country. He strongly upholds the justice of that war and pleads with his parents and brothers to take his view of the matter. They, on the other hand, strongly disapprove of the American Administration’s position and of the war, and are inclined to censure and to laugh at the enthusiastic young man’s heroics.
As we are more concerned with Morse’s career as an artist than with his political sentiments, and as these latter, I fear, had no influence on the course of international events, I shall quote but sparingly from that portion of the correspondence, just enough to show that, whatever cause he espoused, then, and at all times during his long life, he threw himself into it heart and soul, and thoroughly believed in its righteousness. He was absolutely sincere, although he may sometimes have been mistaken.