Read CHAPTER I of Samuel F. B. Morse‚ His Letters and Journals, Volume I, free online book, by Samuel F. B. Morse, on ReadCentral.com.

APRIL 27. 1791SEPTEMBER 8, 1810

Birth of S.F.B. Morse.His parents.Letters of Dr. Belknap and Rev. Mr. Wells.Phillips, Andover.First letter.Letter from his father. Religious letter from Morse to his brothers.Letters from the mother to her sons.Morse enters Yale.His journey there.Difficulty in keeping up with his class.Letter of warning from his mother.Letters of Jedediah Morse to Bishop of London and Lindley Murray.Morse becomes more studious.Bill of expenses.Longing to travel and interest in electricity.Philadelphia and New York.Graduates from college.Wishes to accompany Allston to England, but submits to parents’ desires.

Samuel Finley Breese Morse was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, on the 27th day of April, A.D. 1791. He came of good Puritan stock, his father, Jedediah Morse, being a militant clergyman of the Congregational Church, a fighter for orthodoxy at a time when Unitarianism was beginning to undermine the foundations of the old, austere, childlike faith.

These battles of the churches seem far away to us of the twentieth century, but they were very real to the warriors of those days, and, while many of the tenets of their faith may seem narrow to us, they were gospel to the godly of that tune, and reverence, obedience, filial piety, and courtesy were the rule and not the exception that they are to-day.

Jedediah Morse was a man of note in his day, known and respected at home and abroad; the friend of General Washington and other founders of the Republic; the author of the first American Geography and Gazetteer. His wife, Elizabeth Ann Breese, granddaughter of Samuel Finley, president of Princeton College, was a woman of great strength and yet sweetness of character; adored by her family and friends, a veritable mother in Israel.

Into this serene home atmosphere came young Finley Morse, the eldest of eleven children, only three of whom survived their infancy. The other two were Sidney Edwards and Richard Carey, both eminent men in their day.

Dr. Belknap, of Boston, in a letter to a friend in New York says:

“Congratulate the Monmouth Judge [Mr. Breese] on the birth of a grandson.... As to the child, I saw him asleep, so can say nothing of his eye or his genius peeing through it. He may have the sagacity of a Jewish rabbi, or the profundity of a Calvin, or the sublimity of a Homer for aught I know. But time will show forth all things.”

This sounds almost prophetic in the light of future days.

The following letter from the Reverend Mr. Wells is quaint and characteristic of the times:

My dear little boy,As a small testimony of my respect and obligation to your excellent Parents and of my love to you, I send you with this six (6) English Guineas. They are pretty playthings enough, and in the Country I came from many people are fond of them. Your Papa will let you look at them and shew them to Edward, and then he will take care of them, and, by the time you grow up to be a Man, they will under Papa’s wise management increase to double their present number. With wishing you may never be in want of such playthings and yet never too fond of them, I remain your affectionate friend,

Wm. Wells. Medford, July 2, 1793.

Young Morse was sent away early to boarding-school, as was the custom at that time. He was taken by his father to Phillips Academy at Andover, and I believe he ran away once, being overcome by homesickness before he made up his mind to remain and study hard.

The following letter is the first one written by him of which I have any knowledge:

Andover, 2d August, 1799.

Dear papa,I hope you are well I will thank you if you will Send me up Some quils Give my love to mama and Nancy and my little brothers pleas to kis them for me and send me up Some very good paper to write to you

I have as many blackberries as I want I go and pick them myself.

Samuel Finley Breese Morse your son 1799.

This from his father is characteristic of many written to him and to his brothers while they were at school and college:

Charlestown, February 21, 1801.

My dear son,You do not write me as often as you ought. In your next you must assign some reason for this neglect. Possibly I have not received all your letters. Nothing will improve you so much in epistolary writing as practice. Take great pains with your letters. Avoid vulgar phrases. Study to have your ideas pertinent and correct and clothe them in an easy and grammatical dress. Pay attention to your spelling, pointing, the use of capitals, and to your handwriting. After a little practice these things will become natural and you will thus acquire a habit of writing correctly and well.

General Washington was a remarkable instance of what I have now recommended to you. His letters are a perfect model for epistolary writers. They are written with great uniformity in respect to the handwriting and disposition of the several parts of the letter. I will show you some of his letters when I have the pleasure of seeing you next vacation, and when I shall expect to find you much improved.

Your natural disposition, my dear son, renders it proper for me earnestly to recommend to you to attend to one thing at a time. It is impossible that you can do two things well at the same time, and I would, therefore, never have you attempt it. Never undertake to do what ought not to be done, and then, whatever you undertake, endeavor to do it in the best manner.

It is said of De Witt, a celebrated statesman in Holland, who was torn to pieces in the year 1672, that he did the whole business of the republic and yet had time left to go to assemblies in the evening and sup in company. Being asked how he could possibly find time to go through so much business and yet amuse himself in the evenings as he did, he answered there was nothing so easy, for that it was only doing one thing at a time, and never putting off anything till to-morrow that could be done to-day. This steady and undissipated attention to one object is a sure mark of a superior genius, as hurry, bustle, and agitation are the never-failing symptoms of a weak and frivolous mind.

I expect you will read this letter over several times that you may retain its contents in your memory, and give me your own opinion on the advice I have given you. If you improve this well, I shall be encouraged to give you more as you may need it.

Your affectionate parent, J. Morse.

This was written to a boy ten years old. I wonder if he was really able to assimilate it.

I shall pass rapidly over the next few years, for, while there are many letters which make interesting reading, there are so many more of the later years of greater historical value that I must not yield to the temptation to linger.

The three brothers were all sent to Phillips Academy to prepare for Yale, from which college their father was also graduated.

The following letter from Finley to his brothers was written while he was temporarily at home, and shows the deep religious bent of his mind which he kept through life:

Charlestown, March 15, 1805.

My dear brothers,I now write you again to inform you that mama had a baby, but it was born dead and has just been buried. Now you have three brothers and three sisters in heaven and I hope you and I will meet them there at our death. It is uncertain when we shall die, but we ought to be prepared for it, and I hope you and I shall.

I read a question in Davie’s “Sermons” the last Sunday which was this: Suppose a bird should take one dust of this earth and carry it away once in a thousand years, and you was to take your choice either to be miserable in that time and happy hereafter, or happy in that time and miserable hereafter, which would you choose? Write me an answer to this in your next letter....

I enclose you a little book called the “Christian Pilgrim.” It is for both of you.

We are all tolerable well except mama, though she is more comfortable now than she was. We all send a great deal of love to you. I must now bid you adieu.

I remain your affectionate brother,

S.F.B. Morse.

I am tempted to include the following extracts from letters of the good mother of the three boys as characteristic of the times and people:

Charlestown, June 28, 1805.

My dear son,We have the pleasure of a letter from you which has gratified us very much. It is the only intelligence we have had from you since Mr. Brown left you. I began to think that something was the matter with respect to your health that occasioned your long silence.... We are very desirous, my son, that you should excel in everything that will make you truly happy and useful to your fellow men. In particular by no means neglect your duty to your Heavenly Father. Remember, what has been said with great truth, that he can never be faithful to others who is not so to his God and his conscience. I wish you constantly to keep in mind the first question and answer in that excellent form of sound words, the Assembly Catechism, viz:“What is the chief end of Man?” The answer you will readily recollect is “To Glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”

Let it be evident, my dear son, that this be your chief aim in all that you do, and may you be so happy as to enjoy Him forever is the sincere prayer of your affectionate parent....

The Fourth of July is to be celebrated here with a good deal of parade both by Federalists and Jacobins. The former are to meet in our meeting-house, there to hear an oration which is to be delivered by Mr. Aaron Putnam, a prayer by your papa also. And on the hill close by the monument [Bunker Hill] a standard is to be presented to a new company called the Warren Phalanx, all Federalists, by Dr. Putnam who is the president of the day, and all the gentlemen are to dine at Seton’s Hall, otherwise called Massachusetts Hall, and the ladies are to take tea at the same place. The Jacobins are to have an oration at the Baptist meeting-house from Mr. Gleson. I know nothing more about them. The boys are forming themselves into companies also; they have two or three companies and drums which at some times are enough to craze one. I can’t help thinking when I see them how glad I am that my sons are better employed at Andover than beating the streets or drums; that they are laying in a good store of useful knowledge against the time to come, while these poor boys, many of them, at least, are learning what they will be glad by and by to unlearn.

July 30, 1805.

My dear sons,Have you heard of the death of young Willard at Cambridge, the late President Willard’s son? He died of a violent fever occasioned by going into water when he was very hot in the middle of the day. He also pumped a great deal of cold water on his head. Let this be a warning to you all not to be guilty of the like indiscretion which may cost you your life. Dreadful, indeed, would this be to all of us. I wish you would not go into water oftener than once a week, and then either early in the morning or late in the afternoon, and not go in when hot nor stay long in the water. Remember these cautions of your mama and obey them strictly.

A young lady twenty years old died in Boston yesterday very suddenly. She eat her dinner perfectly well and was dead in five minutes after. Her name was Ann Hinkley. You see, my dear boys, the great uncertainty of life and, of course, the importance of being always prepared for death, even a sudden death, as we know not what an hour may bring forth. This we are sensible of, we cannot be too soon or too well prepared for that all-important moment, as this is what we are sent into this world for. The main business of life is to prepare for death. Let us not, then, put off these most important concerns to an uncertain to-morrow, but let us in earnest attend to the concerns of our precious, never-dying souls while we feel ourselves alive.

In October, 1805, Finley Morse went to New Haven to enter college, and the next letter describes the journey from Charlestown, and it was, indeed, a journey in those days.

New Haven, October 22, 1805.

My dear parents,I arrived here yesterday safe and well. The first day I rode as far as Williams’ Tavern, and put up there for the night. The next day I rode as far as Dwight’s Tavern in Western, and in the morning, it being rainy, Mr. Backus did not set out to ride till late, and, the stage coming to the door, Mr. B. thought it a good opportunity to send me to Hartford, which he did, and I arrived at Hartford that night and lodged at Ripley’s inn opposite the State House. He treated me very kindly, indeed, wholly on account of my being your son. I was treated more like his own son than a stranger, for which I shall and ought to be very much obliged to him. The next morning I hired a horse and chaise of him to carry me to Weathersfield and arrived at Mr. Marsh’s, who was very glad to see me and begged me to stay till S. Barrell went, which was the next Monday, for his mother would not let him go so soon, she was so glad to see him. I was sorry to trouble them so much, but, as they desired it, and, as Samuel B. was not to go till then, I agreed to stay and hope you will not disapprove it, and am sorry I could not write you sooner to relieve your minds from your anxiety on my account, and am sorry for giving my good parents so much trouble and expense. You expend and have expended a great deal more money upon me than I deserve, and granted me a great many of my requests, and I am sure I can certainly grant you one, that of being economical, which I shall certainly be and not get money to buy trifling things. I begin to think money of some importance and too great value to be thrown away.

Yesterday morning about ten o’clock I set out for New Haven with S. Barrell and arrived well a little before dark. I went directly to Dr. Dwight’s, which I easily found, and delivered the letter to him, drank tea at his house, and then Mr. Sereno Dwight carried me to Mr. Davis’s who had agreed to take me. While I was at Dr. Dwight’s there was a woman there whom the Dr. recommended to Sam. B. and me to have our mending done, and Mrs. Davis or a washerwoman across the way will do my washing, so I am very agreeably situated. I also gave the letter to Mr. Beers and he has agreed to let me have what you desired. I have got Homer’s Iliad in two volumes, with Latin translation of him, for $3.25. I need no other books at present.

S. Barrell has a room in the north college and, as he says, a very agreeable chum.

Next spring I hope you will come on and fix matters. I long to get into the college, for it appears to me now as though I was not a member of college but fitting for college. I hope next spring will soon come.

My whole journey from Charlestown here cost me L2 16_s._, and 4_d._, a great deal more than either you or I had calculated on. I am sorry to be of so much trouble to you and the cause of so much anxiety in you and especially in mama. I wish you to give my very affectionate love to my dear brothers, and tell them they must write me and not be homesick, but consider that I am farther from home than they are, 136 miles from home. I remain

Your ever affectionate son, S.F.B. MORSE.

It would seem, from other letters which follow, that he had difficulty in keeping up with his class, and that he eventually dropped a class, for he did not graduate until 1810. He also seems to have been rooming outside of college and to have been eager to go in.

It is curious, in the light of future events, to note that young Morse’s parents were fearful lest his volatile nature and lack of steadfastness of purpose should mar his future career. His dominating characteristic in later life was a bulldog tenacity, which led him to stick to one idea through discouragements and disappointments which would have overwhelmed a weaker nature.

The following extracts are from a long letter from his mother dated November 23, 1805:

“I am fearful, my son, that you think a great deal more of your amusements than your studies, and there lies the difficulty, and the same difficulty would exist were you in college.

“You have filled your letter with requests to go into college and an account of a gunning party, both of which have given us pain. I am truly sorry that you appear so unsteady as by your own account you are....

“You mention in the letter you wrote first that, if you went into college, you and your chum would want brandy and wine and segars in your room. Pray is that the custom among the students? We think it a very improper one, indeed, and hope the government of college will not permit it. There is no propriety at all in such young boys as you having anything to do with anything of the kind, and your papa and myself positively prohibit you the use of these things till we think them more necessary than we do at present....

“You will remember that you have promised in your first letter to be an economist. In your last letter you seem to have forgotten all about it. Pray, what do your gunning parties cost you for powder and shot? I beg you to consider and not go driving on from one foolish whim to another till you provoke us to withdraw from you the means of gratifying you in anything that may be even less objectionable than gunning.”

These exhortations seem to have had, temporarily, at least, the desired effect, for in a letter to his parents dated December 18, 1805, young Morse says: “I shall not go out to gun any more, for I know it makes you anxious about me.”

The letters of the parents to the son are full of pious exhortations, and good advice, and reproaches to the boy for not writing oftener and more at length, and for not answering every question asked by the parents. It is comforting to the present-day parent to learn that human nature was much the same in those pious days of old, differing only in degree, and that there is hope for the most wayward son and careless correspondent.

The following letters from the elder Morse I shall include as being of rather more than ordinary interest, and as showing the breadth of his activity.

CHARLESTOWN, December 23, 1806. To THE BISHOP OP LONDON,

REV’D AND RESPECTED SIR,I presume that it might be agreeable to you to know the precise state of the property which originally belonged to the Protestant Episcopal Church in Virginia.

I have with some pains obtained the law of that State respecting this singular business.

I find that it destroys the establishment and asserts that “all property belonging to the said (Protestant Episcopal) Church devolved on the good people of this Commonwealth (i.e., Virginia) on the dissolution of the British Government here, in the same degree in which the right and interest of the said Church was therein derived from them,” and authorizes the overseers of the poor of any county “in which any glebe land is vacant, or shall become so by the death or removal of any incumbent, to sell all such land and appurtenances and every other species of property incident thereto to the highest bidder”“Provided that nothing herein contained shall authorize an appropriation to any religious purpose whatever.”

I make no comments on the above. I believe no other State in the Union has, in this respect, imitated the example of Virginia.

I take the liberty to send you a few small tracts for your acceptance in token of my high respect for your character and services.

Believe me, sir, unfeignedly,

Your obedient servant, J. MORSE.

December 26, 1806. LINDLEY MURRAY ESQ.,

DEAR SIR,Your polite note and the valuable books accompanying it, forwarded by our friend Perkins, of New York, have been duly and gratefully received.

You will perceive, by the number of the “Panoplist” enclosed, that we are strangers neither to your works nor your character. It has given me much pleasure as an American to make both more extensively known among my countrymen.

I have purchased several hundred of your spelling books for a charitable society to which I belong, and they have been dispersed in the new settlements in our country, where I hope they will do immediate good, besides creating a desire and demand for more. It will ever give me pleasure to hear from you when convenient. Letters left at Mr. Taylor’s will find me.

I herewith send you two or three pamphlets and a copy of the last edition of my “American Gazetteer” which I pray you to accept as a small token of the high respect and esteem with which I am

Your friend, J. MORSE.

Young Morse now settled down to serious work as the following extracts will show, which I set down without further comment, passing rapidly over the next few years. He was, however, not entirely absorbed in his books but still longed for the pleasures of the chase:

“May 13, 1807. Just now I asked Mr. Twining to let me go a-gunning for this afternoon. He told me you had expressly forbidden it and he therefore could not. Now I should wish to go once in a while, for I always intend to be careful. I have no amusement now in the vacation, and it would gratify me very much if you would consent to let me go once in a while. I suppose you would tell me that my books ought to be my amusement. I cannot study all the time and I need some exercise. If I walk, that is no amusement, and if I wish to play ball or anything else, I have no one to play with. Please to write me an answer as soon as” possible.

June 7, 1807.

MY DEAR PARENTS,I hope you will excuse my not writing you sooner when I inform you that my time is entirely taken up with my studies.

In the morning I must rise at five o’clock to attend prayers and, immediately after, recitation; then I must breakfast and begin to study from eight o’clock till eleven; then recite my forenoon’s lesson which takes me an hour.

At twelve I must study French till one, which is dinner-time. Directly after dinner I must recite French to Monsieur Value till two o’clock, then begin to study my afternoon lesson and recite it at five. Immediately after recitation I must study another French lesson to recite at seven in the evening; come home at nine o’clock and study my morning’s lesson until ten, eleven, and sometimes twelve o’clock, and by that tine I am prepared to sleep.... You see now I have enough to do, my hands as full as can be, not five minutes’ time to take recreation. I am determined to study and, thus far, have not missed a single word. The students call me by the nickname of “Geography.”

“June 18, 1807. Last week I went to Mr. Beers and saw a set of Montaigne’s ‘Essays’ in French in eight volumes, duodecimo, handsomely bound in calf and gilt, for two dollars. The reason they are so cheap is because they are wicked and bad books for me or anybody else to read. I got them because they were cheap, and have exchanged them for a handsome English edition of ‘Gil Blas’; price, $4.50.”

In the fall of 1807 Finley Morse returned to college accompanied by his next younger brother, Sidney Edwards. In a letter of March 6, 1808, he says: “Edwards and myself are very well and I believe we are doing well, but you will learn more of that from our instructors.”

In this same letter he says:

“I find it impossible to live in college without spending money. At one time a letter is to be paid for, then comes up a great tax from the class or society, which keeps me constantly running after money. When I have money in my hand I feel as though I had stolen it, and it is with the greatest pain that I part with it. I think every minute I shall receive a letter from home blaming me for not being more economical, and thus I am kept in distress all the time.

The amount of my expenses for the last term was fifteen dollars."

“In my expenses I do not include my wood, tuition bills, board or washing bills.”

How characteristic of all boys of all times the “etc., etc., etc.,” tacked on to the “cakes” item, and how many boys of the present day would bewail the extravagance of fifteen dollars spent in one term on extras? In a postscript in this same letter he says: “The students are very fond of raising balloons at present. I will (with your leave) when I return home make one. They are pleasant sights.”

College terms were very different in those days from what they are at present, for September 5 finds the boys still in New Haven, and Finley says, “There is but three and a half weeks to Commencement.”

In this same letter he gives utterance to these filial sentiments: “I now make those only my companions who are the most religious and moral, and I hope sincerely that it will have a good effect in changing that thoughtless disposition which has ever been a striking trait in my character. As I grow older, I begin to think better of what you have always told me when I was small. I begin to know by experience that man is born to trouble, and that temptations to do evil are as countless as the stars, but I hope I shall be enabled to shun them.”

This is from a letter of January 9, 1809:

“I have been reading the first volume of Professor Silliman’s ‘Journal’ which he kept during his passage to and residence in Europe. I am very much pleased with it. I long for the time when I shall be able to travel with improvement to myself and society, and hope it will be in your power to assist me.

“I have a very ardent desire of travelling, but I consider that an education is indispensable to me and I mean to apply myself with all diligence for that purpose. Diligentia vinrit omnia is my maxim and I shall endeavor to follow it.... I shall be employed in the vacation in the Philosophical Chamber with Mr. Dwight, who is going to perform a number of experiments in Electricity.”

It is, of course, only a curious coincidence that these two sentences should have occurred in the same letter, but it was when travelling, many years afterwards, that the first idea of the electric telegraph found lodgment in his brain, and this certainly resulted in improvement to himself and society.

In February, 1809, he writes: “My studies are at present Optics in Philosophy, Dialling, Homer, beside disputing, composing, attending lectures etc. etc., all which I find very interesting and especially Mr. Day’s lectures who is now lecturing on Electricity.”

Young Morse’s thoughts seem to have been gradually focusing on the two subjects to which he afterwards devoted his life, for in a letter of March 8, 1809, he says: “Mr. Day’s lectures are very interesting. They are upon Electricity. He has given us some very fine experiments. The whole class taking hold of hands formed the circuit of communication and we all received the shock apparently at the same moment. I never took an electric shock before. It felt as if some person had struck me a slight blow across the arms.... I think with pleasure that two thirds of this term only remain. As soon as that is passed away, I hope I shall again see home. I really long to see Charlestown again; I have almost forgotten how it looks. I have some thoughts of taking a view of Boston from Bunker’s Hill when I go home again. It will be some pleasure to me to have some picture of my native place to look upon when I am from home.”

And in August, 1809, he writes to his parents: “I employ all my leisure time in painting. I have a great number of persons engaged already to be drawn on ivory, no less than seven. They obtain the ivories for themselves. I have taken Professor Kingsley’s profile for him. It is a good likeness of him and he is pleased with it. I think I shall take his likeness on ivory and present it to him as my present at the end of the year.... I have finished Miss Leffingwell’s miniature. It is a good likeness and she is very much pleased with it.”

NEW HAVEN, May 29, 1810.

MY DEAR PARENTS,I arrived in this place on Sabbath evening by packet from New York. I left Philadelphia on Thursday morning at eight o’clock and arrived in New York on Friday at ten....

I stayed in New York but one night. I found it quite insipid after seeing Philadelphia. [The character of the two cities seems to have changed a trifle in a hundred years, for, with all her faults, no one could nowadays accuse New York of being insipid.] I went on board the packet on Saturday at twelve o’clock and arrived, as I before stated, on Sabbath evening. We had, on the whole, a very good set of passengers from New York to this place. On Sunday we had two sermons read to us by one of them, Dr. Hawley, of this place, and in the evening we sang five psalms, and during the whole of the exercises the passengers conducted themselves with perfect decorum, although one of the sermons was one hour in length....

June 25, 1810.

MY DEAR PARENTS,I received yours of the 23d this day and receive with humility your reproof. I am extremely sorry it should have occasioned so many disagreeable feelings. I felt it my duty to tell you of my debts, and, indeed, I could not feel easy without. The amount of my buttery bill is forty-two or forty-three dollars.

Mr. Nettleton is butler and is willing I should take his likeness as part pay. I shall take it on ivory, and he has engaged to allow me seven dollars for it. My price is five dollars for a miniature on ivory, and. I have engaged three or four at that price. My price for profiles is one dollar, and everybody is ready to engage me at that price.... Though I have been much to blame in the present case, yet I think it but just that Mr. Twining should bear his part.

I had begun with a determination to pay for everything as I got it, but was stopped in this in the very beginning, for, in going to Mr. T. to get money, I have five times out of six found him absent, sometimes for the whole day, sometimes for a week or two weeks, and once he was absent six weeks and made no sort of provision for us. Mrs. T. is never trusted with money for us. Now in such case I am obliged by necessity to get a thing charged, and I have found by sad experience that a bill increases faster than I had in the least imagined....

“July 22, 1810. I am now released from college and am attending to painting. All my class were accepted as candidates for degrees. Edwards is admitted a member of [Greek: Phi][Greek: Beta][Greek: Kappa] Society, and is appointed as monitor to the next Freshman Class. Richard is chosen as one of the speakers the evening before Commencement.

“Edwards and Richard are both of them very steady and good scholars, and are much esteemed by the authority of college as well as their fellow students.

“As to my choice of a profession, I still think that I was made for a painter, and I would be obliged to you to make such arrangement with Mr. Allston for my studying with him as you shall think expedient. I should desire to study with him during the winter, and, as he expects to return to England in the spring, I should admire to be able to go with him.”

In answer to this letter his father wrote:

CHARLESTOWN, July 26, 1810.

DEAR Finley,I received your letter of the 22d to-day by mail.

On the subject of your future pursuits we will converse when I see you and when you get home. It will be best for you to form no plans. Your mama and I have been thinking and planning for you. I shall disclose to you our plan when I see you. Till then suspend your mind.

It gives us great pleasure to have you speak so well of your brothers. Others do the same and we hear well of you also. It is a great comfort to us that our sons are all likely to do so well and are in good reputation among their acquaintances. Could we have reason to believe you were all pious and had chosen the “good part,” our joy concerning you all would be full. I hope the Lord in due time will grant us this pleasure.

“Seek the Lord,” my dear son, “while he may be found.”

Your affectionate father, J. MORSE.

September 8, 1810.

DEAR MAMA,Papa arrived here safely this evening and I need not tell you we were glad to see him. He has mentioned to me the plan which he proposed for my future business in life, and I am pleased with it, for I was determined beforehand to conform to his and your will in everything, and, when I come home, I shall endeavor to make amends for the trouble and anxiety which you have been at on my account, by assisting papa in his labors and pursuing with ardor my own business....

I have been extremely low-spirited for some days past, and it still continues. I hope it will wear off by Commencement Day....

I am so low in spirits that I could almost cry.

It was no wonder that he was down-hearted, for he was ambitious and longed to carve out a great career for himself, while his good parents were conservative and wished him to become independent as soon as possible. Their plan was to apprentice him to a bookseller, and he dutifully conformed to their wishes for a time, but his ambition could not be curbed, and it was not long before he broke away.