Breese Family Monograph
Part 3 - pages 487 to 494
Haste 'tis the stillest hour of night,
These verses were
published in the "Talisman" for 1829, at the request of
the editors, with an engraved picture of The Serenade from the author's
own design. The original painting in oil was afterwards presented to
his cousin as a bridal gift, but was destroyed by the burning of
Morell's Storehouse in New York.
genius showed itself all through his artist-life - "his
studio" being, in the words of Huntington. his successor in the
presidency of the National Academy, "a kind of laboratory,
where he formed theories of color," and "tried experiments
with various vehicles ;" while some mechanical inventions also
engaged his attention at an early period. But from the year 1832 to the
close of his life he was wholly occupied with his great invention of the
Electric Telegraph - its first incipient stages, its first application
on an experimental line from Washington to Baltimore, and onward to
the culmination of his triumphs in the laying of the first telegraphic
cable over the bed of thc Atlantic Ocean. There is no room for question,
among scientific men, that the principles of electromagnetism,
involved in the Morse telegraph, had been discovered years before their
application in that invention, through tile combined researches of
several scientists, from Oersted to Henry, and had even been tentatively
applied to the invention of an electro-magnetic telegraph by Henry. Yet
the unsurpassed merit belongs to Morse of having been the first to
discern the importance of the newly discovered power for its
applicability to great uses. To him belongs also the credit of having,
with unfailing perseverance, devised the means, which are universally
recognized as the best known, of applying the electro-magnetic power to
the transmission of signals between widely separated places; thus
turning it to account, in the simplest and most practical manner, for
the benefit of mankind.
Of his character,
the same lady-cousin above spoken of, who knew him well, has most
fittingly said: "His character was remarkably symmetrical, his
temper calm and equable, his faith and trust strong throughout life, and
he was always the courteous, Christian gentleman."
He was a devoutly
Christian man. If by nature too self-sufficient, early disappointments,
in the failure to receive what might have been thought to be only a just
appreciation of his artistic abilities, with consequent narrowness of
pecuniary resources, added to domestic griefs, made him humble and
teachable; so that he did not hesitate to acknowledge his need of just
the discipline divinely apportioned to him. When honors and (what is
rare in the experience of inventors) riches flowed in upon him, he bore
the trial of prosperity modestly; anti was ever ready to re. echo the
sentiment expressed by the first message sent on his experimental
telegraph-line: "What hath God wrought !"
He died in New York
April 2, 1872, and was buried, with conspicuous funeral honors, in the
Greenwood Cemetery. He was twice
married: first, on the 1st of October 1818, to Lucretia Pickering
daughter of Charles Walker Esq. of Concord, N. H., and granddaughter
of Rev. Timothy Walker, first minister of Concord - (therefore niece of
Sarah (Walker) Rolfe, the wife of Count Rumford),20
by whom he had two sons, Charles Walker
and James Edwards Finley,; and a
daughter Susan Walker,: beside two daughters who died in infancy.
Charles W. Morse married his second cousin Mannette Antill
Lansing, and has three children. Susan W. Morse married Edward Lind of
Porto Rico, W. I., of a
Danish family (who died in 1882), and had a promising son Charles
Walker, who died at the age of
thirty-eight )-ears, to the great grief and loss of his parents. Mrs.
Lucretia P. (Walker) Morse died
in her twenty-fifth year, Feb. 7, 1825. The beautiful epitaph to her
memory, by the elder Professor Silliman, must not be left out here:
"She combined, in her character and person, a rare assemblage of excellences.
form, features and expression, peculiarly bland in her manners,
highly cultivated in mind, she irresistibly drew attention, love and
without haughtiness, amiable without tameness, firm without severity,
and cheerful without levity, her uniform sweetness of temper spread
sunshine around every circle in which she moved. 'When the ear heard her
blessed her, when the eye saw her it gave witness to her.'
"In sufferings the most keen her serenity of mind never failed her; death to her had no terrors, the grave no gloom. Though suddenly called from earth, eternity was no stranger to her thoughts, but a welcome theme of contemplation.
after her death; in 1848, Prof..Morse married: secondly, Sarah Elizabeth
Griswold, a first cousin's daughter, now living as his widow, by whom he
had four children, three sons and a daughter. The eldest son, named
Arthur,: died in 1876; the second son, William Goodrich,
was married in 1873, to Kate Crabbe, and is now a widower with
one daughter; the daughter, Cornelia Livingston: was married, in 1881.
to Franz Rummel an artist in music, now resides abroad, and has two
sons; the third son, Edward
Lind,; a graduate of Yale College in 1878, is about to reside
abroad, with his mother, for the study of the art of painting.
Edwards born Feb. 7, 1794; who married Catharine daughter of Rev. Dr. Gilbert
Robert Livingston, Apr. i, 1841 (who still survives as his widow); and
died Dec. 23, 1871. He was graduated at Yale College in 1811, and even
before leaving college, when in his sixteenth )-car, "he wrote
a series of articles in the ' Boston Centinel' on the dangers from the
multiplication of new States" in the Union--thus earl)-giving
indication of that native bent of his mind to journalism which was to
give the chief direction to his whole life. He studied theology at
Andover, Mass., and law at Litchfield, Conn., but pursued neither of
these professions. Being soon invited to establish a religious newspaper
in Boston, he originated the "Boston Recorder;" and
itl 1823, in connection with his younger brother, established the "New
"More than to
an}' other man is the public indebted to Mr. Sidney E. Morse for the
religious newspaper, He may be fittingly styled its father. Previously
to his conception of the ' Boston Recorder' there had been periodicals,
quarterly, monthly and weekly, designed to promote religion; but the
invention of the plan that was first introduced into the ' Recorder,'
and subsequently enlarged and improved in the 'Observer,' was original
with him, and is that which is now the feature of all papers that are,
in the true sense of the word, religious.
thorough theological and legal education, his mind trained to patient
thought and cautious investigation, slow in his intellectual operations
and accurate in his statements, he had the highest possible
qualifications for the great work of his life. When his mind was 'made up,'
and his position taken, it was next to impossible to dislodge him.
The tenacity with which he held his ground was justified by the caution
with which it had been chosen; and it was held with conscientious sincerity
and herculean ability."
In connection with this very just tribute, by an associate and successor of his in thc editorship of the "New York Observer" (Rev. Dr. S. I. Prime), were published, soon after his death, by the same friend and companion, the following more general remarks, true to the life, on his qualities of mind and character:
"His east of
mind was eminently mathematical and statistical, finding for itself
enjoyment in the most abstruse, perplexing and extended calculations and
computations, tracing the peculiarities of numbers and the results of
memory of figures was extraordinary, and for hours he would descant, in
converse, upon the results obtained, with the same accuracy as if the
figures were before him. To discourse upon the discoveries in art
and science, and still more upon
tile moral progress of the age, and the great agencies in the past that
had brought on
the present, was the recreation and enjoyment of his life .... He
mingled but little
in general society, rarely taking part in public meetings, and inclined
to study and
the quiet of domestic life.
"In boyhood he
made a profession of religion in his father's church in Charlestown--a profession which he adorned by a consistency and uniformity of
rarely seen of men. In all the years of his public and social life those
known him the longest and the most intimately, in business, in
charitable labors, in the conflicts and changes of exciting times, bear
willing testimony to the unwavering and unceasing self-possession of a spirit
by a sense of profound reverence for the right. No one ever saw him
excited, nor heard from his lips a severe and unkind expression; while
"The lass. of
his life was love. He was a moral philosopher, studying intensely
the theories of the schools as to the nature of virtue, and he found the
basis of all
right action in love. When a boy in college, under strong religious
and in a silent hour of deep concern, these words came suddenly into his
took a life-possession of his whole being: 'God lives, God reigns, God
will ever live, God will ever reign, God will ever love. Glory,
those words are all the springs of his life--absolute submission to
God's will, with
"Such a man,
both great and good, strong and gentle, honored and useful, spotless and
beautiful in life, is a model of all the virtues that most
adorn and dignify
Sidney Edwards and Catharine (Livingston) Morse had two children: a son
Gilbert Livingston,: born in 1842, married in 1871 to Mary M. C.
daughter of John Coles of Worthing, co. Sussex, England, by whom he has
six children: his first child, a daughter, was born during the hours of
her grandfather's last illness, with reference to which he had said, a
few days before: "It would not be strange if, when the new life
came in. the old went out, and a daughter Lucretia.; born in 1843, and
married in 1862 to Charles K. Herrick - from whom she was divorced in
assuming, together with two children, her maiden-name.
the articles translated from the French and German, including the
letters of the regular French correspondent of tile paper [during the
many years of his editorship] were from his pen. Mr. M. was an
accomplished linguist. In early life he made himself master of Latin,
Greek, Hebrew, French and German, and in late years attained to good
proficiency in several other modern languages, including the Portugese
and the Norwegian. Two translations made by Mr. Morse of extensive and
valuable works, one from the French and one from the German, have never
appeared in print."
He made two visits
to Europe before that one from which he never returned, and traveled a
short time in the East. "Various subjects of interest . . .
he investigated with great care, and some of them with a surprising
degree of minuteness, though he was never forward to proclaim the
results of his inquiries"--so said Rev. Dr. Sprague in a discourse
delivered at his funeral, who further summed up the chief traits of his
mind and character, with discrimination, as follows:
intellect there were fine qualities that could not fail to command
respect. If I were to designate any particular feature of his mind as
more prominent than an)' other, perhaps it would be his literary taste.
The productions of his pen, though I believe they rarely, if ever,
appeared before the world in connection with his name, were singularly
faultless, and might well challenge the closest criticism. He was a
model particularly in letter-writing .... He had great aptness for
acquiring languages. : · . His mind was of a highly inquisitive cast,
and, though he moved about so quietly and noiselessly, he was always
adding to the stores of his information.
20 See Memoir of
Sir Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford .... By George E. Ellis ....
1871, pp. 44-45, 65-7o, 206-10.
Copyright © 1999 by John Breese McKenzie. All rights reserved