Letter from G. P. A. HEALY to GEORGE PERKINS MARSH, dated January 5, 1853.
My dear Marsh
Myself & wife have laughed till the tears ran down our cheeks at the idea of the
auto de Fe you proposed in your last most amusing letter, we think our little Mary
would say, could she hear of it, Mr. Marsh is a wicked man, & I have no doubt
that some dread of the sort must have been communicated by a mysterious agency to
the people here, as since I wrote you, the city has voted twenty five hundred
dollars toward the purchase of the Webster picture, & the
citizens have subscribed the same sum, should it even stop there, I shall be able to
pay my debt in Paris, & as I am fully employed making copies from the head of
the great man (whose death has caused
more sensation than any since that of Washington) besides other commissions, I hope to return to Versailles in May, & as soon after as possible I will make arrangements to join you. Mrs. Healy cannot be persuaded to leave the darling children again, but she tells me she will give me six months leave of absence in that time Mr. John A. Lowell, (with whom I had a most interesting conversation) thinks I can Italy, Germany Spain & the East!
I have just finished a portrait of General Pierce for the Dem.
[All?]. at Washington, & am now painting one for his wife, he is a most
unaffected agreeable man, so much so, that my wife cannot believe he is a real
Democrat, at which he is much amused; during the sittings we talked of the ministers
abroad, & you may be sure you were not forgotten. I hope you will remain, &
I have no doubt you will, as long as he can keep off
those who are besieging him for office, he thinks very highly of your Excellency.
I am painting Hawthorne who is as timid as a young maiden but a very pleasant person with a fine head, this, & a head of Webster are for the White house, ordered by General Pierce -- Apropos to my age, an old lady the other day, having misunderstood me respecting the time since I was in Italy, & my age when I was there, came to the conclusion that I must now be sixty five, & said she would'nt have given you more than fifty! which has given Mrs. Healy the right of calling me her old man; but I flatter myself that I shall not be forty until next July!
The Wheatons are living very comfortably at Cambridge, &
since the death of Robert, Abby has exerted herself in a manner we thought her
incapable of, & is fully occupied in teaching the modern languages.
Martha & her Mother are in bad health. Give our kindest love to Mrs Marsh & tell her I hope to find her looking like her own dear self! Also a thousand kind things to yourself & Miss. Paine & believe
Ever Sincerely yours Healy
References in this letter:
John Amory Lowell (1799-1836) was a Boston philanthropist and founder of the Lowell Institute.
Franklin Pierce (1804-69), the 14th President of the United States, held the office from 1853 to 1857. His cabinet was an attempt to smooth over splits within the Democratic Party and included William L. Marcy, Stephen A. Douglas, and James Buchanan as well as Jefferson Davis and Caleb Cushing, a northerner sympathetic to slave holders. He failed to win renomination and was succeeded by Buchanan.
President Pierce awarded Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), the American novelist, a consulship at Liverpool, England.
Henry Wheaton (1785-1848) was an American jurist and diplomat. His great work is Elements of International Law(1836).
The American portrait painter, George Peter Alexander Healy (1813-1894), was one of the most popular artists of his time. He is known for his paintings of presidents, statesman, and members of Society on both sides of the Atlantic. A native of Boston, he studied in France under Antoine-Jean Gros and established a studio in Paris. In 1840, the U.S. Minister to France, General Lewis Cass, introduced Healy to King Louis Phillippe, and his reputation was established in Europe. In all, Healy made thirty trans-Atlantic trips but settled in Chicago at the behest of a wealthy Illinois businessman, William Butler Ogden.