The Cotman Collection | 171

The Cotman Letters 1838-1864

Archive: SDK Sydney Decimus Kitson Archive
Reference Number: SDK/1/3/1/5
Page: 171

  • Description

    Letter of John Sell Cotman to Dawson Turner, 12 August 1841


  • Transcription

    (12. 8. '41)

    I can render you my service & long standing respect for your sound judgement.
    In my Family I am happy, but with one exception - & that is a fearful one - for Alfred,
    my youngest, now above twenty-one, has been for a long time, & is still, insane.
    Walter, who is at Manchester in a warehouse, is so much respected {crossed out – by} that his master,
    at Xmas, offered him £3000 worth of goods for him to set up in Glasgow, without any
    security but his integrity. After much consultation with him I advised him to
    decline, well knowing his nervous system could not stand the anxiety & respons-
    ibility. I have since thought I was wrong. For the master must have well known
    what he was about, & if difficulties occurred, would not have harassed him
    for a trifle. His career is extraordinary. He entered the largest house in Manchester
    at once - an ignorant young man - (Potter & Norris House.) Mr. Potter
    asked him his name, knew my situation, asked him, of course, where he
    had served - 'No where' - 'Then what can you do?' - 'Anything' - And
    at once, much to Mr. Potter's astonishment, no doubt, took off his coat,
    gently pushed a servant {crossed out – away} aside from a large package & began cording it
    up. Mr. Potter kindly invited him to dinner, and he left-a sevant
    in his Establishment. And all this without even an introduction!! He told
    Mr. P. he was determined to be a merchant ( a large word, perhaps, but it
    was said in zeal) and that he was determined to work his way up. What will
    not ignorance, courage, & integrity effect! For, had he known more, he
    must have been alarmed at his temerity. My sons all possess the highest
    integrity, & I never heard a lie from any of them. I once told what you
    thought to be one - the very first visit I paid you - and you mentioned it
    many years afterwards. I told you I had seen glorious & picturesque dock leaves,
    as large as round tables. You passed it politely - & I forgot the circumstance - believ-
    ing that to be true that I had stated. But when however ( as I have just said) you
    mentioned the circumstance, very good [ ], years afterwards, it was a
    joke to you, but not so to me. I was too confounded to make reply, & knowing you
    then to be a Botanist - & consequently likely to be correct - the convicted liar was
    silent. I will not now mince the matter of a subterfuge. I meant an
    ordinary sized table - & most likely was in error: but I never told you
    a wilful & detestable lie. Never. An Fishman's wit would even here have
    helped me out, for tables, I now know, an almost of all sizes. As the letter B
    may be larger than a Bull's foot. I hope I have now fairly cleared myself