The Cotman Collection | 177

The Cotman Letters 1838-1864

Archive: SDK Sydney Decimus Kitson Archive
Reference Number: SDK/1/3/1/5
Page: 177

  • Description

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


  • Transcription

    (12. 8. '41)
    (5) 177

    whole lesson. I then said I found unless my Boys were in good
    temper I could do nothing with them, & that I allowed a greater
    freedom than the other Classes did. I was placed there to teach them to
    draw; that I wd. always do my duty; that I had received more
    than once that I had done so from the Council, by the Drawings exhibited
    by the Pupils. As far as regarded myself, I was never so much at
    work as when I had the appearance of being at play - and told the
    tale of an old Painter, Brown - perhaps a bad authority - but it
    was the name I hit on at the moment - that he, when deeply
    engaged, was always whistling or humming a tune or singing
    outright; and when not doing so, viz. Singing or whistling,
    his wife was seen to enter his studio with her broomstick, well
    knowing he must be at that time idle. The laughter it caused, was
    for me - and the most strict man of business as our visitors in the College
    gave me a most winning smile of approbation, which I shall never forget.
    “Oh, I see, Sir, you are the Man for a Master here. Pray go on in your own way.”
    And they all left me, bowing & smiling this way out. What I felt was
    another matter; but it was much the same as when I dined with a party
    made at Mr. Norton's, Soho Square my first acquaintance in London
    at the age of 17) to do me honour on my supposed appointment - when
    news was brought that I had failed in my attempt. Then no one saw,
    I flatter myself, my despair. For I was the only one there at table who
    did not {crossed out – approach} attempt anything approaching to conversation. On the party
    breaking up I in the evening, I walked to the Golden Cross – or to Mr.
    Bulwin's ( I really forget which) for his house in London was my home at
    the time, and he was with me - with barely a word from any of them -
    for [ ] for me. What wd. have been the consequence had this
    been a failure! But I braved it out: but it was the bravado of cool
    & determined despair. This report was caused by a person in office,
    for when I called upon the Principal, Mr. Otter, next morning, he said
    I was appointed - and was again told I was not - that the order
    was not enrolled, or to the same effect. Mr. Otter reproved that person
    by saying the order of the Council was never rescinded, and was extremely
    angry with him for playing with my feelings so wantonly, & desired