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Jeremiah Gurney, "A Letter"
Daguerreian Journal, May 1851

Gentlemen,—It gives me much pleasure to perceive the issue of the first number of the second volume of the Daguerreian Journal, proposed to be carried out under the auspicious addition of Mr. Hill's name as co-editor. The value of this addition to the oldest periodical devoted to the art in this or any other country in the world, cannot perhaps be over estimated. Looking over the pages of the first volume now brought to a close, I find in it an immense amount of information with regard both to the theory and practice of our profession, which was hitherto locked up in the archives of scientific journals, and unattainable to the actively employed in business. They were hidden from the class most requiring them, and I have looked upon it always as a most excellent feature in the Journal, that of bringing the older discoveries (for such may we term those of ten years back) of Daguerreotyping forward for the study and information of the artist of the present day. These were no common experiments, nor every day operators: they were men of the first intellect in France, England and this country; and without a due knowledge of what the extent of their labors have been, we cannot make a single step in advance of the right direction. To the publication of these papers in the first volume, the co-editorship of Mr. Hill becomes opportune, as presenting to the world the surest guarantee of sound doctrine and the most improved practice in photography being advanced in the pages of the Journal.

While we cannot but feel proud of the progress which our art has made in this country, and the advances position which American artists occupy all over the civilized world—proud, also, of being the first to start a periodical devoted to the elevation of our art, and having associated with it one whose discovery will rank side by side with Daguerre, I am for my own part not blind to the fact that there has been a great and imperative necessity for such a means of elevation. We have a greater number of operators than any other nation in the world, and a greater number who are completely new to the business. Practice makes perfect, no doubt; but competition kills out the artist before he has acquired his meed of practice. A journal, therefore, devoted as yours has been to affording so many valuable hints in the operative department to the new artist, is a most invaluable aid; and I am glad to see that its merits have been tested by its support.…

For my own part, I have the general good of the profession at heart. I have felt all I have endeavored to express. I believe we are on the right track now. We have at once in our power the means of union and advancement. We have a medium through which, no matter how distant we may be placed, we may intercommunicate and establish that good fellowship which should exist between all exercising a common calling. The age has long since gone by when success was thought to be dependent on secresy, when the more a matter was shrouded in mystery the more abstruse was it deemed. In our day, the veil of ignorance is rent from the temple of science, and true discovery seeks the light. The only hopes of raising our calling is in publication and communication; the opportunity is within our grasp; and I trust when the coming volume terminates its career, and that we shall have been weighed in the balance, we shall not be found wanting. Whatever opportunity the spare moments of my otherwise fully occupied time will admit, shall be devoted to the benefit of our profession, and an occasional note of contribution may perhaps be received from—Yours, respectfully, J. Gurney


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