Page:Audubon and His Journals.djvu/66

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abundant State of Kentucky? Was I to repine because I had acted like an honest man? Was I inclined to cut my throat in foolish despair? No!! I had talents, and to them I instantly resorted.

To be a good draughtsman in those days was to me a blessing; to any other man, be it a thousand years hence, it will be a blessing also. I at once undertook to take portraits of the human "head divine," in black chalk, and, thanks to my master, David, succeeded admirably. I commenced at exceedingly low prices, but raised these prices as I became more known in this capacity. Your mother and yourselves were sent up from Henderson to our friend Isham Talbot, then Senator for Kentucky; this was done without a cent of expense to me, and I can never be grateful enough for his kind generosity.

In the course of a few weeks I had as much work to do as I could possibly wish, so much that I was able to rent a house in a retired part of Louisville. I was sent for four miles in the country, to take likenesses of persons on their death-beds, and so high did my reputation suddenly rise, as the best delineator of heads in that vicinity, that a clergyman residing at Louisville (I would give much now to recall and write down his name) had his dead child disinterred, to procure a fac-simile of his face, which, by the way, I gave to the parents as if still alive, to their intense satisfaction.

My drawings of birds were not neglected meantime; in this particular there seemed to hover round me almost a mania, and I would even give up doing a head, the profits of which would have supplied our wants for a week or more, to represent a little citizen of the feathered tribe. Nay, my dear sons, I thought that I now drew birds far better than I had ever done before misfortune intensified, or at least developed, my abilities. I received an invitation to go to Cincinnati,[1] a flourishing place, and which you now well know to be a thriving town in the State of Ohio. I was presented to the president of the Cincinnati College, Dr. Drake, and immediately formed an engagement to stuff birds for the museum there, in concert with Mr. Robert Best, an Englishman

  1. 1819.