A letter written by F.D. Millet shortly before he left on a trip to Rome early in 1912. In the letter he discusses his plans for painting murals for the New Bedford Public Library in Massachusetts that was being remodeled. In the letter he mentions he will be working on the design of the murals while in Rome. It is believed when the Titanic sank his sketches for the murals went down to the bottom as well. Following is the word for word content of his letter sent on February 6, 1912.
F. D. MILLET
1256 WISCONSIN AVENUE N. W.
WASHINGTON D. C.
Feb 6 1912
My Dear Mr. Pease,
I was delighted to get your excellent and most interesting letter, yesterday and the photograph which came a good deal damaged but can be repaired somewhat and will serve me perfectly well. It is the best photograph of a whaler I ever saw and am very glad indeed to get it. Also the No. 8 of the Old Dartmouth Historical Societies, full of meat, came to hand and I have read the marked page and a good many of the others already, while waiting for this large room to get room enough to work in.
It is greatly encouraging to hear that they will permit me to ignore those electrolics and I am sure they will never regret it. Thank you very much for the photograph and the pamphlet and for your kind offices in relation to the electric fixtures.
I hope to get to work early in May. I have travel over to Rome first but I shall be always studying the subjects and hope to get a series which will be a record of the history at once instructive and decorative. Of course whaling will bear a prominent part but I think I can also work in all sorts of incidents and events which will enrich the series and add to the interest. As one studies a problem like this the ideas develop very fast and the trouble usually is to keep them down to reasonable limits. I can already see scores more pictures than I can put on the walls.
I shall have to come down to make accurate measurements and templates as soon as I get back from Rome and then I hope I shall not be so much rushed as I was on my last visit and shall have an opportunity to have a talk with you.
I still laugh over the creaking corduroys of Menemsha Bight.
With warm regards and all good wishes, I am,
1. The world-renowned painter and Mattapoisett native was living in England in 1910 when he agreed to paint a grand mural inside the downtown New Bedford Public Library. The library, built in 1838, was undergoing restoration after a devastating fire. Mr. Millet's mural would be the crowning touch. It is believed the artist had the sketches and plans in his possession on April 14, 1912, when he boarded the Titanic for the trip to America. He died in the great tragedy. His body was recovered and cremated, and his ashes buried in East Bridgewater.
2. Zephaniah Walter Pease was the editor of the New Bedford, Massachusetts, Morning Mercury newspaper. Among the books he had published were: Fifty years on the Morning mercury, New Bedford, Mass. 1880-1930, a reminiscence / New Bedford, Mass. : Reynolds Printing, [1930?]; History of New Bedford / New York : The Lewis historical publishing company, 1918. He also wrote the preface for the 160 illustrations in Clifford Ashleys book The Yankee Whaler , Houghton Mifflin, Riverside Press, 1926.
3. The Old Dartmouth Historical Society was founded in 1903 for the purpose of ". . . creating and fostering an interest in the history of the territory included in Old Dartmouth [now the City of New Bedford and the towns of Acushnet, Dartmouth, Fairhaven, and Westport]; of promoting historical research; of collecting documents and relics and providing for their proper custody" (from the Articles of Incorporation). The Society established the Whaling Museum in 1907 to tell the story of American whaling and to describe the role New Bedford played as the whaling capital of the world in the nineteenth century.