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13/01/2013 / Test All Things

A Letter To A Reader of The Gospel Standard – August 2nd, 1847

It is with great reluctance that I bring forward any matters relating to myself; and yet to disarm (if possible) enemies, and to afford some explanation to friends, I have thought it best to publish the following correspondence.

It relates to the publication of my portrait—a circumstance most repugnant to my feelings, and a matter to me of unmixed annoyance and regret.

J. C. Philpot.


My dear friend

If I may judge by my own feelings, many of your sincere friends will be much grieved at the announcement on the wrapper of the Standard [Gospel Standard, Wrapper, August, 1847. “Expected to be ready the 1st of September, a Portrait of Mr. Philpot, engraved on steel, by Freeman. Proofs, 4s.; prints, 2s.”] of the publication of your portrait, as it will tend much to sanction that flesh-pleasing and money-getting system which appears to me so contrary to the simplicity of the gospel.

If my view of the subject be correct, ought you not, if you have the power, to prevent the publication?

If it is without your consent, and you cannot prevent it, ought you not publicly to avow it?

Oh! my friend, these are not times to desire or allow such vain carnal trafficking, more especially in this case, when very many false brethren, and some unfriendly brethren, are doing what they can to vilify you, and render your ministry unacceptable to the people of God.

I hope the Lord will enable you to weigh the matter, and to consider whether any possible good (not to say harm) will result, either to yourself or the Lord’s people, from your portrait being exposed to the carnal gaze of hundreds. Let not custom sway your judgment. You will possibly think that such a lowly, empty mortal as I am, has taken a great liberty in writing thus to you, and that I am one of those who strain at a gnat and swallow a camel; but I can appeal to a heart-searching God, that, however wrong my judgment in the matter may be, the moving cause in my mind has been a love to you and to the church of God. Hoping you will excuse my writing, and that the Lord will bless all your trials and afflictions to your soul’s prosperity, His church’s good, and His own glory.

(Name and address withheld by request.)


Reply by J.C. Philpot to this concerned brother – August 2nd, 1847

My dear friend

I am obliged to you for your kind and faithful letter. I can assure you that the publication of my likeness is very repugnant to my feelings; but I will just explain the circumstances under which it was done.

Last year, when I was in London, an artist, professing to be a child of God, called upon me, and said how much obliged he would be if I would allow him to take my likeness, as he knew several who wished to have it, and he could make copies for them. I at first refused; but being taken somewhat by surprise, and being overcome by his importunity, as he had brought his drawing implements with him, I at last consented. Not a word was said about publishing it; and he now denies that he had such an idea. I certainly would have refused to sit, had such an idea entered my head. I gave him several sittings, for having given him the first sitting, and occupied his time, I felt that I could not now justly draw back.

Soon after I reached home, he wrote to me, requesting my permission to publish it. I wrote back a decided refusal.

When I came to London this year, he called upon me, stating that Mr. Gadsby had consented to buy the drawing; that he had bestowed much time and labour upon it, which was his bread; that his circumstances were low; that he had a wife and increasing family, and wished to change his residence.

I felt there was great force in these arguments; and though they seemed hardly able to overcome my repugnance, still they swayed my mind, which, when he first came into the room, was determined to refuse him. In justice to Mr. Gadsby, I should mention that he would not close the agreement with the artist until my consent was obtained. This consent the artist called on me to procure. I refused it for a considerable time; but at last he so appealed to my feelings, appearing almost distracted at my refusal, that at last—after, I dare say, half-an-hour’s resistance — I gave way, and said I would be neutral in the matter. I can assure you that nothing but my compassion for the poor man induced me to give way. But I have been sorry ever since that my feelings were wrought upon contrary to my better judgment.

I derive from the whole transaction nothing but annoyance, as I not only much dislike the circumstance itself, but have all along felt that my enemies would take occasion by it to wound and injure me. I was wrong in the first instance in sitting to the man at all, and one wrong step is almost sure to bring on another, as I have frequently found to my cost. But I had not the remotest idea of publication, or should certainly have refused to sit to him. Yours very sincerely,

J. C. Philpot


This correspondence, but for a mistake at the office, would have appeared last month.

It is right to remark, that I have somewhat enlarged my original letter.

I am happy to say that Mr. Gadsby, in consideration of my repugnance to the publication of my likeness, has consented to waive bringing it out. I never had but one feeling about it as regards myself, nor should I have ever consented to its publication, but from compassion for the artist.

J. C. P.

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