Though best known for his work on the telegraph, Morse spent the energies of his youth as a painter who mingled with Allston and Copley. Through what was perhaps the more dominating force of his life he developed as no mean interpreter of the elements of the 15th century Italian art he considered the apex of painting. His life is an interesting panorama which Mr. Larkin author of Art and Life in America opens to full depth view- starting with his subject's heritage. Springing from stock that had produced a president of Princeton, his grandfather, and a fiery pastor, his father Jedidiah, Finley- as he was known to the family- spent his young manhood as a nonconformist. He did go through Yale, where Dwight's and Silliman's teaching had their effect. But his tastes were European, his view of art exalted and it was not long before he went abroad to paint and study. At home again, Morse made a name for himself through his painting (which Mr. Larkin analyses extremely well) from Boston to North Carolina, but a happy marriage ended too soon in the death of his wife and in later years Morse was so striken with poverty and the sense that he could not do his best as a painter, that he turned to the telegraph. Recognition came at last, but the complex of feelings is an ironic comment on a many sided personality.