In 1832, the Boston artist Alvan Fisher wrote to his friend, the painter and engraver Asher B. Durand. There was some news to report—Fisher had recently painted a portrait of the phrenologist Gaspar Spurzheim that he wanted Durand to see, and he relayed some praise of Durand’s portrait of George Washington. The artist was given more to reflection than gossip, however; as he wrote, “Many faults, or foibles I know I have, more probably that I do not know and probably I am the happier for that ignorance.” One fault rose above all the others, and that was his “rambling, speculating, theorizing, rattling” imagination. How much better it would be to switch places with the less imaginative Durand! “I feel, I know, that I should be the gainer by the advantage of your chaste taste and improved judgement [sic],” Fisher asserted. Instead, the artist wrote, he was stuck with an imagination that was “like an unbroken colt” or an “unruly vagrant that so much posseses [sic] my mind.” This sounds very bad indeed, but Fisher inexplicably followed it with an appreciation of sorts. “[Y]et why do I rail at this power of imagination? I live by it and [am] made happy by it—tho’ it do lead me to the brink of folly.” Perhaps sensing that he had said too much, Fisher then withdrew entirely from the subject, writing a terse “but enough of ego” before moving on to supplying more desultory news from Boston. 1