link to Talbot Project home page link to De Montfort University home page link to Glasgow University home page
Project Director: Professor Larry J Schaaf

Back to the letter search >

Document number: 00946
Date: Tue 24 Dec 1821
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: ARNOLD Thomas Kerchever
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA21-35
Last updated: 29th April 2012

Tuesday 24. Dec. 1821.

Dear Talbot

The state of our correspondence is on my part, so desperate, that all apologies would be absurd - all that remains is to make amends for my deficiencies in the best manner that I am able. The Philosophical Society has not yet published the second part of its transactions; it is expected to appear in February. Whewell <1> has been reading a paper on the parasitical cubes in fluor spar, on which occasion it was eloquently remarked by the Revd E. D. Clark D.D. Vice President "that the Society must now feel a well-grounded confidence that, in the application of Mathematics to Chrystallography Cambridge would soon be able to boast of a H[illegible]". Science is flourishing very vigorously in Trinity <2> - observations are daily taken on the grass plots, and it is reported that the error in taking the altitude of Whewell's rooms is inconsiderable. Sheepshanks <3> has bought a repeating circle; Coddington <4> was seen scouring on his way, to ransack all the libraries, in search of botanical works, as a lectureship on botany was supposed to be vacant. This however proved not to be the case, so he intends quietly to strengthen his interest against another time. However he chrystallizes salts on a small scale, and subjects various substances to the action of the blow-pipe in its simplest form. You will be glad to hear that Worsley <5> was third in the Fellowship Examination. Barrow was second and Lyon <6> reported missing. Every one here exclaims with you, Little Bayne! <7> - Johnny Browne says that Mr Bayne is indeed an example of what patient industry, unclogged by pupils, may effect. Solomon Atkinson does not intend to sit, but to marry, and study the law.<8>

I have one piece of intelligence which you will, I think, be sorry to hear; about the first week in September the Gonville's<9> eyes became so weak as to put a complete stop to his reading from then till the beginning of term; since that time he has contrived to read four hours a day. He seems to have made up his mind to a comparatively low place, & to await the event with as much indifference as can reasonably be expected; at first he felt it severely. Reynolds intends to gulph.<10> The Examiners are Chevallier, Hind, Higman, Graham.

Matthews is a candidate for the Captaincy, and supplies all his friends with stiff Equations. Key has been more idle than usual, I have had 4 pupils, viz. Jersey & Guernsey, & 2 others - after the Senate I turn my back upon this place, which I shall not revisit till October. Murray talks of coming down - and why? solely for the purpose of passing Judgson without capping him; as the late Senior Dean is now Bursar. <11> Kindersley <12> was here during the whole term and part of the long Vacation, working very steadily. The Gonville minor<13>vvv has obtained a mathematical prize at Caius College, of which foundation Porter is more; moreover the young Gonville has succeeded to Porter's<14> rooms, consequently the whole floor is occupied by the family. I have been training Gurney for the Univ. Schol; but somehow or other there is not one: it seems that, on the appointed day, the Examiners met to consider which of the Scholarships should be declared vacant, when the Vice-chancellor (French) told them that he had received Pennington's resignation. This satisfied the Examiners, and the meeting was dissolved. In the mean time Walker went to the Provost of King's, & told him that he was perfectly ready to resign his - upon this the Provost hastened to French, and begged him to cancel Pennington's resignation, which he did upon his own authority. Hinc illæ lachrymæ! (as Monk told me), <15> the only authorized meeting of the Examiners being over. This legal difficulty is above my comprehension<16> the Examiners are only authorized to force men to resign on [illegible] but why they might not suffer little Walker to give up his own I know not. It was generally expected that Pennington, w[hen] he heard the facts of the case, would again resign, but he [has] not yet done so.

Fursdon <17> has degraded for the purpose of carrying off the Odes & Medal next year. He is the præsidium et decus <18> of the University, has a tripos from Hind, and another from Ebden. Judgson said to him "Mr Fursdon when you left us I did not think that you meant to distinguish yourself so" Frere one day begged him to take a relation of his, a little boy, for a pupil, which Fursdon immediately agreed to, expecting to be paid at the usual rate; however it was meant to be an empty honour -

Worsley was in an inn-yard at Rouen, when there came up to him - Judgson!!! "I think I should know a Trinity face Mr Worsley."

Many thanks for your splendid version of Schiller's Epigram. <19> It is reported that the Porson <20> is to be from a Comic Scene - I tried one a few days back, what do you think of this?

"To see how the sea flap-dragoned <21> it - but first how the poor souls roared, and the sea mocked them -".

εν δε μαινεται γ'ο ποντος, οια μεθυσοκοτταβος, <22>
πως δοκεις; κ δεινα δεινως καταγελα κεκραγοτων. <21>

Here also is another very classical Translation - it is unfortunately a fragment

'Had thy flesh, O Queen, been pampered Quod si fuisset tumidus saginis
With any creature unhallowed; Si sorbuisset coctum prunis [illegible],
Hadst thou sweetened thy gumbs [sic] Si porcum indulsisset ganuinis [sic],
With potage of plumbs [sic] Aut quodvis Saturnalium munusculum,
Or profane mine'd dye hadst swallow'd; Si turgidus fuisset epulis, vinis -
Roll'd up in wanton swines flesh Cum sedulà vitandum est crespusculum -
The fiend might have crept into thee, Possuissem in causa Diabolum libenter,
Then fulness of Gut Cui omnium favet maxim plenus venter. -
Might have made thee rut,
And the Devil so have rid through thee.

Yrs very sincerely
T. K. Arnold

P.S. I will write directly after the Senate 'a right & true list' We almost cracked the old walls of the Hall by clapping young Wood<23> , the son of Absolute Wisdom, (Gallicâ sa haute sapience) upon his receiving his prize - he was in the first Class. Adieu.

A Monsieur
Monsieur W. H. F. Talbot

Poste Restante
Nice Maritime


1. Rev William Whewell (1794-1866), Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, Professor and natural philosopher.

2. Trinity College, Cambridge.

3. Probably Richard Sheepshanks (1794-1855), astronomer.

4. Rev Henry Coddington (1798-1845), natural philosopher, fellow & tutor, Trinity College, Cambridge; d. in Rome.

5. Rev Thomas Worsley (1797-1885), theologian & Master of Downing College, Cambridge.

6. See Doc. No: 01009.

7. See Doc. No: 00944.

8. Atkinson (1797-1865) was Senior Wrangler at Trinity in 1821. His marriage ruled out a fellowship. In 1824 Francis Gilmore offered him the founding chair of maths at Virginia but it seems he never got the letter. In 1825 he fled his creditors, sailing to New York. When he returned he went in for laws and ended up as an author of legal textbooks.

9. His brother, William Langton Arnold (1801– 3 November 1822), the first chemical scholar elected on the Micklebrough Foundation, of Gonville and Caius College.

10. To guelph is to obtain an ordinary degree rather than honours.

11. See Doc. No: 00956.

12. Sir Richard Torin Kindersley (1792-1879), a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge.

13. His brother, Rev Charles Arnold (1802-1884) student and fellow of Gonville and Caius College, later clergyman and schoolmaster.

14. Charles Porter (1797-1877); fellow Cambridge student with WHFT; Clergyman.

15. Hence these tears! James Henry Monk (1784-1856), English divine and classical scholar. In 1822, he was appointed dean of Peterborough. [See Doc. No: 00956].

16. Text torn away under seal.

17. Charles Fursdon, (b. 1798), Trinity College, Cambridge, scholar.

18. The defence and the ornament.

19. Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805), German dramatist, poet, and literary theorist.

20. Porson prize, which WHFT had won in 1820. [See Doc. No: 00885].

21. A comparable drinking game to kottabos with brandy.

22. And does not the sea rage about like a drunken kottabos pot ?

23. As you say ? And, it cruelly mocks the people crying out in terror.

24.Probably Sir John Page Wood (1799-1866), Chaplain and Private Secretary to Queen Caroline.