22d May 1843
My Dear Mother
I was considerably disappointed at not finding any letter from you at the Poste Restante here, as I had written to you <1> both from Dover and Calais, and to Constance <2> from Rouen enclosing 2 pictures. Fortunately Mlle Amélina <3> was able to give me good accounts of you, and Ly Harrts Gallwey <4> also, who tells me that Sir W. G. and Ld Mt E. <5> are on a visit to you.
I staid 4 days at Rouen, but the bad weather continued almost all the time - I made however a pretty sketch of the Palais de Justice during an éclairci <6> - I asked permission to draw the Cathedral but it was entirely refused - Jamais on n'accorde la permission de dessiner <7> - I suppose that it is a monopoly belonging to somebody, & I was interfering with vested rights! I left Rouen Thursday the 18th and slept at Louviers - From Rouen to Pont sur l'Arche is very pretty. The Seine is full of verdant wooded islands - At Louviers is a very old Gothic church. I was surprised to see the number of large standard Arbor Judæ in flower sometimes fifty of them were to be seen at once in a shrubbery. On Friday I got to Paris about 9 o'clock at night. The entrance by the Arc de Triomphe is very imposing, and the Place de la Concorde or Louis XV, lit up with so many gas lamps has a splendid effect. Saturday was a day of magnificent sunshine; I never saw Paris look so well and so gay - The deep shade of the walks in the Thuilleries [sic] gardens was a refreshing contrast - I went to see the Obelisk of Luxor, new since my last visit of more than 10 years ago. I think Paris is greatly embellie, <8> and the Shops are become much more splendid.
I am going to dine today with Ly H. G. <9> She tells me that Montgomerie is in Paris, but that he has been very ill, & is now much better - His brother is with him taking care of him. <10> You know we thought him very poorly at Lacock, & that an illness was coming on.
Hotel de Douvres
Rue de la paix
It is the corner house with the Boulevards - I chose it on account of the view. My sitting room is circular.<11>
P.S. I saw Tom Montgomerie last night, & he says his brother is much better & will return to England next week. -
2. Constance Talbot, née Mundy (1811-1880), WHFT's wife.
4. Lady Harriet Payne Gallwey (d. 1845), née Quin, widow of Lt Gen Sir William Payne Gallwey (1759-1831), 1st Bart.
5. Sir William Payne Gallwey (1807-1881), 2nd Bart; and Ernest Augustus Edgcumbe, Lord Valletort, 3rd Earl of Mt Edgcumbe (1797-1861), WHFT's brother-in-law.
6. Bright spell, break in the clouds. This photograph, Schaaf 1445, was one that WHFT intended to published in The Pencil of Nature, but the part book was discontinued before it could be included. See Larry J. Schaaf, Introductory Volume to H. Fox Talbot's The Pencil of Nature, Anniversary Facsimile (New York: Hans P. Kraus, Jr., Inc., 1989), p. 69.
7. Permission to draw is never given.
9. Lady Harriet Payne Gallwey, née Quin (1784-1845).
10. Rev George Stephen Molyneux Montgomerie (1790-1850), close friend of Talbot family, artist, Rector of Garboldisham, near Thetford, Norfolk; and his brother, Thomas Molyneux Montgomerie (1788-1855).
11. One product of the view from this room became plate II, "View of the Boulevards of Paris" (Schaaf 128), in The Pencil of Nature. It closely paralleled a well-known early photograph by Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre - see Schaaf, Introductory Volume, pp. 46-47.