My Dear Henry
I sat up some time last night thinking you would come to wish me good bye, as I foresaw I should not be up this morning. However I had a last view of your carriage where Caroline <1> stationed me at the window to see you mount the Hill. You have been so occupied these latter days here, that I have never found a moment in peace to tell you my opinion (which I hold it my duty to do, because no other person stands in the same relation to you as myself) about printing. They are all very pretty in their several ways & if inserted in a Keepsake &c &c &c would each appear to be in its proper place, but would I fear disappoint expectations so highly raised as they have been about your talents, which have always justly been held to be of a very superior order. You are able to grapple with any Mental difficulties & if you had been a younger brother & obliged to live by your wits, there is nothing to which you might not have attained, because in this County one sees every day that Men rise to distinction by mere force of talent, and determination. If you had published anything scientific historic or political (which you are so well able to do) then these coming after, would not have signified, but knowing as I do your sterling abilities I do not like these tales & poems <2> to be taken in the world for the Standard of what you can do. If you had made known to the English public the discoveries of Franenhofer, <3> or had taken a critical subject in one of the leading Reviews (which in fact is generally no criticism but only a vehicle for opinions) it would have placed you where I think you ought to be. Ld Lansdowne Ld Dudley <4> & most of the clever men of the day, began by trying their wings in those Reviews.
God Bless you My Dearest Henry
I know you have too much grandeur d’ame <5> to be annoyed at being put in possession of the truth or least of what I think so.
Henry Fox Talbot Esqr
31. Sackville Street
1. Caroline Augusta Edgcumbe, née Feilding, Lady Mt Edgcumbe (1808–1881); WHFT’s half-sister.
2. WHFT, Legendary Tales, in Verse and Prose (London: James Ridgway, 1830).
3. Misspelling of Joseph von Fraunhofer (1787–1826), optician, Munich.
4. Henry Petty Fitzmaurice, 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne (1780–1863), MP, WHFT’s uncle, and John William Ward, 1st Earl Dudley (d. 1833).
5. Nobility of soul.
6. Nothing is beautiful that truth: truth alone is pleasant. Boileau, Epistles.
7. Nicolas Boileau (1636–1711), poet and critic.
8. I love Plato, but I like the truth better.