My dear Henry
I cannot resist reminding you of the “preliminary page” or whatever it may be called which you promised us for the great Photographic Work –<2> because I hope you may come across it when you are writing & making preparations for your grand move to Edinburgh.<3>
2do Would it be extremely presumptuous or indecorous or &c &c if I were to beg for one of your original Photographs in which there was a likeness of yourself – standing near a portion of the Abbey I think – because I should specially like one on many accounts? –
I wish you were coming here either en garçon or otherwise, but Constance <4> cd not be persuaded to do so much to her Brother’s<5> disappointment – I fear that Mlle Amélina <6> is a great impediment to sociability in the visiting way.
I hope you are better than when you came so kindly to see me in my dilapidated condition, tho’ I cannot suppose that the said visit could have done you as much good, as your most interesting & agreable [sic] conversation did to me – I feel too that I had such a narrow escape! for if you had not chanced to come that day I might have been ages without knowing of that curious transaction & translation of the Assyrian Inscriptions! I do not know where you may be, but of course this will reach you in due time – I suppose you are aware that Mr & Mrs Fox Strangways <7> are making a Tour in Switzerland.
Yr Affte Cousin
H Ga Mundy
1. Markeaton Hall, Derbyshire, NW of Derby: home of the Mundy family.
2. This was for The Executive Committee of the Great Exhibition of 1851's publication of the Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, 1851: Reports by the Juries. Four volumes, illustrated by original photographic prints from negatives by Hugh Owen and Claude Marie Ferrier. In the copies given to WHFT, a dedicatory sheet was inserted (most likely printed up by him): 'This Work, on the Results of the Great Exhibition of 1851, Illustrated with Photographic Plates, being One of Fifteen Copies Given by the Royal Commissioners to H.F. Talbot, Esq. of Lacock Abbey, as The Inventor of this Branch of the Photographic Art, was by him presented to _____'. The title page was apparently printed considerably later - see Doc. No: 07314. The Reports caused WHFT considerable consternation at the time, for he felt that the Commissioners had stealthily and unfairly taken the job of printing the plates away from Nicolaas Henneman. For a summary of this complex situation, see Nancy B Keeler, 'Illustrating the "Reports by the Juries" of the Great Exhibition of 1851; Talbot, Henneman, and Their Failed Commission,' History of Photography, v. 6 no. 3, July 1982, pp. 257-272.
3. The Talbot family resided in Edinburgh for long stretches of time, especially after their daughter's marriage in 1859, and WHFT conducted much of his important research on photoglyphic engraving there. They were settled in Edinburgh shortly after this letter - see Doc. No: 00449.
4. Constance Talbot, née Mundy (1811–1880), WHFT’s wife.
5. William Mundy (1801-1877), politician, WHFT’s brother-in-law.
7. William Thomas Horner Fox Strangways, 4th Earl of Ilchester (1795- 10 Jan 1865), botanist, art collector & diplomat; WHFT's favourite uncle; m 21 Jul 1857 Lady Sophia Penelope, née Sheffield (1822-1882), making her Countess of Ilchester.