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Document number: 4192
Date: 11 Dec 1874
Dating: 1874 confirmed by Kenealy in the Times
Recipient: TALBOT Constance, née Mundy
Author: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Last updated: 1st September 2003

Athenæum <1>

Dec. 11

My Dear Constance

I was glad to hear of Goodwin’s <2> safe removal to the Asylum and of the kind policeman who took such friendly care of him, poor man!

Ela and Connie’s <3> journey appears to have been most prosperous.

Ela describes to me the delight of Mimay at having her Sister again. I am glad that Connie looked so flourishing, showing what good care we took of her! Tell Charles <4> I received his letter, and intend at present to return to Lacock on Thursday. I have made acquaintance with the eminent Assyrian scholar Dr Delitzsch <5> of Leipsic. He is quite a Young man. I meet him at the Museum every day and we look over the clay tablets together – One we looked at today was entirely about dress, and enumerating every kind of cloth or stuff which was Known to the Assyrians, they seem to have had as many Kinds as we have – One kind interested me particularly it was named Cloth from Canaan, no doubt that which was dyed with the famous Syrian purple.

I pointed out this entry to Dr Delitzsch and he agreed with me that it was cloth from Canaan, plainly written. Thereupon Dr Birch <6> showed me the name of Canaan in Egyptian writing, as early as the Exodus of the Israelites – For this manuscript the British Museum gave two thousand pounds to a Miss Harris <7> of Alexandria whose father bought it from an Arab for as many pence.

Was it not wonderful the shower of telegrams from the uttermost ends of the world the day after the transit of Venus? and what various success attended the observers! Calcutta saw it well while Madras saw nothing.

Wladi Vostock in the North East Siberia was one of the first telegrams that reached London – I was not aware that one could Telegraph to that place.

I think that poor Dr Kenealy <8> is absolutely going out of his mind. In todays Times he calls upon 5 million people to help him by taking his newspaper “the Englishman” and if they will do so, he will thereby have friends enough to return half the members of the House of Commons and thereby sweep away Despotism and destroy it root and branch!


Your affte



1. Athenaeum Club, Pall Mall, London: WHFT’s club; a gentleman’s club composed primarily of artists and scientists.

2. George Goodwin (d. 1875), footman at Lacock Abbey.

3. Ela Theresa Talbot (1835–1893), WHFT’s 1st daughter; Constance Stewart, née Gilchrist-Clark (b. 1863), ‘Connie’, WHFT’s Scottish granddaughter.

4. Charles Henry Talbot (1842–1916), antiquary & WHFT’s only son.

5. Prof Conrad Gerhard Friederich Delitzsch (1850–1922), German biblical scholar.

6. Dr Samuel Birch (1813–1885), linguist, Keeper at the British Museum, London.

7. Selima Harris ( ca.1827–1899), British collector who at the death of her father (1871) sold his collection to British Museum.

8. Edward Vaughan Kenealy (1819–1880), barrister and writer. [See ‘Magna Charta’, The Times (London), 11 December 1874, p. 8].