My dear Henry
Since I wrote last, I have received your beautiful Calotypes, such a packet as that I can always have through F.O. <1> I particularly admire the Hayrick. <2> The breakfast table & folds of the tablecloth <3> prove to me that it would be invaluable to a painter for taking off natural copies of a difficult & troublesome part of their art, namely draperies, in which many even good artists fail.
I wish some fine day you would take the cathedral of Salisbury <4> or the Abbey at Bath, & would not the Avon at Clifton do as well as the Thames at Wapping?
I made a very nice tour though the weather was not favorable. I have just heard from Harriet <5> at Florence.
I have just received Endlichers Enchiridion <6> – what a laborious work. The Botanic garden at Carlsruhe seems one of the best I have seen for a long time – tho the end of October in a pour of rain is not the time to shew it off. It is very rich in ferns. I mean to patronise it & get some things from it.
Coming home I went to see the famous tall oaks of Harreshausen of which I shall send a description to Lindley so you will see it in the Gazette.<7>
I saw at Baden a fine dark broadleaved willow almost as handsome as a Bay tree – do you know such a one?
Horatia <8> wrote me a very amusing letter from Seutomysl[?] – I suppose they are nearly at Rome. All Harriets letters are gone to her.
There is a question in Physics which I want you to find an answer to. Why is there more light round the edge of a looking glass than in the middle, even though the frame be dark? And why when you drop honey, or perhaps any other viscous fluid, does it, if not heavy enough to fall, go halfway & run up again?
Tell me when you are coming abroad & I will make a plan for you –
W F S
1. Foreign Office.
2. For this image see ‘Hayrick with Porter’, taken 21 August 1841, Schaaf 2607, reproduced in Larry J. Schaaf, Sun Pictures Catalogue Nine: William Henry Fox Talbot: Friends and Relations (New York: Hans P. Kraus, Jr., 1999), p. 15.
3. WHFT photographed many round tables but the one with the most striking draping of the cloth, with a Dresden basket and silver on it, is in the NMeM, Bradford, 1937-2525, Schaaf 1902, and is reproduced in Gail Buckland, Fox Talbot and the Invention of Photography (Boston: David R. Godine, 1980), p. 126. [ See Doc. No: 04318].
5. Harriot Georgiana Mundy, née Frampton (1806-1886), WHFT’s cousin & sister-in-law.
6. Probably Stephan Endlicher (1804–1849), Genera plantarum secundum ordines naturales disposita, published from 1836–1840. An ‘encheiridion’ is a handbook.
7. “Die schöne Eiche” of Harreshausen is a group of oak trees, now approximately six centuries old, which by some mutation took on a pyramidal shape. Prof John Lindley (1799–1865), botanist, was editor of The Gardener's Chronicle and published the note under "The Tall Oak of Harreshausen."
8. Henrietta Horatia Maria Gaisford, née Feilding (1810–1851), WHFT’s half-sister.