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Document number: 4980
Date: Sun 07 Apr 1844
Dating: Easter - correct per calendar
Postmark: 8 Apr 1844
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: FEILDING Elisabeth Theresa, née Fox Strangways
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number: 20438
Last updated: 20th July 2012

Laycock Abbey
Easter Sunday

My Dear Henry

Just one hour after your departure Caroline <1> arrived with Valletort, <2> who looks so very ill I was quite shocked. She thought it best he should remain here a day to rest, so we do not depart till tomorrow. a French author has been quoted in the H. of Commons, on the subject of the Factory bill, <3> – [illegible] says “On peut déclamer sur ce sujet, on peut demander au Pouvoir de prevenir tous les Malheurs comme aux Medecins de guerir toutes les Maladies, mais il n’en resulter a aucune amélioration du sort des Ouvriers. Le Bien est ordinairement plus difficile à faire qu’on ne pense”. <4>

In fact nothing is more difficult than to do good [illegible deletion] injuring others with judgement & without injuring others, almost impossible in a complicated state of society like ours.

I hope Claudet will see in the same light so many others do. a clear distinct name would be a positive benefit to the Art; <5> Shakspear [sic] says what’s in a name? I answer a great deal, in modern times. I said so when you christened the Hermes. <6> I wish I had been its Godmother!

Affly Yrs

Since writing the above all our plans are changed, as Caroline will have told you

Henry Fox Talbot Esr
31. Sackville Street


1. Caroline Augusta Edgcumbe, née Feilding, Lady Mt Edgcumbe (1808–1881); WHFT’s half-sister.

2. Ernest Augustus Edgcumbe, Lord Valletort, 3rd Earl of Mt Edgcumbe (1797–1861), WHFT’s brother-in-law.

3. She refers to the 1844 Factory Act that reduced the working hours of children and young people.

4. She means ‘You can declaim on this subject, you can demand that the Almighty prevent all misfortune or that doctors cure every disease, but that doesn’t result in any improvement in circumstances for the Workers. It’s usually more difficult to do good than you’d think’.

5. Antoine Françoise Jean Claudet (1797–1867), London; French-born scientist, merchant & photographer, resident in London. Primarily known at the time for his daguerreotypes, Claudet also briefly offered WHFT's calotype process. Lady Elisabeth, and indeed many of WHFT's friends, felt that the process should be named the Talbotype, although the inventor himself preferred not be so honoured.

6. Hermes: or Classical and Antiquarian Researches, No. 1. (London: Longman, Orme, Green, Brown & Longman, 1838).