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Document number: 5784
Date: 05 Dec 1846
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: BRIDGES George Wilson
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA46-133
Last updated: 16th February 2012

5th Decr 1846

Dear Mr Talbot

I received your kind letter of 19th Novr by the steamer which yesterday brought my nephew <1> on his way to India – the son of my Sister at Monk’s Park <2> – I was most anxious to retain a sketch of him, & to send it to his Mother – & took the enclosed Talbotypes <3>: – will you do me the great favour to copy them – & send proofs to her? Mrs Dewell I have taken the liberty to tell her that you would. – I really cannot conquer the difficulties – nothing can be more beautiful than the copies as they come from the press – but they almost invariably get embrowned, or faint, or discoloured with fixing <4>. – & too often the negatives get specky after one or two proofs taken from them. – It is sadly discouraging: – in spite of your very kind offer of aid – for it renders the art imperfect at the very moment when you think you have succeeded best.–

I enclose the waxed negative <5> to shew how they serve me, too often, after having taken 2 or 3 copies – it is a portrait of my friend the Bp. of Jerusalem <6> – I suppose irrecoverable – I will try your suggestion about the lessened proportions of salt –

I hastly close this – to save post if possible – The parcel you mention is not yet arrived – & my ill success makes me very unwilling to venture to Syria at present. – However I have many more negatives which if worth sending, you shall have. – In the mean time I should be vy much oblige [sic] if you could send copies of this to my Sister which would greatly gratify her –

& Yours my dear Sir very trly
Geo W Bridges

I have just received a parcel of the seeds of the Etna tree broom <7> – a curious plant – which I will forward for you to my brother <8> in London. –Pray excuse the hast I fear I am too late –
I have left out the waxed negative – it would make the postage too costly
More seeds are collecting for you: –


1. Samuel Gobat (1799–1879), Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem from 1846 until his death in 1879; he became Vice-Principal of the Malta Protestant College in February 1846, but on 9 April 1846 he was appointed to fill the vacant Bishopric at Jerusalem by the King of Prussia.

2. Location in Wiltshire.

3. Although WHFT modestly used the term calotype, Bridges and other loyal supporters honoured him by calling these Talbotypes, in parallel with the term Daguerreotype.

4. Sir John Herschel's process of using hyposulphite of soda had come into widespread use for fixing. Under the right conditions, it did its work very well, but it was a difficult chemical to obtain in pure form and if not thoroughly washed out could cause more mischief than good.

5. Calotype photographers often treated the paper negative with wax which made it more transparent which meant that the possitive copies, taken from the negative, would appear sharper.

6. Possibly Charles Dewell, Captain in India until ca. 1861, when he left for Malmesbury, Wiltshire to set up a Catholic congregation.

7. See Doc. No: 05946.

8. John Bridges.

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