16th Oct 1846
Altho' only this morning arrived from Sicily I cannot allow the steamer, going today to Southampton, to depart without expressing to you my dear Sir the infinite gratitude I feel for the very kind offer of befriending my poor boy - But unfortunately he is too young in the Navy to benefit by it at present - & being still aboard the Hibernica I much fear that I shall not be able to accept this invitation of the Bishop of Jerusalem <1> to accompany him, for he goes to his See next week - Lady Parker <2> still thinks the Admiral may be in - but report says that the fleet is watching some political movements in Spain, & will not leave the coast at present
Thank you too for the hints you give me about fixing the possitive copies - but do oblige me by telling me the exact proportions & proceedings therin - for I am trying an infinity of ways, & can succeed in none as the hyposulph. <3> invariably lightens, or puts them out, & discolours them - I find Coopers <4> plan of clorate potiss.[sic] stands best - & Cundell's <5> next - but then the effect is nothing like so good, or the whites so clear, as in yours -
I select three or four to enclose as specimens - Having no bromine <6> to fix them I did it by hyposulp. - Will you tell me whether they are sufficiently fixed to take possitives from? I find a difficulty in getting out the yellow - even by letting them be ¼ hour in the boiling solution - should it be kept up at the boiling point, by a lamp?
It will not do to send more in this way by letter - but I have now 100 I believe - & will make a parcel by some cheaper conveyance to you - but it would oblige me greatly if you would tell me, or direct your agent <7> to tell me, whether these be not cooked <8> too long in Camera - or too much brought out. - Unless one can succeed in trying them by a possitive copy, there is no knowing this - & I go on in the dark. Indeed it seems that this point of fixing the possitive copies, & taking them with such a preparation as will give, & stand, the best prints, is the chief desideratum of an art which is very imperfect till that be obtained. - Perhaps you will do me the favor to send me a few copies of these. - & to send one to my good Mother, Mrs Bridges, Box. - Any thing will best reach me here through my Brother, John Bridges Esr Warnford Court, Throgmorton Street London - who will pay your Agent all expences. -
I still hope to get into Syria & Egypt this winter - though my ardour in your beautiful art cools very much by my unsuccess in finishing the process - I could not hope to do it so well as yourself, & should always take advantage of the liberty you give me, of sending the negatives home to you to be copied - but as I generally take duplicates, & have many which possess only local interest, such as sketches of friends, & familiar places, it is a sad drawback not being able to finish this
I have every apology to make for this repeatedly trespassing on you - but your goodness encourages me still. Pray permit my kindest regards to Mrs Talbot <9> & to your lovely children, & believe me my dear Sir.
truly & gratfly Yours
Geo W Bridges
1. Capt. William Wilson Somerset Bridges (1831-1889), RN. 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. Possibly the wife of Sir William Parker (1781-1866), admiral of the fleet.
3. Hypo sulphite or hypo.
4. Probably John Thomas Cooper Jr., resident chemist at the Royal Polytechnic Institution and operator of Britain's first public photographic studio found at the same place. See Helmut and Alison Gernsheim, The History of Photography (London, New York: Oxford University Press, 1955), pp. 66, 84, 94, 105. Clorate potiss. is an abbreviation for potassium chloride, which was used to speed up the photographic process.
5. George Smith Cundell (1798-1882), photographer and author of a treatise on the calotype.
6. Probably potassium bromide.
7. Probably Benjamin Cowderoy (1812-1904), land agent in Reading; business manager for WHFT; later a politician in Australia.
8. Bridges and his companions at Malta Rev Calvert Richard Jones (1802-1877), Welsh painter & photographer and Christopher Rice Mansel Talbot (1803-1890), immensely wealthy landowner, mathematician & politician; WHFT's Welsh cousin had previously had problems with getting evenly exposed negatives in the strong Mediterranean light. See Larry J. Schaaf, Sun Pictures Catalogue Five: The Reverend Calvert R. Jones (New York: Hans P. Kraus, Jr., 1990), p. 31. [See also Doc. No: 05185].
9. Constance Talbot, née Mundy (1811-1880), WHFT's wife.