32 John St – Kings Park
11 May 1842
As your ingenious invention, the Calotype, is one in which I am much interested, & to the practice of which I feel inclined to devote my time & attention, may I request that you will have the goodness to inform me whether you desire to have it put in operation here, or in Edinburgh, and under what arrangement, or on what terms.<1>
With the particular mode of using the process I confess myself unacquainted; but I have no doubt I should very speedily acquire sufficient skill to enable me to do it justice; – more especially as it is one congenial to my mind, though not at all connected with my past pursuits.
That you may be able at once to satisfy yourself, however, as to the general probability that I would be competent to do justice to the invention and be successful in carrying it into profitable operation; and, at all events, for satisfactory information as to my general ability and respectability, I may refer you to Messrs A Fullarton & Co Publishers, Glasgow, by whom I am at present engaged in preparing the principal articles of a work which I am also conducting through the press, as editor, namely “the Parliamentary Gazetteer of England & Wales”;<2> or to Mr Robert Chambers, <3> Atholl Crescent, Edinburgh, one of the editors of Chambers’s Journal, who has known me for a number of years, & for one of whose popular works “the Information for the People”, my time happens also at present to be partly engaged in writing an article. I may also refer to other personal friends, as, to Dr Simpson, Charlotte Square, Edinburgh, Professor of Midwifery in the University there, & N. B. Turnbull Esqr, Advocate, Great King Street Edinburgh; – and even for some assurance as general ability (though unacquainted with my private character ) to Thomas De Quincey Esqr, Holyrood, Edinburgh; the editor of the Scotsman, Edinburgh Newspaper; Dr Balfour Professor <4> of Botany in the University of Glasgow; & perhaps even also to two gentlemen with whom you may happen to be acquainted, namely Mr Murchison, <5> President of the Geological Society London, & Dr Buckland, <6> who will both probably recognize my name favorably in connection with recent astro-geological researches.
The latter names I give merely that, if it so please you, as many chances may be afforded me of your being informed, less or more, from one quarter or another, of the general likelihood of my being able to do justice to any subject such as this, requiring good average ability, tact, & intelligence: and I hope, on this account, that you will excuse me for adding to these chances, by also naming James Whishaw Esqre, Torrington Square, London, one of the late Charity Commissioners, who, as another English gentleman, may be known to you – & who, I believe, will subscribe to the fact of my general ability, though, like the two former, he may think it odd that such a reference should be made to him, as I am personally unacquainted with him.
Having already trespassed too far on your time and attention I shall only now subscribe myself, Sir, Your obedt & respectful Servt,
1. Whether WHFT replied to this, or how he felt about the prospect, is unknown. However, he would soon learn from Sir David Brewster that Robert Adamson was setting up a calotype studio in Edinburgh, a prospect that he supported. See Doc. No: 04573.
2. The Parliamentary gazetteer of England and Wales: adapted to the new poor-law, franchise, municipal and ecclesiastical arrangements, and compiled with a special reference to the lines of railroad and canal communication, as existing at the close of the year 1839. Illustrated by a series of maps, forming a complete county atlas of England (Glasgow: A Fullerton & Co., 1840-1843).
3. Robert Chambers (1802–1871).
4. Dr John Hutton Balfour (1808–1884), Scottish botanist.
5. Sir Roderick Impey Murchison, 1st Baronet Murchison (1792–1871), geologist.
6. William Buckland (1784–1856), Dean of Westminster & scientist.