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Document number: 10040
Date: 15 Aug 1806
Recipient: FEILDING Elisabeth Theresa, née Fox Strangways
Author: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Collection: Bodleian Library, Oxford - Fox Talbot Personal Archive
Collection number: FT10080
Last updated: 24th April 2015

[This is a complex and interesting document. The bulk of it was written in another hand for the six year old Henry Talbot and represents the second known letter written by him (the earliest is not yet available for publication). This portion is written in his very large and childish hand:]

My Dear Mama

how do you do I [text missing]nt the green plums. come to me you have been away three weeks and six days W.HFT

[WHFT's self-written portion (above) followed this section, written for him in an adult hand - the amanuensis was probably Miss Porter:]

Henry's Journal to his Mamma

Mary's Birth Day. Aug 14. 1806

Thursday. rose at 8, O'Clock, came to Po,<1> turned the Hour Glass and played with it.- read my Journal of Sepr 5, 1805, that you wrote for me. said my Prayers. hit my chin against a Chair, cried a little. Betty <2>put some Pommade divine to it. told Po, my Journal. did a Sum in Substraction, then ate my breakfast; Tea and dried Toast, it was very good. - Po read the Travelled Ant while we were at Breakfast. liked it very much. went down with Po to the Breakfast Room. went up stairs to Aunt Mary, gave her a kiss and told her that Breakfast was getting cold.- I forget the Answer. came down again, ate a Finger and some Currants. My Uncle gave me the Finger and Aunt Mary the Currants. read in the Evening at Home. after Breadfast went up to the Dressing Room with Aunt Mary and then went out with Jane and Betty. dug in Jane's Garden with sticks; so did Jane. she brought out her three Books of Trades, we I read the Wool-comber. had my Hands washed and then we baked. went to Dinner. there was a Cherry Pie, and Toad in the Hole. - After Dinner we played at Shop.- went out again with Jane to the Garden; went into the Green house because it rained a little. made Mount Parnassas decorated it with Flowers, Coxcomb, yellow toad-Flax and Candy Tuft.- had my supper went to Desert.- staid in the Drawing room with Christiana<3> and Po.- amused ourselves with the Couch.- then Po told us about Fairford and St Paul- went to Bed and slept very well.

Friday. - rose at 8 - said my Prayers to Po- prayed to God to bless you.- played with my Cousins. ate my Breakfast told Po my Journal should be only to Day and that I would write to you on the rest of the Paper.- went to Aunt Mary. walked out with Betty.- when I came back amused myself in the Dressing room. Po must not put down the next thing-[ went to Dinner. after Dinner amused myself with jumping off the Steps in My Aunt's Dressing room. it was too wet to go out. At night we played very nicely and had a famous Battle with Austrians. went to Bed. now the Letter Po.-

[WHFT's letter (above) follows this section. The amanuensis concludes with a note written on the outside page:]

I am sure I cannot send you a more entertaining Epistle than the annexed which Henry has just given me. He complained one morning of being a little sickish & has had a touch of the tooth Ach but otherwise nobdy can be better when it is hot. I have not allowed him to be out so much as he used to be& I thinks he has a better colour in his dear little Cheeks.

did I desire you immediately to send me a exact copy of Louis's account. I shall not be sorry if C. does accept the person you mention or rather hint. You know my opinion is Good sense & Good health & Good temper are 3 good things seldom joined to a Good fortune & it must be esteemed Ill fortune to be rich without them- do not trouble yourself to answer on this Subject as I know your opinions. Mrs D: is here still. - do not fill your letters with her or her affairs I beg.

[Address panel:]

The Lady Eliz. Feilding
Post Office


1. The nickname given by her pupils to Agnes Anne Porter (1750-1814), the Scottish born governess to the 2nd Earl of Ilchester, primarily at Penrice. Unusually for a working woman of the period, some of her letters and diaries were preserved and have been published. See Joanna Martin, A Governess in the Age of Jane Austin. The Journals and Letters of Agnes Porter (London: The Hambledon Press, 1998).

2. Elizabeth Vickery ‘Betty’, WHFT’s governess. When she died in autumn 1835, WHFT paid to have a gravestone placed at Cutcombe, Somerset, inscribed: 'Erected to the Memory of Elizbth Vickery his kind & faithful nurse by Henry Fox Talbot of Lacock Abbey in the country of Wilts Esqre'; the stone's inscription is still readable - See Doc. No: 03205.

3. Christiana Henrietta Caroline, Lady Harriot Acland née Fox Strangways (1750-1815). She later became famous for rescuing her wounded husband during the American War of Independence.

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