Decr 6th 1873
My recent return from India on furlough – which will be of some length – and the near approach of my eldest brother’s <2> departure from England, have combined to place me in a position in which the duty devolves peculiarly upon me of taking steps to certificate the possible event of a publication of my father’s letters. By my brother’s advice, and with the concurrence of my mother and of the other members of the family, I venture to address you with a view to securing your assistance.
It is our wish to form a collection of my father’s correspondence <3> – not so much with any view to publication as to provide against the too probable loss or destruction which takes place with time; as well as to guard against any more fragmentary collection.
I am aware that such an application usually implies publication in some shape. In the present case I am bound to state that no such intention has been formed; and am conscious therefore that the guarantees which alone I can offer must be less definite than they might otherwise be. I can however assure you, for myself and in behalf of the rest of the family, that any letters which you may entrust to us for transcription shall be returned to you with as little delay as possible, and that the transcripts shall be kept with as scrupulous regard to the nature of their subject as if they were the writer’s own drafts or copies – some of which, of course, actually are in our hands at this moment.
I am not unmindful of the trouble which we may be giving in making such a request. It is however for you to judge whether it is not a proper one; and to what extent it may be in your power to comply with it. I can do no more than offer our assurance that your response, if favourable, will be gratefully valued; and, permitting myself to entertain the confident hope that it will not be otherwise,
I beg to remain Yours respectfully
J Herschel Capt R.E
W.H. Fox Talbot Esqre
F.R.S., F.L.S., &c &c
W. H. Fox Talbot Esqre
2. Sir William James Herschel, 2nd Bart (1833-1917), who as an administrator in India became the first person to recognise the value of fingerprints for identification.
3. Sir John Frederick William Herschel (1792–1871), astronomer & scientist.