April 12. 1812
My Dr Talbot
I cannot tell you how much I feel obliged to you for your kind remembrance of me & for the Justice you have done me in supposing that I shd be anxiously solicitous for every thing that concerns you. You seem to me to set out in the World under the very fairest auspices. Most excellent & (what is not always the case) most clever Parents, brilliant & solid Talents, & a degree of improvement, if these do not hereafter, work out something different from the common run of men, I shall be most grievously deceived, & disappointed. Your late success in your Remove will I have no doubt, stimulate a Mind like yours to future, & very Earnest Exertions. Remember my Dear young Friend, & if you cannot think it yourself take it on the Word of an old man, that you can at present have no conception of the advantage that every moment of your Riper years will derive from classical acquirements. In peculiar studies, be they what they will, such as Chemistry Botany &c &c. they are most useful & most ornamental, but they are calld for at certain Times & seasons only, whereas classical information is of daily & hourly use, & is ever the pillar on which other studies come forward with their best advantage. Not a Sentence will you utter, not a word will you write nay, no thought will enter your mind, but it will be dressd by classical Education, & tho’ perhaps you may not always be able to say from what author you deriv’d this or that sentiment or Expression, the Information of a classical mind, will be a well of Intelligence wh[ich]<2> you can never draw dry.
Persevere therefore my dr Talbot, & whatever pursuit your mind may hereafter fix upon, give up unremittingly the next Ten Years to the gleanings of classical Literature. If you don’t do it now you never will, for once enterd into the World & its occupations, you will never be persuaded to sit down to the regularity of Work which Classical Studies require, and never forget you must do your own work by wh I mean that a Master can only direct & lead you, it is after you are out of his Hands, you must use the information, for yourself. I fitted you for Dr Butler, <3> Dr Butler will fit you for the university & then you will have stock in trade enough when you finish that for all possible purposes. George Smith <4> is a very idle fellow in Writing, I have delivered your Message. His Brother is gone to Edinburg, where he has done me the greatest Credit. We all unite in kind love especially George. Poor dear Maam <5> is dead & Business consequent on that prevents me from calling on your Mama <6> make my apologies
& believe me ever most affe Yours.
Rev Doctor Butler’s
Harrow on ye Hill near
[verso - written in another hand] Rottingdean April 12. 1812
1. Rottingdean, East Sussex, 4 mi SE of Brighton: WHFT attended school there from 1808–1811.
2. Text mmissing under seal.
3. Rev George Butler (1774–1853), Headmaster at Harrow.
6. Lady Elisabeth Theresa Feilding, née Fox Strangways, first m Talbot (1773–1846), WHFT’s mother.
7. Rev. Hooker was an interesting character. His career prospects were seemingly cut short when his father lost his fortune to an industrial accident. Hooker became the private secretary to the Duke of Dorset, learned French, took Holy Orders and through the Duke's influence established an influential school. His pupils included the nephews of the Duke of Wellington and of Napoleon Bonaparte. He was also active in the local smuggling ring. See Arthur R. Ankers, revised by Michael Smith, Sussex Cavalcade (Sevenoaks: Hawthorns Publications, Ltd., 1992), pp. 97-100.