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Document number: 4318
Date: Thu 05 Aug 1841
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: EDGCUMBE Caroline Augusta, née Feilding
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: Acc no 20190 (envelope only)
Last updated: 9th June 2016

Thursday August 5th 1841

My dear Henry

I have been rather slow in executing an intention I formed at Dresden; i.e. that of writing to you – but when you have found out the object of my letter, I hope you will not imitate my bad example, but make haste & answer it. – At Dresden we met Lord Munster, <1> who is a very agreable [sic] man (in spite of my prejudices against him,) & is writing a book <2> upon Warfare in the East – he is besides President of the Asiatic Society <3> & of course has easy access to all the public Librarys [sic] which he ransacks for subjects connected with his book – All this is what I do not mean to say – but what I do mean is that Ld Munster who had never before seen any of your Photographs, was delighted with them very naturally, & made me take them with me to the Public Library, to shew them to Dr Falkenstein, <4> the Librarian, whom he thought wd be particularly interested in the Specimens of handwriting & old parchments, <5> the more so as he is making an immense collection of autographs – Dr Falkenstein is an extremely pleasing wellbred man, & took the utmost pains to shew & explain everything during the two hours we spent at the Library, with that agreable bonhomie peculiar I think to learned foreigners, more especially Germans – which condescends to minds of low estate – He was perfectly enchanted with the Photographs, & knew not how to express his gratitude when I presented him with six Specimens <6>

1o the Tower of Laycock Abbey, 2o South view of Abbey, 3o Bust of Patroclus, 4o Leaf of Corcorus 5 View of Bowood, (where he had been) 6o Round table with a tablecloth très bien drapée – He made me write the names at the back, & your name, & then made a very particular request that I would get your signature, the Inventor of Photography, to add to his collection – I promised I wd do so, & I think he would like best, not a bare signature, but some words with it – He told me also that when he was in England 4 years ago, in the suite of the Princess Amelia of Saxony, <7> he had been asked to meet Mr Moore, <8> at dinner at Murray’s <9> – but that an invitation arriving from Court for the same day, he had been prevented from making his acquaintance which he regretted excessively – When I told him that I knew Mr Moore intimately, he begged also for his autograph – [illegible] & in return is going to send me a small collection, containing Goethe’s, Klopstock’s <10> &c Now I should like you to procure for me some of Mr Moore’s writing with his signature, & a nice specimen of your own, & send them to me by return of post, or as soon as possible – if you could at the same time send one or two photographs, particularly one fm that manuscript of Richard 2nd <11> I should be very glad – as I could not spare mine & to think he wd prize that – I intend to dispense those you gave me, among worthy people – but still I must be moderate in my generosity, or I shall have none left – Pray now dear Henry answer me quickly – the post is so very slow from England, that I am afraid if you daudle [sic] like me, the things will not come in time before we leave the Country, which I should be very sorry for, having held out hopes of getting them without difficulty – You cannot think how anxious he was to possess your signature after beholding the photographs – Pray communicate this letter to Mamma, <12> as I have not time to write by today’s Courier – I received this morning her letter of the 26th announcing Horatia’s <13> departure, wh I began to think wd never take place – Though I wished for her so anxiously before, I could not help feeling quite sorry at last, at poor Mamma being left without her – she must feel very lonely & desolate – I hope you & Constance <14> will make much of her now – Pray tell her that I think she cannot have received all my letters, & that I wish she wd do as I do, & always mention the day she has received mine with the date, as there is no knowing otherwise with such a slow post, if they arrive or not – Tell her the letter of today was dated 26th July, & the last she wrote before, the 29th June – a whole month between! so I think I had a right to complain – & between those two, only one short one from Horatia directed to Dresden – Pray say also that I told her at Wiesbaden to whose direct first to Dresden & then here – & that I have written at least 4 or 5 letters in that same space of time – However I will keep her au courant of our movements & shall write to Horatia at Frankfort [sic] –

Yrs affly

Ernest <15> was better at first but the Baths have brought on an attack of Gout – & he was in bed all yesterday & today – He is just in Lord Lansdowne’s <16> care groaning for Society, & none comes –

Henry Fox Talbot Esqre
Laycock Abbey


1. George Augustus Frederick Fitzclarence, 1st Earl of Munster (1794–1842), eldest of the numerous children of the Duke of Clarence, later William IV.

2. Presumably his Oriental Warfare project was cut short by his tragic death the following year.

3. The (Royal) Asiatic Society, founded in London in March 1823.

4. Constantin Karl Falkenstein (1801–1855), head librarian and author of Geschichte der buchdruckerkunst in ihrer entstehung und ausbildung (Leipzig: B.G. Teubner, 1840).

5. For an example of this see ‘A Stanza from the “Ode to Napoleon” – in Lord Byron’s Hand’, Schaaf 604, reproduced in Larry J. Schaaf, The Photographic Art of William Henry Fox Talbot (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000), p. 79. WHFT was keen on applying photography to reproduction of both images and text and freely gave his permission to the Devonshire-born George Robbins Gliddon (1809-1857), an Egyptologist and American diplomat to use photography. He had Nicolaas Henneman produce prints for The Talbotype Applied to Hieroglyphics (Reading: 1846), comprising three photographs of hieroglyphs and his text. See Ricardo A. Caminos, "The Talbotype Applied to Hieroglyphics," Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, v. 52, 1966, pp. 65-70 and Plates XIII-XV. The ink ‘originals’ and accompanying loose prints are in the Talbot Collection of the National Media Museum, Bradford, and at the time Camino thought these were unique survivors; the copy in the British Library was lost to the Blitz. However, several other copies have been subsequently discovered. Three are in the Richard Lepsius collection in the State Library of Berlin. Gliddon dedicated one copy to Lepsius on 18 August 1846 and another (undated) to Joseph Bonomi; the third is not inscribed. On 18 August 1846, Gliddon dedicated a copy to the French Egyptologist Émile Prisse d’Avennes (1807-1879); it is bound into v. 219 of his diaries in the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris. A single plate is preserved in the Library Company of Philadelphia in the collection of Samuel Morton (1819-1850), a craniologist and ethnologist. On 17 June 1846, Gliddon wrote to Morton about Talbot’s new invention, enthusing that “if you introduced the Talbotype at Philadelphia, you need no longer employ an Artist in Skull-drawing, but save great expense and ensure supernatural accuracy in your Plates. Tis worth your consideration; for you can multiply ‘ad infinitum,’ at the mere cost of iodized paper.”

6. There are many images that fit these descriptions. Sharington’s Tower might be one from 14 May 1841, negative in the Smithsonian, 1995.206.20, with a print in one of Lady Feilding’s albums in the NMeM, Bradford, 1937–366/20, Schaaf 2597. The best known views of the south front of Lacock Abbey were taken after this letter but it was a common subject for WHFT. Similarly, he frequently photographed the ‘Bust of Patroclus’, with later examples being included in WHFT, The Pencil of Nature (London: Longman, Brown, Green, & Longmans, June 1844–April 1846 [issued in six fascicles]). Although the corcorus (more commonly corchorus) has not been specifically identified, there are many leaves in WHFT’s work that resemble the outlines of this member of the linden family. The view of Bowood House, nr Calne, Wiltshire, 5 mi NE of Lacock: seat of the Marquess of Lansdowne, was likely to have been one of the ones he photographed on 25 April 1840; an example is in the J. Paul Getty Museum, 84.XZ.574.69, Schaaf 2396, and is reproduced in Graham Smith, Disciples of Light: Photographs in the Brewster Album (Los Angeles: J Paul Getty Museum, 1990), p. 138. WHFT also photographed many round tables but the one with the most striking draping of the cloth, with a Dresden basket and silver on it, is in the NMeM, Bradford, 1937–2525, Schaaf 1902, and is reproduced in Gail Buckland, Fox Talbot and the Invention of Photography (Boston: David R. Godine, 1980), p. 126. [ See Doc. No: 04353].

7. Amelia of Wittelsbach (1801–1877), Queen of Saxony, born Princess of Bavaria.

8. Thomas Moore (1780–1852), Irish poet.

9. Probably Rev Edward Murray (1798–1852), author & inventor.

10. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832), and Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock (1724–1803).

11. This was probably a variant of the “Fac-Simile of an Old Printed Page”, plate IX of WHFT, The Pencil of Nature (London: Longman, Brown, Green, & Longmans, June 1844–April 1846 [issued in six fascicles]), Schaaf 851, reproduced in Larry J. Schaaf, Sun Pictures Catalogue Three: The Harold White Collection of Work by William Henry Fox Talbot (New York: Hans P. Kraus, Jr., 1987), pp. 70–71. WHFT made several earlier versions of this copy of a page of Noua statuta (London: William de Machlinia, 1485), a legal treatise from the reign (1377–1399) of Richard II (1367–1400), and these earlier variants are generally what he distributed.

12. Lady Elisabeth Theresa Feilding, née Fox Strangways, first m Talbot (1773–1846), WHFT’s mother.

13. Henrietta Horatia Maria Gaisford, née Feilding (1810–1851), WHFT’s half-sister.

14. Constance Talbot, née Mundy (1811–1880), WHFT’s wife.

15. Ernest Augustus Edgcumbe, Lord Valletort, 3rd Earl of Mt Edgcumbe (1797–1861), WHFT’s brother-in-law.

16. Henry Petty Fitzmaurice, 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne (1780–1863), MP, WHFT’s uncle.