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Document number: 904
Date: 1821
Dating: late summer/autumn 1821 - see note
Watermark: 1820
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: ARNOLD Thomas Kerchever
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Last updated: 29th January 2012

[From internal evidence, this letter must date from the summer of 1821, after the award of the Porson Prize in late June and before the vacancies were filled in October. All known letters from WHFT in Berne are from 1821. His parents arrived there in June and he appears to have travelled around Switzerland, being in Berne at least in September - see Doc. No: 00940].

Dear Talbot/I met Porter by almost as great an accident as you did at the foot of the Simplon <1> - I was buying a copy of the play at the Odeon when I observed a man looking rather fixedly upon me, and soon recognised the tutor of Caius <2>, somewhat altered by his spectacles, but looking very tutorial - I acknowledge the receipt of the long letter you mention, and confess the shame which I feel at not having answered it before but it arrived at Stamford <3> a few days before I left it, and the time, which has since slipped away, has chiefly been spent in resolving to answer it. I must enter upon Cambridge news - Thorpe [sic]<4> is travelling Bachelor, and is in Italy, I presume, with a pupil, who is to give him 300 £ for this year, and go with him to Italy, Malta (where Thorpe has a sister) and Greece, if his nerves permit him. Coddington <5> is in Germany, Worsley <6> was here till the Commencement, but I suppose, would scarcely find you here. I have a pupil here, who is to come up to Triny next year - Key and I had a severe contest, but I defeated him - We have made been very patiently labouring at Euc. Lib. 4, and shall get through it perhaps to-morrow i.e. in one month from our arrival.<7> Talk of stupidity, in Fursdon <8> or any other man - Their stupidity must be a mere joke to his - Talking of Fursdon of course you know that he has got the Latin ode; but cruelly robbed Trinity <9> of an honour, and placed one laurel leaf upon the brow of Downing, <10> where now it

Blooms like a single chimney on a cot,
Sequestered emblem of that lonely spot -

The Ode is much too long to be presented to you entire, but some of the striking beauties of sentiment and description I proceed to lay before you - Subject, Mary Queen of Scots-<11> Scene A window; Time, midnight - Mary is brought forward, like Julia [sic], on a balcony " Leveni / cĉruleas / speculata lymphas", <12> but, lest we should wonder at Mary's rashness in braving the night air, he informs us that she did not hear wind or wave " Sed mumur undarum querelâ / Et gemitu superavit aurĉ / Molles susurros" &c.<13> translated, ni fallor, from Prior.<14> He then compares her to a dove in a cage; and informs us that " Quietis horas excubiis dedit"-<15> The death of Rizzio,<16> and his consequent absence are thus alluded to " Ille et, latronum victima, defuit"- <17> We have next the description of her leaving France; he makes her actually see the coast of France during the night, but to account for this tells her us that her eyes were dim with tears " udis luminibus tuens Clivos recidentes". <18> Although however a miracle was in this instance performed for her, we find that she experienced the truth of the old saying, that time and tide wait for no man, for in the morning he talks of the " Littora Galliĉ linquenda" <19> Observe the pathos in the following stanza " Ergo vetuste te Laris exulem / Maria, cui sors debita mitior / Natus tyrannorum fugavit / Terrificus patriis ab oris". <20> Towards the end of the Ode he waxes constitutional, and addresses strong, but affectionate petitions, complaining of grievances, as a power, born to soften the adamantine hearts of Kings

Oh! nata suavi voce adamantina <21>
Mollere regum pectora non levis
Querela, suspirans amorem [etc]
Here is a magnificent and inconstruable invocation!
Vos quĉ tenetis compede amabili,<22>
Vultus decori blanditia, semel
Formosa mirantem labella,
Et rutili radios ocelli,

O quam doloso lumine victimam, <23>
Lucunda amantem vincula, ducitis
In fraudis ambages, triumphum
Perfacilem furiis daturĉ-
Then fate & Kings & anni revolutilie; <24>
the concluding stanza is this-
At non, peribunt sic memores doli <25>
Prisci querela, dum pia floreis
Sertis honoratam Mariĉ
Progenies decorabit urnam.

Matthews and Key have a theory about vegetable diet. Matthews is very stout, but, from my last intelligence from Cambridge, Key was claiming his arrears like the Duke of Clarence.<26> Matthews informs me, that Key went up to town for the purpose of hunting in the high-ways, and hedges for pupils, but had just returned απρακτοc. Your friend Bollacobs is unknown to us all. Porter Junr<27> has just got his commission.

Othello Act 1. Sc. 3 Barham. Trin.

Εν τωδε δ'ωσπερ και θεσις αει λεγω
οσ'ιμερου πλαναισιν εξαμαρτανω
ουτω τα τουδ'ερωτοσ, ως κορη τ'εμου
εμαι τ'εκεινης, ως κορη τ'εμου
[extensive Greek text follows] .<28>

The 1st Class 3rd year consisted of Hamilton, Holgate, Thornton, Ware. Poor Perry was thrown out.<29> I am nearly killed by my pupil's stupidity - Here is a specimen of proof - Two things are each greater than the third ∴ Equal to each other!!!! Though I do not deserve it at your hands, send me an account of your Italian Expedn. By the way I am getting on very rapidly with Italian here not doing much for a fellowship - I composed a chanson in (bad, I fear) French upon Tivoli, but I am afraid it is lost like your Ode on Chimneys - Here are some lines

Les negocians, les militaires descendent en perpendiculaire
les jeunes gens, et la vieillesse
viennent eprouver la douce ivresse
de descendre avec vitesse.<30>

I met G. Peacock at the moment of his first seeing a montagne: he was absolutely entranced-. Morris and I descended and Dawes said that he would with Peacock,<31> upon which Peacock vanished like the man in black in Anne Carlile's trial. <32> How completely the French Papers have surpassed the English in Alderman Wood's title.<33> " Sa haute Sapience". <34> Farewell. Our year do not sit for the no Vacancies in October.<35>

Yr very Sincere Friend
T. K. Arnold

Rue du Regard. Faubg St Germain
No 9.

W. H. F. Talbot Esq.
Poste Restante


1. Charles Porter (1797-1877), fellow Cambridge student with WHFT, later a Clergyman. Arnold met Porter in Paris when buying a copy of the play running at the Odeon theatre Paris. WHFT had met Porter at Brig, Switzerland at the foot of Mount Simplon - see Doc. No: 00935.

2. The tutor at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, popularly known as Caius.

3. Stamford is 10 miles north of Peterborough.

4. Thomas Thorp (1797-1877), Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge; later, Archdeacon of Bristol. He won the university travelling scholarship for Junior Bachelors of Arts in 1821.

5. Rev Henry Coddington (1798-1845), natural philosopher, fellow & tutor, Trinity College, Cambridge; d. in Rome.

6. Rev Thomas Worsley (1797-1885), theologian & Master of Downing College, Cambridge.

7. Thomas Hewitt Key (1799-1875), mathematician, classical scholar and philologist. Euclid, book 4 was on the relations between circles and regular polygons.

8. Charles Fursdon, (1798-1824), Trinity College, Cambridge, scholar. He was an undergraduate at Trinity College. However, he migrated to Downing College where he won Sir William Browne’s Medal for a Latin Ode in 1821. In this way, he has deprived Trinity of an honour.

9. Trinity College, Cambridge.

10. Downing College, Cambridge, founded in 1800.

11. Mary Queen of Scots (1542-1587), daughter of James V; became Queen of Scotland on her father's death when she was just 6 years old.

12. Watching the blue waters of Loch Leven.

13. But she smothered with her groans the growling of the troubled waves and the gentle mutterings of the breeze.

14. 'Unless I am mistaken.' The poet was Matthew Prior (1664-1721), and Arnold suspects some borrowing from him.

15. Devoted her rest to keeping watch.

16. David Rizzio (1533-1566), rumoured to be a lover of Mary Queen of Scots, which later led to his murder in front of the Queen.

17. He, and the vicitim of the robbers, was not there.

18. Watching with watering eyes the receding hills.

19. The shores of France that had to be abandoned.

20. Therefore, Your Majesty, Mary, to whom life owed a more gentle fate, you were forced from the shores of your homeland, an exile from your own hearth, by the terrible prince.

21. O you, who were born to soften the unbending hearts of kings with your sweet voice - brave woman - by your complaint, breathing forth a love....

22. You women whose shackles of love hold captive -/ the flattery of a beautiful face - one that wonders/ both at your beautiful lips and the/ circles of your shining eyes.

23. O in what sad light you lead your victim/ Your lover willingly chained/ In a deceit masquerading as triumph/ Handing him as a meek victim to the Furies.

24. The years coming round.

25. But they will not thus die mindful of the ancient crime, while her pious offspring decorates with floral garlands the urn that honours Mary.

26. Frederick Hoskyns Matthews (1798 - 8 January 1883), Trinity College, author of Fancies and Fragments, later a banker. The Duke (1765-1837) subsequently became William IV, King of England, 1830-1837.

27. William Henry Porter (1801-1887) of Trinity College, later of the 6th Dragoon Guards (younger brother of Charles Porter).

28. Othello Act 1 Sc. 3 was the subject of the 1821 Porson Prize for Greek Verse Translation. William Foster Barham (1802-1848) of Trinity College, later Fellow, was the winner and the four lines of Greek transcribed here are the first four lines of the winning answer copied at length in the original letter.

29. The first four have been placed in the 1st class set for the mathematical examinations of the year to come but Perry has not. In practice, all five of these Trinity College students were classified as Wranglers in 1822. Joseph Harriman Hamilton (1799-1881), clergyman; James Holgate (b. 1797), clergyman; Henry Sykes Thornton (1800-1881), banker; Ebenezer Ware (1798-1826), lawyer; Richard Perry (b. 1799), lawyer.

30. A Chanson is a lyric-driven French song. 'The merchants, the soldiers/ Descend perpendicularly/ Young people, and the old/ Come to feel the sweet intoxication/ Of descending at speed.' WHFT's Ode to Chimneys has yet to be found.

31. Although the reference to Italy reminds one of the Tivoli Falls and Hadrian's Villa, the wording of Arnold's chanson makes it clear that his reference is to the Montagne Russes at the Tivoli Gardens in Paris. An early form of roller coaster, it consisted of a low-wheeled carriage that plunged down a sharp incline very rapidly, gradually slowing up as the incline was reversed. A particularly vivid description of the thrill of the Tivoli one is given in William Playfair, Lady Morgan's France (London: C. Chapple, 1819), v. 1, pp. 111-113. Prof George Peacock (1791-1858), mathematician, later, Dean of Ely; Morris has not been identified; Richard Dawes (1792-1867), Trinity College, then Downing, later Dean of Hereford.

32. He must have just read Richard Carlile's Bridge Street Banditti versus The Press. Report of the Trial of Mary-Anne Carlile, for Publishing a New-Year's Address, to The Reformers of Great Britain; written by Richard Carlile; at the Instance of the Constitutional Association: before Mr. Justice Best, and a Special Jury, at the Court of King's Bench, Guildhall, London, July 24, 1821, with the Noble and Effectual Speech of Mr. Cooper in Defence, at Large (London: R. Carlile, 1821). The 'Gentleman in Black' was said to be Mr. Longueville Clarke (p. 53).

33. Sir Matthew Wood, 1st baronet, (1768-1843), Lord Mayor and MP for the City of London. Because of his reputation for sound advice Alderman Wood’s nickname was “Absolute Wisdom” Wood. He was an adviser to Caroline of Brunswick, wife of George IV. Caroline was denied access to his coronation in 1820 and died on 7 August 1821, so she and her advisers were widely covered in the press around the time of this letter.

34. His Eminent Wisdom.

35. The October competition for any un-awarded fellowships at Trinity College.

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