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Document number: 7037
Date: 31 Aug 1854
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: BREWSTER David
Collection: National Science and Media Museum, Bradford
Collection number: 1937-5386
Last updated: 15th July 2010

Dear Sir,

I have delayed answering your kind note of the 17th <1> till I shd be able to decide whether or not I can go to the Liverpool meeting, <2> & even now, I am unable to say what my resolution will be. I have received a few weeks ago the MSS of Sir Isaac Newton from Lord Portsmouth <3> and they are so copious and so full of content, that I find it very difficult to leave them and delay the completion of the second volume of his Life. <4> If I knew that you were going that might help me to come to a decision.

You have of course seen the disgraceful attack upon you <5> in the last No of the Art Journal, which I presume, is written by Hunt. <6> I have just been talking on the subject to Dr Adamson <7> who has done more in the practice of Photography as an Amateur than any other person I know, and he agrees with me in opinion, that, but for your discoveries there would have been no Photography on Paper, and that the whole invention is yours.

I am Ever Most Truly yrs
D Brewster

St Leonards' College
St Andrews
Augt 31st 1854


1. Not traced.

2. Of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.

3. See also Doc. No: 03498.

4. D. Brewster, Memoirs of the Life, Writings, and Discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton (Edinburgh: Thomas Constable & Co., 1855).

5. Robert Hunt, ‘The Photographic Patents’, The Art-Journal, n.s., v. 6, 1 August 1854, pp. 236–38: ‘Reviewing Mr Fox Talbot’s labours as an experimentalist, we find him industriously working upon the ground which others have opened up. He has never originated any branch of inquiry; and, in prosecuting any, his practice is purely empirical. It is the system of putting this and that together to see what it will make. It is progress by a system of accidents, without a rule.‘

6. Robert Hunt (1807–1887), scientist & photographic historian.

7. Dr John Adamson (1809–70), physician and pioneer of photography. See e.g. A. D. Morrison-Low, ‘Dr John Adamson and Robert Adamson: An Early Partnership in Scottish Photography’, The Photographic Collector, v. 2, 1983, pp. 198–214.

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