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Document number: 7065
Date: 25 Nov 1854
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: BREWSTER David
Collection: National Science and Media Museum, Bradford
Collection number: 1937-5388
Last updated: 13th July 2010

Dear Sir,

I regret very much that it would be impossible for me to go to London at present, or even till spring. If your case <1> were one of those that depended on my testimony I would allow neither business nor health to prevent me from giving it; but I feel confident that you will succeed, and if there is any flaw of a legal kind to injure your case, I am sure that no individual evidence could reverse it. Altho' personal testimony is necessary in a Jury trial, yet your Counsel <2> can avail himself in his speech of that which has been given in affidavit or even in Books.

Sir John Herschel <3> will surely not fail you on this occasion, and Mr Buckle <4> of Leamington will I am sure as he promised to me give any testimony in your favour. His evidence appears to me to be of the greatest value, as he still thinks the Paper Process the best.

I am working night and day on finishing my Life of Newton <5> which will require 5 or 6 months more.

I am Yours Most Truly
D Brewster

St Leonards' College
St Andrews

Novr 25th 1854

H. Fox Talbot Esqr.


1. Although in 1852 Talbot had relinquished his photographic patents as far as amateur photography was concerned, he retained them for professional portrait-photography, and won several injunctions against practitioners who infringed them. However, in 1854 he pursued a case against a portrait-photographer, Martin Laroche, who, he claimed, had infringed two important elements of his patents. The trial took place 18–20 December 1854 and Talbot lost. [For an account of this significant case, and the opposition to Talbot’s patents, see H. J. P. Arnold, William Henry Fox Talbot: Pioneer of Photography and Man of Science (London: Hutchinson Benham, 1977), pp. 199–209; see also Doc. No: 06994.]

2. Frederick Thesiger (1794–1878), later 1st Baron Chelmsford, Lord Chancellor [1858]. His lack of scientific expertise was a disadvantage to Talbot’s case.

3. Sir John Frederick William Herschel (1792–1871), astronomer & scientist.

4. See Doc. No: 05184.

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

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