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Document number: 5901
Date: 10 Mar 1847
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: BUTLER George
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number: envelope 20351
Collection number historic: LA47-33
Last updated: 9th March 2012

The Deanery, Peterborough, 10 Mar 1847

My dear friend,

The reading of a very able pamphlet by one clever pupil, Adair, ("The Winter of 1846-7 in Catania") has naturally brought to my recollection the names of other pupils, in whom I take the most pride, and amongst them, [Greek text], yourself: And that again has reminded me of your last kind letter, and of its concluding enquiry (which, I fancy, remains unanswered) as to the present condition of my family. Strange, that I should have omitted to notice that kind enquiry, until you, no doubt, have quite forgotten it: Stranger still, that I should treat you with the answer now, when it can only be served up to you as a Rechauffé, a Crambe repetita of a distant date. The fact is, that I am happy in reverting to the recollection of old friends, whenever I have the opportunity, - more especially, when, as at the present moment, I have leisure (more than I could wish) for such occupation.

It is now upwards of seven weeks, that I have been confined to Bed and Sofa, from the consequences of badly broken skin, without permission to set my right foot to the ground. I thank God, all is now going on well, - so well, that I am encouraged to hope ere long for a restoration to the use of my limbs. Meanwhile, what a blessing it is, (for which how can I be sufficiently thankful?) that, through the kind attentions of my dear wife, & all around me, I have enjoyed every comfort of society & every possible alleviation of pain, and that my general health has not for an instant been impaired!

I sincerely hope, that this may find your lady & yourself in perfect health, notwithstanding the severity of this protracted Winter: As regards my family, I am delighted to say, that Mrs Butler and all the young ones are well. My four daughters Louisa, Catherine, Emily & Gertrude are here with us. My Son George is fully occupied with Tuition at Exeter Coll. Oxford, - where his classical taste and learning are duly appreciated. Spencer (my second Son) is Captain of Rugby, & going next October to Trinity, Cambridge.* he shewed so much talent that the Cambridge Examiner induced Dr Tait to recommend his transfer to the Sister University. Arthur (my third Son) is also at Rugby, Head of "The Twenty", which corresponds to what we used to call the Under VIth; he would have been put up into the VIth but that he is only Fifteen years of age, & the rules of the School do not admit of his being a "Prepositor" <1>until he is Sixteen. "When he comes of age", he will immediately be advanced, & then resume his rank above the Seniors, whom he surpassed at the General Examination and who are now temporarily passing him by into the VIth. He is thought to be a very clever boy.

Montagu (my youngest Son) who is equal in talent to any one of his brothers, is at Harrow, - where he is highly estimated. He is only 13 years of age. When examined last November for admission, he was placed at once in the Upper Shell, (which is the highest form in wh a boy can be admitted) and at Xmas came in Head of his Remove into the Under Vth The Reports of him from the different Masters connected with him are of the most gratifying description: they would make him out to be a second "H. F. Talbot," - at non sum credulus illis.<2>

And so there you have a complete picture of my belongings; and, if you have not already more than once exclaimed Ohe! I am fully prepared on any fitting occasion to bear testimony to your patience. But now, tandem aliquando, - [Manum?] de Tabulâ.<3>

By the way, my Son George, inter alia, is a good Hebrew and German Scholar, and one of his pupils has just followed his example and gained the Hertford Scholarship.

Harrow, at the moment, is rather in a perturbed state, calling for a premature dispersion, by reason of the Scarlatina or Scarlet-Fever. - (Nomina sant ipso penètimenda Sono)<3> which has appeared in Dr Vaughan's house. As my little fellow had it last year, I have requested Dr V. not to send him home, unless there be a general separation of the whole School, - as I should much grieve at the boy's losing the benefit of his Examination. At Eton, I understand, the same cause has within these few days scattered the whole School to carry dismay & danger into upward of 700 families. If you know any friend, who wants a good preparatory School for Eton, Harrow, Rugby or Winchester, you may safely recommend the Revd Edward Wickham, Brook Green, Hammersmith: Experto Crede;<4> I have had 3 boys with him.

Pray present my Respectful Compts to Mrs Talbot, and believe me always

Most faithfully & affly yours
George Butler

* He was to have gone to Balliol & had been entered upon the Books; but at a recent Examination for the Rugbeean Prize in Mathcs which he gained with little difficulty

H. Fox Talbot Esq.

H. Fox Talbot Esq
Lacock Abbey

2 Mansfield Street
Portland Place


1. A monitor in an English school.

2. Not full of confidence.

3. In the name of St James, cry out.

4. 'Hard to believe.' The Rev Edward Wickham ran a private school at Eagle House, Brook Green, Hammerscmith during the early part of the 19th century. Butler thought very highly of him. See Doc. No: 05791.

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