49 Marina, St Leonard's on Sea, Sussex.
5. January, 1850.
My dear Talbot,
I cannot express to you, how gratified I am by your kind remembrance of me and mine. It is the more welcome to me, because I am here as an Invalid, a confirmed Invalid, - blessed, indeed, with innumerable comforts of life, & with a capacity for the full enjoyment of Society and of sedentary pursuits of learning, - with a perfect freedom from bodily pain and suffering, - but, by reason of an affection of the heart (the result, as they tell me, of too great bodily exertions in time past) reduced to a pulse of little more than 30 in a minute, with a corresponding retardation of the circulating blood. This change, I am assured, is not necessarily incompatible with prolongation of life; but any over-activity of the body might produce very serious and speedy consequences. Blessed be God, who has thus given me timely warning to "set my house in order" and employ the residue of this life in preparing for a better! I never was more happy than now, when thus warned of my utter dependence for each hour of my existence upon the mercy of divine providence. It is somewhat curious, that your letter should have reached me at a moment, when you have been peculiarly the subject of conversation here. We have several Old Harrovians & others among us, to whom you are well known either by old Association or by reputation - Amongst the Harrovians are Spencer Perceval <1> & family, W. Kenyon & family, the Revd Chas Pater[?] & family, the Briscos[?], &c, amongst the others are the Beckfords - H. Bellenden Ker <2> & his Sister in Law, Miss Clarke,<3> - Hunt, the Artist,<4> &c to whom your Kalotypical <5>discoveries have been matters of very interesting conversation. My eldest Son, George, fellow of Exeter Coll. and now Classical Tutor at Durham, has taken a vast fancy to painting, &c. and last night gave a lecture, upwards of an hour in length, to a very select audience on the Subject of the fine Arts, Sculpture, Painting, Poetry & Music. I wish we had you & Mrs Talbot among us: the society is particularly good, & upon the most agreeable footing.
But whether among us or absent you are often in our thoughts & I am always
My dear friend Most faithfully and affectly yours
H.F. Talbot Esq
1. Spencer Perceval (1795-1859), MP and son of the assassinated British Prime Minister, also Spencer Perceval.
2. Charles Henry Bellenden Ker (ca.1785-1871), FRS, legal reformer and advocate of popular education, helping to establish the Department of Science and Art.
3. Miss Clarke was was the sister of Ker's wife Elizabeth Anne, née Clarke.
4. William Howes Hunt (1806-1879), a linen draper and amateur painter in Leeds. Attributions are sometimes confused with the better-known artist, William Holman Hunt (1827-1910).
5. WHFT preferred the spelling: Calotype.