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Document number: 3661
Date: 24 Apr 1838
Postmark: 24 Apr 1838
Recipient: GAISFORD Henrietta Horatia Maria, née Feilding
Author: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA(H)38-1
Last updated: 1st May 2012

24th April

My Dear Horatia

If you are inclined to be astronomical there is a very rare phenomenon to be seen in the sky tomorrow (Wednesday) which will not be visible in London if there is any smoke (and I believe that Murphy <1> predicts there will) – The φαινομενον in question, is an eclipse of Mercury by the Moon, beginning at ½ past 8 and ending at 9. a very convenient hour for amateur stargazers – Now as Mercury is scarcely ever seen by the public, or anyone else, who only admit his existence on the faith of astronomers, this is a fine opportunity to see him, as the Moon will point him out. The great astronomer Copernicus <2> never saw Mercury in the course of his life, but this I think is mainly attributable to the cloudy atmosphere of Thorn in Prussia, which perhaps was never transparent enough to allow so small a planet to become visible; and yet he is very bright, so that if he did not keep so near the Sun always, he would cut a great figure. Wright <3> might set you up the great Telescope in no time, on the Hall steps, & all the glasses are in it that are requisite.

Your affte

Miss Feilding
Lacock Abbey


1. Robert Murphy (1806–1843), mathematician.

2. Nicolaus Copernicus (1473–1543), astronomer.

3. James Wright, footman to the Talbots & Constable for Lacock.

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