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Document number: 6217
Date: 19 Mar 1849
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: GLIDDON George Robbins
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: acc 20215 (envelope only)
Last updated: 20th October 2013

My dear Sir,

Your kind note of the 16th recalls a much honoured name, and some very agreeable passages in my nomadic life. I an very much obliged to you for the renewal of relations, suspended on my side by no other feeling than that I might have passed away from your recollection, and have been considered intrusive had I not awaited a favorable occasion to reopen them. Your courtesy removing the imaginary interdict, I accept with great pleasure the opportunity your kindness affords me: the more so as you are long my senior in a favorite science, – the one by which I earn my bread – Egyptology.

Where shall I begin my report of three year’s [sic] migrations? Perhaps the inclosed Prospectus (which you will generously view in its professional sense,) will tell the best tale

I have devoted two winters to the work, and have covered many thousand miles of flood and field in its execution.

Last summer the political crises of Europe induced me to come across, in the hope of obtaining a more permanent and genial post in the East; as well as to revisit my Wife, and see a beautiful little first-born who saw the light in my absence.

Unsuccessful, (for want of interest in my native land, where all goes by other wheels than mere qualifications;) I have been conjugating the verb “je m’ennui” since September, and have long come to the conviction that the happiest road for me in England is the shortest out of it. It is my third trial, and now I give it up. But I have been thrown out of season till next October, and therefore have done my best to improve the interval. I shall return to America in August.

I have amused my leisure in giving a series of Reports of my past lectures to the “Ethnological Journal,” Nos VI & X. I suppose it is from this last, in which your name occurs, that the newspapers you speak of drew the information which has gained me the renewal of your valued solicitude.

In a few days the whole series will reappear under the title of “Otia Ægyptiaca” at Madden’s, (Oriental Publisher, 8 Leadenhall St); and I shall feel highly honored by your acceptance of a copy of this little essay. A visit to the Continent will complete my requirements, and then after a few week’s [sic] study I shall be ready for a new campaign.

I interweave all I can pick up of Cuneiform discoveries into my new Courses – but, the subject is quite new to me, and I am not yet even a Tyro in its pursuit. It will possess to the public a far greater charm than it does for me; save where (and on these branches one cannot lecture,) the archæologist can detect Hebrew Origines [sic] and ideas. I shall view it as an adjunct to the comprehension of some Egyptian mysteries; for Egypt has left her unequivocal mark on Chaldæa, and has adopted but little in return. Besides, Chaldæic monuments are modern, when we talk of Nilotic antiquity, Pyramids &c.

I shall be very grateful for any new light your studies may have opened to you; and if you will instruct me, I shall be happy to pass the knowledge on to others, coupled with your name.

And photography? What has been done in it? Do you still continue the subject? <1>

By the way, on leaving New York, Mr Haight explained to me the untoward results of Anthony’s mission; and desired me to say to you, if I saw you, how grieved he felt at the trouble unwittingly given you. More I could explain “viva voce” to your satisfaction. Mr Haight is completing his “Palazzo” at New York, with his dear family around him. I spent a month with them before sailing.

The library of the Museum, and Birch’s department, are my haunts; in case you ever come to London, and should not find me at my lodgings.

With high consideration and respect I remain, Dear Sir, mo. faithfully Yrs
George R. Gliddon

10, York Buildings, New Road –
19 March 1849.

H. Fox Talbot Esq.
Lacock Abbey.

H. Fox Talbot Esq.
Lacock Abbey
near Chippenham,


1. WHFT was keen on applying photography to reproduction of both images and text and freely gave Gliddon his permission to use photography. He had Nicolaas Henneman produce prints for The Talbotype Applied to Hieroglyphics (Reading: 1846), comprising three photographs of hieroglyphs and his text. See Ricardo A. Caminos, "The Talbotype Applied to Hieroglyphics," Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, v. 52, 1966, pp. 65-70 and Plates XIII-XV. The ink ‘originals’ and accompanying loose prints are in the Talbot Collection of the National Media Museum, Bradford, and at the time Camino thought these were unique survivors; the copy in the British Library was lost to the Blitz. However, several other copies have been subsequently discovered. Three are in the Richard Lepsius collection in the State Library of Berlin. Gliddon dedicated one copy to Lepsius on 18 August 1846 and another (undated) to Joseph Bonomi; the third is not inscribed. On 18 August 1846, Gliddon dedicated a copy to the French Egyptologist Émile Prisse d’Avennes (1807-1879); it is bound into v. 219 of his diaries in the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris. A single plate is preserved in the Library Company of Philadelphia in the collection of Samuel Morton (1819-1850), a craniologist and ethnologist. On 17 June 1846, Gliddon wrote to Morton about Talbot’s new invention, enthusing that “if you introduced the Talbotype at Philadelphia, you need no longer employ an Artist in Skull-drawing, but save great expense and ensure supernatural accuracy in your Plates. Tis worth your consideration; for you can multiply ‘ad infinitum,’ at the mere cost of iodized paper.”

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