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Document number: 1426
Date: 17 Apr 1826
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: NORTH Frederick
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Last updated: 7th April 2014

17th April 1826

My dear Sir

Your Servant brought me your Letter Yesterday Morning, and I was happy to save the gallant Hotspur<1> from the Claws of the Police, which would not allow Him to remain here without some one to answer for Him.

I do not wonder at your admiring Zant. It is the most charming Island of Its Size in the World, and the most highly civilized. I enclose, according to your Desire, Two Letters of Recommendation, for very different Personages. One is for Count Comuto, the ancient time President of the Septinsular Republic,<2> a remarkably good Sample of what Old Men of high Degree were Fifty Years ago, with all the Politeness and Formality which were then in Existence: the other for a very great Genius, my young Friend Dionyssios Solomos, the Poet; our Modern Pindar.<3> He is a very extraordinary young Man; and has besides his Astram,<4> a great many excellent Qualities. Enjoy Yourself at Zant, but, pray, do not forget that this Island is the Seat not only of Government, but of the University; and that, if the Muses go to Zant for the Sake of Solomos, that is an unlawful Frolick, and this is their their [sic] proper legitimate domicile.

Adieu, my Dear sir, Believe Me, ever Yrs most faithfully

Many Compts to Mr and Mrs Gordon.<5>


1. The reference is probably to Sir Henry Percy (1364–1403), known as 'Harry Hotspur', who initially fought against the French and the Scots, but later led the rebellion against Henry IV. He was killed by an arrow at the Battle of Shrewsbury. His story was an inspiration for Shakespeare and of family interest to WHFT - see Doc. No: 00582. There was a recently published book about him and perhaps that is what WHFT sought to retrieve: Richard James Lane and John Boaden, Illustrations of the late John Philip Kemble; exhibiting that great actor in the characters of Coriolanus, Hamlet, Hotspur, Macbeth, King John, Cato, the Stranger, Penruddock (London: J Dickinson, 1826). Other book possibilities are The life & exploits of that extraordinary character, Sir John Falstaff, the hero of Shakespear, and companion of Henry, prince of Wales; with an account of the numerous robberies & offences committed by them; particulars of his amorous adventures and gallantries at Windsor ... his conduct as a captain at the battle of Shrewsbury, between Percy and Hotspur; a humorous description of his soldiers; trial and conviction at Maidstone, &c. (London: Printed and published by W. Mason, 1814); or one of the many editions of Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 1, where Hotspur was a prominent character.

2. Count Comutos (or Commutos or Comoutos), he was the first President of the Ionian Island Septinsular Republic, established under Russian occupation 1800-1807, and was entitled to be called Prince. Count was his inherited family title. He married Helena, daughter of Spiridion Foresti - see Doc. No: 01412.

3. Dionyssios Solomos (1798–1857), poet and author of the Greek Hymn to Liberty (1823). Pindar (Ancient Greek: Πίνδαρος, Pindaros, pronounced [píndaros]; Latin: Pindarus) (c. 522–443 BC), a Greek lyric poet from Thebes.

4. Possibly a reference to the Latin phrase 'ad astram per aspera': to the stars through difficulty.

5. Maj Gen Thomas Gordon (1788-1841), British army officer and historian, author of the History of the Greek revolution (London: T Cadell, 1832). His wife was Armenian, Barbara Kana (later Baroness de Sedaiges). He was not given a military title here as he was between military appointments at the time and was working on behalf of the London Committee to distribute funds raised in London in Greece. In 1827, he joined the Greek Army with rank of Brigadier.

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