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Document number: 5605
Date: 14 Mar 1846
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: HAIGHT Richard Kip
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA46-39
Last updated: 20th October 2013

Paris, Meurice’s Hotel 14th March ’46

Dear Sir

The letter which I have the pleasure to inclose [sic] from our mutual friend Mr Geo W Bridges <1>explains the subject that has afforded me the gratifying opportunity of addressing you, and if I take the liberty of transmitting to you prior to the occasion of waiting on you personally in England, it is to ascertain whether your absence from Lacock Abbey or other engagements about the 15th April next may compel me to pospone [sic] the honor of calling on you until after my return from the United States.

I propose accompanying my family to Geneva, where they will remain during the summer on the 1st proximo, and posting back again so as to leave Liverpool for America by the "Cambria" on the 19th April. – My movements, owing to the limited time, must necessarily be very rapid, and three days are the utmost that I shall be able to avail myself of in London; when if the jaunt to Lacock Abbey would not occupy more than twenty-four hours, I should feel most happy to present myself, and of gaining "viva voce", the information which I am assured by Mr Bridges, you so cheerfully distribute to advance the cause of science.

Mr Bridges led me to believe that you were desirous of having experiments carried on in different climates to test their relative effects on your grand & interesting discovery <2> and that under certain reservations you would kindly permit any person qualified to carry on such experiment to obtain a supply of prepared paper from your Manufacturer at Reading, <3> with such derections [sic] as would enable such person to practice the art.

Trusting therefore entirely to your frank confidence I have ordered, for my exclusive use, a complete instrument and apparatus, similar to Mr Bridges, at Chevaliers, <4> and you if you will have the goodness to aid me with the paper and instructions shall be delighted to forward to you, or rather bring back with me next autumn, a portfolio of Results from the beautifull [sic] & magnificent scenery of the United States. I make bold to solicit the favour of as early an answer as may suit your leisure, informing me, 1st whether you will offer me the advantage of your friendly cooperation, a[nd] 2ndly when & where I may be able to call on you between the 14th & 17th April, during my hurried transit through England. – In the former case will you kindly instruct your agent at Reading to prepare a sufficient quantity of the Paper, at my individual expense, to be ready by the time I arrive? – If you concede to my request, it would be desirable to have it (the paper) properly packed for a sea voyage, lying at my Publishers <5> Messrs Madden & Malcolm 8 Leadenhall St London, by the 14th of April, with a note informing me where I may have the pleasure of expressing to you my acknowledgement in person, and of ascertaining your respected desires in regard to your invaluable discovery. – Mr Bridges writing from Malta where he arrived safe on the 2nd inst, informs me through his friend Mr Gliddon, <6>that "Mr Talbot <7> here has sent home nearly a hundred views of Malta taken by the same instrument as mine – and the process which is most simple, tho’ not altogether made public yet by his brother, is most easy & unfailing – but at present the only natural color which he can fix is that approaching to red. He is sanguine in his hopes of doing more – and Mr Haight will doubtless see & perhaps procure "The Pencillings of Nature" <8> when he makes himself known to the original Inventor, Mr Fox Tabot [sic] at Lacock Abbey. The lights here for they are in more Southern latitudes, are very favourable to the art" –

I have already seen some exquisite specimens on paper in the hands of a French artist here, but he may not yet been able to reach the perfection at which Mr Bridges informs me you have arrived – nor will he communicate a secret which I presume he has derived from your long previous discoveries. –

In all frankness then, and with the str[ong]est desire to enrole myself among your pupil I throw myself upon your liberal cooperation and while of course whatever you may be pleased to communicate to me shall be entirely confidential, I shall be proud to offer you on my return, proofs of the zeal with which I shall execute your behests, as well as those of my admiration of your wonderfull [sic] discovery and of my personal obligation and regard.

I remain, Dear Sir, respectfully Yr mo obliged
R K Haight

[address panel:]
Fox Talbot Esq
Lacock Abbey


1. Rev George Wilson Bridges (1788-1863), photographer & traveller.

2. The effects of brightness of light, the spectrum and the temperature of the air and materials was little understood for either the calotype or the daguerreotype at this time.

3. The photographic establishment of Nicolaas Henneman (1813-1898), Dutch, active in England; WHFT's valet, then assistant; photographer.

4. Charles Chevalier (1804-1859), optician, Paris.

5. In 1843, Haight had privately published a book of poetry: Not the "Burden", but the glory of Egypt not the Pharaohs, but the Hierophants, Kings and priests "after the order of Melchisedeck.

6. WHFT was keen on applying photography to reproduction of both images and text and freely gave his permission to the Devonshire-born George Robbins Gliddon (1809-1857), an Egyptologist and American diplomat 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.”

7. WHFT's cousin, not brother, Christopher Rice Mansel Talbot 'Kit' (1803-1890), immensely wealthy landowner, mathematician & politician. Accompanied by Bridges, he took his wife to the Mediterranean in an eventually hopeless quest for better health.

8. WHFT, The Pencil of Nature (London: Longman, Brown, Green, & Longmans, June 1844–April 1846 [issued in six fascicles]).

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