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Document number: 1576
Date: Aug 1827
Dating: reply to Doc no 01580 of 8 Aug, but before 6 Sep when JFWH paid the bill
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: HERSCHEL John Frederick William
Collection: National Science and Media Museum, Bradford
Collection number: 1937-4801
Last updated: 30th April 2012

Dear Sir/

I received quite safe the prisms & Lenses from Utzschneider as forwarded by you, with your letter, <1> and I lose no time in thanking you for the trouble you have been at respecting them – and shall, the first time I go to Town pay into your Banker’s the amount 25:3:7 which you have been so obliging as to disburse on my acct. <2> The Prisms are really beautiful and I am rejoiced to see that the art of glass making is not lost.

Have you heard of Fresnel’s death. <3> I fear it is an event too probable in itself not to be true, though my information is not fully to be depended on, & I have seen no mention of it in any public print – but all public interest is now so absorbed in our greater loss <4> that a mere man of science however eminent drops out of the world unnoticed.

I remain my dear Sir Yours very Truly
J F W Herschel

PS. I have given up the idea of applying to Munich at present for an object glass having purchased of Mr South <5> his 7 feet Equatorial the object glass of which is 5 inches in aperture & a very good one.

I was very unlucky to be in Town when you passed Slough. I hope to be more fortunate another time.

H. F. Talbot Esqr
Lacock Abbey
near Chippenham


1. WHFT ordered these lenses and prisms from Joseph von Utzschneider (1763–1840), German instrument maker. He left them at Herschel’s home in Slough on 2 August but missed Herschel himself. [See Doc. No: 01580].

2. On 6 September 1827, Herschel recorded in his accounts book that he “paid into Hammersleys to Acct of H.F. Talbot Esq. for instruments from Munich (for Hussey and self, NB my share = ~ £25.” MO889, Accounts Diary, HRHRC.

3. Augustine Jean Fresnel (1788–1827), the noted French physicist, died on 14 July.

4. This is probably a reference to the Greek Wars of Indepedence; the 1827 Treaty of London would eventually lead to the destruction of the Egyptian fleet by a combined British, French, and Russian fleet on 20 October 1828. An alternative possibility could be the death of George Canning (1770–1827), Prime Minister of Britain for only 3 months who died on 8 August.

5. Sir James South (1785–1867), astronomer.

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