Royal Observatory, Edinburgh
May 7 1863
Many thanks for the two specimens of your new outline engraving which shewed me too that I had mistaken your former allusion to them.
It must be a curious process that makes a photograph run to outline, and one that may please many persons; at all events, when discussing photographs with the Surveyor General at the Cape in 1843, he said, (he having been in early years an amateur engraver & pupil of Bartolozzi), “Well! I’ve never seen one of these photographs as you call them, but I don’t believe in them or think that they will ever do; for how can they give satisfactory representations of anything, without an outline!”
I am taking today to the printer the last sheets of the end of our Observatory Volume: but the sheet that will form the beginning, with Title page, introductions, & contents, is still to be prepared: & I do not propose to attack that, until the Stationery Office sends all the photographed plates. Unfortunately I can form no idea whether that will be in days, or weeks, or months. But in whatever period, long or short, I am called on to close up the volume immediately after. Now in order that that may be done effectively even in your absence, if it should have to be done then, will you kindly let me have the little Guajara on the steel plate: viz. your penultimate attempt, which succeeded so well, & of which you sent me a proof on paper. And then if fate, or the Stationery Office’s photographic printers, or the Sun they work by, so ordain that the book must be completed in your absence, I will do my best to have
it the plate properly printed, and a type explanation of the accidental difficulties which curtailed the size & quality of what you would otherwise have done.
I remain dear Sir yours very truly
C. Piazzi Smyth
H. Fox Talbot Esqr
[envelope, flap blindstamped "University of Edinburgh":]
J.[sic] Fox Talbot Esq
11 Great Stuart St