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Document number: 8765
Date: 03 Dec 1863
Dating: year confirmed by Theresa Digby's marriage
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: STRANGWAYS William Thomas Horner Fox
Author 2: JOLLIFFE Sophia Penelope, née Sheffield
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA63-94
Last updated: 5th May 2013

Melbury <1>
3 Decr

Dear Henry

It seems you do not think of coming our way now. We go back to Abb– <2> next week & hope for a visit from Jane <3> – in time – she says she is in no hurry to move. Spencer <4> is gone to New Zealand.

Charlotte <5> sends me specimens from Scilly & Marazion – Mr Smith <6> seems to have a botanic garden there – Habea pectinata seems very fine there – but in your northern clima it is not right to tantalize you with such things.

Many thanks for the Tree lupine seeds – our gardener at Abb – when we had it – used to write it Turlupin seeds – his other slip slop calling Amyris polygama – Amorous polygamy has left indelible impression in my memory – his gardening capacity was shown in too often chopping bulbs in two & trying to stick them together again – & his philosophy in accounting for non flowering of sundry plants by raging There’s a right & a wrong sort of every thing & I do suppose we’ve got the wrong – Scotch gardeners had not then penetrated so far south, or at least Southwest.

I have been reading your Assyrian translations <7> – the subject is very interesting & many questions suggest themselves. I had the Four Empires of Rawlinson to consult at the same time.

Why – if the Lesser Sea of the rising sun be the Persian Gulf should not the Greater be the Caspian? the north shore of which was either unknown, or really then extended over the Siberian Steppes, or at any rate was believed by the ancients even at a later period to have an indefinite extension North – & probably East, according to their distorted compass or more correctly orientation?

Why should not the Upper Great Sea be the Euxine? <8> The Assyrians must have known that & the Caspian being familiar with Armenia & Media & probably with the Persian if not Pontic Caucasus. The arrowhead inscriptions go as far north as Van.

Your Merodach Baladan has a more Celtic than Aramitic sound. But Ethnology & Philology must not be forced into a compulsory union – they may or may not go well together – but their lines are not always parallel

I hope you are all well Can you describe to me the coat of arms of the Davenports? <9>

Yr aff

[added in the hand of Lady Ilchester:]

I add a line to say that if you chance to meet a Mr Stables, Lord Cawdor’s Factor<10> he is a good botanist & has travelled – & knows the far North well –

Terrible sleety squalls this morning – some trees down or broken –

Lena Digby’s <11> marriage to Mr Baring gives great satisfaction

I have just found a holly leaf done up in a seal to a Deed about 400 years old.

We have still to keep the weather out as we can – Walls being open in places tho I am happy the roof is closed


Is it worth while to send you pheasants


1. Melbury, Dorset: one of the Fox Strangways family homes; WHFT was born there.

2. Abbotsbury, Dorset: home of William Thomas Horner Fox Strangways.

3. Jane Harriot Nicholl, née Talbot (1796–1874).

4. Spencer Perceval Nicholl [b. 1841), army officer, Jane Nicholl’s youngest son.

5. Charlotte Louisa 'Charry' Traherne, née Talbot (1800–1880), WHFT’s cousin.

6. Augustus John Smith (1804–1872), ‘King Smith’ of the Scilly Isles [see Doc. No: 09800].

7. Probably those in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, s. 2 v. 7, 1863.

8. The Black Sea.

9. See Doc. No: 08711.

10. William Alexander Stables (1810- 21 June 1890), who contributed to botanical literature. He was the Factor (the manager of a Scottish estate) for John Frederick Vaughan Campbell of Cawdor, 2nd Earl Cawdor of Castlemartin (1817-1898).

11. Daughter of Theresa Anna Maria Digby, née Fox Strangways (1814–1874), WHFT’s cousin. See Doc. No: 08753.

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