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Document number: 755
Date: 03 Mar 1817
Recipient: TREVELYAN Walter Calverley
Author: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Collection: Univ of Newcastle Upon Tyne Robinson Library Trevelyan Family Papers
Collection number: WCT 237
Last updated: 1st September 2003

Normanton, <1>

3d March, 1817.

My Dear Trevelyan,

I have to thank you for Two letters – I found the various extracts contained in them very amusing, nor had I seen any of them before – I suppose the phosphorescent appearance of Dicranum taxifolium must have been an optical deception – I don’t take in Thomson’s Annal’s <2> <sic> now, and yet I am sorry I don’t – I think the fall in the Thermometer during the Eclipse was less than might have been expected, but had the Eclipse taken place in the middle of Summer, & during the Heat of the Day, no doubt it would have caused a more notable fall – Bye the bye I have been amusing myself lately with calculating Eclipses, & I find among others, that there will be undoubtedly an Annular Eclipse of the Sun, on the sixth of September 1820. in the morning – In England it will not be annular, but in most parts of Italy it will, & I hope to see it, as I may perhaps be in Italy then. The Eclipse will be Annular for four Minutes exactly. I doubt whether it will cause sufficient darkness to render any of the Stars visible, unless perhaps the Planet Venus – I shall not be in Town at Easter, nor for some Months – Tell me where your direction is in Town, and direct to me



for I find that is my Post Town.

I know a little of Pursh’s Flora Americæ, And think it a very nice work – Your Lichen pustulatus was covered with little bushy excrescences, which are a genuine sign of a Gyrophora – The representations of the true fructification seem very odd; twisted like the head of a large pin, whence I presume the name – Do you recollect the Calicium we found at Harrow? <3> It is Sphærocephalum, not chrysocephalum as we thought. Did you ever find Lichen saxatilis in fruit – I have it very good – Mr Hooker <4> sent me the other day several plates of his new work; they are beyond anything pretty Did I tell you about the new Blowpipe I saw in London? I should be much obliged to you for an impression of your engraving – and also if you will procure for me at Oxford, “ Robertson’s Treatise <5> on such mathematical instruments as are usually put into a portable case” – the author of which I suppose is your Professor of Savilian Geometry and enquire for me at any mathematical instrument maker’s or optician’s the price of a good Sector. I suppose the Problem of finding remains of Tropical plants in England, may be solved by supposing (with Whiston <6>) that the Deluge was caused by the Earth’s being involved in the Tail of the great Comet which appeared again in 1680 – & whose periodical time is accurately known to be 575 years – If therefore we subtract 575 from 1680 we find it appeared in 1105 – before that in 530 – 45 A.C. when Julius Cæsar <7> was killed – where the Poëts make much mention of it, 620 A.C. – 1195 A.C. – 1770 A.C. And 2345 A.C. – – which is the received time of the Deluge – It might at the same time have materially changed the direction of the Earth’s Axis, & made what were the Tropics then – the Temperate Zones now

I remain,
Yr Affte Friend

W. H. F. Talbot

Near Fowey & elsewhere:
a single white flower
Silene maritima,
Common enough.
The Lands End, – a
white panicled flower,
Samolus Valerandi,
Common enough,
From Trevelyan –
a large yellow Flower,
Bartsia viscosa, Rare,
4 counties only, – mentioned
in several places, in
Devonshire & Cornwall.
Common near Sea Coast,
a white flower
Arenaria verna, I think:
Mr Dillwyn did not know
it: – verna is an absurd
name, for an <Au>tumnal
plant. – Rare, 10 counties,
not mentioned in Cornwall
or Devonshire.
Goonhilly Downs,Erica vagans, 4 counties.
Moss on Brendon Hill,
an elegant blue flower.
Campanula hederacea, Rare.
12 counties, – Plentiful in
Devonshire & Cornwall
near Pensance <sic> . –
near Tintagel
Mentha rotundifolia, Rare,
17 counties. – mentioned in Cornwall.
near the Lands End,
a little plant, with white
whirled <sic> blossoms,
Illecebrum verticillatum,
very rare, – only Devonshire
& Cornwall.

W. C. Trevelyan Esqr
University Coll.


1. Normanton, Rutlandshire.

2. Thomas Thomson’s Annals of Philosophy, first published in 1814.

3. Harrow School: WHFT attended from 1811–1815 and his son Charles from 1855-1859.

4. Sir William Jackson Hooker (1785–1865), Prof & botanist.

5. John Robertson (1712–1776), A treatise of such mathematical instruments, as are usually put into a portable case. Shewing some of their uses in arithmetic … with an appendix containing the description and use of the gunners callipers… (London: Printed for J. Nourse, 1775).

6. Probably William Whiston (1667–1752), mathematician.

7. Julius Caesar ( ca.102–44 BC).

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