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Document number: 5359
Date: 26 May 1861
Dating: 1859 or later - [1861] added by library
Recipient: WHEWELL William
Author: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Collection: Univ Cambridge Trinity Coll Library / Masters & Fellows
Collection number: Add.Ms. a 213/96
Last updated: 27th July 2010

11 Moray Place Edinburgh
May 26

Dear Whewell

My son <1> is afraid that he shall not do very well in the approaching College examination, and I am of the same opinion, but nevertheless I have resolved to write a few lines to you about it, being sure as an old friend you will take the most indulgent view of the case. He is often unwell, but even when well he finds himself almost incapacitated from reading. It is a thing to be pitied and not blamed for it does not arise from idleness – Never having experienced anything of the sort myself, I cannot well understand his state of mind. He says, I experience a complete want of mental energy.

The effort of serious thinking is what I cannot stand, and the attempt to do so confuses my head. – After accepting joyfully my offer to take him for 3 weeks to Switzerland, he now writes word that he is not well enough to go, of course therefore he had better not. His abilities both in classics & mathematics would enable him to do at least moderately well in the College examns but of course when a young man’s reading is reduced to one hour a day, or perhaps ½ an hour, the thing becomes impossible, for it would require great abilities to overcome the disadvantage of such loss of time. I am glad however to find that he was well enough to be at his post in the grand review of the volunteers which you had at Cambridge the other day.

I hope to have the pleasure of shortly sending you some new specimens of my photoglyphic engraving, a subject which interested you and Lady A. <2> and which I have now much improved

Believe me Yours ever faithfully
H. F. Talbot

P.S. Should you see his tutor Mathison <3> in a day or two, would you kindly mention this subject?


1. Charles Henry Talbot (1842–1916), antiquary & WHFT’s only son

2. Everina Frances, née Ellis (d. 1865), widow of Sir Gilbert Affleck. She became Whewell’s second wife on 1 July 1858, but was always known as Lady Affleck.

3. William Collings Mathison (1817-1915), tutor at Cambridge

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