[Thomas Arnold, influential headmaster of Rugby School.] Commencementt of an Autograph Letter, written while touring the South of France, describing scenes. Presented to an autograph collector by Arnold's widow Mary.

Thomas Arnold (1795-1842), headmaster of Rugby School and pioneering educationalist; father of the poet Matthew Arnold [his wife, nee Mary Penrose]
Publication details: 
'Lyons, July 18th. [no year]'
SKU: 21149

On both sides of a 17.5 x 20.5 cm piece of wove paper cut from the first leaf of a letter, with 14 lines of text on the recto, and 20 lines of text on the verso. In fair condition, lightly aged, with two small labels used as mounts still adhering. Annotated at the head of the first page, in a small light hand, dating the letter by reference to Arnold's 'Memoirs', and explaining that the letter is written 'To Mrs. Arnold who gave me this | [?] from Her dear hand | Autumn 1860'. For the context of the letter see the Memoirs, 'Appendix C. | VIII. Tour in the South of France'. The letter begins: 'My dearest Mary, | We arrived here at three o' Clock this Afternoon and are off in the Steam Boat for [Roignon?] tomorrow Morning at 5. - Our Window looks across the Saone to the Cathedral of N. D. de Fourvieres on the Top of the Hill. - It is a magnificent Town, but the Heat here as every where is overpowering.' He predicts that the following day 'will be a cool and I expect a very interesting Day'. He will be interested to know 'what weather you have had in Westmoreland, for fine Weather there is truly enjoyable, and you need not fear the Sun'. Referring to the 'Lyon Tablet', he writes: 'We have just been out a little after Dinner, & have seen the famous Plate containing the Speech of Claudius about giving the Freedom of Rome to the Gauls. - It is preserved here in the Museum. We have now come to the End of my Knowledge, and I suppose that I shall enlarge my Knowledge a little, but Naples I think is out of the Question, and probably so also will Voltura [sic, for 'Volterra'] be.' The recto ends here with the words 'But our [...]'. The verso begins: '[…] rather too hot – We have today clearly seen the whole Group of the Avergne Mountains in the Distance and their Outline is exceedingly [no word follows]. I succeeded in getting a Sketch of them as we drove along – besides seeing the Clermont Chain we have had a most hilly days Journey, for we have crossed the Chain of Hills whose exact Height I do not know but where we went was more than 1500 so that the highest Peaks must be at least 3000. The Country would have been beautiful if it had not been so burnt up that it was all one Brown Colour together'. He describes how, on '[t]he first Evening after leaving Paris we slept at Ponthiery – where the Salon was hung with Pictures of the Westmoreland Lakes – the next day we passed through the Forest of Fontainebleau, which was most beautiful but as I have described it full length in my Journal and have not now much Time I shall pass it over'. The extract on the verso concludes with a description of a night at 'Briare on the Loire' and his making of a sketch, and the words: 'Today we have had an easy Day - [...]'