[William Henry Bartlett, topographical artist.] Manuscript Letter to him, while on his travels in Syria, from his London publishers Fisher, Son & Co, discussing drawings he is sending for engraving in the book 'Syria, the Holy Land, Asia Minor'.

Henry Fisher (1781-1837), printer and publisher in Liverpool and London [William Henry Bartlett (1809-1854), topographical artist and traveller; Fisher, Son & Co.; Caslon family]
Publication details: 
21 June 1834; 38 Newgate Street, London.
SKU: 22428

A highly interesting and entertaining letter, casting light on the processes of topographical book production in Georgian England, in which a leading British printer and publisher, related to the Caslon family (who are mentioned) responds in detail to the material he is being sent from Syria by one of the finest topographical artists of the period, in addition to providing economic and domestic news to the traveller. For information on the author, see the long entry in C. H. Timperley, 'Dictionary of Printers and Printing' (1839). The background of the letter is as follows. Having served an apprenticeship to the antiquary John Britton, and built up a reputation as one of the foremost British topographical artists, in 1831 Bartlett married the niece of the fine art publisher Sir Francis Moon, following which, according to his entry in the Oxford DNB: 'For the next ten years Bartlett travelled all over Europe, the Middle East, and North America, fulfilling commissions for drawings for travel books, most of which were published by George Virtue (1793-1868). In 1832 he met Dr William Beattie (1793–1875), who asked him to do the illustrations for a book about Switzerland, 'Switzerland Illustrated' (1836), and this was followed by a year in the Holy Land and Syria, making sketches for 'Syria, the Holy Land, Asia Minor' (1836).' 2pp, 4to. Bifolium. In fair condition, lightly aged. Forty-five lines of closely-written text. Although undoubtedly the author of the letter (see the reference to the marriage of 'my son Seth Nuttall Fisher') Henry Fisher signs in the name of his firm, as 'Rt Fisher Son & Co'. Addressed on reverse of second leaf, with postmarks, to 'W. H. Bartlett Esqre | Beirout | Syria | or elsewhere', to which is added in another hand 'in the care of T. J. Galloway Esq | Alexandria', with forwarding address 'Monr. E. Gautier | Marsailles [sic] | France'. The name 'J. W. Bartlett' puzzlingly written at top left of first page. The letter begins: 'Dear Sir | Yours of May 9th duly recd The Drawing of Puzzuoli is engraving by Varrell for the Christian Keepsake & Miss[ionar]y Annual, had you been here we should have suggested a more forcible foreground, the distance &c is beautiful, when you get more into the way of figures & effective foreground it will produce better effect, in this respect you will have to outdo nature in the East to suit an English eye & taste'. He continues: 'All "good luck be wid you", stating that the 'splendid present & Book are at Malta with the Quarter Master of the 42nd unfortunately Capt Alexander is retd from Lisbon by Government order & its now uncertain if he go by way of Egypt so that well laid plan is likely to disapoint [sic] us & you'. The firm may in the autumn 'send the worthy & highly interesting ruller [sic] of Egypt a Histy of the Cotton Trade embelished with 20 or 30 highly interesting plates[.] God prosper Egypt Syria & the Empire of His Highness the Pascha or King as I call him'. He gives news of 'Mr Galloway', Bartlett's 'good Lady', and his brother, the last of whom 'paid in some money & any more they hand to us will be carried to acct at your Service at any moment'. The 'bill from Naples' has been 'duly honored': 'You know that the less you have from us now the more you will have to get hereafter: however you must take care & have plenty for all useful wants & plans'. He continues: 'Business in England is better & better & the cheering smile of prosperity spreads over the Land of Old England; Taxes are fewer both Government & Parochial & the people have work - Provision lower'. Returning to Bartlett's work he writes: 'I hope your "Patience" is fully alive to devoting such time to Sketching figures & improving in effect[.] Well! I often say an Englishman in his own Country &c does more than 10 of any other Nation by industry perseverance & saveing [sic] of time, speed &c &c &c'. In a marginal note he writes that 'Day Coach to Manchester, Exeter, Taunton, Shrewsbury' gives 'a saveing [sic] of time by 50 to 100 PCent'. He reports that 'Mr Corrie is well & quite interested in our Holy Land speculation he projects several works - Glad to have you say "never better in my life" One of the Insurance directors I see frequently & shall report[.] You dont say what you took at Malta[.] Enrich your Folio, for Life recollect'. He wishes he was with him, having 'all the enthusiasm & pluck for adventure & picturesque as to be delighted, but we must mind the Mill here to help you &c going on in such interesting trips [...] The World is before you Its for you & us to catch Fame & Prosperity trifles will not deter you be it Asia Minor or else where I would I had a Baloon, [sic] guideable, to send you; to go, & come, & do as you please.' He praises Bartlett's 'arrangements', but adds 'We however want some Drawing to get into the Market'. He ends with gossip of rival illustrated publications: 'I hear that Murry, Findons Bible Illustrations dont pay ie those by Turner &c &c we expect ours by you will. The Switzerland, answer Virtue, in a superior way some proofs from Wallis were sent Pr Capt Alexander of the 42nd & are at Malta'. He ends with enquiries regarding the marriage of 'Mr Catherwood': 'his Mother a fine old Lady of olden Times is very anxious'. He ends 'You know my son Seth Nuttall Fisher of the 51 married his cousin Henrietta Caslon of Chiswell Str they are now in Ireland The Caslon's tell him if you see the Gent. are well & so the Catherwoods | Your letter was read at Highbury & all wish well to the interesting traveller as also Mr & Mrs Robt Fisher &c | God preserve you'.