22 March 1821
Mio caro figliulo <1>
By your saying the Examination is pleasant I suppose you are taking no trouble, being sure of one medal, but I should like it to be the first comme de raison. <2> We saw the Comet <3> between Abbeville & Chantilly. They say we are to have a hot summer & fine vintage owing to it. The Liberaux <4> are overjoyed at the news fro[m]<5> Piedmont <6> & Speculation is wild here with all that it supposes about to happen. The Government does not find itself on a bed of roses, any more than Lord Castlereagh. <7> They talk of revolution & the tricoleur <8> flag waving over the Tuilleries in the course of six weeks but I don’t feel inclined à prendre la fuite. <9> I shall be very glad when you are [here] on one particular account more tha[n others] which is that you may talk to Dr Williams about your eyes, I think you will find him what you have been looking for, a Physician who will enter into your scientific theories without always obtruding prescriptions upon you, & who will discuss the matter abstractedly for I think he likes the higher parts of his profession. I have received a letter from Betty Vickery <10> thanking me for my sanction which she supposes I gave to the Shawl. Car & Hor <11> are rather mortified to see how much better she spells than Nurse which they attribute to the great pains you bestowed on her education. We took your apartment in this
I was at a ball last Night where were English Irish, French, Poles, Spaniards, Germans, Scotch, Swiss & Norwegians. Some Author (Cowper <16> I believe) says Variety is the Spice of Life which gives it all its flavour. I believe Linen is included in your bargain if not you can have some of ours. Car & Hor are preparing for a ball at Lady Montgomerie’s. <17> How do you like your Batavian on further acquaintance [text missing] with [illegible], [observe?]
W. H. Fox Talbot Esqre
1. My dear son.
2. As you’d expect.
3. See Doc. No: 00917.
5. Text torn away under seal.
6. Robert Stewart, Lord Castlereagh (1769–1822), politician. In November 1819, Castlereagh introduced in the House of Commons the severe measures that became known as the Six Acts. Castlereagh, as the government’s spokesman for civil matters in the House of Commons, took the blame for the repressive measures and lost his popularity ever since.
7. This probably refers to the liberal revolt in Piedmont that was put down by the Austrians at Novara on 8 April 1821.
8. Three coloured.
9. To take flight.
10. Elizabeth Vickery ‘Betty’, WHFT’s governess. When she died in autumn 1835, WHFT paid to have a gravestone placed at Cutcombe, Somerset, inscribed: 'Erected to the Memory of Elizbth Vickery his kind & faithful nurse by Henry Fox Talbot of Lacock Abbey in the country of Wilts Esqre'; the stone's inscription is still readable - See Doc. No: 03205.
11. Caroline Augusta Edgcumbe, née Feilding, Lady Mt Edgcumbe (1808–1881); WHFT’s half-sister, and Henrietta Horatia Maria Gaisford, née Feilding (1810–1851), WHFT’s half-sister.
12. The beautiful season.
15. Written off the edge of page.
16. William Cowper (1731–1800), English poet. He said ‘Variety’s the very spice of life, That gives it all its flavour’, Tusk, bk. II, l. 506.
17. Probably Lady Mary Montgomerie (1787–1848).