Mount Edgcumbe <1>
Saturday 25th August
My dear Henry
It was very amiable of you to give me due notice of the Eclipse.<2>
I left Cotehele <3> on Thursday & came here – where we all saw it to perfection. The day had been quite beautiful – & the distant line of Dartmoor on the horizon was as clear as if only a mile off.
The night was equally cloudless & lovely – & we watched the shadow coming over the moon from the very beginning. What a very curious colour the moon becomes! No wonder the ancients fancied such a phenomenon portended disasters & bloodshed.<4>
We observed the 2 planets – but had a discussion as to which was Mars. I maintained he was the large red one, but was told I was wrong – as Saturn must be the largest.
Please give Rosamond Ernestine’s <5> love, & say she will not write, as I am writing to you. She thanks her very much for her letter, & the plants, which are arrived. She has also sent me some, for which please thank her.
Yr affte Sister
1. Mt Edgecumbe, near Plymouth: seat of the Earl of Mt Edgcumbe.
2. WHFT's note has not been located. This letter is the last known correspondence between brother and sister before his death on 17 September.
3. Cotehele, Cornwall: ancient house, seat of the Earl of Mt Edgcumbe, now a National Trust Property.
4. Caroline's thoughts and reactions to the eclipse were presaged in Nature: "The Total Eclipse of the Moon, August 23rd.- Though lunar eclipses have lost the degree of astronomical interest and utility formerly attached to them, the general observer may still be expected to find the same amount of attraction as in past times in watching the physical features of a total eclipse of our satellite, well visible at a convenient hour of a summer's night...the physical features to which allusion is made above consist chiefly in the variations of coppery and other tints, which spread over her surface...." Nature: A Weekly Illustrated Journal of Science, v. 16 no. 406, 9 August 1877, p. 187.
5. Rosamond Constance Talbot (16 Mar 1837 - 7 May 1906), 'Rose', 'Monie', artist & WHFT's 2nd daughter, died & buried at San Remo, Italy, with a memorial at Lacock; and Ernestine Emma Horatia Edgcumbe (16 Aug 1843-1925), WHFT's niece.