Septr 13th 1815.
My Dear Mr Feilding,
I regret exceedingly that you are not here, for there are so many subjects, on which I should like to speak to you, more than I can comprize in a letter. – As I have no doubt you wish to be informed of my further proceedings with the Gun, I will give you a regular account. Last Friday I had the choice of going with a party to Wormshead by water, <2> or, of going shooting with Jem George <3> – I preferred the latter, because sea excursions always make me sick; & accordingly, got up at six o’clock in the morning, & having taken a hasty breakfast, went to meet Jem George at the Farm. – His reason for going so early was, that he might shoot before the scent was off the fields. It was a lovely morning, succeeded by a sultry day. We went through Penrice Village, to Cold Comfort, & thence to Slade, & thereabouts; – Searching every field for Partridges, which was exceedingly fatiguing, especially as the Sun shone ardently, & was reflected by the stubble to an almost insupportable degree. We went to Will Clark’s house, & procured a draught of beer, which refreshed me amazingly. We then spied the Penrice party, doubling Port Eynon point – Will Clark came with us, & did more harm than good; – for he was followed by four dogs, who went yelping before us, & turned a fine covey of birds, out of shot!!! Jem George then began to despair of killing a bird, & declared it was the worst luck he ever met with. About two hours after this we accidentally parted company, so I, finding myself unable to rejoin him, went home, & in my way, shot twice at two little birds, one of which I killed; – & which were absolutely the only shots I had all day! Jem George however, after my departure, fell in with another covey, & shot three of them. He says that had I been with him, I might have had the best shot in the world. – It was half past two when I came in, so I had been out upwards of seven hours to no purpose. This has given me such an idea of the scarcity of Game here, that I have not been out for any since – Indeed you know I greatly prefer the humbler pursuit of Crows & Magpies, &c. &c. of which there are abundance here: – & my chief pleasure would be to take a walk by myself along the Marsh, before breakfast, & shoot at the Rabbits on the Sandbanks – You & Mamma <4> seem averse to this, but pray inform me on pillegible[ <5> of what “acts & deeds” of mine, do you consider a Gun an unsafe implement in my hands. – Sir Christopher <6> has tried his luck today for the first time; – & after a very sultry walk, has returned without getting a shot; Jem George having only killed two birds!!! – Pray excuse this writing, for the weather is so dreadfully hot, that I can really hardly hold the Pen in my hand – On Saturday, it being Kit’s <7> last day, (for he is gone back to Harrow <8>) after dinner, we attempted to have some fun with the small birds; – but it was too late in the day; – so we contented ourselves with shooting at pieces of paper to amuse Christopher; – The Gun frequently flashed in the Pan, which so provoked Jem George, that he declared he had seen all along the Gun would never do, that it was a mere toy, & would not, he was certain, kill a partridge at the distance of fifteen yards, that if it was his, he would never keep such a Gun, &c. &c. – I represented to him, that it would go off well enough if he shook some powder into the touch-hole, but he replied, “who would ever keep a Gun so troublesome as that?” – In short, his opinion of it has so much discouraged me, that I don’t think I shall use it again till I see, or hear from you.
I remain, Yrs Affectly
73 Bawtry 23
1. Penrice Castle and Penrice House, Gower, Glamorgan, 10 mi SW of Swansea: home of Christopher Rice Mansel Talbot.
2. Worms Head: Glamorgan, South Wales.
3. A servant of the Cole family.
4. Lady Elisabeth Theresa Feilding, née Fox Strangways, first m Talbot (1773–1846), WHFT’s mother.
5. Text obscured by seal.
6. Sir Christopher Cole (1770–1836), Captain, MP & naval officer.
7. Christopher Rice Mansel Talbot (1803–1890), immensely wealthy landowner, mathematician & politician; WHFT’s Welsh cousin.
8. Harrow School: WHFT attended from 1811–1815 and his son Charles from 1855-1859.