[fragment: the original is incomplete, missing the ending sheet(s)]
Decr 27th 1815.
My Dear Mr Feilding,
We are here on a visit of two or three days to Mr Bland,<2> and return to Castleford <3> tomorrow. The party is not large, consisting only of Mr Bland & his wife & mother, & three sisters,<4> Mr & Mrs Barnes <5> & Mrs Ramsden. Mrs & Miss Bland have been paying us a visit at Castleford; - Stewart & Nuttall are both gone home for the Holidays; the calm is delightful. I asked Mr Barnes how long Nuttall was going to stay here; He answered; "I hope he is not coming back, but I believe he is." Mr B. thinks he ought to go abroad; - The Weather is I think altogether extraordinary - We had a tremendous fall of snow, which thawed, & then froze again, leaving the roads a sheet of Ice; which is now covered with a new fall of snow.
I have been unable to skait, because the frozen snow rendered the Ponds too rough. They are very shallow - I see there have been fine doings at Burley, pray tell me who are the " Honble Messrs Percival" [sic] <6> - A very melancholy circumstance happened lately near here, the death of young Mr Cathcart son of the rector of Kippax. He was at Cambridge, where he had only been one Term, & was doing very well, when he was taken ill, & growing worse, they sent him home. A friend of his, Mr Vane accompanied him to Stamford, & returned to Cambridge on business, leaving him to proceed home next morning. However, when he had settled his business at Cambridge, he very kindly returned immediately to Stamford, to see him off, when he says he thought him certainly in no immediate danger. But when he arrived at Doncaster, he was so ill as to be quite delirious; the other people thought him drunk, but the Landlady perceived how ill he was, & insisted he should go no further. She sent for a physician, but when his father & another arrived, he was perfectly insensible, & died at five o'clock the next morning. The physician says he is quite astonished at the suddenness of his death, but it was greatly accelerated by the motion of the Coach. They say it was very unfeeling of the Cambridge people to send him home, when he was so ill, for he might probably have recovered. He seems to have been much shocked at the death of one his friends, Edwards, in the same college, a few days before his own death. Their complaint was the Typhus fever. I wonder anybody can stay at Cambridge while the disease is thus raging. This melancholy event is very much talked of in the neighbourhood: & is the only news I can offer to you. - As you wish to know everything that I am thinking of; - The other Day being clear & pleasant I went out to shoot larks & sparrows & was pretty successful; - when I came in, knowing how the servant grumbles at any trouble I give him, I took & cleaned all the Gun, viz. Stock & Lock &c. Except the Barrel, myself: & gave him the Barrel alone, to clean, & then to be put by in my Guncase. Four days after I found that he had not touched it, altho' surely it would not have taken five minutes to clean, as I had cleaned the lock myself, inimitably! you never such such ingenious devices as I made use of to penetrate the crannies with Tow <7>- So when I found it was not cleaned & he said he positively would not clean it, I applied to Stewart's servant who has nothing to do, or at least very little, since his master is gone Home: he told me he really could not today !!! So, as I was going to Kippax, on a visit, directly, & I did not think it advisable, to leave it uncleaned till my return, I set about cleaning it myself, & tho' I had not time to clean it perfectly, I trust I rendered it a great deal cleaner. As Mr Barnes & I walked here, I mentioned to him the gross neglect of the Servant; to which he only replied: "John is a lazy man." He is indeed for he never remembers to [illegible deletion] do anything till repeatedly asked: & nothing is in my opinion more disagreeable than to be obliged to coax a servant to do anything for you. However he is soon going to leave Mr Barnes, & I hope will have a more active successor. I am so afraid that my gun is injured, that I tell you all this, that you may not think it my fault.
1. Kippax Park, Yorkshire, the home (now demolished) of the Bland family.
2. Thomas Davison Bland (d 1847).
3. Castleford, Yorkshire, 10 mi SE of Leeds, where WHFT went to school from 1815-1816.
4. The wife was Appolonia Mary Bland (1785-1868), daughter of Charles Philip, 16th Lord Stourton (1752-1816).
5. Rev Theophilus Barnes (1774 -1855), of Castleford and his wife.
6. Probably related to Spencer Perceval (1762-1812), British Prime Minister (1809-1812).
7. A stem or fibre of flax, before it is split and straightened, sometimes prepared for spinning by trimming.