My dear Henry
I am determined not to let a day pass without answering yr letter for fear another fit of indolence shd come over me, & I shd behave as ill as I did before it was not however for want of gratitude to you for thinking of me I assure you & I feel exceedingly obliged to you for the books you sent me by Mr Hetherington wh: tho late arrived at last & amused us very much. With respect to the Steam Boat the answer is short, that there is none it was tried for a little while (I believe last year) & failed & I do not hear of any attempt to revive the Scheme. I will do what you desire if possible as to the juice of the Euphorbia dendroides. what can you want to do with that viscous, acid stuff? We are in such dismal want of rain here that we are at least a month backwarder than usual everything is parched up with the drying wind & they say here it has been an unnatural Season However some flowers are beginning to come out that delight me. I have seen only the coronaria yet as the Pavonina is not out I believe The Ophrys insectifora (as Risso <1> calls it) is in profusion but no other [yet?] What has hitherto enchanted me more than any thing is (what he calls) the Narcissus albidus it is quite lovely nectary & flower of so pure & dazzling a white is it after all only the white variety of the N. tazzetta? The petals are particularly sharp pointed & they have the effect of a star. I certainly never saw it dry when in England & mean to take as many roots as I can. The [illegible] grounds are full of leaves of different bulbous plants but nothing more yet. The Ornithopus Scorpioides is another new plant to me & I like it fr the singularity of the leaves the Astragalus monspeliensis I fd in the autumn but you have no idea how few flowers there are in consequence of the weather. I went 3 months ago to the Rochers [songes?] & saw the fan palms & fd the Anthyllis barbajovis the Andropogon contortu, the Trincia tuberosa, &c. but I must go again as you hold out other hopes to me now. We mean to go from hence to Genoa & then by Milan & Turin over Mt Cenis to Geneva tell me what I shall find in that route. I intend having a shallow box filled with earth to go over the front trunk upon springs in which I flatter myself I shall be able just to keep alive any thing that particularly strikes me. You may tell me therefore any small plant that you wish to have. Is there a good Botanical garden at Genoa? Is the Avens I find here on the rocks Micensis? Risso calls it Meridionalis & I think it is vernus?
I was delighted to hear of Williams appointment <2> & I hope he may be as pleased with it as we are I think it possible he may take this in his way it will be hard if we do not catch him in part of our tour if not here.
I intend writing to your Mother <3> in a day or two I have time only for one letter now.
My dear Heny yr affte
C A Lemon
Can you explain what [illegible] when we were at Nevers we [saw] sold in the market some curious looking vegetables, which at first we took to be roots, but which [are?] the seeds of a Plant that grows in ponds in all that country & which the country people eat after it is boiled<4> it is a singular shape abt the size of a chesnut & with points something like this [illustration] & brown a tough skin & a sort of nut inside I never cd get any name for it that I cd at least make out. Risso is exceedingly puzzled & knows nothing about it & I can get nobody else to explain it. Can you?
Monsieur H. F. Talbot
Hotel de la Terrasse
Rue de Rivoli
1. Antonio or Antoine Risso (17771845), natural scientist.
3. Lady Elisabeth Theresa Feilding, nιe Fox Strangways, first m Talbot (17731846), WHFTs mother.
4. Water chestnuts or water caltrop were sold in markets throughout Europe until 1880.