Your letter caught me just as I was on the wing from Abbotsbury, <1> where I left your Aunt Harriot <2> very much improved in grace & activity – She goes about the House in a sort of canter, but certainly quicker than I ever saw her, & she has long ceased to think seriously of the little stiffness in her knee which remains – You probably have heard of Stavy <3> since I have – but the account which arrived at abby on Monday was that he was so much better that they were going to give him strengthening medicines & Ilchester <4> intended to take him to Melbury <5> on Wednesday – His illness broke up our party at Redlynch <6> very suddenly, & fogs & rain went far to spoil the time we were there; but it is a nice place & I would willingly have spent a couple more days there. Ilchester has been waiting for an earthquake above 20 years, and as it does not appear likely to come I suppose in the end he will be obliged to pull it down – Since I came here I have received a large parcel of seeds from the Botanic Garden at Calcutta – if you are likely to want any of them pray write me a line, & I will send you a copy of the list of them which I have just made, that you may chuse – The grass which I mention’d to you had come up with some of my Brazil seeds, my gardener says is the Doub grass. I have saved seeds, & have two or three plants if you like to preserve it – I wish I did not live in the uttermost parts of the Earth, that I might hope to tempt you down here to help me in my gardening concerns; but unless you can catch hold of the tail of a comet travelling this way, like Micromegas, <7> I fear I have no chance – The Framptons’ [sic] promise me that nothing but illness shall prevent them being here early in January. Will this tempt you? – What do you think of Davies Gilbert as President of R.S. <8> who cannot speak a word of any
other language but his own? – as Kits letter was dated on board the Asia<9> I hope there is no doubt of his being informed of the probabity [sic] of a brush with the Turks, & of course will provide for his own safety; nevertheless I wish he was safe thro’ the Gut of Gibraltar with John <10> on board –
My Kind Love to Lady E & yr Sisters. <11>
Yrs very truly
Henry Talbot Esqe
1. Abbotsbury, Dorset: home of William Thomas Horner Fox Strangways.
2. Lady Harriet Frampton, née Fox Strangways (d. 1844) .
3. Henry Thomas Leopold Fox Strangways, Lord Stavordale (1816–1837).
4. Henry Stephen Fox Strangways, 3rd Earl of Ilchester (1787–1858).
5. Melbury, Dorset: one of the Fox Strangways family homes; WHFT was born there.
6. Redlynch, Somerset, seat of the Earls of Ilchester (Barons of Redlynch).
7. The eponymous hero of Voltaire’s philosophical tale. He was an inhabitant of the star Sirius, who visits the Earth.
8. Davies Gilbert (1767–1839), president of the Royal Society from 30 November 1827 to 30 November 1830.
9. Christopher Rice Mansel Talbot (1803–1890), immensely wealthy landowner, mathematician & politician; WHFT’s Welsh cousin. HMS Asia was an 84 gun second rater, a sailing ship. On 20 October 1827 it was involved in the Battle of Navarino against the Turks and Egyptians.
10. John George Charles Fox Strangways (1803–1859), MP.
11. Lady Elisabeth Theresa Feilding, née Fox Strangways, first m Talbot (1773–1846), WHFT’s mother, 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. Carclew, Cornwall, 3 mi N of Penryn: seat of Sir Charles Lemon.