Nov. 27. 1814.
My dear Jane,
I am much obliged to you for your specimens of that beautiful fern A. C.V. <2> – Unfortunately it was so broken & mangled in Davy’s pocket, that all its delicacy was destroyed. The two Andræa’s, which you call black things, are two of the most extraordinary or rather curious among the mosses – Are not they unlike other mosses? – You should not say, that you have two others
, of the same species; but genus. I wrote a letter to Mr Dillwyn <3> the other day, enclosing some mosses, but as I wanted a frank, I called on a Noble Lord, but as he was not at home, I left it with the servant, & I think he has forgotten to get it franked! – I have now got the Flora Britannica <4> “, a delicious book, without which I am persuaded it is impossible to make out mosses: – I send you a correcter list of my mosses.
Tortula muralis (not subulata)
Fontinalis antipyretica (very beautiful)
Gymnostomum truncatulum “ “
Orthotrichum pumilum – This is the most common of the Mosses now in blow. The Flora Britannica only mentions two places where it is found, both in Ireland: – I was deceived by this, & supposed it was very rare; & so got a friend of mine, to send it to Mr Sowerby <5> the botanist; who replied, that the name which we had given it was correct, but that it was “not very rare”. These were his words – Does he mean, that it was not very rare; – or, that it was not very rare. Any of these mosses that you do not possess, shall be sent you at a minute’s notice. – Besides those I have named; I have found quantities whose names I am ignorant of. – I am very busy, & have not time to investigate them. – Moreover, the genus Hypnum is so intensely hard that it discourages me. Moreover, my microscope is not strong enough for small mosses. Moreover, they are so like each other, that it requires experience, to distinguish them. – I have found two or three Jungermannia’s – Their blossoms are very small, but beautiful – [illustration] I here represent a bud & a flower open. I have not attempted their specific name, it looks abstruse. Direct your next letter to Bowood, <6> where I will hunt for you & myself, at leisure – I begin to be annoyed, because Aunt Mary <7> has not written to Kit, <8> concerning the method to be adopted in removing him without damage to Penrice. <9> – I should like him to go with me to Bowood, which is all in his way to Bristol. It would be a very great bore for him, to receive no definite instructions, before the holidays. – He says that he would borrow the sum of ten pounds, & dash through thick & thin, leaving his trunks behind him. – I can say from experience, that of all the sorts of anxiety to which one is subject at school, that of waiting in vain day after day for a letter, (holidays within a few days) is the most provoking – It well deserves a place in the Miseries of Human Life. – Pray inform me, what was the name of the Moss which Mr Dillwyn found on the church wall; that cause of dilapidation to those illfated precincts, that cause of indignation to the astonished sextons, and of murmuring to the grumbling churchwardens.
I remain Yr Affte Cousin
Nov 27. 1814
Miss Jane Talbot
1. Harrow School: WHFT attended from 1811–1815 and his son Charles from 1855-1859.
2. Probably ‘Adiantum capillus-veneris’, the maidenhair fern.
3. Lewis Weston Dillwyn (1778–1855), Welsh botanist & MP.
5. George Brettingham Sowerby (1788–1854), naturalist.
6. Bowood House, nr Calne, Wiltshire, 5 mi NE of Lacock: seat of the Marquess of Lansdowne.
7. Lady Mary Lucy Cole, née Strangways, first m. Talbot (1776–1855), WHFT’s aunt.
8. Christopher Rice Mansel Talbot (1803–1890), immensely wealthy landowner, mathematician & politician; WHFT’s Welsh cousin.
9. Penrice Castle and Penrice House, Gower, Glamorgan, 10 mi SW of Swansea: home of Christopher Rice Mansel Talbot.