11 Randolph Crest
February the 7th
My dear Papa
Ever since I got your letter, last Friday, I have been wishing to write and thank you for it; but this is the very first moment that I have been able to secure for so doing – I do not think that the Mrs Swinton whose death you saw in the paper can be the same as ours, else I am sure we should have heard something of it – A good many people seem to Know her, and say that she is very agreeable in society which I should not have imagined from what we Know of her capricious disposition – Think of our not having yet procured the prize poem for Burns; when we are as it were, at the head quarters both of it and its author! I had my hand on it in a booksellers shop the other day; I opened it, and read the first verse, which I thought promised so ill for the rest of the poem that we left the shop without it – subsequently, however, we became ashamed of ourselves and now intend to get and to study it, so as to find out the beauties if such there are. It was here, and not at Glasgow that the old man, Burn’s contemporary appeared; first at the banquet in the Music Hall;
that then at the more enthusiastic and more popular one in the Grass-market. He excited a great deal of interest, though some people would not believe him genuine, but thought he was got up for the occasion – He recited ‘Tam o’Shanter’ and other things; besides telling anecdot[es] My wonder is how the poor old man ever survived the night, after being shown about everywhere like a curious animal. – We have, of course heard all particulars of Miss Langton’s marriage which had nearly been followed by a most serious accident – In the evening, wonderful to relate, they had a dance at Barrow, and when the company was just gone, the young ladies remained talking in the drawing room, when Miss Frances Langtons dress caught fire – none of the others dared to approach her, as they were all dressed alike in light muslin, and there were no servants within call – Fortunately, the aunt, Miss Leamouth, attracted by her cries, came in, and having on a thick velvet gown, succeeded in putting out the flames, so that she was not much hurt. – We went, last Thursday, to see the famous conjuror Wiljalba Frikell, and were quite bewildered with his performance, which left us at last in a state of mind ready to believe anything possible which he chooses to attempt. – It is the more surprising, because he has no Kind of apparatus, not even a table to help him, and does all his tricks openly before the public. Who do you think Mama and Mamie are going to hear this evening? The famous Lola Montez, who gives a lecture on fashion in the Music Hall.
Our weather has been very pleasant and spring-like lately, with the flowers coming out fast, in the garden – Today unfortunately, all is changed, and we have snow again, but it is too mild to lie
Good bye dear Papa
Your affec daughter Matilda
W. H. F. Talbot Esq.