4, The Circus,
My dear Papa,
Ela<1> arrived quite safely last night at half past eight having deposited Jack<2> at Worcester, in high spirits. She was very tired with the long journey from Carlisle which they left at 8 in the morning, but
then today she is all right again. She has brought you from Dabton a present from Tilly<3> in the shape of a large pot of Arthurium Schertzerianum, which the carrier will convey direct to Wilkins<4> this evening – You are to have also a pheasant and a hare, both from Dabton. This is turning out a lovely day, most enjoyable from its rarity. We had really a pleasant little party yesterday – The Menteaths<5> came late and staid after every body was gone, chatting pleasantly as they always do. Alfred acquitted himself very well. A curious circumstance turned up which you alone can explain. We have got acquainted with a Mrs Maidstone Smith, a scotch woman, who sings scotch songs very prettily. She came yesterday and in course of conversation mentioned that her husband Dr Smith<6> had called upon and seen you more than a month ago, having been encouraged to call by Mr Fowler,<7> and because he had been a very great friend of Sir David Brewster<8> at St Andrews. But as his visit was never returned he began to think there must have been some mistake; and we assured her he must have got into a wrong house, as you had never mentioned anything about it! We have just been examining and trying the fire-extinguisher, in the garden. It is a most complete little machine, very easily worked by any of us, and has throws a strong powerful jet full fifty feet in the air. We watered our neighbours gardens right and left; luckily no one was walking there! It will be very useful, en attendant a more serious necessity, for watering the plants & flowers in the garden; and for this two roses are provided.
Goodbye, dear Papa, everybody sends their love, your affect. daughter
Ela brings a very good report of the healths at Dabton.
1. Ela Theresa Talbot (25 Apr 1835 - 25 Apr 1893), WHFT's 1st daughter.
2. John Henry Gilchrist-Clark, ‘Jack’ (1861–1902), WHFT’s grandson.
3. Matilda Caroline Gilchrist-Clark, née Talbot (25 Feb 1839-1927), 'Tilly', WHFT's 3rd daughter. Dabton, Dumfriesshire, was her home.
4. George Wilkins (b. 1814), gardener at Lacock.
5. Charles Granville Stuart Menteath (1800-1880), barrister, and his wife, Cecilia Louisa, née Cecil.
6. Dr Robert Maidstone Smith (b. 1811) is mentioned as an experimenter in the photographic journals of this period and was living in Bathampton House near Bath in 1872. His wife, Jane A. Smith (b. 1816) was born in St Andrews and portraits of both of them are in Special Collections at St Andrews University.
7. Dr Richard Fowler (1765-1863), physician.
8. Sir David Brewster (1781-10 Feb 1868), Scottish scientist & journalist.