March 16th 1858.
My dear Papa,
Thank you very much for the interesting book I received this morning: the illustrations are very pretty and well done, and there are so many of them that I have not yet looked through all. I am afraid from your description of the state of the weather on Sunday, that the sun did not show a brighter face at Lacock than here. The weather on Sunday morning was very bright the afternoon cloudy, but no rain, and in the evening we saw a very fine Aurora Borealis
light like sheets of white vapour spreading over a wide space of the sky. It lasted several hours, beginning at 11 ˝, and the stars were shining brightly all the time.
Next morning the sun rose splendidly, and we had every hope of a fine day until nine o’clock, when thick clouds covered the whole sky; of course you read the report of the observations at Edinburgh, in the Times, <1> who tru
ely describes it as having been tantalising in the extreme. However we all turned out of doors provided with bits of coloured glass, and walked up and down Coates Crescent and Manor Place, most patiently waiting to catch any little glimpse of the sun through a break in the clouds. We managed to see it for a moment now and then tolerably well, once when it the eclipse was at its highest, nothing but a thin crescent remaining, but so small were the breaks in the thick clouds that if one had ones head turned another way for a minute, the opportunity was lost. It was very dark and chilly at the hieght [sic] of the eclipse, but then the fog must have contributed to this. Have you read the paragraph in Mond I was wrong when I said that the account of the eclipse at Edinburgh was in the Times; it is in the Courant <2> and we send it you as perhaps you would like to see it. <3> Mind also you read the little paragraphs on the rejoicings at Cambeltown, for the marriage of Lieutenant Duncan Stewart of Coll to Firooza Mc Neill.
It has been so fine and warm all today that it is quite provoking. – Dr Moir, <4> who has just been here, says there was a still finer Aurora on Saturday, but we did not see it. He observed the eclipse from Calton hill, and says that the increase of darkness was very perceptible.
We are very busy with preparation for our party next tuesday, which we expect to be brilliant. Tonight, we are going to a ball at Mrs Napier’s.
Good bye, dear Papa, I have filled up all my space, Your affectionate daughter
H. F. Talbot Esqre
1. The Times (London).
2. The Edinburgh Evening Courant.
3. Not enclosed.
4. Dr John Moir (b 1809), French-born to British parents, MD, 52 Castle St, Edinburgh.