9. Clarges Street. <1>
My dear Papa,
I cannot make any good excuse for not having written to you sooner, except that at first you talked of coming back so soon, that we thought a letter would have hardly time to reach you. But we were quite sorry when you said you had heard from no one, after having written to us all in succession. Now I must make up by telling you all we have been doing, since the weather has become cool enough to permit one going about.
I think Mama <2> mentioned the great Academy concert in St James’ hall, where the music was rather dull, but the singers excellent, all the first talents – and where we enjoyed an excellent opportunity of seeing the Queen <3>, (– I had never seen her before, and I am sorry to say, did not think her so agreable [sic] looking as I excepted [sic]:) – the poor old King of the Belgians, the Duke and Duchess of Brabant, the latter so very handsome,le Comte de Flandres etc: –
as we were standing on the staircase when they passed, and they remained close to us some time putting their cloaks on and preparing to depart. [illegible deletion] Since that we have been to a grand concert at Lansdowne house, <4> where Mario, Guisi etc sang – This was of course all pretty music and we enjoyed it very much.
We went to the ball at Almacks last week, but it was rather a failure, as all the patronesses were away, and most of the select company that were expected had gone to private parties. Fortunately we were sitting near Lady Rosebery and her daughter part of the evening; they are both very agreable and amiable, and prevented it from being dull which it otherwise would, – and as they also knew hardly any body in the room, we sympathised with one another and talked a good deal. I think we have made Lady Roseberys acquaintance since you have been away. She is much older than her sister Mrs Primrose, and very
different unlike her, but there is sometimes something in her voice or manner which reminds one of her, and she has been very kind and obliging for us. –
We have been to Albert Smith and were much amused, though he talks so immensely fast that it is impossible to hear or follow half what he says. He is going off to China next week, so I suppose there will be an end of Mont Blanc for ever! – I think he said next tuesday would be the 2000th anniversary of his often told story, so one must confess it is pretty well worn out by this time. He has already dropped all description of his famous ascent, and gives it you in a series of Dioramic views, which are really very well made, and give you a very good idea of the perils to be encountered. He also produced a real St Bernard dog, one of a family of eight puppies which were sent over to him in their infancy and all of whom he has disposed of except this one and its mother. –
Then we have also visited
and the outside of the houses of Parliament, whose extreme beauty and richness, and the immense quantity of ornaments, really astonished me, and surpassed all my anticipations, though I had expected something wonderful. But we could not see the interior that day, as it was too late and the members were all going in, but we walked round Westminster hall and admired the beautiful ceiling. – We have also been to several of the exhibitions of paintings, and to the Zoological gardens, so you see we have not lost our time in the way of sight seeing.
We met Uncle William <5> yesterday, and he talked of the flower show in Regent’s park that took place a few days after you left. He did not go there himself, but saw most of the flowers beforehand, and says that though there was a fine show of the commoner sorts of Rhododendrons, that was nothing very rare or curious, so that you did not lose much by not going to it.
Aunt Harriet <6> has given up going to Cremorne, so that we shall have her party, consisting of Uncle Mundy, <7> Noel, <8>and two other gentlemen to take care of us: and Charley Edgcumbe <9> has also promised to come if he can get leave of absence for that day. Therefore Mama has not taken out your ticket, but if you should wish for it and will answer by return of post, there will still be time to get it; and I send you a programme of the fête, in order that you may be tempted by the variety of pleasing entertainments therein set forth.
Now I must not write you a longer letter, for if you come tomorrow we must reserve something to talk about. – Ela <10> hopes that you have not had much trouble in finding her bracelet. If you come do bring us word how the canaries are getting on, and whether any more young ones are hatched. George <11> may easily obtain that information from Rebecca. <12> Our new servant Thomas does very well, he is quiet and civil, and does not lose his head like poor George, when looking for the carriage in
the a crowd.
But now, dear Papa, [illegible deletion] I must only add that I hope you do not remain out too late in the damp of the evening under the trees, for it is very treacherous weather, and there is a great prevalence of colds and sore throats, caught by remaining in too cold a place after a hot day. So take care of your self, dear Papa, and now goodbye,
your affectionate daughter
2. Constance Talbot, née Mundy (1811–1880), WHFT’s wife.
3. Victoria (1819–1901), Queen of the United Kingdom (1837–1901), Empress of India (1876–1901).
4. Lansdowne House, London: home of the Marquis of Lansdowne, WHFT's uncle and cousins.
5. William Thomas Horner Fox Strangways, 4th Earl of Ilchester (1795–1865), botanist, art collector & diplomat.
6. Harriot Georgiana Mundy, née Frampton (1806-1886), WHFT’s cousin & sister-in-law.
7. William Mundy (1801-1877), politician, WHFT’s brother-in-law.
8. Francis Noel Mundy (1833–1903), WHFT’s nephew.
9. Charles Earnest Edgcumbe (1838–1915), JP, WHFT’s nephew.
10. Ela Theresa Talbot (1835–1893), WHFT’s 1st daughter.
11. George Goodwin (d. 1875), footman at Lacock Abbey.
12. Rebecca, maid and cook at Lacock Abbey ca.1840–1860.
13. Thereza Mary Maskelyne, née Llewelyn (1834–1926), daughter of Emma and John Dillwyn Llewelyn, m 29 June 1858, Nevil Story-Maskelyne (1823–1911), photographer, politician & scientist.