Greta Bank. <1>
March 3d 1854
My dear Papa,
It is impossible that you can now have finer weather than we. The two last days and today especially have been magnificent and as warm as summer. The birds are singing merrily, the flowers are in full beauty and everything announces the approach of Spring. There are three wild primroses open in the bushes; it is quite delightful, and, I think, there are all appearances of a fine spring. How beautiful it will be when the first leaves come out! but I suppose we cannot expect that before two months at least. Last Sunday also was an exceedingly fine day, and we were out nearly the whole day with poor little Gipsy, <2> who since Matilda wrote <3> has been exceedingly ill, so much so indeed that we had almost lost all hopes, but today there seems to be some little improvement. Mamma nurses her with the utmost care, and she is so good, poor little thing, so patient and so affectionate. We are afraid that she got a fresh fit of illness the day Sir John Woodford <4> brought her back, for it was very cold and, being already weak, the long walk tired her exceedingly. It will be a fortnight tomorrow since that day. Sir John has written several times to inquire after her and appears much interested in her recovery.
The little Bantam hen he promised us is now sitting on six eggs, and when they are hatched he says he will give us the mother with all her little family.
Mama had a letter from Charles <5> yesterday, but I don’t think he says anything particular.
Matilda has got a cold and is in bed today, but I hope it will soon pass off. We have begun to read the book you gave her and find it extremely interesting.
We send you a very pretty moss found on the Barrow road, and which, by refering [sic] to Matilda’s book, <6> we suppose to be Bartramia pomiformis. When fresh the flower is perfectly round like a little globe, but I am afraid you will hardly be able to judge of this poor specimen, for all the best have already been stuck in the books.
The town of Keswick has been, for some time past, plunged in total darkness, owing to a sudden failure in the supply of gas, and it seems there is some difficulty in getting it set to rights. – About three weeks ago a branch of gooseberry, covered with leaves and with the fruit already formed, was gathered at Thornthwaite in a sheltered situation. Was not that early?
Saturday March 4th
Sir John has been so kind as to send us this morning three little Bantams, a cock and two hens; the cock especially is a very beautiful little creature. They are shut up for the present till they get used to the place.
Mamie <7> wishes me to tell you that you never saw anything so lovely as the weather today; the whole landscape is enchanting beyond description, and if our dear little Gipsy was quite recovered we should have nothing to wish for. She continues better and I hope we shall very soon be able to give you news of her perfect recovery.
Goodbye, dear Papa, I adress [sic] to Lacock, supposing you are still there, and remain your affectionate daughter.
1. Greta Bank, Cumberland, near Keswick.
2. Pet dog.
4. Sir John George Woodford (1785–1879), Major General. His distinguished military career included serving as aide-de-camp to Wellington at Waterloo in 1815. Between 1821 and 1837, when he retired, he successfully campaigned for wide-ranging reforms within the army, from the systems of military discipline and purchase of commissions, to recreational provision.
5. Charles Henry Talbot (1842–1916), antiquary & WHFT’s only son.