My dear Henry,
I do not think it is quite correct in me to write my congratulations to you as you desire but but [sic] I am not unwilling to do so because I am so much better acquainted with you than with Caroline, <2> so I hope she will receive my hearty good wishes for her happiness as kindly as if directly addressed to herself – what a beautiful home she will have – I remember particularly a seat there which I dare say will suit her fancy as much as it did mine – it is a stone seat with a green glade in front sloping down to the sea – woods on each side all the busy shores shut out & only the beautiful blue & restless yet silent ocean before you – it is quite a place of contrasts which makes it the more interesting I think when we were there the french garden as it was called was extremely pretty but it is now many years ago & I do not know whether that is kept up – Then Cothele <3> is a very pretty place – the Spanish chesnuts in the wood there are as fine as any I ever saw except in the Val Levantina – I shall certainly invite myself to pay her a visit & revive my ancient recollections – one of these days – almost my first sketches were made there – Your letter was a sad contrast to
what those you used to write to us some fifteen years ago – I assure you many of those are now extant and most amusing compositions they are – written quite close all over the sheet while this begins in the middle & ends at the bottom of the first page as if you thought that like Frederic the great <4> I could not bear to turn over a leaf – the information conveyed was I will own sufficiently weighty & important but I should like to have a full true & particular account of the wedding when it takes place, not omitting dresses & decorations and it is only on condition you will write me this that I can forgive the conciseness of your first communication – I wish I had ever even seen Lord Valletort <5> but I hope we may be acquainted some time or other – I consider h[im]<6> a very fortunate man for so charming a person as Caroline is I don’t mean only in appearance but also in disposition is very rarely met with – beauty without vanity – accomplishment without pretension & exigeance – an easy placid temper that is the very jewel of every day life – you see I know something of her though I do not feel so well acquainted as I am with you, simply because we have never been long enough together for me to practise my arts of insinuation upon her & become her friend – Mr Traherne <7> desires his sincere congratulations to all the parties concerned on this happy occasion
& believe me your affectionate twin-cousin
W. Henry Fox Talbot Esqr
1. Coedriglan, near Cardiff, Wales: home of the Rev John Montgomerie Traherne, husband of WHFT’s cousin Charlotte.
2. Caroline Augusta Edgcumbe, née Feilding, Lady Mt Edgcumbe (1808–1881); WHFT’s half-sister.
3. A misspelling for Cotehele, Cornwall: ancient house, seat of the Earl of Mt Edgcumbe, now a National Trust Property.
4. Fredrick II of Prussia (Frederick the Great) (1712 –1786), King of Prussia (1740–1786).
5. Ernest Augustus Edgcumbe, Lord Valletort, 3rd Earl of Mt Edgcumbe (1797–1861), WHFT’s brother-in-law.
6. Text torn away under seal.
7. Rev John Montgomerie Traherne (1788–1860), JP & author.
8. Lady Elisabeth Theresa Feilding, née Fox Strangways, first m Talbot (1773–1846), WHFT’s mother; Rear Admiral Charles Feilding (1780–1837), Royal Navy; WHFT’s step-father.
9. Henrietta Horatia Maria Gaisford, née Feilding (1810–1851), WHFT’s half-sister.