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Document number: 00935
Date: 02 Aug 1821
Recipient: FEILDING Elisabeth Theresa, née Fox Strangways
Author: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA21-28
Last updated: 21st February 2012

5th letter

2d August 1821

Great disappointed at not finding even one single letter from you. I have been reading in a German newspaper the account of the Queens <1> presenting herself to see the Coronation. <2> It is evidently taken however from some ministerial paper - What a strange language the German is - They do not reckon the depth of a river, by how many feet it is deep, but by how many shoes. Would you believe that they have transformed the sonorous name of Locarno into Luggarus!! And so with all the other names of poor Italy. Milan is turned into Mayland. - In my last letter <3> I was describing the pass of the Gemmi. At the top is the inn of Schwarbach which has great pretensions to be the worst in Switzerland. I entered, but was immediately driven out by the smoke; - besides I cd not stand upright in the room. So I made them bring me out a chair & table into the Sun. Beyond the inn is a lake a league long, partly dried up, so we walked in its bed which was flat like the seashore, & contrasted singularly with the scenery; & the rugged path we had come. N.B. The rest of this day's journey, I have described in my last letter. - 20th July. We went from Leuk to Bryg: along the Valais, thro' which runs the Rhone, not as Ld Byron describes him "by the blue rushing of the arrowy Rhone" <4>but all white & muddy. Cd get no dinner today because it was Friday. Very hot, a great thunderstorm in the evening. At Bryg, by the greatest accident in the world, I met Chas Porter <5> a particular friend of mine both at school & college. He was returning from Italy to England.

21st Crossed the Simplon - I agree with everybody else in my admiration of this road: but the Italian side is much the finest. In the evening violent rain came on, so I stopped at Isella, on the frontier, a miserable inn.

22d Thro' Domod'Ossola [sic] & along the banks of the Lago Maggiore as far as Arona. By the way stopped to dine at the Isola Bella. It happened to be the day of the yearly festival, so the island was thronged. The cannons they fired produced a magnificent echo, the more striking from the long intervening silence. Near Arona on a hill is the statue of St Charles Borromeo, <6> the largest in the world. I had never heard of it, so [illegible deletion] it surprized me the more.

23d to Milan, stayed there the 24th

25th to Como, & on the lake as far as Cadenobia.

26th. Across the hills, a beautiful road & fit for carriages, to Porlezza, the frontier of Switzerland. Thence by the lake to Lugano.

27th In the morning climbed up the hill of St Salvador whence a beautiful view. Found the Helleborus niger commonly called the Christmas Rose in profusion on this mountain, & even several flowers already expanded. - An excessive profusion of plants natives of warm climates, and unknown to me, grow about these Italian lakes - Their banks are clothed with Cyclamens in blossom. In the afternoon proceeded to Bellinzona.

28th to Airolo

29th crossed the St Gothard. Thick clouds, wind & rain. Very cold. A sudden change from the great heat in Italy. The hospice on the Summit is miserable. This pass is not long, which we were not sorry for - We crossed in such bad weather in order to change the melancholy inn at Airolo for the cheerful one we knew there was at Hospital. On the summit are several lakes, we could not see more than 20 or 30 yards before us, owing to the clouds, which gave the lake whose waves washed up against the road, an awful appearance. [illegible deletion] unknown sea - a sea of darkness - Further down we found two crosses close together, to the memory of unfortunate travellers who had perished in the snow.

One was inscribed
1820. Qui fu morto Cipriano Befa. <7>

The other was more simple
1811 M. 20

In my next letter I will continue my adventures -

My love to all.

Your Affte Son
W.H.F Talbot

Miladi Elisabeth Feilding
Poste Restante


1. Queen Caroline Amelia Elizabeth (1768-1821) of Brunswick. She was refused entry to the coronation of George IV. [See Doc. No: 00899].

2. The Coronation of George IV was held on 19 July 1821.

3. See Doc. No: 00934.

4. George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron of Rochdale (1788-1824); the quotation is from Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Canto 111, Stanza 71.

5. Charles Porter (1797-1877), fellow Cambridge student with WHFT and later clergyman.

6. Saint Charles Borromeo (1538-1584), cardinal and archbishop.

7. Cipriano Befa died here.