Hotel des Princes, R. Richelieu
3d May 1822
My Dear Mr Feilding,
We arrived today at 3 o’clock, & found at the Post Office a huge packet of letters from all quarters. We had been for some time in great uncertainty where to direct, which we now find is Florence; I wish you had not reckoned upon our being at Paris so much sooner than we were, & had directed your letters to us at places on the road; we should have known what you were doing so much earlier. We received your letters at Pau, Poitiers, and Tours. None at Bordeaux, nor Orleans. We find however you had written there, & so are going to write to the Postmasters to forward them. We have had a very agreeable journey; we came leisurely and comfortably, seeing what was to be seen, but avoiding useless delay. I think we only deviated in two instances from the original plan: a day additional that we stayed at Bagnères [sic] because I was unwell, and a day we lost by going to La Rochelle, which my mother <1> particularly wished to see. The inns were in general good, the weather very favourable, especially where it was of most consequence, in the Pyrenees. The postillions contented all the way with 30 sous. <2> Nothing very beautiful in all the long tract of country we passed over, except the Pyrenees and Pau and Tarbes, which are in their immediate neighbourhood. Tours is agreeable – so is Orleans – c’est tout. <3> My mother was very ill the night we came to Pau, it was owing, I am quite sure, to her having eat [sic] nothing all day, for the miserable breakfast we had at Luz I reckon for nothing, and she would not eat anything with me at Lourdes where I found an excellent fricandeau; and it was late before we got our dinner at Pau. Since then she has eat [sic] mutton chops for breakfast, & taken chickens in the carriage, and she has been perfectly well ever since, and in great spirits. Yesterday to my great surprize, while I was writing to you at Orleans (which letter never went after all, owing to the tiresome bureau d’affranchissement <4> being shut, as usual, au beau milieu du jour) <5> she went almost to the top of the cathedral, <6> up I don’t know how many hundred steps – For adventures, we have had no more very serious. The 21st we were benighted in the Landes. It was a curious scene. Imagine a thick forest of pines, reflecting from their trunks the light of a single lantern. Two postillions urging on five horses with all their lungs, for a quarter of an hour together, without stirring the carriage an inch in the deep sand: the forest around echoing with their shouts – Everybody on foot to lighten the carriage, a very dark night, very mild, not a breath of wind stirring. At eleven oclock the first human habitation we had seen for hours announced the town of Roquefort. We expected a repetition of this next day, but what calculations are certain? We went seven postes in the time we had gone little more than two the day before. We met with a slight accident the 28th at Lusignan near Poitiers; one of the horses fell down in driving up to the Poste. There was no danger in it, but it stopped us a few minutes & collected a crowd. Such is all that has happened to us. On the whole, we are greatly pleased with the tour. We found a letter from Ly Payne <7> at Tours, saying she wd be gone to England before our arrival, on account of her little Louisa’s <8> eyesight, to have advice: but we were delighted to find her here; she called this evening, and alas! says she is going tomorrow morning – Lady Davy <9> has been here only four days – We were all astonishment to hear Ld Lansdowne <10> was here. I went directly to call on him, when lo! he was gone back to London the day before yesterday. Still more amazed to hear in a letter that my aunt Charlotte <11> was gone abroad, but alas! a second letter informed us she was not at Paris, but at Brussels; or rather going to Brussels but had stopped at St Omer, owing to little Augusta <12> being ill. You can’t think how many disappointments backwards & forwards we had in reading our packet of letters. We stop here a week I have numberless things to do –
Yours ever afftly
Monsieur le Capitaine Feilding
1. Lady Elisabeth Theresa Feilding, née Fox Strangways, first m Talbot (1773–1846), WHFT’s mother.
2. Same as ‘sou’, French five-centime piece.
3. That’s everything.
4. Post office.
5. Right in the middle of the day.
6. Sainte-Croix Cathedral.
7. Lady Harriet Payne Gallwey (1784-1845), née Quin, wife of Lt Gen Sir William Payne Gallwey (1759-1831), 1st Bart.
8. Louisa Gallwey (1811-1872), dau of Lt Gen Sir William Payne Gallwey (1759-1831), 1st Bart, and Lady Harriet Payne Gallwey (d. 1845), née Quin.
9. Lady Jane Davy, née Kerr, first m. Apreece (1780–1855), socialite.
10. Henry Petty Fitzmaurice, 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne (1780–1863), MP, WHFT’s uncle.
11. Lady Charlotte Anne Lemon, née Strangways (d. 1826), WHFT’s aunt.
12. Augusta Lemon (d. 1825), her daughter.