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Document number: 01059
Date: 27 Feb 1823
Recipient: FEILDING Elisabeth Theresa, née Fox Strangways
Author: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Last updated: 7th March 2012

27. Feb. 1823

I send you some extracts from Lady Davy’s <1> letter, which was detained by some accident 15 or 16 days at Rome, as appears by the Postmarks – She gives a very bad account of herself, that she has been confined for seven weeks to her room & nearly a month of that time to her bed, but is now rather better, and that the physicians cannot tell what her complaint is – She says the Fazakerley’s <2> [sic] have been all kindness to her, coming once or twice every day, and that they seem very happy; she, cheerful & contented, and he “unchanged” – “The colony of English is considerable, & the number of foreign families much greater than last season; but Nice has been a Hospital, a place of Exile, for the society has been made up of Sick, banished, & poor or imprudent” – They have had several deaths; the son of Mr John Smith, Ld Carrington’s <3> Brother, – Monsieur de Choiseul, and lately Mr Spencer Cowper <4> – “Compared with last season the weather has been terrible, but compared with the present in other places, it probably deserves a favourable report – Cold I have never felt, but others complained of it during all December, & gloomy skies and no sun – Rain has been very frequent, & has for three days descended in torrents – Little appearance of spring, my own garden has no buds –

Rather a melancholy account I think of Nice and its inhabitants. I cannot report well of Naples either just at present for one might imagine oneself in ultima <5> Thule from the appearance of the day. Ld Sandon <6> & Labouchere <7> return shortly to Rome, having fortunately seized a few days of fine weather for their excursion to Pæstum. For our parts we were obliged to return from Castellamare by Jane’s illness, & I don’t know if we shall attempt it again – do not expect us till the 20th of March. I observe you always direct to me Fox Talbot by way of discrimination, but it does rather the contrary. For, the letters are here distributed from different windows, according to the different letters of the Alphabet, and the other day I found no letter for me under T, so I thought I would try my chance under F, and accordingly asked for letters for Mr Fox when they immediately produced one from you. – Is it true that Wm Bankes retires from parliament, in consequence of what the newspaper terms an unfortunate fracas?<8> We are quite dependent on Rome for our news –

I almost think Pompeii the most interesting thing I have seen in my travels – I have been there twice; it is like a crowded street, fifteen miles long – as Portici, Resina, Torre del Greco, & Torra dell’Annunziata follow each other with but little interruption – I wish it was only 2 or 3 miles off. How can anybody maintain that the Romans were ignorant of Perspective? Let him look at the paintings in the Pantheon at Pompeii – The street of the Tombs is so curious, the tombs so perfect, many of them looking quite new as if they were being built, the inscriptions, the ornaments all perfect – and all the public edifices which they were occupied in rebuilding after the terrible Earthquake A.D. 63; you see the old friezes & columns, as they were lying when overwhelmed in A.D. 79, with the new ones which the Romans were making, & copying exactly the pattern – It appears exactly like a city now building, the ground strewed with columns & capitals, some finished, some just begun. The peoples names are still legible on their doors, you see the writing, the paintings, the very caricatures of the [illegible deletion] age of Titus <9> – One I saw had this written under it, excessively ill spelt – “If anybody injures this, may he incur the anger of the Venus of Pompeii” – Perhaps the author of this would have taken more pains in his spelling, had he supposed it would have remained 1744 years after a monument of his bad Grammar.

Your Affte Son
W.H.F. Talbot

Miladi Feilding

Palazzo Ceva


1. Lady Jane Davy, née Kerr, first m. Apreece (1780–1855), socialite. [See Doc. No: 01051].

2. John Nicholas Fazakerley (1787–1852), MP; and his wife, Hon. Elinor Fazakerley, née Montague (d. 1847).

3. John Smith (1767–1842), MP, and his brother Robert Smith, 1st Baron Carrington (1752–1838).

4. Edward Spencer Cowper (1779–1823), politician.

5. Complete.

6. Sir Dudley Ryder, Earl of Harrowby & Viscount Sandon (1762–1847).

7. Rt Hon Henry Labouchere, Baron Taunton (1798–1869), politician.

8. William John Bankes (1786–1855), politician. Edward Berkeley Portman (1771-1823), MP, died at Rome on 19 January. Bankes, who had served 42 years in Parliament, was proposed as his successor, but Portman's son, also Edward Berkeley Portman, Viscount Portman (1799-1888), was declared the winner. Bankes initially cried foul and demanded a poll. However, on 19 February, Bankes withdrew, citing his continuing involvement with the subject of Catholic Emancipation (see his letter in The Morning Post, 21 February 1823, p. 1). The younger Portman sat as a liberal for Dorset from 1823 to 1832.

9. Titus (79–81), Roman emperor.