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Document number: 06117
Date: 08 Mar 1848
Recipient: GAISFORD Henrietta Horatia Maria, née Feilding
Author: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA48-16
Last updated: 16th February 2012

8 March 1848

My dear Horatia

We have recd no letter from you since the one dated 11th <1> of last month; although I know that there is one coming which you wrote on the 22d – I am afraid it has lost its way. Pray both of you write to us frequently, for one tells us what the other omits entirely For instance from Caroline’s <2> letters we should never have known a syllable about the danger you were in in [sic] Palazzo Butera during the second bombardment when you took refuge in the entreso[?] Caroline described the events of that day in such a way that we believed you were as well as all the rest on board the Bulldog <3> – Why do not you tell us something about the tragic scenes in Palermo <4> caused by a certain patriot who caused 30 employés of the Neapolitan government to be put to death, and was himself sentenced to death by his indignant colleagues? You see we hear it all from the newspapers tho’ doubtless in an exaggerated way, & under a false colouring –

What tremendous events are now passing!

How little Caroline knew what she was saying, in her letter written on that fatal 24th February – that Amandier’s <5> last letter was written bien avant la <6> revolution! How little she thought what a revolution was accomplishing itself, at that very moment!

We have been in great concern and trouble about you all this winter, but most especially during the ten days which elapsed between the first account that came of the Sicilian outbreak, and the reception of a letter from you announcing your safety – Bad news flies proverbially fast and the account of the insurrection reached England very speedily – It had long been premeditated I am sure of that – It was twice at least announced prematurely in letters from Genoa to the English newspapers, but with circumstances so nearly accordant with the truth that unless we admit the spirit of prophecy guided the writers, they must have been in the secret of the patriots. The Sicilian insurrection caused considerable excitement in Paris, it was one of the drops which at length caused the revolutionary cauldron to boil over. I am glad you are so usefully (tho laboriously) employed in writing dispatches to Ld Minto <7> and in mediating between adverse governments. But I am now anxious that you should think of your return. It is of no use use [sic] to guess what effect the French revolution may have on Sicilian affairs, therefore I will not talk about that, but it appears to me that if you do not move homewards soon, your retreat will be cut off, & you will be obliged to come by long sea, by Gibraltar. No one can count on peace being preserved for a week in France, and soon the safest road will be that thro’ Trieste & Vienna & the North German railroads – We have had a gloomy winter with a great deal of sickness in the house. – Constance and Charles <8> remain both very poorly – Amandier is in feeble health, but moderately well just at present – The whole country very sickly – Great riots at Glasgow <9> – tumultuous lampbreaking in London – Open rebellion preached at Dublin by the “United Irishman”. <10> You will be sorry to hear of the death of Mrs Henneman <11> – Mrs Price that was, she had been long sinking –

A little while ago we found your missing Pedigree Book containing the lineage of Rodolph of Hapsburg, <12> which you had thought lost, or abstracted by some Amateur of Genealogies – A mild open winter, very wet – Your garden is now gay with Crocusses & the greenhouse with hyacinths. I don’t think you receive all our letters – did you ever get Rosamond’s <13> nice little letter? In fact with the post not reestablished I don’t see how you could get them. Perhaps they will all arrive together at a future time, as the tunes came out of Baron Munchausen’s horn in the next summer after he had played them

Yours affly


1. Letter not located.

2. Caroline Augusta Edgcumbe, née Feilding, Lady Mt Edgcumbe (1808–1881); WHFT’s half-sister.

3. See Doc. No: 06087.

4. He refers to the Sicilian revolution that started in January 1848, at Palermo, Sicily, against the absolutist King Ferdinand II. [See Doc. No: 06101, and Doc. No: 06135].

5. Amélina Petit De Billier, ‘Mamie’, ‘Amandier’ (1798–1876), governess and later close friend of the Talbot family [See Amélina's journal].

6. Well before.

7. Elliot Murray, 2nd Earl of Minto (1782–1859), statesman. He was the British representative who tried to encourage reform in Italy, but his efforts failed.

8. Constance Talbot, née Mundy (1811–1880), WHFT’s wife and Charles Henry Talbot (1842–1916), antiquary & WHFT’s only son.

9. Glasgow food riots of 6 March 1848.

10. The United Irishman, newspaper edited by John Mitchell (1815–1875), an Irish nationalist who called for rebellion against British rule in Ireland.

11. Mrs Sarah Henneman, first m Price ( ca.1811–1848), housemaid at Lacock Abbey.

12. He probably means Rudolph I ‘Rudolph of Hapsburg’ (1218–1291), German king.

13. Rosamond Constance ‘Monie’ Talbot (1837–1906), artist & WHFT’s 2nd daughter.