19 May 1863
My dear Henry
This is a difficult climate to live in – or to prophesy about – which nobody can deny. We have been enjoying perfect summer an old fashioned May month when lo we have a thermometer now down below 48 – a N.E. wind – driving storm trees crashing & falling in all directions – & the Yeomanry troop out at drill in the Park!
This morning comes a letter from Abb. <2> with news of an Aloe going to flower on the terrace growing rapidly night & day & to flower in a week – with this weather if it survives – it will take a month to blow – I mean to go & see it & if you are not gone abroad you had better come & see it too. It is a new sort (supposed) given me years ago by Martius <3> whose garden you will find very rich now I fancy.
They send me some great Mesembr: flowers which I am studying with Harvey’s <4> book – more satisfactory than Howarths & Ligustreum Peloponnesiacum a mouthful for a novice. Rhodod. Gibsoni the exact point of junction of Rhod. & Azalea – as much one as the other – & Scilla hyacinthoides which had not flowered for some years.
Have you studied the Dia Fornaceæ – which seem an object of scientific curiosity now. I hope Matilda <5> & all were well
Henry F. Talbot Esq
1. Melbury, Dorset: one of the Fox Strangways family homes; WHFT was born there.
2. Abbotsbury, Dorset: home of William Thomas Horner Fox Strangways.
3. Dr Carl Friedrich Philipp von Martius (1794–1868), German botanist.
4. William Henry Harvey (1811–1866), Thesaurus capensis: or, illustrations of the South African flora, being figures and brief descriptions of South African plants, selected from the Dublin University Herbarium (Dublin: Hodges, Smith and Co., 1859–1863).
5. Matilda Caroline Gilchrist-Clark, ‘Tilly’, née Talbot (1839–1927), WHFT’s 3rd daughter.
6. The armorial bearings of WHFT’s grandfather’s family.
7. Charlotte Louisa 'Charry' Traherne, née Talbot (1800–1880), WHFT’s cousin.