Octr 10 – 1816
My dear Henry
It is a long time since we had any communication & as I find Jane’s <1> correspondence rather languishes I have taken the pen into my own hands – I want very much to know your opinion of the 5th form at Harrow <2> Christopher <3> is to take his trial before Christmas & then he assures me he shall have nothing to do, that in comparison with the shell it will be a happy idleness & that he shall neither fear masters or monitors &c &c do you think this is the case or is this the picture his imagination has drawn of that happy remove. As I should be very sorry he was to go back to idleness & consequently mischief, I had some idea of requesting Dr Butler <4> to give him a drawing, French or Fencing Master but Kit seems to think they do not pay much attention to their pupils or their pupils to them owing to the head masters passing their reports unnoticed – I think Kit has fallen into a bad set since you left Harrow and as they are grown riotous, if it is not made up in improvement I had better find some other situation for him but do not mention this to him for he promises himself such Glorious Idleness & Independance [sic] in the fifth form that he would be disapointed [sic] if he knew my intentions which after all must depend on many circumstances. – Jane having exhausted all the ponds pools & bogs for Spagnums [sic] & splacnums [sic] &c has turned her pursuits to a more enlarged sphere of action & dries every thing she can get from the Cedar of Lebanon to the Hyssop on the wall – Mary <5> continues her stony heartedness & has hardly a sigh for any thing but a petrifaction – The rest are all well & like [text missing] <6> monkeys imitating the pursuits [of?] the old ones & making little [collections?]. I dare say if you were to break in upon us you would not think an hour had passed since you saw us all in this drawing room all busy in various ways, passing the time innocently & consequently happily. I forgot to tell you that I had a letter from Kit yesterday in which he tells me of two boys having been expelled for firing squibs & crackers at Dr Butler as he went up stairs from expostulating with them on the subject, such insubordination required it but he himself only missed the expulsion by thrusting his squib up his sleeve – he seems to feel happy at his escape but it has really made me quite fidgetty. in your answer tell me how you spend your time in evenings or other leisure are your companions old & young [illegible] improved on acquaintance &
aff yours M: L: ColeHow are you? & when shall we see you again.
W. H. F. Talbot Esqre
Revd Mr Barnes <7>
1. Jane Harriot Nicholl, née Talbot (1796–1874).
2. Harrow School: WHFT attended from 1811–1815 and his son Charles from 1855-1859.
3. Christopher Rice Mansel Talbot (1803–1890), immensely wealthy landowner, mathematician & politician; WHFT’s Welsh cousin.
4. Rev George Butler (1774–1853), Headmaster at Harrow.
5. Mary Thereza Talbot (1795–1861), WHFT’s cousin.
6. Text torn away under seal.
7. Rev Theophilus Barnes (1774 –1855), of Castleford.