I was very much pleased, my dear Mr Talbot, with receiving a proof of remembrance from you; & a commission too, which my vanity interprets a proof of confidence. The melancholy event you detail so feelingly, seems to have been a solitary one in your Roman society. Were I to be minute, my chronicle of Nice would be darkened with many such; besides a very large proportion of suffering & imprisoned Invalids I begin with myself, & announce two friendly Meals eaten the first week of my arrival with the Fazakerleys, <1> as the only outgoings I have been enabled to perform. Seven weeks of close confinement to my Room & Sofa, with nearly a month of that time to bed, was broken on Monday last, by a Dowager’s [illegible]. I have never put my foot in my Dining Room; & between pain & apprehension of what undiscovered pain would lead to (which neither Physician nor Physic has yet relieved) I have passed a very dreary & miserable winter. To beguile unavailing anxiety I have at times tried to read; & at other times tried to enjoy my pretty Landscape; & I think I have had better spirits than I could have expected in serious illness & entire solitude. 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, & a House of correction, for the society has been made up of Sick banished, & poor, or imprudent. The year of 1822 ended with the death of a poor little Boy, the Son of Mr John Smith Lord Carrington’s Brother; <2> & whose Mother’s delicate health made the distress more severe. 1823 began with another calamity the death of Monsieur de Choiseul, his case was I believe hopeless when dismissed from Paris. His faithful little English wife tended him with unremitting care, & supported her cheerfulness for his comfort, with admirable exertion. She is still here with the Child of his first marriage. At this moment perhaps Mr Spencer Cowper <3> is released, a few hours ago the report of his Physician left nothing to be wished, but that protracted suffering might be mercifully spared him. Besides those fatal calamities, losses distresses [sic] of indisposition have entirely checked the power to encourage a social spirit. The new Church was opened, & Mr Lewis Way <4> the great Proprietor of Stanstead, & the great Enthusiast for parish conversions, preached the first Discourse in it about 5 weeks ago. He is a Scholar I believe, as well as an Enthusiast; & has as much of Imagination as of Zeal; but both are fixed to the Jews & Jerusalem. The Rabbi of Nice attends his Sermons, which above an hour in length, are thought too long by most of his congregation. The Fazakerleys have been all true kindness to me; & I really fear I have been a tax on them for interest & compassion have I think brought him once every day, & during my very bad nights, twice a day up my hill. The little Ménage, & the little Wife, seems each to suit him; for I cannot I think do more for his merit, or his happiness, than report him unchanged. She appears cheerful & contented; & has till lately been as constant to me as himself; a severe cold, & our bad weather have for a fortnight interrupted this her charitable daily ride. Compared with last Season the weather has been terrible; yet compared even 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]<5> & no Sun, generally speaking, I have felt as very untoward & unexpected disappointments. Rain has been very frequent, & has for three days descended in torrents; fogs or mists have also been to me wicked novelties. To the eye, from my house to the Var (the only drive I have taken, & that only twice in the last week) la Primavera <6> is not visible; & those who explore, have no rapturous delights of flowers & odours as last year; my own little territory has no buds; & last year I boasted the first Almond Tree putting them out. I gave your Commissions to Fazakerley being alas unable, not unwilling to do any thing for you. He has so sincere a good will towards you, I knew it was transferring pleasure, not trouble. Risso <7> reports thus of your beautiful favourites “L’anemone hortensis en fleur depuis Decembre, La Coronaria en fleur depuis 20 jours La Regence pas en fleur”. <8> He will do the other commissions about Seeds & Collection at the time you specify, & I will unless I quite sink into the Earth, remind him of them in March. My first letter to you is a gloomy specimen, & what may obtain your excuse is, I have while writing it felt a misgiving that it might be my last. If I recover from a very painful & unknown disease you will be sure of a very practical recollection for I honor & admire great attainments, & complete simplicity; if otherwise, you will I daresay think kindly & speak fairly of me when accident or leisure bring me to your memory. Your “valemus” <9> I thank God is not dependent on the antecedant part of the sentence; & I pray you to say any message of good nature to Capt. Fielding [sic]<10> & your family party. Believe me very
Mr S. Cowper is released; & happily his Brother & Sister are here.
Henry Talbot Esqr
Signora Inglesa [sic]
1. John Nicholas Fazakerley (1787–1852), MP; and his wife, Hon. Elinor Fazakerley, née Montague (d. 1847).
2. John Smith (1767–1842), MP, and his brother Robert Smith, 1st Baron Carrington (1752–1838).
3. Edward Spencer Cowper (1779–1823), politician.
4. Lewis Way, a wealthy man who tried to set up a college to convert Jews to Christianity at Stanstead Park.
8. The anemone hortensis in bloom since December, the Coronaria in bloom for the past 20 days. The Regence not in bloom.
9. We are well.
10. Rear Admiral Charles Feilding (1780–1837), Royal Navy; WHFT’s step-father.
11. Readdressed in another hand.