March 10h 1836
Many thanks, my dear Talbot, for your intelligence respecting the umbrella. In such weather as this, it is not very agreeable to be one of that class designated in the ever memorable verse
Vos inumbrelles video &c.<2>
You need not, however, take the trouble of forwarding it any farther on its way than to Paternoster Row (Longman’s) where it may await the coming of a parcel.<3> I was under the impression that I had left also a shirt behind me in the metropolis – but it turns out (to the wonderment of the whole household) that I have brought home my full number – which pray do not forget to tell to your servant, as I must have rather alarmed him by the Hue and Cry after the shirt which I addressed to him yesterday.
I must again thank Mrs Talbot<4> and yourself for the comfort and agrémens [sic]<5> which you diffused over my bustling visit both by the hospitality of your welcome & by the agreeable snatches of your society which my being under your roof enabled me to enjoy.
With kindest regards to the fair hostess,
believe me ever, my dear Talbot, very truly yours
I was not able to see Lord John <6> again, but enclosed him your note, with a reiteration of my former request. Whether any thing will come of it, God alone knows
I inflict the postage of this upon you (instead of sending it through any member)<7>in order that no time may be lost in stilling the alarm respecting the stray shirt – which would afford no bad parody on the old Ballad of “Whither, my shirt, love, ah whither art thou gone?”<8>
H. F. Talbot Esqr
31 Sackville St
1. Sloperton Cottage, Wiltshire, 1 mi E of Lacock: home of Thomas Moore, the Irish poet.
2. "I see that you are umbrellaless" - from Moore's 1827 Speech on the Umbrella Question, by Lord Eld-N. He wrote this piece when a man left his umbrella at the House of Lords and was not allowed to have it back. Moore associated the parliamentary failure to restore umbrellas with its failure to restore Catholic rights. The Latin was by George Canning (1770-1827), politician and prime minister. Canning translated humorous verse written by Joseph Jekyll (1754-1837), wit and politician, about a diplomatic incident in China. The Emperor of China told the British ambassador, Lord Macartney, that rain was imminent and as he was without umbrella, he ought to be on his way.
3. Longman, Brown, Green, & Longmans, publishers, London. They would publish WHFT's The Pencil of Nature.
4. Constance Talbot, née Mundy (1811–1880), WHFT’s wife.
5. Agréments, charm or obligingness.
6. Lord John Russell (1792–1878), politician.
7. As an MP, WHFT had franking privileges and was entitled to free postage. Members commonly gave signed covers or envelopes to friends. At the time, the recipient paid for postage (to ensure that the letter was delivered). This arrangement was withdrawn in January 1840 with the introduction of the Penny Post, which instituted uniform costs and pre-paid stamps.
8. Adapted from "Whither, my love, ah! whither art thou gone," the original air from La Molinara, an opera by the Italian composer Giovanni Paisiello (1740-1816). Introduced to The Haunted House by James Cobb (1756-1816), played at London in 1789, with words by James Cobb and musical adaptation by Stephen Storace (1762-1796).