Melbury Dorchester <1>
My dear Henry
I shall never direct to the Athenæum <2> again. I thought you must be at the Pyrenees at least. A yellow saxifrage I brought plants of from Cauterets is in flower–<3> the Dianthus I brought & the Pinguicula came to nought. I suppose they were D. Monspeliensis & P. grandiflora (hirtiflora of Tenore). <4>
We have in flower Arundo conspicua – Ismene Amancaes – Convolvulus Mauritanicus – Salvia bicolor. Parviflora incarnata (very ill named) Candollea – Leptodactylon a plant, if not too pretty, which would seem to be named in honour of the swell mob – or lightfingered gentry <5>.
Your Campanula Vidalii does not show flower this year.
We have Dianthus alpinus at Abby <6> on the rock – D. Marsicus I brought from Italy & it is a great favourite. What is really D. Hispanicus?
The hot weather has made the American Oaks come well into leaf. they always show their want of a good summer. Erodium Manescavi is very handsome. When will you come back to Lacock? I try to see it every time I pass Chippenham. <7>
The 6. August I think will suit us very well – I have not heard from Caroline <8> but you can come independent. The house is full of work & workmen – we can give you but a poor bedroom.
I believe I told you of the American fungus that came upon George Sheffields <9> American Arums he sent me as dry roots – how could it have been concealed?
1. WTFS only used this letterhead after he had succeeded as 4th Earl of Ilchester in January 1858. The letter is likely to date from not earlier than the following year as the paper has no mourning border.
2. Athenaeum Club, Pall Mall, London: WHFT’s club; a gentleman’s club composed primarily of artists and scientists.
3. Cauterets in the French Pyrenees, known for Saxifrage, a perennial often growing in a rosette close to ground. It was known as the 'stone breaker' for its supposed efficacy in breaking up kidney stones.
4. Michel Tenore (1780–1861), Italian botanist & traveller.
5. Leptodactylon (Greek), that is, slim-fingered.
6. Abbotsbury, Dorset: home of William Thomas Horner Fox Strangways.
7. Chippenham, Wiltshire: largest town near Lacock, 3 miles N.
8. Caroline Augusta Edgcumbe, née Feilding, Lady Mt Edgcumbe (1808–1881); WHFT’s half-sister.
8. George Sheffield (1838-1898), diplomat, brother of WTFS’s wife Sophia 9enelope, née Sheffield (1822-1882).