Novr 22nd 1826
My dear Henry
This charming climate as you call it, has never ceased to rain, blow, hail, & snow the whole ten days I have been here, and that too, at a season which all pronounce to be the finest of the year in Italy – We had one tolerable day which we employed in an excursion to Pompeii the most interesting spot I ever visited. The workmen discovered a painting while we were there, which is said to be worth the whole of the rest put together – In spite of the weather I cannot help liking Naples, and if it was but possible to go out of the house it would be the most delightful place I ever was in – We arrived here in two days from Malta, passing through the Strait of Scylla and Charybdis <1> where we had a magnificent view of the Calabrian Shore, one of the finest sights I ever saw, with the Sun rising over the tops of the mountains and the city of Messina enveloped in misty darkness, owing to the vivid light on the heights above it. We were becalmed six hours under Mount Etna in a beautiful day, but by far the finest thing I ever saw was the appearance of the snowy summit reflecting the rays of the full moon Vesuvius is nothing after it – We very near came in for a little eruption – it took place the day
after before we arrived, but I cannot find that any fiery matter was seen. I have a drawing of it which represents a volume of red smoke issuing from the crater – I was much pleased with Malta, and intend going there again – The town of Valetta is really magnificent. My present plan is to stay a certain time here, then go to Rome for the winter, and lay up the ship at Civita Vecchia – where there is an excellent harbour. As for this, it is the most horrible hole for a ship to lie in I ever saw. Mr Lambton’s <2> yacht is here, having arrived much damaged by a gale & I think it lucky she did not lose her masts, she has carried away her chain-plates, and Mr Lambton has ordered her to be rigged after the pattern of the Galatea <3> – I am go[ing] <4> (if the weather will permit) to make a cruize in the bay, & Gulf of Salerno landing at Castellamare, Amalfi, Sorrento Pæstum &cc I intend going to Sicily in March and on to the Eastward in May.
Your Aff Cousin
C R M Talbot
W. H. F. Talbot Esqr
1. Monsters from the Greek mythology who lived on either side of a narrow strait and used to devour unfortunate sailors who happened to pass by.
2. Possibly John George Lambton, "Radical Jack", 1st Earl of Durham (1792–1840). He departed Cowes on 30 September in his yacht, the Jack o'Lantern, briefly stopping in Paris for health reasons before going on to Naples.
3. Christopher Talbot’s yacht.
4. Text torn away under seal.