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Result number 101 of 163:   < Back     Back to results list   Next >  

Document number: 9430
Date: Wed 21 Oct 1868
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: TALBOT Rosamond Constance
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Last updated: 17th February 2012

Venice Wednesday.
Oct. 21st 1868

My dear Papa,

I had a very interesting letter from you yesterday, and Mama <1> received one the day before. You give very good news of Gt Stuart St: <2> to get £50 a month is a fine thing – We are also very glad to hear that the new kitchen range is set up and behaves so well. I see you fully entered into all our difficulties about travelling, rendered more difficult even for us than for other people on account of the precautions necessary to take for Mama; so perhaps you will not be very much surprised to learn our final determination, taken after much thought, and weighing of all advantages and disadvantages. The Apennine railway was so far repaired as to be reopened for traffic last week, and since Saturday the trains again pass over the bridge of Lagoseuro; but these impediments have delayed us so long that summer weather has quite departed. There are still fine days but one very warm one is followed by another of heavy rain, or quite chilly, like today – In fact an invalid is far better settled than travelling at this season unless it be absolutely necessary; and so, with the full consent and approval of Dr Namias <3> we have determined to remain here for the present. This is Mama’s own choice and preference, and I think with her past experience of the good influence of the climate upon her health, she will not repent. The doctor himself says it is rarely very cold here, (indeed only one degree R’euamur, warmer colder than at Pisa:) which otherwise this climate much resembles: sometimes damp, but that she does not mind, and when it is fine, always so lively and cheerful. The régisseur of the Hotel, M. Bartolomeo, has promised to make us extremely comfortable, and is putting down carpets in our rooms, so that when kept indoors by bad weather we shall be quite happy and snug. Besides this need not prevent us, if we have a fine spring, from paying then a short visit to Florence and Pisa, whilst it would be still too early to cross the mountains and move northwards. So for the present we may consider ourselves fixed here for the next three months at least. I think Charles <4> will not be sorry – At least I am delighted at the prospect of his coming here and going over with us all that will interest him so much: and I think you also would appreciate Venice far more when you are not so broiled! Dr Namias has promised to introduce us to his Wife and invite us to the weekly soirees he gives during winter, where he receives all distinguished foreigners. We mean also to make acquaintance with the English Consul, <5> so I daresay we shall have as much society as we shall wish for – Winter is the gay season here, and there are Operas, concerts &c &c. I have also applied for a permission to copy some of the pictures (small landscapes &c) at the academy, and so I shall have no lack of employment. The Abbotts <6> are coming here next week, They have had an eventful journey the account of which I had better give you in his own words. He says – “At Lucerne we staid six days intending to go on by the St Gothard pass, but at Lucerne the torrents came down in great force and the pass was interrupted by the destruction of bridges & roads. We then thought of going by the Simplon, but found that way also impassable; we then telegraphed to try the Splugen, but that was worse than any other; we thought of going round by Munich & Augsburgh and by the Brenner, but heard that this also was not to be accomplished – Having failed in all other parts we were then compelled to take the new railway over Mt Cenis, a route we had all decided against before, and went by Geneva to Chambery & from thence to St Jean de Maurienne, where we had to take carriages, in consequence of the railway having been swept away for considerable spaces. There was immense confusion from the great number of passengers wanting to get on and the inadequate means for taking them, & we should have been in great tribulation if we had not had with us a most excellent energetic courier; as it was we were so delayed that we had only 2½ hours of daylight on Mt Cenis, & passed the rest in darkness, crushed up in a very small railway carriage quite full, with an Engine which was out of order, and after puffing, and blowing, and stopping, and backing and getting on by degrees, we had to wait on the summit of the pass for another train which started two hours after us, to push us over the pass and down the incline. It was disappointing after having been obliged to take this pass to do it in the dark! What I did see interested me most exceedingly. When we got to Susa, where we intended to sleep, at twelve at night, not a room did could we get, and had to remain in the Buffet of the station till they got ready a special train to take us on to Turin. We started about half past one, raining heavily, got to Turin, staid half an hour at the Station before we could get away our luggage, went to six different Hotels and could not find rooms: all full! At last, at nearly four in the morning, we got into a very second-rate Albergo, where they gave us hot water in a tea pot, and a copper stew pan! however the beds were clean, and we laughed at the adventures of the night after they were over and we transfered ourselves to the Hotel de l’Europe in the afternoon, having engaged the first vacant appartments. I was very much pleased with Turin and it’s [sic] environs which are very pretty, & especially with an excursion to the Superga, and the magnificent views from thence over the plains of Lombardy & Monte Rosa & the chain of mountains in the distance, which happily came out clear & bright. We were three days at Turin & then came here (Lago d’Orta) by Novara yesterday. This is a very lovely place and the weather being fine the boating on the Lake is delicious. We propose remaining here until tomorrow afternoon & then go to Baseno on the Lago Maggiore by carriage, hoping that the effects of the inundations will have subsided, and the hotels, which have been flooded up to their second floors, may be sufficiently dried to be safely habitable. If so we go on Monday by Lugano to Bellaggio, and some days after by Como to Milan, there to remain until the 30th & then on to Venice.” –

We have had grand people in our hotel last week – no less than 3 Russian Grand Dukes, the Czar’s three youngest sons, & the Grand Duchess Marie, his only daughter, who came to pass a few days at Venice whilst the Empress, their mother, had taken refuge at Milan from the floods which invaded her Villa on the Lake of Como. They were delighted with everything they saw here, went about in the strictest incognito, buying loads of things & spending lots of money, and everybody was delighted, including Henriette, who had the honour of being talked to by the Grand Duke Alexis, who was nearly drowned the other day; & who seeing her feeding the Goat at the Hall door, asked, for some bread & fed it with his own hands!

M. de Lesseps, of the Isthmus of Suez canal, also spent some days here, but was so far off at table that we could only admire him at a distance! We heard of the safe arrival of our box at Pisa, and have written to have it sent on here. It was hardly more than 3 weeks coming from London to Pisa.

Do send the Times <7>’ account of the destruction of the St Gothard road, for we havn’t [sic] seen it.

Mama begs you to give the enclosed line from her to Wilkins. <8>

I dare say you are beginning to feel wintry & want fires. We have not got so far yet, but probably may soon want a little fire in the evenings. I will write to Charles soon. I hope he will not forget to bring with him, when he comes, Mamie’s <9> account book from Stilwell. <10> We may also have some small commission for him, such as a cake of Water colour, which one can’t get here – I will tell him about it.

Everybody sends their love, & believe me dear Papa, your very affectionate daughter


1. Constance Talbot, née Mundy (1811–1880), WHFT’s wife.

2. 13 Great Stuart Street, Edinburgh, frequent home of the Talbots from 1863-1871.

3. Dr Giacinto Namias, the head of the Women's Section of the Venice Hospital, was known for his advocacy of the health benefits of bathing. Assisted by his multi-lingual assistant, Dr Levi, he was recommended in traveller's handbooks as the best person for foreigners to consult.

4. Charles Henry Talbot (1842–1916), antiquary & WHFT’s only son.

5. Mr Perry.

6. Francis Abbott, Secretary of General Post Office, Edinburgh, and his wife, Frances Jane, née Parker.

7. The Times (London).

8. George Wilkins (b. 1814), gardener at Lacock.

9. Amélina Petit De Billier, ‘Mamie’, ‘Amandier’ (1798–1876), governess and later close friend of the Talbot family [See Amélina's journal].

10. Stilwell & Company.

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