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Document number: 9751
Date: Tue 25 Jan 1870
Dating: 1870? calendar and see Doc no 00432
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: TALBOT Rosamond Constance
Collection: Bodleian Library, Oxford - Fox Talbot Personal Archive
Collection number: FT11161
Last updated: 2nd August 2015

Siena. Tuesday Janry 25th

My dear Papa,

I must first thank you very much for your most good, Kind letter just received; and for your promise of a fresh letter of credit which we shall not fail to enquire for at Maquay & Pakenham’s<1> on our arrival at Rome, although I hope it may be some time longer before we are obliged to dip into it’s contents, as we have still nearly £200 remaining of the old one, which we calculate will do Rome & Naples, and being us back to Florence again. I addressed my statement of our “financial situation” to Ela,<2> as I was writing to her fearing perhaps it might bore you, and that she might give it to you if you liked it; but I don’t suppose you would care much for details. You can’t think what a lot of useful experience one gains, by living, as we do now, whithout a Courier, & paying & learning all the prices of everything for oneself. One cannot unfortunately start with ready made experience, but if we were now beginning our travels over again, we see so clearly how we might have managed many things differently & be quite as comfortable, or even more so than we were. The old Banker, Nencini, likes to come in of an evening and have a chat about people and things of Siena. He says there is a solitary English lady living here of the last 3 years; Wood, I think is her name, and she is entirely alone, the last representation of a rather numerous English & American Colony who used regularly to take houses here for a season, wither in the town, or the adjoining pretty hilly country, according to the time of year. Furnished residences used to be very plentiful & cheap, but now their owners have ceased to keep them ready, as the tide of tourists has set instead towards Egypt & the Holy Land! – When the two railways are finished, a good many travellers while will again come this way; but now, in these fast days, most people content themselves with rushing through, and never stay a week in one place. You were very near receiving this letter from Rome, instead of again from Siena; for a few bright sunny days had beguiled us into packing up, and last Monday (yesterday) we really thought we should get off, especially as we had determined to go round by Livorno instead of waiting any longer for fit weather for such out of the way, unfrequented places as Orvieto & Chiuse. But the fates have again decided otherwise, and we have fallen back into winter, much the same cold, dark dismal weather as you have at Bonchurch with biting North east winds, and a little sleet or snow trying to fall. But even this is better than pouring rain. Please thank Mama<3> for her amusing letter describing the gaities of Bonchurch; I am glad she has found same old acquaintances there, it will make her time pass, so much more pleasantly, but how would have thought of such disipation being perpetrated in Private theatricals. I hope you were amused by them. I am beginning now to have a better idea of the sort of place, and it seems very pretty by your descriptions, but still, I am ashamed to say, so little do I Know of the geography of the Isle of Wight that I don’t Know whether you are North, South, East or West? – Thank Ela also, please, for her last letter, and Tilly; and tell Henriette that Mamie duly received her’s with Mr Stilwell’s enclosed.<4> We were much amused and pleased to hear that Pussy had accompanied you, by her own express desire! I hope Ela will soon be able to find wild flowers in her walks, else she will get quite out of practise with her painting s I have managed to Get several sketches lately, and could do so many many more were the fine days more plentiful. It is one of the best places I was ever in for drawing, abounding in the bits of picturesque buildings I delight in for and so quiet that one is hardly ever desturbed [sic] by an uncomfortably large audience. I am sure Charles<5> would be charmed with the old Palaces, they are so exceedingly well built, the best brick work I ever saw, such good pointed windows, and the lower part of the walls sloping outward to Great thickness, as a defence against earthquakes,

I must say goodbye now, dear Papa, for fear of missing the post, which has made me write so hurriedly that I leave out every third word. Have you heard anything of Aunt Caroline lately? Mamie write two months ago, & I to Ernestine on the 7th Inst. to enquire how her Mother<6> was, as Tilly saw she was laid up with a bad cold; but neither of us has had any answer.

With Mamie’s love and mine to Mama and everybody, I am dear Papa

Your very affectionate daughter

I Know Mama objects strongly to any allusion to “King Charles the Martyr” otherwise I would have written her on that occasion.

We were very sorry inded to hear of the death of poor Mrs Merewether. <1>


1. International bankers.

2. Ela Theresa Talbot (25 Apr 1835 - 25 Apr 1893), WHFT's 1st daughter.

3. Constance Talbot, née Mundy (30 Jan 1811 - 9 Sep 1880), m. WHFT 20 Dec 1832.

4. Matilda Caroline Gilchrist-Clark, née Talbot (25 Feb 1839-1927), 'Tilly', WHFT's 3rd daughter; m. John Gilchrist-Clark 16 Jun 1859. Henriette Sanit, French-born ladies maid. Amélina Petit de Billier, 'Mamie', 'Amandier' (1798- 8 September 1876), governess and later close friend of the Talbot family.

5. Charles Henry Talbot, (2 Feb 1842 - 26 Dec 1916), 'Charlie'; 'Tally'; antiquary & WHFT's only son.

6. Lady Caroline Augusta Edgcumbe, née Feilding (22 Jan 1808 - 2 Nov 1881); WHFT's half-sister; Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Victoria, 1840–1854 & 1863–1865; m. 3rd Earl Mt Edgcumbe 6 Dec 1831. Ernestine Emma Horatia Edgcumbe (16 Aug 1843 - 20 May 1925), WHFT's niece.

7. Maria Merewether, née Fellowes (1819-1870).

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