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Document number: 9613
Date: Fri 11 Feb 1870
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: TALBOT Rosamond Constance
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Last updated: 1st September 2003

Siena Friday 11th Febry 1870

My dear Papa

This is to wish you many many happy returns of the day, and to tell you that we have just been drinking your health in a little glass of excellent Vino Santo, a very good cordial of the country which you would greatly approve of. I had intended my letter to have reached you on the proper day but at the post has been a little uncertain lately it would have been sure to arrive a day too soon or too late, whereas now you will know that we thought of you at the right time and sent you all sorts of good wishes – both Mamie & myself.

I hope you will all have lost your colds by this time; we were sorry to learn from Tilly that Mama has had rather a bad one after escaping so well hitherto, and also that all the children had got more or less. But in such a changeable season what can one expect? You seem to have had some very pleasant days – So had we when I last wrote to Tilly, but since then I am sorry to say we have plunged back into all the rigours of a fresh winter: snow on the ground and frozen so hard that it was with difficulty that the roadways could be scraped free from their sheet of ice, the same penetrating North-easter blowing the while. Wednesday, everyone said, was the coldest day of the year, and the people going about the streets, wrapped their cloaks up over their ears & noses leaving only their eyes visible. They are particularly chilly & impressionable to cold and yet persiste in living without a bit of fire in their houses, saying it is so unwholesome! I daresay our’s is the only warm room in all Siena, and in it the thermometer often does not rise up to 60. It is turning to rain, today, a cold thaw, so I expect a regular change will not be slow to follow. It is really time for it now. Mamie is reading in the Nazione the account of a considerable earthquake at Ancona and all along the Adriatic on the 8th, at five in the afternoon, which occurred in the midst of a heavy fall of snow. I hope it will not come here – At Genoa, on the 8th the frost was so severe that the water pipes burst and poured down the sides of some houses, freezing in large icicles, as happened in Edinburgh, you remember, that hard winter. New York seems the only spot just now which <in?> the enjoyment of mild temperature & balmy air.

Mamie has been suffering from a curious species of swelled face which has been running like a sort of epidemic through the house. She woke one morning with her cheek swollen to three times it’s usual size, and very red & burning, without previous face ache or pain of any kind; we were rather startled and did not know what to do, but it gradually subsided and has now almost completely disappeared, after lasting about a week. Our poor landlady died almost suddenly last Saturday after only 3 days illness, of a kind of heart complaint, which the doctor says must have existed at least 10 or 12 years, although she had never complained of illness in her life. She was 63, a very good woman they say, and her old husband & son were so tenderly attached to her that they are quite prostrated by the shock, poor people. I hope by the time somebody next writes John will have arrived at Bonchurch; it is very hard for poor Tilly to be so long without him, and he must also be very much provoked that his tiresome business should have kept him so much longer away than he expected. Please tell Ela that the next letter shall be for her. I don’t think I ever acknowledged her last received the 4th, or Ernestine’s which she forwarded the day before. I owe one to Mama also, but it is so difficult to find anything to write about here that I think I had better wait till something turns up more novel and amusing.

With much love from Mamie & from me to each & everyone, I am, dear Papa,

Your most affectionate daughter


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