Tuesday December 20th
My dear Papa,
I have been long intending to write to you, but in the uncertainty of your stay in London I did not do it. You may very likely not get this so I will not make it long. Mama <1> received your letter this morning. We have had no snow at all here yet, but instead rain and fog which is not much better. Only on Sunday it was very clear sunny and frosty, but it did not last. They had a slight sprinkling at Dabton, <2> whereas Wilkins, <3>writing on Sunday, says they had a heavy fall at Lacock, and it was still snowing there thickly. He deplored that Charles <4>was thinking of going down for a few days to try and shoot, as he said the weather was quite unfit. He gives a long description of his visit to Torquay, where he found his children better and very comfortable, and was exceedingly grateful to you for sending him there. Tilly <5>is perfectly well again now, and going to spend Christmas with Mrs Maxwell <6>at Carruchan, which you know she has just finished altering, and which they say she has made very pretty and comfortable. Tilly says that John <7> is so busy that she doesn’t think they will be able to come to us here till towards the end of January; and besides she doesn’t want to be here till the season is at its height in order to see as many people and get as many invitations as possible in a short time. Mr Gaisford <8>has written to thank Mama for destributing [sic] his contribution to the poor people at Lacock. He says that he has heard from some friends at Cannes that poor Lady Katie <9> is again not so well; but we know nothing direct about her as Aunt Caroline <10> has not written for some time. – There seems to have been a very interesting meeting of the Royal Society last night, Sir David Brewster <11>in the chair: Proffr [sic] Blackie <12> read a paper on the origin of languages which caused a great deal of entertainment. The photographic exhibition is just open but we havn’t [sic] been to it yet. – We saw Profr Kelland <13> the other day, who asked when you were coming. He is much more low spirited, poor man, than he used to be, and complained that his work was too much for him now. He described the happy summers he had spent with his family near Rothsay <14> [sic], passing his whole life out of doors in complete repose, or allowing his little girls to row him about the quiet little bay. I suppose we shall hear from you again tomorrow.
In the mean time, goodbye, love from all
Your affectionate daughter
H. F. Talbot Esqre
London S W
1. Constance Talbot, née Mundy (1811–1880), WHFT’s wife.
2. Dabton, Dumfriesshire: home of WHFT’s 1st daughter Matilda
3. George Wilkins (b. 1814), gardener at Lacock.
4. Charles Henry Talbot (1842–1916), antiquary & WHFT’s only son.
5. Matilda Caroline Gilchrist-Clark, ‘Tilly’, née Talbot (1839–1927), WHFT’s 3rd daughter.
6. Mary Maxwell, née Clark.
7. John Gilchrist-Clark (1830–1881), Scottish JP; WHFT’s son-in-law.
8. Capt Thomas Gaisford (1816–1898), JP, WHFT’s brother-in-law.
9. Lady Katherine Elizabeth Edgcumbe, née Hamilton (1840–1874), wife of William Henry Edgcumbe.
10. Caroline Augusta Edgcumbe, née Feilding, Lady Mt Edgcumbe (1808–1881); WHFT’s half-sister.
11. Sir David Brewster (1781–1868), Scottish scientist & journalist.
12. John Stuart Blackie (1809–1895), professor of Greek at University of Edinburgh.
13. Prof Philip Kelland (1808–1879), Scottish mathematician.
14. Rothesay, Isle of Bute, Scotland.