Mt Edgcumbe <1>
My dear Papa,
I intended yesterday to have written to you, to thank you for your letter, and to tell you how beautifully we saw the eclipse on Thursday night as we were going to the ball. I never saw such a splendid moon, and the water was as calm as a lake with all the lights reflected in it, after having been so rough during the day that we were almost afraid we should not be able to go. Of the ball itself I cannot say much, it was very thin, and those more competent to judge than I was, said it was not a brillant [sic] specimen of it’s [sic] kind; however they made the best of it and were all very gay, and we returned home at 4 o’clock.
Ernestine, <2> her two cousins, Flora & I, all five stuffed into the carriage; and Aunt Caroline, <3> Mrs Edgcumbe and Valletort, <4> sat in the boat by the side of the carriage and walked up all the way from the landing to the house, it was so warm and as light as day. Mamie <5>was afraid of being tired and didn’t go. Poor Valletort took his departure yesterday, looking sad at being obliged again to leave his beautiful home for so long, as they intend leaving England next week; but he is so good and patient – no one has ever heard him complain – The accounts of the Cholera in the South of France continue so alarming that they do not venture to go direct to Cannes, but are thinking of making a halt at Fontainbleau and await the improvement that it is hoped Winter will bring in the sanitary condition of those parts. Of Lady Katie <6> herself we have heard most cheering reports; she walked the other day without feeling fatigued from their house on the top of Tunbridge common to Rustall Common, which cannot be, I should think, far short of a mile; and an old Lady, who had not seen her for three
days years, writing today to one of the Edgcumbes here, says she thought her looking better than she did then, stronger and far less delicate, though she still coughs occasion n ally. The small boy continues to thrive, and is said to be the very image of his Grandfather Lord Mt Edgcumbe! <7> because his hair is dark – He is three months old.
We have had keen east winds and brilliant sunshine all the week, so that every body feels dried up – but today there is a change; it is cloudy, wind very high and turning to west, glass falling, and great hopes of rain. We were walking just now down by the sea, where it was blowing such a gale we could hardly keep our hats on, and yet Henriette <8>has chosen for her amusement to cross over with Mrs Greaves and go shopping at Plymouth! although protesting she is so afraid… Mr and Mrs Edgcumbe <9> and their youngest daughter have also just taken boat to return to their home after staying here since Wednesday; but the eldest girl remains here still for a few days. She is very agreable [sic] and talented and we have quite taken a fancy for her. They will all return here on Tuesday for a school feast which Aunt Caroline is getting up by Val’s especial desire. It is not a thing of course like chez nous, but only granted as a treat now and then, and enjoyed all the more for that I dare say.
As for Cotehele, <10> I expect our fate in that respect will be similar to your’s [sic] last year – there is no present possibility of going there as the drains remain in the same state of transition, – and probably they will put off so long that we shall be gone to Scotland before they return there; but as far as we are concerned I can’t say we regret it, as it is so pleasant here; and everybody has frightened us by the immense difficulty of getting away from Cotehele when you once get there!…I don’t think Tilly’s <11> last letter contained any particular news, only she complained of the unnatural heat. Please thank Mama <12>for her last to me and for what it contained, which it is just as well to possess, though I am glad to say no one yet has had occasion to use.
It is as usual past post time, so this must wait till tomorrow. Please give my love to Mama and Ela. <13>
Your affectionate daughter
H.F. Talbot Esqre
1. Mt Edgecumbe, near Plymouth: seat of the Earl of Mt Edgcumbe.
2. Ernestine Emma Horatia Edgcumbe (1843-1925), WHFT’s niece.
3. Caroline Augusta Edgcumbe, née Feilding, Lady Mt Edgcumbe (1808–1881); WHFT’s half-sister.
4. Ernest Augustus Edgcumbe, Lord Valletort, 3rd Earl of Mt Edgcumbe (1797–1861), WHFT’s brother-in-law.
6. Lady Katherine Elizabeth Edgcumbe, née Hamilton (1840–1874).
7. Lord Mt Edgcumbe, 2nd Earl (1764–1839).
8. Henriette Sanit, French ladies maid.
9. George Mt Edgcumbe, MP (1800–1882), and Fanny Lucy Mt Edgcumbe, née Shelley (d.1899).
10. Cotehele, Cornwall: ancient house, seat of the Earl of Mt Edgcumbe, now a National Trust Property.
11. Matilda Caroline Gilchrist-Clark, ‘Tilly’, née Talbot (1839–1927), WHFT’s 3rd daughter.
12. Constance Talbot, née Mundy (1811–1880), WHFT’s wife.
13. Ela Theresa Talbot (1835–1893), WHFT’s 1st daughter.