Sunday May 20th
13 Great Stuart Street
My dear Papa,
We are very glad to see by your letter to Mama <2>that you are already feeling benefited by the change, and I hope the next report will be that you have altogether lost your cough. But how lucky you were to hit off exactly the right moment for going, just as the weather changed into summer – It is a most marvellous change; what a contrast to last Sunday when we were all shivering!… and everything has burst forth as if by magic; the gardens are one mass of
f deep green foliage, the lilacs in flower and covered with blossom, wild cherry and Birdcherries in full beauty and the labernums and hawthorns on the point of opening, so I don’t think we can complain of being much behind you at Lacock. It is just perfect weather to sit out of doors and do nothing all day, and we have been obliged to leave off fires. Yesterday morning at eleven the therm: marked 60 – afterwards the sun comes round and one cannot trust it.
Ela <3> took charge of your packet of seeds; she has no doubt produced them before now, but if not you should ask her for them. – The town was all in commotion yesterday on account of Prince Alfred’s visit; he came to open the Industrial museum of which his father laid the first stone shortly before his death; – he also inspected the post office, conducted all over by Mr Abbott, <4> and was made a doctor of Laws at the university, the troops lining the streets, Castle guns firing &c. They say he looked tired, and no wonder, having travelled all night, and arrived at 7 in the
night morning; and was to return to London the same evening in the same way. There seems a little uncertainty about his being made Duke of Edinburgh: no doubt the people here would take it as a compliment.
Tilly <5> writes that her children have all had tedious colds, and Jackie <6> still coughs – Baby <7> has been suffering from his teeth – so she intends taking them to the sea to Southerness for a short time, and perhaps leaving them there during their absence if it agrees with them – this will make them rather later coming south. Poor John <8>was pitched out of his gig, whilst driving along the road, by the wheels coming in contact with a curb stone; he might have been seriously hurt, but luckily escaped with a few bruises. We went to see Mr Ryder and Mlle Beatrice, at the theatre on Friday; the latter is half french and half italian, and speaks with a strong accent which [illegible deletion] is a pity, as otherwise she has many good points, including a very pleasing personal appearance. We saw two interesting comedies – The Duke’s Wager, and Broken ties. Did you read in the Times of Friday with what enthusiasm Mr & Mrs Charles Kean were welcomed at the Princess’s theatre on their first appearance after their long absence? –
Goodbye now, dear Papa, as it is post time – please tell Ela I got her letter and will write to her another day
Your affectionate daughter
1. 13 Great Stuart Street, Edinburgh, frequent home of the Talbots from 1863-1871.
2. Constance Talbot, née Mundy (1811–1880), WHFT’s wife.
3. Ela Theresa Talbot (1835–1893), WHFT’s 1st daughter.
4. Francis Abbott, Secretary of General Post Office, Edinburgh. The Talbots knew his wife, Frances Jane, née Parker, socially.
5. Matilda Caroline Gilchrist-Clark, ‘Tilly’, née Talbot (1839–1927), WHFT’s 3rd daughter.
6. John Henry Gilchrist-Clark, ‘Jack’ (1861–1902), WHFT’s grandson.
7. Constance Stewart, née Gilchrist-Clark (b. 1863), ‘Connie’, WHFT’s Scottish granddaughter.
8. John Gilchrist-Clark (1830–1881), Scottish JP; WHFT’s son-in-law.