Hotel Victoria. San Remo
Sunday November 10th
My dear Papa,
I have just received your letter of the 5th so that you perceive that now our postal communications have grown very slow: no wonder, it is a long way to travel! You will have seen by Mamma’s <1> last that all your others ended by turning up safely though rather behind time, and also that we shall follow
ed your good advice about returning to Nice after the month here; and therefore left the greater part of our luggage behind, and also succeeded in securing a good and reasonable appartment at the Hotel de France which is most comfortable in every way and well situated. We saw quite sufficient of Cannes to know that we should not like it nearly so well as a residence as Nice – It is large, stary <2> & dusty: without the advantages of a real town, and yet not quiet enough to be country – We have not had a drop of rain since the evening we arrived at Hyères; but rather too many high cold winds – one day at Nice it was impossible to face the blinding clouds of dust, and we felt quite sorry for the poor Palm trees, and all the other shrubs and flowers reduced to an uniform stone-colour. We left Nice on Tuesday last, in two carriages and pair, which was much more comfortable and very little more expense than one carriage with four horses to hold us all. Weather magnificent, no wind, and not too hot, so that we were able thoroughly to admire and enjoy all the splendid scenery one passes through, or at a little distance. Monaco, Esa, Roccabruna – one longed to make a pause at each one, and Mamie <3> thought of her former expedition to Esa on horseback through it’s [sic] solitary rocky street and wished she could renew it. I had no idea the scenery was so grand, but to make it perfect (though I suppose Aunt Caroline <4> would admit no possibility of improvement!) there should be a little more green in the poor parched valleys and a little water in the dry torrents. One quite longs for a good honest shower! We found the Arum you mentioned and a few other little flowers, chiefly aromatic – in many places the ground is covered with large daisies, pink & white. Mentone is extremely pretty, though too full already of villas each one more frightful than it’s predecessor! Why cannot they contrive to build comfortable and pretty houses, and not do all they can to spoil the natural beauties of the Place? And who will ever teach them to plant a real good garden? One is delighted with any flowers at this time of year, and we exclaim at each geranium, heliotrope or jasmine we spy out, but really they are so ill managed that they make very little effect. The prettiest things are the Solanums of all kinds and colours, both creepers and bushes, and some Daturahs smelling very sweet but not so fine as those of Interlaken. We staid three days at Mentone, at the Hotel Victoria! which was quiet and not dear, and came on here yesterday, making a short pause at Bordighiera to admire the Palm trees and a new Hotel. This morning we have only walked in the garden which is full of beautiful Chrysanthemums, – so that I cannot give much of an opinion about the Place in general. The hotel is new, not yet finished and quite out of the town, so that the shops, if there are any, cannot be of much use – The high road passes behind, and in front the garden ends in a very stony beach. We have a green back-ground of hills covered with olive trees, but the mountains here are not extremely high – Altogether, though pretty, I cannot say that San Remo is strikingly beautiful at first sight; I daresay we shall be quite satisfied with a month here, and glad to return to Nice, which you also I am sure will find a much more agreable locality for staying than there – Mama has met an old acquaintance, in the person of Mrs Monkhouse of Lyswick Hall, our neighbour at Oakfield. She has accompanied her son & his family who remain here till May. Mrs Spedding, <5> of Mire house with Margaret and Harry are it seems coming to spend the Winter at Mentone. I heard from Ernestine <6> this morning that Val <7> and his party left Paris for Cannes last Wednesday. Aunt Caroline has not yet made up her mind whether she is coming too – at any rate not till after Christmas. They are wondering what has become of you as you gave no notice of your return to England. I had news from Tilly <8> of the arrival of Pussy at Dabton. <9> She and John <10> have been most kind about her, but I hope you will soon be going to see them and deliver her from this charge. Gray <11> seems to have left very precipitately. Mama is much surprised to have found no letter from her here, as she must have wanted directions about several things, particularly a cupboard which contained linen & other things which were not intended for the use of the tenant. She should have given the keys to Mushet – Perhaps she communicated with Goodwin <12> on the subject? –
Mama thanks you much for your directions to the Mentone Banker. She called on him and found him very accommodating, so that it will not be necessary for her in person to go from here to fetch any money which may be wanted – but she will explain all that herself. Please tell Charles <13> I will write to him soon, but he will not expect letters so often when we write to you – He made a great mistake not to come all this journey with us! He would have found much interest & antiquities enough all along the route.
Love from all and goodbye now as it is getting late.
Your affectionate daughter
1. Constance Talbot, née Mundy (1811–1880), WHFT’s wife.
4. Caroline Augusta Edgcumbe, née Feilding, Lady Mt Edgcumbe (1808–1881); WHFT’s half-sister.
5. Wife of John James Spedding (1834-1909), JP.
6. Ernestine Emma Horatia Edgcumbe (1843-1925), WHFT’s niece.
7. Ernest Augustus Edgcumbe, Lord Valletort, 3rd Earl of Mt Edgcumbe (1797–1861), WHFT’s brother-in-law.
8. Matilda Caroline Gilchrist-Clark, ‘Tilly’, née Talbot (1839–1927), WHFT’s 3rd daughter.
9. Dabton, Dumfriesshire: home of WHFT’s daughter Matilda.
10. John Gilchrist-Clark (1830–1881), Scottish JP; WHFT’s son-in-law.
12. George Goodwin (d. 1875), footman at Lacock Abbey.
13. Charles Henry Talbot (1842–1916), antiquary & WHFT’s only son.