Hotel Victoria San Remo
Sunday 12th Janry/68
My dear Papa,
My paper offers a fine contrast to that on which you last wrote – I acknowledge it is rather in the opposite extreme but one must take what one can get here. Why did not you beg a sheet from Tilly <1> and then you need not have cut your letter so extremely short! Thank you for it all the same. I hope you will write again soon. As in a former letter you said you intended remaining at Dabton <2> until the 6th, Mama <3> wrote to you again there – this has no doubt been forwarded. I hope mine to Charles <4> just reached him during the time he was at Lacock; if so you will have had what news it contained. I gave him a report of Mama’s health, which I am sorry to say has not been at all satisfactory, but Dr Daubeny <5> seems a clever man, and is very attentive and pleasant to speak to. He is taking great pains with her, and I think she seems rather better this week; but what he especially insists on is that she should take a course of mineral waters and baths as soon as the proper season arrives; and she herself seems quite anxious to do so, as for some time past the rheumatism has been gradually crippling her more and more, until she can hardly walk at all. The season has been very unfavourable doubtless, and in these houses, where no provisions are made against it, one suffers very much from a degree of cold which in England one would think nothing of. Lately we have had a good deal of unusually cloudy, dismal weather so that the country is not looking pretty at all. The flowers are dreadfully backward. Of those that usually appear at this time not one has yet been seen – violets few and far between form the solitary exception; and even the garden plants look shrivelled and unhappy.
Tilly says you talk of coming out here in February, so we will mind and keep you well informed as to the progress of vegetation, for it would be a great pity should you arrive to find nothing and be disappointed! You will have to provide yourself before you leave England with a strong pair of boots, as all the walks and paths are so dreadfully rough and stony, and there is no shoemaker worth speaking of here. I send you herewith two flowers from the garden, the names of which are very much wished for by several people here. Is not the white one the same we gathered in the garden of M. de Rougemont at Thor, and which you said was a species of Solanum? It grows in clusters upon a tall bush, with large and very soft leaves. The yellow one is very pretty and sweet smelling – an elegant bush – I send one of it’s [sic] narrow leaves. The flowers in spikes as big as a lilac. Mama says we have something very like it in a corner
s of the little conservatory. Please send their names without delay : their native country, and the family they belong to. I hope Pussy is safe and well. Don’t forget to send us news of her. We fear you forgot to take Tilly your present of Swiss carvings, as neither she nor you ever mentioned them. I am so sorry we did not think of reminding you before-hand, as the time of your visit was so peculiarly appropriate for making the present, and we wanted so much to hear what Tilly thought of them.
Mama had a letter from Charles yesterday. Please thank him for it, and say we hope he will not be again so long
before without writing to somebody. Aunt Caroline <6> does not seem even yet to have made up her mind for or against Cannes, but I expect to hear from Ernestine <7> very soon.
Everybody sends their love, and I remain dear Papa, your affectionate daughter
H.F. Talbot Esqre
1. Matilda Caroline Gilchrist-Clark, ‘Tilly’, née Talbot (1839–1927), WHFT’s 3rd daughter.
2. Dabton, Dumfriesshire: home of WHFT’s daughter Matilda.
3. Constance Talbot, née Mundy (1811–1880), WHFT’s wife.
4. Charles Henry Talbot (1842–1916), antiquary & WHFT’s only son.
5. Prof Charles Giles Bridle Daubeny (1795–1867), MD & chemist.
6. Caroline Augusta Edgcumbe, née Feilding, Lady Mt Edgcumbe (1808–1881); WHFT’s half-sister.
7. Ernestine Emma Horatia Edgcumbe (1843-1925), WHFT’s niece.