Friday Jan 24th 1868
My dear Papa,
I have been rather disappointed these two days at having no letter from you, but I daresay your being in London may have delayed your receiving mine. Perhaps today’s post may bring us something. I told you in my last that Mama’s <1> health was not at all satisfactory, that she suffered more than ever from rheumatism, and also from a kind of nervous irritation which she attributes in great part to the dry and excitable quality of the air here. Ever since we have been here she has complained that the place did not suit her, but as long as the weather continued so cold and unsettled it was out of the question to think of moving, and so she made up her mind to make the best of it. Now however it has greatly improved: some days last week and this were perfectly lovely and Spring-like, and although the three last days have been very windy, this never lasts long, and as soon as the wind abates it is perfectly mild and pleasant. So we think that very soon we may venture to set forth again – We shall soon have been here three months, and Mama is beginning to long for a change, which we also of course should not be sorry for. But it would be no use to go to Mentone or Nice, where the air is still more sharp and exciting than here, and so we have made the following plan, which as affairs in Italy seems <sic> tolerably quiet at present, I think you will not object to. We propose to leave San Remo about the middle of February, and proceed by easy stages to Pisa, remaining a few days at Genoa on our way to see it comfortably. Mama has a great idea that the mild, somewhat relaxing climate of Pisa would suit her, and being a town she would have the advantage of carriages to take frequent drives, which Dr Daubeny <2> much recommends her to do, as she cannot walk, and which here is difficult
the as there exists but one carriage belonging to the Hotel. Pisa is said not to be dear. From there we could easily visit Lucca, and Florence, which has so many objects of interest. Afterwards we might be guided by circumstances, either to return back this way, or try and see a little more before finally leaving Italy. The only thing positive is that we must be at Aix les Bains, (for that is the place she has chosen) for Mama to begin her course of mineral waters about the middle of May. You have never let us know anything about your own plans, but perhaps now you may be beginning to make up your mind. The flowers are beginning gradually to appear: white periwinkles and blue hyacinths, but these latter grow in such steep high places that none of our party have yet been able to reach them. The lower olive terraces are covered with bulbs of different sorts, but no sooner have the leaves made their appearance, than they get ruthlessly ploughed up by the Olive cultivators who are always manuring their trees. It is most provoking. Mama wishes me to say that the money will hold out as long as we stay here, that is about three weeks, but that then we shall want a fresh letter of credit. She also would be glad to be able to repay Mamie <3> the £45 still owing to her, which we borrowed at the beginning of the journey. I hope you will write without delay as soon as you get this, as the post is so slow that answers always appear dreadfully long in coming. We have been rather long without letters from anybody: Tilly <4> is always the best correspondent. I hope Charles <5>enjoyed his Chippm ball, and that it gave general satisfaction. We saw in the paper a short time ago the marriage of Sarah, daughter of Sir John Awdry <6>to a clergyman whose name I forget. She will make a good and useful wife. Post has come, and nothing from you or anybody. I am impatient for the names of the two flowers I sent you. Tilly in her last letter mentioned the Swiss carvings, which she seems to admire very much, and says you also sent her the two Brackets, as she had chanced to mention her desire for some to ornament her drawing room. We are quite glad you gave them to her, as they will look much prettier there than lost in the big gallery at Lacock.
And now goodbye, dear Papa, everybody sends their love and hopes to hear from you soon. Mama wrote on the 17th in answer to your last letter.
Your affectionate daughter
Rosamond.Love to Charles if he is with you. I hope he will write to me some day.
1. Constance Talbot, née Mundy (1811–1880), WHFT’s wife.
2. Dr Henry Daubeny (1820–1887), surgeon living in San Remo.
4. Matilda Caroline Gilchrist-Clark, ‘Tilly’, née Talbot (1839–1927), WHFT’s 3rd daughter.
5. Charles Henry Talbot (1842–1916), antiquary & WHFT’s only son.
6. Sir John Wither Awdry (1795–1878), JP & Chief Justice, Bombay Supreme Court.