The latest letter from 1807 posted here on the day it was written 210 years ago. Ellen to Sam, 16 May, in which Ellen uses the departure of her third cousin, Thomas Taylor, also a botanist, and studying Physic (medicine), as the means of delivering a letter to her youngest brother who was living in London. We hear that her eldest brother Emanuel (known by the family as Manny) has a habit of not opening letters. She asks all over again for help to get Lewis Dillwyn’s book on seaweed. We learn that her disabled brother Tom has a gig and begins to go out every day.
A ‘gig’ in 1807 was not a ‘single professional engagement by a musician or comedian’ or ‘an abbreviated form of gigabyte’ but a ‘light two wheeled carriage pulled by one horse’.
Sam is expected to be going to Cambridge University to study law. Ellen hopes he is studying diligently.
She is full of praise for her third cousin, Thomas Taylor, and asks Sam what he thinks of him. Some researchers on Ellen have suggested that there may have been a romantic connection between her and Thomas Taylor. So far this is the only mention I have found in the letters of anything that could remotely suggest an emotional interest between them, and it not much to go on. There are still letters that I have not read, and maybe they will reveal more. Watch this space!
Ballylickey 16 May 1807
My dear Sam
Tho’ I have not much to say I cannot let Mr Taylor go without a line to you. He seems to wish much to see you and Manny. Mrs Taylor is anxious that Manny should see him and would thank him for any advice and assistance he could give him.
I wrote to you some time ago to Eton St and fear you have not received my letter as you have not answered it. I begged you to make enquiry about a book for me that I wish very much to get. Will you acquire of Mr Sowerby No 2 Mead Place Lambeth whence “Dillwyn’s British Confervae” is to be had, how many numbers of it are published and the price of each number. Let me hear from you as soon as you have made this enquiry for me. I wrote to Manny [Ellen’s eldest brother, Emanuel] some time ago but as he has a habit of putting letters in his pocket without opening, I fear he has not read mine – will you ask him.
Tom desires you will tell Manny that he thinks Mr Parsons is offended with him for never having written to him since he went to England. He mentioned something in a letter to Tom that plainly shows he feels angry with Manny.
Arthur and Mrs Hutchins are not at home. Two of their children are here. Tom is in pretty much the same state as he has been this some time past. He has now got a gig and begins to go out every day. I hope the exercise he will have during the summer may serve[?] him, going out in his chair was not exercise sufficient for him. My Mother is better than she was during the winter. The fine weather has had good effect on her health tho’ not much on her spirits. She never goes out any where but in the garden or just about the house. I rejoice that the winter is past. She was so ill.
I am very well, quite strong.
Why don’t you write oftener? I suppose you will soon go to Cambridge. Is Manny now in town?
I have nothing new to tell you, what passes in this country cannot interest you and even if it did I should not have much to tell as I am not very inquisitive to know what my neighbours are about and we have no visitors except the Taylors. Phyllis is with us very often and is at all times our most welcome guest.
My Mother desires her love to you and hopes you will soon write.
I am my dear Sam affectionately
I suppose you are diligently studying Law. Tho’ I may not see you, I hope to hear of you yet. You are now the only one of my brothers I expect to hear much of, I mean in any profession.
Tom Taylor is studying Physic. I think he looks the Doctor already. How do you like him? He is esteemed a young man of genius and has obtained many honourable marks of distinction, Premiums and Medals at College.