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Letters of Edward Lear


[PENTÈDÁTTILO]

CHAPTER I

1847, to August, 1853
ROME, GREECE, AND ENGLAND

THE earliest letter in this collection which I have found is dated October 16, 1847, written to my uncle, Chichester Fortescue, by Edward Lear immediately on his return to Rome (his headquarters at that time) from his tour in Calabria. The diary he kept on that journey was published in 1852, illustrated by many striking lithographs made from sketches taken during the tour, two of which are here reproduced. The whole of Italy at this time was in a state of political upheaval and unrest; the people felt that the time for more liberal forms of government had come.

Chichester Fortescue, then in his twenty-{1}fourth year, had, after a brilliant Oxford career, following the usual course of young men of the aristocratic class of that period, just completed the grand tour, including Greece, with his friend Sir Francis Scott, of Great Barr. He returned to find a seat in Parliament in his native county of Louth awaiting him, and at once was launched into political as well as social life in London. The sudden necessity of returning to England prevented his joining Lear in Rome as he had intended to do, and was the cause of the appearance of Sir Francis Scott alone, at which Lear took umbrage—afterwards regretting his conduct.

Lear to Fortescue.

107, 2DO, VIA FELICI, ROMA.

16 Oct., 1847.

DEAR FORTESCUE,—Do not expect an unhampered & simple epistle as of yore, but allow something for the effect of your M.P'ism on my pen and thoughts: Or rather I will forget for a space that you are a British senator, & write to that Chichester Fortescue whose shirt I cribbed at Palestrina.

Your letter, (one of 27, awaiting my coming, which coming took place extremely late last night,) {2} diverts me highly:—Proby[1] my constant companion (& few there be better,) agrees with me about your view of the road to Aviano—which we have only just, oddly enough gone over. Avellino is certainly exquisite, & so is Mte. Vergine when not in a fog,—But of Apulia we saw little, only from hills apart, because why? the atmosphere was pisonous in Septbr. Nevertheless Proby went to Cannæ, and I believe found one of Annibals shoes or spurs,—also a pinchbeck snuffbox with a Bramah lock belonging to a Roman genl.—I rather chose to go see Castel del Monte, a strange record of old F. Barbarossa & which well repaid no end of disgust in getting at it. We saw the tree Horace slept under at Mte. Volture, & were altogether much edified by the classicalities of Basilicata.

I will begin from the beginning. First then I went (May 3) to Palermo, & on the 11th set out with Proby for Segestæ. Excepting a run round by Trapani & Massala, & a diversion to Modica, Noto, and Spaccaforno, one Sicilian giro was like that of all the multitude. The Massala trip does not pay—& the only break to the utter monotony of life & scenery occurred by a little dog biting the calf of my leg very unpleasantly as I walked unsuspectingly in a vineyard. At the caves of Ipeica we became acquaint with a family of {3} original Froglodytes: they are very good creatures, mostly sitting on their hams, & feeding on lettuces & honey. I proposed bringing away an infant Frog, but Proby objected. Siracuse only wanted your presence to make our stay more pleasant: I waited for and expected you every day. We abode in a quarry per lo più, & left the place sorryly. From Catania we saw Etna & went up it: a task, but now it is done I am glad I did it: such extremes of heat and cold at once I never thought it possible to feel. Taormina the Magnificent we staid at 4 or 5 days, & then from Messina returned by that abominable North Coast to Palermo, just in time for the fête of Sta Rosalia a noisy scene which made me crosser than ever, and drove away the small remains of peaceful good temper the ugliness of the North Coast had left me.

So, 19th July—we returned to Naples—& there, as at Palermo was Scott—& to my disgust—no Fortescue. I fear when Scott sent up your card, & then entered too soon himself—I fear my visage fell very rudely. But I wish much now I had seen more of Sir F. Scott: as he improves immensely on knowing him. On the 26th we left Messina for Reggio. (N.B. I have crossed the sea from Naples to Sicily so often this year, that I know nearly all the porpoises by their faces, & many of the Merluzzi.) Would I had gone on to the 2nd & 3rd provinces: but the revolution which bust out in Reggio prevented me. What is the use of all these revolutions which {4} lead to nothing? as the displeased turnspit said to an angry cookmaid.—Returning to Naples for the 199th time, we disposed of a month as I have said over leaf, in the provinces of Basilicata, Melfi, Venosa, etc. etc., and were not sorry to have done so.

Rome is full of fuss and froth: but I believe now that Pio IX. is a real good man, & a wonder. Railroads, gaslight, pavements, for all to be done in 1960? The last part of my stay here was a blank from the death of my oldest Roman friend, good kind Lady Susan Percy.[2]

Remember me to my friends, & believe me,

Dear Fortescue,

sincerely yours,

EDWARD LEAR.

107 2DO VIA FELICI, ROMA,

Feby. 12, 1848.

Your letter of Oct. 25th 1847, ought to have been answered before now, & I have been going to do so ever since I had it, but I have said to myself "what's the use of writing to-day when you haven't 20 minutes—or to-day when you've got the toothache, or to-day when you are so cross? Fortescue won't thank you for a stupid letter, particularly as his was so very amusing, so you'd better wait you had. And so I have till I'm ashamed of the delay and therefore I'll send off note 18th be the letter of what degree of badness it may. First glancing over your bi-sheeted {5} epistle—thank you for your introduction to Baring:[3] he is an extremely luminous & amiable brick, and I like him very much, & I suppose he likes me or he wouldn't. take the trouble of knocking me up as he does, considering the lot of people he might take to instead. We have been out once or twice in the Campagna, and go to Mrs. Sartoris,[4] or other evening popular approximations together. He would draw; very well, and indeed does, but has little practice. Altogether he is one of the best specimens of young English here this winter, tho' there is a tolerably good sprinkling of elect & rational beings too. In fact it is a propitious season, the rumours of distraction prevented a many nasty vulgar people from coming, and there is really room to move. Among families, Greys, Herberts, Clives[5] stand promiscuous; of young ladies, Miss W. Horton, & Miss Lindsay are first to my taste, & of married ones, Mrs. G. Herbert & Mrs. Clive,—then Lady W. is admired though by me not: she is so like a wren, I'm sure she must turn into a wren when she dies. The variety of foreign society is delightful, particularly with long names: e.g., Madame Pul-itz-neek-off—and Count Bigenouff; {6} —Baron Polysuky, & Mons. Pig:—I never heard such a list. I am afraid to stand near a door, lest the announced names should make me grin.—Then there is a Lady Mary Ross,[6] and a most gigantic daughter—whom Italians wittily call "the great Ross-child," and her mama, "Rosso-antico." . . . I miss the Gordon's[7] and my old kind friend Lady S. Percy sadly, & somehow the 6 & 30-ness of my sentiments and constitution make me rather graver than of old:—also, the uncertainty of matters here and everywhere, and my own unfixedness of plans, conspire to make me more unstable & ass-like than usual. . . .

And now regarding yourself I heard all about your Greek tour with interest, and that you were returned to England and for Louth, as you will have found by a disgusting little letter I sent you at the end of last October. The most important part of your letter seems to me that which gives me news of your being so rich a man[8]:—I can only say I am sincerely glad of it, and I don't flatter you when I say I believe you will make as good a use of your money as anybody. I long to know how you like your new parliamentary life:—(Do you know a friend of mine, Bonham Carter M.P. for Winchester?[9] This {7} reminds me of "Have you been in India?" "Yes." "O then do you know my friend Mr. Jones") So pray let me hear from you. . . .

Now I am at the end of replying to your letter, and a very jolly one it is. So I must e'en turn over another stone as the sandpiper said when he was alooking for vermicules. You ask what I am about, making of little paintings, one for Ld. Canning etc. etc., and one of a bigger growth for Ld. Ward, but I am in a disturbidous state along of my being undecided as to how I shall go on with art, knowing that figure drawing is that which I know least of & yet is the "crown and roof of things." I have a plan of going to Bowen[10] at Corfù and thence Archipelago or Greeceward, (Greece however is in a very untravellable state just now) should the state of Italy prevent my remaining in it for the summer. But whether I stop here to draw figure, or whether I go to Apulia & Calabria, or whether I Archipela go (V. A. Archipelago, P. Archipelawent, P. P. Archipelagone) or whatever I do, I strongly long to go to Egypt for the next winter as ever is, if so be as I can find a sufficiency of tin to allow of my passing 4 or 5 months there. I am quite crazy about Memphis & On & Isis & crocodiles and ophthalmia & nubians, and simooms & sorcerers, & sphingidœ. {8} Seriously the contemplation of Egypt must fill the mind, the artistic mind I mean, with great food for the rumination of long years. I have a strong wish also to see Syria, & Asia Minor and all sorts of grisogorious places, but, but, who can tell? You see therefore in how noxious a state of knownothingatallaboutwhatoneisgoingtodo-ness I am in. Yet this is clear:—the days of possible Lotus-eating are diminishing, & by the time I am 40 I would fain be in England once more. . . .

But a truce to growling and reflections. I should have told you that Bowen has written to me in the kindest possible manner, asking me to go and stay with him at Corfù and I shall regret if I can't do so. I wish to goodness I was a polype and could cut myself in six bits. I wish you were downstairs in that little room.

The introduction to Baring, afterwards first Earl of Northbrook, of which Lear here speaks with such genuine pleasure, was to be the beginning of a friendship which lasted until his death. Baring, throughout his long and varied public career, was not only a true friend to him, but also a patron of the kindest and most generous description.

In the summer of the same year, Lear undertook a long-desired visit to Greece, in the company of Professor Church, another {9} old friend and patron. To this visit we are indebted for one of the most beautiful pictures he ever painted, a large oil-painting of Thermopylæ. Several replicas of this work exist, but I believe that the one possessed by Fortescue and reproduced in this book, is the original.

HOTEL D'ORIENT, ATHENS,

July 19, 1848.

Here I am having made somewhat of a dash into Greece, but most unluckily, obliged to haul up and lay by for the present. You may perhaps see my handwriting is queerish, the fact is I am recovering rapidly thank God, from a severe touch of fever, caught at Platœa & perfected in ten days at Thebes. I did not think I should ever have got over it, nor should I, but for the skill of two doctors, & the kindness of my companion Church. I was brought here by 4 horses on an Indiarubber bed, am wonderfully better, & in that state of hunger which is frightful to bystanders. I could eat an ox. Many matters contributed to this disaster, first a bad fall from my horse, and a sprained shoulder, which for three weeks irritated one's blood, besides that I could not ride. 2nd. A bite from a Centipede or some horror, which swelled up all my leg & produced a swelling like Philoctetes' toe, and lastly, I was such a fool as go to Platœa forgetting my umbrella, where the sun finished me. However, I don't mean to {10} give up and am very thankful to be as well as I am.

I came you know here on June 1st with Sir S. Canning,[11] and staid a fortnight working like mad. On the 13th Church and I set out. Chalcis is most interesting & picturesque, what figures! would, ah! would I could draw the figures! We then resolved to do Eubœa, so, 19th, Eretria, very fine. Aliveri, & Kumi. 21st. Pass of mountains, grangrongrously magnificent! Alas! for the little time to draw! 28th Lamia. 29th a run up to Patragik a queer mountain place. All these things we were constantly warned off, as full of rebels, brigands &c., but we found all things as quiet as Pimlico. 30th Thermopylæ! how superb! & Bodonitza. July 1st. Costantino & Argizza. 2nd Proschinò & Martini. 3rd, over Kokino & the mountains to the Thebes. Only this last, of the last 3 days was good. Thebes is sublime, but as I said, the day following it became a grisogorious place to me.

I must stop for I am not much writable yet. Give my love to Sir F. Scott if you see him & to Baring: I am glad he is secretary or anything good, as he is such an extreme brick.

THERAPIA, 25th August, 1848.

Your kind letter, just exactly though what I expected, came to-day, much sooner than I anticipated. {11} Alas! of myself I can give you but a most flaccid account, greatly to be summed up in the word "bed," but not wholly so. However I have known perfect health for 11 years thank God, and if the tables are turned I must not be ungrateful, indeed I have been able to suck a large lesson of patience out of my 2 months compulsory idleness, and I hope I may be like any Lamb if ever we meet again.

I continued to recover after I wrote to you, (20th July) & left Athens in good spirits & pretty strong, (i.e. I was able to walk as far as the Acropolis slowly, & with a stick,) on the 27th to Alexandria. Then I speedly fell ill again, but differently:—yet when I got to Constple was obliged to be taken up to the Hotel in a sedan chair. Well, after two days I went up to the Embassy & was instantly put to bed with erysipelas & fever, and did not emerge on the banks of the Bosphorus till about August 13; and then very feebly. Since then I went a-head but had bad fever fits from not minding diet: to-day as 2 days have gone and the enemy comes not again, I have hope an am an hungered. Hunger! did you ever have a fever? No consideration of morality or sentiment or fear of punishment would prevent my devouring any small child who entered this room now. I have eaten everything in it but a wax-candle and a bad lemon. This house is detached from the big Embassy Palace & is inhabited by attachés, and though Lady Canning[12] {12} is as kind as 70 mothers to me, yet I see little of them. Could I look out on any scene of beauty, my lot would be luminous; bless you! the Bosphorus hereabouts at least, is the ghastliest humbug going! Compare the Straits of Menai or Southampton Waters or the Thames to it! It has neither form of hill nor character of any possible kind in its detail. A vile towing path is the only

walk here or a great pull up a bare down,—of course,—sun and climate make any place lovely, & thus all the praises of this far-famed place I believe savour of picnics, &c., &c. However I have seen but little of it so I will not go on, but lest you think ennui or illness disgust me let me say, that Thebes & Athens shed a memory of divinest beauty over much worse and more tedious sufferings than those I have endured here, which indeed are nought but weariness now.

What to do, my Dear Fortescue when I return to England!!??¿—¿¡! (expressive of indelible doubt, wonder, & ignorance.) London must be the place, & then comes the choice of two lines; society, & half days work, pretty pictures, petitmâitre praise boundless, frequented studio &c., &c. wound up with vexation of spirit as age comes on that talents have been thrown away:—or hard study beginning at the root of the matter, the human figure, which {13} to master alone would enable me to carry out the views & feelings of landscape I know to exist within me. Alas! if real art is a student, I know no more than a child, an infant, a fœtus. How could I. I have had myself to thank for all education, & a vortex of society hath eaten my time. So you see I must choose one or other—& with my many friends it will go hard at 36 to retire—please God I live for 8 or 10 years—but—if I did—wouldn't the "Lears" sell in your grandchildrens time!—But enough of this, and self. Grandchildren make me think of Baring's marriage,[13] which I am so really glad to hear of & shall write to him by this post. That good-natured fellow wrote to me from England, which I wonder anyone does so busy as you all must be there. I sincerely wish him a long career of happiness. But I trust you will soon follow his example & I keep on expecting of it.

A year later finds Lear in England, paying visits to various friends, and meeting again Lord Derby, who had been his patron from the first. "The admirable quality of Lear's work for the Zoological Society had won him the close friendship and the generous patronage of the thirteenth Earl of Derby, for whom he drew the beautiful illustrations of that now rare volume 'The Knowsley {14} Menagerie.'" Thus says his friend and executor, Franklin Lushington, in his preface to the "Poems by Alfred Lord Tennyson," illustrated by Edward Lear, and brought out after his death, by Lord Tennyson, as a tribute to his memory.

TABLEY HOUSE, KNUTSFORD,

1 August, 1849.

On leaving town I came to the James Hornby's[14] at Winwick, & then migrated with them to Knowsley. After a week at each place and a day or two about Manchester, I came for 4 days to Tatton's of Wythenshawe and now am here for as many more. . . .

Now all this time I have been living in a constant state of happiness. My dear old friends Mr. Hornby & Lord Derby I found just as ever, though 72 & 75 and every day has caused fresh shaking of hands with old friends. Certainly English people do go on with friendship just where they left off, as you go on with a book at the page you last read. So you see, barring the queer climate I have been intensely happy, & if one were morbidly inclined, one would think that like Dives one was enjoying all one's good things here below. This place is one of the very nice dwellings in this land, the old house & the church & the lake are a perfect picture. So was old Elizabethan Wythenshawe, & at Winwick {15} and dear old Knowsley there was a lot of sunshine quite vavacious to feel. Immense fun we have had, one has done little but laugh, eat, drink, & sleep. . . .

I trust to get through 14 or 15 visits out of my 68. Willingly would I an your house were one:—but I must be back in town by 20th Sept. at latest, (then comes furnishing & fidgetting & fussing,) after that hard real work. Did I tell you I had finally settled on taking 17, Stratford Place?[15] signed sealed and delivered, O! yes. How I hope you will come very often to look yourself into other lands.

What do you think of my having nearly, all but become possessor Of 40 or 50,000£? Fact, I assure you, it makes me laugh to think what I could possibly have done with such a statistic heap of ore! However, I have never it seems been attentive enough to the old Lady[16] who always said she would enrich me, so she has died and left all to 30 poor widows for ever & ever, and much better too that she has left it thus, for I should not have made as good use of it. I thought directly I heard of this matter that I would instantly marry one of the 30 viddies, only then it occurred to me that she would not be a viddy any more if I married her.

{16}

LYDFORD, NEAR BRIDESTOW, DEVON,

July 19, 1851.

Enter MARY.

"Mary, has the boy come back from the Post with the letters yet?"

"Noa zur, hiss be drewndid!"

"He's what Mary?"

"Hiss be drewndid zur in the pewerfil rain"

"Well, it certainly does rain Mary but I hope he aint drowned, for all that."

Exit MARY.

Re-enter MARY.

"Here be tew litters zur:—the boy is all queet drewndid zur as ever you see!"

Upon which I took up one, and you having been in my thoughts during this very morning, says I, how odd, it's Fortescue's writing!

Upon which I opened it.

Upon which I found it was from Mr. Gladstone.

Upon which I said, Pish!

Upon which I took up letter No. 2.

Upon which I found that was really yours.

Upon which I took this paper and began,

Dear Fortescue,—I was very glad to find you were pleased with the painting, for I have taken long and great trouble about it, all my artist friends say I have made an enormous stride, so I hope to go on, but only by the same road, i.e., conslant study and perseverance.You suppose rightly that I felt Lord Derby's death; I {17} have not felt anything so much for many many years: 22 years ago I first went to Knowsley, & have received nothing but kindness from him & his family ever since, so it is no great wonder his death should cause me sorrow. The painting[17] belongs to the present Earl, who will kindly allow me to have it for some time yet. Overworked and unwell & unable to bear the disquiet of London, I came at once to this very out of the way place, as, to get away at all, I was obliged to select a deadly cheap place, since while here I have to pay for 17, Stratford Place, also. I shall remain here and hereabouts, a tour in Cornwall with Lushington[18] etc. till nearly November.

Genus homo! I aint. I'm a landscape painter, & I desire you to like me as sich, or not at all:—if I grow worse in my professional power, be sure I shall worsen in all ways:—Lord how it does rain! It always does here, but that's nothing, for I have a house full of books, & I've got a little bedroom and a small parlor, & a big loft made into a study (which would be pleasant if the cats didn't bumble into it every 5 minutes). And all that costs 5s. a week:—& I have 3 meals of food daily for 1s. 6d., and I'm finishing some watercoloured drawings by degrees, and arranging in my mind some paintings for the winter. There's only a curate as lives opposite, & keeps bees:—all the rest {18} of the village is miners, which reside underground. On Sunday I go to church, when there is a congregation of 7 or 10 and a tipsy clerk. O! beloved clerk! who reads the psalms enough to make you go into fits. He said last Sunday, "As white as an old salmon," (instead of white as snow in Salmon), "A lion to my mothers children" (for alien) & they are not guinea pigs, instead of—guiltless! Fact:—but I grieve to say he's turned out for the same, & will never more please my foolish ears.

I suppose you never come into Devonshire?

Lord! how it rains!

I have forsworn by this provincial step of mine all the luxuries & niceties of the year, to wit, cherries & all fruit, wine, & a number of other necessaries of life. We primitive Christians of Lydford have thrown off such fopperies.

Please recommend all the Grand jury to buy my 'Journal of a Landscape painter.'[19] What are you doing with a Grand jury?

Where are you going this summer? O Lord! how it keeps raining!

Every post brings heaps of dinner & evening invitations. I think myself well off to be able to decline them at 1d. a piece. Now I must go back to my drawing of Syracuse, which thank goodness, is nearly done.

{19}

LYDFORD, NEAR BRIDESTOW, DEVON,

26 August, 1851.

I have only just returned here, from a ramble in Cornwall, (not Simeon but the county,[20]) and among a heap of letters, one from you, shall be answered first of all, barring sister Ann[21] & R. Hornby.

You do perfectly well to project all your uncomfortablenesses into my ear & buzzim at all times, for I can sympathize with you most perfectly, though I can do nothing else. Lord, how I wish I was a sucking Socrates like some men I know, wouldn't you have 5 sheets of advice! But as I aint I may as well say that there is nothing of which I have so distinct a recollection as the fearful gnawing sensation which chills & destroys one, on leaving scenes & persons, for which & whom there are no substitutes till their memory is a bit worn down. I say, there is nothing I so distinctly remember, because those feeling are with me already taking the form of past matters, never again to recur, like cutting ones teeth, measles &c. Not that one has actually outlived the possibility of their repetition, but rather, I prevent them by keeping them at arm's length:—I wont like anybody else, if I can help it, I mean, any new person, or scenes, or place, all the rest of my short foolish life. But the vacuum which you describe I used to suffer from intensely, & can quite feel for you. Yet you, it appears to me, might put an end to all chance of such {20} blacknesses, by asking any young (or old if you prefer) Lady to marry you, which if you asked her she instantly would, whereas if I asked any, she instantly wouldn't. Well, I suppose you will one day: but I shall be in a horrid way till I see her, because as you are of the sensitive order, you will either be very happy or you won't.

I shall not allow you to be deceived into the idea, that I am perfectly tranquil & happy here:—quite the contrary. There is only one fine day out of 15, & all the rest are beyond expression demoralizing & filthy. My "straitened circumstances" forbid moving now I am here, and besides, I hate giving up a thing when I try it, & having declared I would paint the Glen scene, I will, I'll stay till I do. I would not so much care for the wet, as for being obliged when it is wet, to look at a dead wall and a rubbish heap opposite, and to see nothing all day but 27 Pigs, & 18 cows. Experience teaches, and a village summer in Italy is another thing to this. . . . I have faithfully promised to pass some days with C. Church near Ilchester before I return:—these things, with the vain and frustrated attempts to get some studies of weeds and rox fill up my beastly Autumn, and send me back again to Stratford Place.

I don't improve as I wish, which added to the rain, and the view, prevents "happiness and tranquillity." It is true I don't expect to improve, because I am aware of my peculiar incapacities, for art, mental & physical:—but that don't mend the matter, anymore than the {21} knowledge that he is to be always blind delights a man whose eye is poked out. The great secret of my constant hard work is, to prevent my going back, or at best standing quite still. I certainly did improve last year a little, but I aint sure if Lydford and the rain and the cows won't have made me go back this year. However I did it all for the best, as the old sow said when she sat on her little pigs. . . .

Bowen I must write to again, he wrote since I last did so to you, & I answered him. He is very good-natured, though as you say his rhinoceros-like insensibility to the small annoyances he deals out, would aggravate me. He is going to review my Albania he says,—Bye the bye, I should think that little book has had as much good said of it as any ever have. I dare say you saw the Athenaum &c., & Tait's Magazine for this month. I wish I may get something for all this. When I return to town I shall join a nightly Academy for drawing from the life:—thus you see showing you that I believe hard work is the best substitute for the Ideal. I shall try also to set about sundry big landscapes. But I will paint this glen, for all the rain and cows, if I stay here All my life.

O Lord! Lord! it is such a beastly place!!!!!!

I can go on no more. It makes me almost cry to think of what I suffer. So I'll read King Arthur.

Write please. I wish I could see you, but I think you'd like me better where I am just now. I'm so savage.

Alfred Tennyson has gone to Italy.

{22}

On his return to London, Lear joined the Academy schools, as the following letter and pictures will show:

{23}

{24}

{25}

HASTINGS (vulgarly 'astins), SUSSEX,

Jany. 23, 1853.

You know all about how my front room ceiling fell down last July. Well—after a very regular application here I completed 3 paintings—Venosa, Reggio, and Thermopylæ—all 3 far the best I ever didded (or dod). On the 6th. Jany.—having written beforehand to put my rooms right, I went up to town: anyhow, my time would be up at Stratford place at the half-quarter, so I was prepared to go on with a search for lodgings, you have heard me speak enough against the darkness of those I lived in. But lo! when I arrived the horrid fact was announced to me that that very morning all the back room ceiling had fallen!

"Is there confusion in the little room?" (said I to myself when I saw it). " Let what is broken so remain!"

It was indeed high time to quit the stage of Stratford Place, so I instantly packed up—no slight operation with my immence lot of drawings and boox—and as instantly rushed all over North West London for lodgings. At length I fixed on a house which Hansen has taken for himself, and where I have taken 2 floors for 1 year—at 65, Oxford Terrace, Hyde Park.

I could not, of course, stay in the Stratford Place aboad after the fall of Paris No. 2., nor can I get into the Oxfd Terrace till Feby. 10—so I had nothing to do but come down here again-where at {26} least there are fresh air, and muffins. I must tell you what you will be very glad to hear: wizz : that my large Parnussus is bought by the new Slissiter General—my old and kind friend, Mr. Bethell (Sir Richard to be shortly).[22] It will be capitally placed and well seen—a futuer wh: compensates for my not having got so much for it as I axd. Wots the hods so long as ones appy?

I am now doing a huge picture of Syracuse Quarries; ½ starved Athenians judiciously introduced here and there. Since August I have been, as I told you, painting on an oly different principle, and so far with gt. success: I hope the Thermopylæ will be hung in the Brit: Institution.

If you come up to town before the 10t let me know—might you not rush down to dine here with me by a 5 p.m. train on Saturday and stay Sunday? I now could give you a bed—as the cucumber bed is too cold, and I have got a spare room. Do you know I have cut 2 new teeth? I was supposed I was ill of the mumps—whereas it was dentifery. I impute all my health, and sperrits, and improved art and sense herefrom to the arrival of these 2 teeth.

My sale of Parnussus, just enables me to pay part of the annual bills off, and to begin decently at Oxfd Terrace. Like a nass I gave away all I could, so as usual have none over to spare. One of my sisters is {27} horridly poor, and another is going with all her childn and grandchildn to N. Zealand, and another wants some port wine being ill, and so on. But the fact is, I only wish for money to give it away, and there's lots to be done with it here if people wouldn't be above looking at what they should do, and wouldn't keep fussing about those fooly blacks.

I've been reading Brooke's "Borneo" lately. What do you think of a society for clothing and educating by degrees the Orang outangs?

The more I read travels, the more I want to move. Such heaps of N. Zealand as I have read of late! I know every corner of the place—ditto V. D. land—ditto N. Holland. Will you go there? Will you go to the Lake Tchad? Someday though, if I can't scrape up money to go up the Nile, I think I shall ask you to take me there. I should like to go up there for 3 or 4 months well enough.

Have you ever read "Calabria" yet? If you haven't do get it and recommend it astuciously to heaps of Dukes and Dsses.: it will do them good, and me too.

In town I saw hardly anyone—as you may suppose from my cadent ceiling and its sequences. The Bethells—my sisters &c., and A., and o! Mrs A. How frigid that icie ladye was no Polar or N. Zemblan tongue can tell ! Not to me though—for she is always very good natured to me—but to all things in heaven and earth generally. By jingo! it's too dreadful to me that awful indifference! Yet they seem {28} happy together. No, my dear Fortescue, I don't mean to marry—never. You should, but there's time enough yet for you—6 or 8 years perhaps. In my case I should paint less and less well, and the thought of annual infants would drive me wild. If I attain to 65, and have an "establishmt" with lots of spoons &c. to offer—I may chain myself:—but surely not before. And alas! and seriously—when I look around my acquaintance—and few men have more, or know more intimately, do I see a majority of happy pairs? No, I don't. Single—I may have few pleasures—but married—many risks and miseries are semi-certainly in waiting—nor till the plot is played out can it be said that evils are not at hand. You say you are 30, but I believe you are ever so much more. As for me I am 40—and some months: by the time I am 42 I shall regard the matter with 42de I hope.

In one sense, I am growing very indifferent to the running out of the sands of life. Years are making me see matters with totally different eyes than I formerly saw with:—but at the same time I am far more cheerful. I only wish I could dub and scrub myself into what I wish to be, and what I might be I fear if I took proper pains. But chi sa ? How much will be allowed for nature, and early impressions, and iron early tuition? Looking back, I sometimes wonder I am even what I am. I often wonder and wonder how I have made so many certainly real friends as I have. Sometimes 6 or 8 of the kindest {29} letters in the world come together, and the effect is rather humiliating tho' not to my peculiar idiosyncracy.

I hope to go to Reigate to see Ld. Somers.[23] He is a great favourite of mine, from my knowledge of many excellent points of his character, from our having many sympathies in common, and from our looking at many present-day matters with similar views. She is a most sweet creature. I think her expression of countenance is one of the most unmitigated goodness I ever contemplated. I call that a model of a woman. Bother: I wish they wern't Earls and Countesses—though I don't much care—for I've been so rummy independent all my life that nobody thinks I ever like rank for ranks' sake I should think.

I don't understand the Gladstone question—only as I detest the bigotry of Denison and Bennett,—so I suppose G. has a shade less of it.[24] Ma non troppo me ne fido anche a lui.

But I grant your present Govt. are the best lot of workers we have had for a long time yet, and I do not see why Conservatives should be growled at if they advocate moderate reforms,—without which a {30}blind man may see that nothing will be conserved at all very shortly. O mi little i's and pegtops! how it do rain and blo!

Will you give my compliments and remembrances, to Ld. and Ldy. Clermont.[25]

{31}


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There was an Old Derry down Derry...
Edward Lear's Nonsense Poetry and Art

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