Edward Lear, Pompey's Pillar (1858)

Rose at 6 ― and packed provisionally. Wrote to Ann. ― Breakfast ― Calvert, the interesting man Marshall, ― & some Danes. To Zezerini1 ― no answer about the boat. Got passport ― dawdled ― lunched at 1. Calvert came with me afterwards to the Copt Church ― curious, old, strange, dark. The Copt ― (diaconos ―) half asleep, could say but little I could understand. What I thought Πατριάρχος,2 was, I afterwards found, Ἄγιος Μάγιος.3 ― &c. The gloom of the place made a perfect picture. Then G. & I went to Cleopatra’s needle.4 Winds. ― Then to Zezerini ― & find that there is no boat to go at all. A frightful bore! After a time ― I resolve on going to Cairo. Meanwhile G. & I walk round the walls to the Canal, & across by the church in the Cliff, & so by Pompey’s pillar home. ― Dined at 6½ having packed for tomorrow ―: Mr. Marshall ― (Rachel, Malebran, F. Butler,) &c. &c. &c. &c. &c. ― a very curious man. ―  Afterwards to Calvert, but while there, much confusion in the Square agitated the V. Consular mind. It turned out to arise from a fire, near a Polveriera,5 naturally dismaying the Alexandrian population. ― We watched it from the roof till 9. Then I finished packing ― & afterwards finished letters to F.L. & Ann. The days here are wonderful!


  1. This must be the same travel agent Lear mentioned as “Zinzirini” on 17.iii.58. []
  2. Patriarchs. []
  3. “I think that Lear here has made up a Greek equivalent of Hokus Pokus, his name for Horoepiskopi, for Aghios Mayios rhymes perfectly, like Hokus Pokus, and means Saint Magic” (Denise Harvey). Aghios Maghios means something like “Saint Magi,” therefore “sorcerers, quacks.” []
  4. The obelisk remained in Alexandria until 1877 when Sir William James Erasmus Wilson, a distinguished anatomist and dermatologist, sponsored its transportation to London. See Victorian History blog post. []
  5. Italian for “powder magazine.” []