Dec. 27th, 1857.

I am glad to hear of your riding: I wish to heaven I could, or purchase a Gizzard. Tell me something of the general aspect of things at Red House, including the curly brown dog & the two milkophagous calves who abode in the square field. I had met Norman Macdonald1  at Lord Cannings sometimes. Lady Duller2  his sister, the generals wife here, has collapsed into nonreception along of his demise.

The uppermostest subject in my feeble mind just now is my Palestine visit. I read immensely on the matter, and am beginning to believe myself a Jew, so exactly do I know the place from Robinson, De Sanley, Lynch, Beaumont, Bartlett, & the old writers from the Bourdeaux Pilgrim to Maundsell, not to {69} speak of Stanley, & Josephus, whose works I can now, thank goodness, read in their natural garb. Now my particular idea at the present hour is to paint Lady Waldegraves 2nd picture from Masada3 whither I intend to go on purpose to make correct drawings, though, whether I shall get up without breaking my neck is a doubt. In that case Lady W. cannot have my painting. My reason for this choice is, that not only I know the fortress of Masada to be a wonder of picturesqueness, but that I consider it as embodying one of the extremest developments of the Hebrew character, i.e. constancy of purpose, & immense patriotism. This subject I believe will as it were “match” Jerusalem well.

At present I think my view for Lady W. will either be from Scopus, or from the glen coming up from S. Saba. I shall like to show her all the drawings of this place ― which I wish I could see her now walking past, or into this room, with the browny-lilac velvet many banded dress, and a nosegay in her hand. You are certainly right in thinking most women are like Copses after her: only Lady Y. here is not copse-like being highly vivacious: but she lacketh other of my Lady’s qualities which one would fain see, hear, & be sensible of. Why the deuce I compare them I don’t know, only Lady Y. is the only lively creature here. They have been very good-natured since I came, but I never go to the evening {70} parties, rising as I do, at a little after 5, I cannot bring myself to dress & go out to parties wholly without interest, at 10.

They asked me on the 15th to meet Lord S. de Redcliffe4  at a luncheon. He is a remarkable old gentleman, & I was surprised to see him so unbroken & with his eagle eye still so clear. I sat next to Lady Y. at table, and Lord S. shook hands with me across, and was otherwise exceedingly amiable ― nothing can be more regal and sostenuto than his manners, and one can only believe in his temper by observation of his brow and eye. Old Lady Valsamachi (Mrs. Heber5 ) rushed in where angels fear to tread & came unasked to the Palace, with the ancient bore, her Greek husband; but Lord S. was I remarked particularly kind and affable. Just as he went off in the steamer there was an Earthquake, big enough to send people out of their houses & the bells ringing, but whether the coincidental concussion was caused by, or for, Lord S. de Redcliffe, I leave you as a more educated man than myself, to determine.

Since that day I have not been to the Palace, not even to see the live Marquis & Marchioness of Headfort6  who with Miss Erskine, Lady H’s reputed {71} heiress, & Col. Talbot7  on his way to his Island Kephalonia, arrived a week ago. Lord H. is described to me as a well got up blasé old boy; milady not to be perceived clearly, along of Indian shawls and diamonds, of which jewels and of her concealment of them, during a flight from some Afghan place when she was Lady Mc. N., wonderful tales are about.

The weather has been utterly wonderful, this the 28th day since I came, being the first with a single cloud in it! Nor has there been the least wind, or temporal annoyance of any kind, but always a lovely blue & golden sphere about all earth sky & sea. How different from the 2 preceding years this! And the Olives are one bending mass of fruit. I have however walked but little. I grow weary of the 3 dull miles out & 3 back in order to reach any scenery. And although J. has walked with me at times, yet it is a weary silent work, & now that he has got a dog, one cannot help feeling how far more agreeable it is to him to walk with that domestic object, to whom he has not the bore of being obliged to speak. We are on perfect good terms, but all or anything might happen to either, & neither would dream of telling the other, a state of things I do not call friendship. But on this and such a matter I dwell as little as possible. I have to live alone & do so though ungracefully: ― (Whereas you who are pretty well alone as to the possibility of others sympathyzing with you in your principal interests, manage to do so remarkably well). So I stay at home, and {72} oppose the morbids. I can tell you that I miss Helena Cortazzi though ― a few ― now & then. The Reids are good and friendly people, but of them even I see little. Campbell of the 46th (Simeon’s cousin) is a really nice fellow, but all these people are mad after snipes & woodcox now, & abjure all intellect & repose. Edward my last years companion I miss abominably. Bunsen8  as I said is a good little chap, clever, but talks like 50 thousand millions of tongues.

  1. He was Controller of the Lord Chamberlain’s Department. He was seized with apoplexy while talking with Lady Ely at Lady Elizabeth Hope Vere’s, and died quite suddenly at St. James’s Palace on the 1st of December. []
  2. Wife of Sir George Buller, G.C.B., who after serving in the Crimean War and the first and second Kaffir Wars, was now commanding a division in the Ionian Isles. []
  3. Now in the possession of the Hon. Mrs. Stanley, of Quantock Lodge. []
  4. See note, p. 11. []
  5. Widow of the Bishop of Calcutta. []
  6. Lady Headfort was Lady McNaughten, widow of Sir William Hay McNaughten, Bart., of the Bengal Civil Service. Assassinated at Cabul, Dec. 25, 1841. []
  7. Afterwards knighted. Had been private secretary to the Earl of Derby in 1852. He was at this time British Resident at Cephalonia. []
  8. Theodore Bunsen, son of Baron and Baroness de Bunsen. []