On Pistol shooting, Liars, and other subjects,

Corfu, March 9. 1858.

It is particularly kind of you to have written this last — (date Sunday 28th — ) which I got yesterday. All your letters are so like yourself — so even & clear & regular. I have been thinking a great deal about you since this break up, which I believe would have come somehow or other, French matter or not. That was the tree or steeple which drew down the lightening storm, but the storm was all ready to burst somewhere, for sometime past. I had heard enough {90} of Lord P[almerston] latterly, to expect it: — and his own altered public & private manner, the gross error of Lord Clanricarde’s readmission and other things, were but forerunners of a crash; but I wholly agree with you in every word you write. The combination is odious, & with all respect to my friend & patron, he is not the man to be a leader of England for any long period. I cannot conceive how he can like to be in power on such terms. For Lord Stanley I am vexed, for as you say he cannot really unite with those from whom he differs so much. Pakington1 I suppose accepted. What sort of a man is Lord Carnarvon? I believe Lord John will be in tho’ perhaps not Premier, before 6 months are out.

In the mean time don’t you drop habits of study & business, but keep them up all the more. Make yourself master of anything Colonial. The compliments and pleasant things said are but what was your due, not only for your strict attention to routine of business, but for your earnest wish to do what was right, tho’ you had not much power in your hands. Give my love to the late Mr. Labouchere, & say he’s a miserable muff. Also to Mr. Merivale & say he is either dishonest or stupid. Thank God you so far as you have gone in public life are as white as a Jerusalem artichoke, and I believe you will always keep so. — Tell both of them they are no better than they should be!

The Palace party are come back, they had horrid {91} weather & an Earthquake. Corinth is totally ruined, not one single house habitable. People all fled. Vialimachi down flat on the ground. These earthquakes are dreadful. Boyle, who has just come back from Naples, fills us with horrors! Amalfi, Sorrento and such lists of old lovely places, all gone! down on the earth, and every inhabitant killed or maimed.

O! here is a bit of queerness in my life. Brought up by women — & badly besides — & ill always, I never had any chance of manly improvement & exercise, etc. — and never touched firearms in all my days — But you can’t do work at the Dead Sea without them. So Lushington, who is always vy kind and good — makes me take a 5-barelled revolver, & I have been practising shooting at a mark (I can hardly write for laughing), & have learned all the occult nature of {92} pistols. Don’t grin. My progress is slow — but always (I trust) somewhat. At 103 I may marry possibly. Goodbye dear 40scue.

Yrs. affectionately,

Edward Lear.

I’ve left you all Leeke’s Greece, in case of my being devoured by Arabs or fever. {93}

  1. He became First Lord of the Admiralty. []