5. January. 1859.

9. Via Condotti. ROME.

It is all well that you did not come into the room, instead of the apparition of your letter: ― if you had I should have had a fit & died. For I was so miserable that I had to put away my drawing & pace up & down the room, so that when your dear good kind letter came, I could not help the tears a busting out of my eyes incontinent, all the more as I read it: ― a weakness I had to conceal from Giorgio, who has a theory that “chi piange per altro che la morte di sua madre, {124} e sciocco,”1  or as he words it usually ― “ ὀ ὀποῖος κλάιε χωρὶς διὰ τοῦ δανάτου τῆς μητρός του, εἶναι γαΐδαρος (i.e., an ass).2

I shall now dismiss my worries & reproaches about you, leastwise considering myself a mitigated beast, & I shall send this as soon as I can, hoping also you may soon write again, for the relief your letters & those of F. Lushington & others give me is not to be expressed. (Bye the bye ― do try & know F. Lushington ― at the Cosmopolite or elsewhere.) ― I shall now look over your letter, & answer in comments ― dividable by linear appearances.

Gladstone & Corfu are queer absurdities: ― why didn’t Dizzy let Lord Stratford ― (who was on the spot) ― settle things ? ― But still, though Gladstone was not a fit man to send, ― the Govt. have shown that they mean to set a new system to work, ― Gorgeous’ going to wit as proof ― for he had no alternative, tho’ he vows he is going by choice. ― I expect poor Sir J.3 will resign,  as he ought to have done earlier ― & that he & all the Ionian suite will come here bye and bye.

I am very glad you have been enjoying yourself. It is not wonderful that anyone should like Stanley: ― I envy those who see much of him, as I have a kind {125} of mixed affection and interest and admiration for him I never felt united for anybody.

I need not say I was glad to know you saw more of Lady W. ― (What a fuss I am in to-day about her pictures: ― they are come but the d――d dogana will not let them pass ― d―― brutes.)

My kindest respects to Mrs. Ruxton: I am glad the 1,000,000’s sauce-pan is more to the purpose.

By jingo! if you were to come at Easter! Only, I might go crazy.
I have hung my show-room with white, & hope to get some drawings into it before long: ― but I am dreadfully bothered by invitations, which I abhor. Dinners are natural and proper: but late mixed tea-parties foul & abhorrent to the intelligent mind.

Do you know I like Egerton H[arcourt]4  better than I expected, ― indeed very well and also Lady Frances.5  I laughed at your note about ‘‘Jessie”6 she is too powerful by half, yet somewhat jolly. I am asked there to-morrow night, but I’m hanged if I’ll go. That’s the end of my notes on your’s ― & now I shall shuffle on promisquis.

First for goodness sake say who is Richard Bright?7 who rather is Mrs. B.? I have taken a liking to {126} R. B. because he knows & likes you: ― also he knows others of my friends. So I dined there, last week, with S. W. Clowes ― (who having broken his collar-bone is now out again,) & showed him a bit of the Campagna on Sunday. He seems a sensible fellow, & don’t talk watering-place rot. At his house I met Gibbs8 (former tutor to P[rince] of W[ales]) whom I liked ― & W. Palmer of religious fervid search9 & George Waldegrave10 who seemed a nice fellow also. But, as all here, these people go squittering after sights, & are no more themselves seen.

The Stratford’s11 live a long way off ― beyond the 4 Fontane. I have been asked to T., & have not gone but called: I doubt my seeing much of them.

Can you get, or write, & send me out ― a letter of introduction to Odo Russell?12 or to him to me ― if that is the better way? ― He is spoken of as well worth knowing, & I should like to know him if I could. {127}

The Knights live here much as ever, Isabella passing her 18th year in bed (I mean she has been in bed 18 years ―) but bright & patient always. Margaret Dss. of Sermoneta fading slowly: but kinder & softer than most Knights are. All are just as friendly as ever to me. So indeed are all ― Mr. Hay now nearly blind: & the Bertie Matthews, but these two last live in society & cliquerie.

The James Marshalls13 ― (she was a Spring Rice) with Aubrey de Vere14 are gone to Naples. The Barrett Brownings also are here, but I know them not. Various Americans ― Cushman (Miss15) Perkins,16 & Storeys are pleasant & good but as yet I eschew general society, being wholly cross & bigongulous. My hopes are set on the Grand Duchess Maria Nicolowiena17 of Russia, whom I hope to see here when I get my Athos paintings out ― if they ever do come out. Your friend Lord Granville18 is here on crutches.

The Holy Church outside the P. del Popolo, thrives: it is belarged and beorganed, & be-beautified: {128} & the chaplain Woodward is a good earnest man & preaches most Abercrombycally,19 tho’ he is a High Churchman. Everybody likes him, but the misery of the Sunday sittings on feeble chairs! Vast women in black velvet hoops utterly carry off & prostrate many delicate men as they struggle to their seats. Many men kneel on hoops & dresses, & a section of the congregation is all over-balanced in consequence.

The philosophical silent Suliot is of the greatest comfort to me. His remarks in Greek ― by play ― kill me. “Ἀπέθαμενοι οὖτοι ὁι ἅνθρωποι”20 he says of the Romans, who are so slow & odiously indifferent. And of their incessant begging, “Αὐτοι εἶναι Ἄραβοι, μόνον ἔχοθω περισςότερα ἑνδόματα.”21 It is hardly possible to be thankful enough for so good a servant. He says of Lushington that when he left, Giovanni (G.’s younger brother who was L.’s under-servant ―) would not stay with the new Judge, but returned to his former trade of tailor, but, says G. he does nothing but talk of his old master instead of working. L. seems to have made himself beloved at Corfu as everywhere else.

Correct your toe & tête in what it ails. ― It is a mistake to have toes at all: hoofs would have been simpler & less expensive, as precluding boots. {129}

  1. “Who weeps for aught but the death of his mother is foolish.” []
  2. Practically the same as the Italian translation, with Lear’s addition. []
  3. Sir J. Young did resign, and Sir Henry Storks was appointed in his place. []
  4. Youngest son of the Archbishop of York. George Harcourt, Lady Waldegrave’s husband, was the eldest son. []
  5. Daughter of the fifth Earl of Oxford and widow of an elder brother of Egerton Harcourt. []
  6. Second wife of Mr. Granville Vernon, another brother of Mr. George Harcourt. She was a daughter of the twenty-second Lord Dacre. []
  7. He in Parliament. She a daughter of Admiral Wolley. []
  8. Frederick W. Gibbs, Q.C., C.B , tutor to H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, 1852-8. []
  9. Palmer of Magdalen, author of many theological works. When Augustus Hare’s mother and sister were left destitute in Rome in September, 1859, through the treachery of an absconding lawyer, the son relates how their old friend, Mr. William Palmer, came forward, and “out of his very small income pressed upon them a cheque for £150.” []
  10. Third son of the eighth Earl and cousin of Lady Waldegrave’s husband, the seventh Earl. []
  11. Lord and Lady Stratford de Redcliffe. []
  12. The brilliant diplomatist, afterwards Ambassador at Berlin; while nominally holding paid Attachéship at this time at Florence, was employed at Rome on special service. Having no credentials for the Vatican, his relations with Cardinal Antonelli and the resident diplomatic body, were thus of an informal nature. []
  13. Third son of John Marshall of flax-spinning fame. []
  14. Third son of the poet-baronet, and himself a poet. []
  15. Charlotte Cushman, the great American tragic actress. []
  16. Augustus Hare mentions meeting at Venice in 1892 a Mrs. Mary Ridge Perkins, a quaint old American lady, who had adopted thirty homeless children. []
  17. Sister of the Czar Alexander II., widow of Maximilian, Duke of Leuchtenberg. []
  18. The second Earl, President of the Council in Lord Palmerston’s Ministry, 1852-8, when he resigned, but resumed the office in 1859. []
  19. A reference used often in Lear’s letters, but I cannot discover the man or the origin of the expression. []
  20. “These men are dead.” []
  21. “These men are Arabs, but have more clothes on.” []