CORFU, l0th. January, 1858.

I shall begin a letter & let it burn up gradivally like the gun-powder which they throw on the fire. I have been working tooth & nail at Lord Clermont’s Athos, & am succeeding in making it the best I have done of that ‘oly mounting. In the foregroung there is a Nilex tree, which I take no end of pains about, and the little woody dell will I think be a pet bit of the picture with Lord C. It is doubtless, though still to have much added, a better picture than the one I did at Redhouse, but I can’t help that. The other 2, Mrs. Empson’s Athos and Corfu, are also less good, which I am sorry for, but I can’t help either, for naturally every successive piece of work should be better than its foregoer.

And I am doing the bilious memories of Χένοφων concerning Socrates, by which I am immensely interested. Life goes on here very dummily,: — I feel however, the want of forcing myself to undertake some work of a tougher, or more difficult gnashmyteethupon nature. At the Palace I have been once or twice to dinner; for to the Evening Balls I can’t & won’t go. Lady Y. is always certainly very kind in inviting one, a brute. Lady Headfort comes out each time in new & astounding jewels. We get on very well, having endless topics of mutuality-talk, from Rosstrevor & Lady Drogheda, to “Virginia Pattle,” or Afghanistan. They “the court” (I suppose Sir John also) are all off to Athens in a fortnight or so. Lady Y. {77} characteristically observing “I have always wanted to see the Ball room at the Palace, and there are to be some fine fêtes.” My! won’t Queen Amelia be down on them ! for Sir John’s profundities are pretty well known there.

I am reminded that I told you quite wrongly something of the state of feeling here as developed in representation, nearly all the members of this Island are anti-English, the contrary is the case with Cephalonia. Yet in the main perhaps I was right, as to the greater general dislike to us in the latter place. Neither was I correct about the Italian or Roman Catholic element: — The Greek screw has been allowed to be put on so much more strongly, with each successive Govt., that every other consideration is giving way to a settled desire to join Greece, & get rid of English.

After these ozbervations, which are more temperate and less triumphiliginous, than those I last wrote, I shall proceed to state that Shakespear is come, by which assertion I do not mean the author of “As you like it,” “Hamlet,” or other popular drammers, but the Major of that name of the Royal Artillery, who used to live over me, & whose wife is one of the very nicest, even if not the nicest woman here. They are gone to live in the Citadel, next door to the General. The General objects to the odour of cooking generally & of onions particularly. Lady Buller has not expressed any opinion on the subject so far as is publicly known : — the matter rests in {78} a state of oblique & tenacious obscurity for the present.

Last night I, the Shakespear’s, & Wyndham, dined with the honourable Edward & Arabella Gage,1  very good people. We of this Terrace & this part of the town chaff the Shakespears, who now live so far off, and we ask them to “set us down” on their way to “Wimbledon.” It is but right you should know the important life concerns of the Island, and therefore I shall not hesitate to insert the following facts before I conclude this morning’s scribble. Madam Vitalis, the Greek consul’s wife has purchased a large red maccaw. Mrs. Macfarlane’s female domestic has fallen down stairs, by which precipitate act Mrs. M’s baby has been killed. Sir Gorgeous Figginson Blowing has had an attack of fever. Colonel Campbell (first cousin of Sir J. Simeon,) dined with Mr. Lear the Artist on Thursday. On Friday that accomplished person entertained Mr. Bunsen & Mr. Justice Lushington. Capt. R. has purchased a Cornopeon, & practises on it, (Mrs. G. invariably calls it a cornicopean.) but it is not heard generally, on account of the superior row made by Mrs. Vitalis’ maccaw, Capt. P’s howling dogs, & about 400 turkeys who live at ease about the terrace and adopt a remarkable gobble at certain periods. Lady H[eadfort] has astonished the multitude by a pink satin dress stuffed with pearls. Bye the bye I heard rather a good thing {79} yesterday, Lady H. (with an aide de camp,) has been “doing” the sights of Corfu, & among others the churches. At the Greek Cathedral a beggar came and importuned the glittering Marchioness, who at the moment was indulging in the natural & pleasant act of sucking an orange. Lady H. after a time paused & said or implied “silver & gold have I none,” but such as she had, (being the half sucked orange,) she politely gave the beggar-woman, who (oranges being any number for a half-penny,) threw the fruit in her Ladyship’s face, and rushed frantically out of the desecrated edifice.

  1. Brother of Viscount Gage and a Colonel in the Royal Horse Artillery. Married to a cousin, Miss Arabella Gage. []