Phos, ye cat

From a letter to Mrs. G. Clive of 25 March 1875 after coming back from the Indian tour.

The letter complains of the changes in San Remo since the Franco-Prussian War (‘You may suppose how many Germen & Gerwomen there are, when I tell you that 37 have died here this winter alone!’), mentioning his falling income from the sale of his pictures, referring to his Indian tour (the country has ‘so fascinated me that I hardly fancy I can make any other views for the rest of my life’) and ‘Lord Northbrook’s great picture of Kinchinjunga’, and concluding with mournful description of his ‘semi-demoralized’ condition: ‘I am become like a periwinkle in the wilderness, with an owl for his dessert. It ain’t pleasant at 63 … I shall have recourse to the society of my Cat, & walk up & down the terrace.’

Christie’s, 6 June 2001.

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One Response to Phos, ye cat

  1. Peter Byrne says:

    Anyone following Lear’s diary during his time in Corfu–today’s excerpt is from 1862–will be struck by just how gregarious a person he was. So it’s understandable that his relative isolation in San Remo 13 years later was hard for him to bear.

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