Lear the Beggar

Another letter to Thomas Woolner containing a nice self caricature of Edward Lear begging sandwiched between two views of Palermo. Notice that Lear’s beard is a bit like Garibaldi’s who had conquered Palermo on 6 June. The Expedition of the Thousand had sailed from Quarto on 5 May, just a few days before Lear visited the place on 23 May before heading back to England.

15, Stratford Place, W.,
June 25, 1860.

My Dear Uncle,

Which your letter of April 9 was very welcome & should have been replied to b4, only it came when I was all in a bussel a leaving Rome—I tried to get to you yesterday—but only reached Mrs. Martineau’s house before it was too late to retrace my steps:—but some day I shall hope to come & look you up, & meanwhile if you are passing here, I am full of small unfinished works, some of which might interest you, particklar 2 views of Palermo, with portraits of Garibaldi in the foreground, as I am on the point of taking up & down Bond St. with a box for shillings.

I saw Edward Wilson a day or two ago. My father# I have seen several times, & am as glad of his success as if I had got double myself. He is a blessed old parient he is. The best criticism I have yet heard on his picture# was last week, when a very fine gentleman objected to the “commonplace air” of the Virgin & added “No well-bred woman would ever enter a room in such a fussy manner.”—This, however absurd,—is really a fact.

I have been some days at Farringford with F. Lushington. All are pretty well there, Mrs. A. better than I had expected. Mrs. Cameron absolutely sent up a grand piano by 8 men from her house for me to sing at!!!!!!!

W. G. Clark was at a fish dinner on Fryday last at Grinidge. I hear you suffered brutally from the R.A. porters, as to Sedgwick’s bust.# What are you now about? I write in haste: but thank you for your letter nevertheless.

Yrs. sincerely,
Edward Lear.

Woolner, Amy. Thomas Woolner, R.A. Sculptor and Poet. His Life in Letters. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1907. 196-7.

Woolner would go to Lear’s rooms on 26 May.

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