Edward Lear’s Letters in Italian 2: 22 March 1845 to A.M. Ricci

This is the second surviving letter Edward Lear wrote to Angelo Maria Ricci, again mentioning a mysterious project to illustrate the seventh book of the Aeneid, which was never completed, and which ― from the tone of the letter ― Lear himself seems to have already placed on hold. He is sending a copy of his Views in Rome and Its Environs (London: Thomas McLean, 1841) to thank Ricci for help in finding contacts while travelling around central Italy. The letter is also at Biblioteca comunale di Rieti, Fondo Ricci, F=1=16/212.

1072d. Via Felice

Sabato sera. 22 marzo. 1845

Illustrissimo e stimatissimo Sigre Cavaliere,

Non avendo avuto la fortuna di trovarla in casa oggi ― (dove mi farò presto il dovere di ripassare per salutarla,) bisogna che ella prenda l’incommodo di leggere un altro biglietto mio barbarico ― e per dir vero ― giacché in questi mesi non ho parlato altro che Inglese, meglio sarà che mi spiega con la penna che a voce. ― Voleva dunque pregarla di accettare quella opera litografica illustrativa dei contorni di Roma, ― in segno della mia riconoscenza per la lettera da lei scritta con tanta bontâ e cortesia sopra il 7° libro di Virgilio. Pensando, durante l’inverno, di passare in Rieti con qualchi amici, sempre ritardai di mandare il libro, sperando di aver avuto il piacer di presentarlo in persona.

Ma intanto, essendo necessario il mio andare fra poco in Inghilterra, voglio profittare della sua presenza in Roma, di pregar la di farmi questo favore, accettando questa collezione di vedute in memoria che io sarò sempre grato per le sue bonta ― non solamente per la lettera, ma per tante altre amabilissime ospitalità.

Pensai di fare un viaggio per Norcia in Ascoli ― ma non sarà possibile quest’anno, e così, la povera “Nursia” andrà senz’esser illustrata. Piuttosto faro una scappata a Monte Circeo, Piperno, ed al Monasterio di Fossa Nuova, ― e se ella potrebbe indirizzarmi a qualchi autori ove fanno menzione di quel luogo interessante ˇ[(cioè Fossanuova)] mi farebbe un gran piacere. Per la vicinanza di Sermonetta, Norba etc. ― avrò ricordo al P. [Prefetto?] di Teano, che m’ha promesso il suo aijuto.

Non volendo più incomodarla colla mia scritturaccia, ma sperando dentro oggi o domani di salutarla, passo a sottoscrivermi,

Illustrissimo signor Cavaliere ―
Suo obbligatissimo ed affentuosissimo

Odoardo Lear.

1062do V. Felice
Lunedì

Edward Lear, Norba, 2 February 1840. Houghton Library, Harvard College Library.

Edward Lear, Norba, 2 February 1840. Houghton Library, Harvard College Library.

And here is my translation:

107sd. Via Felice

Saturday night. 22 March. 1845

Illustrissimo e stimatissimo Sigre Cavaliere,

As I had the misfortune of not finding you at home today ― (and I shall dutifully come again for a visit,) you will be forced to read another one of my barbarous notes ― and to be honest ― as I have only spoken English in the last few months, you will be better off if I write than if I speak. I would be very pleased if you accepted my lithographic illustrations of the environs of Rome, ― as a token of my gratitude for the nice and kindly letter you wrote about Virgil’s 7th book. As I hoped to pass through Rieti with some friends during the winter, I delayed sending the book, hoping I would be able to present it to you in person.

But, as I shall have to go to England shortly, I shall take the opportunity afforded by your being in Rome to ask you to do me the favour of accepting this collection of landscapes as a reminder of my continued gratitude for your kindness ― not only for the letter, but also for your many generous kindnesses.[1]

I had thought of going to Ascoli via Norcia ― but this will not be possible this year, so poor “Nursia” will not be illustrated. I shall rather go to Monte Circeo, Piperno, and to the Monastery of Fossa Nuova, ― and I would be very grateful if you could suggest any authors who mention that interesting place ˇ[(i.e. Fossanuova)]. As for the surroundings of Sermonetta, Norba etc. ― I shall apply to the P. [Prefect] of Teano who promised to help me.

I do not want to bother you with my horrible handwriting, while hoping to be able to greet you today or tomorrow, I assure you I remain,

Illustrious signor Cavaliere, ―
Your obliging and affectionate

Edward Lear.


[1] “Ospitalità” literally means hospitality, but the context makes it clear that Lear never actually visited Ricci in Rieti.

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