Edward Lear, letter to Emily Tennyson, 5 January 1876
This late letter, congratulating the family on Lionel's engagement to Eleanor Locker, concludes with a self-caricature by Lear (at 64 years old) tottering around his home in San Remo, closely followed by his pet cat, 'Foss'. Emily was delighted that Lear had acquired this new friend to counteract his loneliness.
My dear Mrs Tennyson,
I find an old Envellope, intended to be filled up to you thousands of years ago: ( – but I cannot write by Lamplight in these latter days – & the whole daylight is crowded with word, – so though constantly intentioning to write letters never get written;) – [however] as Frank has just told me that Lionel is really engaged to Miss Locker, I shall use this ancient Lettercover to send my Congratulations to you & AT not to speak of the principal party concerned. But I must tell you that
was the indivigual who told Frank of the fact – & this forestalled Lionel’s communication. How it came about I shall not say, except that a Lady a friend of mine, wrote to me that a Lady a friend of hers had told her; – whereby I wrote to F.L – & he wrote to Lionel, & Lionel wrote to him, & I to you — on the principle of the House that Jack built.
I knew the young Lady’s brother in Palermo years ago, & am glad to know the young couple are likely to be so happy. But I hope he will do something by way of profession, & not dawdle with idleness. If I had some, I would make them Fishmongers or Lettercarriers, – or Coalheavers rather than nothing.
My love to every body.