Edward Lear, letter to Alfred Lord Tennyson, 9 June 1855

My dear Tennyson,

         I am sorry you have had to write twice. I shall meet you at Welds – and you are much better dining at Carlyle’s than with me, — & so the week is nearly well filled up. If — beyond that — you are still in town, & like to write & fix Friday or any other day — only be so kind as to do so, & you know how glad I should be. Yet I should not be glad if you had nearer or livelier engagements.

         Collins has just now written to beg I will dine there at 6, to meet Millais, who sets out tomorrow for Perth. He says “do come & see the last (for us) of John Millais,’ — So I throw over a lesserer engagement & shall go. — I feel woundily like a spectator, — all through my life — of what goes on amongst those I know: —very little an actor. David’s particular Pelican in the Wilderness was a fool to what I have been all my days, whether in a crowd or not. —

But I suppose it’s all right, or will come so bye & bye. —


                  As soon as —/ O Lord! when will that be? —/ I have done this blessed Swiss Pigchr, I mean to cut out of town somewhere, to work at Sir J. Potter’s Philae. Do you think there is a Pharmouse or a Nin somewhere near you, where there would be a big room looking to the North? — so that I could paint in it quietly, & come & see you & Mrs. Tennyson promiscuously? — I know what you would say, or are saying — “come to us”. — But that wouldn’t do: — the botherations of 6 feet paintings & all the conbothertions of artists’ ways do not, & will not dovetail with country houses in Anglosax’nland; — I have tried the matter well — & know it to be so. Utter idleness gets possession of me body & soul in that atmosphere: — afterward, remorse.

                  As it is I am out here till 12 o’cl — & cannot get to work before 10, — so that life is become — (as it does annually at this season —) shocking to me. Besides, now that there is & can be no more of Frank, I have no interest, as I had when he used to be so constantly here, in sticking to work.              

If one were but a chimney pot, or a pipkin, or a mackerel, or anything respectable & consistent there would be some comfort; but the years go by without making the use of one’s faculties one ought to do, & so I feel disgusted I do.

Last night at the Reenders’, I sate next to [Lady and Baron] Wharncliffe, who had come click straight from Jerusalem — & had seen a good deal of Holman Hunt: they seemed to like him so much, & talked so unconventionally & unfashionably, that I came to like them also.

                      If I can’t find any place near Freshwater, I shall look out at Eastbourne: but in the Autumn I go altogether.


                  Yours sincerely,


                  Edward Lear.