Edward Lear, letter to Hallam Tennyson, 8 September 1885 

 

My dear Hallam,

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         The Photograph arrived quite safely yesterday evening, & I am delighted with it. I am so much obliged to you. I always felt sure she had beautiful eyes, in spite of the 1st Photograph which probably was so arranged by the wife or other feminine party belonging to the Photographer who had got ugly eyes, & was jealous of all pretty ones. As soon as I get back to Sanremo I shall have the likeness framed; the face is so charming that even if it belonged to Mrs. Peregrine Pobbsquobb or anyone else & not Hallam Tennyson’s wife it would be a lovely portrait to look at. The arrangement of the hair is perfect: —  how — how strange that 9 out of 10 women cannot see that such a simple matter improves their beauty, & — on the contrary — prefer Goat curls & other hideousnesses! [image] Thank you my dear boy, & likewise give my thanks to your Audrey — for you have both given me a real pleasure. || I leave here tomorrow, & return to my native ‘ome at Sanremo — going by Milan & Savona — a railway journey I dread & detest — for I am but very feeble. The Mundellas were coming to see me here tomorrow, but I wrote to put them off, & to meet at Milan: it is so wet here now that there is no fun for the time being. || I send to Sanremo 120 of my 200 Tennyson illustrations, these 120 now pretty well completed. More about the whole work at a fewcher thyme. || I have just had a very nice letter from your Uncle Edmund, & have made a confidence to him (& to the D of Argyll — with whom I am in correspondence about certain Nile stratifications,) which I shall repeat to you in morse, on the next leaf. || I often think of you all at Aldworth & should like to be there. Give my love to your Mother & Father & to the Lionels & to your Audrey.

          You are fortunate to be so happy in marriage, yet I fancy the happiness is well merited if only for your Father & Mother’s sake — not to speak of your own, which you are by no means a bad cove.

                                   

                                    Good bye my own Hallam.

                                    Yours affectionately, Edward Lear.

                                   

                                   1                                 

When leaving this beautiful blessed Briánza,

      My trunks were all corded and locked except one;

But that was unfilled, through a dismal mancanza,

      Nor could I determine on what should be done.

 

                                  2

For, out of three volumes, (all equally bulky),

      Which – travelling, — I constantly carry about,

There was room but for two. So, though angry & sulky,

      I had to decide as to which to leave out.

 

                                  3

A Bible! a Shakespeare! a Tennyson! —— stuffing

      And cramming and squeezing were wholly in vain.

— A Tennyson! —  Shakespeare! and Bible! — All puffing

      Was useless, and one of the three must remain.

 

                                 4

And this was the end, — (as is truth & no libel; —)

     Aweary with thinking I settled my doubt.

As I packed & sent off both the Shakespeare & Bible,

     And finally left the “Lord Tennyson” out!