Edward Lear, letter to Alfred Lord Tennyson, 27 June 1864

My dear Alfred,

         I am compelled to write you a disagreeable letter: please don’t be angry. I’ll never do it any more.

         It is to ask you a favour, which you will much oblige me by granting. Yet, knowing how disgusted you may be with what I ask, I am also disgusted, — asking.

         What I am to ask, however, is not for myself, but for a lady, — for whom, if for anybody, you, did you know her, might not so unwillingly grant this boon as to many others.

         O Lord! it’s too late to begin the matter at the end of a page, so please to turn over, and read. —

My friend, who has one of the most valuable and curious collections of Autograph notes, considers it as by no means perfect — albeit containing many very rare letters, — unless one from you be there also. And as I, (to whom she applied,) do not like to give up one of the 2 or 3 notes I have of your’s, I have resolved, (rushing in where angels fear to tread,) to ask you to write me ever so few words with your name attached, — to which end I enclose a note & paper.               Any thing will do — to wit ———

                           My dear Lear,

                                             You are an ass —


or whatever you please. Only ἄντομαι ἄντομαι [I beg, I beg], something, & so may Minerva & the nine Muses continually benefit you & wait on you.


                                    Yrs affly,

                                                      Edward Lear.


Portrait of an accomplished landscape painter who has received a Nautograf.


Portrait of a despairing Landscape painter who has not received a Nautograff.