Another previously unpublished letter Edward Lear sent to William Holman Hunt exactly 150 years ago (see Diary 6.x.64). This one contains a humorous description of a day in Lear’s London studio while he is trying to do some work.
15 Stratford Place. Oxford St. W.
My dear Daddy,
I was glad to hear from you just now, & as you much want some amusement, even if ever so small, I will write a bit, trusting the chance that people won’t call before I have got two or 3 hour’s work at my brambles & bricks & lizards. A heap of callers have been here of late ― & nearly all oldish personal friends, so I am a good deal behind-hand as to work, & believe, after all that I must give up going on Monday to Faringford, ― for ― if I leave this picture very much unfinished, the foreboding of fogs & other interruptions ― keeping me in England ―― would destroy all my fun if I left town. Some good scenes might be drawn out of Studio life ― as for instance.
(4 ladies ― having staid for 2 hours ― rise to go.)
1st Lady “What a treat my dear Mr Lear! but how wrong it is of you to stay so much in doors! You should take more care of your health ― work is all very well but if your health fails you know you will not be able to work at all, & what could [would?] you do then! Now pray go out & only see your friends before 12 or 1. in the morning.
2nd Lady ― But how dreadful these interruptions must be! I cannot think how you ever do anything! ― Why do you allow people to break in on you. So? It quite shocks me to think we have taken up so much time.
3d Lady. Yes, indeed: these are the best hours of the day. You should never see any one after 2 o’clock.
4th Lady. You should walk early, & then you could see your friends all the rest of the day. Interruptions must be so dreadful!
(Enter 4 more ladies. The first 4 rush to them.)
All 8 Ladies ― How charming! how fortunate! dear Mary! Dear Jane! dear Emily! dear Sophia! &c.
5th Lady ― How wrong of you dear Mr. Lear to be indoors this fine day!
6th Lady. ― How you can ever work I cannot think! you really should not admit visitors at all hours!
7th Lady ― But do let us only sit & look at these beautiful sketches!
8th Lady. O how charming! & we will not go to Lady O’s.
The other 4 Ladies. O then we also will all sit down again ― it is so dreadful.
Chorus of 8 Ladies. What a charming life an artist’s is! ―
Artist. ――――― D ―――n!
&c. &c. &c.
I can now understand Mrs. N’s feelings about the Dr.’s picture. I did not take to Mrs. N― it is difficult to do so now a days to most clergy. (The Bishops are getting it right & left from the Times, & justly enough. Gloucester & Lincoln must wish they had said less, for they surely cannot seriously believe their order will gain in the end, by setting the intellectual element of the Community dead against their own. I find people like the Jánina picture immensely: the brambles &c. ― & a great deal more I owe to you.
I am sorry F. has not bought the Selborne estate: ― the property is in a most delightful part of England ― & he may never again have such a chance. ― Your stay at Burton must have a good many tough drawbacks: ―[some words have been blotted] In the South, where servants
There must have been a second sheet, but I have not been able to find it.