Letters to the Caetani Family (5)

[This is part of a series of previously-unpublished letters to Margaret Knight, who was married to Michelangelo Caetani, Duke of Sermoneta, and to Ada Bootle-Wilbraham, married to Onorato Caetani, Michelangelo’s son, Prince of Teano and then Duke of Sermoneta.
The letters are in the Caetani Archive, Palazzo Caetani, via delle Botteghe Oscure 32, Roma.
An Italian version will appear as an Appendix to my essay “Prima di Gregorovius: Edward Lear, i Caetani, e Ninfa” in a forthcoming volume: Michael Matheus (ed.) Ninfa: Percezioni nella scienza, letteratura e belle arti nel XIX e all’inizio del XX secolo. Regensburg: Schnell & Steiner.]

Villa Emily. Sanremo.
December. 1872.

Dear Princess Teano,
I wrote a letter to the dear Duchess on the 21st of last month, ― to thank her for sending me your photograph, & to tell her why I had not answered her letter earlier, ――― little thinking that she was no longer in our world.
The sad news of her loss I only have heard from Charles Knight & Mrs. C.K. ― but they mention the fact of her death & nothing more: ― & if you could be kind enough to let me have a line to say when & how this occurred, I should be so much obliged to you! ― I am sure you must have loved her as all who ever knew her did, & I know you ^[& the Prince] must feel her loss greatly: but perhaps you would not mind the trouble of telling so old a friend as myself something of her last illness & death. The reason I have never heard of this till now, is that I was on my way to India for a year, to stay with Lord Northbrook, but fate did not allow me to get farther than Suez, whence I only returned here early in November.
I am so glad now that I went to Rome last year ― at least to have seen her once more.
Please tell me how the Duke is ――― it is so very very sad to think of him now. And yet it would be far more so were not you & his son, & Mme Lovatelli & her husband all with him as I hope you are.
Please give my kindest remembrances to the Duke, ― & to all who remember me; if I am offering sympathy of little value, it must be recollected that I ask as I feel, & as it would please me if others acted towards myself.
I have written also to Prince Teano, as someone said you were not at Rome, & I thought that his being a Deputato would ensure letters arriving.
I am in hopes Charley will come here: his wife writes that he is so grieved & sad, ― & I think a change would be good for him. As he don’t care for luxury, I could put him up comfortably here, where, (with due respect a Vossignoria Romana,) we have a better winter climate than ― any place in all Italy: ― vero, ― (unless perhaps it be Taranto.)
I hope your little ones are well: & that Col. & Mrs. Wilbraham are so. They will hardly remember me ― or I would ask you to give them my Xmas good wishes, as I do to yourself & all the Duke’s family.

Believe me,
Dear Princess Teano
Your’s sincerely,
Edward Lear.

Onorato Caetani, Prince of Teano.

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