Monthly Archives: April 2014

A Short Break…


The diaries of Edward Lear’s visit to Crete, covering 4 April – 31 May 1864, have long been available in Rowena Fowler’s excellent edition of Edward Lear: The Cretan Journal, first published in 1984, and currently available in its third edition from Denise Harvey (Publisher). Both Rowena and Denise have always been very supportive and kind, even to the point of forgetting to ask me to skip this period, but I feel it would be unfair to post material that might damage sales of their beautiful book: in addition to a reliable text of the journal, you will get a useful introduction and notes, as well as many colour and b/w illustrations reproducing Lear’s watercolours of this period. All for an incredible price (£12!) from the publisher’s websiteEdward Lear: The Corfu Years, edited by Philip Sherrard, is also still available.

The book also includes a list of all Lear’s Cretan drawings, edited by Stephen Duckworth and available at his website Edward Lear and Crete.

Rowena Fowler has also edited and published on the web Edward Lear’s Grecian Travels.


See you on 1 June.


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Monday, 4 April 1864

Weather fine ― but strongish N. Wind. Everything was ready as early as I could manage, & G. took the last things away to Spiro’s room. ―

So only the 11 packages for the voyage remained. Wandered about miserably ― & had to get one or 2 little things at Courages ― & Taylor’s. Walking up the Ghetto ― spoke to Politi, who thinks all the Jews will go sooner or later. At 12.40 to De Veres ― & lunched with them for the last time.

Came away at 2 ― & came off at 3 with George & Spiro in a boat to the Austn. Lloyd’s ― “Stadium.” (Saw Capt. Deverill ― & heard that all the 10 little geese were dead or stolen.) Sad enough am I ― but in better spirits than when I went last year, for Evelyn Baring joined me soon after, & at 5. we left Corfu. ―

Once more I left the loveliest place in the world ― with a pang ― tho’ less this time thro’ not being alone. Dinner ― & afterwards, B. & I walked talked smoked & sate till 8 ― when there was tea ― & then we sate stargazing rill 9 ― when we went to bed. Slept till 10.30 ― but the rolling & cracking of the ship when we got out with full sea beyond Παξῶ bored & worried me terribly: later it grew calmer, & I slept from 12.45 ― to 6.15 ― when G. woke me.

She sits upon her Bulbul
Through the long long hours of night ―
Watching ˇ[And] Where ^[o’er] the dark horizon gleams
The Yashmack’s fitful light.
The dark lone Yaourt sails slowly down
The deep & craggy dell ―
And from his lofty nest, loud screams
The white plumed Asphodel.[1]

Alas! indeed yes! ―
(12 August 1865) ―
Yesterday H. de Vere was killed.

[1]This poem was published, without recording the variants, by Vivien Noakes in Edward Lear, The Complete Verse and Other Nonsense, p. 184; the note on p. 496, however, misdates it to 4 April 1863.

[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3. Image.]

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Sunday, 3 April 1864


Awful North W. wind all the morning, with tremendous storms of rain ―beginning at 5 or 6 A.M. with a huge thunderstorm. Poor Χριστός still lingers, poor fellow, but is nearer his end hourly. ― All the morning I wrote notes to heaps of people, Lady Goldsmid, Lucy Hamilton, &c. &c. &c. But the outside was like one long continued tempest, I never saw the sea more violent nor heard the wind more horridly here. At 1. went out, but was nearly thrown down by the wind, & had to go by the Ghetto ― to De Veres. ― All is sad: but it is a pleasure to see Mrs. D.V.’s real honest face. I staid till 3 ― but had not courage to say goodbye. ― Went to the A.D.C.’s room, & sate for 2½ hours with Strahan ― afterwards, walking in the garden with him, B. & H. Excellency. (I forgot ― I went to Wolffs after De Veres, & was disgusted at his praising a most atrocious pamphlet of Dandolo’s just out: a viler product is not possible: but Wolff is vile.)

2 steamers coming in made an alarm of Mexican Majesty ― but falsely. Returned by the “Calle” to dress ― the Line-Wall being all up for Gas.


Evening, as ever, pleasant ― I grieve to leave good kind Sir Henry. ―――― Sate till 11 singing with the A.D.C.s & Bowden. Home by 11.15. Still the storm rages frightfully[.]

[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3. Image.]

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Saturday, 2 April 1864

Very clear, & cold all day ― wind high N. by W.

Rose at 6. G. came about 6.30. poor Χριστός still lingers, but is more suffering, & weaker. A terrible trouble for the good Cocáli family. ― Breakfast. ― Spiro came ― he seems not to know if he stays or goes to Πφαῖος. ― Writing & bothering endless ― bill=paying &c.&c. ― till 11, ― when I went to a carriage ordered from Πανταλέωνε. (I called on Taylor’s among others, ― all good-byes are bores ― even old Mr. Woodhouse’s.)

In a carriage ― went ― starting at 11, straight to Πανταλεώνε by 1.30. But the wind was sadly cold. ― A vast gray gray gray delicate myriads landscape ― but immensely inferior to the more central views. Drew for an hour ― & afterwards by stopping degrees as I walked down till 3.15. Then, the carriage overtaking me, I got into town by 5.20.

O asphodels! O olives!! O shadows!!! ―

Dined at the 9th


Came away little before 12[.]

The weather is cloudy & I forebode even more change. ―

[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3. Image.]

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Friday, 1 April 1864

Quite clear early ― the Albanian snow as if in January: I fear all my 10 little geese are lost.

Sent letter to 1 C. Fortescue.
2 T. Cooper
3 John Day.
4 Messrs Woodhead.
5 Drummonds.
6 Fanny Coombe
7 Mr. Marsden.
8 Mrs. G. Clive.
9 Mrs. Hunt
10 W. Nevill.

Later clouds ― & wind N.W. ― but altogether ― fine day: colder towards sunset, & half an hour after, bitter & violent cold wind ― almost N.

Χριστός was worse all yesterday & last night.

Rose at 7 ― & concentrated all my unpacked belongings into the Studio ― bed & all. ― G. went out to arrange about the cases, & at 9 brought men ―: all 7 cases were removed to the Dogana before 11. ― G. works like 20 men when at it. ― Mrs. Nordley wrote a receipt for all. ― At 12 ― went to various places to get in bills ― Mrs. Carter poor old lady ― cried on shaking hands with me ― she goes to Scotland she says. Page’s people say all he Maltese will go by degrees ― & I fancy, all the English shopkeepers.

Sate a bit with Mr. Boyd ― & lunched on olives & τυρί;[1] By this it was 2 ― & then I sate talking with Baring & Bowden, & Baring solo ― playing songs & talking ― till 3.30. ―

Alack for the Oranges & flowers in a garden of light!

Then, μοναχῶς, I walked o Ascension: ― but a vastly cold high N.W. wind blew, & made all things cold & sad: yet went I on to the Cannone ― & perhaps see that too for the last time. “Thou seest all things ― thou wilt see my grave.”[2] ― Returned by 6.15.

Giorgio had got all the rooms cleaned, ― & all are now empty but the studio. I paid him £9.10.0 for his wages till the end of May, & for his boys school: & 10 shillings extra for much very hard work.

Dressed, & to Condi Terrace ― no easy task now, for the gas pipes are being laid down everywhere & the Line Wall is impassable.


Mrs. De V. was tired & unwell. Yet the evening was pleasant ― & it was 11.45 when we separated.

home ― by obscure lanes ― by 12.10.

[1]Cheese (NB).

[2]Tennyson’s “Tithonus,” l. 73.

[Transcribed by Marco Graziosi from Houghton Library, Harvard University, MS Eng. 797.3. Image.]

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