Sunday, February 06, 2011

24Dec1877, Visiting in Italy, Jane Morris

SAN REMO, Christmas Eve—December 30th, 1877.
—Paid a visit in the morning to one of Sybella's innumerable "old friends," Edward Lear the artist. He remembers giving lessons to Freddy's mother in Rome in '39 when F. was 3 years old. Showed us many beautiful sketches.

—Thurs. Went to Oneglia to see the George Howards, who have a fine but rather cold and ramshackle villa (Bianchi). Our hotel in the town (Victoria) a dismal, rough one, but not dirty. Dined with the Howards, who we thought must be dead; we had seen George in San Remo and he said they would be home about 5. Not till past 7 did they appear, after a long spell of New Year shopping. F. and I meanwhile sat in the drawing-room and made acquaintance with a pleasing Miss Brook (sister of Rev. Stopford) and with jolly little Charlie [FN: Afterwards 10th Earl of Carlisle.] the eldest boy, who, in spite of some likeness to Lyulph Stanley, won my heart. Mary and Cecilia, the 2 little girls, are very gentle good things; Mary [FN: Now Lady Mary Murray, wife of Professor Gilbert Murray.] has a look of Ly. Taunton, Cecilia is the image of George.

—Friday. They took us a most lovely expedition to certain hilltops crowned with pine trees; ladies on donkeys. Enchantingly warm till we got into the blast of the wind at the top. Opinions seem to vary surprisingly as to which wind is the mistral. Luncheon and dinner with the hospitable cousins. The batch of funny little sturdy square boys, one below the other, Hubert, Christopher, Oliver, and a baby, Geoffrey, are a delightful sight. Oliver is the ditto of Lord Wensleydale. George took us in the afternoon by the sea to see a pretty villa where Morris the decorator-poet's wife and daughters are. Mrs. Morris might have stept out of any of Burne-Jones' pictures, and is in fact the original of the favourite P.B. [FN: I.e. Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.] lady (having sat to Rossetti)—haggard and wistful-eyed, with a heavy bush of black hair penthouse-style over the forehead; certainly handsome.

—Saturday, another beautiful walk, skirting the sides of the valley. Rosalind, [FN: Mrs. George Howard, afterwards Countess of Carlisle.] tho' as hoarse as a crow with a relaxed throat, talked the whole way, and made me rather miserable with her wild views on religion: immortality "an open question," etc., etc. Yet I do think she is good, truthful, and desperately in earnest; and she somehow manages to consider herself a Churchwoman.

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