Letters to friends
Chichester Fortescue [1, 2]
QUARANTINE ISLAND, CORFU 9 October, 1856
[.............] Well, I had a great deal of suffering in this Athos, for my good man Giorgio caught the fever, & nearly died, & when he grew better I caught it, but not so badly. However, I persisted & persisted & finally I got drawings of every one of the 20 big monasteries, so that such a valuable collection is hardly to be found. Add to this, constant walking – 8 or 10 hours a day – made me very strong, & the necessity I was under of acting decidedly in some cases, called out a lot of energy I had forgotten ever to have possessed. The worst was the food & the filth, which were uneasy to bear.
But however wondrous and picturesque the exterior & interior of the monasteries, & however abundantly & exquisitely glorious & stupendous the scenery of the mountain, I would not go again to the Ἅγιον Ὄρος [Holy Mountain] for any money, so gloomy, so shockingly unnatural, so lonely, so lying, so unatonably odious seems to me all the atmosphere of such monkery. That half of our species which it is natural to every man to cherish & love best, ignored, prohibited & abhorred – all life spent in everlasting repetition of monotonous prayers, no sympathy with one's fellow beans of any nation, class or age. The name of Christ on every garment & at every tongue’s end, but his maxims trodden under foot. God’s world and will turned upside down, maimed, & caricatured - if this I say be Xtianity let Xtianity be rooted out as soon as possible. More pleasing in the sight of the Almighty I really believe, & more like what Jesus Christ intended man to become, is an honest Turk with 6 wives, or a Jew working hard to feed his little old clo’babbies, than these muttering, miserable, mutton-hating, manavoiding, misogynic, morose & merriment-marring, monotoning, many-mule-making, mocking, mournful, minced-fish & marmalade masticating Monx. Poor old pigs! Yet one or two were kind enough in their way, dirty as they were: but it is not them, it is their system I rail at.
So having seen all, & a queer page in my world-nollidge is Athos, I came back to Saloniki [ ..............]
[CORFU] 11 January 1857
1st some remarks about my Athos tour: I am getting up (by my usual dilatory but sure process of penning out & colour) all my drawings of the monasteries, & have them ready all but 10 or 12. thanks to after-dinner application and stayathomeaciousness. They are a reemarkible lot of work, as I hope one day you will see [ .............]
Well I set to work fearfully, riz at 5½ always [ ............] And then I paint till 3 or 4 having breakfasted at 9 and I walk a bit till 6. Dine at 6!, and pen out my Athos drawings till 10. My 'elth is on the 'ole pretty good & I can work longer than before this year [ ............]
Yours affectionately EDWARD LEAR
May this and many others be very happy New Years to you. Here my boy! give me your eternal thanks for what I am going to suggest to you as a parliamentary notion, to be brought out & spoken on by yourself, to the ultimate benefit of society & to your own postperpetual glorification. As soon as Parliament meets, move that all Sidney Herbert's distressed needlewomen  be sent out at once to Mount Athos! By this dodge all the 5000 monks young and old will be vanquished: distressed needle-babies will ultimately awake the echoes of ancient Acte , & the whole fabric of monkery, not to say of the Greek church will fall down crash & for ever. N.B. Let the needlewomen be all landed at once, 4000 at least, on the South-east side of the peninsula & make a rush for the nearest monastery, that subdued, all the rest will speedily follow.
 Chichester Fortescue (1823-98) and Edward Lear became good friends in 1845 when both were in Rome. The friendship continued through meetings and correspondence for the rest of Lear's life. Fortescue became a Liberal politician and was appointed a Lord of the Treasury in March 1854. Hence the reference to Parliamentary action in the postscript to Lear's 11 January letter above. Later in his career he became President of the Board of Trade and Lord Privy Seal.
 Lear's letters to Chichester Fortescue are held by the Somerset Record Office. The extracts above are taken from transcriptions of the letters in Letters of Edward Lear to Chichester Fortescue Lord Carlingford and Frances Countess Waldegrave, edited by Lady Strachey of Sutton Court (London: T.Fisher Unwin, 1909) and in Edward Lear - The Corfu Years, edited by Philip Sherrard (Athens- Dedham: Denise Harvey & Company, 1988)
 The following article appeared in the South Australian Register of 3 August 1850 :
FIRST ARRIVAL OF DISTRESSED NEEDLEWOMEN AT PORT PHILLIP.
The Culloden, with thirty-six young women, for whom free passages were provided by what is called Mr Sidney Herbert's Committee, arrived at Port Phillip early in July, all well.
The following is a copy of the certificate given to Dr Thompson, the worthy surgeon of the Culloden : --
' In compliance with the wish expressed by the Chairman of the Society for the Promotion of the Female Immigration, I hereby certify that the Surgeon placed in charge of the distressed needlewomen landed in Port Phillip from the Culloden has performed his duties in a satisfactory manner.
' (Signed) C. J. La Trobe.
' Superintendent's Office, Melbourne, July 8, 1850.'
 In Greek mythology, Acte was one of the Horae, goddesses of the seasons and the natural portions of time. Acte stood for eating and pleasure, the second of the afternoon work hours.