LEAR, Edward (1812-1888). Artist and nonsense poet.
Autograph Letter Signed to [Frederick W.] Gibbs, former tutor to the Prince of Wales, 3 pages 8vo, Pension Major, Serrabassa, Abetone, Pistojese, Italy, 24 August 1883.
Lamenting the death ('to my great grief') of his beloved 'servant & friend' Giorgio Kokali, his 'constant help & companion for 30 years', giving an account of the goodness of Giorgio's sons then and since, and of his own ill-health; Lear also describes the place in which he is staying ('... all pine woods & high mountains ... The Hotel - a most excellent establishment - is 4500 feet above the sea, so after August the cold is generally no joke ...'), outlines his plans for returning to San Remo via Florence and Assisi, mentions that he has sold some of his Corsica drawings to pay for the expenses of Giorgio's illness and funeral; finally he invites Gibbs to stay ('though I doubt if you may be as comfortable as when dear old George was living').
Georgio Kokali or Cacali, 'a semi-civilized Suliot, much like Rob Roy or a Highlander', became Lear's valet, house-servant and cook in 1856. He went with Lear on all his travels and became his companion in his old age; he died on 8 August 1883. Lear, more affected by Giorgio's death than by that of anyone in his life other than his sister Ann, became seriously ill with pleurisy. He later raised a tablet to Georgio's memory at San Remo beside the spot which he had chosen for his own grave. One of Giorgio's most quoted remarks was in a letter he wrote to Lear: 'The new House he go on like one Tortoise'. Lear said to Lady Tennyson after Georgio's death: 'I wish I could think that I merited such a friend.'
'I know you will sympathize with me in the loss of my dear good servant & friend George Cocali, - who after being my constant help & companion for 30 years, died at Monte Generoso on the 8th to my great grief.
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