A wonderfully inventive phonetic letter from Edward Lear to his close friend Mrs Digby Wyatt containing a delightful hidden portrait of the family dog is for sale as part of the Roy Davids Collection of Papers and Portraits at Bonhams
in London on 29 March. It is estimated at between £2,000-3,000.
The dog appears disguised as an ink blot in Lears sign off to the letter. My love to Digby he writes, and respects to followed by a blob. It was Roy Davids himself who discovered that the blob is actually a delicately constructed miniature portrait of a dog.
Lear only wrote nonsense letters to trusted friends and in this 1866 letter dated 22toothoktobr - to Constance Digby he gives free rein to his imagination. He explains an abortive visit the previous day - 'to try if Yewanddigby were aTome', so he is now writing to see if they will be 'shayvoo' next Sunday ('...andifso I will charter the Hanson of rapidity, and be driven to the haunts of hospitality in the verdant recesses of the deer frequented groves of Tavistock Park on that day...').
From childhood onwards, Lear suffered from epilepsy and asthma and had periodic bouts of depression throughout this life and the letter also shows this more melancholic side of his nature. He writes, ...I have been having no end of despair at the darkness of late - & thort I shudavadda Phittavasmer (i.e.fit of Asthma) again today as I have frequently had of late.
In a p.s. (P.eth in Learspeak) he makes light of an accident with his teeth, 'thaddakthident, & have broken off my front teeth, so that I thall never thpeak plain again' ('Thith Cometh of biting crutht)'.