Tuesday, 7 April 1863

Views in the Seven Ionian Islands, no. 18.

Views in the Seven Ionian Islands, no. 18.

Rose at 5. Windy ―but it cleared. Kindly Murray would get eggs ― &c. & so, by 6, Dickenson, who had come by 5.30, amiably offering to lionize me about the Island all day ― set off with me.

Through the ascending road ― ever below the long thin armed thin=leaved Olives: ― past little groups [sic] of houses half hidden ― & many churches, ― & thus to ˆ[beyond] Α. Καραλάμπος to a view of great extent & grandeur. Thence, ―diving into stony pathis & hollows to the village of Boikálika, close below which is a very grand scene of cliffs ― something like the chalk front rocks of Beachy Head, only at the end of a bay. [From Ρωμῆτι D. & I saw a brig going near the rocks ― & it was soon behind them. 2 hours later we heard she had gone down.][1]

Hither come seals, but very shy ― dwelling in caves. ― At 9 we came down to the shore by zigzags ― a fountain ― (ὀνομάζεται ὁ τόπος οὒτος “Ρωμήτι”[2] ―) where were quiet timid Παξιότισσαι[3] ― washing ―[.] Here Dickinson & I lunched on eggs ― bread & wine in the shade, by the Tank, (These Tanks are the great boons of Paxõ, wh. is very destitute of water, ―below the great pale tawny & white cliff ― high lowering over the grape=purple water, beneath which are spots of dazzling emerald blue & white, & scattered rocks. Far from on high descends a vast buttress of rock ˇ[from] the blue sky ―― covered with innumerable patches of shrub, clothing the cliff or leaving its wrinkled bare gray sides open ― down to the dark mottled water. At 10.15. we left, not without the women begging that the road might be mended (in a place fallen through,) & a roof put on the tank against heat or rain. Goats & Kids, bleat from the high cliff crags, & as we gu up the opposite side of the hill, innumerable groups of pin=like little cyplesses are scattered among the dry gray rox, the only vegetable being the tufts of Πρινάρι κ Σχίνος,[4] & higher up, scattered olives.

Along a village called Γραμματικάικα, & up to a stony point whence all Corfu is seen ― all the well known hills from Salvador to Capo Bianco. ― Drew calmly till 12, & left, very pleasant. A little farther to the caves of Γραμματικὸ, which we looked down on dizzily from the edge of the cliffs where we stood: ― a most awful precipice! ― wrinkled ― huge ― formless ― thousand shelved & ledged ― scattered shrubs on its Titan sides. Column furrow channels ot its base ― from the powdered summit beyond ― to the far wide hepatica coloured deep blue sea, darkening into black below the cliffs, & black green near the strange opening of the Seal cave. Beyond, far down, in the long rock, where in summer the seals sport.

Off at 12.35 ― (cottages, beautifully built with natural squared stones,) & down by similar stony-step lanes, to the Cathedral of the Island ― Παπαδῆ Γραμματιαΐκα: ― a very beautiful Campanile[5] & roof gleaming thro’ the trees. Foreground of Fern & Squills. Far off is Parga, & a part of Suli plainly seen. Amiable Dickenson sat quietly watching my sketch [Cypresses without end may be added to the Cathedral Drawing.][6] to be finished, & at 2.30 ― we passed on.

At 3 ― 3.30 ― we reached Fontana, but I could not draw anything there, tho’ it is one of the largest villages ― so bewildered are the houses by olives. We met the Bishop ― a rustic man. Then we walked by beautiful rugged paths, overlooking the channel & Albanian hills, & by 4 were at Καραλάμπος church,[7] above which I drew again till 5. By 6, we reached Γάιο ― a very happy day. But it was very chilly ― nay ― cold. At 6.30 ― Murray called out “never mind the white tie!” ―― so I went to dinner; where also was Dickensons[.]

Capital good dinner ― & afterwards smoking & cup, but moderately. Bed at 9.30 ― weary rather, & with indigestion.


[1] Added at the end of the entry.

[2] The name of this place is “Romiti” (NB).

[3] Women of Paxos (NB).

[4] kermes oak and sedges (NB).

[5] Bell tower.

[6] Added in a blank space in the previous page for 5 April.

[7] The church of St Charalampus (NB).


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

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1 Comment

Filed under 1863, Diary Entry

One response to “Tuesday, 7 April 1863

  1. Peter Byrne

    Lear’s appetite for new scenes is voracious. It re-invigorates him and us. For his readers today, slumped before their screens, he may furnish the only sensual link with nature left. Maybe that’s his role. Swamped by our apps, we receive his message of genuine contact with the real, of rhapsody.

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