Thursday, 9 April 1863

Coffee ― looked in on Dickenson. Off by 5.45. ― Mules beneath the olives ― “Gentlemen of Paxò[”] ― [they] eat the dead leaves. Civility & quiet of people. Yellow green patches of pale lichen on all olive branches, ― color of stems not dark, but pigeony gray brown. Walls perpetual: gray stone, okry & rusty & some white. Those old trees wh. are other than long thin scraggy, affect eccentric shapes ― screws, &c. &c. ― Ἄγιος Καραλάμπος[1] ― invisible villages ―― sea of olives ― expanse of water. At Μιτζελάτικα I asked for the Πρωεστός, ἀλλὰ δὲν ἢτο ἐκεῖ.[2] But a civil man went on to another civil man’s house, who locked his shop up & walked on with me: & I certainly should not otherwise have found the path, wh. is difficult to hit. 7.45, the civil man having gone, & I having found my point, drew till 9.15; the Πρωεστός meanwhile joining me, which his company I could have dispensed with. The Cliff scene & seal island are really grand ― awful. A golden sort of burnished hue is given to the dark black waters below the yellow cliffs ―― silence & tremendous depth beyond: ― over the hill peers Lefchimo & all Corfû. At 9.30 I am hoping the Πρωεστός is not going to return from the Σπήτι τῶν Ἐλλήνων[3] ― which he has gone to see, but which I declined. At 9.40 I return. Cottages very squarely built: roadside walls higher here, with stones 1863-04-09 let in sidewise a la Westmoreland. Endless terrace walls. Having shirked my friends I pursue my way to Καλακάτικα, & then down, down, down, but miss the pretty descent to Παπαδῆ, arriving on the other side of the Church by a worse abruptious paved pathway. A good old woman volunteered to send me on to Lacca, & went some way with me, consigning me to other placid folk, 2 of them carrying heavy stones, whereby I think of “cinque terre.”[4] At 10.20 ― I reach the Δημόσιος δρόμος,[5] & prepare to lunch below olives, in shade sunshine & silence. A low wall serves as a seat, & the convenient flat stones around make perfect tables: 10.50 ― lunch done ― ½ a pigeon & a portion of cold lamb, bread ― of which I gave away most to a small boy ― & later to a very sweet-faced little girl ― her mother very handsome. They all have a tame good expression here. Ithaca red wine also & a Negg. Stillness ― absolute stillness! ― long & memberless stripe shadows from Olive branches, falling on dry stone walls ― sides & tops ― dry white & gray stream=bed stones ― manyfold=crossed gray pearly olive branches & stems with deep spots & shades ―― dull green motionless starry=foliage, ― the white road, ― & moss with knots of herbs. The Asphodel I see not ― but fresh lordly squill, feminine Myrtle, & graceful   .[6] It is time to go on to Λάκκα. || Walked slowly on, down towards the sea: if possible the olives are more & more lengthy armed than ever, & their shadows in more dense network. Only the church of St. Andrea is drawable: & the walled village of Λάκκα not at all so; I walked round the little port, & the real Ἀντίοχος ― the “deputy” here joined me  from the Sanità. He was 6 years in Canada, where he married ― he left Παξοῦς at 13 as a sailor boy ― went for many years to all parts of Southern N. America, Charleston ― N. Orleans, Mobile. Afterwards to Canada, where he married & staid 11 years ― being 20 away altogether. Then he returned here  some 7 years ago ― having been born in 1822. Ἀντόνιος Ἀντίχιος ― (the brother is Ἀθανάσιος ―) he laments moving back. At 12.30, I am to go to lunch with him ― the Deputy: wh. is an awful bore, but he evidently would be pleased by my doing so; ― so having staved off Pork & Eggs, there is to be some fish fried a purpose. What will the wife be like? ― || “Wah” ― the house was clean & nice, & the wife not a bad specimen of backwood Canadian Anglosaxon. With the kindest manner they got a luncheon ― how quickly! ― of fresh eels, & wonderful eggs & bacon & Ithaca wine, all which I enjoyed thoroughly. It was odd to hear Antonio Ἀντίοχος ― (he introduced “Mrs. Antioch” ―) talk of Amherst Island & other places ― for he has travelled greatly. ― A pleasant hour. Left them at 2. P.M., and A. came with me as far as S. Andrea, where I drew: ― but no hasty penciling can give an idea of the infinite arch=arm=twining of myriad olive branches. The gray twinkling foliage, & the bright white church seen through all. So, at 2.45, I go on towards Μαστωρὰτικα. Again, the air here, how healthy & delightful! ― High road. Long pull up. Stony hot. At Μαστωρὰτικα, turned downwards to the left, & after a long bit of[7] bad road or lanes, arrived about 4 at Longone.[8] This place might possibly be drawn from some spot above, but there is nothing characteristic in its few houses & port. Ὃμως,[9] here I met Dickenson & Balbi, amiably waiting my arrival.

Agreed I could not draw, so we walked up ― passing some of the finest old olives I have seen in Paxò, to the great Tank of Τζίλια ― & at 4.45 ― am sitting there ― water drinking, & having searched for the smallest visible Cypresses among the many growing round. Children are singing { “Ἐλᾶτε νὰ ἀκούσατε / Τὰ δῶδεκα Εὐαγγελλίστα.”[10]

Up hill, by finer olives & winding broad road, with views of the Albanian Coast ― to Φοντάνα, & now above that, at 6, are resting for a bit. Very grand stones around, & squills. ― So, joining the δημόσιος δρόμος at Καραλάμπος ― down to Γαίο ― till, lingering on the Quay, watching disembarked sheep Murrray plucked me forth to dinner. Adaptable we are, in these days. Afterwards, came Dickenson; talk of America & N. Zealand, poor M. seldom joining, but now & then only. A kindly heart ― sadly wasted. He says he will live at Λάκκα if we Ἂγγλοι[11] go. No boat has come, & no George.

Bed at 9.20.

 


[1] St. Charalampus (NB).

[2] Proestos, but he wasn’t there. Nina adds: “During the Ottoman Rule,  the proestos, the elder of the village, was a member of the local administration, the head of a non-Muslim community. Here I suppose Lear means the head of the village.”

[3] House of the Greeks (NB).

[4] The area in Liguria that Lear had visited in 1860.

[5] Public road (NB).

[6] Lear leaves a blank, probably intending to insert the name of a plant he does not know.

[7] The remaining part of the entry is on the previous page, for 8 April, preceded by: “Thursday 9th April continued.”

[8] Λόγγος, I suppose.

[9] But (NB).

[10] Come hear | The 12 Gospels (should read Ευαγγέλια). The invaluable Nina explains: “Twelve Gospels is  what we call the evening service of Holy Thursday, because the entire account of Christ’s betrayal and crucifixion is read from all four gospels, divided into twelve readings.”

[11] Englishmen (NB).


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

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