Monday, 20 April 1863

Capo Ducato or Sappho's Leap, Santa Maura. From Views in the Seven Ionian Islands.

Capo Ducato or Sappho’s Leap, Santa Maura. From Views in the Seven Ionian Islands.

6.30. Dressed & ready. But we shall hardly be off just yet. ― The owl still cries. ― There is a somewhat beautiful, ― now that the sun is rising on the bare Leucadean Cape, so long drawn out as a wall to the still bay ―― even here. Thank God, I feel pretty well this morning, & fleapowder preserved out sight. Yet I don’t like to look forward to the work of the day ― as it must needs be hard. We start at 7.45 ― along the shore ― passing the bridge built by the Baron ― when G. inopportunely begins to talk of the “Ponte del Diavolo” at Bagni di Lucca, ― which leads the Policeman to look anxious & interrogative, & me to explain. (Baron D’E. staid 6 months here! ― to carry out this bridge, before the building of wh. ― all communication was often interrupted by the torrents from Σλαυροτὰ.[1] ― Steep hill of the west side of the plain: & many cattle goats & sheep ― peasants ever picturesque. Some olives, here & there. I drew Ithaca, & again higher up, with the hill of Βασιλικῆ & its port. Above the village of Α. Πέτρος we turn off ― at 6.50 ― there are several good houses in this large village ― & at 6.45. ascend the very steep hill above it, ― the top of wh. we reach at 8.20.[2] The view Eastward must be fine in clear weather ―unluckily it is all dim & blotted out & only the Islands appear ― the Ἐχίναδες:[3] I am not in luck as to clear distances, ― on the west only sea is visible. The aspect of nature here, 8.30, is dry yellow & bare. 8.45. Immense clear hills, all vine planted but as yet with no green leaf out. Sharp & steep descent again, & reach Αθάνι by 9.15. (Three hours and a half from Βασιλικῆ ― they said six.) Draw the village, wh. is not very hideaous, ― & lies between the hills I have just crossed ― i.e. those forming the west side of the island: ― then two ridges enclose a narrow valley ― & their sides are all vineyards up to a gt. height. At 10, go to the house of Τιμωθεὺς Ρομπώτης,[4] ― to whom I had been strongly recommended by Baron D’E. ―: he is the wealthy Contadino of these parts & has a house also at Α. Πέτρος. Here I am received kindly ― the mother of the family a fine & nice woman. Large airy rooms ― & I am put into one small & clean where are sophas & rest. Comes a διδάσκαλος[5] & stares at me ― till at 10.10 I am left alone. At 11.30 ― the Padrone Ρομπώτης then comes ―a rough hearty peasant ― & we talk ― he only understands Greek. I tell him of Elder wine ― for there are many Elder trees; Ἀφροξυλιὰ ― or Ἀφροξελαιὲς[6] ―hard by. I promise to send him a receipt for the wine. Long talk & Lunch with the Padrone & Διδάσκαλος. Good bread & wine: some, 23 years old magnificent. Left at 1.30 ― & off by the road, being soon overtaken by the priest, Ηγούμενος of the Μοναστήριον of Α. Νικόλα ― or Νιερὰ: a very hearty prepossessing fellow ― who shook hands like an Englishman.|| We have walked fast, & I am now writing on the still hill side, on the way to Sappho’s leap. Very Greek all the scene ― Arbutus ― Σκίνος ― Πρίναρι[7] ― myrtle ― blooming Cistus & scores of other flowers: the vast tranquil moveless sea to the South & West ― the blue sky above ― nothing more. “Hateful is te dark blue sky.”[8] ― || Always walking by the hill side ― the west wall of the promontory forming one side of the bay of Βασιλικῆ ― far above the vast sea. The priest sometimes going in for abuse of the natives, & shewing me a heap of stones by pathside where 2 sons killed their father ― for which alquanto I snubbed him, but needlessly methinx. Goats begin to appear ― standing as is their wont, on points of rock ― sneezing. At 4.30 ― after passing a small cultivated level, where were ˇ[a few] horses & sheep, we arrive at the Monastery ― a lonely small poor place enough, but with a clean outer room made ˇ[all] ready. All the buildings are enclosed in a wall. Just above this wild little place, the views of Ithaca are beautiful. Men of the Monastery come & say, 5 wolves came down last night, & tho’ the dogs gave alarm, they killed 3 goats & 2 kids before the people could get out. (Ὁ Ἄγιος Νικόλαος ― Ὁ Ἡγούμενος ― Παγαράτιος.)[9] I drew Ithaca, which appears quite close, before I went to the minute chambre, where I got arranged. The Παπὰς[10] killed a kid, & supper was to take place in my room. New moon & star ― above the little church. Mass in the church. Supper, dish of liver &c. & toast kid ― beans ― cheese, & wine. ― of which I ate sparingly ―but taking one mouthful of new cheese upset me in toto, & at 8.30 ― when Παπας Πανκράτιος & G. had gone ― “sick [transit.” Odd enough ― & all the more that I have been so well all day. ―

No sleep all night ― or little: alarm of Walves, & constant row of dogs ― horses &c. &c.


*Note, July 5. ― I heard afterwards that old Ρομπώτης & the priest are on ill terms. ― How fast the Priest walked!! ―


[1] Σταυρωτά, Stavrota, mountains at Lefkada (NB).

[2] Something seems to be wrong with the times given in the first part of the entry.

[3] Echinades, a group of islands (NB).

[4] Should be Ρομποτής, Timotheus Rombotis (NB).

[5] Teacher.

[6] Elderberry ― or elderberries (NB).

[7] Terebinth ― kermes oak (NB).

[8] “Hateful is the dark-blue sky / Vaulted o’er the dark-blue sea.” (Tennyson, The Lotus –Eaters, iv).

[9] St. Nicolas, the Abbot, Pangratios (the priest’s name) (NB).

[10] Father, priest here (NB).

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

1 Comment

Filed under 1863, Diary Entry

One response to “Monday, 20 April 1863

  1. Pingback: Edward Lear, A View of Sta Maura | A Blog of Bosh

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