Tuesday, 21 April 1863

21 Apr. 1863. 7.30 A.M. Santa Maura (Sappho's Leap). Numbered 61.

21 Apr. 1863. 7.30 A.M. Santa Maura (Sappho’s Leap). Numbered 61.

Rose at 5. Coffee 5.30. A horrid night, but somehow I do not get worse, & we are ready to start at 5.50. ― Rocky hill sides, & paths winding among the usual Cistus & Σκινος[1] are the order of the day. Ups & downs ― & about 7 we near the great rocks of the narrowing Λευκάδα promontory. Lower down, we come to gaps, whence, looking over, the cliffs are vastly fine, ― dark gray, & perpendicular from the black water, edged with foam, tho’ the sea is calm. 5 ordinary large vultures sate on a ridge of the highest edge. By 7.30, I was at the top of the highest cliffs, where there are remains of a temple ― to the east, the cliff covered with wild cedar, Πρινὰρι,[2] &c. ― slopes to the sea. Ithaca & Κεφαλόνια seem close by, & 3 steamers are immediately below. ― Farther on is the last cliff ― the real Salto di Saffo, where the terraces & portions of wall of a large Temple still exist, ― the ground covered with innumerable bits of pottery &c. An old man of 85, who died not long ago ― (says Παπᾶς Παγκρατιον,) remembered the Temple several feet high ― with some columns standing, but the stones were displaced & rolled to the sea down the hill, & taken for building elsewhere. Piles of stones are still there ― arranged for this process. What must this spot have been when both Temples stood? Returned slowly ― a painful path ― by 11. (on the lower rocks were 2 white-headed sea eagles. At the Monastery we find Μάρκος Ρομπώτης;[3] He says, 3 or more deputies have left Athens to bring the Danish prince over. Παγκρὰτιον is a capital kind man. He says “D’Everton, had he been governor in those times, would never have permitted “τοσα πολύτιμα πράγματα”[4] to be lost in the sea, whereby I thought he meant Sappho ― but he meant the stones of the Temple.

The indefatigable George turned out a dish of Eggs, & I hope went to sleep: I am afraid lest this journey tire him too much. With me lunched ὁ Κ.Μ. Ρομπώτης, ― a well-enough sort of youth, but I had greatly preferred the company of Π. Παγκράτιον, to whom, to retire altogether ― this new comer seems to have been a signal.*[5] ― At 1. I shut up to repose, having made a little memorandum of the queer little room & small church.

I fear now, the Παπᾶς will not go back with me: ― ὅμως, tomorrow, let us hope to get out of the way of bores. How glad I am the ‘Μάρκος’ did not turn up before! ― At 2 ― I call the presiding deities. Κοσταντὶ ― the good honest mule driver who gives no trouble & is always ready & obliging ― & Andrέα the policeman. And I find out Παγκράτιος, & give him a good penholder, & some steel pens, having nothing better to offer him for what has been real kindness. ‘It is not new’ said I ― ‘& I hope to send you a better.’ ― “Δὲν πειράζει”[6] is the answer ― “δὲν θὰ σᾶς λησμονησω.”[7] I also got ― with difficulty ― the little woman who laid the cloth & who sighed fearfully, ― to take 2/― but only with G.’s despotic aid, as she said Παπας Π. Would be θυμωμένος.[8]

I was sorry to leave Παπᾶς Π. ― So at 2 P.M. we set off ― Mr. Μ. Ρομπώτι on a gray mule, Andrea & the other policeman ― (he had come from Athaní yesterday with us ―) Κοσταντί ― & 2 servants of Μ. Ρομπώτης. The only variety was in gathering clouds, thunder also ― & rain at sea. Μάρκος kept shooting right & left ― G. & I steadily walking on. G. suddenly asked ― “if that Lady” [(]meaning Sappho ―) [“]meant to drown herself, why did she take the trouble to go quite to the end of the promontory, when there were so many points nearer ― unless indeed she came in a boat to the point.” ― (Leaving the Monastery of Α. Νικόλα was a sort of grief to me ― Π. Παγκρατιος shook hands ὥς Ἄγγλος,[9] & seeing clouds ― said ― “Ἐπιθυμῶ να ἢθελε βρέξει, μόνον νὰ σὲ κάμνη να μείνης ἐδῶ.”)[10]

However, at 4 ― or 4.30 it did begin to rain, but we did not get wet, & reached Romboti’s house tolerably dry. Every care was taken to give me all I wanted; & the evening passed al solito: wealthy fork ― plate & crockery &c. Dinner too heavy ― soup ― 3 courses of fowl ― boiled stewed & roast, & 9 pigeons! Almond for desert, & the 23 years old wine was delicious! Young Ρομπώτης was at school in Corfû, & knew Ιάννι Κοκάλι. “Φίλος μου ἧτον”[11] ― & they had “assai amore.”[12] Μάρκος[,] furiously English & friendly ― but then I come from the Τοποτηρητῆς.[13] || Said Μάρκος, Μιάν ἡμέραν, μ’ εἲπε ὁ Ιάννης Κοκάλι ― βέβαιος καὶ ἀληθῶς εἶσαι ωραῖος νέος! ― καὶ άποκρίθην ― σ’ εὐχαριστῶ! φίλε μου![14] (caro mio.)[15]

|| My last words to Παγκράτιος were, “Εὰν ποτὲ εὐρίσκης τὰ σκουλαρίκια τῆς Βασιλίσσης ποῦ ἒκαμε τὸ πύδημα, φυλαξέτα καλὰ διὰ ἐμέ!”[16] Whereat I left him holding his sides.


[1] Terebinth.

[2] Kermes oak.

[3] Markos Rombotis.

[4] So many precious things (NB).

[5] The note corresponding to this asterisk should be the one at the end of the previous page, for 20 April: “*Note, July 5. ― I heard afterwards that old Ρομπώτης & the priest are on ill terms. ― How fast the Priest walked!! ―”

[6] It doesn’t matter (NB).

[7] I shall not forget you (NB).

[8] Angry (NB).

[9] Like an Englishman (NB).

[10] I wish it would rain, just so you would be forced to stay (NB).

[11] He was my friend (NB).

[12] Much love.

[13] Deputy (? NB).

[14] One day, Ioannis Kokalis said to me ― you are surely and truly a handsome young man! ― and I responded ― thank you! my friend (NB).

[15] My dear.

[16] If you ever find the earrings of the Queen who jumped, keep them safe for me! (NB).

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

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Filed under 1863, Diary Entry

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