Wednesday, 29 April 1863

View from Mount Neritos, Ithaca. 29 April 1863. Numbered 97.

View from Mount Neritos, Ithaca. 29 April 1863. Numbered 97.

Cloudy morning. Rose ― 4.30. Packed & off by 6. Giuseppe, the loquacious Maltese cook, who has been cook to successive commandants for ages, ― is a good man in his way. ― Along the road to Ἀετὸς, with G. ― & a boy & mule. At the end of the gulf, the Castle hill is fine. Valley cheery & pretty: large fig trees ― almonds, olives, corn, & a few ― 2 or 3 houses.

Begin ascent to Νέριτος. ― Νέριτος in clouds ― & I debate if I shall go there first or to Σταυρὸ. Leave G. & the baggage, & at 8 go up to a point on the Λεύκη & Σταυρὸ road, & draw Ἀετὸς & the gulf of Κεφαλλενία. Then I came down, & went back & down a long way to sketch Ἀετὸς ― returning to the “Depot” at 9.30. ― Sky clearer. Multitudes of bees on the road ― mason bees. Flowers in astonishing loveliness & abungiance. At 9.45 ― we decide on the Monastery, & go on. A great pull up. Flowers! Flowers! ― View of the long & dreary wall-like east side of Cephalonia. At 11. reached the Monastery of Καθερὰ.[1] It is a plain little building no wise remarkable in itself ― nor commanding any view. Priest came out to meet me ― a fine bearded man ― talking Greek well: his name, Γεράσιμος. Has been at Ἄγιος Παύλος in Athos, & knows all the Μοναστήρια.[2] Of Μελκίσιδεκ, on my saying he had been very kind ― “Εἶχε δίκαιον, διότι εἰς 1855 ― τὸν ἐγλύτωσε ὁ Ἂγγλος Πρόξενος Μπλοῦντ, ποῦ εἶναι τώρα ‘ς τὴν Σμύρνην.”[3] ― The old Quince Marmalade, ραχὶ,[4] & coffee, & now, 11.30, ― a “τράπεζα”[5] is preparing. Monastery exceeding clean; the Ἠγουμενος commands loudly & energetically, & peery timid women obey. Lunch amazing ― eggs ― Kοκορέτζοι[6] ― being a sort of Kabobs made of Lamb’s liver, &c. ― wonderfully good wine ― & stupendous ricotta: the priest only ate Caviare & Lemon ― Wednesday to wit. He was born at Ἀνöὶ[7] ― (where his father still lives [][8] a peasant ―) & was here at 8 years old. ― But, thro’ the animosity of the Bishop ― chi sa[9] from what cause? ― he went abroad & “περιέτρεχε πολὺ”[10] ― Moldavia, Russia, &c. &c. & has evidently been mixed up in various matters. Certainly, Greek Monastery life has a charm for me. ― wondrous. ―

Later, he brought me certificates from various people ― Culverts ― alas! ――Bulwer, & heaps of others ― as to gifts of money to the monastery. || It is now 1. I go out to the Courtyard: Cats drink at the trough. I am reminded of Ἄ Ὄρος,[11] only there are women servants, 3 of whom have just now rushed to give me a chair, lest, sitting on a stone seat, I catch cold in my behind. 1.45. go out with G. to the Campanile,[12] from which the view is τρομερὰ[13] ― & most curious, tho’ the distance of Greece is not seen for cloud. The Hill north of the top of Νέριτος is called, “τὸ Στρῶμα;”[14] southern ― “Παραοτήρεις κλίσμα.”[15] We got to the very top at 3.15. The priest going very fast. Like all isolate mountain-top views it is more remarkable than lovely, yet the pale delicacy of the colour ― & the definite appearance of the South part of Ithaca are very enchanting. All the while the priest rushed on, spouting Greek, & declaring that Ulysses was born on Νέριτος. Drew the point of Guiscardos, but in separating some stiff sheets of paper with my finger, cut it vey badly, & came to grief accordingly. Came down, the Παπᾶς leaving me about 4.30. ― being ὑδρομένος:[16] I drew on, & finally am writing this on the steeple seat at 5.30. Truly ― a very queer magical sight is this view! ― dreamlike in its wan delicate pallor ― all the gray sea so far below motionless as a surface of polished marble. By 6.30 ― or 7 (it is damp & chilly,) dinner is ready: ― 2 Greeks are added to the party ― the Gent. of Μεσολόγγος,[17] ― the lady of Χιόνι.[18] Soup, kid, ricotta, currants & almonds: good ― but not wholly without evil. Bed at 10.

When it is very clear they say they can distinguish the streets of Mesolonghi & the houses of Patras from the Steeple.


[1] Kathara.

[2] Monasteries (NB).

[3] He was right, because in 1855 ― the English Consul Blunt, who is now in Smyrna (NB).

[4] Raki (NB).

[5] Meal in the refectory (NB).

[6] Κοκορέτσι, kokoretsi (NB).

[7] Anoi.

[8] One or two words cancelled.

[9] Who knows.

[10] Wandered a lot (NB).

[11] Agion Oros, i.e. Mount Athos (NB).

[12] Steeple.

[13] Tremendous (NB).

[14] Stroma.

[15] You see Klaisma (? NB).

[16] Sweaty (NB).

[17] Mesolonghi.

[18] Chioni.

[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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