Tuesday, 12 May 1863

51. years old today. ― Slept well. Rose at 5. How beautiful is this house in a garden at early morning! At 5.40 left the good-natured Tambitzi family ― the mill, the old house & courtyard, the multitude of pigeons, swallows & αἐδόνες,[1] &c. &c. ― & came, with G. ― a man & an ass ― to the lower part of the vale, where, from a rising ground, the beautiful green valley below & the hoary Enos above, are assuredly vastly grand: ― a vast gray & green space ― dotted innumerably with trees ― olive & caruba ― with a few clumps of walnut & fruit trees & clusters of houses: ― & flocks of sheep pass by me, going to the hill sides: ― but it is very difficult to render on paper. Farther on, the path=road approaches the wall of hill shutting in the valley on the East side, & descending ― begins to enter the close-rocky pass ― (said to have been made by Hercules,) leading down to the sea. There were deep shadows, & oleanders, & flocks of goats ― all very picturesque but not more so than many passes one has seen.

Drew this chasm of Πρόνος[2] twice. ― Thence, coming out by the sea ― (whence Ithaca is well seen,) begins the ascent back to Ἀσπροιέρακα[3] ― but never did I see any ruins of old Πρόνος. It is now 8 ― & we are stopping high up to adjust the “roba.” ― The height looks down on a world of “currants” to the sea, ― & at 8.30 we are winding along the tops of the ridge looking down ˇ[on] & into all Rakli. ― The mountain is clear, ― but the whole scene is very destitute of point, ― an immense greeny dotted basin. ― At 9 ― we reached a spot below Ἀσπροιέρακα where we find Giovanni & the carriage all right. Meantime a polite individual insists on sending to his house for Limonata & wine, which he did, though the fact delayed me till 9.30 ― before I started. Τελος πάντων,[4] I left the Valley of Rakli at Báltes, & wish it had been more drawable: ― it is a huge featureless basin of currants & olive. Moreover a διδάσκαλος & some 50 ˇ[white-capped] boys all rushed out to look over me. So I went on, suffering from the bumpy road all the way: but at 12.15 we got to Βλαχάτα & I am now at rest below an olive tree, & going to lunch: ― the day is hot, but the mountain is clear. Ἐδῶ[5] is a lunch ˇ[really] of the old quiet times. For the amiable Tambitzi had put up ― bread, sausage, cheese, eggs, cheese-pudding, walnuts & almonds, & G. bought a bottle=double of wonderful wine ― 5d. the bottle & very dear, but 6 years old. He also succeeded in getting an onion or two for himself. So we sat under the shade of a big olive it being the Suliot privilege to eat with me on these occasions. (G. says he saw the Tambitzi sister ― “graziosa e di buon cuore”[6] ― & who said she cried always when English went from the house.) ― || It seems to me that I have to choose between 2 extremes of affection for nature ― towards outward nature ― i.e. ――― English, or Southern. ― The former, oak, ash, beech, ― downs & cliffs, ― old associations, ―friends near at hand, & many comforts not to be got elsewhere. The latter ― olive ― vine ― flowers ― the ancient life of Greece, warmth & light,  better health ― greater novelty ― & less expense in life. On the other side are, in England, cold, damp & dullness, ― constant hurry & hustle, ― cessation from all ˇ[varied] Topographical interest[,] extreme expenses: ― & at the South are ―――― (cetera desunt.)

Reposed ― black dry &c. Numerous questions from the Host “διὰ τὴν πολιτικήν μας.”[7] ― & “δια τὴν Ἑλλάδα.”[8]

{12 dollars a barillo ― 6. Sekkia
{1. Barrel = 6 sekkia.
{1 sekkia = 20 pints
{above note from the Landlord of the wayside “Inn” ― at Βλαχάτα ― wh. his wine is excellent.

Left at 2.15[.] Old trunx of large olives. At 3 stopped to try to draw the Blk. Mountain ― (Mem. ― undated sketch.) Limestone rocks: how beautiful the little flowers growing in them! “Virginian Stock” ― a small yellow Euphorbia, a sort of onion, & a kind of purple ― what? 1863-05-12 ― & others. Sate down to draw, & drew till 3.15 no long[er.] To say truth the Blk. Mountain is diabolically ugly & [uncomeatab[le]] as a picturesqueness at all. || A letter to the Rev. A.P. Stanley ― entitled “Balaam’s Ass”[9] ― might be written with advantage in these days. ||

Thenceforth, in the carriage: a shaking headachy grief, ― & I grew more & more impatient of it, till at the end of the harbour I got out, & sent it on. Drew ― & walked to the Residency by 5.30. Tub & dressed. Dinner 7.30. Kind good C. Lane the same as usual. Came the Parson Fisher & sate till 10. Bed 10.30[.]

 


[1] Nightingales (NB).

[2] Pronos.

[3] Asprogerakas.

[4] Anyhow (NB).

[5] Here.

[6] Quite beautiful and kind-hearted.

[7] About our politics (NB).

[8] About Greece (NB).

[9] Numbers 22:22-35.


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

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