Wednesday, 20 May 1863

Rose at 4. Still neuralgic toothache at times. Windier weather. Off by 5. Policeman, boy & ass for roba. ― After the height of the town ― a gorge, & little valley very pretty. Στραπόδι[.][1] Immensely picturesque peasantry ― carpets & rainbow=bags: red caps ― brown capotes ― scarlet belts ― green or red bordered jackets &c. Women mostly in red ― w handkerchiefs & petticoats. ― Buildings remind me of Beÿrout or Sicily. ― Campaniles ― very white & pretty. At 6.15. we open on to the plain of Λιϐαδὸ[2] ― green corn ― smiling, Sicilian=wise, Hill of Ἀυλείμονα[3] visible to the East. Beautiful groups of peasantry, & all salute. Lots of little villages  flat=topped. Beautiful little plain! Large bridge of Κατὸνι[4] ― 7. Still on high ground ― good broad road ― & Maltese=looking villages, but more ˇ[scattered], & with high white Campanili. Corn. Olives. Ever a pleasant breeze, not to say ― wind. ― At 7.30 ― ἁφίσαμεν[5] the road to Potáme, ― & strike into a narrow road to the left. The way collapses, resolving itself into ˇ[a] narrow lanes, stony & between walls ― moreover ― there were cows, ― to G.’s horror, ― & as they would do only one of 2 things, run back, or run at us, we had to sit on the walls, till the milky mothers passed. The day is warm & misty as it wears on: clouds hang on the hills, so one sees nil. (All reminds me of Sicily ― the high cloudy land of Noto.) More milky mothers in the narrow lanes, ― φοϐούνται[6] ― but their fears are a bore. Φαίνεται Μυλοποταμος[7] ― a pleasant white village compact; ― sparkling among fields of thin corn, & meager olives. “Ἐντρέπομαι νὰ τὰς λέγω ― Ἐλαιές ―”[8] says George. At 8.30 we get to the village, & I draw a bit of a scrap. ― A civil man comes & asks me to go into his house, close by, so I go, ― not knowing where else to go to. Civil man shews me carpets, & I prepare to leave luggage here, & am going out ― when lo! ―― Bulwer. Potius aper ― but he means well, & besides, it can’t be helped. At 9.15, I go out with him, & find the village is close to a sort of Tivoli=like Rocky Gorge, full of fine vegetation ― walnut, fig, ϐελανίδι[9] &c., & here I drew ― uncommodiously on a wall, ― till 10.15. I walked about, discoursing with some of the people. It seems, I have gone to a wrong, or anti=governo house. ― Nevertheless I return there, & lunch on cold fowl, bread & cheese, & Smyrna wine. Fogs & clouds have swallowed up all distance, & only once the Coast of Greece came out dimly. ― So, I imagine I shall get very little out of Cerigo. Please only I get away from it! ― B. tells me, “that is a Caruba tree” ―― &c. &c. ―& points out (“I wish to point out to you”) things I have seen long long before he thinks of pointing them out to me. Ὁμως, ὁ κόσμος εἶναι ἒτζι.[10] ― Lovely carpets ὑπάρχουν ἐδῶ.[11] ― Left the house of the Anti governals at 11.30: ― a most picturesque place is this, ― so full of pretty incidents of white houses & vegetation. Conversed with the people, good enough folk. ― In going towards the house of the Πρωεστός,[12] met B., & turned back with him: but soon another man came, & asked him to go in to his house, to see some “frutti di mare” wh. he had brought from Alexandria. So thereon followed another visit, inspection of Corals, Echini &c., ― sweets & water, time lost ―― only that the thick sea fog made all time useless. ― Finally we left Μυλοπόταμος at noon. ― Long sweeping ― Maltese like lines. fog continually. Sicily, & especially Noto, ever before me always.

12.30 ― up a long ― low ― hill. B. a long way off, on horseback: a double arrangement not possible ― compatible. Long, long lines of horizon hill, ― stony, but somehow not disagreable, & ever a breeze. Drew: about 1.30. ― looking over a plain dotted with villages ― flat & long. The hills of S. Nicólo beyond. Lower down ― the length of the scenery is most marked; the Saracenic houses here & there most Maltese or Sicilian.

Dress ― women. Choc=red skirt, scarlet jacket: white handkf. & petticoat. [semicoloured] = hadkerchf = red. At 2 the wind was more disgustical than ever, & I crosser. We go along the high road now: & at times I stop to write notes. At 2.15. Bulwer got on his horse & turned back. I am really vexed at my inability to adapt myself to times, persons, & things; for, however I may be bored, he has been particularly kind in arranging matters for me; getting food, &c. &c., &c. ―

(continued at page ― A.)

Continued from 20th May.[13]

2.30. I sit on a wall & snort. 2.45. going on slowly, & nearer to Ποταμο ― a large boxy village standing high on high ground ― not to say a hill, overlooking a wall ― “all so full of [][14] bread,” ― as George says “the muchness of corn astonishes the eye.” But ― o! ― o! ― o! ― the wind!!! ― this dreadful wind! ― all bedusting & bedimming all distance. At 3. reach the Προεστός’ house ― large cold room ― apparently clean. Προεστός out. ― Daughter very tall. Mother vastly taller ― a giantess. ― like Lady Eastlake on a ladder. (“Vi piacerebbe,” said I the next day to G. ― “se Τατιανὲ era così alta?” ― “La taglierei subito gli piedi.”[15] [“]Ἣθελα κόψει εὐθὺς τὰ ποδαῥιά.”)[16]

This North wind bores me horribly, & now comes the neuralgic toothache. (Τράïστον[17] ― they call the strange long sack ― carpet-made ― the women use to carry their children in here.) Looking down towards the hills of [][18] plain of S. Nicolo ― ancient Cythæra, ― there is a sort of Greek sentiment in the long lines & clear drawing, & had the weather allowed, many beautiful bits might have been gathered by the way. The people hereabouts are immensely civil & courteous, all the women bowing & speaking, ― an unusual matter. They bring me 2 sorts of wine, Κρήτικον & Τζεριγγιότικον,[19] the last white & undrinkable, the former decently good. At 4, I go out again, with G., & a man who is to take me tomorrow to Καραϐὰ:[20] ― and I reach a point whence the Cythærean Hills & also Capo Maléa are well seen, the sky being now clarer. But it is awful cold.

Going back, I find the Πρωëστὸς returned, a very big hearty man, talking ἀτμοπλεοντικὰ.[21] Growing weary, I get a basin, & wash in the room I am to sleep in, which is awfully full of wind, there being an unglazed window-hole ˇ[& a door] ― “all open to the sky.” It is now 6.10. & I must get them to bring a Nutensil. This scenery is like parts of Apulia  ― seen as it is from so high a point: ― long rolling undulating ― long-drawn-out lines ― gray with rock, or freckled with patches of Πρινάρι. Alack! for the house of the Πρωëστὸς of Ποταμο εἰς Τζεριγο![22]! ― How shall I sleep in this room for 2 nights? The big man has hung up 2 sheets over the windy door, & possibly an ounce of flea powder may procure a little sleep, ― ὅμως, ὅχι διὰ ἓξ ὥρας.[23] ― Meanwhile I dine ― so to speak, ― some eggs τεγαμισμένα & the rest of the fowl began today: but alas! the wine I never touch. Of Marsala, howbeit, there is a bottle, some of which comforts me not a little. The wind is howling, though not in turret or tree. At 7.20. G. & the Polissman are called to eat. George has walked all day, & ought[24] certainly to dine now or never. Alas! for the Πρωεστοι of Ἀθάκι! ― or of Ἀνöὶ ― or of Ράκλι! ― or  Ἄσσος! Days of luxury are gone! ― ἐπαύθησαν,[25] just now. Good-natured Murray & Dickenson, the Baron D’Everton, Stirke & Braidly, Lane & his dog Captain, & also Bulwer, ―― who does all he can for me. Indeed I do not know how I could see Cerigo better than I do unless I staid here 4 months, (which God forbid!) & moved about accordingly. No two islands can be more different than this & Kefalonia (O fleas! ―) Subdivided as is the latter by nature, there are no universal features; but here, a great plateau of cultivated land (more or less) is the centre, sinking to wilder ground & suddenly to cliffs & shores. They speak good Greek here μοῖ φαίνεται. (No aloes, no cactus yet seen in these parts.)

For a whole hour I have had no faceache!!!! for which be thankful.

Bulwer wanted to send out a leg of mutton, ― alas! that I said No! ― for I fear me we shall be bad off tomorrow. The worst of all however is the ἄσχημος ἄνεμος.[26] The room I am in is some 20 or 25 feet long ― or perhaps 30, & high in proportion: but what an anomaly, when compared with the other chambers! ― (Did I write down the love & use of flowers in Kefalónia?) O Lord! 3 stately fat bugs have just walked half over the tablecloth ― tho’ I killed them with a fork: ― but if these things are done in the green tree what will they do in a day ― δηλαδὴ, παραδείγματος χὰριν,[27] ― if 3 bugs walk across your tablecloth how many will exercise on your sheets? I fear frightfully. Flea powder is becoming useless, for I feel “Ζῶα”[28] all over me. B’s bottle of Marsala has I think saved my foolish life for a time. G. comes: it is 8. ― & preparations are made to stop up the bad window. Ὁ Πρωεστός come & talks, but conversation is weary ― chiefly confined to the number of children brought forth at once by women. Before 9 ― I go to bed. ― O! Bed? ― ! ― I am in it! & have alreadyknocked off heaps of fleas. These people seem to me far more wild or semisavage than the Corfiots or any other of the Islanders. Queer enough it is to be at the North end of Cerigo, thus.


[1] Strapodi. As the name of the place was not clearly written, Lear wrote it again in full below.

[2] Livado. It is not always clear whether Lear uses the word to refer to a specific area, Leivatho, or to λιβάδι, “plain” (Thanks to Nina).

[3] Avlemona.

[4] Katoni.

[5] Left (NB).

[6] They are afraid (NB).

[7] Milopotamos is visible (NB).

[8] I am embarrassed to call them Olives (NB).

[9] Kermes oaks (NB).

[10] But this is how people are (NB).

[11] Exist here (NB).

[12] Village chief (NB).

[13] On a blank page at the beginning of the diary.

[14] A word is blotted.

[15] “Would you like Τατιανὲ to be so tall?” “I’d immediately cut off her feet.”

[16] I’d immediately cut off her feet (NB).

[17] Traiston.

[18] Blotted.

[19] From Crete & from Cerigo (NB).

[20] Karavas.

[21] Like a steamship (NB).

[22] The house of the village chief of Potamos at Cerigo.

[23] But not for six hours (NB).

[24] The entry continues ina sheet marked “B.” in a section intitled “May 20th. Continued.

[25] The are over.

[26] Bad wind (NB).

[27] For example (NB).

[28] Critters (NB).


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

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