Friday, 29 May 1863

Rose before 4: out by 5. in a carriage with G. Wait for Policeman.[*] & go “all over the place” to find him. Off by 5.30. dusty roads, ordinary people ― hideous black caps ― fertile plain ― 5.45. Aloes & fine vegetation. 6. Α. Διμίτρι[1] ― Oleanders ― houses & gardens ―― villas & plain ― valley narrows. Views of Κεφαλλένια shut out. Olives & vine cultivation ― Groupes of peasants. White Dog Roses. Squills. Scent of flowers. Cheerful pianura & valley. End of it ― Καταστάρι[2] ― side of hill ― 6.40. walk, Χαρτάτα[3] ― very picturesque. Acanthus=thistles.

7.10. Decide ― to go or not to go up to Ἀ. Ἰωάννης: but to go on to Σπιλαιάτισσα.[4] ― Long plain of Zante, Σκοπῶ behind. Cephalonia fine. Ascent tough & long: meet people who knew me at Sta. Maura. Great ravine & ascent. Pause at 7.40 & drew till 8.10. ― Beautiful ˆ[pale] blue plain. At 8.30 cross plain at top ― wild ― bare. Lentisk. Find cistern. ― Thirst! ― no cup ― water deep. Luckily ― a boy is there with a lettuce leaf curled up quâ cup, & let down cum string. ― Go on. 8.30. ― After this there commenced a long & awful ascent ― over a Πρινάρι & Σκίνος clad hill, lasting till 9.15. ― Morning very hot. ― Then a gully & a hillside brought us to Σπιλειότισσα at 9.30. Goodness! the thirst! Peculiarly unecclesiastical looking Καλόγεροι, & the Ἡγούμενος more than all like a very dirty Layman, whom I would draw, but that he is inspecting me. He is 75 ― & has no teeth, so I can’t well understand him. Ὅμως he hath good wine, & eggs are coming: he looks like a distracted Gamekeeper, & also reminds me of old Don Vincenzo Mobigli.

Another Καλόγερος has a red handkerchief round a good head, & with bright blue breeches & white shirt is like a corsair or sailor. It is now 10.15.

After much expression of surprise at my spectacles, boots, watch &c., the Ἡγούμενος, who is rather a despotic & vivacious old cove of 76 became quieter, perceiving that it behoved him to behave himself, for at first they suppose that “walking” implies inferiorità of position. How curiously the Monasteries of Athos come back to my recollection! Those so A N° 1 ― these so loose & inferior in matters of dress ― picturesqueness &c. Conceive an Ἡγούμενος of Athos in a jacket & trowsers!!  or one of his Καλόγεροι in blue tights & a red handkerchief!!!!!!

“Αὐτοί οἱ Λώρδοι ταξιδεύουν πάντοτε πεζῶς,”[5] says the older of the 2 Καλόγεροι[.] The table is laid for lunch ― Caviare ― olives & other orthodox diet dishes reign in the middle, eggs for me & George, who is tired & braves the damnatory hints of the orthodox. The Ἡγούμενος says, on seeing G. put forth his hand egg ward ― “Ποίας θρεσκίας εἶσαι;”[6] G. crosses himself ― takes 2 eggs ― & says ― “Σήμερον φάγω αὐγά.[”][7] ―

All the lunch, besides beet-root, slices of sausage, & cheese was good, with undeniable wine ― really fine. Only one sees that George’s egg eating has upset his position in the eyes of the pious, & when the priests began to banter him about his beard, I came to his help. Lunch lasts till 11.30 ― & now 11.50 ― the room is left to buzzing flies & me.

The toothless old Abbott has gone, & I shan’t stir till 2. P.M. ―

(continued at Page D.)

May 29th continued. (Friday)

1.10. ― Bother the old Ἡγούμενος ― he insists on our waking up & going ― & perhaps he is right. 1.30. having seen the Church, & deposited 4/4, we go. Most vast soundless solitudes of Πρι & Σκι covered hills ― & depths of valleys!!!!! ― 2.15. we wind up a huge gorge, among coarse large ugly rounded hills ― all the remarkable being the vineyard enclosures right & left, & the silvery crystals of the rocks forming the road. 2.50. we have arrived ourselves at Βολύμες,[8] & G. requires a drink of water so we abide. A queer restraint & silence broods over the place. All the priests dress laically: ― the people don’t salute. We have been passing up a long hill side, odious in its monotony, & hot in its armosphere. ― vine abounding. The highest mountain in the island, Γέρι;[9] ― a dreary green & gray affair, ― we left behind: a more uninteresting set of hills one can’t see ― tho’ they are not so fearful hideous as those in Cephalonia viâ Ἄσσος. Ὅμως there is nothing to draw ― nohow ― no how: ― so much for the Ἐξοχῆ of Ζάκινθος.[10] I ἀποφαςίζω[11] to go to Ἄ. Γεώργιος, & to leave out Α. Ανδρέα altogether, for the day’s work would be too fatiguing to do both ˆ[& nothing promises interst or beauty]. ― We go on at 3. Road between walls. & corn on each side ― it might be Corn-wall, & really is not unlike that land near about Boscastle. 3 villages at Βολύμες ― upper, middle & lower ― all very ugly & commonplace. Windmills, (A woman was murdered today at the upper Βολύμες: she was found shot in bed: ― being they say pregnant troppo presto:[12] their jealousy is immense here.) We pass to the 2nd village ― a great headland of corn country ― somewhat like Beachy Head all round. ―

At 3.20. we descend to the 3rd village: where are one or two very pretty campanili. 4 ― On our way down to Α. Γεώργιος, ― long rolling semiplain Lentisk Covered hills ― & the “Mountain” Γέρι above afar, ― very formless. 4.20. O dear! ἐφθάσαμεν[13] at St. George ― & lo! I have seen it before & drawn it ― & it is beastly ugly. Therefore, the pretty fine hill & Monastery which I remember, ˇ[& wh. I also drew,] must be S. Andrea!!! Ἀναφωνῆτρα[14] is seen from here, but on my saying carelessly “might we not go on there?” ― G. declared flatly ― “Δὲν θέλω, Κύριε.”[15] Which I don’t wonder at, vû all I have heard about his old master. ― However, we came to S. George ― a dirty=desolate place, with 3 or 4 old Καλόγεροι like fat pot-boys ― no Priests’ dress, except the Ἡγούμενος, a small gentlemanly old man, with a long curl[16] quâ pigtail. He seems disgusted that Wodehouse has sent no letter, as indeed he promised to do. I have gained little as yet by this weary journey, which however is to end tomorrow. One of the Καλόγεροι is like an aged Charles Vacher in tights & stockings: another is a compound of poor dear Anthony Chester & J. Shakespear R.A. ― One thing I have ascertained by this 2° trip to the Zante hills, ― viz. ― that any impressions of what was good or viceversa as to Greek scenery were the same in 1848 as in 1863, for these convents are utterly without picturesqueness either in form or in position ― excepting that of S. Andrea. But, unless I had paid this 2nd visit, I could not have been sure of this. The Coincidence about Κώμης Φλαμπουρίανι is really ˇ[certainly very] curious & I am glad he has not happened to be here, as I really cannot tell how G. might have behaved. || One drawing of Zante ought assuredly to express its immense abundance & luxuriant growth of vegetation; its aloe hedges, ― the white Dog-rose covering parts of the pale green spikes ― its vines ― its corn ― its endless dotty white villas & small houses. Crowds of peasants were coming into the city today as we came out ― (among other the suspected murderers of the woman at Βαλύμες ― with guarding Policemen.) ― but all odiously unpicturesque, ― I never saw such ˇ[more] signal absence of anything like costume & color: ― perhaps the hideous high black cap of cloth is the worst of all ― but the best might come from Wapping or Pentonville as to their want of individuality. Nor, as far as I can see, are either men or women good-looking. || It is now 6. Slept till 7 ― or later. Going then into the reception room ― (bye the bye, the bedroom is perfectly clean & nice ―) another Καλόγερος was there ― Στέφανος, a very leasant & hearty man, who had been at Ἄ. Ὄρος, & wore priests robes. Dear me! how hard it is to talk long in another tongue, if one knows it imperfectly! Later came a supper, most amiably & cleanly set forth: ― a roast fowlet ― of which I ate the flesh & a cat the bones: ― ham ― eggs ― cheese, & excellent Κολοκύθια,[17] with absolutely good wine. The laughing jolly Καλόγεροι seemed to enjoy ˇ[my] being pleased, & I almost could fancy one is Shakespear in disguise. After supper the Ἠγούμενος (Δαμασχινὸς) ― sate with me awhile, & afterwards Στέφανος ― till at nearly 10. I went to bed.

I have poured out nearly the last of my beloved Flea powder. Dogs bark. Moonlight.


[1] Saint Dimitrius.

[2] Katastari.

[3] Chartata.

[4] Spiliotissa, Monastery of Holy Virgin of the Cave (NB).

[5] These Lords always travel on foot (NB).

[6] What religion do you belong to? (NB).

[7] Today I shall eat eggs (NB).

[8] Volimes.

[9] Yeri.

[10] Countryside of Zante (NB).

[11] Decide (NB).

[12] Too soon.

[13] We arrived (NB).

[14] Anafonitria.

[15] I don’t want to, Sir (NB).

[16] The entry continues on the facing page, marked “E.”

[17] Marrows (NB).


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

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