A Greek Man at Philates, 10-14 August 1856. Guy Peppiatt Fine Art.
13th August 1856, Philates, opposite Corfû
—Here is a novelty for you!! When I came to town I went to stay a day or 2 with Frank L. till my rooms could be cleared properly. And, as my big canvasses had not come, I made
up my mind to see a little bit more of the world before working hard again. F. Lushington & Col. & Mrs Ormsby  were to go on the 7th to Délvino—so I agreed to join them, as I had never seen that part of Albania—& then,
I planned to go to Janina, & if possible on to the long desired Mount Athos,—so as to return to Corfu as early as possible in Sept. Now you are to be clear that in these days things are not as they were in 1848: we now have consuls at many
places, & although I take a bed & cooking things—yet I shall want them but little. Our yacht trip over to Sta. Quarantina was delightful—-& for once I am beginning to like yachts—at least, the little Midge. On the
8th the Ormsbys, Frank & I, went early to Délvino—which is immensely picturesque; it seemed odd enough to come all at once again into the use of divans & round tables & cross legs! But the wonderful picturesqueness of Albania
is as new & beautiful as ever—& after the eternal, though lovely olives of Corfu—I must say we, F. & I—found it very refreshing.
On the 9th we returned to the coast, & there Col. & Mrs O. left us, & we 2 ran
down in the Midge to Scala Saiada where early on the 10th we landed, taking also my man Giorgio & my luggage. We were soon at this place [Philátes], & well lodged in the house of Jaffier Pasha —& how I wish you could see it!
It is one of those strange all roof & lattice Turk houses, enclosed in a court with high walls & towers; the walls are black with jackdaws, & the towers white with storks who clatter as of old. I am sorry to tell you that in the afternoon
I had a baddish fall—down a flight of stone stairs; the matter might have been serious, but happily I broke no bones,—though I did not feel able to move for travelling until after a good rest. So I have stayed here through the 11th–12th
&13th—& tomorrow I shall go as far as Keramítza on my way to Janina, but if I find the least chance of my being unwell—shall return to Corfû at once—which I can see from the hills close by. My going on to Athos
depends on that & also on what I may hear when I get to Sigr. Damaschino’s, our Consul at Janina, where I shall also find Mr Saunders . I certainly should like to see the wonderful & beautiful Athos—& this is the 3rd
time of trying. [ . . . ]
I am much better today—indeed well—and the journey is only of 5 hours tomorrow, to begin with. I find all the difference in the world here from being able to speak—(even as little as I do)—in
Greek. Giorgio speaks Albanian also, so we do very well. I find him an excellent, active, and quiet servant, thus far. [. . . ]
I will get you some embroidery, or somewhat, from Janina. Meanwhile I will write to you from there, and from
Lárissa, and Salonika—if I ever go there—so you will know all my doings regularly enough.
August 21st 1856, Larissa
My dear Ann,
I shall begin a letter to you here, hoping to send it to you from Saloniki, where I trust to be in a few
days. So far my journey has been very prosperous, but as I sit in a beautiful room at the English Consul’s house here, with sofas all round the walls, matting on the floor, & painted ceilings, & look out on a little court yard where 2 tame
cranes are walking up & down—I cannot but think how much easier it is to travel in these parts now than it was in 1848. Moreover, I believe the race of dogs which used to rush & rage & bark are civilised & changed also—or
dead—the result being the same, that I have not been bothered by them at all. I sent you a little letter on the 13th from Philátes,—so I knew you would like to know how I was getting on, & that you would like a short note better
On the 14th I started for Janina,—Col. Ormsby not having come,—with Giorgio alone: unluckily we had a bad muleteer who would not stop when he was told, & who put us to great inconvenience. He would not go the direct
road to Janina—for some reasons of his own, so we were far off at sunset—but as he was crossing a river—(& we found afterwards that he did so to avoid the Bridge toll  for his horses)—some Guards seized on us all in a bunch—&
a pretty fuss there was! My passport &letters were enough to ensure me being taken on to the next village—but our muleman was tied & taken off,—very properly—to be punished. Next day 15th we got to Janina, & here I
had a comfortable rest in Mr Damaschino’s house, our Consul. There has been a great fire lately at Janina,—but it has not injured the general outline of the city, & I think that the scene of the Citadel, Lake & mountains, is really one
of the grandest & most beautiful I ever saw; so much so that I believe I shall make it the subject of one of my large canvasses during next winter. From Janina, we came by the Mézzovo Pass road—Malakássi,—the Metéora
Monastery, &Trícala to this place, where I arrived last night. Certainly the wet days of Thessaly in 1849 are not repeated now!—there is no colour in sky & earth but blue, pink, & bright yellow—the latter being all the
plains—now stubble. I thought as I entered last night, that Olympus & Ossa seemed as if made of rose colour & lilac velvet, the bright white minarets of Lárissa like tall silver or diamond lights—& all the earth, as the
sun set pure orange gold. I set off today on my pilgrimage to the Holy Mountain (which I hope to see afar off tomorrow) & sleep at Tempe—going on to Platamóna etc. When we were coming down the plain of the Salympria [Pinaeus],
near Trícala— what do you think we met? Why, 2,500 mules!—all carrying corn. I never saw so many mules in my life—all going one by one—& I thought the world was gradually turning wholly into mules. Meeting
them when we did, was a piece of great good fortune,—for on the Mézzovo Pass there are many points where only one beast can pass at a time, & you have to wait to meet in a wider place: but as 2,500 mules could not go back for 2 or 3, there
would have been no choice but to return to the next Khan, & wait a day or more till the Mule-stream had subsided.
Aug. 26th, 1856, Saloniki
Just 8 years ago since I came to Salonica from Constantinople! & here I am in the very same room, & everything seems pretty much as it was, save that the black landlady  is dead, & people are all 8 years
older. Well—I should have been here 2 days ago,& very provoking it is to lose such lovely weather,— for in Sept. rain must come some time or other. I could not get away from Lárissa before the afternoon of the 21st—intending
to sleep at Babá, that lovely place on the river at the entrance of Tempe; but it grew dark, & we had to stop at a village 2 hours earlier. The inhabitants of that village are descendants of people of Konya in Asia Minor, whom some Sultan
brought in a lump from their own country, & stuck down here in Thessaly. They keep their own dress & customs to this day, & look queer enough among their neighbours. However, one, [?] Mahmud, lent us a square empty house, which would
have been extremely nice, only so many cats run about continually. Giorgio soon made a fire, with some tea & cutlets—so one didn’t fare badly. He is the best of all servants I have had abroad, because, besides his capability as
interpreter & cook, & general travelling domestic, he is so good a house servant & has always been used to the duties of valet to Englishmen at Corfû: moreover, he is never out of temper at all, though the life of a journey is always more
or less a trying one. On the 22nd I passed the wonderfully beautiful Tempe—on foot—for it is a shame to go through it quickly. I thought the Plane trees bigger, &the river clearer than ever. Then came the famous vale of Tempe—(which,
if you remember, I had not seen in 1849—because I turned back again to Lárissa). And most lovely it is—green as far as you can see with immense Plane, Abele, & Oak trees, & with Mt Ossa above & the sea beyond. But
I made no drawings,—having in view Mt Athos particularly, & laying down a rule that nothing was to prevent my getting there in preference to all other matters. We passed Platamóna in the day & got to S. Teodoro Khan at nightfall.
23rd We were at Katerína till midday, & then, worse luck!—went down to the sea shore, to take a boat across to this place—only 2 hours off by sea, & 16 by land. But lo! no boats were to be found! All had started to
bring over 300 families from here, to a great fête at some monastery—nor could a single horse be found, & our muleteer returned next day—24th—in spite of all offers. So there we were; & a great wind rising, no boat could cross.
And we ate up the last bit of our meat—for the Khan had nothing but coarse bread & a little rhum—& when no boat came on the 25th morning, we began to speculate how Giorgio should cook the large blue jelly fish that the sea threw up.
We found 2 small crabs also—& I proposed—as there were blackberries all about, to boil the jelly fish with blackberry sauce, & roast the crabs with rhum & bread crumbs—a triumph of cookery not reserved for us—for at
last boats began to come, & horses appeared over the hills by scores. The boats however would not return & it was with great difficulty that we could induce 3 horses to move. Very good ones they were however, & setting off at 9 we came
to Salonica by 6 o’clock—& thus far my Mt Athos trip is accomplished.
I found Mr Blunt, our Consul , & oddly enough they all recollected me as being there in 1848. He gives me letters to the monks of Athos—&I dine
with the Blunts today, & set out early tomorrow—a day of repose (comparative) is never thrown away. The inconvenience resulting from my fall diminishes daily, & otherwise my health has greatly improved by this journey; that is, I feel stronger
& better than when I set out. [ . . . ]
And now I will tell you in a few words, somewhat about Mt Athos, where I am going.
 Franklin Lushington, lawyer and classical scholar, had toured Greece with Lear in 1849.
In 1855 he was appointed judge to the Supreme Court of Justice in the Ionian Islands, and Lear went out to Corfu to join him. Colonel Ormsby was Commanding Officer of Artillery for the Ionian Islands.
 Philates was under the control of two powerful
local families, one of them headed by Cafer Dem Paşa (Jaffier Pasha). Hospitality was dispensed by his mother, “a celebrated person in her way [who] settles disputes and administers justice in the village. She sits unveiled in her Divan. As a Turk, she
eats not with Christians, but keeps a bountiful table” (George de la Poer Beresford, Twelve Sketches in double tinted Lithography of Scenes in Southern Albania, London: Day and Son ).
 Sidney Smith Saunders, consul at Prévyza
and Signor Damaschinó, British vice-consul at Ioannina; Lear had enjoyed their hospitality on earlier journeys (Journals of a Landscape Painter in Albania, pp. 337, 342).
 This would have been the bridge of Ráiko, strategically
placed on the main route from Corfu to Ioannina; Ottoman-era tolls and customs duties levied on roads, passes and bridges, are often mentioned by Western travellers and were much resented by local populations. The fact that the muleteer wanted to avoid the
bridge suggests he was working for an inclusive price, as recommended by Murray’s Handbook. Lear’s Albania Journals (pp. 6-7) note that in 1848 he travelled on a fixed daily price to include food, lodging, transport and the guide’s
fee; in 1849 he paid a basic one dollar a day, settling up for food, horses, etc. at intervals; the cost worked out roughly the same.
 For the Black landlady see Lear's Albanian Journals, p. 18.
 In the fourteenth century Sultan Murad I
began expanding and consolidating the Ottoman Empire, settling people from the province of Konya (Konyars or Koniároi) in what is now mainland Greece.
 Charles Blunt, British consul at Salonica, had helped Lear escape a cholera outbreak in
1848. He later became consul at Smyrna; in his Cretan Journal Lear notes Blunt’s death in Smyrna in 1864.