MSWP (& FEP) diaries
Tour diary, 1911
by Mary S.W. Pollard
NB If a name is not listed in the key the person concerned has not yet been identified.
1904 (with FEP)
After taking Robert & Margaret to Polam Hall, Darlington yesterday, where they settled in nicely with the Baynes’s, Frank and I had a great shutting up of the house, experienced great kindness from many friends. Edna and Bertha helping with the house, receiving, (for me) some nice birthday letters, and left by the 9.50 for London, Bertha seeing us off and supplying us with lots of chocolate.
The only blot is (apart from Father’s constant illness) that Ber’s children have mumps and we are afraid of ours getting it too.
Some of the Committee have given us £100, Father and Mother £50 and Hugh £5, so we are well off indeed. We ate sandwiches in the train and I enjoyed the luxury once more of travelling without the children. Got to London about 2.0 and drove quickly in a taxi-cab to May Gretton’s (as she is now) at 292 High Holborn W.C. She and Mr Gretton gave us a warm welcome in their really charming flat which looks on to Lincoln’s Inn Fields and is quite quiet, not a bit like London; and we got tidied and then sat and talked and at 4.0 began tea. Basil Procter, Mr and Mrs Bone came. Mr Bone is Mr Gretton’s assistant Editor. We had a delicious dinner at 7.30 and then Mr G (who before that had been to the Lobby of the House of Parl.) went to the office and we talked till bedtime.
Had a v. cheerful card about the children. A most delicious breakfast and left in a taxi-cab at 9.15, caught the 10.0 at Victoria to Newhaven. It took a long time getting tickets and registering all our luggage, except handbags to Rome. The luggage cost 19/4d. Pretty country near Lewes. Left Newhaven about 11.30 and had some rather poor lunch on board. Went 2nd class. Cold, but I got a comfortable seat on top of where the luggage is put and went to sleep—in fact I lay down. At Dieppe we got a carriage to ourselves and drank our tea out of the new Thermos Jeanie gave us. It was very refreshing. We also had scones, etc. Got to Dieppe about 4.0, Paris at 6.43. Then a wearisome hour or so from St. Lazare Station to Gare de Lyons. Left our basket and wraps in a left luggage office and strolled out to find a restaurant—got to quite the wrong place and had to pay 1.25 each for a dish of very small fish. Finally started again at 10.20 p.m. and were very lucky indeed in having a large corridor carriage all to ourselves, beautifully heated on the floor, so that one’s feet kept warm, so we turned out the light, lay down and had a fairly good night. At 6.a.m. it was getting light, and the mountains were fine in the rosy dawn, snow covered, but not very deeply. We passed along beautiful Lake Bourget, but the windows were so covered with frost we could hardly see out. The air was very cold though we kept quite warm in our carriage.
At Aix les Bains we got coffee and a roll, for about 1 franc each or a little less. At Modane, where we arrived about 10.0 I think, we got out for a tiny walk, but it was too cold. We had lunch on the train. At Turin got a bottle of milk in the buffet for 50 cents and some Turin bread. The journey up to here was very beautiful and indeed most of the way to Genoa. Made nice tea in our little pan. At Genoa had 20 mins—no restaurant on the train now—so rushed out, past the lovely square with its green trees looking semi-tropical and bought some fresh eggs and bread in a shop. Boiled the eggs hard in the train and had a good supper. From Genoa along by the sea in the pale moonlight was exquisite, but we couldn’t see a great deal. Arrived at Pisa very dirty and tired at 11.20 p.m. Washington Hotel close to station. Got a nice room and slept well till after 8.0!
After cafe went off to see the sights—got very intelligent and amusing guide, as we had no book—for 3 francs. First Duomo very hurriedly, picture of St. Agnes by Andrea del Santo, Galileo’s lamp, Cisnabere’s fresco then the baptistery with the beautiful pulpit of Nicola Pisano and the marvellous echo (resonance) then the exquisite Campo Santo—the burial ground with the delicate arches and the green grass and tallow daffodils springing up in the middle. The extraordinary pictures by Orcagna representing the Inferno and the Triumph of Death, people being nearly torn in two, the legs held by the devil and the head by an angel, and so on, the souls, like babies, coming out of people’s mouths; other pictures and Roman sarcophagi, etc and Luca della Robbia’s terracotta (blue and while). Then we went to the Leaning Tower and had a fine view from the top. To lunch at Hotel and caught 1.20 to Rome. Dirty, shaky train, but managed to make tea. My head got very bad and the journey seemed so long. Reached Rome after 7.0, and walked to Pension Jaselli-Owen, 12 Piazza Barberini 12, porter bringing luggage. We got a nice bedroom, 2 beds, sofa, table, one window looking onto courtyard with tree covered with oranges, and I felt so poorly that I went straight to bed, and had a little soup and tea in bed, while F went downstairs to dinner. Bedroom warmed with hot pipes.
Cafe au Lait is anytime between 8 & 10 (ours generally about 8.45), lunch 10.0, afternoon tea 4.30 and dinner at 7.0. Cold dull day. Morning strolled about, passed Pantheon, walked to Castle of St. Angelo, crossed the ‘yellow Tiber’ and eventually got to St. Peter’s and just walked inside. It is very gorgeous. I don’t think I realized its massiveness from the outside; all the buildings round are so large too; consequently I was disappointed. Afternoon rested, after tea walked in Borghese gardens.
A brilliant sunshiny day, hot in sun, but cold in shade. Walked past splendid Fountain of Trier, and Trajan’s Column to the Forum and looked down on it from a height and across to the Colosseum. It is free on Sundays. It was immensely interesting; we went through it slowly, but not in very much detail. Saw the fine arches of Constantine and Severus and Titus and the Temples of Vespasian and Saturn, the hall of the Vestal Virgins, with sculptures of them round it, mostly headless. We spent a short time in the huge wonderful Colosseum, the scene of those awful gladiatorial fights, and then walked slowly back, another way.
I went to sleep in afternoon, not feeling particularly well yet, and before tea we went to Pincian gardens, the Hyde Park of Rome on Sundays, and watched the people, mostly hideously dressed, and listened to a rather good band. After tea called on the Miss Braggs, but they were out.
At last the first, and longed for news from Darlington—the first since leaving England. On the whole a good account, though R was poorly one day.
Very cold today. Went to Miss Wilson’s library and got some books, then I returned to write and read, and F went to the British School of Rome. Rested after lunch, then went to try and find a tea-room. Walked all along the Corso, supposed to be the finest street in Rome for shops, and finally got to a real English tea-room, full of English and Americans, where we had very nice tea with cream and hot scones for 1 franc each—double what it would have been in England! Then drove (cabs are cheap, from 50 centimes) to the Palatine hill, but it was 5.0 o’clock and it closed at 5.30. However, we went in and got a good walk round, which cleared my mind up about it a good deal. It is such a vast place with so many ruins of different times. One gets a good view of Rome, its situation and the country round. What a marvellous palace this must have been. One of the best things we saw was the house of Livia, where the frescoes on the wall are wonderfully preserved, some of them you can see distinctly, and a good mosaic floor. Afterwards we went to the Mamertine prison near the Forum, one of the oldest places in Rome, and in the horrid dungeon Peter was imprisoned. It is a tiny little room. Jugurtha and Vercingetorix died here.
We walked slowly home and I bought some quinine as I have a horrid cold. The temperature varies so; it is sometimes hot, sometimes very cold, and after dusk it always gets very chilly.
There are 35 or 40 people in this Pension—mostly Americans, who work extremely hard, staying here for months studying. They seem very intelligent. The lady who sits next me, Miss Williams, is travelling with her mother. They have been away over a year, and the Father and 2 brothers are left in Canada!
A week ago today we left home. It seems far longer. I feel much better today and my cold has nearly gone. Another blue day. Spent the whole morning at the Capitol—first examined the outside staircase, with great statues of Castor and Pollux at its head (live wolves kept at one side in memory of Romulus and Remus) and the old Roman milestones at the end of parapet.
Then the wonderful equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius in the square. Finally entered the Museum, where it was perishingly cold, but most interesting to see the original statues which one knows by photos. Those I chiefly loved were the Dying Gladiator, boy removing a thorn from his foot, (in the hall of Conservators) (bronze) the Venus of the Capitol, some of the heads of the Emperors, the Fame of Praxiteles, etc. We next went into Hall or Palace of the Conservators, where were various objects of interest, one of the chief being the Bronze Wolf of the Capitol supposed to have been made in 2 or 300 B.C. or even earlier, but Romulus and Remus under the wolf are modern. There was, in one room, a lovely bronze fluted vase, 2 skeletons in sarcophagi.
The pictures we hardly saw at all, but noticed one of St. Sebastian by Guido Reni. We were very cold when we came out, but soon got hot in the sun. It is rather a treacherous climate, so cold on one side of the street and so hot on the other.
In the afternoon made tea and put it in our thermos, started about 2.20, bought cream at a shop and put it in a bottle, and got tram from Piazza di Venezia to San Paolo fuori le mura. Mostly modern since a fire, but some fine pictures in mosaic which are old, and the modern church is fine too, beautiful marble. The cloisters are beautiful, old 13th century. Walked on to the Churches of the Tre Fontane—after a long bit of dusty road, got to hilly grass and beautiful views of Albans and Sabine Mts, sprinkled with snow. Away nestling in a grove of eucalyptus trees was the monastery and 3 churches of 3 Fountains. The bell was ringing and it was so picturesque. We sat on the grass and drank our tea, then walked on—about 1 ½ miles from St. Paul’s. There is not much to see in the churches which are all close together but in one there are 3 fountains where St. Paul’s head is supposed to have bounced 3 times when he was executed. This church contains the pillar to which he is supposed to have been bound. In one church the monks were chanting. It was a romantic scene. We walked back to the tram in a beautiful sunset glow and drove from the Piazza di Venezia as we were tired and got back about 6.20. Bezique before bed.
Another lovely day. Walked to stupendous baths of Caracalla. Must have been glorious once and are still very interesting. Came back by river for a bit and saw the island, and the bit of the very old bridge. Flowers, roses, carnations, etc in streets are splendid. We bought a large bunch of roses one day, but they don’t last. Came back by tram. At 2.0 went to see King of Italy and King of Servia (?) pass through one of the streets. Got quite a good view. The bodyguard was fine, shining breast plates, and black streamers from their helmets. After tea called on Mr and Mrs Wm Miller to whom Aunt Car had given us an introduction. They live in Via Palestro, 36, and seem rather swell, but nice. He is Correspondent to the Morning Post. We drove there and walked back. Some of the aunts live at Rydal.
Before we had finished dinner Miss Sarah Bragg kindly called on us.
Another glorious day. Met Miss Bragg outside the Forum at 10.0 o’clock, and she gave us a perfectly fascinating lecture on it going over it nearly all, till about quarter to one. It was so very kind of her, and it was intensely interesting. She showed us so many things we would have missed by ourselves, and as she has been round much with Lanciani she is a good guide. We began by seeing the round marks, circles, on stones, where the Romans played gambling games. Then the Rostra, the name derived from the iron prows (beaks) of war-ships from Antium after that town was captured in 388 B.C. Behind this some of the small stones are in the form of tooth work, and between each notch is connected with rings. This proves that it was in the time of Domitian.
Very interesting was the tomb of Romulus with the black slab of marble, also the Lacus of Jutuma, now covered with maidenhair, but with a good deal of marble about it still, and close to are lots of beautiful jugs (whole) which must have been used for getting the water which was supposed to have healing properties. Arch of Septimius Severus, with Geta’s name erased. Anaglypha Trajani (described, as are all these things in Baedecker) two marble balustrades adorned with reliefs, mostly quite clear. We saw the different temples, the place where part of a marble map was found on the wall, the enormous basilica of Constantine, the Temple of Vesta, the rooms where the Vestal Virgins lived, a private house with very small rooms which has just been, or rather is being, excavated. Basilica of Sancta Maria Antiqua (6th century) where are good frescoes, one of the Crucifixion being one of the oldest that exists of that subject I think. In places of the Forum there are beautiful bits of mosaic or pavement; in one place there are coins trodden in which had been dropped by someone fleeing from one of the fires. We saw many acanthus leaves—real ones (the design of Corinthian pillars), great bay trees with berries—the bay leaves were used for crowning victors. Once I saw a lizard running about. Some of the stones have special marks which show they were made by Hadrian—at least for him, or in his time.
After lunch I rested and sketched from our bedroom window. After tea we went to Pincian gardens and got beautiful view of city in the setting sun and F went to a dentist, for one of his teeth has come out. Opposite us at mealtimes are 2 delightful and cultivated American ladies, and Prof Markley and his wife. They know the Bancrofts, she was born a Friend and he is Prof of Mathematics in Michigan University, with a year off. F said almost at once that they looked rather like Friends. The William’s left today.
Actually had breakfast about 8.15, (instead of 8.45) and started off at a quarter to 9.0 taking lunch with us. Met Miss Sarah and Dryda Bragg at 9.30 at San Lorenzo Gate with a friend of theirs—Mrs Price—and 2 girls, Misses Morton. Went by steam tram, really a small train, to Hadrian’s Villa where we arrived about 10.30. Walked to the Villa, which must have been enormous, and of which there are lots of ruins—alas, only ruins—and from which there are glorious views over beautiful olive trees to the blue Campagna and hills in the distance. This Villa (Villa means ‘garden’) is on the Sabine Mts. We looked across to the snow capped Alban Mts. Monte Gennaro is over 4000 ft high; it is one of the Sabine Mts. In some of the rooms there were exquisite bits of pavement, in others bits of ceiling. Most of the rooms of course, are not covered, and it is hardly known what they were all for. Fine swimming bath. Maiden hair grows in many places, and I found a sweet violet; sometimes Miss B says it is carpeted with violets. We spent a good time wandering from room to room, then came down to the old theatre where we ate our lunch.
We caught the 1.1 tram on to Tivoli, and wandered about the beautiful Villa d’Este, the views from which are magnificent, and the water rushing down everywhere and fountains are grand, with masses of evergreen everywhere—I suppose in spring it will be prettier still, but there are fine Cypresses, enormous box hedges and so on, so that it looks like spring, and torrents of water, sprouting out of heads of figures, and out of every nook and cranny. This place was made by the son of Lucrezia Borgia, and is mediaeval. We then had tea which the Miss B’s gave us—they took it and got boiling water—and we sat outside a cafe. We then took 2 small cabs and drove to the falls of Tivoli, which are very beautiful, and afterwards wandered about a short time and caught the 4.20 tram home, arriving a little before 6.0 and F and I had half an hour’s walk here. The Miss Braggs are so kind and full of interest. One of them was at the Mount with Mabel, and said "we were all so fond of her". We saw lots of carts drawn by oxen, men and even children, with great bundles of olive on their backs, and donkeys with lots of it too. The carts have little tiny Roman lamps under them, (here too) and horns to avert the evil eye. We saw large fir cones which Miss B says people put in the fire and they split and then they take the kernel and break it and get out seeds; I believe they use them for eating.
We had a most delightful day and returned to letters from Daisy and Edna and a card from mother, all good news, which rejoiced our hearts. F and I took photos with the camera the E’s (Evie and Ernest) have lent us. I hope they will be a success.
Parts of the Vatican are free on Saturday so we went to the Sculptures. Some of them are magnificent, it was a pity it was very cold in the galleries. The chief ones we noticed and liked were Nerva, bust of Jupiter, Laocoon, (a terrible thing—snakes writhed round the Father and 2 sons), Apollo Belvedere, Mercury, Torso Belvidere, bust of a Roman Senator and his wife. Some of these were in rooms by themselves.
Afternoon—short rest, then to tea in a Lactina in Piazza di Spagna (good cream) and by tram to Protestant Cemetery. Very pretty with beautiful cypress trees. We saw graves of Shelley, Wm and Mary Howitt, son of Goethe and J.A. Symonds and in the old cemetery (which is ugly and desolate) Keats.
After dinner we generally sit for a good time in the Saloon. Some of the people near us at meals are so nice. Miss Fletcher and Miss Gibson stayed at Misses Hollis and Rowntree’s last summer. Used to attend a Friends’ day school at New York!!
Dull at first, but lovely in afternoon. To San Lorenzo in Lucina where there is a fine Crucifixion by Guido Rein. Then drove to Borghese Gallery, where a few of the pictures are very fine. Titian’s Sacred and Profane Love (a stupid title), Raphael’s Entombment, Van Dyck’s Entombment (I did not much like this), Domenichino’s Diana Hunting, Correggio’s Danae (2 charming cupids—Danae I did not care for).
In the afternoon I went to American church, and F to Janiculum. Very fine mosaic by Burne Jones in the church. Nice organ recital first. Short service—everyone asked to tea at Rectory afterwards.
Dull again, but sunny in afternoon. At 10.0 met Miss Dryda Bragg, Mrs Price and her 2 girl friends and Miss Bragg took us round the Palatine. It was intensely interesting, though so huge that it is rather bewildering. It is the earliest settlement of Rome. There is the remains of the Palace of Tiberius, now beautiful gardens with a fine view of the Forum and the Basilica of Constantine. The House of Livia has beautiful frescoes which have, alas, been largely spoiled before being covered over from the weather. By the Temple of Cybele is a beautiful statue of the goddess though headless. In the Basilica is still part of a marble screen, behind which the litigants stood.
From the Colonnade is a fine view of the Circus Maximus and the Aventine. There are remains of houses underground, and the Emperors simply built on the top of these. In one there is a furnace for heating the houses, very complete. In parts of the Palatine are beautiful pieces of mosaic pavement, or ceiling painted, or stucco work, and from many parts glorious views. There is still much excavating to be done. By 12.40 we had been all round, but we could still have spent many hours there.
F had a headache, so we rested in afternoon and I made him some tea and got 1d cream, such a lot, from a Lactina. In the evening we walked to the library and saw a splendid sunset over St. Peter’s from Trinita di Monte. St. Peter’s still does not impress me much. A lovely Italian girl dressed in pretty costume tried to fascinate Frank and make him buy some flowers—how he managed to resist I know not, for she used all her arts, showing her beautiful teeth when she smiled at him!!
Poured in the night which has rather laid the dust. Spent morning at St. Peter’s. It is certainly colossal and grand, though from outside, the dome is seldom seen to advantage except from a distance. Went round all statues, etc, carefully, and into sacristy where we saw some good frescoes by Melozzo da Forte and some remnants by Giotto. There is a statue by Michael Angelo of Madonna holding the dead Saviour on her knees, Clement XIII by Canova, etc. St. Peter’s grows on one.
Afternoon a rest and then to tea-room, then to Janiculum where is the fine statue of Garibaldi and a superb view over whole city to Alban and Sabine Mts and 50 miles away Monte Silino, snow covered and over 8000 ft high, and St. Peter’s to the left; to my surprise it is almost outside the town. The dome looked beautiful. It is one of the finest views of the town, and it is most interesting to make out the various buildings. Went back another way, looking first at some frescoes by Domenichino at San Onofrio. The glow over the city and mountains where the sun set was wonderful. Walked all way back. Evening had some very fine violin playing by a young Canadian girl—Miss Coleman—( her mother and she sit by me at meals) accompanied by her mother. F. sang ‘Mohaes field’ and ‘She is far from the land’. This morning, Mrs Long, the Irish lady, when I said something about my children said "Oh, you’ve spoiled my little romance. I thought you were honeymooning!" I was so pleased. She said we had behaved pretty well, but I think she must think us younger than we are! Still it was a compliment. One of her daughters was educated at Mountmellick, and the one here is studying mathematics—a scholarship from Girton.
St. John Lateran—an interesting church. Cloisters exquisite, very much like St. Paul fuori le muri, but some of pillars are inlaid. Very good mosaic in arch of tribune of the Redeemer, below a cross, and dove from whose beak waters flow down which supply the 4 waters of Paradise. The disciples as harts and sheep flock to drink of the waters of life, and a good deal more. In a crypt under one of the Chapels is a fine pieta of Christ, dead, on the Virgin’s knees. Her face is pathetic and beautiful. Baptistry quite interesting too, and has some good mosaics, especially a lapus lazuli one.
Then we went to see the Scala Santa, up 28 steps which several people were going on their knees. We walked up another staircase and looked through the grille at the very sacred chapel at the top.
In afternoon went to Pantheon and saw Raphael’s tomb, and King Victor Emmanuel II’s and King Humbert’s. There is not much to see in the Pantheon, but the shape is fine. It is lit by the dome which is open to the sky, and is the most perfect Pagan building in the city, the only one of which the walls and vaulting still stand.
F and I had some reading aloud of ‘It never can happen again’.
Took tram to Porto San Giovanni, then walked by the walls to Porto St. Sebastiano and then along Via Appia (Antica). It would have been best to go direct to the latter gate. First we stopped to see the Catacombs of Calixtus. Extremely interesting. A monk gave us tapers and took us round. 13 miles of them and I think 3 passages, one below another. A few skeletons remain in one or two of the tombs. Some frescoes still well preserved. Christian tombs—they were afraid of their graves being destroyed, so built these great places, probably perhaps also because Christ was buried in a tomb hewn out of the rock. A fresco of St Cecilia, and of our Lord in Byzantine type. One chapel burial place of popes. Symbols put on the graves are:- dove with olive branch, sheep, phoenix, etc, and there are representations of Christ as the Good Shepherd with the sheep, Jonah and the whale and so on. These are in relief on the tombs—the frescoes on the walls.
The Appian Way becomes much more interesting when you have passed the Basilica of St. Sebastiano. A little further on we ate our lunch, rolls, cheese, hard-boiled eggs and tangerine oranges. Unfortunately it was a dull day and grew steadily worse, so that we did not get a good view, except of the wonderful Aqueduct which crosses the Via Appia. Both of these were built by Appius Claudius, begun B.C. 312. The mountains got nearly hidden from view by clouds. The road itself stretches in a long straight line far ahead with ruins of tombs on each side all the way along, some of them very large, and some with scraps of ornamentation, figures, etc still on them and in the distance a splendid view of the Aqueduct. Some distance from the Catacombs, a Roman Villa has been excavated, and we found it most interesting. An Italian guide took us round, and managed to make us understand pretty well. We saw a good deal of an aqueduct, the remains of baths, pavement, and a fountain, a jar for holding wine or oil and which had been used as a coffin for a baby, (this latter was in a tomb near the Villa), great round holes where stores of wine or corn, etc had been kept, and 2 or 3 rooms with the walls standing; also a well or drain enormously deep—40 metres I think.
Before the Villa we passed the large ruins of the Circus Maxentius, and then the tomb of Cecilia Metella. We passed, in the fields, huts the shepherds live in in summer; I believe they have no light except the door. They seem built of mud or straw.
We stopped at Castle Rotonda to turn to the left, hoping to catch a train at Capannelle, but there were races going on, and we spent nearly an hour trying to find the station. However, we were rewarded by seeing some flying machines, I think a monoplane, rather graceful like a dragonfly in the distance, and a biplane. When they are near they make a horrid noise. It was rather interesting, for it was the first we had ever seen. Finally we got a train filled with people from the races, and reached Rome about 20 mins to 5.0 getting back just in time for a cup of tea. It was raining too, so we were glad to get in, having walked 7 or 8 miles I think. It was an interesting excursion, but rather tiring and rather muddling, and disappointing in the way that it began to rain.
Drizzling, so spent the morning buying slightly damaged photos at reduced prices! Afternoon to see San Clementi—most interesting old church. Most of existing part is 9th or 12th century but begun long before that, and under the present church another church was discovered in 1857. In the top church are some good, but renovated, frescoes of the story of St. Catherine. A very interesting mosaic in the tribune of the Crucifixion and a wide spreading vine tree, the 4 mystic rivers, the Virgin, St. John and others.
There are some very beautiful marble pierced screens. A man took us to the lower church which is lit with electric light. He did not give us long enough to examine it properly. There are pillars of rare marble in perfect preservation, and a curious series of frescoes of 8th and 9th centuries. There is the crucifixion with the Virgin and St. John standing by the cross—the earliest example in Rome of this subject. The Marriage of Cana, the story of St. Clementi and of St. Alexis, etc. Underneath this church are buildings which we couldn’t see as they are covered with water, but the staircase shows the masonry of the kings, the republic and the empire. This structure below was probably the house of St. Clementi. An altar and other relics found here seem to show that this Christian church was used as a temple of Mithras, after the worship of that Persian deity was introduced.
Walked home in time for tea. Evening I played bridge.
A lovely day. Sistine Chapel free, so wandered round St. Peter’s with scores of other people, and then right back again through a tremendously long, and fine gallery, and at last into the Chapel. We first studied Michael Angelo’s Last Judgement, but it is very difficult to see, and I should think time is spoiling it. I did not like the figure of Christ at all, but the colouring, especially the blue background is beautiful, and there is very great vigour in the whole thing. It certainly gives one the feeling of wonder and power. It is a pity that some pope covered up a lot of the figures with ugly drapery! This fresco took Michael Angelo 7 years to paint. The ceiling is very tiring to make out; it also is by Michael Angelo and I am sure it is very fine only it is so difficult to see. There are pictures from the Old Testament such as Adam and Eve, the Flood, etc, and Prophets and Sibyls.
On the side walls are interesting frescoes by Peregino, Botticelli, Ghirlandajo and one or two others of the Life of Moses, and the Life of Christ.
We then went through several rooms; one had interesting ceiling pictures by Raffaelle, illustrating Philosophy, Poetry, etc and splendid pictures on the walls by either Raffaelle or his pupils or from his designs. Here there is the ‘Disputa’.
In the Stanza d’Eliodoro are 4 large pictures by Raffaelle which I liked extremely, particularly Peter being delivered from prison; the light when the angel appears is marvellously done. These are all frescoes.
The Sala di Constantino has frescoes by R’s pupils from his drawings. After lunch and a short rest (a rather discouraged letter from Mother who has taken Ruth to Harrogate as her throat is so bad; Father very weak) we went down to the Tiber, crossed the old Bridge—Ponte Quattro Capi, built in 733 to the Island. Saw the figure of a serpent sculptured at one end, due to a legend about Aesculapius and a serpent which glided from a ship and landed here.
We recrossed and saw the arch of the Cloaca Maxima at the side of the river, the old drain made over 2000 years ago and I believe still used to a certain extent. We walked to a place opposite the Miniature Arch of Septimus Severus—Arcus Argentinorum—and saw the Cloaca Maxima again. Saw also the Arch of Janus. Then S. Maria in Cormedin, built in 782 on the site of a temple of Ceres. The choir is raised as a S. Clementi. Splendid opus Alexandrian pavement. Crypt is entirely hollowed out of the ancient temple, and consists of nave and aisles, and niches in the side for reliquaries.
After seeing this we walked up to the Aventine which is largely shut in by high walls, being now mostly churches, monasteries and so on. We went to the Priorato Garden and were admitted to see the famous ‘view of St. Peter’s through the keyhole’! You walk through an avenue of old bay trees and the great Dome of St. Peter’s is framed in it in front of you in the most beautiful way, as you walk along. At the end, there is the Tiber below you and a splendid view of Rome. The whole garden is lovely with orange and lemon trees, and in the sunlight the place looked almost magical. We then went to Castello dei Cesari, a terrace with a fine view of the Palatine just opposite, and the mountains beyond, to get tea. It was very jolly having it outside like that. Near here is the house where Aquila and Priscilla are supposed to have lodged. We walked all the way home, seeing the Tarpeian rock, or what we thought might be it, en route.
Carnival Sunday, so to our disgust most of the places which should have been opened, free, were closed altogether. Went to St. Peter’s about 10.30 hoping to hear good music. Heard a little, and saw a procession in connection with the Sacrament, but nothing much. Also saw a baby being baptized: it squealed as they poured water all over its head poor little thing. There seemed quite a lot of babies to be done.
Afternoon read and listened to the band in Pincian Gardens, some children in Roman costume—so funny and one wee one dressed like a nun. At 5.30 to Trinita de Monte to hear the nuns sing. Lovely.
Windy and dusty. To Museum Thermae (Baths of Diocletian). This old monastery of Carthusian monks has been turned into a huge museum. I got rather tired of it, thought it really is interesting. Collection of statues found in different places, some in the Tiber. There is a very fine head of Juno. There are also fragments of frescoes, stucco works, beautiful coloured vases (glass) ornaments, etc.
Afternoon we made tea in our room, then I walked with F to Piazza di Spagna, and from there he went to see a Columbarium. I had rather a headache, so went up the steps of the Pincian gardens and sat there for a bit. It is lovely to be able to sit in the sun as if it was summer, but it is cold in the shade, and I am still wearing most of my winter things.
Left by 9.30 electric tram (on top) for Frascati. Windy and bitterly cold, but views of mountains glorious—I think there has been fresh snow on them. At Frascati got a guide (hardly necessary, but better for 2 francs and tip) and went up to Tusculum past the Villa Aldobrandini, through semi private grounds, up past waterfalls, and then along lively paths till we came to the remains of an amphitheatre, then to what is called Cicero’s house (not much left) and on to the theatre and a piscine. Lower down are more remains, but there is not very much to see in this way, only the top is a superb view. It was beautifully clear and a radiant day, and near us on one side was Mont Cavo and Rocca di Papa below it; in the distance a long stretch of blue and silver sea; in another direction the Sabine Mountains looking almost an ethereal blue, the Abruzzi, below us the wide Campagna, the Aqueduct, and Rome with St. Peter’s certainly not looking 14 miles away. Ground covered with crocuses, only such pale blue that they did not make much show. We sent the guide back from the top, and walked down to a wall behind which we sheltered to eat our lunch in blazing sunshine with a glorious view in front of us. It was blissful, only the lunch might have been rather better, but I don’t think either of us minded that.
The Alban mountains near us looked very purple. It is difficult to remember that it is still only February as there are so many green trees about, and yet—I think some of them are hardly as far on as many I saw in York before leaving England. After a rest we walked a little lower, and I made a hasty little sketch. When we got down to Frascati at about 3.30 we had some nice tea, and watched the carnival which was quite amusing, lots of people dressed up, all masked. We got a tram about 4.30 (not with a top) and got back here about 6.0 after a truly lovely day. Saw some flying machines en route.
Dull most of day. Vatican pictures all morning (nearly 2 hours). Most interesting and many beautiful. We liked best Raffaelle’s Madonna di Foligno (very beautiful), Transfiguration, Murillo’s Marriage of St. Catherine, Titian’s Madonna and Saints (though we did not quite understand it) Caravaggio’s Entombment (very good I thought), and a large fresco by Melozzo da Forli of Sixtus IV and his court. The Communion of St. Jerome by Domenichino I thought very powerful, though the aged, dying saint is rather terrible to look at. This picture is considered one of D’s masterpieces, though I believe Ruskin says it is a bad picture.
The afternoon we spent in reading aloud, darning, and trying, quite unsuccessfully to shop, except that we got some picture post cards and photos, and took some to be developed, explaining ourselves very badly in French.
Really nice dinner tonight, soup, curried eggs, meat pie and potatoes, sponge cakes with whipped cream, oranges.
Poured in the night and not very fine in morning, but lovely in afternoon. Spent morning at Capitoline, going over old favourites and refreshing our memories. Afternoon to San Pietro in Vincoli. Chief interest the ‘Moses’ of Michael Angelo, a very large and very impressive statue. It fills one with wonder to think how anyone could chisel a statue like that out of solid marble, and get such wonderful expression. On each side of Moses are Leah and Rachel also by Michael Angelo and very beautiful and graceful. The 10 Doric columns, fluted, going up each side of the nave are really lovely. They are relics of the Baths of Titus or Trajan.
There is a beautiful picture of St. Margaret and the dragon by Guercino. She is so graceful, and the colour of her drapery rich. Also an interesting fresco which gives the reason of the frequent invocation of St. Sebastian in Italy. During the great plague of 680 A.D. a citizen dreamt that if the body of St. Sebastian was brought into the city the plague would be stayed, and so it happened! The chains which bound Peter is prison are in this church, but we did not see them.
Next we walked to Santa Maria Maggiore, a large church with 2 domes. In the piazza is a beautiful Corinthian column of the Basilica of Constantine. It is a fine church with splendid mosaics, but most of them are too high up to see, done about 1287. The tribune has a huge, very fine mosaic of Christ enthroned with the Virgin, apostles, etc below. Pavement opus—alexandrianum.
We went into the Borghese chapel, but did not do any of this church very thoroughly. The marvellous mosaics in this church fill me with admiration. I cannot think how anyone could do them.
We came back to tea (after bargaining for necklaces etc at door of church, (great fun) and then went to call on Braggs, driving, but they were out, so we made great attempts to buy cheap hats for each of us. It was horrid. I succeeded at last, but am not very pleased with the result!
Spent the morning at the Vatican Sculptures, and when we got back to lunch got the sad telegram of darling Father’s death last night. Determined at once to go home, though we did not know when the funeral would be. The maid was very kind to me and kept saying ‘Courage, Madame’; so was Mrs Jasilli-Owen. We could not get a train till about 11.0 p.m. and then travelled straight through to London by the Mont Cerris, arriving Folkestone on Sunday morning. A telegram there from Bowes asking us to stay with them or at St. Mary’s. Left King’s Cross about 6.0 and got to York after 10.0 p.m. Thomas Hodgkin (going to the funeral) in the train. A very nice Mr Elliot Thompson, an old Boothamite, travelled with us, and was kind and sympathetic. From him we first learned that the funeral was next day. Bowes met us at York, and we drove to St. Mary’s and stayed with Miss Boothman, as Bertha still has mumps, though she is going to the funeral.
Went to see Edna and to get some things from our house. Caught the 9.40 to Newcastle. Lots of York people, A. R’s etc in train. Bertha, Bowes, F and I went out to Bensham by the 11.20. I was so thankful to be able to get back in time, and to be with the family and precious Mother. We had time to see the exquisite wreaths, and have lunch all together, Percy too, as he walked with Ruth. We started at 2. The funeral began at 3.0. F and I and Evie and Ernest were together. It looked very stormy, but fortunately did not rain. All the way to the grave on each side were Industrial School Boys, who stood saluting. It was a beautiful service. Mother kept quite calm and looked so lovely. We then drove to the Meeting House, where there was a fairly long service; Uncle Theo spoke particularly beautifully. Aunts and Uncles, and strangers chiefly came out to tea. Everyone was extremely kind, but it was difficult to keep up at all, and since I heard that Mother intends to leave our beloved old home I feel as if it was still more unbearable. No one can realize all that Father has been to us, nor how much we loved him. I am sure he was the best Father anyone could have, and one of the most wonderful men there ever was in every way.
In the evening I reluctantly decided to go on the Tour with Frank, as Mother thought it best.
Dora Clark left next day, March 7th about 10.0 and we left by the 2.20, Bowes and Ber kindly seeing us off in Newcastle. It was very hard to leave at once, but I hope it was best.
I could not have borne not to be at the funeral. F has been so loving and kind and understanding, but I do dread the thought of life without Father’s help, though I am glad his sufferings are over.
[Kept in a duplicate book, the top copies being used as letters home.]
Left ‘home’ very sadly at 2.10, and Bertha and Bowes kindly saw us off in Newcastle at 2.40. We stopped at Darlington and our darling bairnies met us looking so well and beaming on us, Robert in his sailor coat and white cap, and baby in her red coat and red tam o’shanter. Robert walked up to Polam house; we went through the beautiful park. The Baynes’s were most kind and we had a very nice tea, the children and Daisy at one end, we and Mr B at the other. Then we played games, etc. But alas, had to leave to catch the 5.56 train to London, where we arrived about 11.0 and drove with May Gretton who kindly met us to Charing Cross Hotel.
Had breakfast early and were in the station at 8.15. While F attended to luggage I went to Lyons and got hard-boiled eggs, tea in our thermos, etc, for lunch. Train packed with Dunottar Castle people. At Dover met Seebohm Rowntree on the ship, en route for Cannes. He was very kind. We were 2nd and he was 1st but he talked to us nearly all the time and brought his chair for me. At Calais we got into our special train and managed to secure a carriage with only 2 others. It was after 1.0, so we ate our lunch and drank our tea. At Paris had dinner in the Buffet at 6.0. Then got a carriage, but it filled up till there were 8 of us in it, and it was most uncomfortable. Finally I went into an emptier ladies’ carriage leaving poor F but I couldn’t sleep much, as I wept in thinking of darling Father, and of poor Mother left without him and the beautiful home we have had.
At Avignon (looking beautiful) we got coffee at 7.0, in a fearful hurry and reached Marseilles about 9.0. The ‘Dunottar Castle’ was a few minutes off, and there were heaps of little carriages for us, so we drove along, went straight to our cabins, and then had breakfast on board at 10.0. Afterwards chose seats for meals. Left about noon. Quite calm. At our table are 2 Mr Fardons (Friends, Doctors), Mr Dobbs (Assistant Manager of this cruise) and 2 other men.
Reached Genoa in the morning and unfortunately were not allowed to land and stayed there all day, owing to some difficulty about a bill of health I believe. Not as beautiful as it should have been as very misty. Dance on board at night. I had hot sea bath and went to bed. Am reading a book about Greece by Maheffy.
Mostly open sea and a fair amount of motion. Some people succumbed. I have felt very unhappy all these days, with nothing to do but read and think. It is horrid being among a crowd of strangers, and they are a fashionable set, who would probably never have heard of Father, so that I feel in such an unsympathetic atmosphere. They are uninteresting too, and very ignorant. I have often longed to be at home again, and it seems so long to wait for news. I feel anxious about Mother. Frank is so good to me, and so patient.
At last warm sunshine and we passed Stromboli, which was interesting, a cone-shaped island (crater) with some houses on a small strip of flat land with great precipices below. Then passed through the Straits of Messina, and saw Messina on the right side, and Reggio on the left on the toe of Italy. Could see some of the results of the earthquake in houses put up with corriegated iron roofs, and windows with no glass in, and heaps of rubbish. I think the earthquake was 3 years ago. Soon after this, the day disimproved and finally it rained. F and I manage to get places where we can read ‘It never can happen again’ aloud. There are about 150 passengers, mostly elderly, a good many lone widows, and about 180 (I believe) in the crew. Services on board. Rather rough at night.
Still another at sea, but in the evening got to the Greek coast, and saw it by a beautiful full moon. Islands too, and water quite smooth, glassy.
Got up in good time to see our entrance into Phaleron Bay and first view of Athens. It really was very exciting, but a slight mist rather hid its beauties till later on. Breakfast at 7.30 and then almost everyone went ashore in large motor boats. By this time the sun was brilliant and the water a glorious blue, and the view of Athens with the Acropolis standing out above everything else, with snow capped mountains beyond was really glorious.
We took a train along to Theseum Station where a heap of 2 horse carriages awaited us. I must say the whole day was beautifully planned, for I suppose there were over 100 of us and we never got in each other’s way. We felt rather like Americans, though, ‘doing’ Athens in a day, and personally we would rather have devoted more time to the Acropolis, and left other things out. Each carriage held 4 people, and every 4 carriages was in charge of a dragoman who spoke pretty good English and acted as guide.
We drove straight up to the Acropolis, which I think, exceeded my expectations. In the dazzling sunlight, nothing could be more beautiful than those glorious marble pillars of the Parthenon, mellowed by age, or perhaps coloured, to a lovely rich golden colour, standing tall and stately and yet simple, towering above everything else, with the dark mountains beyond, and the brilliant blue sea below. First we visited the exquisite little Temple of Wingless Victory which is more ornamented than the Parthenon, with beautiful capitals to the pillars. Then the Parthenon itself with its fluted Doric pillars and we examined those parts of the frieze which remain, but of course a great deal has been destroyed. The pillars are made from Pentelic marble from Mount Pentilicus which rises away to the north east and there 8 of them at the ends and 17 at the sides. It was probably begun in 454 B.C. and there are no absolutely straight lines in it, which is said to give its exquisitely graceful effect.
The Erectheum we did not see at all properly, except the Caryated porch with its six beautiful figures of women. About the 15th century the Parthenon was turned into a Mosque and there are traces of Byzantine frescoes on the inside walls. We were hurried back through the Propylaea and some of us crossed the road and went up the historic steps of the Areopagus and imagined Paul discoursing to the Athenians.
Everywhere we were pestered by sellers of sponges from the Piraeus (I bought one, thinking Evie might enjoy washing with a sort of classical sponge) and pretty worked bags, huge bunches of violets, etc.
We next drove through Hadrian’s Gateway to the Temple of Olympic Zeus of which only some very large and beautiful Corinthian pillars remain. Then through an avenue of pepper trees to the modern stadium, where the Olympic Games are held every 4 years. It is built on the site of the old stadium and there are a few pieces of the old marble built into it. All the seats are of marble and it is a huge place.
Oh, I forgot, before this we visited the very interesting theatre of Dionysus, the queer figure of Silenus supporting the stage well preserved, the marble seats in the front preserved for the priests and still inscribed with their names, and little holes in the seats for the rain water to run through. We all had lunch at the Grand Hotel Bretagne, a very grand place; the best thing was the oranges which were so luscious that I thought they must be like Father used to describe when he picked them straight from the tree.
After lunch we joined our carriages again and first saw a quaint very small Byzantine church, made up of pieces, some of them very lovely, from other churches. Near it is a large modern Greek church and we went into it too, there were many silver icons.
We passed the prison where the prisoners talk through a grating to the passers by, and saw a few old columns where the gymnasium of Hadrian’s time used to be, and then went to the ‘Tower of the Winds’. Here there was a clock worked by water and figures representing the various winds in bas relief on the outside.
Close to this is the Agora, the old market place, and a little further on its entrance. It has only fairly recently been excavated, but there is not much to see except columns and bits of columns. We then drove to the Theseum, which is the same style as the Parthenon and in almost perfect condition, but not so graceful and beautiful as the Parthenon. In the room inside are collections of carved slabs from tombs, mostly Christian, representations of the child in the manger and cows looking at it and so on. Also an old baptismal font. Our guide said that now-a-days when Greek babies are baptized they are dipped overhead 3 times in the water and then the mark of the cross is made on their foreheads, arms and feet with oil.
Some of the party now returned to the ship, but some of us drove to the National Museum which we went quickly through, only looking at a few things—a beautiful bronze statue of Hermes, another which may have been meant for Hermes and which was found a few years ago in the sea by men fishing for sponges and was in little bits which have been wonderfully put together. There is another of a kneeling youth, part of which has been eaten away by the waves, but the rest was protected by rocks. It is supposed to have been part of some cargo going on a ship from Athens to Rome which was wrecked about the 1st century B.C.
The room with the funeral steles is very interesting; the figure of the dead person is always represented as sitting, often clasping hands with a friend or relation, and sometimes giving them a box to keep. These struck me as much more beautiful than the tombs we saw in Rome, whether Pagan or Christian, so dignified and full of repose and peace, and rarely any sign of weeping or grief.
There is a room full of lovely amphorae, painted I think, with pictures on, a lot of old necklaces and rings, and some gold vases, one of which has 2 doves on it and corresponds to a vase described by Homer; possibly this very one. It is difficult to remember all we saw and I find I have never mentioned going to the old cemetery which was extremely interesting. Most of the tombs are B.C. and have been left in the place in which they were found. They are so clean and well preserved that it is almost impossible to believe they are so old. There was an exquisite one of Demeter and Pamphily—the figures were so graceful with such lovely arms and hands as well as faces. There is a celebrated one of a bull. We saw here some bits of the old wall.
The Museum was the end of sight-seeing and my head was beginning to ache so we got some tea outside a café for which we paid 1/- each, and bought a pair of little red Moorish slippers, (do you remember the yellow ones Father brought us all from Morocco?) and then took the train back to Phaleron Bay and the ship’s boat back to the ship and shortly afterwards we set sail again. We did not go into the Piraeus at all, though we saw it in the distance, but Frank says Phaleron Bay is the oldest harbour of the two. There was a lovely sunset glow over the hills as we left Athens, making Hyrmettus appear as Mother quotes in Myer’s poem which I must read when we return, and later a full moon rose, so that it was beautiful steaming along the Southern Coast of Greece.
As we hear there has been a fortnight of dull weather at Athens, we feel we were very lucky yesterday, and today is glorious too and quite warm on deck. We have been steaming among the Islands; we passed Tenedos quite close to, with its one little town and lots of funny looking windmills; we saw the plains of Troy and thought we could make Troy itself out in the distance and one of the great tombs—perhaps Achilles—Mount Ida in the distance—then just after lunch we entered the Dardanelles, and while I’ve been writing we stopped at the pretty little town—rather Norwegian looking, except for its Turkish minarets—of Chanak, where we stopped to take ‘pratique’, pay the custom dues, and some Turkish officials came on board and the crew had to stand in a row and be looked at by them, and we flew a yellow flag to show we had a clean bill of health and a red one to show we were not a ‘man of war’. I saw some large porpoises close to the ship, swimming about. The colour of the hills is lovely, but the land is bare and barren looking and the trees when there are any, are miserable, dried up looking things. Most of the islands have been bare and fairly flat, though there are mountains on the land.
I believe we are just at the point where Leander and Byron are supposed to have swum across. It was such a funny feeling in Athens seeing the names written up in Greek. I could not understand even the letters, and felt more in a foreign town than I have almost ever done and so helpless.
Lecture in afternoon by Monsignor Barnes on Constantinople history. Very interesting. Concert in evening, mostly poor, but Frank sang ‘Sparkling Eyes’ and ‘The Vicar’s Song’—latter encored, and he was much praised afterwards. Bandmaster did a very good and funny ‘Musical Melange’.
I got up at 6.0 as we had just reached Constantinople and the sun rising over it is said to be so fine. But, alas, it didn’t rise and my first view of it was very disappointing. It was bitterly cold all day, but it has been a hard winter, snow for 45 days, and it has only lately gone. However, we were lucky to have it fair. We went on shore directly after breakfast, joined carriages as at Athens, only with 3 people in them instead of 4, and we got with quite a nice party and a guide who said he was Scotch. He was very amusing, but rather tiresome too. The streets are all awful; Athens was pretty bad in that way, but really here I wondered we never got upset. We got jolted enough anyway.
First we drove over the famous Galata bridge, a flimsy looking wooden structure, over which hundreds of people of all nationalities are passing all day long, and one sees all sorts of costume. The women mostly wear black, often satin and are often veiled, with a veil right over their face, very ugly costumes. The men carry enormous burdens on their backs—first they put a sort of saddle on their back, and then huge boxes, or other things. Today we saw one carrying I think 24 chairs—bedroom sort! Nearly all the men wear the red fez; some wear turbans.
We drove first to the large mosque of Saint Sophia in Stamboul, the old quarter of Constantinople, a beautiful impressive mosque, very much finer inside than those we saw in Kairouan. It is built in the style of the Pantheon at Rome, with a large dome, as are all the mosques here, and outside there are tall graceful minarets where the Muezzin is called. We were given large slippers to put on over our shoes, and then were allowed inside. There are very fine marble pillars and beautiful tiles, carpets on the floor. It is all hung with tiny glass lamps, and I should think would look splendid when it is lit up. I love to see the Mohammedans saying their prayers: they seem to care so much for their religion and are so reverent. Some boys were being taught the Koran in different parts of the building. This mosque was built about 530 A.D. by Justinian. Before this we visited the Museum where there were many things of interest, especially some remarkable sarcophagi—a beautiful one with reliefs of weeping women, another of Alexander the Great with reliefs from his life, a life size stature of Alexander the Great, the only one in the world and I really forget what else.
Then to a small room with exquisite tiles round the walls (the guide calls it ‘faience’, but is he right?) where are the tombs of 2 Sultans, their wives and about 40 children who were all murdered to prevent the succession of any of them to the throne. We also went to the Janissaries Museum, which is like a small ‘Madame Tussauds’, small groups of men arrayed in their costumes—officers, executioners, Sultans, etc. We felt one of their turbans and it was almost too heavy to hold.
Then to the ‘Pigeon’ Mosque, where hundreds of pigeons were flying about in the court, and lots of Turks were sitting selling their wares, mostly necklaces, and men writing letters to dictation.
After lunch in a large restaurant where we got enormous Jaffa Oranges, we drove to the Treasure House which was specially open today. It was certainly a wonderful display of jewellery, largely presents to various Sultans. There were glorious emeralds, rubies and pearls, ornaments of these and solid gold, and hangings embroidered with pearls and gold and so on.
From the garden there was a glorious view of snow covered mountains and Scutari, where you see the hospital where Florence Nightingale nursed, and Constantinople itself. Then we drove to the Suliemaniyeh Mosque and then to the Bazaars where we got out and walked. I did not think them nearly as interesting or pretty as those at Tunis, and the streets are awful to walk on. We bought a few things, but it is awkward going to places like this with a large party and so difficult to keep together. We got to the ship about 6.0 o’clock and soon afterwards it began to pour.
We spent a good deal of time in the evening looking at Armenian work from the Friends’ Mission. Nearly £70 worth was sold on board!!
A bright, warm morning. Frank and I and a Miss Inglis went on shore at 9.0 o’clock and found our way to the Galata Tower which we ascended and had a glorious view of Constantinople, and the Sea of Marmora, but the distant mountains were not clear. We then strolled across the Bridge into the Blue Mosque, a glorious place all lined with the most exquisite coloured tiles.
We then went into a little shop and watched ‘Turkish Delight’ being made and I bought some. It reminded me of Father who used to give it us as a special treat. In fact the other day I said to Frank ‘I must get some for Father’ and then remembered with a pang. Indeed I never forget, only sometimes it seems unreal and impossible.
The money here is tiresome, for any sort is used sometimes, and you may get change as a mixture of English, French, Russian and Turkish. Coming back over the Bridge we had nearly finished our Turkish money and the man would not let us pay in English or French and we had to get across in order to get to the steamer. At last we put some money down and walked boldly on and nobody pursued us!
At 1.0 o’clock we steamed up the Bosphorus, so as to see it. Miss Davies of the Friends’ Mission was on board and she pointed everything out to Frank and me and it was immensely interesting and beautiful. We saw a good deal of the old wall, the palaces of the Sultan, beautiful old wooden houses, castles and gardens. The houses are built up to the water’s edge, and the embassies stay here in summer and other people. We went nearly up to the entrance of the Black Sea. Miss Davies told us a lot about the Mission. They had expected us to go and see it this morning and I wish we had gone. She lived in Newcastle till about a year ago, learnt dispensing under Dr. Rutter. She says her brother was so fond of Father; that he used to come out to Bensham and Father always talked to him and was so kind. It was so nice to find someone to talk to about Father, and who sympathised. I was so very sorry when we reached Constantinople and she had to go. She is far nicer than the people on board. She surprised me by saying they always have to have a man servant when walking about Constantinople even in the day time, and once when she had not a man with her, she had a horrid experience, about 5 weeks after she came here. A Turkish Officer saw she was being bothered and after she had tried to explain and given her card he had the man arrested and she heard no more about it. No-one knows from one day to another what may happen. It has been dull and rather wet most of the evening, and we are now on our way to Rhodes.
I doubt if we shall make any friends on board. Most of the people care precious little about the places we go to, and are even far more ignorant than I am. They think ‘Syracuse’ was a General and confuse Dionysus with Diana of the Ephesians!! Once or twice Frank and I have had to try hard not to laugh at the extraordinary statements that are made.
We passed Mitylene, Chios and other islands, following part of Paul’s journey. Part of the day it was rather rough. Passed Patmos when it was dark. In the afternoon Archdeacon Cunningham gave us a short interesting lecture on Rhodes.
A lovely sunny day and Rhodes as we reached it at about 8.0 a.m. looked beautiful. We went on shore by the first boat and it was jolly to stroll about by ourselves, and walk instead of drive. It is a most picturesque place, much cleaner than Constantinople, and the people seemed industrious and sharp. The old street of the heights of St. John who defended the place against the Turks so bravely in——has some well-built houses and a lot of the old coats of arms are still on them. There are some beautiful old gateways and a good deal of the old wall—in fact there seems to have been a moat, between 2 walls. At first the people were rather tiresome, one man would follow us trying to act as guide. He bent down trying to kiss Frank’s feet, but as we still told him to go away he turned on us in anger. At last we got away to the sea shore and I managed to make a little sketch. The snow mountains in the distance, pale and ethereal looking, and the brilliant, but dark, blue sea were exquisite. One of the mountains is about 10,000 ft high, and it is not often one sees snow mountains close to the sea.
Walking through the Bazaars was interesting. Bought a few things, some made by prisoners. Great bake houses with huge ovens heated by fire inside, nice and clean. Watched the bread being baked. Found some pretty yellow flowers and asphodel. We are quite delighted with Rhodes.
We steamed on again at 1.0 o’clock. Frank wasn’t feeling very well, but we went into a lecture by Monsignor Barnes on the ‘Eastern Church’. There were mountains on one side of us.
After open sea during the night we are now, 11a.m. just passing Cyprus, but it is a good long way off and not very clear. I suppose it is only about 9.0 o’clock with you. ‘Isn’t that queer’ as Robert is constantly saying. After Cyprus open sea again. Very hot indeed on deck. Frank still not very well.
Woke up to find ourselves at Beyrout, a charmingly situated large town on a promontory with the mountains of Lebanon beyond. They were mostly in cloud at first as it was raining, but it cleared up into a hot beautiful day in the afternoon, and high mountains covered with snow were visible. Unfortunately it rained most of the morning when we were on shore and the mud was simply fearful. We had been told that it was one of the best places for buying things but we did not find it at all good for that, but the Bazaars were interesting for the people were so busy making things. A lot of cooking was going on, and some of the things looked delicious. Tiny bits of meat were being boiled with tomato on a gridiron, each of them on a big skewer.
Here the people never bothered us to buy. I bought a parasol for 2/6. I have lost my only warm gloves—such beauties that Bertha gave me—but alas for the morality on board, anything left lying about disappears for ever!
In one tiny shop there was a sheep with its little lamb. When we returned to the ship it was rather rough, and after lunch the captain refused to let anyone go ashore, so we are here on board till 11p.m. and then start steaming again. The sunset over the snow mountain was glorious, and now the sparkling lights of the town are very lovely. We have just been able to see Cyprus far away in the distance. There is a dance tonight with the officers, but fortunately our cabin is far away and we hear nothing of it. Breakfast is at 7.15, so we shall go to bed early.
Goodbye all—much, much love from Mary.
P.S. It is awful having to wait till Saturday for letters, that will be about 10 days since we last heard.
A glorious day. Breakfast at 7.15 and left for the shore at Haifa, (where we have just arrived) at 8.0. A pretty little place on the slopes of Mount Carmel, quite a low mountain, 500 ft to 1800 ft further back from the shore, with palm trees by the shore The mountain is very bare, though it looked pretty enough in the sunlight. The boatmen sang ‘Habahab’ (one of them) and the others answered ‘Bil lic gee’ and they kept this up all the time they were rowing.
Our special train started at 9.0 and for 3 hours the journey was of great interest. It is difficult to remember that Palestine is so small, only about the size of Wales. First we passed along the Plain of Acre, then crossed the tiny river Kishon where the prophets of Baal were slain, (it is to be hoped my biblical knowledge will be improved after this tour) and came out on the Plain of Esdraelon or Jezreel. Masses of scarlet, blue and white ‘wind flowers’ brought Father constantly to my mind. I enclose one which I pressed, though I longed to be able to send you a big box full. We don’t, unfortunately, know the names of nearly all the flowers. I enclose one or two others also. There were a lot of yellow flowers, either iris’s or some kind of lily. The hills of Gilboa were on our right and further on, on the other side was Mount Tabor where the Transfiguration is supposed to have taken place.
Then we descended into the valley of the Jordan, crossed the river itself, a poor muddy stream, with the mountains of Moab rising in front. There were lots of Bedouin tents scattered about and herds of cattle and sheep and goats; vultures flying over our heads. We had a short stop at one place to eat biscuits, photograph etc. It reminded me a good deal of our tour in the desert, though really so very different.
Soon after 1.0 we arrived at a mud hut village called Simakh where we got into 3 or 4 large boats and were towed across the sea of Galilee by a small steam tug. It took about an hour to reach Tiberias. Really it was a thrilling experience to be on the Sea of Galilee, I think more so than I had expected, and I cannot describe the beauty. Beautiful sunshine, brilliant bluey green water, bare hills mostly roundabout, but a beautiful colour, with red soil and green grass, snow covered Mt. Hermon far away to the North, and above all the feeling that here was where Christ lived and spent most of his public life.
It was about 2.0 o’clock when we reached Tiberias. Frank and I and about 30 others are staying at the Franciscan Monastery with a lot of others: the rest are at the hotel. It is rather a new experience. We had an excellent lunch of several courses and started directly afterwards in the boats again and went right down the lake, past what remains of Magdala and Bethsaida to Capernaum. Here there is nothing, except some excavations of an old synagogue on the supposed site of the synagogue that was built by the Roman centurion. There are some fine vases and capitals of pillars and some beautiful carving, but everything is in ruin.
Winds seem to spring up very suddenly on the Sea of Galilee (F says the place is the very one for a supposed miracle) and going back it was rough and very cold and the sun set leaving a beautiful glow on Mt. Hermon but we were glad to get back to Tiberias at 6.0 o’clock and soon afterwards we had an excellent dinner, waited on by one monk and other men. Then Frank and I walked about on the roof looking at the stars and the lake and the lights of the village till we went early to bed. The beds were very comfortable, but the dogs outside made a fearful noise.
Breakfast at 7.15 and started at 8.0. We were with Mr and Mrs Felton Smith, people who have lived in India. There were about 18 traps, very comfortable, like small char-a-bancs with a light cover to keep off sun or rain, 3 horses, and as only 4 people were allowed in each they were nice and roomy. Well, the road—it ought hardly to be called a road, and I’m sure any English driver would have said it was an impossibility to drive along it. It was something like Honiston Pass, only the stones were great huge things, set in the midst of deep soil! We ascended first of all a very long way, and most of us were glad to walk, being tired of being lazy. The view from the top of the ‘pass’ was superb; the blue lake below and snowy Hermon and the pale blue mountains all round. Everywhere, too, masses of scarlet, purple and white ‘wind flowers’, but mostly scarlet, and so large that they looked like poppies, and small blue irises, broom, cyclamen (fancy this hot house plant growing wild!) which was very sweet scented and many other flowers. It grew cooler as we got higher. Of course the lake of Galilee is 680 ft below sea level and that seems so funny. At Cana, where we arrived about 12.0 we saw 2 churches, a Greek and Latin, each of which contains a large jar which is supposed to be the one in which the water was turned into wine! There is a C.M.S school here and we listened to the children singing ‘Jesus loves me’ in English so nicely.
We had an ‘al fresco’ lunch in an olive grove then ascended chiefly for a long distance till we reached the top of the hill above Nazareth. The view was simply splendid; the pretty little town at our feet, surrounded by mountains and the sea in the distance where we could just make out the ‘Dunottar Castle’.
Frank and I stayed at the Germania Hotel, a very comfortable, spotless, German place. We had some tea and then started out about 3.30 by ourselves, instead of with the dragoman and a party. First we went to the Virgin’s fountain which is considered quite authentic. The women were filling their pitchers and washing the wool out of the mattresses, which they do once a year before Easter.
Frank had been given £1 by a Councillor in York and asked to deliver it to Dr Scrimgeour of Edinburgh Medical Mission, so we called at his house, but he was out. His man took us along the road and presently we met him and his wife. It was a most fortunate introduction to us, for they put themselves at our disposal and took us about the town. He is a most interesting, good looking man, fairly young, and his wife extremely pleasant and interesting too, and we heard much about the people and their customs. I should think these 2 people do an enormous amount of good in the place. We went first to the small Greek church which is built over the ‘spring’ of the Virgin’s fountain and we drank some of the water. It is a very old church. Then we climbed to the top of the hill to get the view once more. Here we met 2 other people and they joined us for a bit. Coming back we stopped to watch a small child making lace. It is done quite differently from any I have seen, simply with an ordinary needle and cotton, and some of it is beautiful. Then we went over the hospital, and it was most interesting. It is only an ordinary house, cleverly turned into a hospital, but a proper one is soon to be built. It would be nice to be rich and help these things. There are only 22 beds, but often people have to be on the floor on mattresses. We saw all the patients, children, men and women, and a little baby 3 days old, a nice, brown little thing. There is a good operating room, and 1 man had been operated on that morning. They say these people like operations! There is a Matron and several nurses (English). They seemed very nice. The patients come from great distances, sometimes several days away, often strapped on the back of a camel even when they are nearly dying. How luxurious this hospital must seem to them! Dr. And Mrs Scrimgeour kindly asked us to supper, so we went back with them and were met by their 2 little boys, the same age as Bobbo and Margaret. They made me feel homesick, but were sweet little things and they called their pet lamb into the room for us to see, and were very friendly. It was nice to sit in a real home again, and it was interesting to see an Eastern one with Eastern curtains and carpets and so on. We had supper of sausages and fried eggs and pancakes, and halawei, a sweet hard substance make from sesame, also another native dish which I quite liked. Then we saw a native Bride. Mrs S’s last cook was married about 3 weeks ago and came back to see her with her husband. She was dressed in a trousseau dress, blue silk, with many bracelets, rings and a gold or gilt necklace rather like a lot of coins, and a small wreath of artificial flowers in her hair. Her husband wore Arab dress with black coils round his head. Girls are usually married between 14 and 20, but this one was older. The future husband pays the Father according to what he can afford and gives the bride her trousseau, if possible at least 4 good dresses. After the engagement he may not see the Bride till they are married—she is all covered up till the ceremony is over. There is a week’s festivities, either before or after the wedding, I forget which, in which the bride sits on a raised place, dressed first in one dress and then another. For a week after she is married she may not see her mother, and she may not go out for 40 days, but this girl was so anxious to see her last mistress that she had come out when it was dark!
Soon after this we went back to the hotel, a native man leading us with a lantern. It was all such a unique experience. Before going to bed we bought various things from the natives who were very jolly, but oh bed was nice, and space also.
We left Nazareth in the same carriages at 9.0 o’clock in a very cold East wind. However, it grew warmer as the day went on. Part of the way the road was better than yesterday, but going down a long steep hill, something like the Faleide hill, only I should think a good deal rougher, the drivers began to race and to make the horses gallop. How we escaped an accident I know not: there nearly was one, and some of us complained to the agent, for it was madness—fancy these large traps and 3 horses tearing one after the other down a narrow steep rocky road, full of huge ruts!! They certainly are excellent drivers. Lunch in an oak wood full of beautiful broom, anemones etc., and I think syringa, but it has been a terrible winter, so it wasn’t out. It was so nice to see trees, small though they were, for the country is so very bare—it is only the colouring that makes it beautiful and the flowers.
We passed the village where Joel killed Sisera, and were jolted back to Haifa and rowed to the ship. It was about 2.30 and we had been 23 miles today. I must say I felt tired out with the jolting, but tea has done wonders. I do wish the next few days were not quite so full. Of course we travel in luxury, but it is tiring going with a huge party, especially when they are not all congenial. It is astonishing to me that 70 people can be so comfortably looked after in a dirty village like Tiberias, but of course it is arranged long beforehand.
Breakfast at 7.15, and left for the shore at Jaffa, whither we had steamed during the night. Fortunately it was calm enough to land—the Damasens party had had an awful time embarking at Haifa yesterday. Walked to Simon the Tanner’s house and on to the roof where Peter had the vision, and then drove to the station and had the most comfortable special train leaving at 9.15 for Jerusalem. On the whole the journey was rather dull, though we passed through some splendid orange groves—you could buy a large basket for 1 franc. We passed the place where Samson tied the foxes tails and where he lived and died also. Near Jerusalem we went through a very fine gorge, only very bare except for some shrubs. I think these would have been covered with a sort of wild roses only everything is a month late. Our train was late also, and it was after 2.0 when we reached Jerusalem. Here we all got into carriages and tore off up a hill, but our horses refused to go suddenly, and there was a scrimmage of carriages and one nearly upset, so we jumped out and walked. We are in special parties here of 12, and our party is staying at Notre Dame de France, I suppose a sort of hospice, but really a very large hotel. We have brought 2 waiters with us from the ship!! Archdeacon Cunningham asked us to join his party which was rather nice; I have hardly seen anything of him, but today when walking with him I said ‘I wonder if you ever met my Father, Dr Spence Watson?’ He said ‘Dear me, I was best man to one of your Aunts, Mrs John Gurney’. Unfortunately just then there was no more time for talk.
After a late lunch we started out with a guide and went first to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Outside vendors of relics, rosaries, etc, were selling their wares, and as there was a special service a guard of Turkish soldiers was drawn up to prevent any quarrelling between the rival sects. Rather dreadful, isn’t it?
When we first entered the building we felt much impressed. It is absolutely unlike anything one has ever seen, gorgeous with red and green lamps and dimness, and ornamentation, but chiefly it is the people that impress one. There was a huge pilgrimage of Russians; poor things they had taken about 6 months to get here and the men looked so unkempt and wild with quite long hair and beards. Then all sorts of sects and nationalities are there, kissing pillars and tombs and all sorts of things; a school of little children with nuns being taken into various chapels to pray and so on. The Holy Sepulchre is within a tiny chapel through a very low doorway, and the marble sarcophagus which is supposed to be the tomb of Christ takes up nearly the whole room. 43 lamps are always burning here.
I wished we could have come away after seeing this, while we still had a feeling of awe and reverence. Alas, this disappeared, for so many of the other things we saw were simply legends or absurdities. All the different sects have got a separate chapel in this church, and they each pretend to have something special in it, e.g. the Chapel of the Copts, the Chapel of the Syrians, where are the tombs of Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, and many other chapels. It is a very large place, and was full of people and beggars everywhere. The Chapel of the finding of the Cross—here the legend is that the Empress Helena found the 3 Crosses, and did not know which was the right one. The body of a dead Jew was applied to 2 of the crosses and nothing happened, but when he touched the 3rd he was raised from the dead, so this was the true cross.
After seeing this church, we went through horrid smelling dirty bazaars and slums to the beautiful Dome of the Rock, sometimes called Mosque of Omar, standing on a wide open space called the Haram-esh-Sherif. To enter this building you have to put on slippers and have a Kawas from the English Consul and be accompanied by a Turkish soldier! Outside, there are beautiful Porcelain tiles; inside it is gloomy but beautiful, and there is very fine stained glass. There is a dome 98 ft high. The sacred rock stands on the summit of Mount Moriah. It is the place where Abraham offered up Isaac and where the Jewish Temple stood. There are many other ‘supposed’ things which we had to see, and to ‘backsheesh’ in order to go to Heaven.
We also visited the Mosqu-el-Aska, Solomon’s stables (one of the oldest things in Rome) [sc. Jerusalem] and the Golden Gate, but I got very tired and found these last not very interesting. So far I feel very disappointed with Jerusalem. It is so dusty and bare and glaring—even the Mount of Olives hardly has a tree on it and no green grass, and I thought it would be beautiful. We had a good dinner, and a walk on the large roof afterwards.
It was so lovely to get your letters just as we left the ship and I read and re-read them in the train. You cannot think how welcome they were after the long gap of nearly 10 days. Will Evie please take thanks for hers here, as there is not much time for writing just now. I had a delightful letter too, from Mr Baynes and Daisy and several very nice ones about Father. Mr B says Daisy is a ‘treasure’. He gave a lovely account of the children and how fond the maids are of them—3 maids putting baby to bed one night!! It was so very kind of you to remember M’s birthday and send her such nice things. Mr B says Robin behaved very well on that occasion though he could not understand why he got nothing and thought he ought to have 2 birthdays!
Very cold this morning, and a tearing wind. Most of the party went to church, so F and I, the 2 Mr Fardons and Captain Tomson went off alone with the dragoman, a small party being much nicer than a large one. We went up and down Mt Zion, which is anything but what its name implies, and to various churches, but I don’t think I’ll speak about them all. In one there was some very beautiful mother-of-pearl work. We saw the stone which was rolled away from the Holy Sepulchre and the place where the cock crew! But when it comes to Adam’s tomb one feels one has seen enough. The Jews wailing place was really interesting, though very few of them were there today—they wail because they have lost Jerusalem, but they still hope to get it back again. I think Jerusalem is most disappointing, though I had not expected much, and it is one of the dirtiest, smelliest places we have been in. We had lunch early and started at 1.30 to drive to Bethlehem, about 7 miles away. The drive there and back was not enjoyable, an awful road, a cold, tearing wind and clouds of dust. Bethlehem itself was immensely interesting, and most of the women were dressed in costume, as it was Sunday I suppose, and looked so picturesque—a blue gown embroidered with red on the breast, a long embroidered coat with open sleeves and a long white veil over a tall peaked cap.
First we went to the Church of the Nativity where in the real rock the place where Christ was born is shown and the manger, but being all lit with lamps and decorated it is difficult to imagine it as it must have been. 3 years ago the Greek and Roman pilgrims had a fight, so now there are always soldiers about. St. Jerome’s cell, close to, is, I believe, quite authentic. Service was going on in the Greek church above.
We then went a short walk and saw the field of Boaz in the distance, and the field where the shepherds were watching their flocks. The Milk Grotto where a lot of people mostly women in white were praying; the cavern is supposed to be white owing to a drop of the Virgin’s milk having been spilt there!!
But the most interesting thing, in some ways, that we saw, was not part of the programme at all. A few of us got into a real peasant’s house, and the pretty woman seemed pleased to let us see it. Down some steps there was a stable with a donkey in it, quite visible, above that was a room with pigeons flying about, saddles on the floor etc, and through that the one living room. It was a fair size, mud floor, one window, a baby asleep in a cradle in the corner, the mattresses of the family heaped one on another behind it; a very large stone vessel where the corn is stored, and the woman showed us the 2 round stones into one of which it is first put and the other worked on the top to grind it. The people seem to live very much with their animals, and it makes the story of the birth at Bethlehem seem very real.
In the evening we had a hour’s lecture on Jerusalem, chiefly the geography of it and the excavations from Dr Masterman, brother of the M.P. who is Doctor of the English Mission here.
Breakfast 6.30, left at 7.15 in carriages of 4, with 3 horses, for Jericho. Very curious descending nearly all the way between 3 and 4000 ft, for the Dead Sea is 1300 ft below the sea-level. It had rained in the night, so the dust was rather laid. It was the usual sort of road, sometimes like simply driving over rocks, but one learns to trust the drivers (who never get drunk!) and the horses are so sure-footed and run up and down equally well. The only thing I hate is when all the carriages race and try to pass each other where there is hardly an inch of room. Fortunately there are not awful precipices on the side as in Dauphiné.
We passed the inn of the Good Samaritan. I think the Dead Sea is about 15 miles from Jerusalem, but it is several miles from Jericho which we reached about 10.30, but drove straight on to the site of ancient Jericho, where we saw the excavations roughly. We could see part of the old town walls; it was picturesque seeing the women helping to carry things on their heads, in their blue gowns, but the Austrian manager was very grumpy.
We are staying at the Jordan hotel, a huge party of us. After lunch at 12.30 we drove on again over a sandy track (preferable to the made roads) to the Dead Sea. It is very large, 47 miles long and about 5 miles wide, and was rather rough. Oh, I forgot, we drove first to the Jordan and saw a unique sight—a party of peasants, bathing. Some of them wore nice white dresses, (they all wore something) but poor things they were frightened. It is rather a swift muddy river and I shouldn’t have liked it myself, but a man helped them and pushed them under. Men and women all jabbering at once, and dressing among the foliage at the side of the river, with a little regard to propriety.
It is pretty and green here; down by the Dead Sea it is like a desert. Frank and I walked off at once, determined to try and get a bathe, and we are the only two who did, but no one suspects that I did such a thing. It is not so very remarkable, except so salt, but then we didn’t try to swim for it was so rough. It was not at all cold and most refreshing.
The 2 Mr Fardons were in a great state when we returned and said lots of carriages had been kept waiting, but the people are always in a hurry to get back to the hotel for some unearthly reason—they are most unenterprising! Our carriage stuck in the mud and had to be hauled out, otherwise we got back alright except for a shower.
F and I ordered tea and Archdeacon Cunningham came and talked to us. He said he had stayed with Aunt Nelly’s Father and Mother when he came to her wedding and then he described Bensham Grove, and I said ‘Why that’s my old home’, and he said he always looked out for it when passing in the train. He also said he and Mr Ede used to lecture for the Univ. Ext. and were 2 of the first lecturers, and that a friend of his—E.Y.C Morton—had an intense admiration for Father. You can’t think how nice it was to hear someone speak of Father at last, for it was horrid to feel no one here knew him or cared. I feel very, very sorry for one of the party—a young girl we left at Nazareth as her father was ill, and we hear he has died. He had a weak heart and went up a hill, though being a Dr he ought to have taken care, and it brought on a heart attack. I am sure the Scrimgeours will help her all they can, but it will be dreadful for her. It does not feel very hot here, but I suppose it is because of the bad season. It is funny to think we’ve been in the lowest depths of the earth today.
Tonight our head dragoman gave a most interesting lecture on the Bedouins, their life and customs. The latter he compared a great deal to the Old Testament. You will see we hardly have any time to spare for writing or reading.
Earlier still today! Breakfast 5.30 and started at 6.0, after a fight between one of the drivers and the head dragoman; they had to be separated by some of our gentlemen. Some of the drivers are awful and this fight was all about nothing, and was not the dragoman’s fault in the least. Travellers have ruined these people by giving them undeserved ‘backsheesh’!
Of course the drive back to Jerusalem was practically all uphill and we had to walk a good deal, though the horses are splendid. We gave them an hour’s rest at the Good Samaritan’s Inn. We had nothing to eat between 5.30 and nearly 1.0 except an orange! Just before getting here we stopped at the Mount of Olives and visited the Garden of Gethsemane and the Place of Transfiguration. Some of these places it would be best not to visit.
The long fast and the jolting, etc, had made my head ache, so F has gone off with the others, riding on donkeys, and I have stayed in to rest and write. I got to the pitch of caring nothing about anything, and after all we’ve seen most of the authentic sights and I don’t like the others. I must say I wish we had been ending up with Palestine and not going on Egypt. I don’t feel as if I could take in much more!
It was interesting seeing the many pilgrims on the road today, some driving, some walking and many on donkeys, sometimes 2 children on one. There was a woman with a small baby in her arms on a donkey and a tiny child strapped on behind her. Poor little things, they must get weary and be very uncomfortable. I am writing on the top of the huge roof of this hotel with a splendid view of Jerusalem all round, but it is rather cold. After F came in we went down to see the Church of the Holy Sepulchre once more, but it was mostly dark and gloomy, not being lit up.
A glorious hot day. Left Jerusalem at 8.30, on board by 1.0 and started steaming at 4.0. Jaffa is very flat, but quite pretty.
A rush into the saloon before breakfast (which was at 7.30) for letters. Oh, how welcome they were—thanks lots of times to all who wrote, Mother, Ruth, Evie, Bertha, and Aunt Gertie; also for a Friend and Nation. The article in the ‘Friend’ is very beautiful. There is hardly a word I should like altered, except I don’t think the Bootham part by Mr Rowntree is as nice as it might be. I was so very glad to get it and had time to read and re-read it in the train, for the journey from Port Said to Cairo is about 4 hours, first along the Delta of the Nile and then through cultivated fields. We drove straight to our hotels; most of us are staying at the National, a rather swell place, excellent food and nice in every way. We were very ready for a good lunch as it was after 2.0 when we got here. It is lovely to have a large bedroom with wardrobe, etc, after a cabin in which you can hardly move, and I’ve stuck up all your photos, so that it looks very nice. Little tables for meals too are jolly, and the first night we had very good music at dinner time.
Directly after lunch we went off sight-seeing in carriages, and oh, the bliss of driving on a proper road with rubber tyres. I must say civilization has a good deal in its favour! We went first to the Citadel from whence there is a grand view of the large city (bigger than we had imagined) and the Nile and the pyramids in the distance. Close to is the Mosque of Mohamed Aly or the Alabaster Mosque. It is modern, but fine, but we are getting rather tired of seeing mosques. On the way there we passed a Mohammedan bride driving from the church in a grand carriage with 4 horses, a red carriage, and footmen and coachman in swell livery. The blinds were down so we couldn’t see her, but we saw the veiled women in the other carriages. The dragoman said he could take me to the reception in the evening, but F might not go, so I gave it up.
We then drove to the Mosque of Sultan Hassan, older than the other and not in good repair owing to Napoleon having fired shots at it, (some of the bullets are still in the wall!) and then to the Arab University which was really interesting. There are about 8000 students and 200 professors. A good many students were there sitting on the floor minus shoes of course, for it is a mosque too, and each had a book from which he was learning, repeating passages half aloud and swaying his body to and fro to help him to learn. How they ever do it I can’t think, for they are mostly in little groups in an uncovered room and there is talking and walking about going on all the time. We saw some beautiful wood work windows here. Then we just glanced at the Bazaars before returning to the Hotel. The waiters are so picturesque, all in long white gowns, red slippers, red fez and a broad red band round their waists. They are very dark coloured, and can not speak English.
About 40 or 50 of us went a special excursion for which we paid nearly £1 each, but we thought it would be worth while. We went up the Nile in a small steamer at 9.30 for about 2 hours, having lunch on board, and passing beautiful palm trees, fields, and animals everywhere. The camels laden with green look very fine. They come in to market I suppose laden with vegetables, which you can just see sticking out from the green grass that is put round them. Often a string of camels are tied together, one behind another, and led by a little donkey, and they put up their haughty heads and look about in a most supercilious manner.
When we got to our destination we were nearly torn to pieces by donkey boys, but finally all got mounted and started off first to see what has been excavated of the old city of Memphis and 2 colossal statues of Rameses II lying in a grove of palms. They are supposed to have belonged to the Temple of Ptah.
We then rode on to the Step Pyramid, said to be the oldest building in the world, but not particularly impressive I thought, but the ride over the sand with ponds of blue water, palm trees, and behind the green a marvellous blue sky was most beautiful. Also we passed a pond in which a lot of buffaloes were having a swim, a most extraordinary sight. I hope our photo of it will come out. Buffaloes are used a great deal for ploughing. Near the pyramid are the tombs of Ti and Mera. We went into both. They are huge places with lots of rooms and in Mera some of the wall paintings are a very good colour and perfectly clear. But our dragoman did not speak good English, and there were so many of us that we could not see or hear well, which was a pity. In some of the pictures you see life in Egypt at the time, that is 3000 B.C. people carpentering and so on.
Then we went into the Mausoleum of the Apis Bulls. Their coffins weigh about 64 tons each, and are made of enormous slabs of granite. It was quite dark and fearfully close in here. We saw the skeleton of one of the bulls today in the Museum, taken from the tomb.
The donkey ride back was very exhausting, as they cantered most of the way and sometimes trotted. It was fun, but my saddle was uncomfortable, so the after effects are not pleasant. It was about 16 miles there and back, and the donkeys men ran barefoot all the way. But we had a horrid time over ‘backsheesh’ at the end (people are quite idiotic, some of them tip the whole way along!) and were glad to get on the boat again and have some very poor tea. We landed about 6.30 and F and I walked to the hotel, pretty tired. In fact we went to bed at 9.30! but I was wakened at 3.0 a.m. with mosquitoes which had somehow got into the net. Do you remember how we had mosquito hunts for Father every night at Santo Cruz and how excited he used to be! I was glancing at the London Illustrated here yesterday (we have hardly seen any papers till we got here) and came across Father’s portrait and a little account of him. It was so nice. The portrait was the one in his P. Councillor gown.
I’ve enjoyed today more than yesterday. We started in carriage at 9.30, F and I in one alone, and drove for about an hour to the Pyramids of Ghizeh. Directly we alighted a swarm of donkey boys, camel boys and the animals themselves surrounded us and the noise was absolutely deafening. Eventually, however, we all set off in different directions, F and I to climb the great Pyramid, each with 2 men to help us. It is not necessary, but one can’t get rid of them. It is certainly a most impressive object, and I think more so after you have climbed it and the view from the top is splendid. Far away you see Cairo and the minarets near the Citadel, below are green fields and palm trees, and far away on one side as far as the eye can reach, stretches the dreary interminable desert. I felt rather giddy looking almost straight down for 451 ft, and rather dreaded the going down, but it was easier than going up, and not quite so hot. The weather is lovely, just like a hot but fresh English summer day—not at all too hot. After we had descended Frank mounted a camel and rode to the Sphinx. After yesterday’s experiences I preferred to walk. The Sphinx is a wonderful object, but you know it from pictures, so I needn’t describe it. It is supposed to be a God or sacred to a God.
We then had lunch at the Mena Hotel, a great place with a lovely garden of flowers, saw pictures of Hamar Greenwood and Miss Spencer in the ‘Lady’s Pictorial’! and then drove back to Cairo, stopping to see the great museum. I was stiff and tired, and found it a burden going round, though some things were very interesting, particularly the mummies and the models of the old Egyptian houses, these latter having been buried in the tombs, and some beautiful necklaces, etc, that had also been buried. There is a room where they sell real antiquities and we bought 2 little figures found near Luxor in tombs belonging to the 18th dynasty or thereabouts—about 1600 B.C.
Tea at the hotel was very welcome and I’ve been writing ever since. At 6.0 p.m. it was 70 in the shade!
We spent the morning in the Bazaars which are very fascinating in Cairo, but we wished we knew the real value of things for bargaining is rather hopeless when you don’t . We saw some weaving of silk on hand looms and of course all the ordinary sights of oriental bazaars—men sitting in front of their little shops making red and yellow slippers, cooking, grinding corn, etc. These bazaars were a good long way from our hotel.
In the afternoon we read and wrote and after a little tea, walked all the way to the Citadel hoping to see a fine sunset like there was last night, but it was only a fine red glow. It was funny to be standing among a lot of young English soldiers.
Left Cairo in a special train at 9.45 and were back on the steamer at 2.30, very eager for lunch. It is interesting part of the way passing along by the Suez Canal, and seeing the large steamers going up it.
We found a large washing bill awaiting us, for we had not been warned that the charge at Port Said (the only place where we have managed to get things washed) is by the dozen, so that it pays well if you send a lot of very large things, but badly if you try to be economical and send small things!!
We started sailing at 4.0 o’clock and soon got out of sight of land. I had some interesting talk with Miss Murray Dunlop and Mr Cunningham. I had shown them the account of Father in the Nation. Miss Dunlop’s nephew—Mr Lindsay who I think Evie knows—married Erica Storr who taught at the Mount. I find the Cunninghams and I know a good many of the same people. Mr C is on the school board in Edinburgh and used to know Miss Flora Stevenson of course. We went very early to bed. I was so tired and sleepy and am still very stiff with pyramids and donkey rides.
Glorious deep blue sea, white capped, but we feel no motion. In the afternoon there was a display in the saloon of the various things people had bought during the tour. It really was immense fun. I suppose only about 30 or 40 competed, Frank and I among the number, but it really was a very fine show, from sets of armour and daggers to Armenian work, brass trays, Turkish delight and sponges! Our little show looked quite presentable and certainly very varied, and I don’t think we’d have done badly had there been a limit to the price, for I guess ours was one of the least expensive, but apparently the prize was chiefly given for the most expensive show, and as regard that of course we had no chance. But most of us went in for it just to see the things and not to try and get a prize. Mr Watkin Watkins had a wonderful collection, chiefly of old snuff boxes which he had picked up at different places, but he was not competing for he is a real connoisseur. In the evening the sailors were having a sort of concert on their deck, some of them dressed up in blankets etc. and playing a comb or concertina and drums. It was very amusing to watch. Most of the people were having an auction with regard to a sweepstake, but we didn’t have anything to do with that. And then there was a proper concert, and Frank sang ‘The Island of Sorrow.’ Most of the other things were rather poor, but the Bandmaster did some good conjuring.
A decided swell on. We passed Crete and could just see its snow mountains, but unfortunately a heavy thunderstorm came on and hid the land. It is rather close and showery. I found a lady on board doing some ‘smocking’ and asked her to teach me, so I’ve been doing it for part of the morning. All day the sports competition went on vigorously—the pillow fights and cock fights were quite amusing to watch. Frank went in for the gentlemen’s potato race and nearly won. I wished he had quite, for I don’t like the gentleman who beat him!
Several pretty little birds flew on to the ship, a ‘swift’ and different sorts of finches, one with a brilliant yellow breast. They were given water and bread, and I expect will stick to the ship for they seemed so tired. Unfortunately I’m afraid people have caught them and put two of them into a tiny cage—such a shame!
Last night I was sitting in the half dark and one of them came and alighted on my head, but soon went, for it gave me a fright and I moved. They are very tame.
These three days are now nearly over and then we shall seem nearly home. They have gone quicker than I thought they would, but still I am longing for tomorrow and land!
We’ve just been looking out trains, etc, for next week. I shall post tomorrow at Catania, though the purser is not sure whether the letters will arrive sooner than if kept for Naples. Tomorrow we have a railway journey and then drive to Taormina, steam on again at night and have Saturday at Naples, (Pompeii) thence to Sorrento and Capri and then Marseilles, and as quickly home as possible.
Today is sunny, hot and the sea a glorious blue. We’ve been reading and writing all the afternoon (and I went to sleep too) but the time seemed rather long. A lot more birds appeared.
I woke about 6.0 and the sun had not properly risen—I jumped up and looked out at the portholes. We had just anchored, and there was glorious Mt. Etna covered with snow. It was lucky we saw it so clearly, for after an hour or two ‘it vanished and was not’ for the rest of the day. Surely Father and Mother went up it once?
We were on shore soon after 8.0 and then had a very beautiful train journey of an hour or more to Giardini. On one side the sea, smooth as a mill pond and all the colours of the rainbow, rocky islands, houses close down by the shore, the distant mountains of Italy, and then on our other side great mountains and rock villages and miles and miles of lemon groves. I have never seen lemons growing in such profusion before: I think they beat the orange groves at Jaffa!
At Giardini carriages awaited us and we drove up the winding road for over 600 ft to Taormina and went straight to see the Greco-Roman theatre which I expect Mother knows. It is considered very perfect, but the best part is the magnificent view from it. Etna was hidden, but the view was indescribably beautiful. I had no idea that Sicily was so lovely, and after the desert and dry and arid Palestine I dare say one doubly appreciates its luxuriance. Oh the roses and irises and frisias and wisteria and lemons and stocks. This is the place for Mother and Ruth to pay a visit to. We did a little shopping and had lunch in different hotels—we had a good one at the ‘Bristol’ to the accompaniment of Santa Lucia, Funiculi, etc with banjos and mandolins!
Then Frank and I went to Miss Hill’s beautiful house with the church and lovely cloisters. She was showing a lot of Sicilian work, some made by the Messinian orphans. It was lovely but very expensive, but we bought 2 little things. It was a pity most people didn’t know about it, or they would probably have sold more.
We drove back to the station to catch a train on to Messina about 4.0. The railway ride of 1½ hours or more was again beautiful, though the day had become rather stormy. There were great bushes of scarlet geraniums growing on the railway banks and again splendid lemon groves.
We just walked through Messina to the boats and it was a tragic walk. I had no idea of what it would be like. No newspaper account and certainly no words of mine can make you realize what that poor place looks like 2 years after the earthquake. Almost the whole place seems a ruin, though often the front wall of a house is standing, and in many places enough remains to show what splendid buildings they were, especially the Town hall and Cathedral. In heaps of places one can see they have not been touched and the bodies of thousands must still be lying there undiscovered. The papers are still on the walls, and occasionally you see a sofa or broken chairs. And now the poor people who escaped are living in tiny huts with iron roofs.
We had a stormy boat ride back to the steamer at 6.30 and started at once in a great wind for Naples.
Excuse hurry, but it is very late and we’ve had a tiring day. Much love to all.
Anchored at Naples. Rather stormy and a thunderstorm. However we went for the shore at 9.15 and then by train to Pompeii, which took about an hour—a horrid shaky train. Fortunately though there were heavy showers all the morning we did not get into them much. Of course we had to see Pompeii rather hurriedly. It is very fascinating, though having heard so much about it beforehand from you and Father I think I was a little disappointed. We saw the chief rooms with their wonderfully preserved frescoes; the courts with their beautiful pillars, and gardens inside; bakeries, wine shops, etc. We also saw the marks of the chariot wheels, ruts, in the road, and the little museum which was specially interesting with the pathetic bodies of men and women, a little child and a dog, which were covered with plaster of Paris after they were discovered and so the exact shape and position has been preserved. There were also leaves of bread, eggs, fruit, vases, jars, a chariot wheel, etc. We had not time to see Pompeii very thoroughly in 1½ hours. After lunch at the Hotel Sunrise we took train back to Naples, but not arriving till nearly 4.0 were very disappointed at being too late for the Museum. F and I therefore drove to the Arcade and got some poor tea and chocolate and shopped a little, getting the 6.0 boat back to the ship. It looked very stormy.
Fancy dress ball. The people appeared in their dresses at dinner and some of them were very good, though only a few had been made on board. We voted on them afterwards. (Very) rough in the night.
Stormy, but improved, though rough all the morning. Nice sunshine, but bitterly cold. Steamed to Sorrento, which looked a glorious place, and Capri, but unfortunately the captain said it was too rough for landing, so we started for Marseilles.
Calmer today. Packed, etc. it seemed a long day.
Arrived at Marseilles very early. After much discussion Frank and I decided to take the slow train and travel straight through, so we left the boat about 8.0, drove to the station and registered our luggage, then went a walk and bought hard-boiled eggs, bread, and butter and started by the 11.50 train—a few others of our party doing likewise. Up to Lyons the train was very full. It is a lovely journey, and all the blossom was out. Arrived Lyons about 6.40 just before dark, and got a very good 3 francs dinner in the buffet with the Fardons and Davenports. The train did not go on again till 8.25 p.m. and we much enjoyed the wait at Lyons. We settled very early for the night, being tired, and only 2 other gentlemen were in the carriage. They got out at 12 p.m. but another got in. However we had a fair amount of snatches of sleep, and arrived in Paris.
At 6 a.m. we got the girdle and drank our coffee which we had in the Thermos and ate our rolls and eggs. The steamer at Boulogne was literally packed, but I had another doze and we ate some more of our provisions, 4 meals having cost us about 2/–! We have to be economical as we have run pretty short of money, as cabs, etc in Marseilles cost far more than we expected. I am now finishing this in the train on the way to Charing X, and soon now we hope to be home.
We have been so very lucky as regards weather, having only had rain about twice, and having missed all the storms the papers have talked about.
It has been a very interesting time and of course lovely to be with Frank, but I have not felt the atmosphere sympathetic, and the people have not been interesting on the whole.
[Transcript by Katharine S. Coleman, with her permission.]