Turin to Brindisi and Embarkation on Trebizonda
On route to Brindisi. Daylight broke at Rimini where I first saw the Adriatic, and all day long our course lay by its shore, except when some promontory stands in the way, and then one cuts across. Looking inland the country is hilly, and on many of them is perched a town or castle. The top of a hill appears to be chosen for building almost universally here.
The country folks are pretty numerous, and nearly as many women as men outdoors employed on the land or shore. Large quantities of seaweed is gathered into heaps, for manure, I presume. The men are all .... the women about ½ and ½. We have passed several parties of fishermen, about 10 together. The nets are all very long and are floated with corks. Then the men are divided - the majority with one end of the net in a boat, the other end on shore with two or three to haul it along. I have seen very few horses but lots of oxen yoked to carts. The vines here are trained up small trees, and not on poles as in France. I have indulged in a bottle of wine, about a pint. It is white and drinkable - price, including flask, 85 centi.
My company consists of 3 Italians, one a soldier, the next a smart little fellow, and, opposite my seat, an elderly man who can speak a few words of English. Occasionally we have a set to; but soon get astray. He has evidently had enough of the priests. He showed me an Italian Testament and I showed my English one. He opened it at the 16th Chap. of St John, and when I pointed to the 3rd ver., where He says "This is eternal life: to know God and J.C., whom he has sent" his countenance beamed most pleasantly, and he evidently understood and appreciated this foundation truth.
My little experience goes to prove that the Italians despise the priests and are, as Gavarri says, ripe for the Gospel. The scene now before me realizes the truth of painting an Eastern landscape with the sea light and deep green - which we are apt to think due to imagination; but here it lies before me - and very lovely it is. Where it is shadey a grey muddy colour, beyond that a light green, and, far out, a deep blue, with the white sails of invisible boats. In the Southern sky, I noticed frequent bright flashes of light rushing up like jets of illuminated steam: the appearance doubtless attributable to electricity. I reached Brindisi at nine, well up to time, and, without trouble got to the Hotel in a kind of old coach, about one mile from the Stn, and made my way quickly to bed and slept well.
As soon as I came into the Coffee Room, Mr Weaver, American Consul at Antwerp, who had Cook's tickets same as myself, made himself known: and in talking over the alteration in plans - viz. not being able to go direct to Athens and Constantinople; but having to join the 16th Sept. Party at Smyrna - we quickly became good friends. I found him of great use, as he speaks French well, and knows the town, having been Consul here some years ago.
Business was of the first consideration, and to get our Passports visaed demanded our first attention. Here I was in a dilemma, having a letter from Cook saying that application for a Passport had been refused thru' my having a foreign name: but that I might get one from the Consul in Paris. But here I was at Brindisi and without one! We went to the Consul here, Mr Grant, and explained the case to him: and, innocently, I showed him Cook's letter!
After which he said, having seen it he dare not give me a Passport, as his superior had refused: and thus the Turkish C would do so. We tryed him and found it no go: and then I had to return to Grant and throw myself on his generosity. At first he flatly refused; but, after some persuasion, relented and gave me the needful documents; an example of the virtue of persistency.
I now had no difficulty in getting the Turkish Visa, and so felt comfortable and happy again. Brindisi is a poor desolate looking place. The houses are built with apparently only one idea in mind - viz. to last. Many of them are very ancient - the roofs generally flat and the rooms arched - all ? turned Roman arches. The most interesting remains are two marble columns - one perfect, but for a few fractures, and the other with only the base and standing the mark the termination of the old Appian Way. The people appear quiet and contented, and take it easy. The harbour is well sheltered, and there is room for a large business; but there is nothing but the extension of the Mail Service to produce it. There was plenty of fruit to be had, but not finer than we have. The weather was most charming, and the sky clear and blue. At Midday the heat was a shade hotter than desirable; but the evening all one could wish. The stars here appear to shine brighter and larger than with us, and the rising of the evening star at sunset lovely. The sun went down with beautiful soft effects, but not so grand as with us. I have done with rail travelling for the present; and now look forward to a pleasant voyage among the islands of the Adriatic.
We went on board the Trebizonda about 9 pm. She is a long narrow screw steamer and the cabin accommodation pretty good. I promenaded the deck and enjoyed the cool quiet evening for some time; but, as she did not sail until midnight went below, and turned in about eleven. Mr Weaver and myself are occupying one stateroom. I have the Upper berth, and when lying down, can see the blue vault.