Edward Lear.

Journals of a landscape painter in southern Calabria, &c online

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274 JOURNALS OF

wood around ; the smoke rising from the
hamlet of Filipopoli ; the goats and flocks
wandering in the valley-common below, these,
joined to somewhat of a wild- world solitude
in the scene, threw a sentiment of beauty even
over Castel del Lago Psole.

October 1. We set out on our return to
Naples. Signor Manassei and his. son accom-
panied us in a carriage ; and first we wound up
by a good road to the top of the hill called
Delia Madonna del Carmine, whence we took
leave of Monte Voltore, and the seaward plain
of Basilicata, Beyond this, the mountains of
Principa to Ultra were very interesting ; glimpses
of blue worlds of light and shade, enchanting
vales and hollows, which we longed to penetrate.

At Avigliano we left Signor Manassei, and
drove on to Potenza, the present capital of the
province, and as ugly a town for form, detail,
and situation, as one might wish to avoid.
Here we hired a caratella to take us to
Eboli (for seven ducats), and merely resting
to dine, drove on towards Vietri di Basilicata,



A LANDSCAPE PAINTER. 275

where we arrived late and halted for the

night.

-
October 2. Vietri di Basilicata appears full

of really fine scenery and material for good
landscape, and left a strong impression of
beauty on our minds, though every succeeding
hour brought fresh charms to view. It is
hardly possible to find a more beautiful day's
drive in any part of the Regno di Napoli than
this, the road passing through a constant
succession of lovely scenes till it reaches Eboli.
At sunset the blue gulf of Salerno was visible,
and we soon reached the convent-inn of Eboli ;
which ten years ago I can recoUect thinking a
horrible place, though it seems to me now
rather a comfortable inn.

October 4. Yesterday we passed at Paestum :
the morning drive by the beautiful Persano
and its plain ; the hours of lingering among
the bright soli tudes of ancient Posidonium ; the
return at evening when the western sun was
golden, and the mountains fading red ; the
bustling and noisy Salerno by night.



276 JOURNALS OF

To-day by beautiful La Cava, and crowded
Nocera, and " railroad " from Pompeii to Par-
thenope.

Our tour is done : it has wanted the romance
of Calabria, and something has it been too
hurried : yet it has had its pleasures, and has
added many agreeable memories to an already
large store.



A LANDSCAPE PAINTER. 277



NOTE.

FOUR years after the above journals were
written, namely, on the 14th August, 1851,
a frightful earthquake visited the provinces of
the Regno di Napoli, which are partly described
in them, and the centre of this alarming con-
vulsion appears to have been the unfortunate
city of Melfi. I subjoin the following extract
(No. 1), out of many which have appeared in
the public papers, which will give some idea
of the sad change which has passed over places
so full of prosperity and enjoyment at the
time of our visit in 1847. I am inclined to
think that the account quoted below (No. 1)
is in some respects exaggerated, but at all
events the calamity has been most fearful. On
reading this and other notices of the event
in October last, I wrote to Signer Vittorio



278 JOURNALS OF

Manassei, who most obligingly forwarded me
a letter from which I have extracted all which
bears on the subject (No. 2). His occupation
as agent for the estates of Prince Doria occa-
sioning him to reside generally on the spot,
his relation of the casualties may be fully
depended on, both as to the number of lives
lost at Melfi, and with regard to Barile, which
I cannot help thinking he would have men-
tioned had it met with the fate stated in
the notice extracted from the " Athena3um
Journal."

No. 1.
From the Athenaeum Journal, September 13, 1851.

NAPLES, August 27, 1851.

The details of the terrible earthquake which took place at Melfi
on the fourteenth of this month reach Naples but slowly. Each
post brings notice of an accumulated amount of suifering, an
augmented list of deaths, aud particulars of a devastation far
surpassing anything that has occurred in the Italian peninsula for
many years. I have seen several persons from Melfi, and from
their narratives will endeavour to give you some idea of this awful
visitation.

The morning of the 14th of August was very sultry, and a
leaden atmosphere prevailed. It was remarked that an unusual
silence appeared to extend over the animal world. The hum



A LANDSCAPE PAINTER. 279

of insects ceased, the feathered tribes were mute, not a breath of
wind moved the arid vegetation. About half-past two o'clock
the town of Melfi rocked for about six seconds, and nearly every
building fell in. The number of edifices actually levelled with
the earth is 163, of those partially destroyed 98, and slightly
damaged 180. Five monastic establishments were destroyed, and
seven churches, including the cathedral. The awful event occurred
at a time when most of the inhabitants of a better condition were
at dinner ; and the result is, that out of the whole population
only a few peasants labouring in the fields escaped. More than
700 dead bodies have already been dug out of the ruins, and
it is supposed that not less than 800 are yet entombed. A college
accommodating 65 boys and their teachers is no longer traceable.
But the melancholy event does not end here. The adjoining village
of Ascoli has also suffered, 32 houses having fallen in, and the
church being levelled with the ground. More than 200 persons
perished there. Another small town, Barile, has actually disap-
peared ; and a lake has arisen from the bowels of the earth, the
waters being warm and brackish.

I proceed to give a few anecdotes as narrated by persons who
have arrived in Naples from the scene of horror. " I was tra-
velling," says one, " within a mile of Melfi, when I observed
three cars drawn by oxen. In a moment the two most distant
fell into the earth : from the third I observed a man and a boy
descend and run into a vineyard which skirted the road. Shortly
after, I think about three seconds, the third car was swallowed
up. We stopped our carriage, and proceeded to the spot where
the man and boy stood. The former I found stupified he was
both deaf and dumb ; the boy appeared to be out of his mind, and
spoke wildly, but eventually recovered. The poor man still
remains speechless." Another informant says: "Melfi, and
all around, present a singular and melancholy appearance ; houses
levelled or partially fallen in, here and there the ground broken
up, large gaps displaying volcanic action, people wandering about
stupified, men searching in the ruins, women weeping, children



280 JOURNALS OF

here and there crying for their parents, and some wretched
examples of humanity carrying off" articles of furniture. The
authorities are nowhere to be found." A third person states,
"I am from Melfi, and was near a monastery when the earth-
quake occurred. A peasant told me that the water in a neigh-
bouring well was quite hot ; a few moments after I saw the
monastery fall. I fell on the ground and saw nothing more. I
thought I had had a fit."

No. 2.
From a letter written ly Signor Vittorio Manassei, March 27, 1852.

" That although the Castle of Melfi has been ruined by the
earthquake of August the 14th, 1851, at least one-fifth part of
it having been thrown down, namely, the towers of the outer side,
with much of the modern palace, the great gallery, the rooms
occupied by II Signor Lear, the other gallery, and all that side of
the building occupied by the family : yet, notwithstanding, no
person who was in the castle at the time of the earthquake
perished, every individual having been enabled to escape into the
vine-garden after the first shock, and before the second commenced,
by which all the walls already shaken by the first undulating
movement were at once overthrown.

" That the campanile of the cathedral fell down to one-third of
its height : that the octagonal church, and the great Casa Manna,
(both of which are particularly marked in one of the views
taken by Signor Lear on the spot) exist no longer. Such is the
case also with the Town Hall, (Palazzo Pubblico) the Palazzi
Aquilecchia-Aranea, Severini, and many others. Thus it is too,
almost without exception, with all the smaller houses of Melfi,
which are all of them destroyed ; and when Signor L. was at Melfi,
they were building (he may perhaps recollect) a great Taverna ;
this, but lately completed, was greatly frequented by passengers
and at the first shock of the earthquake there perished in it
62 individuals, and 25 horses; this building is now literally



A LANDSCAPE PAINTER. 281

a shapeless heap of stones. Not more than 840 persons were killed
in Melfi.

" At Venosa, though the earthquake was very sensibly felt, no
loss of life occurred, and the family of Signor Rapolla were not
sufferers in any way.

" At Eio Nero, the palazzo of the Signor Catena (where Signor
Lear was staying) fell down, except the lower floor, but no one
of that family was killed. In the town, between 90 and 100
lost their lives.

" In Atella, comparatively little damage was done. San Michele,
that is the church, of Monte Voltore fell down, but the monastery
itself was hardly injured.

" At the Castle of Lago Pesole, (where Signor Vittorio Manassei
happened to be at the time of the earthquake) the shocks were
much felt ; but though the older part of the building was greatly
shaken, the inhabited side was hardly affected.

" At Monteverde, and at Lacedogna, but little injury resulted
from the shocks ; and although all the towns from Atella in a line
to the Adriatic were more or less visited, yet but few were
damaged beyond Melfi. Minervino, and all the surrounding
places known to Signor L., escaped injury.

NAPLES, March 27, 1852."



INDEX OF PLACES.



AGNANO, 133
Amendolia, 32
Ardore, 89

Aspromonte, 76 147
AteUa, 271
Avellino, 211, 215
Avigliano, 273

BAGALADI, 2224
Bagnara, 173, 174
Barile, 263
Basilicata, 236
Basilico, 182
Bazzano, 112
Bianco, 63
Bisaccia, 229231
Bova, 3343
Bovalino, 8188
Brancaleone, 56
Bruzzano, 59

CALABBIA l a Ulteriore, 2
Calanna, 182
Canalo, 135140
Capo dell' armi, 185
Casignano, 64



Castel del Monte, 248, 252
Castel Lago Pesole, 271
Castel Nuovo, 152158
Castel S. Nocito, 14198
Castel Vetere, 117122
Condufori, 2830

EBOLI, 276

FEEEUZZANO, 61
Frigento, 218

GALLICO, 182
Gerace, 90141
Gioiosa, 122, 123
Gioja, 166
Grotta Minarda, 216

LACEDOGNA, 232
LaveUo, 243

MELFI, 236241, 279

Melito, 185
Minervino, 245
Mofette, 222
Montalto, 76147



284



INDEX OF PLACES.



Montebello, 193
Montemilone, 254
Monteverde, 234
Montevergine, 213
Monte Voltore, 234270
Motta Placanica, 116
Motta S. Giovanni, 14

NOCEEA, 210
OPPIDO, 160

PAI/IZZI, 45
Palmi, 168
Pentedatilo, 190
Pesto, 274

Pietrapennata, 49 56
Polistena, 157
Potenza, 273

EADICENA, 159

EapoUo, 262

Eeggio, 4 12, 179 182,

199203
Eionero, 263265
Eiver Alaro, 105

Alice, 190

Marro, 163



Eiver Merico, 90

Novito, 98

Ofanto, 235

Eomano, 122

Stillaro, 109 115
Eocca S. Felice, 225
Eocella, 99105

S. AGATA, 65

S. Angelo de' Lombardi, 225

S. Georgio, 155

S. Luca, 6770

S. Michele, 267

S. M. di Polsi, 7278

Salerno, 274

Scilla, 175

Siderno, 98

Staiti, 5158

Stignano, 106109

Stilo, 110114

TEEEANOVA, 159
Tor di Gerace, 89

V. S. GIOVANNI, 178
V. S. Lorenzo, 23
Venosa, 255
Vietri di Basilicata, 274



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Online LibraryEdward LearJournals of a landscape painter in southern Calabria, &c → online text (page 14 of 14)