Generous and Humble Hospitality

An 1890 illustration of Volo, by John Pentland Mahaffy

Quick Quotes 33. The following quote is from Experiences of a Little Traveller, by Elisabeth Leonard Chapin, edited by her sister and published in 1898.

Volo, Greece, May 28, 1891.

I have just finished a most interesting trip of two weeks and a half through the interior of Greece, seen many beautiful antiquities and prehistoric ruins, done a bit of “roughing-it,” but gained ever so much in strength, and grown very brown and freckled…

There are no fences, the carriage-roads winding for miles and miles, with scarcely a human habitation, then coming to a little or large village, with the people very dirty, but very healthy, kind, genial, and responsive.

To give you one experience. We had been driving three hours in the forenoon, then rested three hours by the wayside, I taking my nap in the carriage, Angeles, my courier, and the driver on the grass, and continued our journey until six o’clock before reaching the village where we were to spend the night. There we found the inn had been rented to families, having so little to do with its legitimate occupation; so my “man Friday” sent for the mayor of the village, to ask him for hospitality, that being one of the duties of the office. A very nice-looking man, in officially flowing sleeves, came, but with the tidings that, unfortunately, all his rooms were occupied by a general and his suite, so that he had no accommodation. Just then a pleasant-looking young man, who had been a looker-on at this discussion around my carriage, came forward and offered his home, with most cordial and courteous manners. He was the village doctor, he and his wife and baby living in two or three rooms in the second story of a house whose only entrance, upstairs, was reached by a ladder. The wife was very pretty, with beautiful manners, and everything immaculately clean (for a wonder). I do not know where the kind couple slept, for they gave me their bedroom. When I tell you that the bedstead was a pine (unpainted) box as wide as our double beds, over which was laid one thin cushion, you may imagine it was awfully hard, but the cleanliness inspired me with such comfortable confidence, after many reverse experiences, that I never slept better in my life. Such a funny time as my host and I had understanding each other! …

They would accept nothing from us, but I have his address, and shall send some little gift, some time.

You would have been interested in the room, which evidently contained all of the dowry, linen, blankets, and (quilts, folded and piled up to the ceiling; gowns, hung wrong side out, to be sure, but with no curtain even over them; and two variegated trunks, perhaps with a little china, silver, and probably some earrings, long handed down as heirlooms. But Angeles, who went into the kitchen to toast my bread, said there was almost nothing there, and such a small fire, he, even, accustomed to Greek simplicity, wondered how they managed to live.

An 1890 illustration of Volo, by John Pentland Mahaffy

“Quick Quotes” are some bonus content for the blog. Each time I find an interesting or amusing little quote that does not really need any further explanation or background information, it will appear on Windows into History under this heading. You can keep updated each time I post a new entry by clicking on the follow button on the right of the screen. I welcome any comments or suggestions, and will consider guest posts.

About Roger Pocock

Co-writer on Author of Editor of
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