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The Greek New Year—An exciting Tour of Visits—Unreasonable Complaints of England—My strong Belief in the approaching Union—Author requested to make an Address—Motives which actuated Him to comply— “Hop o' my Thumb”—A successful Hit—My supposed Speech printed at Athens—The true Speech—Greek Hospitality—Projected Address to the Author—The English Honorary Members of the new Club, the Kephellenia —A Greek Christening—Barbarous Treatment of the Baby—Legal Necessity of the Custom—Festivities in honour of the Royal Wedding—Dinner, and Illuminations—Cephalonian Taste calumniated—A romantic Story— The Theatre—Modesty at a Discount—The Prima Donna's principal Friend –An unchivalrous Exploit—The Prince of Denmark to be King of Greece -Beauty to the Rescue—A vainly wished-for Riot—Unfounded Rumours of intended Disturbances—The Clubs and Illuminations—Excellent Behaviour of the Masses—Greeks not yet fit for Constitutional Government— My Departure on the Greek Good Friday—The Address from the Gentry— Reluctantly rejected Addresses.
ON our Christmas-day, 25th of December, 1862, I received a great many visits from my Greek friends: and on the 6th of January, 1863, the Greek Christmas-day, I returned the compliment. Having had no sleep all the previous night, on account of the dreadful bells, I did not start on my visiting tour in the best of humours. But the very flattering Imanner with which I was received in all the houses that I entered, made me soon forget past annoyances. Most of my friends were staunch Protectionists, who were all in terrible dread of possible separation from England. If, indeed, Prince Alfred were to be King of Greece, they might be reconciled in some degree to the Union; but upon no other terms whatever was such an idea tolerable. In spite of the many visits which I had to pay, one lady would not let me go for half an hour; during which she poured forth copious streams of eloquence which amounted to this, that the beloved Prince Alfred was the only proper or practicable solution of the Eastern question. In my visits I found many gentlemen also who were furious with the British Government for having so suddenly and unexpectedly announced that under certain conditions the Islands would be ceded to Greece. It was maintained that even the demagogues themselves did not really wish the cession to take place, and would find some excuse for finally voting against the measure. My friend Lascarato, who had himself experienced the necessity of British protection, especially maintained this opinion. I, however, could never believe that the Rizospasts in the Assembly would dare to belie all their past words and acts in the manner contemplated by their enemies. I unreservedly assured my friends that if that were their sole hope of the
MY STRONG BELIEF IN THE APPROACHING UNION. 171
maintenance of the Protectorate, I considered the cession of the Islands as good as carried. I asked them why they did not petition against the Union, and thus prove to the English that their views were supported by numbers and respectability. But the reply always was that they could not venture openly to oppose the wishes of the majority. In fact intense moral cowardice was always the principal feature of the Protectionist party. “If,” I remarked, “you will neither speak nor act, nor vote against the Union, how can you find fault with the British Government for sanctioning the measure?” But their idea always was, that if the question were settled by secret voting the cession would never be carried. I at once saw how impossible it was for so timid a party to have much effective influence in the country. A few days later the same party were rejoicing greatly at the announcement in the papers that the Great Powers were generally opposed to the cession contemplated by England. Again the confident belief prevailed that England would never really part with the Islands. But I myself never doubted that from the moment that the British Government had held out to the Ionians even the conditional promise of the Union, this measure had become a certainty which could not be much longer delayed. Meantime I was preparing to fulfil the promise which I had made to my young Greek friends, to give them an astronomical and comical magiclantern lecture in their own language. At this lecture not only my friends, but the friends of my friends were desirous of being present. Fresh petitions for tickets came to me daily, and I found my small party was swelling into a very large one. At that time I was expecting in a few days to leave the island, probably never to return. My lecture would, therefore, necessarily partake of the nature of a final entertainment. On that account I was requested to close the proceedings with a farewell address. As much for the novelty of the idea, as for any other cause, I consented to undertake the difficult task. The published intentions of the Government, known to the whole world, rendered friendly allusions to the almost certain cession both innocent and natural between an Englishman and his Greek friends. I desired also to make the Protectionists of Cephalonia understand that their cause was hopeless if they persisted in their moral cowardice spirit of listless inactivity. At the same time I could not help feeling for them, thus abandoned as they were by the Protectorate which had so long supported them. On the other hand, I was, as the reader of my History must be aware, strongly impressed with the false position of England as regarded the Islands. Moreover I
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could not help feeling some sympathy with the ardent aspirations of nationality, which, in the young men of Argostoli, appeared to me, to be as sincere as they were natural. It was with such feelings that I composed my farewell speech; little imagining that the good wishes and friendly feelings of an individual, unconnected with politics, could give rise to any erroneous interpretations. Moreover I naturally attached no importance to the fact of my alluding, as it were privately, to the friendly intentions which the Government of England had publicly proclaimed. The success of an evening party in Argostoli, where carriages were scarce and bad, and people usually walked, depended greatly on the state of the weather. Friday, the 9th of January, the day on which I gave my entertainment, was very threatening in the morning, and about five P.M. occurred a tremendous thunder-storm, accompanied with floods of rain. The latter indeed ceased before eight o'clock, the hour of invitation; but the state of the roads, the darkness of the night, and the probability of more rain all tended to diminish the number of my friends. Nevertheless (including some persons who slipped uninvited into the large room) the company amounted to about two hundred ladies and gentlemen. With the Professor at my side behind the sheet,