« ElőzőTovább »
the admiration of the populace. But it was all in vain. He felt that his safety depended entirely upon British protection, and he gave out, therefore, that, when the English should depart, he also would leave the country. It was pointed out to me, as one of the many horrors which would result from the Union, that this rich man would be compelled to expatriate himself to save his life. But I was of opinion that if the people, when left to themselves, should tar and feather such a compound of hypocrisy and roguery, they would not be very severely condemned by any honest man. On the 1st of November, 1862, in company with a Greek friend, I proceeded in one of the usual rattle-trap carriages to the Convent of San Gerasimo,” which lies in a picturesque valley at the foot of the Black Mountain. It was the feast day of the patron saint of Cephalonia, to whom the convent was dedicated. The saint, on occasions such as this, was, if in good humour, in the habit of performing a celebrated miracle; the approximation of his relics causing the water to rise in a certain holy well. No one, not even the English, appeared to doubt the fact that the water did rise. Had not Caralambo, the farmer who lived close by the well (and who was such a useful friend and agent of the British officers), repeatedly seen the water rise in different years ? The only question for those who
* Usually so called, though in fact it is a monastery.
A LAND JONAH. 43
did not believe in miracles was, what were the scientific causes of the rising of the water ? The most approved solution attributed the result to great pressure. It was supposed that the mass of visitors crowding round the well at the critical moment might by their great weight account for the phenomenon. My friend and I were politely received at the convent, in the reception-room of which we sat for a considerable time. At length a procession was formed in the court, in the rear of which we walked to the holy well. Arrived at the sacred spot with the able Judge-Advocate-Fiscal and the Municipal Minister of religion, I, as the only Englishman present, was treated with great politeness. Way was made for me through the crowd, and I was permitted to look into the well, surrounded by a dense crowd of persons, chiefly peasants. The day was fine, but plenty of rain had latterly fallen, so that water ought not to have been scarce. The saint, in his case, was there; so were the priests, the monks, and the nuns. One of these last, moreover, was so pretty, that her eyes might have worked miracles with some people. But no rise was to be got out of the water. I have not a shadow of doubt that my heretical presence bore all the blame of the failure, and that I performed for that occasion the part of a land-Jonah. However, I cannot consider my visit to have been wholly unprofitable. I firmly believe that I that day solved the question which had puzzled so many Britons. The solution in question is simply this—that the water never does, and never did rise at all / I was assured, on excellent authority (since fully corroborated), that no respectable Cephalonian—no man worthy of credit—had ever really seen the water rise. The latter, indeed, is down at such a depth (apparently some twenty or even thirty feet), that I do not believe that all the inhabitants of the island standing around it could have the slightest influence on its action.
But, although the miracle is a recognised imposture amongst sensible people, the gentry are generally of opinion that it is advisable that the peasants should continue to credit such fables; a theory which has sometimes been endorsed even by English clergymen. As if any good thing could ever arise from the wilful dissemination of falsehood and imposture
My friend and I were pressed to stay, for the usual dinner given on these occasions, at the convent, to the Municipal Minister of Religion, and to the other officials who might be present. But being in a hurry to return to Argostoli, I declined the hospitable invitation, and thereby lost, I believe, a good dinner, served in the most approved Greek fashion.
A candid French Author, and One the Reverse—The Latin Princes protected the Jews—Judas Iscariot the supposed Corfiot—Author's narrow escape of being taken for Judas—Wenice grants the Jews privileges—Cruelty to them of the Greeks–Venetians denounce the Desecration of Graves—Marshal Schulemberg befriends the Jews—Their Numbers in the Islands—Sir Charles Napier protects them—Their Treatment at Zante—Accuracy always rare amongst Greeks—A self-deluded old Woman—Peasant's Greek Language—Magic-Lantern Lecture in Italian—A Parricide—An Execution in Corfu-Reported Fate of the Executioner.
Monsieur ABOUT informs us that there are very few Jews in the kingdom of Greece, and that the Athenian people are not formed to attract them. He declares that “In the Ionian Islands, the Jewish race lives and prospers under the protection of England.” One would imagine that the notoriety of this fact would render its contradiction, by any rational person, utterly impossible. Yet there exist men of some position in the world, who not only deny the fact in question, but maintain the very contrary to be the truth. A certain French writer has not been ashamed to print the statement, that it was the British who persecuted the Jews, and that it was the Ionians who advocated their cause. This writer observed that the Jews in Zante, were regularly shut up every night in the Ghetto. He immediately decided (on the evidence probably of his friend Signor Lombardo), that it was the English Government which illiberally enforced this treatment upon the Jews. But on these subjects, M. About is an infinitely better authority than his illinformed, prejudiced, and grossly deceived fellowcountryman. M. About thus describes in a few words, simple and truthful, the affair of Pacifico, so falsely represented by the other French Author: “On a certain Greek Good Friday, the rabble of Athens, who were accustomed to celebrate the day by burning a Jew in ettisy, and who were deprived of that orthodox diversion, consoled itself by plundering the house of a Portuguese Jew protected by England.” Even the uncandid French author is obliged to confess that very few Jews are to be found in Athens, while 6000 of them reside in Corfu ; although he wilfully shuts his eyes to the obvious causes of this striking disparity. Two Ionian authors confirm the testimony of M. About, as regards the past conduct of Greeks towards Jews. In Count Lunzi's history, there is much interest
* “Aux Iles Ioniennes, sous la protection de l’Angleterre, la race Juive vit et prospere.”