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of parricide. A farmer had divided the greater part of his property amongst his three sons, who expected upon his death to share the remainder. He, however, quarrelled with one of them who was a bad character, and therefore prepared to make a will which should deprive him of any further part of the property. For the Ionian law permits a father to dispose as he pleases of a certain portion of his property. The wicked son, therefore, killed his father in order that he might die intestate, in which case the rest of the property would be equally divided between the brothers. The murder was effected with an axe, in a grove of olive trees. His bloody shoes and stockings, betrayed and convicted the murderer, and he was sentenced to the gallows. The day before the execution, I saw him marched through the town from the prison to the church, in which he was, according to custom, to pass his last night. A priest sat up with him to prepare him for death, and he was liberally provided with refreshments. People were permitted to enter the church to see him, and to witness his callous indif. ference to his fate. He was a coarse, stout, middleaged man of a dark complexion, and with a heavy cast of countenance. He wore a monkish gown, upon the back of which appeared a placard inscribed with the word parricide in Greek. He was a hardened villain, and, though his guilt was un
AN EXECUTION AT CORFU. 59
doubted, he to the last obstinately asserted his innocence. The next morning I rode out with a military friend at six o'clock to see the execution. The prisoner was marched from the church, accompanied by many priests, to an elevated piece of ground, situated between Fort Neuf and Fort Abraham, where a small scaffold had been erected. A strong body of armed police kept the place clear; the spectators lining the road. The people were suspected of an inclination to rescue the victim of the law, if they could sum up sufficient resolution. But I never saw the slightest signs of any such intentions. When the culprit arrived at the scaffold he ascended the two or three steps, and was suspended in a few seconds, with his feet only just clearing the ground. The business was quietly conducted, but considering that an immortal soul was being despatched from this world, the brevity of the proceedings had an appearance of indecent haste. However it must be remembered that he had had many hours of preparation if he chose to make use of them, whilst waiting in the church. I was also told afterwards that he was employed in mentally praying while ascending the scaffold. The executioner, always an object of intense hatred to Greeks, had to be escorted to the water's-edge that he might enter the boat which was to convey him back to Albania, from whence he came, carrying away with him the wages of his nesarious work. It was afterwards reported that he had been waylaid on landing at the other side, and robbed and murdered by some Albanians. But whether this report were true, or merely an embodiment of the general wishes, I never could ascertain with any degree of accuracy.
The “magnanimous Cephalonians” of Homer–First at a Feast and last at a Fight—Attractions of the Black Mountain—Beautiful and extensive View —Black Mountain rarely visited by Natives — Population — Salt Water below the level of the Sea—Strangers reminded of “Puss in Boots”—Sir Charles Napier—Cephalonian Society—An Apostolical Archbishop—A Romantic Visit—Murder in High Life—A sleepless Night—Use of Garlic, and neglect of Soap.
I ARRIVED at Cephalonia on Sunday the 16th of February, 1862, from England via Corfu. Little did I then imagine with what warm feelings of friendship for the inhabitants I should take my departure, the following year.
Of the Seven Islands, Cephalonia and Ithaca are at the present day the two most purely Greek in blood and language. Indeed Ithaca (the inhabitants of which were at one time reduced under the rule of Venice to little more than 2000*) is said to have been chiefly repeopled by Cephalonians.
Ulysses, King of Ithaca, sailed to Troy B.C. 1193, with twelve ships, containing probably about 2400 soldiers, composed of Cephalonians, Ithacans, and
Zantiots. That wise prince could not have failed to maintain his troops in excellent discipline. His friends, the aged Pylian Nestor, and the youthful Athenian Menoestheus, were masters of the ancient tactics, and he doubtless imitated their examples. We may therefore believe, that he placed his best troops in the front and in the rear, whilst the soldiers least to be relied upon occupied the centre. The front rank, especially, must have been deemed the post of honor; as affording the best opportunity for distinction, in an age when personal strength and valour opened a rapid career to military fame. Now, we find that the “magnanimous Cephalonians” formed the first line of the division of the King of Ithaca. Homer is silent as regards the occupants of the rear and centre. I must therefore leave the modern Zantiots and Ithacans to settle the knotty point of the comparative merits of their respective ancestors. To the Cephalonians alone was applied the flattering epithet of the immortal bard. Nor have their descendants degenerated in valour; as has been amply proved whenever the opportunity to display it has been granted to them by Providence. As to the blame laid upon the Cephalonians by Agamemnon, that angry martinet was frequently in
* Airãp 08vorgets #ye Kepax\ivas peya%uovs. Pope's translation omits the flattering epithet.