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Author Topic: Martial law on Kefalonia  (Read 1812 times)

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Offline Maik

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Martial law on Kefalonia
« on: Tuesday, 29 July, 2014 @ 00:13:34 »
Another extract from The Spectator archives:


Mr. Hrscs developed but briefly, to a House "almost dissolved and dissipated by beat" his motion for a Royal Commission to inquire into the late riots and proclamation of martial law in Cephalonia, and the other grievances of the Ionian Islanders.

Having visited the islands in. 1839, he felt a great interest in them, and watched with strong feelings the injustice with which they had been treated. In 1814 they were promised an increase of the blessings of freedom ; in 1849 the severest measures against them were justified by the express declaration that they are " semibarbarous." He was grieved to confess, that in every respect he had been disappointed in what he had deemed one of the best appointments the Government ever made; grieved at finding that a man who had been the idol of a large, public-spirited, and liberal constitu- ency, and whose public life and private conduct had promoted the cause of civil and religious liberty, should have undergone such, an extraordinary change within a few months of his arrival in these islands.

The house of a chief of the island of Cephalonia was burnt down, and the chief himself, with four servants, was burnt in the flames : by whom? By robbers—as Sir Henry Ward himself said. News of the outbreak comes to him in the morning of the 30th of August, and on the same day at eleven o'clock he has resolved to proclaim martial law at once. The greatest num- ber of the disaffected never exceeded five hundred, most of them armed only with knives : Sir Henry Ward had a well-appointed military force ; and yet, without further inquiry, or any attempt to use other powers, he sus- pended the constitution of the islands by proclaiming martial law. Under martial la.w foity-four were sentenced to death, twenty-one were shot, seven were imprisoned, and eleven were corporally punished. First and last, ninety-seven were flogged; though such a punishment is unknown to Ionians, and is abhorrent to their feelings. Even. after Admiral Parker arrived with his great fleet, martial law was still continued. It is a severe thing to say, but if the Fonians could have anticipated that such would be the results of thirty-two years' superintendence by the English Colonial Office, they would have preferred the government of the Turk or Russian to that of England. An extraordinary dread of secret societies seems to have made Sir Henry Ward do all things with the haste and want of discretion peculiar to panic. The candour of his despatches in some parts only serves the more to show how completely he was mistaken. The Ionians are not semibarbarous, but were, to Mr. Henna's personal knowledge thirty years ago, eminent for civilization. He wished we could get rid entirely of that remnant of barbarity the scourge of martial law ; but at all events, when so abused as it was in this instance there should be strict and searching inquiry. The motion was seconded fry Lord- Ntromer; who was proceeding to support the assertion that Sir Henry Ward's despatches have been garbled by the suppression of important passages, when the House was'" counted out".