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Title: Rambles in the Islands of Corsica and Sardinia - with Notices of their History, Antiquities, and Present Condition.
Author: Forester, Thomas
Language: English
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  RAMBLES IN NORWAY, 1848-1849; including Remarks on its Political,
    Military, Ecclesiastical, and Social Organization. With a Map,
    Wood Engravings, and Lithographic Illustrations. 1 vol. 8vo.
    Longman and Co., 1860.

    * * A few copies only of this Edition are on hand.


  THE SAME, in 1 vol. post 8vo. without the Illustrations.
    (_Traveller's Library._) Longman and Co., 1855.


  EVERARD TUNSTALL: A South-African Tale. Bentley, 1851.

    * * A New Edition is in preparation.


  THE DANUBE AND THE BLACK SEA. A Memoir on their Junction by a
    Railway and Port; with Remarks on the Navigation of the Danube,
    the Danubian Provinces, the Corn Trade, the Antient and Present
    Commerce of the Euxine; and Notices of History, Antiquities,
    &c. With a Map and Sketch of the Town and Harbour of
    Kustendjie. 1 vol. 8vo. E. Stanford, 6 Charing Cross, 1857.




                       IN THE ISLANDS OF

                     CORSICA AND SARDINIA.



                      BY THOMAS FORESTER

            AUTHOR OF “NORWAY IN 1818-1819,” ETC.





Nearly a century ago, James Boswell made an expedition to Corsica, and
was entertained with distinction by Pascal Paoli. Next to conducting
Samuel Johnson to the Hebrides, the exploit of penetrating to what was
then considered a sort of _Ultima Thule_ in southern Europe, was the
greatest event in the famous biographer's life; and, next to his
devotion to the English sage, was the homage he paid to the Corsican

Soon after his return from this expedition, in 1767, Boswell printed his
Journal, with a valuable account of the island; but from that time to
the present, no Englishman has written on Corsica except Mr. Robert
Benson, who published some short “Sketches” of its history, scenery, and
people in 1825. During the war of the revolution, Nelson's squadron hung
like a thunder-cloud round the coast, and for some time an
expeditionary force of British troops held possession of the island. Our
George the Third accepted the Corsican crown, but his reign was as
ephemeral as that of King Theodore, the aspiring adventurer, who ended
his days in the Fleet Prison.

These occurrences, with any knowledge of the country and people arising
out of them, have passed from the memory of the present generation; and
it may be affirmed, without exaggeration, that when the tour forming the
subject of the present work was projected and carried out, Corsica was
less known in England than New Zealand. The general impression
concerning it was tolerably correct. Imagination painted it as a wild
and romantic country,—romantic in its scenery and the character of its
inhabitants; a very region of romance and sentiment; a fine field for
the novelist and the dramatist; and to that class of writers it was

Corsica had yet to be faithfully pictured to the just apprehension of
the discerning inquirer. Naturally therefore the author, whose
narratives of his wanderings in more than one quarter of the globe had
been favourably received, was not indisposed to commit to the press the
result of his observations during his Corsican rambles. Just then,
translations of an account of a Tour in the island by a German
traveller, appeared in England, and being written in an attractive
style, the work commanded considerable attention. It seemed to fill the
gap in English literature on the subject of Corsica; and though the
writer of these pages felt that M. Gregorovius' pictures of Corsican
life were too highly coloured, he was inclined to leave the field in the
hands which had cultivated it with talent and success. Eventually,
however, being led to think that Corsica was still open to survey from
an English point of view, and that it possessed sufficient legitimate
attractions to sustain the interest of such a work as he had designed,
the author was induced to undertake it.

If the field of literature connected with Corsica was found barren when
examined in prospect of this expedition, that of Sardinia presented an
_embarras de richesses_. The works of La Marmora, Captain, now Admiral,
Smyth, and Mr. Warre Tyndale, had seemingly exhausted the subject, with
a success the mere Rambler can make no pretensions to rival; but the
former being a foreign work, and the two latter out of print, neither of
them is easily accessible. They have been sometimes used, in the
following pages, to throw light on subjects which came under the
author's own observation. He has also consulted a valuable work,
recently published at Naples, by F. Antonio Bresciani, of the Society
of Jesus[1], on the manners and habits of the Sardes compared with those
of the oldest Oriental nations. The comparisons are chiefly gathered
from scenes and usages depicted in the narratives of Homer and the
Bible, still singularly reflected in the habits and traditions of the
primitive and insular people of Sardinia.

Some of these are noticed in the present volume, and the author intended
to draw more largely on the rich stores accumulated by the researches of
the learned Jesuit; but time and space failed. Like truant boys, the
Ramblers had loitered on their early path, idly amusing themselves with
very trifles, or stopping to gather the wild flowers that fell in their
way, till the harvest-field was reached too late to be carefully
gleaned. For a work, however, of this description, attention enough has
perhaps been paid to the subject of Sarde antiquities; it being intended
to be amusing as well as instructive, to convey information on the
character of the people on whom it treats, as well as on their
institutions and monuments.

If, in conclusion, it be mentioned that the delay in bringing out the
volume, long since announced, has been caused by ill health and other
painful circumstances, the Author is only anxious that it should not be
misinterpreted, as attaching to the work an importance to which it does
not pretend. But there is the less reason for regretting this delay, as
it has afforded him another opportunity of visiting Sardinia, as well as
of witnessing the operation of laying down the submarine electric
telegraph cable between Cagliari and the African coast; an event in
Sardinian history, some notice of which, with the accompanying trip to
Algeria, may form a not uninteresting episode to the Rambles in that

  May, 1858.



  Inducements to the Expedition.—Early impressions concerning
    Corsica.—Plan of the Tour.—Routes to Marseilles.—Meeting
    there                                                      Page 1


  Marseilles.—Cafe de l'Orient.—Cannebière and Port.—Sail to the
    Islands in the Gulf.—The Château-d'If and Count de
    Monte-Cristo.—A sudden Squall                                   8


  Embark for Corsica.—Coast of France and Italy.—Toulon.—Hyères
    Islands, Frejus, &c.—A stormy Night.—Crossing the Tuscan Sea


  Coast of Capo Corso.—Peculiarity of Scenery.—Verdure, and
    Mountain Villages.—Il Torre di Seneca.—Land at Bastia          28


  Bastia.—Territorial Divisions.—Plan of the Rambles.—Hiring
    Mules.—The Start                                               38


  Leave Bastia.—The Road.—View of Elba, Pianosa, and
    Monte-Cristo.—The Littorale.—An Adventure.—The Stagna di
    Biguglia                                                       44


  Evergreen Thickets.—Their remarkable Character.—A fortunate
    Rencontre.—Moonlight in the Mountains.—Cross a high
    Col.—Corsican Shepherds.—The Vendetta.—Village Quarters        53


  The Littorale.—Corsican Agriculture.—Greek and Roman
    Colonies.—Sketch of Mediæval and Modern History.—Memoirs of
    King Theodore de Neuhoff                                       65


  Environs of Olmeta.—Bandit-Life and the Vendetta.—Its
    Atrocities.—The Population disarmed.—The Bandits exterminated


  The Basin of Oletta.—The Olive.—Corsican Tales.—The Heroine of
    Oletta.—Zones of Climate and Vegetation                        90


  Pisan Church at Murato.—Chestnut Woods.—Gulf of San
    Fiorenzo.—Nelson's Exploit there.—He conducts the Siege of
    Bastia.—Ilex Woods.—Mountain Pastures.—The Corsican Shepherd


  Chain of the Serra di Tenda.—A Night at Bigorno.—A hospitable
    Priest.—Descent to the Golo                                   117


  Ponte Nuovo.—The Battle-field.—Antoine's Story                  129


  Filial Duty, Love, and Revenge: a Corsican Tale                 134


  Morosaglia, Seat of the Paolis.—Higher Valley of the
    Golo.—Orography of Corsica.—Its Geology                       145


  Approach to Corte.—Our “Man of the Woods.”—Casa Paoli.—The
    Gaffori.—Citadel.—An Evening Stroll                           156


  Pascal Paoli more honoured than Napoleon Buonaparte.—His
    Memoirs.—George III. King of Corsica.—Remarks on the
    Union.—Paoli's Death and Tomb                                 164


  Excursion to a Forest.—Borders of the
    Niolo.—Adventures.—Corsican Pines.—The Pinus Maritima and
    Pinus Lariccio.—Government Forests                            179


  The Forest of Asco.—Corsican Beasts of Chase.—The
    Moufflon.—Increase of Wild Animals.—The last of the Banditti


  Leave Corte for Ajaccio.—A Legend of Venaco.—Arrival at
    Vivario                                                       200


  Leave Vivario.—Forest of Vizzavona.—A roadside
    Adventure.—Bocagnono.—Arrive late at Ajaccio                  205


  Ajaccio.—Collège-Fesch.—Reminiscences of the Buonaparte
    Family.—Excursion in the Gulf.—Chapel of the Greeks.—Evening
    Scenes.—Council-General of the Department.—Statistics.—State
    of Agriculture in Corsica.—Her Prospects                      213


  Leave Ajaccio.—Neighbourhood of Olmeto.—Sollacaró.—James
    Boswell's Residence there.—Scene in the “Corsican Brothers”
    laid there.—Quarrel of the Vincenti and Grimaldi.—Road to
    Sartene.—Corsican Marbles.—Arrive at Bonifacio                227


  Bonifacio.—Foundation and History.—Besieged by Alfonso of
    Arragon.—By Dragut and the Turks.—Singularity of the
    Place.—Its Medieval Aspect.—The
    Post-office.—Passports.—Detention.—Marine Grottoes.—Ruined
    Convent of St. Julian                                         242


  ISLAND OF SARDINIA.—Cross the Straits of Bonifacio.—The
    Town and Harbour of La Madelena.—Agincourt Sound, the Station
    of the British Fleet in 1803.—Anecdotes of Nelson.—Napoleon
    Bonaparte repulsed at La Madelena                             258


  Ferried over to the Main Island.—Start for the Mountain Passes
    of the Gallura.—Sarde Horses and Cavallante.—Valley of the
    Liscia.—Pass some Holy Places on the Hills.—Festivals held
    there.—Usages of the Sardes indicating their Eastern Origin


  The Valley narrows.—Romantic Glen.—Al fresco Meal.—Forest of
    Cork Trees.—Salvator Rosa Scenery.—Haunts of Outlaws.—Their
    Atrocities.—Anecdotes of them in a better Spirit.—The Defile
    in the Mountains.—Elevated Plateau.—A Night March.—Arrival
    at Tempio, the Capital of Gallura.—Our Reception              280


  Tempio.—The Town and Environs.—The Limbara
    Mountains.—Vineyards.—The Governor or Intendente of the
    Province.—Deadly Feuds.—Sarde Girls at the
    Fountains.—Hunting in Sardinia.—Singular Conference with the
    Tempiese Hunters.—Society at the Casino.—Description of a
    Boar Hunt                                                     295


  Leave Tempio.—Sunrise.—Light Wreaths of Mist across the
    Valley.—A Pass of the Limbara.—View from the Summit.—Dense
    Vapour over the Plain beneath.—The Lowlands unhealthy.—The
    deadly Intempérie.—It recently carried off an English
    Traveller.—Descend a romantic Glen to the Level of the
    Campidano.—Its peculiar Character.—Gallop over it.—Reach
    Ozieri                                                        310


  Effects of vast Levels as compared with Mountain
    Scenery.—Sketches of Sardinian Geology.—The primitive Chains
    and other Formations.—Traces of extensive Volcanic
    action.—The “Campidani,” or Plains.—Mineral Products          320


  Ozieri.—A Refugee Colonel turned Cook and Traiteur.—Traces of
    Phenician Superstitions in Sarde Usages.—The Rites of
    Adonis.—Passing through the Fire to Moloch                    331


  Expedition to the Mountains.—Environs of Ozieri.—First View of
    the Peaks of Genargentu.—Forests.—Value of the Oak
    Timber.—Cork Trees; their Produce, and Statistics of the
    Trade.—Hunting the Wild Boar, &c.—The Hunters' Feast.—A
    Bivouac in the Woods.—Notices of the Province of
    Barbagia.—Independence of the Mountaineers                    344


  Leave Ozieri.—The New Road, and Travelling in the
    Campagna.—Monte Santo.—Scenes at the Halfway House.—Volcanic
    Hills.—Sassari; its History.—Liberal Opinions of the
    Sassarese.—Constitutional Government.—Reforms wanted in
    Sardinia.—Means for its Improvement                           358


  Alghero—Notice of.—The Cathedral of
    Sassari.—University.—Museum.—A Student's private
    Cabinet.—Excursion to a Nuraghe.—Description of.—Remarks on
    the Origin and Design of these Structures                     376


  Sardinian Monoliths.—The Sepolture, or “Tombs of the
    Giants.”—Traditions regarding Giant Races.—The Anakim, &c.,
    of Canaan.—Their supposed Migration to Sardinia.—Remarks on
    Aboriginal Races.—Antiquity of the Nuraghe and
    Sepolture.—Their Founders unknown                             389


  Oristano.—Orange-groves of Milis.—Cagliari.—Description
    of.—The Cathedral and Churches.—Religious
    Laxity.—Ecclesiastical Statistics.—Vegetable and Fruit
    Market.—Royal Museum.—Antiquities.—Coins found in
    Sardinia.—Phenician Remains.—The Sarde Idols                  407


  Porto-Torres.—Another Italian Refugee.—Embark for Genoa.—West
    Coast of Corsica.—Turin.—The Sardinian Electric
    Telegraph.—The Wires laid to Cagliari                         422


  Sardinian Electric Telegraph.—The Land Line completed.—Failures
    in Attempts to lay a Submarine Cable to Algeria.—The Work
    resumed.—A Trip to Bona on the African Coast.—The Cable
    laid.—Importance of Cagliari as a Telegraph Station.—Its
    Commerce.—The return Voyage.—CONCLUSION                       432



  AJACCIO                               _frontispiece_
  MAP OF CORSICA AND SARDINIA          _facing p._   1
  ERSA, CAPO CORSO                         “        33
  CORTE                                    “       157
  VIVARIO                                  “       205
  BONIFACIO                                “       242
  VALLEY OF THE LISCIA, SARDINIA           “       275
  THE LIMBARA, FROM TEMPIO                 “       296
  THE PLAN OF OZIERI                       “       318



  MARSEILLES, FROM THE RAILWAY                       7
  ISLETS OFF MARSEILLES                             12
  CHÂTEAU-D'IF                                      14
  MARSEILLES, FROM THE CHÂTEAU-D'IF                 17
  FRENCH COAST, OFF CIOTAT                          23
  OFF TOULON                                        24
  IL TORRE DI SENECA                                34
  ISLE OF MONTE-CRISTO                              47
  OLMETA                                            77
  BETWEEN OLMETA AND BIGORNO                        95
  PONTE MURATO                                     103
  CAPO CORSO, FROM CHESTNUT WOODS                  107
  NEAR BIGORNO                                     122
  CITADEL OF CORTE                                 161
  PINUS MARITIMA                                   185
  PINUS LARICCIO                                   185
  CONE OF THE PINUS LARICCIO                       186
  BARK OF THE PINUS LARICCIO                       186
  BOCAGNONO                                        209
  HARBOUR OF AJACCIO                               217
  BONIFACIO, ON THE SEA-SIDE                       240
  CAVES UNDER BONIFACIO                            255


  LOOKING BACK ON CORSICA                          259
  A SALVATOR ROSA SCENE                            282
  DESCENT TO THE CAMPIDANO                         313
  THE CAMPIDANO                                    321
  EXTERIOR OF A NURAGHE                            379
  ENTRANCE TO A NURAGHE                            381
  INTERIOR OF A NURAGHE                            381
  SEPOLTURA DE IS GIGANTES                         390
  THE SAME                                         391
  SARDO-ROMAN COIN                                 417
  CARTHAGINEAN COIN                                418
  SARACEN COIN                                     418
  PORTO-TORRES                                     425






  _Inducements to the Expedition.—Early impressions concerning
    Corsica.—Plan of the Tour.—Routes to Marseilles.—Meeting

It would be difficult to say, and it matters little, what principally
led to the selection of two islands in the Mediterranean, not generally
supposed to possess any particular attractions for the tourist, as the
object for an autumn's expedition with the companion of former rambles.
At any rate, we should break fresh ground; and I imagine the hope of
shooting _moufflons_ was no small inducement to my friend, who had
succeeded in the wild sport of hunting reindeer on the high Fjelds of
Norway. If, too, his comrade should fail in climbing to the vast
solitudes in which the bounding _moufflon_ harbours, there were boar
hunts in the prospect for him; not such courtly pageants as one sees in
the pictures of Velasquez, but more stirring, and in nobler covers.

Should these prove to be false hopes, the enthusiastic sketcher, and the
lover of the grand and beautiful in nature, must find ample compensation
in the scenery of mountains lifting their snowy peaks from bases washed
by the sunny Mediterranean,—mountain systems of a character yet
unvisited, and with which we could at least compare those of Norway and
Switzerland. This power of comparison is what imparts the most lively
interest to travelling; and thus it becomes, for the time,
all-engrossing, the eyes and the memory alike employed at every turn on
contrasts of form, colour, and clothing.

Not less attractive, to any one desirous of extending his knowledge of
human kind, would be the prospect of studying the races inhabiting
islands as yet unknown to him. The oldest writer of travels, bringing on
the stage his hero-wanderer along the shores of the Mediterranean, gives
the finishing touch to his character in two significant words, νόον
ἐγνῶ.[2] Not only did he “visit the abodes of many people,” but he
“studied their Νοῦς;” all that the term involves of its impress on
character, habits, and institutions was keenly investigated by the
accomplished navigator. And what studies must be afforded by these
singular islanders, who, we were informed, in the centre of the
Mediterranean, at the very threshold of civilisation, combined many of
the virtues, with more than the ferocity, of barbarous tribes!

My own impressions regarding Corsica were early received. In my younger
days, there was the same sort of sympathy with the Corsicans which we
now find more noisily, and sometimes absurdly, displayed for the Poles.
I had seen Pascal Paoli, and talked with General Dumouriez about his
first campaign against the Corsican mountaineers, of which his
recollections were by no means agreeable. Pascal Paoli had found an
asylum in England, where he maintained a dignified seclusion, not always
imitated by patriot exiles. His memory has almost passed away, and it is
quite imaginable that some stump orator may reckon him among the exiled
Poles of former days. Pascal Paoli was, however, a truly great man. In
my boyish enthusiasm—all “Grecians” are in the heroics about patriots
who have fought and struggled for their country's liberty—I compared him
with Aristides or Themistocles; the Corsicans were heroes; the country
which rudely nursed those brave mountaineers—I had also a touch of
sentiment for the sublime and beautiful in nature which a schoolboy does
not always get from books,—such a country must be romantic. Should I
ever ramble among its mountains, forests, and sunny valleys?

At last, long after the chimera, for such it inevitably was, of Corsican
independence had vanished, my cherished hopes have been realised,—with
what success will appear in the following pages. I will only say for
myself, and I believe my fellow-traveller participates the feeling, a
more delightful tour I never made.

Corsica had an ugly reputation for _banditisme_, and Sardinia for a
deadly _intempérie_; but we did not attach much importance to such
rumours. The enthusiastic traveller disregards danger. If told that
there is “a lion in his path,” he only goes the more resolutely forward.
As for the banditti, we would fraternise with them if they, best knowing
the mountain paths, would track the moufflons for us.

The true traveller must “become all things to all men,” if he desires to
familiarise himself with the habits and characters of other races.
Without forgetting that he is an Englishman, he will cast off that
self-conceit and cold exclusiveness which make so many of your
countrymen ridiculous in the eyes of foreigners, and, adapting himself
to the situation, become, if needs be, a bandit in Corsica, a bonder in
Norway, drink sour milk without a wry face in a Caffre's kraal, take
snuff with his wives—be any thing except a Turk in Turkey; though even
there, when he comes to talk the language, he will adopt the eastern
custom of taking his pipe, his coffee, and his repose, not chattering,
but sententiously uttering his words between whiffs of smoke, which,
meanwhile, he _drinks_, as the Turks well express it.

We envy not the man, the T. G. (travelling gent.) of society, whose
principal aim in travelling is to gratify a miserable vanity; to be able
to boast of crossing or climbing such a mountain; to have to say, “I
have been here, I have been there; I have done Bagdad; I have seen the
Nile,” or such and such a place. The true traveller is unselfish. Though
to him it is food, breath, a renewal of life, a fresh existence, to
travel,—half his pleasure is to carry home from his wanderings, to an
English fireside, a tale of other lands. That happy English home is ever
present to his mind, and, with all his enthusiasm, he meets with nothing
in his rambles he would exchange for its blessings.

Being strongly recommended to defer our visit to Sardinia until the
latest possible period of the autumn, the plan finally laid was to take
Corsica in detail from Capo Corso to Bonifaccio, and then cross the
straits, as best we might, there being no regular communication. Having
landed in Sardinia, we should continue the tour through that island as
long as circumstances permitted; leaving it by one of the Sardinian
government's steam-boats which ply between the island and Genoa and so
take the route by Turin, over the Mont-Cenis, to Lyons, Paris, and

As these islands lie on the same parallel of longitude (11° 50' E.
nearly cutting the centre of both), by the route thus chalked out, we
should make a straight course from north to south, with no considerable
deviations, the islands being, as every one knows, in the form of
parallelograms of much greater length than breadth.

Marseilles was finally arranged to be our port of embarkation, and the
postponement of the visit to Sardinia till November leaving time on our
hands, we had ample leisure for the accomplishment of some secondary
projects, which brought us into training for the _grand coup_. My friend
pushed through the more frequented parts of Switzerland for Zermatt and
the Matterhorn. He was much struck by the remarkable contrast of that
stupendous obelisk of rock, piercing the clouds, with the vast, but
still sublime, expanse of the high Fjelds of snow we had seen in Norway;
and the remark applies generally to the grand distinctive features of
the two countries. Descending the valley of Aosta, my friend travelled
by Genoa and Nice through the Maritime Alps to Marseilles, going on to
Avignon with some friends he happened to fall in with on the way;—such
meetings with those we know, and sometimes with those we do not know,
being among the pleasures of travelling in the more frequented routes.
Agreeable acquaintances are made or renewed; perhaps a day or two is
spent in travelling together, with a charm that is very delightful; and
you part with the hope of meeting again.

Meanwhile the author, who had been delving in the Norman Chronicles till
every castle and abbey through the length and depth of the old Duchy
were become familiar names, feeling a strong desire to revisit scenes
thus brought fresh to his memory, shouldered his knapsack at Dieppe, and
spent a most delightful fortnight in rambling through that fine

Many a pleasant story he could tell of wayside greetings and fireside
hospitalities among the Norman peasantry. The old soldier of the empire
stopped his _camarade_, as something in our _tenue_ led him to imagine,
asking eager questions about the coming war and the united service, both
which seemed to be popular; while market and fair, and the communal
school, each in their turn, drew forth amusing companions for the road.
But these episodes, and more serious talk of Norman abbeys buried in the
depths of forests or girded round by the winding Seine—rich in memories
of the past, but ruins all—and of Norman churches and cathedrals, in all
their ancient grandeur, or well restored, are beside the present

Hastening southward by _diligence_ and _chemin-de-fer_, the first
vineyards appeared between Chartres and Orleans, with an effect much
inferior, as it seemed, to that produced by the orchards of Normandy,
loaded as they were with ruddy fruit; but this may be the prejudice of a
native of the West of England. From Lyons, one of the long narrow
steamboats afforded a most agreeable passage down the stream of the
rapid Rhone to Avignon. The autumn rains, which sometimes caused a weary
march through the byroads of Normandy, had cooled the air, freshened
vegetation, and made travelling in the south of France pleasant. While
journeying on, every hour and every league bringing me nearer to the
intended meeting, it was natural to feel some anxiety lest in such great
distances to be traversed, with little or no intermediate communication,
something might go wrong, and our plans, however well laid, be delayed
or frustrated. The last stage of the journey commenced—should I be first
at the rendezvous, or was my companion for the future waiting my


At last, after spending the warm noon of an unclouded day amongst the
noble ruins of Arles, the train landed me at the station at Marseilles,
and my friend was on the platform. The pleasure of casual meetings _en
route_ has been just adverted to. How joyous was that of two travellers,
wanderers together in times gone by, who now met so far from home, after
their separate courses, with a fresh field opening before them!—the
recognition, doubt and uncertainty vanishing, the glorious chat,—all
this the warm-hearted reader will easily imagine.


  _Marseilles.—Café de l'Orient.—Cannebière and Port.—Sail to the
    Islands in the Gulf.—The Château d'If and Count de
    Monte-Cristo.—A sudden Squall._

We met then at Marseilles in the second week of October, punctual to the
appointed day. Our several lines of route had well converged. Want of
companionship was the only drawback on the pleasure they had afforded;
but they were only preludes to the joint undertaking on which we now
entered. Each recounted his past adventures, and measures were concerted
for the future.

Steamboats leave Marseilles three times every week for Corsica;—I like
to be particular, especially when one gets beyond Murray's beat. One of
these boats calls at Bastia on its way to Leghorn; the others make each
a voyage direct to Calvi, or l'Isle de Rousse, and Ajaccio.

It suited us best to land at Bastia, but we were detained three days at
Marseilles waiting for the boat. That also happened to suit us. We had
hitherto travelled in the lightest possible marching order, and some
heavier baggage, containing equipments for our expedition in the
islands, had not yet turned up. Knapsack tours are not the style beyond
the Alps. In the south and east, all above the lowest grade ride. It is
so in Corsica; still more in Sardinia,—where all is eastern. We trudged
on foot sometimes in Corsica, to get into the country, and should have
been considered mad; but, as Englishmen, we were only eccentric. We
waited then for our baggage, which contained, among other things,
English saddles,—a great luxury. My companion thought it a professional
duty to reconnoitre the fortifications of Toulon. By travelling in the
night, going and returning, he contrived to get a clear day for the

Marseilles had interest enough to occupy my attention during his
absence. Being the great _entrepôt_ of commerce, and centre of
communication, in the Mediterranean, all the races dwelling on its
shores, and many others, are represented there.

“Let us go to the _Grand Café_,”—I think it is called _Café de
l'Orient_—said my companion, the evening we met.

Any one who has merely visited Paris may imagine the brilliance of this
vast _salon_, the lights reflected on a hundred mirrors. But where else
than at Marseilles could be found such an assemblage as now crowded it?

See that Turk, with the magnificent beard. What yards of snowy
gauze-like cambric, with gold-embroidered ends, are wound in graceful
folds round the fez, contrasting with the dark mahogany colour of his
sun-burnt brow. And what a rich crimson caftan! Perhaps he is from Tunis
or Barbary. He sits alone, smoking, with eyes half-closed, grave and

They must be Greeks,—those two figures in dark-flowing robes. They too
wear the red fez. Mark the neat moustache, the clean chiselled outline
of their features, the active eye. They are eagerly conversing over that
round marble table while they sip their coffee. Their talk must be of
the corn markets. Now is their opportunity, as the harvest in France
has failed. And see that man with the olive complexion, keen features,
and ringlets of black hair and pendent ear-rings under his dark
_barrette_. He may be the _padróne_ of some felucca from Leghorn or
Naples. Beside him is a Spaniard. He, too, seems a seafaring man; and no
felucca-rigged vessels in the Mediterranean are smarter, finer-looking
craft than the Spanish.

There are plenty of Arabs, swarthy, high-cheeked-boned, keen-eyed
fellows, in snowy bournouses, with hair and moustache of almost
unnatural blackness. French officers of every arm in the service are
grouped round the tables, drinking _eau-sucré_ and playing at dominoes
or cards, or lounge on the sofas reading the gazettes. The _garçons_ in
scarlet tunics, relieved by their white turbans and cambric trowsers,
are hurrying to and fro at the call of the motley guests.

“Those two gentlemen just entering are Americans, not of the Yankee
type, with free and easy air, and tall lanky forms. I made their
acquaintance in the steam-boat down the Rhone. They are men of great
intelligence, perfect _savoir-vivre_, and calm dignity of manner,
patrician citizens of a republic. One of them wore his plaid as
gracefully as a toga. I set him down for a senator from one of the
Southern states.”

“I have seen no English here,” said my companion. Next day he met his
friend Captain H—— returning on leave from Malta to England. Marseilles
is on the highway to all the East, and on the arrival or departure of
the packets connected with the “Overland Route” there must be a strong
muster of our countrymen, and women too.

Turning out of the shady avenue of the Corso on a sultry afternoon, I
sauntered down the _Rue de la Cannebière_ towards the port. It was the
busiest part of the day, for there seemed to be no idle time for the
_siesta_ here. The streets and quays were thronged with people of the
same varieties of race we had seen in the _café_; most of them, of
course, of an inferior class. There can be no mistaking that
wild-looking creature, bare-legged, and in a white bournouse, who is
staring with curious eyes at the splendid array of jewellery and plate
displayed to his eager gaze in that shop window. Again he pauses before
that elegant assortment of silks and shawls. What tales of European
luxury will the child of the desert carry back to the tents of the

I found the port crowded with ships of all nations, the quays encumbered
with piles of _barriques_ and mountains of Egyptian wheat discharged in
bulk. What blinding dust as they shovel it up! What a suffocating heat!
What smells in this hollow trough which receives the filth of all the
town! How curiously names on the sterns of vessels, and _annonces_ over
the shops of _traiteurs_ and ship-chandlers, in very readable Greek,
carry the mind back to the Phocæan founders of this great emporium of

It was a cooler walk along the _Rue de Rome_, and by the
_Marché-aux-Capucins_, gay with fruits and flowers, to the Museum
library, in search of books relating to Corsica. There was some
difficulty in discovering it. Literature and science do not appear to be
much in vogue in this seat of commerce. The Museum was closed, the
_custode_ absent, but a good-humoured porter allowed me a stranger's
privilege, and took me into the library; giving me also some details of
Corsican roads from his personal knowledge. The only book I discovered
was Vallery's Travels. I made a few extracts, and found no reason to
desire more. Few foreigners write travels in a style suited to the
English taste. They are at home among cities, and galleries, and works
of art, but have little real feeling for natural objects, and ill
disguise it by pompous phrases, glitter, and sentiment.

“Let us take a boat and sail over to the islands lying off the harbour,”
said my fellow-traveller one afternoon.

“With all my heart.”

    [Illustration: ISLETS OFF MARSEILLES.]

These islets, most of them mere rocks, form a sort of sheltered strait,
or roadstead, of which the island of Rion, with Cape Morgion on the
mainland opposite, are the extreme points. Pomègue and Ratoneau are
connected by a breakwater.

“_Garçon_, put a roast fowl and some _pâtés_, with a loaf of bread and a
bottle of Bordeaux, into a _corbeille_ and send it down to the port.”

We bought some grapes as we went along. There are landing-stairs at the
upper end of the harbour, where pleasure-boats lie. We stepped into one,
and were rowed down in a narrow channel between four or five tiers of
ships, loading and unloading at the quays on each side. An arm of the
Mediterranean, a thousand yards long, forms a noble harbour; but, foul,
black, and stagnant, how different were its waters from the bright sea
without! After passing the forts defending the narrow entrance, we
hoisted sail. On the right was the new harbour of _La Joliette_,
connected with the old port by a canal. At present it did not appear to
be much frequented, but, during the war in the East, both scarcely
sufficed for the vast flotilla employed in conveying troops and stores.
It must be difficult for any one who has not witnessed it to conceive
the scene Marseilles then presented.

We now discussed the contents of our hamper with great _goût_, the
boatman occasionally pulling an oar as the wind was scant. But we had
sufficiently receded from the shore to command a view of the basin in
which Marseilles stands, and the amphitheatre of hills surrounding it,
studded with the country-houses of the citizens; small cottages, called
_bastides_, thousands of which spot the slopes of the hills like white

High upon a rocky summit stands the chapel of _Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde_,
held in great reverence, and much resorted to, by mariners and
fishermen; the walls and roof being hung with votive offerings,
commemorating deliverances from shipwreck and other ills to which
mariner-flesh is heir.

Seaward lay the islands for which we were bound, but without any
immediate prospect of reaching them, as the wind died away. It was
pleasant enough to lie listlessly floating on the blue Mediterranean,
with such charming views of the coast and the islands, and the
picturesque craft in every direction becalmed like our own skiff: but we
had another object in our evening's excursion; so, lowering the lateen
sail, my companion took one of the oars, and the boatman, reinforced by
a strong and steady stroke, pulling with a will, we soon landed at the
foot of the black and frowning rock, crowned on the summit by the square
massive donjon of the _Château d'If_.

    [Illustration: CHÂTEAU D'IF.]

The whole circuit of the cliffs, containing an area of, perhaps, two
acres, is surrounded by fortifications. Climbing some rocky steps, we
waited in the guardroom till the _concièrge_ brought the keys of the
castle. It was formerly used as a state prison; and the vaulted
passages, echoing to the clang of keys and bolts, and deep and gloomy
dungeons, from which air and light were almost excluded by the thick
walls, reminded one of the unhappy wretches, victims of despotic or
revolutionary tyranny, who had been immured there without trial and
without hope. The island now serves as a depôt for recruits to fill up
the regiments serving in Algiers; and some of the larger apartments of
the château are used as a caserne.

But the _Château d'If_ is probably best known to many of my readers as
connected with a remarkable incident in the adventures of the Count de
Monte-Cristo, the hero of the celebrated novel of Alexandre Dumas. The
story is shortly this:

Dantès (the count) being thrown into one of the dungeons, remains in
hopeless captivity for a great number of years. In the end, by working
his way through the massive walls, he establishes a communication with
the cell of another prisoner, who was in a still more deplorable
condition. His fellow-prisoner dies, and Dantès effects his escape by
contriving to insert himself in the sack in which the corpse of his
friend was deposited; having first dressed the body in his own clothes,
and placed it in his bed, to deceive the gaolers. In the dead of the
night the sack is thrown into the sea from the castle walls, and Dantès
sinks with a thirty-two-pound shot fastened to his feet. He cuts the
cord with a knife he had secreted, and, disengaged from the sack, rises
to the surface and swims to a neighbouring island.

We were looking over the battlements towards these islands. One of them
is covered by a vast lazzeretto,—a place, for the time, only a few
degrees worse than the prison. The isles of Ratoneau and Pomègue lay
nearest. Farther off was Lémaire, to which Dantès is described as
swimming. They are all mere rocky islets washed by the sea, the group
being very picturesque.

“_Mon ami_,” said I, pointing to the isle of Lémaire, “do you think you
could do what the count is represented to have done.”

“What! swim from hence to that island? I would try, if I was shut up in
this horrid place, and had the chance.”

The distance I reckoned to be about three miles; and as my friend has
since swum across the Bosphorus, where the current is strong, he would
probably have found no difficulty in that part of the affair.

“But how about cutting the cord to get rid of the thirty-two-pound shot,
and extricating yourself from the sack?”

“_Ça dépend!_ All this is not impossible for a strong man in good
health; for a prisoner, exhausted by fourteen years' captivity in a
dungeon—_c'est autre chose_. Have you read the book?”

“Not much of it; I tried, but could not get on. That class of works is
by no means to my taste.”

“French literature of this school is, I admit, bad for the weak: it is
pastime to the strong, and serves to wile away an idle hour. This work
exhibits great genius, and a powerful imagination.”

“So, indeed, it seems; but may not the _vraisemblable_ be preserved even
in works of fiction? Let us have a story which, _se non è vero, è ben
trovato_. Writers of this school, my dear fellow, create, or pander to,
a vicious taste.”

“In a play or novel, I grant you, the plot, characters, and incidents,
in order to enlist our sympathies, should be true to nature and real
life. But who looks for this in a romance? such works are not read for
profit, and the boldest nights of fancy, and some extravagance, are
fairly admissible.”

“_Ah, mon cher_, my age is double yours, and that makes a great
difference in our views on such subjects.”

The recruits flocked round us, asking for _eau-de-vie_. Many of them
were Italians, deserters from the armies in Lombardy, Piedmont, and
the Papal states, glad to change their service for better pay and
treatment under the French flag, even on the burning plains of Africa.
Perhaps some of them were drafted into that “foreign legion” which
rivalled the Zouaves in the Crimea,—_âmes perdus_, the most reckless
before the enemy, the most licentious in the camp. These were merry
fellows, launching witty shafts against Austrians, Pope, and
Cardinals,—_maladetti tutti_, and good-humoured gibes at their
comrade, who, standing in an embrasure, bent his back with laudable
patience to the right angle for an easel, while my friend was making
sketches of the rocky islets and lateen-sail vessels reflected on the
mirror-like sea, or of the amphitheatre of mountains at the foot of
which Marseilles stands.


Others, leaning over the battlements, whiled away the listless evening
hours, watching fishermen drawing the seine at the foot of the rocks.

We pulled round to the cove and watched them too; a very different set
of fellows from the _malbigatti_ stationed above. Fine, athletic,
muscular men, their heads bare, except that a few wore the red cap so
common in the Mediterranean,—in woollen shirts, with naked feet planted
on the slippery rocks, they were hauling up and coiling the rope,
singing cheerily.

The wind had shifted some points while we were on the island, and it now
freshened to a stiff breeze,—one of those sudden squalls for which these
seas are remarkable. The craft, which an hour before lay sleeping on the
waters, had caught the breeze. A brigantine came dashing up the straits
under all sail, her topgallants still set, though the poles quivered;
and smaller craft, with their long, pointed sails, like sea-fowl with
expanded wings, were crossing in all directions on their several tacks,
making for the harbour or inlets along the coast.

The sea was already lashed into foam, and tiny waves broke on the rocks.
Loud and hoarse rung the fishermen's voices as they hauled away to save
their nets. It was time for us to make for the port. A few strokes
shoved the boat from under the lee of the island; the oars were shipped,
and the lateen sail run up by all hands. Hauling close to the wind, my
friend seized the tiller: it was doubtful if we could make the harbour,
which the little craft, struggling with the breeze, just headed; the
towers of St. Victor being the point of sight in the increasing haze.

“_Comme les Anglais font des braves marins_,” said the _padróne_, as he
stood by the halyards, looking out ahead, after all was made snug.

We were, indeed, in our element. The sudden squall had stirred our
blood. Many such rough cruises we had shared together in old times.

The boat flew through the water, which roared and broke over the bows.
“It will be a short run,” said the steersman, “if the wind holds on.”

“_Port, monsieur, port!_” cried the _padróne_, who had learnt some
English nautical phrases.

But it would not do. Approaching the land, the wind veered and headed

“We must make a short tack to gain the harbour.”

“_Je l'ai prévu_,” said the _padróne_.

“About” it was. She stayed beautifully, even under the single sail, and
in a trice was lying well upon the other tack, as we stood out to sea.
In five minutes we went about again, fetching under the stern of a
felucca, also beating into the port; perhaps from Algiers or the Spanish
coast. It was now a dead race with the felucca, which had forged ahead
while we were in stays.

“_Nous gagnerons, j'en gagerais une bouteille de vin!_” cried the
_padróne_, much excited, for he was proud of his boat.

“_Vous l'aurez, toutefois, pour boire à la santé de vos camarades

Again we flew through the water, making a straight course for the
harbour. The felucca had much the advantage of us in breadth of canvas
and her high-peaked sails; but being heavily laden, she was deep in the
water. As it turned out, we did not overhaul her till just before she
lowered her foresail at the _consigne_ office, to wait for her _permis
d'entrer_, when we shot ahead right into the port.

We made out the evening at the theatre, well entertained by a _petite
comédie_. “One is sure to be amused,” said my companion; “and it is good
practice. It helps to get up one's French.”

“_Monsieur ne manque que d'être plus habitué_,” as it is politely
suggested when one is at a loss for a phrase.


  _Embark for Corsica—Coast of France and Italy.—Toulon.—Hyères
    Islands, Frejus, &c.—A Stormy night.—Crossing the Tuscan Sea._

Once more we are at the water stairs. A stout boat is ready to convey us
with our baggage to _L'Industrie_, one of Messrs. Vallery's fine
steam-boats, in turn for Bastia. Just as we are pushing off, a carriage
drives to the quay, with a niece of General the Count di Rivarola,
formerly in the British service. She is returning to Corsica. We do the
civil, spread plaids, and place her in the stern sheets; and she is very

It is Sunday morning. The bells of the old church of St. Victor are
ringing at early mass. The ships in the port have hoisted their colours.
There is our dear, time-honoured jack, “the flag that has braved,” &c.,
as we say on all occasions; and the stars and stripes, the crescent and
star, and the towers of Castille; with crosses of all shapes and
colours, in as great variety as the costumes we saw in the _café_. The
tricolor floated on the forts of St. Jean and St. Nicholas, as well as
on French craft of all descriptions.

All was gay, but not more joyous than our own buoyant spirits. Time had
been spent pleasantly enough at Marseilles, but it was a delay; and
there is nothing an Englishman hates more than delays in travelling.
Thwarted in his humour, he becomes quite childish, and frets and chafes
more at having to wait two or three days for a steamboat than at any
other hindrance I know. Now, when _L'Industrie_, with her ensign at the
peak, had, somehow or other, with a din of unutterable cries in maritime
French, been extricated from the dense tiers of vessels along the quay,
and hauling out of the harbour, we were at last fairly on the high road
to Corsica, never did the sun appear to shine more brightly; the
Mediterranean looked more blue than any blue one had seen before, there
was a ripple from the fresh breeze, the waves sparkled, and seemed
positively to laugh and partake of our joy.

We hardly cared to speculate on our fellow-passengers, as one is apt to
do when there is nothing else to engross the thoughts; and yet there
were some among them we should wish to sketch. Besides French officers
joining their regiments in the island, there was one, a Corsican, who
had served in Algeria, returning home on sick leave. It was to be feared
that it had come too late, for the poor invalid was so feeble, worn, and
emaciated that it seemed his native country could offer him nothing but
a grave. There was a Corsican priest on board, a pleasant, well-informed
man, who met our advances to an acquaintance with great readiness, and
was delighted with our proposed visit to his island. Some Corsican
gentlemen, a lady or two, and commercial men _en route_ for Leghorn,
completed the party. We seemed to be the only English. I was mistaken.

“After all, there is a countryman of ours on board,” I said, pointing to
a pair of broad shoulders, disappearing under the companion-hatch. I
caught sight of him just now; a fine, hale man, rather advanced in
years, with a fair complexion, ruddy, and a profusion of grey hair. He
wears a suit of drab; very plain, but well turned out.

“Unmistakeably English, as you say; it may be pleasant. I wonder we did
not make him out before among these sallow-faced and rather
dirty-looking gentry in green and sky-blue trousers.”

We were soon abreast of the group of rocky islets off the harbour,
passing close under the _Château d'If_. The sea was smooth, the sky
unclouded, but a gentle breeze deliciously tempered the heat, and
vessels of every description—square-rigged ships, and coasting feluccas
and xebecs—on their different courses, gave life to the scene. Thus
pleasantly we ran along the French coast, here much indented and
swelling into rocky hills of considerable elevation.

    [Illustration: FRENCH COAST OFF CIOTAT.]

We had an excellent _déjeûner_, for which we were quite ready, having
only taken the usual early cup of coffee. The genial influence of this
meal had the effect of putting us on the best footing with our
fellow-voyagers. Pacing the deck afterwards with the Corsican priest, we
were joined by the stout Englishman. Observing our disappointment at
hearing we should be probably baulked of shooting in Corsica, he
expressed a hope that we would extend our excursion to Tuscany, where,
he was good enough to say, he would show us sport. He had been settled
there many years, and was now returning to his family by way of Leghorn.
Under a somewhat homely exterior, which had puzzled us at first as to
his position, we found our new acquaintance to be a man of refined
taste, great simplicity, as well as urbanity, of manners, and keenly
alive to the beautiful in nature and art. Such a specimen of the hearty
old English gentleman, unchanged—I was about to say uncontaminated—by
long residence abroad, it has been rarely my lot to meet with.

On rounding a projecting headland, we peeped into the mouth of Toulon
harbour, and every eye and glass were directed to the heights crowned
with forts, and the bold mountain masses towering above them.

    [Illustration: OFF TOULON.]

Presently, we were threading the channel between the main land and the
Hyères Islands. They appeared to us a paradise of verdure, on which the
eye, weary of gazing at the bare and furrowed mountain-sides bounding
this coast, rested with delight. One imagined orange groves and myrtle
bowers, impervious to the summer's sun and sheltered by the lofty ridges
from the northern blasts—all this verdure fringing the edge of a bright
and tideless sea. Elsewhere, except rarely in the hollows, the mountain
ranges extending along this coast exhibit no signs of vegetation; the
whole mass appearing, with the sun full on them, not only scorched but
actually burnt to the colour of kiln-dried bricks.

All the afternoon we continued running at the steamer's full speed along
the shores of France and Italy. Notwithstanding their arid and sterile
aspect, nothing can be finer than the mountain ranges which bound this
coast, as every one who has crossed them in travelling from Nice well
knows. Glimpses, too, successively of Frejus, Cannes, and Nice, more or
less distant, as, crossing the Gulf of Genoa, we gradually increased our
distance from the shore, together with a capital dinner, were pleasant
interludes to the grand spectacle of Alps piled on Alps in endless
succession, and glowing a fiery red, which all the waters over which we
flew—deep, dark, or azure—could not quench.

Towards evening there were evident tokens in the sky, on the water, and
in the vessel's motion, of a change of weather. We were threatened with
a stormy night; and as we now began to lose the shelter of the land,
holding a course somewhat to the S.E. in order to round the northern
point of Corsica, there was no reason to regret that the passage across
the Tuscan sea would be performed while we were in our berths.

However, we walked the deck long after the other passengers had gone
below; enjoying the fresh breeze, though it was no soft zephyr wafting
sweet odours from the Ausonian shore. It is a sublime thing to stand on
the poop of a good ship when she is surging through the waves at ten
knots an hour in utter darkness, whether impelled by wind or steam;
especially when the elements are in strife. Nothing can give a higher
idea of the power of man to control them. With no horizon, not a star
visible in the vault above, and only the white curl on the crest of the
boiling waves, glimmering in our wake, on—on, we rush, the ship dipping
and rising over the long swells, and dashing floods of water and clouds
of spray from her bows.

But whither are we driving through these dark waters, and this
impenetrable, and seemingly boundless, gloom? The eye rests on the light
in the binnacle. We stoop to examine the compass; the card marks S.S.E.
Imagination expands the dark horizon. It is not boundless: the island
mountain-tops loom in the distance. They beckon us on; we realise them
now; at dawn the grey peaks of Cape Corso will be unveiled; we shall
dream of them to-night.

One of the watch struck the hour on the bell. “It is ten o'clock; let us
turn in.” There is an inviting glimmer through the cabin skylights. We
are better off in this floating hotel than has often been our lot,
baffling with storm and tempest, benighted, weary, cold and wet, in
rough roads, forest or desert waste, with dubious hopes of shelter and
comfort at the end of our march.

We paused for a moment, leaning over the brass rail which protected the
quarter deck. Below, on the main deck, a number of French soldiers,
wrapped in their grey coats, were huddled together, cowering under the
bulwarks, or wherever they could find shelter from the bitter night

The cabin lamps shed a cheerful light, reflected by the highly-polished
furniture and fittings. All the passengers were in their berths. We had
chosen ours near the door for fresher air. My companion climbed to his
cot in the upper tier, above mine.

“If you wake first, call me at daylight. We shall be off the coast of
Corsica. _Felicissima notte!_”


  _Coast of Capo Corso.—Peculiarity of Scenery.—Verdure, and
    Mountain Villages.—Il Torre di Seneca.—Land at Bastia._

The voyage from Marseilles to Bastia is performed, under favourable
circumstances, in eighteen hours; but we had only just made the extreme
northern point of Corsica when I was hastily roused, at six o'clock,
from a blissful state of unconsciousness of the gale of wind and rough
sea which had retarded our progress during the night.

Hurrying on deck, the first objects which met the eye were a rocky islet
with a lighthouse on a projecting point, and then it rested on the
glorious mountains of Capo Corso, lifting their grey summits to the
clouds, and stretching away to the southward in endless variety of
outline. We were abreast of the rocky island of Capraja; on the other
hand lay Elba, with its mountain peaks; Pianosa and Monte-Cristo rose
out of the Tuscan sea further on. Behind these picturesque islands, the
distant range of the Apennines hung like a cloud in the horizon. The sun
rose over them in unclouded glory, no trace being left of the
night-storm, but a fresh breeze, and the heaving and swelling of the
deep waters.

Banging along the eastern coast of Capo Corso, at a short distance from
the shore, with the early light now thrown upon it, the natural
features of the country—groups of houses, villages, and even single
buildings of a marked character—were distinctly visible. We were not
long in discovering that Corsican scenery is of a peculiar and highly
interesting character.

The infinite variety existing in all the Creator's works is remarkably
exhibited in the physical aspect of different countries, though the
landscape be formed of the same materials, whether mountains, forests,
wood, water, and extended plains, or a composition of all or any of
these features on a greater or less scale. The change is sometimes very
abrupt. Thus, the character of Sardinian scenery is essentially
different from the Corsican, notwithstanding the two islands are only
separated by a strait twenty miles broad. Climate, atmosphere,
geological formation, and vegetable growth, all contribute to this
variety. The impress given to the face of nature by the hand of man,
whether by cultivation, or in the forms, and, as we shall presently see,
the position, of the various buildings which betoken his presence, give,
of course, in a secondary degree, a difference of character to the

Remarks of this kind occurred in a conversation with our stout English
friend and my fellow-traveller, while they were sketching the coast of
Capo Corso from the deck of the _Industrie_. Trite as they may appear,
it is surprising how little even many persons who have travelled are
alive to such distinctions. What more natural than to say, “I have seen
Alpine scenery in Switzerland; why should I encounter the difficulties
of a northern tour to witness the same thing on a smaller scale in
Norway? What can the islands in the Tuscan sea have to offer
essentially different from Italian scenery with which I am already

Only a practised eye can make the discrimination, and it requires some
knowledge of physical geography, and the vegetable kingdom, to be able
to analyse causes producing these diversified effects. Every class of
rock, every species of tree, the various elevations of the surface of
the globe, and the plants which clothe its different regions, have each
their own forms and characteristics; and, of course, a landscape, being
an aggregate of these several parts, ought to reflect the varieties of
the materials composing it. An artist must have carefully studied from
nature to have acquired a nice perception of these varied effects, and
even should he be able to grasp the result, he may not succeed in
transferring it to his sketch. Far less can words convey an adequate
idea of the varied effects of natural scenery; so that one does not
wonder when the reader complains of the sameness of the representation.

In the present instance, were there pictured to his imagination the
distant peaks of Elba on the one hand, and on the other the long
mountain ranges of Capo Corso, bathed in purple light, as the sun rose
in the eastern horizon, the grey cliffs of rocks and promontories
bordering the coast, contrasted with the verdure of the valleys and
lower elevations, vineyards and olive grounds on the hill-sides, and the
landscape dotted with villages, churches, and ancient towers, we should
doubtless have a very charming sketch, but it would not convey a
distinct idea of the peculiarities of Corsican scenery.

What struck us most, independently of the general effect, was the
extraordinary verdure and exuberance of the vegetation which overspread
the surface of the country far up the mountain sides, not only as
contrasted with the sterile aspect of the coasts of the continent we had
just left, but as being, in itself, different from anything which had
before fallen under our observation in other countries, whether forest,
underwood, or grassy slope. For the moment, we were unable to conjecture
of what it consisted; but we had not long set foot on shore before we
were at no loss to account for our admiration of this singular feature
in Corsican, and in this particular, also, of Sardinian scenery.

Not to dwell now on the peculiar character of the mountain ranges of
Corsica, I will only mention one other peculiarity in the landscape
which strikes the eye throughout the island, but is nowhere more
remarkable than in the views presented as we ranged along the coast of
Capo Corso. As the former instance belongs to the department of physical
geography, this comes under the class of effects produced by the works
of man. The peculiarity consists in the villages being all placed at
high elevations. They are seen perched far up the mountain sides,
straggling along the scarp of a narrow terrace, or crowded together on
the platform of some projecting spur; churches, convents, towers, and
hamlets crowning the peaked summits of lower eminences almost equally
inaccessible. The only extensive plains in the island are so
insalubrious as to be almost uninhabitable, and this has been their
character from the time the island was first colonised. For this reason,
probably, in some measure, but more especially for defence, in the
hostilities to which the island has been exposed from foreign invaders
during many ages, as well as by internal feuds hardly yet extinct,
nearly the whole population is collected in the elevated villages or
_paese_ forming this singular and picturesque feature in Corsican
scenery. They are visible from a great distance, and sometimes ten or a
dozen of them are in sight at one time.

Capo Corso is not, as might be supposed, a mere cape or headland, but a
narrow peninsula, containing a number of villages, and washed on both
sides by the Tuscan sea; being about twenty-five miles long, though only
from five to ten miles broad. Nearly the whole area is occupied by a
continuation of the central chain which traverses the island from north
to south. The average height of the range through Capo Corso, where it
is called _La Serra_, does not exceed 1500 feet above the level of the
sea, but it swells into lofty peaks; the highest, _Monte Stella_,
between Brando and Nonza, rising 5180 feet above the shore of the

    [Illustration: ERSA, CAPO CORSO.]

From the central chain spurs branch off to the sea on both coasts,
forming narrow valleys at the base and in the gorges of the mountains,
of which the principal on the eastern side are Lota, Cagnano, and Luri;
the last-named being the most fertile and picturesque, as well as the
largest of these mountain valleys, though only six miles long and three
wide. On the western side lie the valleys of Olmeta, Olcani, and
Ogliastro; Olmeta being the largest. The valleys are watered by mountain
torrents, often diverted to irrigate the lands under tillage, as well as
gardens and vine and olive plantations. Each _paese_ has its small tract
of more fertile land, marked by a deeper verdure, where the valleys open
out and the streams discharge their waters into the Mediterranean. At
this point, called the _Marino_, there is generally a little port, with
a hamlet inhabited by a hardy race of sailors engaged in the traffic
carried on coastwise between the villages of the interior and the

This mountainous district contains a considerable population, and the
inhabitants are distinguished for their industry and economy. They live
in much comfort on the produce obtained by persevering labour from the
small portions of cultivated soil. Numerous flocks of sheep are herded
on the vast wastes overhanging the valleys. The olive and vine flourish,
and extensive chestnut woods supply at some seasons the staple diet of
the poorer classes. The slopes of the hills about the villages are
converted into gardens and orchards, in which we find figs, peaches,
apples, pears,—with oranges and lemons in the more sheltered spots. The
wines are in general sound, and we found them excellent where special
care had been bestowed on the manufacture.

The Corsicans are generally indolent, but it is said that there are no
less than a hundred families in the mountainous province of Capo Corso
who are considered rich, some of them wealthy; and all these owe their
improved fortunes to the enterprising spirit of some relative who left
it poor, and after years of toil in Mexico, in Brazil, or some other
part of South America, returned with his savings to his native village.

One valley after another opened as the steamer ran down the coast, each
with its _Marino_ distinguished by a fresher verdure, and its cluster of
white houses on the beach. The night mists still filled the hollows, and
villages and hamlets hung like cloud-wreaths on the mountain-sides and
the summits of the hills; the most inaccessible of which were crowned
with ruins of castles and towers.

Tradition asserts that one of these towers was the prison of Seneca the
Philosopher. _Il Torre di Seneca_, as it is called, stands on an
escarped pinnacle of rock, terminating one of the loftiest of the
detached sugar-loaf hills.

    [Illustration: IL TORRE DI SENECA.]

Seneca spent seven years in exile, having been banished to Corsica by
the emperor Claudius, on suspicion of an illicit intercourse with the
profligate Julia. The islands in the Tuscan sea were the Tasmania of the
Roman empire, places of transportation for political offenders, and
those who fell under the imperial frown—which was the same thing. Some
smaller islands off the Italian coast, Procida, Ischia, &c., served the
same purpose. _Relegatio ad insulam_ was the legal phrase for this
punishment. Augustus banished his grandson Agrippa to the desolate
island of _Planosa_, the Pianosa mentioned just before in connection
with Elba. There he was strangled by order of Tiberius.

In some of his Epigrams, and the Books _de Consolatione_, composed
during his exile, Seneca paints the country and the climate in the
darkest colours. There is no doubt but these islands, though in sight of
the coast of Italy, appeared to the polished Romans as barbarous and
full of horrors as our penal settlements at the antipodes were
considered long after their first occupation; so that the picture of
Corsica, drawn by Seneca, may have been much exaggerated by his
distempered and splenetic state of mind. The probability is, that he
resided during his exile at one of the Roman colonies on the eastern
coast, Aleria or Mariana. What is called the _Torre di Seneca_ is the
ruin of a stronghold or watch-tower of the middle ages; and it is not
likely that the spot was occupied by the Romans at any period of their
dominion in Corsica, their possessions consisting only of the two
colonies, and some harbours on the coast.

But those lonely towers standing close to the shore, which we see from
time to time as we coast along—massive, round, and grey with lichens as
the rocks at their base; what do their ruins tell of times past? Were
they a chain of forts for the defence of the coast against Saracen, or
other invaders, in the middle ages? They appear too small to hold a
garrison, and too insulated for mutual support. More probably they were
watch-towers, from which signals were made when the vessels of the
corsairs hovered on the coast, that the inhabitants might betake
themselves, with their cattle and goods, to the fortified villages and
castles on the hills. We are told that, at the beginning of the
eighteenth century, there were fifteen of those towers on the north
coast of the island, and eighty-five in its whole circuit; but many of
them are now fallen to ruin.

At length, Bastia appeared in sight, rising in an amphitheatre to a
ridge studded with villas; the houses of the old town being crowded
about the port. Sweeping round the mole, we found ourselves in a
diminutive harbour, among vessels of small burthen. This basin is
surrounded on three sides by tall gloomy buildings, of the roughest
construction, piled up, tier above tier, to a great height. A
man-of-war's boat shoves off from the shore in good style, and lands the
Count's niece with due honours. Other boats come alongside the steamer,
and all is confusion.

“Did you see the meeting between the two Corsican brothers—the sallow,
fever-worn soldier from Algiers, our poor fellow-traveller, and the
hearty mountaineer?”

“No; I was paying my last _devoirs_ to _madame_.”

“The contrast between the two was striking. I shall never forget the way
they were laced in each other's arms, and the glance of keen anxiety
with which the mountaineer looked into his sick brother's face, marking
the ravages which time and disease had worked on those much-loved

In the air of his mountain-village that brother, we would hope, grew
strong again. Perhaps, having rejoined his regiment, his bones are left
in the Crimea; perhaps, he again survives, and breathes once more his
native air. Who can tell?

Our hale English friend remained on board to pursue the voyage to
Leghorn. What a din, what frantic gestures, what a rush of these
irascible Corsicans at our baggage! It is borne off to the
custom-house, and undergoes an examination far from rigorous. We mount
several flights of steps, leading from one narrow street to another in
this old quarter of the town, and are led to an hotel, which had much
the air of a second or third-rate Italian _locanda_—lofty and spacious
apartments, neither clean nor well arranged; and the _déjeûner_ was a
sorry affair. _N'importe_; we shall not stay longer in Bastia than is
necessary, and we may go further and fare worse. Meanwhile, a battalion
of French infantry were on parade, with the band playing in the
barrack-yard under our windows. We threw them open to enjoy the fresh
breeze and sweeten the room. They commanded a fine view of the coast we
had passed, now seen in profile under the effect of a bright sunshine,
with the waves washing in wreaths of foam on every jutting point and


  _Bastia.—Territorial Divisions.—Plan of the Rambles.—Hiring
    Mules.—The Start._

I cannot imagine any one's loitering in Bastia longer than he can help.
Its only attractions are the sea and the mountain views from the
environs; and those are commanded equally well from many points along
the coast. What the old town is we have already seen—narrow and crooked
streets, with gaunt houses piled up about the port; and there is the old
Genoese fortress frowning over it, and the church of St. John, of Pisan
architecture, the interior rich in marbles and gilding, but the _façade_
below notice as a work of art. A new quarter has been added to the town,
higher up, in which there are some handsome houses, particularly in the
_Rue de la Traverse_.

In early times a few poor traders from Cardo, a _paese_ on the heights,
settled at the mouth of a stream which formed here a small harbour. It
was their _Marino_, so that Cardo may be said to be in some sort the
Fiesole of Bastia. About the close of the fourteenth century, the
Genoese built the Donjon, which is still standing, to defend the port,
then becoming of importance. From this _bastióne_, the new town derived
its name. It was the capital of the island during the Pisan and Genoese
occupation, and so continued under the French government till 1811, when
the prefecture and general administration of affairs were transferred
to Ajaccio, where also the Council-general of Corsica, now forming a
department of France, holds its sessions. Bastia, however, is still the
_Quartier-général_ of the military in the island, and the seat of the
_Cour de Cassation_ and _Cour d'Appel_, tribunals exercising superior
jurisdiction over all the other courts. It is also the most populous
town in Corsica (14,000 souls being the return of the last census), and
has by far the largest commerce, exporting olive-oil and wine, fruits
and fish; and importing _corn_, groceries, tobacco, and manufactured
articles of all kinds.

Bastia was the standing point from which the old division of Corsica
into the _di quà_ and the _di là dei monti_—the country on this side and
the country on the other side of the mountains—was made; the line of
intersection commencing at the point of Gargalo, below Aleria, on the
eastern coast, and following a range of mountains westward to the
_Marino_ of Solenzara. The division was by no means equal; the country
_di quà_, including the present arrondissements of Bastia, Corte, and
Calve, being one-third larger than the _di là_, comprising the
arrondissements of Ajaccio and Sartene.

Another ancient division of Corsica was into _pieves_, originally
ecclesiastical districts,—and _paeses_, which, I imagine, are equivalent
to parishes, including the village and the hamlets belonging to them. A
detached farm-house, such as are scattered everywhere in England, is
hardly to be seen in Corsica, the inhabitants being gathered in these
villages and hamlets, invariably built, as already observed, on elevated
points. By what corruption these were called _paeses_, _countries_, one
does not understand; but it sounds rather droll to a stranger, when he
is told in Corsica, that he may travel many miles, _senza vedère uno
paése_, without seeing a country.

Bastia must, doubtless, from the circumstances mentioned, have good
society; but we thought Ajaccio a much pleasanter place, and Corte, in
its rudeness, has a nobler aspect than either, and is associated with
glorious recollections. We were for escaping the _di quà_ of Bastia and
the _littorale_, and getting as soon as possible _di là_ the mountains,
not, however, according to the old political division of the island, but
in the sense of crossing the central chain by one of the nearest passes.

The plan we sketched, after consulting our maps, was to cross the Serra
by a _col_ leading into the valleys in the south-west of Capo Corso,
and, after rambling through that district, to descend into the upper
valley of the Golo, and pursue it in the direction of Corte, making
Ajaccio our next point. There are good highroads throughout the island,
with regular _diligences_ all the way from Bastia to Bonifaccio; but to
avail ourselves of these, taking up our quarters in the towns and making
excursions in the neighbourhood, was not to our taste. We proposed,
therefore, to hire mules for the expedition, sending our heavier baggage
forward to Ajaccio by _voiture_, and retaining only the indispensables
for a journey of more than 150 miles, in the course of which not a
single decent _albergo_ was to be met with, except at Corte.

The horses in Corsica are diminutive and of an inferior breed, mules
being almost exclusively employed for draught on the great roads, and as
beasts of burthen in the byways and mountain tracks. In Sardinia, on the
contrary, though lying so much further south, the mules disappeared, and
were replaced by hardy and active horses.

We inquired for mules. There are generally to be found hanging about
foreign hotels people ready to undertake anything the traveller may
require, little as they may be competent to fulfil their engagements.
One of this class presented himself, his appearance by no means
prepossessing; but the view he took of our present scheme afforded us
some amusement.

“Are you well acquainted with the roads in Corsica?”

“I have had the honour to conduct _signore forestiere_ throughout the
island from Bastia to Bonifaccio.”

“We shall not travel _en voiture_. We require mules for the baggage and
riding. Can you supply them?”

“_Ça serait possible, mais, à l'improviste, un peu difficile_.”

“It is indispensable, as we mean to cross the mountains and make a
_détour, en route_ to Corte by slow stages, resting in the villages.”

The man's countenance assumed a rueful expression. He had probably been
used to make easy work of it from town to town, and there was evidently
a ludicrous struggle between the temptation of a profitable job and his
disinclination for rugged roads and a spare diet.

“Are _messieurs_ aware that there are no _auberges_ in the villages
offering accommodations fit for them?”

“It is very possible; that does not occasion us any uneasiness.”

“_Les chemins sont affreux._”

“_N'importe_; we have travelled in worse.”

“In some places they are dangerous, absolutely precipitous.”

“We shall walk; _en effet_, it is possible we may walk great part of the

That our muleteer could not understand at all: “_la fatigue serait
pénible_;” and with true Corsican indolence, he protested against being
included in that part of our plan.

“Then you can ride.”

So far all objections were dismissed. The banditti had not been
mentioned among the lions in our path, but I imagined they were darkly
shadowed forth in the guide's picture of horrors; so I put the question
to him point blank.

“Are the roads safe in these districts? Are there no bad people
(_mauvais gens_—_cattive genti_) abroad?”

His only reply was a shrug of the shoulders, the foreign substitute for
a Burleigh shake of the head; leaving us to infer that we must not make
too sure of coming off with a whole skin. Knowing well enough that all
apprehensions of that kind were imaginary, we had been only amusing
ourselves with him. If there had been any danger, he seemed just the
fellow to be in league with the brigands.

All topics of intimidation being now exhausted, our muleteer, with the
best grace he could, professed himself ready to comply with our wishes.

The hire demanded for the mules was five francs per day each, exclusive
of their keep; and their return journey was to be paid for at the same
rate. The latter part of the demand was an imposition, but we had only
“Hobson's choice,” and made no difficulties.

When would it be our pleasure to depart? As early in the afternoon as
possible. “It would be late;” and a last effort was made to induce us to
remain at the hotel till the next morning, but we were inexorable.

“Would there be time for us to reach the first village on the road
before dark?”—“We might.”—“Then we will go. Our baggage will be ready by
three o'clock. Be punctual.”

We disliked the man, and determined to discharge him at Corte unless
things turned out better than we expected. As it happened, we were under
his convoy for a much shorter space. We found the Sard _cavallante_, a
much finer race, trudging on foot through all the roughest part of the
tracks, and perching themselves at the top of a much heavier load of
baggage on the pack-horse, when they were tired of walking.

It was a strange “turn out,” that, by unusual exertions, appeared at the
door within an hour of the time appointed. The mules were no bigger than

“_Queste bestie non sono muli; sono dei asini._”

It was vexatious; but we laughed too much to be seriously angry; the
muleteer, too, deprecating our wrath by assuring us that his mules had
first-rate qualities for scrambling up and down precipices. So we took
it all in good part, and, more amused than annoyed, assisted in
contriving to adjust the girths of the English saddles to the poor
beasts' wizened sides; and then, declining a march through Coventry with
such a cavalcade, walked forward, leaving the guide to load the baggage
and follow with the mules.


  _Leave Bastia.—The Road.—View of Elba, Pianosa, and
    Monte-Cristo.—The_ Littorale.—_An Adventure.—The Stagna di

The Corsicans are apt to say, that the national roads were the only
benefit Napoleon conferred on his native country. Like all his great
works of construction, they are worthy of his genius. One of these
traverses the whole eastern coast of the island from Bastia, by Cervione
and Porto-Vecchio, to Bonifaccio. Another line branches off near
Vescovato, about ten miles from Bastia, and following the valley of the
Golo, is carried among the mountains to Corte, whence it is continued
through a wild and mountainous district to Ajaccio. Similar engineering
skill is displayed in its continuation on the western side of the
mountains to Sartene, and thence to Bonifaccio, where it also

On clearing Bastia, we found ourselves on this high road,—a magnificent
causeway carried nearly in a straight line for many miles through the
plain extending between the sea and the mountains. Orange groves
embowering sheltered nooks in the environs of the town, and hedges of
the Indian fig (_cactus opuntia_), betokened the warmth of this southern
shore; and, as we advanced, the rank growth of vegetation on the flats
realised all we had heard of the teeming richness of the _littorale_.
It was hot walking, and the causeway and flats would have been
monotonous enough but for the glorious views on either hand.

To the left, the Mediterranean was calmly subsiding from the effects of
the gale, its undulations still sparkling in the sunbeams. Far within
the horizon was the group of islands which lend a charm to all this
coast, and are associated with great historical names. There rises Elba,
with the sharp outline of its lofty peaks and dark shores, too narrow
for the mighty spirit which ere long burst the bounds of his Empire
Island. Far away in the southern hemisphere I had visited that other
island, where the chains were riveted too firmly for release, except by
the grave over which I had pondered. Now we stood on the soil that gave
him birth. Why was not this the “Island Empire?” The Allied Sovereigns
were disposed to be magnanimous. It was offered to him; why did he
refuse it? Was it that, with far-sighted policy, he considered Corsica
too bright a gem in the crown of France for him to pluck, without sooner
or later giving umbrage to the Bourbons? May his refusal be cited as a
further proof of the little love he bore for the land of his birth? Or
was it that, when once hurled from the throne of his creation, the
conqueror of kingdoms could not descend to compare one petty island with
another? “At Elba he found the horizon, the sky, the air, the waves of
his childhood; and the history of his island-state, would be to him a
constant lesson of the mutability of human things.”[3]

Napoleon emperor in Corsica! On this spot, with Elba in view, one dwells
for a moment on the idea! Then, indeed, Corsica's long-cherished dreams
of national independence—it was her last chance—would have been
strangely realised. But her fate was sealed. She had sunk to the rank of
an outlying department of France, and so remained; with what results we
may perhaps discover.

Near Elba, and strongly contrasting with its bold outline, lies the
little island of _Pianosa_, the ancient Planosa. Its surface is flat, as
the name indicates. That island, too, has its tale of imperial exile.
The young Agrippa, grandson of Augustus, and heir-presumptive to an
empire wider than that of Napoleon's most ambitious dreams, was banished
to Planosa by his grandfather, at the instance of Livia. Augustus is
said to have visited him there. It was Agrippa's fate to find a grave,
as well as a prison, in the Mediterranean island; the tyrant Tiberius,
with the jealousy of an eastern monarch, having caused his rival to be
strangled on his own accession to the empire.

Soon after Napoleon's arrival in Elba he sent some troops to take
possession of Pianosa; which, ravaged by the Genoese in the thirteenth
century, had never since flourished. The fallen emperor himself could
not help laughing at this mighty expedition, for which thirty of his
guards, some Elban militia, and six pieces of artillery were detailed;
exclaiming, as he gave orders to erect batteries and fire upon any
enemies who might present themselves, “Europe will say that I have
already made a conquest.” Napoleon partially restored the fortifications
of an old castle, which had been bombarded by an English squadron,
landing the marines, in 1809, during the revolutionary war. The island
now belongs, with Elba, to the Grand-Duke of Tuscany.

Further to the south appears the rocky island of Monte-Cristo. This,
too, has its tale of exile, insignificant as it looks except for its
sharply serrated outline, and a worldwide fame. The emperor Diocletian
banished here St. Mamilian, Archbishop of Palermo. A convent was
afterwards founded on the site of the Saint's rude cell. The monks of
Monte-Cristo flourished, as they deserved; the worthy fathers having
founded many hospitals in Tuscany and done much good. Saracen corsairs
carried off the monks; the convent was laid in ruins; and the lone
island remained uninhabited for a long course of years, except by wild
goats. It was in this state when Alexandre Dumas made it the scene of
his hero's successful adventure after his escape from the _Château
d'If_, and adopted it as the title of his popular novel. The island
having been recently purchased and colonised by Mr. Watson Taylor, he
has built a house on it for his own residence.

    [Illustration: ISLE OF MONTE-CRISTO.]

It is about nine miles in circumference, and I should judge from its
appearance that the greatest part of the surface is rocky, though not
without green hollows, dells, and verdant slopes. But the olive and the
vine usually thrive, and are largely cultivated, on such spots; and if,
as I should imagine, the natural vegetation and the climate are similar
to those of the other islands in the Tuscan sea with which we are
acquainted, happy may the lord of Monte-Cristo be; for, in the hands of
a wealthy English gentleman, such a spot may be made an earthly

After about an hour's walk we halted for the muleteer to come up. A
glorious point of view it was, embracing a wide expanse of the bright
sea, with the islands which had supplied so many striking and pleasant
recollections. Looking backward, the purple mountains of Capo Corso now
appeared massed together in endless variety of outline, with Bastia at
their base, the citadel and white houses glowing in the evening
sunshine. Turning to the right, the eye caught the fine effect of the
meeting of the plain and mountains—the interminable level, stretching
far away till it was lost in distance, and teeming with luxuriant
vegetation, but with only here and there a solitary clump of trees,—and
the long mountain-range line after line rising into peaks above the
gracefully rounded hills that swelled up from the level of the plain.
Woods, orchards, vineyards overspread the lower slopes, the hollows were
buried in thickets of evergreen, and picturesque villages and towers
appeared, though rarely, on the summits of the hills.


Who would not linger at the sight of Furiani, the most important of
these villages, its ivy-mantled towers crumbling to ruins?—Furiani,
where the Corsicans, in a national assembly, first organised their
insurrection against the Genoese, and elected the prudent and intrepid
Giaffori one of their leaders; with cries of “_Evviva la libertà! evviva
il popolo!_”—Furiani, where, in almost their last struggle, two hundred
Corsicans held the fortifications long after they were a heap of ruins,
and at length cut their way by night to the shore.

The muleteer at last made his appearance with his sorry cavalcade, and
my companion having taken advantage of our halt to make the sketch of
the “Meeting of the mountains and plain,” which was not quite finished,
that we might not lose time, as the sun was descending behind the
mountains, one of the mules was tied to a stake, in order that my friend
might overtake us, while we made the best of our way forward.

I still preferred walking, and pushed on at a pace which suited none of
my company, human or asinine. We had got ahead about a mile, when shouts
from behind opened a scene perfectly ludicrous. There was the little
mule trotting up the road at most unusual speed, impelled by my friend's
shouts and the big stones with which he was pelting the miserable beast.
He too came up at a long trot, rather excited, and calling to the
muleteer, “Catch your mule, Giovanni! I'll have nothing more to do with
the brute.”

“What is it all about?”

It appeared that my friend, having finished his sketch, prepared to
mount and push after us. The mule, however, had a design diametrically
opposed to this. No sooner was it loosed from the stake to which it was
tied, than the poor beast very naturally felt a strong impulse to return
to its stable at Bastia. Could instinct have forewarned it what it
would have to encounter before midnight, the retrograde impulse would
have been still stronger. Every one knows how difficult it is to deal
with a mule when it is in the mood either not to go at all, or to go the
wrong way. Having driven a team of these animals—fine Calabrian mules
they were, equal to the best Spanish—all the way from Naples to Dieppe,
I can boast of some experience in the mulish temperament.

To make matters worse, the English saddle being all too large for its
wizened sides, in spite of all our care in knotting the girths, it
twisted round in the attempt to mount, and my very excellent friend—no
disparagement to his noble horsemanship, for one has no firm seat even
when mounted on a vicious pony—before he could bring the saddle to a
level and gain his equilibrium, was fairly pitched over the side of the
road. Mule having now achieved that glorious _libertà_, the instinctive
aspiration of Corsican existence, whether man, mule, or moufflon,
started forward alone, my friend following, I have no doubt, in rather a
thundering rage.

“At every attempt I made to take the mule by the head”—such was his
account—“he reversed his position, and launched his heels at me with a
viciousness that rendered the enterprise not a little dangerous, for I
do not know anything so funky as an ass's heels. Had it not been for
saving the saddle, mule might have taken himself off to Bastia, or a
worse place, for any trouble I would have taken to stop him.”

It may be supposed that this story was not told or listened to without
shouts of laughter, the muleteer being the only one of the party who was
seriously disconcerted.

“_Andiamo, Giovanni_,” said I, cutting short all discussion, and moved
forward. We had lost time, and the evening was closing in.

“Won't you ride, then?—try the other mule.”

“No, I thank you; I am not in the least fatigued, and have no desire to
be pitched into a bush of prickly cactus, or rolled down the bank of the

“Let us push on, then; if we are belated, we may have worse adventures,
this first day of our rambles in Corsica, before we get to our night's
quarters; and where we are to find them, I am sure I have no idea.”

We walked on at a smart pace, and gradually drew far ahead of Giovanni
and his mules. They were not to be hurried, and if they had been gifted
like Balaam's ass, I imagine they would have agreed with Giovanni in
wishing _l'Inglesi all'Inferno_. I don't know, speaking from
experience, which is worst, riding, leading, or driving a malcontent

The rays of the setting sun were now faintly gleaming on a vast sheet of
shallow stagnant water, the _Stagna di Biguglia_, between the road and
the sea, from which it is only separated by a low strip of alluvial
soil. It was a solitary, a melancholy scene. A luxuriant growth of reeds
fringes the margin of the lagoon, and heat and moisture combine to throw
up a rank vegetation on its marshy banks. The peasants fly from its
pestiferous exhalations, and nothing is heard or seen but the plash of
the fish in the still waters, the sharp cry of the heron and gull,
wheeling and hovering till they dart on their prey, and some rude
fisherman's boat piled with baskets of eels for the market at Bastia.

This vast sheet of water was formerly open to the sea, forming a noble
harbour, in which floated the galleys of the powerful republics that in
the middle ages disputed the empire of the Mediterranean and the
possession of its islands. On a hill above stood the town of Biguglia,
the capital of the island under the Pisans and Genoese, till in the
fourteenth century Henri della Rocca, with the insurgent Corsicans,
carried it by assault. The Genoese then erected the fortress at Bastia,
which, with the town growing up under its protection, became the chief
seat of their power in the island, and Biguglia fell to decay.

Mariana, a Roman colony, stood on the coast near the lower extremity of
this present lagoon; and Aleria, another still further south, on the
sea-line of the great plain extending for forty miles below Bastia. Our
proposed route led in another direction, and, not to interrupt the
thread of the narrative, a notice of these colonies is reserved for
another opportunity.

We had reached the neighbourhood at which, according to calculation, we
ought to strike off from the high-road towards the mountains. Now, if
ever, a guide was needed; but Giovanni and his mules had fallen far in
the rear. A by-road turned to the right, apparently in the desired
direction. At the angle of the roads we took counsel,—should we venture
to take the by-path, or wait till Giovanni came up?—which involved a
loss of time we could ill spare at that period of the day. A mistake
might be awkward, but we had carefully studied the bearings of the
country on our maps, and deciding to risk it, struck boldly into the
lane. For a short distance it led between inclosures, but presently
opened, and we found ourselves on the boundless waste, with only a
narrow track for our guidance through its mazes. We were in the bush,
the _Macchia_ as the natives call it.


  _Evergreen Thickets.—Their remarkable Character.—A fortunate
    Rencontre.—Moonlight in the Mountains.—Cross a high
    Col.—Corsican Shepherds.—The Vendetta.—Village Quarters._

A slight ascent over a stony bank landed us at once on the verge of the
thickets. It had been browsed by cattle, and scattered myrtle-bushes, of
low growth, were the first objects that gladdened our eyes. A new
botany, a fresh scenery was before us. The change from the littoral,
with its rank vegetation, close atmosphere, and weary length of
interminable causeway, was so sudden, that it took us by surprise.
Presently we were winding through a dense thicket of arbutus,
tree-heaths, alaternus, daphne, lentiscus, blended with myrtles, cystus,
and other aromatic shrubs, massed and mingled in endless variety—the
splendid arbutus, with its white bell-shaped flowers and pendulous
bunches of red and orange berries, most prevailing.

The _Macchia_ is, in fact, a natural shrubbery of exquisite beauty. We
travelled through it, in the two islands, for many hundred miles, and I
feel confident that, to English taste, it forms the unique feature in
Corsican and Sardinian scenery. This sort of underwood prevails also, I
understand, in Elba, and, more or less, in the other islands of the
central Mediterranean basin. We now fully comprehended how it was that,
when sailing along the coast, our attention had been so riveted on the
rich verdure clothing the hills and mountain-sides of Capo Corso,
although at the time we were unable to satisfy ourselves in what its
striking peculiarity consisted.

The air is so perfumed by the aromatic plants, that there was no
exaggeration in Napoleon's language when conversing, at St. Helena, of
the recollections of his youth, he said:

“_La Corse avait mille charmes; tout y était meilleur jusqu'à l'odeur du
sol même. Elle lui eût suffi pour la deviner, les yeux fermés. Il ne
l'avait retrouvée nulle part._”

A trifling occurrence in my own travels gives some faint idea of the
sentiment which dictated this remark. At St. Helena the flora of the
North and South singularly meet. Patches of gorse (_Ulex Europæa_)—that
idol of Linnæus and ornament of our English and Cambrian wastes—grow
freely on the higher grounds, rivalling the purple heath in their golden
bloom, and shrubs of warmer climates in their sweet perfume. Returning
to England after lonely wanderings in the southern hemisphere, I well
remember how the sight and the scent of this rude plant, dear in its
very homeliness, recalled former scenes associated with it. I recollect,
too, that the mettlesome barb which bounded over the downs surrounding
Longwood did not partake of my sympathy for the golden bough I had
plucked. The smooth turf and the yellow furze had no charms for the
exile of St. Helena. Never was the “_lasciate ogni speranza_” more
applicable than to his island-prison, and in his melancholy hours his
thoughts naturally reverted, with a gush of fond tenderness, to the land
of his birth, little as he had shown partiality for it in his hour of

On its picturesque scenes we were now entering, with everything to give
them the highest zest. The autumn rains had refreshed the arid soil,
and the aromatic shrubs filled the air with their richest perfume.
Escaped from cities, and from steam-boats, redolent of far other odours,
and having turned our backs on marsh, and _stagna_, and wearisome
causeway, well strung to our work, and gaining fresh vigour in the
evening breeze, we brushed through the waving thickets with little
thought of Giovanni and his mules, left far behind, and as little
concern whither our path would lead us. It was a beaten track, and must
be our guide to some habitation. A few hours ago we set foot on shore,
and we were already engaged in some sort of adventure—and that, too, in
Corsica, which has an ugly reputation! “_N'importe_; it is our usual
luck; it will turn out right.” But let us push on, for the sun has long
set, and the twilight is fading.

Fortune favoured us, for the enterprise on which we had stumbled turned
out rather a more serious affair than we anticipated. It was getting
dark, when the footprints of a mule on the sandy path attracted our
notice, the fresh marks pointing in the direction we were taking. Soon
we caught sight of a small party winding through the tall shrubbery. The
turning of a zigzag on a slight rocky ascent brought the party full in
view, and we closed with it. There were two girls riding astride on the
same mule, with a stout peasant trudging behind. It was a pleasant

“Good evening, friend. How far is it to the next village?”

“Three hours.”

“What is it called?”


“Is the road good?”

“Mountainous and very steep.”

“Allow us to join your party?”

“By all means.” “_Allons donc_; we shall be late.”

And the party moved on. Antoine, our new acquaintance, was, like most
Corsicans, of the middle size, with a frame well knit. He had a pleasant
expression of countenance, with a frank and independent air, the very
reverse of our muleteer, Giovanni. We amused ourselves at having given
him the slip, and continued to question our new guide.

“Shall we be able to procure beds and something to eat at Olmeta?”—the
“_qualche cosa per mangiare_” being always a question of first

“Never fear; you will find hospitality?”

We had no misgivings of any kind. Under Antoine's guidance we could now
proceed boldly, quite at ease to enjoy all the charms of our wild

    “E pur per selve oscure e calli obliqui,
    Insieme van, senza sospetto aversi.”—ARIOST. Canto I.

    “Together through dark woods and winding ways
    They walk, nor on their hearts suspicion preys.”

In about an hour, the moon, then at her full, rose above the hills on
our left, shedding a soft and silvery light on the mountain-tops; our
narrow path through the thickets being still buried in gloom. Presently
a full tide of lustrous radiance was poured on the waving sea of verdure
and the face of the mountains. We made good speed, for the family mule,
homeward bound, stepped on briskly under its double burden. Sometimes we
kept up with the party, joining in the talk of the good peasants; at
others, falling behind to enjoy the stillness of the scene, and abandon
ourselves to the contemplation of its ever-varying features. Now we
threaded the bank of a mountain torrent far beneath in shade, the depth
of which the eye was unable to penetrate as we plunged downwards through
the thickets; then, crossing the stream and scrambling up the opposite
bank, once more emerged from the gloom, and, standing for a few instants
on the summit we had gained, the grey mountain-tops again showed
themselves touched with the silver light, and the quivering foliage of
the evergreen shrubs, which covered the undulating expanse beneath,
twinkled like diamond sprays.

In these alternations of light and shade, and precipitous descents which
led on to still increasing altitudes, we followed our rocky path for
about two hours, when Antoine halted his party to prepare for
surmounting the main difficulty of the route, in evident surprise all
the while at finding two Englishmen engaged in an adventure of which he
could not comprehend the motive. And yet Antoine had seen something of
the world beyond the narrow bounds of his native island. He had been a
_matelot_, he said,—made a long voyage, and once touched at an English
port. Antoine seemed to be now leading a vagabond life. He was not
communicative as to why he left his country or why he returned, and was
gay and melancholy by fits. He did not belong to Olmeta, but had friends
there, to whom he was conducting the girls.

It is not often that the Corsican women ride while the men walk, the
reverse being generally the case. But Antoine was gallant, and, on the
whole, a good fellow. The girls, we have said, rode astride; but now, in
preparation for the ascent, one of them slipped off the mule, over the
crupper, with amusing agility, relieving the poor beast of half its
burden, and they afterwards rode by turns.

We now began the ascent of the pass, the Col di S.to Leonardo, leading
into the valley of Olmeta. The Col is nearly 3000 feet above the level
of the sea, and the passage proved to be almost as difficult as any I
recollect having encountered. We had no idea, when we left Bastia, of
attempting it that evening, and, had we not parted from Giovanni, should
probably have made for some village near the high-road, and lost the
splendid effects of moonlight on such scenery. The face of the mountain
is scaled either by rocky steps or by terraces cut in the escarped
flanks, with quick returns, in the way such elevations are usually
surmounted. The passing and repassing, as we traversed the successive
stages, brought out the effects of light and shade even better than we
had remarked them below. The path, too, was extremely picturesque.
Masses of grey rock, half in shade, jutted out among the shrubbery with
which the mountain-side was covered; giant heaths, five or six feet
high, hung feathering, and the arbutus threw its broad branches, over
our heads.

We had made some progress, and stood, as it were, suspended over the
valley, when Antoine's quick ear caught sounds from below. We halted to
take breath and listen. Presently, the sounds became more distinct, and
we made out the tramp of mules coming up the path, but still far
beneath. It was probably Giovanni with his mules, following our steps.
Again we stood and listened, looking over the precipice at an angle
which commanded the descent for many hundred feet beneath. The thicket
shrouding the narrow track was so dense, that nothing could be seen,
even in that bright moonlight, but its glistening slope. The sounds
from below rose more dearly. Thwack, thwack, fell Giovanni's cudgel on
the ribs of his unfortunate mules; and we could hear them scrambling,
and his hoarse voice uttering strange cries, as he urged them on.

We were too much amused at having given him the slip to think much of
the great tribulation in which he was panting and toiling to overtake
us. Vain hope! “He will be in time for supper; let us push
on;”—beginning to think that the sooner we realised the comforts which
Antoine had encouraged us to expect, the better.

“Are we near the top of the pass?”

“Do you see that rock with the bush hanging from it?” pointing to a
huge, insulated mass, its sharp outline clearly defined against the blue
sky; “it is a thousand feet above the spot on which we stand. The path
lies round the base of that rock. In an hour we shall reach it.”

We climbed on, the ascent becoming steeper and steeper as we mounted
upwards, often casting wistful looks at the beacon rock. Just before we
gained the summit, smoke was seen curling up from the copse at a little
distance from the path.

“_Ci sono pastori_,” cried Antoine.

“Perhaps they can give us some milk.” We had need enough of some
refreshment, the breakfast at Bastia having been our only meal.

“_Vedéremmo_,” said Antoine; and he led the way through the bushes.

Some rough dogs leapt out, fiercely barking at the approach of
strangers. They were called off by the shepherds, who, wrapped in their
shaggy mantles, the Corsican _pelone_, were sitting and lying round a
fire of blazing logs, under the shelter of a rock. A mixed flock of
sheep and goats lay closely packed round the bivouac. Unfortunately
they had no milk to give us.

The Corsican shepherds are a singular race. We found them leading a
nomad life in all parts of the island. They wander, as the season
permits, from the highest mountain-ranges to the verge of the cultivated
lands and vineyards, where the goats do infinite mischief; and drive
their flocks in the winter to the vast plains of the littoral, and the
warm and sheltered valleys. Home they have none; the side of a rock, a
cave, a hut of loose stones, lends them temporary shelter. Chestnuts are
their principal food; and their clothing, sheepskins, or the black wool
of their flocks spun and woven by the women of the valleys into the
coarse cloth of the _pelone_. Their greatest luxuries are the immense
fires, for which the materials are boundless, or to bask in the sun, and
tell national tales, and sing their simple _canzone_. But though a rude,
they are not a bad, race; contented, hospitable, tolerably honest, and,
as we found, often intelligent. We were not fortunate in our first
introduction to these people. Antoine exchanged a few words with them;
but they were sullen, and showed no signs of surprise or curiosity on
the sudden appearance of strangers at their fireside. The sample was far
from prepossessing. One of the men, who seemed to eye us with suspicion,
had just the physiognomy one should assign to a bandit.

It was perhaps this idea which led me to question Antoine on a subject
we had hitherto avoided.

“Are there any outlaws harboured in these wild mountains?”

“Not now; they have been hunted out; all that is changed; but blood has
been often spilt in this _maquis_. One terrible _vendetta_ was taken not
far from hence; but that was many years ago. I will show you the spot.”

Antoine strode rapidly onward; and we overtook the women, who had rode
on. In ten minutes we were rounding the mass of rock crowning the pass.

“This was the spot,” said Antoine, taking a step towards me, the rest of
the party having passed; and he added calmly, but with decision, and a
slightly triumphant air, “I did it myself.” (“_J'ai donné le coup

It may be well supposed that I stood aghast. We had not then learnt with
what little reserve such deeds of blood are avowed in Corsica; how
thoroughly they are extenuated by the popular code of morals or honour.
Such avowals were afterwards made to us with far less feeling than
Antoine betrayed; indeed, with the utmost levity. “_Je lui ai donné un
coup_,” mentioning the individual and giving the details, was the climax
of a story of some sudden quarrel or long-harboured animosity. It was
uttered with the _sang froid_ with which an Englishman would say, “I
knocked the fellow down;” and it might have been our impression that
nothing more was meant, but for the circumstances related, which left no
doubt on the subject. When a Corsican says that he has given his enemy a
_coup_, the phrase is a decorous ellipse for _coup-de-fusil_.
Occasionally, perhaps, it may mean a _coup-de-poignard_, which amounts
to much the same thing; but since carrying the knife has been rigorously
prohibited by the French Government, stabbing has not been much in vogue
in Corsica. Now, it is to be hoped, the murderous _fusil_ has equally

There was no time for asking what led to the quarrel or encounter.
Antoine coolly turned away, saying, “The descent is easy; we shall have
a good road now down the hill to Olmeta;” and, most opportunely, the
view which opened from the summit of the pass was calculated to divert
my thoughts from what had just occurred.

It has been often remarked, that the Corsican villages are most commonly
built on high ground. We now counted, by their cheerful lights, nine or
ten of them dotting the hills in all directions; some perched on the
heights beyond the Bevinco, which wound through the valley beneath, the
moonlight flashing on patches of the stream and faintly revealing a dark
chain of mountains beyond—the Serra di Stella, dividing the valley of
the Bevinco from that of the Golo.

The descent was easy, according to Antoine's augury. We tear down the
hill, pass the village church at a sharp angle, its white _façade_
glistening in the moonbeams; and a straight avenue, shaded by trees,
brings us into a labyrinth of narrow lanes, overhung by tall, gaunt
houses of the roughest fabric and materials. Antoine bids us stop before
one of these gloomy abodes; an old woman appears at the door of the
first story with a feeble oil-lamp in her hand. The ground-floor of
these houses, as usual in the South, are all stables or cellars. After a
short conference, Antoine disappears, and we see him no more that night.
We mount a flight of steep, unhewn stone steps, at the risk of breaking
our necks, for there is no rail; the good dame welcomes us to all that
she has, little though it be, and we land in a grim apartment containing
the usual raised hearth for cooking, with a very limited apparatus of
utensils—a few shallow kettles of copper and iron, a table, some
chairs, and a very questionable bed in a corner.

There were two other apartments, _en suite_, the next being a _salle_,
with a brick floor like the kitchen, tolerably clean. A few Scripture
prints on the walls, a large table, some rickety chairs, and a settee,
convertible, we found, into a very satisfactory shakedown, composed the
furniture. The inner apartment, which contained a really good bed,
seemed to be the widow's wardrobe and storeroom of all her most valuable
effects; being crowded with chests, and tables covered with all sorts of
things, helped out by pegs on the walls. These were ornamented with
little coloured prints of the Virgin, and Saints, and there was a
crucifix at the bed's head. After showing her apartments, the widow
placed the lamp on the table in the _salle_, with the usual _felice
notte_, and there was a running fire of questions and answers between
her and the two hungry travellers about the _qualche cosa per mangiare_.
The larder was of course empty, and the discussion resolved itself into
some rashers of bacon, a loaf of very sweet bread, and a bottle of the
light and excellent wine for which Capo Corso is famous, procured from a

This was not accomplished without a great deal of bustle and screeching,
and running to and fro of the widow and some female friends, withered
old crones, who had come to her aid on so unexpected an emergency as our
appearance on the scene. This continued after supper till the chests in
the inner apartment had delivered up their stores of sheets, coverlets,
and towels, all as white as the driven snow. How we ate, drank, and
lodged during our rambles is not the most agreeable of our
recollections, and can have little interest except as affording glimpses
of the habits of the people. This first essay of Corsican hospitality
was not amiss.

Just as we had finished our frugal meal, Giovanni made his appearance.
Wishing to give him his _congé_, we expected a sharp altercation; to
avoid which, and not forfeit our engagement that he should conduct us to
Corte, it was proposed to him to leave the malcontent mule till his
return, procuring at Olmeta a more serviceable beast, or to proceed with
the others only. Giovanni was crestfallen; he had had enough of it, and
did not bluster, as we expected. Though disliking him, we had amused
ourselves at his expence, and could hardly now refrain from laughing at
his piteous aspect. Giovanni, however, was quite as ready to be quit of
us as we were to get rid of him. His reply to our proposal about the
mule was quite touching:—

“_Je ne veux pas me séparer de mon pauvre âne!_”

So the inseparables were dismissed to return to Bastia, after an
equitable adjustment, and we parted good friends. Giovanni was no
favourite of ours, but that touch of sentiment for his “_pauvre âne_”
was a redeeming trait. As for ourselves, we were left without a guide,
which did not matter, and without the means of carrying forward our
baggage, which did. This dilemma did not spoil our rest; it was such as
weary travellers earn.


  _The_ Littorale.—_Corsican Agriculture.—Greek and Roman
    Colonies.—Sketch of Mediæval and Modern History.—Memoirs of
    King Theodore de Neuhoff._

Let us now return for a short space to the point at which we quitted the
high-road from Bastia. More attractive metal drew us off to the
mountain-paths; but the _Littorale_ is not without interest, especially
as the seat of the earliest and most thriving colonies in the island.
These and its subsequent fortunes claim a passing notice.

It may be recollected that our road lay for some miles through the plain
between the mountains and the Mediterranean. This level is between fifty
and sixty miles long. Intersected by the rivers flowing from the central
chain, alluvial marshes are formed at their mouths, and there are also,
from similar causes, several lagoons on the coast, of which the Stagna
di Biguglia, near which we turned off into the _maquis_, is the largest.
The exhalations from these marshes and waters render the climate so
pestiferous, that the _littorale_ is almost uninhabited. The soil is
extremely fertile, producing large crops where it is cultivated, and
affording pasturage to immense herds of cattle, sheep, and goats. The
country people inhabit villages on the neighbouring hills, descending
into the plains at the seasons when their labour is required for
tilling and sowing the land, and harvesting the crops; and but too
frequently carrying back the seeds of wasting or fatal diseases.

Even under the double disadvantages of exposure to malaria, and the
natural indolence of the Corsican peasant, this district supplies a very
large proportion of the corn consumed in the island. So great is this
indolence, that not more than three-tenths of the surface of Corsica is
brought under cultivation, although it is calculated that double that
area is capable of it. I was unable to ascertain the number of acres
under tillage, planted with vines and olive-trees, or otherwise
requiring agricultural labour; but it might have been supposed that a
population of 230,000 souls would at least have met the demand for
labour on the portion of the surface thus occupied. So far, however,
from this being the case, it is a curious fact that from 2000 to 3000
labourers come into the island every year from Lucca, Modena, and Parma,
to engage in agricultural employment. They generally arrive about the
middle of April, and take their departure in November. They are an
intelligent, laborious, and frugal class; and as the savings of each
individual are calculated at 100 or 110 francs, no less a sum than
200,000 francs is thus annually carried to the Continent instead of
being earned by native industry. The climate of Corsica is described by
many ancient writers as insalubrious; but there does not seem to be any
foundation for the statement, except as regards the _littorale_, the
only part of the island which appears to have been colonised in early
times, and with which they were acquainted.

Who were its primitive inhabitants and first colonists, whether Corsus,
the supposed leader of a band of immigrants, who gave his name to the
island, was a son of Hercules or a Trojan, are facts lost in the mist of
ages, through which the origin of few races can be penetrated. An
inquiry into such traditions would be a waste of time, and is foreign to
a work of this kind.

There is reason to believe that the light of civilisation first beamed
on its shores from Sardinia—an island which some brief records, and,
still more, its existing monuments, lead us to consider as civilised
long before the period of authentic history.

The island of Sardinia, placed in the great highway from the East, was a
convenient station for the people who, in the first ages, were driven
thence by a providential impulse towards the shores of the West, and,
with the torch of civilisation in their hands, passed successively by
Asia Minor and the islands of Crete, Sicily, and Sardinia to Greece, to
Italy, and the other countries of the West.

A smaller branch of the torrent of this great and primitive emigration
poured from the mountain ranges in the north of Sardinia, and, crossing
the straits, overspread the south of Corsica, bearing with it the
civilisation of the East, of which records are found in the most ancient
Corsican monuments. Some of these are identical with those in Sardinia,
which will be mentioned hereafter. Such are the Dolmen, called in
Corsica _Stazzone_; and the Menhir, to which they give the fanciful name
of _Stantare_. When a child at play stands on its head with its heels
self-balanced in the air, making itself a pyramid instead of cutting a
pirouette, that is, in the language of mothers and nurses, _far la

However this may be, there are numerous testimonies that the island of
Corsica was known and visited in the most remote times by navigators of
the several races on the shores of the Mediterranean—Phœnicians,
Pelasgians, Tyrrhenians, Ligurians, and Iberians. Herodotus, who calls
the island Cyrnos, describes an attempt at colonisation by Phocæans,
driven from Ionia, who founded the city of Alalia, afterwards called
Aleria, 448 years before the Christian era. But the genuine history of
Corsica commences with the period when the Roman republic, on the decay
of the Carthaginian power, began to extend its conquests in the

In the year 260 B.C., Lucius Cornelius Scipio led an expedition into the
island, which was crowned with success. Every traveller who has visited
Rome must have been interested in one of the few relics of the
republican era, remarkable for its primitive simplicity—the tomb of the
Scipios. It chanced that the writer, when there, procured a model of the
sarcophagus which contained the ashes of this first of a race of heroes,
L. C. Scipio. The monuments of Rome were not of marble in the times of
the republic, and this sarcophagus being cut out of a block of the
volcanic _peperino_, so common in the Campagna, the author had his model
made of the same material, with the inscription cut in rude characters
round the margin; that is to say, such part of it as had been preserved,
so that it is a perfect fac-simile. He reads on it—


That fragment contains the earliest record of Roman conquest in Corsica.
But the conquest was incomplete, and for upwards of a century the
Corsicans maintained an unequal struggle against the Roman legions,
strong in their mountain fastnesses, while the Roman armies appear to
have seldom advanced beyond the plains. The natives held their ground
with such obstinacy that, on one occasion, after a bloody battle, a
consular army, under Caius Papirius, was so nearly defeated, when rashly
entangled in the gorges of the mountains, that the Corsicans obtained
honourable terms of peace. The Roman historians relate that this battle
was fought on “The Field of Myrtles,” a name appropriate to a Corsican
_macchia_; and they do not otherwise describe the locality.[4] It is
easy to imagine the scenes and the issue of a deadly struggle between
the mountaineers and the disciplined legions, on ground such as that
described in the preceding chapter.

In these wars great numbers of the natives were carried off as slaves to
Rome, and the annual tribute paid on submission consisted of wax, which
was raised to 200,000 lbs. after one defeat.

A two hours' walk over the plains from the point at which we quitted the
high-road would bring us to the ruins of Mariana, a colony founded by
Marius on the banks of the Golo, and to which he gave his name. Not a
vestige of Roman architecture can now be found on the spot.

During the civil wars, the rivals, Marius and Sylla, established each a
colony in Corsica. That of Sylla (Aleria) stood forty miles further down
the coast, at the mouth of the Tavignano, the seat of the ancient Greek
colony of Alalia. Sylla restored it, sending over some of his veteran
soldiers, among whom he distributed the conquered lands, and it became
the capital of the island during the Roman period, and so continued
during the earlier part of the middle ages. Sacked and laid in ruins by
the Arabs, some iron rings on the Stagna di Diana, the ancient port,
large blocks of stone on the site of a mole at the mouth of the
Tavignano, some arches, a few steps of a circus, with coins and cameos
occasionally turned up, are the sole vestiges of the Roman colonisation
in Corsica. Their only road led from Mariana by Aleria to Palæ, a
station near the modern Bonifaccio, from whence there was a _trajectus_
to Portus Tibulus (Longo Sardo), in Sardinia; and the road was continued
through that island to its southern extremity, near Cagliari.

In the decline of the Roman power, Corsica shared the fate of the other
territories in the Mediterranean attached to the eastern empire. Seized
by the Vandals under Genseric, despotically governed by the Byzantine
emperors, pillaged by Saracen corsairs, protected by Charlemagne, and,
on the fall of his empire, parcelled out, like the rest of Europe, among
a host of feudal barons, mostly of foreign extraction—who, from their
rock-girt towers, waged perpetual hostilities with each other, and
tyrannised over the enthralled natives—claimed by the Popes in virtue of
Pepin's donation, and granted by them to the Pisans,—after a long
struggle between the two rival republics contending for the supremacy of
the Mediterranean, the island at last fell under the dominion of the

This dominion the republic of Genoa exercised for more than four
centuries (from the thirteenth to the eighteenth) in an almost
uninterrupted course of gross misrule. Instead of endeavouring to
amalgamate the islanders with her own citizens, she treated them as a
degraded cast, worthy only of slavery. A governor, frequently chosen by
the republic from amongst men of desperate circumstances, had the
absolute sovereignty of the island: by his mere sentence, on secret
information, without trial, a person might be condemned to death or to
the galleys. The venality of the Genoese tribunals was so notorious,
that the murderer felt sure to escape if he could pay the judge for his

The Corsicans were not a race which would tamely submit to this tyranny,
and their annals during this long period exhibit a series of bloody
struggles against the Genoese republic, and devoted efforts to maintain
their rights and recover their independence. In these contests the
_signori_ either allied themselves with the Genoese, or took part with
their countrymen, as their interest inclined; while a succession of
patriot leaders, such as few countries of greater pretensions can
boast—Sambucchio, Sampiero, the Gaffori, the Paoli—all sprung from the
ranks of the people; the bravest in the field and the wisest in council,
carried aloft the banner of Corsican _libertà_.

The hostilities were not confined to the parties immediately interested
in the quarrel. Foreign aid was invoked on the one side and on the
other, and for a long period the little island of Corsica became the
battle-field of the great European powers; Spaniards, Austrians, French,
and English, at one time or the other, and especially in the decay of
the Genoese republic, throwing their forces into the scale, and
occupying portions of the island, but with no definitive result, until
its final absorption in the dominion of its present masters.

Little interest would now attach to the details of a struggle confined
to so insignificant a territory, and having so little influence on
European politics; and it would be alike foreign to the province of a
traveller, and wearisome to the reader, that the subject should be
pursued, except incidentally, where events or persons connected with the
localities he visits call forth some passing remarks. An exception may
perhaps be allowed in the course of this narrative for some account of
the English intervention in Corsican affairs. It is little known that
our George III. was once the constitutional king of Corsica. Nelson,
too, performed there one of his most dashing exploits.

Just now we have been talking of Aleria, a place identified with a
curious and somewhat romantic episode in Corsican history. Corsica
cradled and sent forth a soldier of fortune, to become in his
aspirations, and almost in effect, the Cæsar of the western empire.
Corsica received into her bosom a German adventurer, who, for a brief
space, played on this narrow stage the part of her crowned king. That
there is but a short interval between the sublime and the ridiculous,
was exemplified in the career of these upstart monarchs. Both sought an
asylum in England. The one pined in an island-prison, the other in a
London gaol.


On the 25th March, 1736, a small merchant-ship, carrying the English
ensign, anchored off Aleria. There landed from it a personage of noble
appearance, with a suite of sixteen persons, who was received with the
deference due to a monarch. He superintended the disembarkation of
cannon and military stores, and gratuitously distributed powder,
muskets, and other accoutrements, to the Corsicans who crowded to the

The imagination exercises a powerful sway over the people of the South.
The mystery which surrounded this personage, his dignified and polished
manners, the important succour he brought, and even the fantastical and
semi-Oriental cast of his dress, all contributed to produce a great
influence on ardent minds naturally inclined to the marvellous. This was
Theodore de Neuhoff.

Theodore Antoine, Baron de Neuhoff, a native of Westphalia, had been in
his youth page to the Duchess of Orleans, and afterwards served in
Spain. Returning to France, he attached himself to the speculations of
Law, and partook the vicissitudes of splendour and misery which were the
fortunes of his patron. When that bubble burst, our adventurer wandered
through Europe, seeking his fortune with a perseverance, combined with
incontestable talent, which, sooner or later, must seize some
opportunity of accomplishing his schemes.

At Genoa he fell in with Giaffori and some other Corsican patriots, then
exiled; and representing himself to be possessed of immense resources,
and even to have it in his power to secure the support of powerful
courts, offered to drive the Genoese out of the island, on condition of
his being recognised as King of Corsica. The patriot chiefs, seduced by
these magnificent promises, and, perhaps, too apt to seek for foreign
aid wherever it could be found, accepted Theodore's offers.

Not to follow him through all the course of his romantic adventures, it
appears that he found means of credit—perhaps from the Jews, with whom
he was already deeply involved—for a considerable sum of ready money,
and the arms, ammunition, and stores necessary for his expedition.
Landing in Corsica, in the manner already described, the Corsican
chiefs, although they had concerted his descent on the island, had the
address to cherish the popular idea that Theodore's arrival was a mark
of the interest taken by Heaven in the liberty of the Corsicans.

In a popular assembly held at the Convent of Alesani, a Constitution was
resolved on, by which the kingdom of Corsica was settled hereditarily in
the family of the Baron de Neuhoff; taxation was reserved to the Diet,
and it was provided that all offices should be filled by natives of the
island. The baron, having sworn on the Gospels to adhere to the
Constitution, was crowned with a chaplet of laurel and oak in the
presence of immense crowds, who flocked to the ceremony from all
quarters, amid shouts of “_Evviva Teodoro, re di Corsica!_”

Theodore took possession of the deserted episcopal residence at
Cervione, where he assumed every mark of royal dignity. He had his
court, his guards, and his officers of state; levied troops, coined
money, instituted an order of knighthood, and created nobility, among
whom such names as _Marchese_ Giaffori and _Marchese_ Paoli (Pasquale's
father) singularly figure. His manifesto, in answer to Genoese
proclamations denouncing his pretensions and painting him as a
charlatan, affected as great a sensitiveness of insult as could exist in
the mind of a Capet. For some time all things went well; Theodore became
master of nearly the whole island except the Genoese fortresses, which
he blockaded. These were, in fact, the keys of the island. But the
succours which he had boasted of receiving did not arrive, and, after
employing various artifices to keep alive the expectations of foreign
aid and fresh supplies of the muniments of war, finding, when he had
held the reins of power about eight months, that his new subjects began
to cool in their attachment to his person, and did not act with the same
ardour as before, he determined to go over to the Continent, with the
hope of obtaining the means of carrying on the war, and thus reinstating
himself in the confidence of the Corsicans.

Appointing a regency to conduct the affairs of his kingdom during his
absence, he went to Holland, and, though even his royal credit was
probably at a discount, after long delay, he succeeded in negotiating a
considerable loan, at what rate of interest or on what security we are
not told. However, a ship was freighted with cannon and other warlike
stores, on board of which he returned to Corsica two years after he had
quitted the island. But it was too late; the French were then in
possession of the principal places, the patriot leaders were negotiating
with them, and the people had lost all confidence in their mock-king.
Theodore found, to use a colloquial expression, that “the game was up,”
and wisely retracing his steps, found his way to England, the last
refuge of abdicated monarchs.

Fortune still frowned on him. Pursued by his relentless creditors, the
ex-king was thrown into the King's Bench prison. His distresses
attracted the commiseration of Horace Walpole, who, as Boswell informs
us, “wrote a paper in the ‘World,’ with great elegance and humour,
soliciting a contribution for the monarch in distress, to be paid to Mr.
Robert Dodsley, bookseller, as lord high treasurer. This brought in a
very handsome sum, and he was allowed to get out of prison.” “Walpole,”
he adds, “has the original deed by which Theodore made over the kingdom
of Corsica in security to his creditors.” Mr. Benson's statement, which
is more exact, and agrees with the epitaph, is, that the subscription
was not sufficient to extricate King Theodore from his difficulties, and
that he was released from gaol as an insolvent debtor. However that may
be, he died soon afterwards. Former writers have stated that he was
buried in an obscure corner, among the paupers, in the churchyard of St.
Anne's, Westminster, but they are mistaken. We find a neat mural tablet
fixed against the exterior wall of the church of St. Anne's, Soho, at
the west end, on which, surmounted by a coronet, is inscribed the
following epitaph, written by Horace Walpole:—

    [Illustration: coronet]

         “Near this place is interred
            Who died in this parish
                 Dec. 11, 1756,
           Immediately after leaving
            The King's Bench Prison
    By the benefit of the Act of Insolvency;
            In consequence of which
      He registered his kingdom of Corsica
         For the use of his Creditors.

    The grave, great teacher, to a level brings
    Heroes and beggars, galley-slaves and Kings:
    But Theodore this moral learned, ere dead:
    Fate poured his lesson on his living head,
    Bestow'd a kingdom, and denied him bread.”


  _Environs of Olmeta.—Bandit-Life and the Vendetta—Its
    Atrocities.—The Population disarmed.—The Bandits exterminated._

    [Illustration: OLMETA.]

Olmeta stands, like most Corsican villages, on the point of a hill,
forming one side of an oval basin, the slopes of which are laid out in
terraced gardens and vineyards. Here and there, in sheltered nooks, we
find plantations of orange-trees, now showing green fruit under their
glossy leaves. Some fine chestnut and walnut trees about the place, and
the magnificent elms (_olme_) from which it derives its name, soften the
aspect of its bleak, exposed site, and gaunt houses.

Charming as the natural landscapes are in Corsica, one finds most of the
villages, however picturesque at a distance, on a nearer approach, a
conglomeration of tall, shapeless houses, black and frowning, with
windows guarded by rusty iron _grilles_, and generally unglazed.
Altogether, they look more like the holds of banditti than the abodes of
peaceful vinedressers; while the filth of the purlieus is unutterable.
Throwing open the double casements of the widow's sanctum, I may not
call it boudoir, when I leapt out of bed to enjoy the fresh morning
air,—underneath was a noisome dunghill, grim gables frowned on either
hand, but beyond was the _riant_ landscape just described. Here truly
God made the country, man the town.

While my friend was sketching, I strolled up to the pretty church we had
seen by moonlight. Close by is a large, roomy mansion, which belonged to
Marshal Sebastiani. He was a native of Olmeta, and, from an obscure
origin, arriving at high rank as well as great wealth, partly, I
understood, through a brilliant marriage, bought a large property in the
neighbourhood, which has been recently sold for 150,000 francs to a
French _Directeur_. I went over the château: to the original mansion the
marshal had added a handsome _salle_, and a lofty tower commanding
varied and extensive views towards Fiorenzo and the Mediterranean. My
conductor was a gentleman of Olmeta, who accidentally meeting me,
proffered his services, pressing me afterwards to take breakfast with
him. We had done very well at the widow's long before, with delicious
bread, eggs, apples, and figs, and coffee in the smallest of cups. We
brewed our own tea in a bran-new coffee-pot, purchased for that purpose
at Bastia. Butter and milk were wanting, but whipped eggs make a very
tolerable substitute for the latter.

My new acquaintance informed me that the decree, passed the year before
for disarming the whole population, combined with measures for
increasing the force of the _gendarmerie_, and making it highly penal to
harbour the bandits or afford them any succour, had been actively and
rigorously carried out, and were completely successful. The life of a
citizen is as safe in Corsica as in any other department of France. “You
may walk through the island,” added my informant, “with a purse of gold
in your bosom.”

This was true, I imagine, with regard to strangers, in the worst of
times; their security from molestation being nearly allied to the
national virtue of hospitality, which is not quite extinct. Nor were the
Corsican banditti associated, like those of Italy, for the mere purpose
of plunder, though they have heavily taxed the peaceable inhabitants,
both by drawing from the poor the means for their subsistence in the
woods and mountains, and by levying, under terror, direct contributions
in money from the more wealthy inhabitants in the towns and villages.
These are, however, but trifling ingredients in the mass of crime for
which Corsica has been so painfully distinguished. Would, indeed, that
robbery and pillage were the sins of the darkest dye which have to be
laid to the account of the Corsican bandit! Most commonly, his hands
have been stained with innocent blood, shed recklessly, relentlessly,
in private quarrels, often of the most frivolous description, and not in
open fight, as in the feuds of the middle ages, not in the heat of
sudden passion, but by cool, premeditated murder.

Philippini, the best Corsican historian, who lived in the sixteenth
century, states that in his time 28,000 Corsicans were murdered in the
course of thirty years. A later Corsican historian calculates that
between the years 1683 and 1715, a period of thirty-two years, 28,715
murders were perpetrated in Corsica; and he reckons that an equal number
were wounded. The average, then, in their days, was about 900 souls
yearly sent to their account by the dagger and the _fusil_ in murderous
assaults; besides vast multitudes who fell in the wars.

It was still worse in earlier ages; but those of which we speak were
times of high civilisation, and Corsica lay in the centre of it. What do
we find in recent times, up to the very year before we visited the

I have before me the _Procès verbal_ of the deliberations of the Council
General of the department of Corsica for each of the years 1850, '51,
and '52. From these I gather that 4,300 _assassinats_ had been
perpetrated in Corsica since 1821; and, in the three years before
mentioned, the “_Assassinats, ou tentatives d'assassiner_,” averaged
ninety-eight annually from the 1st of January to the 1st of August, to
which day the annual reports are made up; so that, reckoning for the
remaining five months in the same proportion, the list of these heinous
crimes is brought up to the fearful amount, for these days, of 160 in
each year.

Well might M. le Préfet observe, in his address at the opening of the
session of 1851: “_La situation du département à cet égard est sans
doute profondément triste. Le nombre des crimes n'a pas diminué
sensiblement_.” So low, however, is the moral sense in Corsica with
regard to the sanctity of human life, that these atrocities excite no
horror, and the sympathies of vast numbers of the population are with
the bandits. They are the heroes of the popular tales and _canzoni_; one
hears of them from one end of the island to the other, round the
watchfires of the shepherds on the mountains, in the remote _paése_, by
the roadside. They are the tales of the nursery,—the Corsican child
learns, with his Ave Maria, that it is rightful and glorious to take the
life of any one who injures or offends him.

To a passionate and imaginative people, these tales of daring courage
and wild adventure have an inconceivable charm; though stained with
blood, they are full of poetry and romance. Such stories have been
eagerly seized upon by writers on Corsica,—they make excellent literary
capital. Unfortunately, _banditisme_ forms so striking a feature in
Corsican history, that it must necessarily occupy a conspicuous place in
a faithful review of the genius and manners of the people. There are
doubtless traits of a heroism worthy a better cause, and sometimes of a
redeeming humanity, in the lives of the banditti; but one regrets to
find, though happily not in the works of the English travellers who have
given accounts of Corsica, a tendency to palliate so atrocious a system
as blood-revenge. _Vendetta_, the name given it, has a romantic sound;
and it is treated as a sort of national institution, originating in high
and laudable feelings, the injured sense of right, and the love of
family; so that, with the glory shed around it by a false heroism, it is
almost raised to the rank of a virtue.

To take blood for blood, not by the hand of public justice, but by the
kinsmen of the slain, was, we are reminded, a primitive custom,
sanctioned by the usages of many nations, and even by the laws of Moses.
We know, however, that among our Anglo-Saxon ancestors the laws humanely
commuted this right of revenge for fines commensurate with the rank of
the murdered person. But while the Mosaic law forbad the acceptance of
any pecuniary compensation for the crime of manslaughter, and expressly
recognised the right of the “avenger of blood” to exact summary
vengeance, it provided for even the murderer's security until he were
brought to a fair trial. But Corsica, alas! has had no “Cities of
Refuge,” and examples drawn from remote and barbarous times can afford
no apology for the inveterate cruelties of a people enjoying the light
of modern civilisation and professing the religion of the New Testament.

The _vendetta_ is also represented as a kind of rude justice, to which
the people were driven in the long ages of misrule during which law was
in abeyance or corruptly administered. There is, no doubt, much truth in
this as applied to those times; but the prodigious amount of human
slaughter shown in the statistics just quoted, as well as the
continuance of this atrocious system to the present day, long after the
slightest shadow of any pretence of legal injustice has vanished, seem
to argue that the ferocity which has shed such rivers of blood, if not
instinctive in the national character, at least found a soil in which it
took deep root.

For more than half a century, there can be no question but, under a
settled government, strict justice has been done by the ordinary
proceedings of the courts of law, in all cases of injury to person or
property, submitted to them. But the turbulent Corsicans were ever
impatient of regular government—one great cause of their ultimate
degradation, not a little connected also with the growth of
_banditisme_; and the failure of justice has not lain with the
authorities, but with the population which harbours and screens the
criminals, and with the juries who refuse to convict them.[7]

The only other instance in the present day of crimes similar to those
which have been the scourge of Corsica, is found in the case of unhappy
Ireland. There, however, the blood-revenge has been mostly confined to
cases of supposed agrarian grievances, and the number of victims
sacrificed to it is comparatively limited; more innocent blood having
been shed in Corsica in a single year, than in Ireland during, perhaps,
a quarter of a century.

The _vendetta_, is also palliated as vindicating wrongs for which no
courts of law, however upright, can afford redress. Among the most
polished nations, “the point of honour” has been held to justify an
injured man for challenging his adversary to mortal combat. But the
duel, from its first origin among our Scandinavian ancestors, savage as
they were, and through all its forms, whether legalised or treated as
felonious, to its last shape in civilised society, has nothing
practically in common with the Corsican _vendetta_. In the one, the
appeal to arms has always been tempered by a punctilious chivalry, which
recoiled from the slightest unfairness in the attendant circumstances;
in the other, the enemy is, if possible, taken unawares, shot down by a
cowardly miscreant lurking behind a tree or a rock, or suddenly stabbed
without an opportunity of putting himself on his defence. The practice
of the _vendetta_ is mere assassination.

Stript of the colouring shed round it by sentiment and romance,
_banditisme_, in its latter days at least, has been a very common-place
affair. Great numbers of the Corsicans, too indolent to work, were happy
to lead a vagabond life, harbouring in the woods and mountains with a
gun on their shoulders, and as ready to shoot a man as a wild beast.
“_C'est qu'en général_,” said the Préfet, in the address already quoted,
“_ces crimes proviennent moins du banditisme que de la déplorable
habitude de marcher toujours armés, par suite de laquelle les moindres
rixes dégénèrent si souvent en attentats contre la vie._” One hears
continually for what trifles assassinations have been perpetrated; and a
recent traveller informs us that his life was threatened for having
merely resisted the extortionate demand of his guide to the mountains.

The hardships to which the bandit is exposed in his wild life in the
_maquis_ cannot be much greater than those of the shepherd who, from
fear or favour, shares with him his chestnuts, his goat's milk, and
cheese. The _gendarmes_, indeed, are sometimes on his track, but there
is stirring adventure in eluding their pursuit, triumph in the ambuscade
to which they become victims, glory even in death heroically met. With
all its perils and hardships, such a life of lawless independence has
its charms; and the bandit knows that his memory will be honoured, and
his death, if possible, revenged. But who laments the unfortunate
_gendarme_ who falls in these encounters? Who pities the widow and
orphans of men as bold, resolute, and enterprising as those against whom
they are matched? In the tales of banditti life, the ministers of
justice are _sbirri_, conventionally a term of disgrace; all the
sympathy is with the culprit against whom the _gendarmerie_ peril their
lives in an arduous service.

The brigands must live by plunder in one shape or another. It is not
likely that bands of armed men, the terror of a whole neighbourhood,
would be always content with the mere subsistence wrung from the scanty
resources of the poor shepherds. Not that they robbed on the highways;
it answered better to levy contributions, under pain of death, from such
of the defenceless inhabitants as were able to pay them. Mr. Benson
tells a story of one of the most celebrated of the bandit chiefs, who
levied black mail in the wild districts bordering on the forest of

“Leaving Vivario, we heard from the lips of the poor _curé_, that
Galluchio and his followers were in the _maquis_ of a range of mountains
to our right. The _curé_ was busy in his vineyard when we passed, but as
soon as he recognised our French companion, he left his work for a few
moments to join us. ‘Sir,’ said he, addressing himself to M. Cottard, ‘I
feel myself in imminent danger; Galluchio and his band are in yonder
mountains, and only a few evenings ago I received a peremptory message
from him, requiring 300 francs, and threatening my speedy assassination
should I delay many days to comply with his demand. I have not the
money, and I have sent for some military to protect me.’”[8]

There is reason to believe that these forced contributions have not
diminished since Mr. Benson's journey. We were told of a case in which a
wealthy man, having received notice to pay 10,000 francs, under penalty
of being shot, was so terrified, that after shutting himself up in his
house for a year in constant alarm, his health and spirits became so
shattered by the state of continual terror and watchfulness in which he
lived, that he sank under it, and was carried out dead. In another case,
a young man of more resolute character was called upon for 1000 francs,
and having no ready money, was allowed three months to raise it, on
giving his bill for security. He armed himself, and went to the
appointed rendezvous. The brigand was waiting for him; he made him lay
down his arms, and searched him. The young man had filled his pockets
with chestnuts, and had contrived to secrete a small pistol about his
person, which escaped discovery. The brigand, producing paper and ink,
ordered his victim to draw the bill. The young man excused himself on
the ground that he was so frightened, and his hand trembled so that he
could not write;—he would sign the bill if the other drew it out. The
brigand knelt down by the side of a flat stone to do so. Meanwhile the
young man walked up and down eating his chestnuts, and throwing the
shells carelessly away. Some of them struck the brigand. “What are you
doing?” said he, startled. “Eating my chestnuts;” and he took out
another handful. Occasionally he stopped and looked down on the bandit
while engaged in writing; still, with apparent _sang froid_, munching
his chestnuts. Presently the bill was finished; he pretended to look it
over, found some error, which he pointed out, and while the brigand
stooped to correct it, drew his concealed pistol and shot him through
the head.—The so-called _vendetta_ has shrunk more and more to the level
of vulgar crime. It is even notorious that bandits have become hired
assassins, employed by others to take off persons against whom they had
a grudge,—“_mais plus pour amitié que pour argent_,” said my informant,
giving the fact the most favourable turn.

It seems surprising that such enormities should have been permitted in a
European country, at an advanced period of the nineteenth century. Could
a strong national government have been established in Corsica—which,
however, seems to have been impracticable with so lawless and factious a
people—its first duty would have been, as was the case under Pascal
Paoli's administration, to give security to life, _coûte que coûte_. The
successive Governments of France appear to have been too much occupied
by their own affairs to pay any regard to the social state of their
Corsican department, flagrant as was the disgrace it reflected on them.
Perhaps they were impressed with the idea that the passion of revenge,
the thirst for blood, were so inherent in the native character, that law
and force were alike powerless, and the _vendetta_ could only be
extirpated by a moral change more to be hoped for than expected. Thus
speaks the Préfet, in his inaugural address of 1851:—“_Ici, messieurs,
vous en conviendrez, l'administration est sans force. C'est à la
religion seule qu'appartient la touchante prérogative de prêcher l'oubli
des injures:_” and a traveller who spent some time in the island during
the year following, gives the result of his observations in the
following words:—“There is probably no other means of certainly putting
down the blood-revenge, murder, and bandit-life, than culture; and
culture advances in Corsica but slowly.”[9]

The same author says of the general disarming, proposed in 1852:
“Whether, and how, this will be capable of execution, I know not. It
will cost mischief enough in the execution; for they will not be able to
disarm the banditti at the same time, and their enemies will then be
exposed, unarmed, to their bullets.” These doubts and forebodings are
proved to have been imaginary. It might have been long, indeed, before
preaching and moral culture had eradicated evils so deeply rooted in the
genius of the people. In such an extreme case, the exercise of a
despotic power was required to put an end to the reign of terror and
blood which has desolated this fair island for so many centuries. One
bold stroke has broken the spell; the measures adopted for the
suppression of _banditisme_ have completely succeeded. “The prisons are
full,” said my informant; “in the last year, 400 of the brigands have
been sentenced or shot down, and as many more driven out of the country:
the land is at peace.”

The only wonder is that the experiment was not tried before.


  _The Basin of Oletta.—The Olive.—Corsican Tales.—The Heroine of
    Oletta.—Zones of Climate and Vegetation._

We found that no mules could be hired at Olmeta, and intending to wander
for a few days in the neighbouring valleys, and on the skirts of the
mountainous district of Nebbio, though we preferred walking, were at
some loss how to get forward our baggage. The Bastia muleteer was
dismissed, and as we were travelling somewhat at our ease, the luggage
was more than could be conveniently carried. In this dilemma, Antoine
proffered the services of himself and the mule which had done its work
so well the evening before. His offer was readily accepted, and we had
much reason to be pleased with the change we had made in our conductor.
Antoine relieved us from all care as to our baggage and entertainment,
knew the roads, and where we could best put up, had by heart many a
story of times past, and something to tell of all the places we visited,
and, having been a rover himself, entered into the spirit of our
rambles: altogether, as I have observed before, Antoine was an excellent
specimen of a Capo Corso peasant. To be sure, he had killed his man, but
that was in a _duello_, according to Corsican ideas; as singular, if one
may jest on such a subject, as Captain Marryat's famous triangular duel.

The valleys of Olmeta, Oletta, and some others, form a sort of basin
between the mountains bounding the _littorale_, already spoken of, and
the Serra di Tenda, a noble range in the western line of the principal
chain. Broken by numberless hills, the whole basin is a scene of fertile
beauty, similar to the picture drawn of Olmeta—vineyards, olive-grounds
and gardens, orange, citron, fig, almond, apple, and pear-trees,
clustering at every turn with groups of magnificent chestnut-trees, and
alternating with spots devoted to tillage. The country people were now
sowing wheat or preparing the ground with most primitive ploughs, of the
Roman fashion, drawn sometimes by a single ox or mule. Patches, on which
the green blade was already springing, showed that it is the practice to
sow wheat as soon as possible after the autumnal rains.


Retracing our steps of the preceding night nearly to the summit of the
pass, under the persuasion that it commanded a fine prospect, we turned
to the right, and strolled along a terrace above the broad valley
through which the Bevinco flows into the Stagno di Biguglia, somewhat
below the point at which we left it. Looking backward, we had a charming
peep at the Mediterranean through a gorge in the mountains, with the
lonely island of Monte-Cristo, seen from this point of view detached
from the rest of the group of islands to which it belongs. Across the
valley was a range of mountains, a branch of the central chain dividing
it from that of the Golo. Mists hung about them, pierced by the Cima dei
Taffoni, the most elevated point of the range, which rose magnificently,
being about 3000 feet high, twenty miles to the south-east. The ridge
along which we strolled was covered partly by patches of the
never-failing evergreen shrubbery, rendered more beautiful by the
quantities of cyclamen, one of the prettiest plants we have in our
greenhouses at home, now in full flower under the shelter of the arbutus
and other shrubs. Small flocks of sheep, all black, and no larger than
our Welsh mountain breed, were browsing among the barren patches of
heath, and sometimes crossed our path, with their tinkling bells. There
was a slight shower; but it soon cleared off, and the sun shone out, and
the air and surface of the ground, cooled and freshened by the gentle
rain, were in the best state for the continuation of our rambles.

The cultivation, as may be supposed, is indolent and imperfect, the
surface being merely scratched, and little care taken to free it of
weeds. We need not, therefore, be surprised at finding that the average
produce of the wheat-crop throughout Corsica is only an increase of nine
on the seed sown. Of maize, or Indian corn, it is thirty-eight or forty.

The canton of Oletta is called by the Corsicans “the pearl of the
Nebbio.” It contains two or three hamlets, the principal village seeming
to hang on the rocky slope of a hill, embowered in fruit trees. The
olive flourishes particularly well here; and Oletta takes its name from
its olive-trees, as Olmeta does from its elms. Many of them are of
great age and size, and, with their silvery leaves, have a soft and
pleasing effect, especially when contrasted with the richer foliage of
the spreading chestnut-trees. The olive-yards are neatly dug and kept
clear of weeds; and we observed that the soil was drawn round the stems
of the trees, probably in well-manured heaps, such a produce as the
olive truly requiring to feed on the fat of the land. The berries were
now full formed, but had not begun to fall. I believe they hang till
Christmas, when they are collected, and carried to the vats. When
pressed, twenty pounds of olives yield five of pure oil. It is stored in
large pottery jars, and forms the principal export from Corsica; this
district, with the Balagna and the neighbourhood of Bonifaccio,
producing the largest quantity. An inferior sort of oil is used in the
lamps throughout the island; the lamps being of glass, with tall stems
containing the oil, and crowned by a socket, through which the cotton
burner is passed, and having nothing of the antique or classical about
them. The birds scattering the berries in all directions, and carrying
them to great distances, the number of wild olive-trees is immense. An
attempt was made to count them, by order of the Government, in 1820,
with a view to foster so valuable a source of national wealth by the
encouragement of grafting; and it is said that as many as twelve
millions of wild olive-trees were then counted.

There is a story of love and heroism connected with Oletta. One hears
such tales everywhere in Corsica—by the wayside, at the shepherd's
watch-fire, lying in the shade, or basking in the sun. Antoine was an
excellent _raconteur_; so are all such vagabonds. I possess a
collection of these tales by Renucci, published at Bastia[10], and
proposed to interweave some of them into my narrative. They may be
worked up, with invention and embellishment, into pretty romances; but
that is not our business. In Renucci, we have stories of _Ospitalità_,
_Magnanimità_, _Fedeltà_, _Probità_, _Generosità_, _Incorruttibilità_,
all the virtues under the sun with names ending in _tà_, and many
others. One wearies of the eternal laudation lavished on these
islanders, not only by their own writers, but by all travellers, from
Boswell downwards.

The story of the heroine of Oletta is told by Renucci[11], and, more
simply, by Marmocchi.[12] During the occupation of Capo Corso by the
French, in 1751, some of the villagers were sentenced to be broken on
the wheel for a conspiracy to seize the place, which was garrisoned by
the French; their bodies were exposed on the scaffold, and their friends
prohibited, under severe penalties, from giving them Christian burial.
But a young woman, _giovinetta scelta e robusta_, as she must have been
to perform the exploit assigned to her in the tale, eluded the sentries,
and, taking the body of her lover, one of the conspirators executed, on
her shoulders, carried it off. The general in command, struck by her
exalted virtue, pardons the offence, and she is borne home in triumph
amidst the shouts of the villagers.

All honour to the French marquis for his gallantry to a woman, though
his tactics were somewhat savage for the reign of Louis XVI.; and all
glory to Maria Gentili of Oletta, stout of heart and strong of limb, fit
to be the wife and mother of bandits; still better, to have fought at
Borgo, where Corsican women, in male attire, with sword and gun, rushed
forward in the ranks of the island militia which triumphantly defeated a
French army, composed of some of the finest troops in Europe.[13]

But let us proceed with our rambles; and, before we change the scene
from the region of the vine and the orange to that of the chestnut and
ilex, a short digression on the climatic zones of Corsica may not be out
of place.


The island may be divided, as to climate and vegetation, into three
zones, corresponding with the degrees of elevation of its surface. The
_first_, ranging to about 1,700 feet above the level of the
Mediterranean, and embracing the deeper valleys of the island, as well
as the sea-coast, has the characteristics conformable to its latitude;
that is to say, similar to those of the parallel shores of Italy and
Spain. Properly speaking, there is no winter; they have but two seasons,
spring and summer. The thermometer seldom falls more than a degree or
two below the freezing point, and then only for a few hours. The nights
are, however, cold at all seasons.

When we were at Ajaccio, towards the end of October, the heat was
oppressive; my thermometer at noon stood at 80° in the shade, in an airy
room closed by Venetian blinds. In January, we were told, the sun
becomes again powerful, and then for eight months succeeds a torrid
heat. The sky is generally cloudless, the thermometer rises from 70 to
80 and even 90 degrees in the shade, and scarcely any rain falls after
the month of April; nor indeed always then, so that there are often long
and excessive droughts.

The indigenous vegetation is generally of a class suited to resist the
droughts, having hard, coriaceous leaves. Such is the shrubbery
described in a former chapter, which, exempt from severe frosts on the
one hand, and thriving in an arid soil and parching heat on the other,
clothes half the surface of the island with perpetual verdure. There
have been seasons when even these shrubs were so burnt up that the
slightest accident might have caused a wide-spread conflagration. When
we travelled, the leaves of the rock-roses, which here grow to the
height of four or five feet, were hanging on the bushes scorched and
withered by the summer heat, somewhat marring the beauty of the
evergreen thickets.

Most of the fruit-trees suited to flourish in such a climate have been
already noticed in passing. We saw also almonds, pomegranates, and
standard peaches and apricots. To the list of shrubs which most struck
us, I may also add the brilliant flowering oleander, and the tamarisk.
Corsica is said to be famous for its orchids, verbenas, and cotyledinous
and caryophyllaceous plants; but I only speak of what I saw, and these
were out of season.

The _second_ zone ranges from about 2000 feet to between 5000 and 6000
feet above the level of the Mediterranean, the climate corresponding
with that of the central districts of France. The temperature is,
however, very variable, and its changes are sudden. Frost and snow make
their appearance in November, and often last for fifteen or twenty days
together. It is remarked, that frost does not injure the olive-trees up
to the level of about 3800 feet; and snow even renders them more

The chestnut appears to be the characteristic feature in the vegetation
of this zone. Thriving also among hills and valleys of a lower
elevation, here it spreads into extensive woods, till at the height of
about 6000 feet it is exchanged for the pine, and Marmocchi says[14], I
think incorrectly, _cède la place_ to the oak and the _beech_. We
certainly found the oak, both evergreen (ilex) and deciduous, growing
very freely and in extensive woods in close contiguity with the chestnut
at an elevation far below the limit of the _second_ zone, as well as
mixed with the pine in the forest of Vizzavona, also below that limit.
But, from my own observation, I should class the oak of both kinds
among the trees belonging to the second zone, though the chestnut is its
most characteristic feature; and should much doubt its flourishing at
the height of between 6000 and 7000 feet above the sea-level,—still more
the beech. The highest point at which we found the beech was the Col di
Vizzavona, on the road from Vivario to Bocagnono, 3435 feet above the
level of the Mediterranean, and I was surprised to see it flourishing

While the principal cities and towns in Corsica stand within the limits
of the first zone, it is in the second that by far the greatest part of
the population live,—dispersed, as we have often had occasion to remark,
in valleys and hamlets placed on the summits or ridges of hills. The
choice of such positions is a necessary condition of health, as in this
region, no less than in the former, the valleys are notorious for the
insalubrity of the air.

The _third_ zone, ranging from an elevation of about 6000 feet to the
summits of the highest mountains, is a region of storms and tempests
during eight months of the year; but during the short summer the air is
said to be generally serene, and the sky unclouded. This elevated region
has, of course, no settled inhabitants, but during the fine season the
shepherds occupy cabins on its verge, their sheep and goats browsing
among the dwarf bushes on the mountain sides. The vegetation is scanty.
Even the pine cannot thrive at such an elevation, and the birch, which
one generally finds, though dwarf, still higher up the mountains, I did
not happen to see in Corsica, though it is mentioned in _Marmocchi's_
list of indigenous trees.

The summits of the Monte Rotondo and Monte d'Oro are capped with snow at
all seasons, and beautiful are snowy peaks, piercing the blue heavens
in the sunny region of the Mediterranean, and well does the glistening
tiara, marking from afar their pre-eminence among the countless domes
and peaks which cluster round them, or break the outline of a long
chain, assist the eye in computing their relative heights. We had no
opportunity of ascertaining how low perpetual snow hangs on the sides of
the highest Corsican mountains. According to M. Arago, Monte Rotondo is
2762 _mètres_ (about 8976 feet) above the level of the sea; and he says
that there are seven others exceeding 2000 _mètres_ (about 6500 feet).
Among these must be included Monte d'Oro, which figures in Marmocchi's
list at 2653 _mètres_, or about 8622 feet. The season was too late for
our making an ascent with any prospect of advantage; but at that time of
the year (the end of October) none of the peaks we saw, except the two
named, though some of them are only from 500 to 800 feet lower than
Monte d'Oro, had snow upon them.

While rounding the base of Monte d'Oro, we observed long streaks on the
side of the cone, descending, perhaps, 1000 feet below the compact mass
on the summit; but they had the appearance of fresh-fallen snow, and
from our observing that all the other summits were free from snow, I am
inclined to assign the height of about 7500 or 8000 feet above the level
of the Mediterranean as the line of perpetual snow in Corsica.

In Norway, between 59°-62° N. latitude, we calculated it at about 4500
feet on the average, the line varying considerably in different seasons.
In the summer of 1849 there was snow on the shores of the Miös-Vand,
which are under 3000 feet, while the summer before the lakes on the
table-land of the Hardanger Fjeld, 4000 feet high, were free from ice,
and throughout the passage of the Fjeld the surface covered with snow
was less than that which was bare. In 1849, crossing the Hardanger from
Vinje to Odde, the whole of the plateau was a continued field of
snow.[15] Taking the entire mountain system of central Norway, from the
Gousta-Fjeld to Sneehættan and the Hörungurne, with elevations of from
5000 to near 8000 feet, the average of the snow-level may be taken, as
before observed, at about 4500 feet; that of the Corsican mountains,
with elevations of from 6000 to nearly 9000 feet, being, as we have
seen, from 7000 to 8000 feet.

In Switzerland, where the elevations are so much greater, the snow-line
varies from 8000 to 8800 feet above the level of the sea.[16] On Mont
Blanc it is stated to be 8500 feet. The height differs on the northern
and southern faces of the chain within those portions of the Alps that
run east and west, but 8500 feet may be taken as the average.

We may be surprised to find that congelation rests at the same, or
nearly the same, level in the Alps of Switzerland, and on the Corsican
mountains eight degrees further south. But difference of latitude is no
determinate rule for calculating the level to which the line of
perpetual snow descends. There are other influences to be taken into the
account, such as the duration and intensity of summer heats, the
comparative dryness of climate, the extent of the snow-clad surface in
the system generally, and more especially the height and exposure of
particular mountains.[17] Thus the snow-line on the southern slope of
the Alps is in some cases as high as 9500 feet. It may be conceived that
as the great extent of snow-clad surface on the high Fjelds of Norway so
much depresses the level of the snow-line in that country, so the great
superincumbent mass resting on the summits of the higher Alps has a
similar effect, reducing the average snow-line in Switzerland to nearly
that of the Corsican mountains. The wonder is that Monte Rotondo and
Monte d'Oro,—rising from a chain surrounded by the Mediterranean, in
insulated peaks of no very considerable height, without glaciers or
snowy basins to reduce the temperature,—should, in a climate where the
sun's heat is excessive for eight months of the year, have snow on their
summits in the months of July and August. I have observed the _Pico di
Teyde_ in Teneriffe with no snow upon it in the first days of November,
though it is 3000 feet higher than Monte Rotondo, and only five degrees
further south. Mount Ætna, also, nearly 11,000 feet high, in about the
same latitude as the Peak of Teneriffe (37° N.), is free from perpetual
snow; but that may arise from local causes.


  _Pisan Church at Murato.—Chestnut Woods.—Gulf of San
    Fiorenzo.—Nelson's Exploit there.—He conducts the Siege of
    Bastia.—Ilex Woods.—Mountain Pastures.—The Corsican Shepherd._

Murato, a large, scattered village, which formerly gave its name to a
_piève_, and is now the _chef-lieu_ of a canton, stands on the verge of
a woody and mountainous district. Just before entering the village, we
were struck by the superior character of the _façade_ of a little
solitary church by the roadside. We afterwards learnt that it was
dedicated to St. Michael, and reckoned one of the most remarkable
churches in the island, having been erected by the Pisans, before the
Genoese established themselves in Corsica. The _façade_ is constructed
of alternate courses of black and white marble, and put me in mind of
the magnificent cathedrals of Pisa and Sienna, of which it is a model in
miniature. Indeed, most of the churches in Corsica are built on these
and similar Italian models, though few of them with such chaste
simplicity of design as this little roadside chapel.

The smiling aspect of the vine-clad hills, umbrageous fruit-orchards,
and silvery olive-groves of the canton of Oletta now changed for a
bolder landscape and wilder accompaniments. Soon after leaving Murato,
the ilex began to appear, scattered among rough brakes, and a sharp
descent led down to the Bevinco, here a mountain-torrent, hurrying along
through deep banks, tufted with underwood, the box, which grows largely
in Corsica, being profusely intermixed. The road—like all the other
byroads, merely a horse-track—crosses the stream by a bold arch.

    [Illustration: PONTE MURATO.]

Immediately in front of the bridge stands a pyramidal rock, remarkable
for all its segments having the same character, and for the way in which
evergreen shrubs hang from the fissures in graceful festoons,
contrasting with some gigantic gourds, in a small cultivated patch at
the foot of the rock, and sloping down to the edge of the stream.

Higher up we entered the first chestnut wood we had yet seen. At the
outskirts it had all the character of a natural wood; the trees were
irregularly massed, and many of them of great age and vast dimensions.
Further on they stood in rows, this tree being extensively planted in
Corsica for the sake of the fruit. We were just in the right season for
this important harvest, it being now ripe, and the ground under the
trees was thickly strewed with the brown nuts bursting from their husky

It being about noon, we halted in the shade by the side of a little
rill, trickling among the trees into the river beneath, to rest and
lunch. Nothing could be more delightful, after a long walk in the sun;
for the temperature of the valleys is high even at this season. Antoine
had charge of a basket of grapes, with a loaf of bread and a bottle of
the excellent Frontigniac of Capo Corso; to these were added handfuls of
chestnuts, so sweet and tender when perfectly fresh; so that, tempering
our wine in the cool stream, we fared luxuriously.

While we sip our wine and munch our chestnuts, seasoned by talk with
Antoine, the reader may like to hear something of a crop which is of
more importance than might be supposed in the agricultural statistics of

There are several cantons, Murato being one of the principal, in which
the chestnut woods, either natural or planted, are so extensive that the
districts have acquired the name of _Paése di Castagniccia_. The
Corsican peasant seldom sets forth on a journey without providing
himself with a bag of chestnuts, and with these and a gourd of wine or
of water slung by his side, he is never at a loss. Eaten raw or roasted
on the embers, chestnuts form, during half the year, the principal diet
of the herdsmen and shepherds on the hills, and of great numbers of the
poorer population in the districts where the tree flourishes. They are
also made into puddings, and served up in various other ways. It is said
that in the canton of Alesanni, one of the Castagniccia districts just
referred to, on the occasion of a peasant making a feast at his
daughter's marriage, no less than twenty-two dishes have been prepared
from the meal of the chestnut.

I recollect that the innkeeper at Bonifaccio, boasting his culinary
skill, said that he could dress a potato sixteen different ways, and
though we earnestly entreated him not to give himself the trouble of
making experiments not suited to our taste, it was with great
difficulty, and after several failures, we made him comprehend that an
Englishman preferred but one way—and that was “_au naturel_.”

The cultivation of the potato has made considerable advance in Corsica,
and there are now seventeen or eighteen hundred acres annually planted
with it. But in many parts of the island the chestnut fills the same
place which the potato once occupied in the dietary of the Irish
peasant. A political economist would find no difficulty in deciding that
in both cases the results have been similar, and much to be lamented.
Indeed, the Corsican fruit is still more adapted to cherish habits of
indolence than the Irish root, as the chestnut does not even require the
brief exertion, either in cultivation or cookery, which the potato does.
It drops, I may say, into the Corsican's mouth, and living like the

    “Prisca gens mortalium.”

“the primitive race of mortals,” of whom the poet sings, who ran about
in the woods, eating acorns and drinking water, the Corsicans are, for
the most part, satisfied with their chestnuts literally “_au naturel_.”

Most French writers on Corsica declare war against the chestnut-trees
for the encouragement they afford to a life of idleness, and M. de
Beaumont does not scruple to assert, that a tempest which levelled them
all with the ground would, in the end, prove a great blessing. There is
some truth in these opinions, but humanity shudders at the misery such a
catastrophe—like the potato blight, which truly struck at the root of
the evil in Ireland—would entail on tens of thousands of the poor
Corsicans, to whom the chestnut is the staff of life. In the interests
of that humanity, as well as from our deep love and veneration for these
noble woods, we say, God forbid!

Many years ago, an attempt was made to discountenance the growth of
chestnuts, by prohibiting their plantation in soils capable of other
kinds of cultivation; but shortly afterwards the decree was revoked on
the report of no less a political economist than the celebrated
Turgot.[18] _Vivent donc ces châtaigniers magnifiques, quand même!_ And
may the Corsicans learn not to abuse the gifts which Providence
gratuitously showers from their spreading boughs!

Our _al fresco_ repast on chestnuts and grapes being concluded, we left
Antoine to load his mule, which had been grazing in the cool shade, and
following a track through the wood, it became so steep that we soon
gained a very considerable elevation. Of this we were more sensible
when, turning round, we found that our range of sight embraced one of
the finest views imaginable. In the distance, the long chain of
mountains intersecting Capo Corso appeared grouped in one central mass,
with their rocky summits and varied outlines more or less boldly
defined, as they receded from the point of view. The western coast of
the peninsula stretched far away to the northward, broken by a
succession of mountainous ridges, branching out from the central chain,
and having their bases washed by the Mediterranean, point after point
appealing in perspective.


Of these indentations in the coast, the nearest, as well as the most
important, is the Gulf of San Fiorenzo, one of the finest harbours in
the Mediterranean. The town stands on a hill, above the marshy delta of
the Aliso, the course of which we could trace through the most extended
of these high valleys. Close beneath our standing point, as it appeared,
lay the basin of Oletta, with its villages on the hill-tops, and its
gentle eminences, with slopes and hollows richly clothed, now grouped
together like the mountain ranges above, but in softer forms. This view,
whether as partially seen in our first position through the glades and
under the branching canopy of the chestnut wood, or shortly afterwards,
still better, from a more commanding point on the summit of the ridge,
had all the advantages which the most exquisite colouring, and the
finest atmospheric effects could lend. Indeed, I felt persuaded, that
the extraordinary richness of the warm tints on some of the mountain
sides was not merely an atmospheric effect, but aided by the natural
colour of the formation.

The whole country lying beneath, the ancient province of Nebbio, with
the Gulf of San Fiorenzo for its outlet, guarded by the mountain ridges
and embracing the districts of Oletta, Murato, and Sorio, is of such
importance in a strategical view, that the fate of Corsica has often
been decided by campaigns conducted on this ground; and it is said that
whatever power obtains possession of it, will sooner or later become
masters of the whole island.

San Fiorenzo, a fortified place, was bombarded in 1745 by an English
fleet acting in concert with the King of Sardinia for the support of the
Corsicans against the Genoese, and on the surrender of the place it was
given up to the patriots. Then first the British Government interfered
in Corsican affairs; but shortly afterwards, when some of the patriot
leaders sent emissaries to Lord Bristol, our ambassador at the court of
Turin, offering to put themselves under the protection of the English
Government, the court of St. James's, deterred probably by the
jealousies then subsisting among the supporters of the patriotic cause,
civilly declined the offer, and withdrew their fleet. Having thus lost
by their own misconduct the powerful co-operation of England, the
Corsicans, left to their own resources, after a long and determined
struggle, at length yielded to a power with which they were unable to

San Fiorenzo was again the scene of British intervention, when the
Corsicans, throwing off in 1793 the yoke of the French revolutionary
government, applied to Lord Hood, the commander-in-chief in the
Mediterranean, for assistance. In consequence, Nelson, then commanding
the “Agamemnon,” and cruising off the island with a small squadron, to
prevent the enemy from throwing in supplies, made a sudden descent on
San Fiorenzo, where he landed with 120 men. Close to the port the French
had a storehouse of flour adjoining their only mill, Nelson threw the
flour into the sea, burnt the mill, and re-embarked in the face of 1000
men and some gun-boats, which opened fire upon him. In the following
spring, five English regiments were landed in the island under General
Dundas, and Lieutenant-Colonel (afterwards Sir John) Moore having taken
possession of the heights overlooking the port of San Fiorenzo, the
French found themselves unable to hold the place, and sinking one of
their frigates, and burning another, retreated to Bastia.

Nelson's dashing enterprise was succeeded by another of far greater
moment, characteristic of the times when our old 74's had not been
superseded by costly screw three-deckers, and our naval commanders,
though not wanting in discretion, acted on the impulses of their own
brave hearts, without any very nice calculations of responsibilities and
possible consequences.

On a _reconnaissance_ made by Nelson on the 19th of February, when he
drove the French under shelter of their works, it appeared that the
defences of Bastia were strong. Besides the citadel, mounting thirty
pieces of cannon and eight mortars, with seventy embrasures counted in
the town-wall near the sea, there were four stone redoubts on the
heights south of the town, and two or three others further in advance;
one a new work, with guns mounted _en barbette_. A frigate, “La Flèche,”
lay in the harbour, but dismasted; her guns were removed to the works.
These works were held by 1000 regular troops, 1500 national guards, and
a large body of Corsicans, making a total of 4000 men under arms.[19]

To attack this formidable force, manning such defences, Nelson could
only muster 218 marines, 787 troops of the line under orders to serve as
such, the admiral insisting on having them restored to this service, 66
men of the Royal Artillery, and 112 Corsican chasseurs, making a total
of 1183 troops. To these were added 250 sailors. Meanwhile, the English
general made a _reconnaissance_ in force from San Fiorenzo, and retired
without attempting to strike a blow, though he had 2000 of the finest
troops in the world lying idle; declaring that the enterprise was so
rash that no officer would be justified in undertaking it. He even
refused to furnish Lord Hood with a single soldier, cannon, or store.

The Admiral replied, that he was most willing to take upon himself the
whole responsibility, and Nelson, nothing daunted, landed his small
force on the 9th of April, three miles from the town, and the siege
operations commenced. Encamping near a high rock, 2500 yards from the
citadel, and the seamen working hard for several days in throwing up
works, making roads, and carrying up ammunition, the fire was opened on
the 12th of the same month. The works of the besiegers were mounted with
four 13-inch and 10-inch mortars, an 18-inch howitzer, five 24-pounder
guns, and two 18-pounder carronades. I give these details in order to
show with what small means the daring enterprise was accomplished.

Lord Hood had sent in a flag of truce, summoning the city to surrender;
to which M. La Combe St. Michel, the Commissioner of the National
Convention, replied, “that he had red-hot shot for our ships and
bayonets for our troops, and when two-thirds of his men were killed, he
would trust to the generosity of the English.”

The place being now regularly invested, there was heavy firing on both
sides, “the seamen minding shot,” as Nelson characteristically wrote to
his wife, “no more than peas.” The besiegers' works were advanced, first
to 1600 yards, and afterwards to a ridge 900 yards from the citadel; and
on the 19th of May, thirty-five days after the fire was opened, the
enemy offered to capitulate. The same evening, while the terms were
negotiating, the advanced guard of the troops from San Fiorenzo made
their appearance on the hills above the place, and on the following
morning the whole army, under the command of General D'Aubant, who had
succeeded Dundas, arrived just in time to take possession of Bastia.

Nelson had anticipated this, for in a letter to his wife, written
during the siege, he says, “My only fear is, that the soldiers will
advance when Bastia is about to surrender, and deprive our handful of
brave men of part of their glory.”

But the work was already done, and Nelson writes after the surrender of
the place, “I am all astonishment when I reflect on what we have
achieved.” A force of 4000 men in strong defences had laid down their
arms to 1200 soldiers, marines, and British seamen.

The political results of these operations, which for the time numbered
the Corsicans among the willing subjects of the British crown, will
claim a short notice on a fitting opportunity. History is not our
province, but a traveller may be allowed to trace the footsteps of his
countrymen during their brief occupation of a soil fiercely trodden by
all the European nations; and, on a standing point between Fiorenzo and
Bastia, naturally lingers for a moment on a feat of arms memorable among
our naval exploits in the Mediterranean.

After leaving the chestnut woods, the wildness of the scene increased at
every step. Our track skirted a forest of ilex spreading far up the base
of the mountains, and filling the glens below, round the gorges of which
the path led. The trees were of all ages, from the young growth, with a
shapely _contour_ of silvery grey foliage, to the gigantic patriarchs of
the forest, spreading their huge limbs, hoar with lichens, in most
fantastic and often angular forms, and their boles black and rugged with
the growth of centuries. Some were rifted by the tempests, and bared
their scathed and bleached tops to the winds of heaven. Others had
yielded to the storms or age, and lay prostrate on the ground, charred
and blackened by the fires which the shepherds in these wilds leave
recklessly burning. The destruction thus caused to valuable timber
throughout the island is enormous. Among the ilex were scattered a few
deciduous oaks, contrasting well in their autumnal tints with their
evergreen congeners. We thought the colouring was not so rich as that of
our English oak woods at this season, being of a paler or more tawny
hue, resembling the maple and sycamore. Precipitous cliffs and insulated
masses of grey rock broke the outline of the forest, and the charming
cyclamen still tufted the edge of the path with its delicate flowers,
nestling among the roots of the gigantic oaks; between the tall trunks
of which glimpses were occasionally caught of the distant mountain

We had been ascending, generally at a pretty sharp angle, from the time
we crossed the Bevinco, and had walked about three hours, when, emerging
from the skirts of the ilex forest, we found ourselves on an elevated
ridge connected with the vast wastes of which the greater part of the
east and north-east of the province of Nebbio is composed. The surface
is bare and stony, with a very scanty herbage among aromatic plants and
bushes of low growth, consisting principally of the branching cistuses,
which, however they may enliven these barren heaths by their flowers in
the earlier part of the year, increased its parched and arid appearance
now that the leaves hung withered on their stems.

Yet on these barren solitudes the Corsican shepherd spends his listless
days and watchful nights. He has no fixed habitation, and never sleeps
under a roof, but when he piles some loose stones against a rock to form
a hut. Roaming over the boundless waste as the necessity of changing
the pasturage of his flock requires, he finds his best shelter in the
skirts of the forest, and his food in the chestnuts, which he
luxuriously roasts in the embers of his watchfire when he is tired of
eating them raw. The ground was so undulating that at one view we could
see a number of these flocks on the distant hill sides; the little black
sheep in countless numbers dotting the heaths, and the shepherds, in
their brown _pelone_, either following them as they browsed in scattered
groups, or perched on strong outline on some rocky pinnacle commanding a
wide area over which their charge was scattered. Their bleating and the
tinkling of the sheep-bells were wafted on the breeze, and more than
once a flock crossed our path, and we had a nearer view of the wild and
uncouth conductor.

My companion sat down to sketch, while I walked on. This often happened.
Indeed, his rambles were often discursive, so that I lost sight of him
for hours together; once in Sardinia, when there was reason to fear his
having been carried off to the mountains by banditti. Thus, each had his
separate adventures; on the present occasion I had opened out a new and
splendid view, and, having retraced my steps to lead him to the spot, he
related his.

Intent on his sketch, my friend was startled, on raising his head, at
seeing a wild figure standing at his elbow. Leaning on a staff, its keen
eyes were intently fixed on him. My friend at once perceived that one of
the shepherds had crept upon him unawares. A year before, when they all
carried arms, there would have been nothing in his exterior to
distinguish him from a bandit, but an ingenuous countenance and a gentle

The young shepherd seemed much interested in my friend's occupation, the
object of which, however, he could not comprehend. His face brightened
with pleasure and surprise on learning that the visitor to his wilds was
an Englishman. The memory of the red-coats, who came to espouse the
cause of Corsican liberty, lingers in Corsican traditions, and the
English are esteemed as their truest friends. It was something new in
the monotonous existence of the young shepherd to fall in with one of
that race, though he had not the slightest idea where on the face of the
earth they lived; still he was intelligent, inquisitive, and hospitable.

“Would the stranger accompany him to his hut?”

“It would give me pleasure, but it is growing late.”

“We are poor, but we could give you milk and cheese. You would be

“I know it. Like you, I love the forest and the mountain, the shade and
the sunshine; but yours must be a rough life.”

“It is our lot, and we are content. We toil not, and we love our

“It is well.”

“I should like some memorial of having met you, anything to show that I
have talked with an Englishman.”

My friend rapidly dashed off a slight sketch, a rough portrait, I think,
of his gaunt visitor—no bad subject for the pencil.

“I would rather it had been your own portrait; but I shall keep it in
remembrance of you.”

And so they parted; the civilised man to tell his little story of human
feeling and native intelligence, “spending their sweetness in the
desert air,”—the shepherd to relate his adventure over the watchfire,
and perhaps draw forth from some sexagenarian herdsman his boyish
recollections of the fall of San Fiorenzo and Bastia, and the march of
the English red-coats over the mountains.


  _Chain of the Serra di Tenda.—A Night at Bigorno.—A Hospitable
    Priest.—Descent to the Golo._

After crossing for some distance an elevated plateau of this wild
country, we came to a boundary wall of rough boulders, and turned to
take a last view of the gulf of San Fiorenzo and the blue Mediterranean.
A heavy gate was swung open, and, on advancing a few hundred yards, the
scene suddenly changed. We found ourselves on the brink of a steep
descent, with a sea of mountains before us, branching from the great
central chain, and having innumerable ramifications. This part of the
chain is called the Serra di Tenda; and its highest peak the Monte Asto,
upwards of 5000 feet above the level of the sea, rose directly in front
of our point of view. A single altar-shaped rock crowned the summit,
from which the continuation of the ridge, right and left, fell away in a
singularly graceful outline, the face of the mountain being precipitous
with escarped cliffs. In other parts of the line, the summits were
sharply serrated. Northward it was lost in the far distance among clouds
and mist, but to the south-west of Monte Asto a similar, but more
blunted peak towered above all the others. I observed on our maps that
several of the summits in this range have the name of _Monte Rosso_; and
the centre of the group was indented by a deep gorge richly wooded, as
were other ravines, and forests hung on some of the mountain sides.

We were struck with the extraordinary warmth of colouring which pervaded
the surface of the vast panorama, the slopes as well as the precipitous
cliffs. They had the ruddy hue of the inner coating of the ilex bark,
with a piece of which we compared it on the spot. Again, I felt
convinced that this colouring was not merely an atmospheric
effect,—though doubtless heightened by the bright sunshine through so
pure a medium as the mountain air—but that the brilliance indicated the
nature of the formation. Whether it was granitic or porphyritic, I had
no opportunity of examining, but incline to think it belonged to the

Of the general features of the geological system of Corsica, an
opportunity may occur for taking a short review. Our present position,
embracing so vast an amphitheatre, was excellent for forming an idea of
the physical structure of this lateral branch from the central range.
Various as were its ramifications, appearing sometimes grouped in wild
confusion, the general unity of the whole formation, both in colour and
form, was very observable, from the loftiest peak to the offsets of the
ridge which gradually descended to the level of the valleys, just as the
peculiar character of a tree runs through its trunk and boughs to the
minutest twig. Through a gorge to the northward we traced the pass, the
Col di Tenda, the summit being 4500 feet, through which a road is
conducted to Calvi and l'Isle Rousse, on the western coast; while
immediately under us lay the valley through which the Golo, rising in
the central chain, makes its long and winding course to the _littorale_,

The bason, on which we now looked down, was distinguished by the same
features as that of Oletta,—gentle hills, wooded slopes and glens, and
olive groves, vineyards, and orchards, in almost equally exuberant
richness. A dozen villages were within view, crowning, as usual, the
tops of the hills, or perched far up the mountain sides. Of these, Lento
and Bigorno are the most considerable, although Campittello gives its
name to the canton. The strong position of Lento caused it to be often
contested during the wars for Corsican independence, and it was General
Paoli's head-quarters before his last and fatal battle.

We selected Bigorno, a small village, as our quarters for the night. The
descent to it, about 1000 feet from the level of the sheep-walks, is
extremely rapid; the village itself being still many hundred feet above
the banks of the Golo, which is seen pouring its white torrent several
miles distant. The approach was interesting, winding through the
evergreen copse and scattered ilex, with the sound of the church-bell at
the _Ave-Maria_ rising from below in the still air as we descended the
mountain side.

Our quarters here were the best we had yet met with. My companion having
staid behind to sketch the village, and taken shelter from a shower of
rain, had been courteously invited by a gentleman, who passed, to accept
the accommodations of his house for the night, but, in the meantime,
Antoine had conducted me and the baggage to another house. It belonged
to a small proprietor, who was profuse in his politeness, but, we
thought, lacked the really hospitable feeling we had found in houses of
less pretensions. Curiosity or civility brought about us quite a
_levée_ of the better class while we were arranging our toilet. The
supper was execrable, consisting of an _olla podrida_ of ham, potatoes,
and tomatoes stewed in oil and seasoned with garlick, and the wine and
grapes were sour. However, we had excellent beds. In my room there was a
small collection of books, on a dusty shelf, which I should not have
expected to find in such hands. Among them were some old works of
theological casuistry, Metastasio, a translation of Voltaire's plays,
and a geographical dictionary in Italian. I learnt that they had
belonged to the proprietor's uncle, a _medico_ at Padua, and were
heirlooms with his property, which our host inherited. The position of
these small proprietors is much to be pitied. By great penuriousness
they contrive to make a poor living out of a vineyard and garden with a
few acres of land, having neither the spirit nor industry, and perhaps
very little opportunity, to better their condition. There was evidently
some struggle in the mind of our host between his poverty and
gentility—added to what was due to the national character for
hospitality—when we came to proffer some acknowledgment for our
reception. It was just an occasion when, travelling in this way, one is
rather puzzled how to act, but we were relieved from our difficulty by
finding that our offering was received without much scruple.

Next morning, to my great surprise, for I was too sleepy to notice it on
going to bed, I found a gun standing ready loaded on one side of the
bed, in curious contrast to the crucifix and holy-water pot on the
other,—succour close at hand against both spiritual and mortal foes. We
had walked through the country without any alarm, and concluded that
the reign of the rifle and stiletto was ended in Corsica. But how came
the gun to be loaded? was it from inveterate habit even now that
fire-arms were proscribed, or was Louis Napoleon's decree still eluded?

I shall never forget the view from my chamber windows as I threw open
the long double casement at six o'clock in the morning. It was my first
view of Monte Rotondo, the loftiest of the Corsican mountains. A long
ridge and its crowning peak were capped with snow. The range to the
eastward was in deep shade, but with a rich amber hue behind them as the
sun rose. I watched its kindling light as it touched the snowy top of
Monte Rotondo, and spread a purple light over the sides of the eastern
ridge. The night mists had not yet risen from the valley of the Golo. We
hastened to descend towards it, after the usual small cup of _café noir_
and a piece of bread. The environs of Bigorno on this side are very
beautiful. Groves of olive with their silvery leaves and green berries
not yet ripened mingled with vines planted in terraces, the vines
festooning and running free, as one sees them in Italy. Gardens full of
peach and fig trees filled all the hollows—a charming scene through
which the path wound down the hill. Antoine brought us fresh figs from
one of the gardens—a relish to the dry remains of our crust. Before the
sun had gained much elevation, it became exceedingly warm on a southern
exposure; the green lizards darted from crevices in the vineyard walls,
all nature was alive and fresh, and the air serene, with a most heavenly

All this was very delightful. Nothing can be more so than this style of
travelling in such a country, with a friend of congenial spirit and
taste. My companion was very well in this respect; but, as I before
observed, his genius led him to be rather excursive in his rambles, so
that he was sometimes missing when he was most wanted. Now, we had just
started on this very agreeable morning walk with the prospect of
breakfast in due time at the post-house on the banks of the Golo. But,
instead of our enjoying this together, my friend, by a sudden impulse,
leaped over a vineyard wall, and saying he should like to take a sketch
from that point, desired me to saunter on, and he would soon overtake

    [Illustration: NEAR BIGORNO.]

What with a Pisan campanile, a Corsican manse, festooning vines, a
cluster of bamboo canes—indicative of the warm south—and the group of
mountains with the truncated peak in the distance, a very clever sketch
was produced, though not one of my friend's best;—and I have great
reason to be obliged to him for his sketches, without which I fear this
would be a dull book. At that moment, indeed, I would have preferred his
companionship. However, bating this feeling and a certain hankering for
my breakfast in the course of a two hours' walk, I trudged on alone in a
very pleasant frame of mind. Nothing could be more charming than the
green slopes round which the path wound, with occasional glimpses of the
Golo beneath,—its rapid stream white as the milky Rhone,—after leaving
behind the orchards and gardens. The rest of the descent lay through
evergreen shrubbery so frequently mentioned, and a more exquisite piece
of _máquis_ I had not seen. Thus sauntering on, sometimes talking with
Antoine, a species of shrub, which I had not much observed before,
attracted my particular attention among the arbutus and numerous other
well-known varieties. It was a bushy evergreen, of shapely growth, five
or six feet high, with masses of foliage and clusters of bright red
berries, having an aromatic scent.

“What do you call this shrub, Antoine?” plucking a branch.

“_Lustinea_; the country people express an oil from the berries for use
in their lamps.”

“Ah! I perceive it is the _Lentiscus_.” In Africa and the isle of Scios
they make incisions in the stems, from which the gum mastic is procured.
The Turks chew it to sweeten the breath. It grows also in Provence,
Italy, and Spain.

Presently, I sat down on a bank, casting anxious glances up the path
after my friend, and, basking in the sun, finished Antoine's basket of
figs, which only whetted my appetite, while I was endeavouring to
indoctrinate Antoine with the persuasion that our countrymen in general
are neither “_Calvinistes_” nor “_Juives_.” Antoine, who had been asking
a variety of questions about “_Inghilterra_” and “_Londra_” was not
better informed on this subject than a great many foreigners I have met
with in Catholic countries, who, by the former term, class all
Protestants with the Reformed churches of the Continent. I have often
had to inform them, to their manifest surprise, that we have bishops,
priests and deacons, cathedrals, choirs, deans and canons, vestments,
creeds, liturgies and sacraments, in the English church, and were, in
short, very like themselves, at least in externals. Matters of faith I
did not feel inclined to meddle with.

The discussion ended as we struck the level of the valley of the Golo,
not far from Ponte Nuovo. The heat in this deep valley became
suffocating, and the dusty high road was an ill exchange for the fresh
mountain paths. Here, then, I made a decided halt, and this being the
battle-field on which, in 1769, the French, after a desperate struggle,
gained a decisive victory over General Paoli and the independent
Corsicans, I had just engaged Antoine in pointing out the positions of
the two armies, and tracing the tide of battle which, they say, deluged
the Golo with blood and corpses for many miles,—when my lost companion
came rushing down the hill-path among the rustling evergreens.

“You have been waiting long—excuse me; I have had a little adventure.
That has detained me.”

“Humph!” My friend's sketching propensities often led him into a “little
adventure,” ending in a story which, I should almost have imagined, he
coined for a peace-offering, but that I had chapter and verse for the
main incidents. There was that story of his being kicked off the mule,
and—only the evening before—his _rencontre_ with the interesting young

“What now?”

“But you want your breakfast.”

“I should think I do.”

“I have had mine.”

“The deuce you have, you are luckier than I am.”

“Now, my dear old fellow, we will push on to Ponte Nuovo, and you will
soon get your's. I really am very sorry, but I could not help it.”

“But this is the famous battle-field, you know, and Antoine was just
going to describe it.”

“That will keep. We will make our _reconnaissance_ after you have had
your breakfast. As we go along, I will tell you how I got mine.”

The story shall be told as nearly as possible in my friend's own words.

       *       *       *       *       *

“After you left me, I sat down to sketch in a little terraced garden,
shaded by fig-trees and vines. My sketch was nearly finished, and I was
thinking how I should overtake you, when a bright-eyed young maiden came
up, and, with the childlike wonder of a race of people living far out of
the track of sketching tourists, asked me ‘what I was doing.’

“‘Sit down, pretty maiden, and you shall see.’

“She obeyed with a _naïve_ simplicity, and we soon prattled away, she
telling me that she had never gone beyond the neighbouring villages, and
could not understand how I should come so far from _Inghilterra_, a
country she had never heard of, to draw pictures of their wild

“‘Ah! you cannot comprehend how it is that I love your wild mountains,
and children of nature like yourself.’

“‘Will you come again?’—a question put with a spice of _espièglerie_
which, from some other pretty lips, would be rather flattering. ‘Yes,
you will come again, and I shall be grown up.’

“She did not seem, I found, quite pleased at being called ‘_mon enfant_’
by a young stranger, though it was all very well from her uncle, who, I
learnt, was the priest of the church in my sketch. Presently, away she
ran, blushing and smiling, to tell her uncle that there was a traveller
come from a far-off land who must be hungry, and who must eat and rest
under their roof.

“The good priest received me with much _empressement_, having been
brought out to meet me by the little Graziella, as I was following the
path to the cottage door.

“‘Ah! you are English, you are a Protestant, no doubt. It matters not;
the stranger is welcome under my humble roof were he a Jew or a Turk. We
are all brothers.’

“I found the priest well informed on English affairs, into which, and
matters connected with them, we soon plunged. Meanwhile, Graziella, with
the assistance of a hard-faced but kindly old crone, prepared a repast
of fruits, eggs, coffee; and the priest brought out a bottle of wine,
the produce of his own vineyard, which I have seldom found equalled. It
was all very appetising. I only wished you were there.”—

“I was just then, curiously enough, indoctrinating Antoine, nothing
loath, with the priest's sentiment of universal brotherhood, a simple
Gospel truth, which, overlaid with ecclesiastical systems, never took
deep root, and is sadly out of vogue now-a-days. I imagine we shall find
the Sards far more bigoted than their neighbours here.”

“And you were doing your good work, fasting, while I feasted. It was all
tempting, but I was puzzled how to eat my egg; there were no spoons.”

“Why not ask for one; you were talking French? Had you been attempting
Italian, you might have stuck fast. _Cucchiaio_ is one of the most
uncouth words in that beautiful language. Well I remember it being one
of the first I had to pronounce, when, in early days, I got out of the
line of French _garçons_: _cuc—cucchi_,—give me our Anglo-Saxon
monosyllables for such things as spoons, knives, and forks,—at last I
blurted out _cucchiaio_, in all its quadrosyllabic fulness. The Rubicon
was passed (by the way, it was on the _carte_ of my route); after that I
stuck at nothing, though for some time it was the _lingua Toscana—in
bocca—Inglese_.—But how did you manage your egg?”

“Why, it is good manners, you know, to do at Rome as others do, so I
watched the priest. He removed the top, as we do, and then very nicely
sipped the contents of the shell, which—charming Graziella! excellent
_duenna!_—were done to a turn, just creamy.”

“Ah! I perceive it was suction, a primitive idea, when spoons were not.
Now I understand the old proverb about not teaching our venerable
progenitors ‘to suck eggs.’”

“Old fellow, cease your banter, or I shall never get to the end of my
story. As to the eggs, I did not manage mine as cleverly as the priest
did his. I made a mess of it, bestowing good part of the yolk on my
moustache, much to Graziella's amusement. I perceived she could hardly
refrain from tittering. But she was soon sobered,—the conversation
turning on the last days of Corsica—and tears came in her eyes. Alas!
the ruthless spirit of _vendetta_ in this wild country had cost her the
lives of her father and brothers; and, her mother being dead, she was
left an orphan under the care of the good priest.”

“‘Uncle, persuade him to stay, if only for another hour. I should like
to hear more of those countries where there is no _vendetta_; where they
plough and reap and dwell in safety; where fathers and brothers are not
compelled to flee from their villages to the wild _máquis_ and the
mountain crags.’

“‘My pretty child, I cannot stay now. Perhaps some day I may return.’

“‘_Addio!_ then. _Evviva! Evviva!_ In two years I shall be grown up, and
uncle will no longer call me child, and you shall tell me more of lands
I shall never see. But ah! I know it will never be. _Bon voyage!_ Forget
not the priest's home among the mountains of Corsica.’

“I shall not forget it. How often one says hopefully ‘I will come back,’
when it would be idle ever to expect it; and yet I would wish to see
once more the little girl who said, ‘Come, if it is but for an hour!’

“I rushed down the mountain side, and found you scorched with a burning
sun, thirsty, breakfastless,—the very image of the knight of tho woeful
countenance,—I all joy and fun with my morning's adventure, you
perplexed, out of patience, hungry, and tired. I cannot help laughing at
the contrast.”


  _Ponte Nuovo.—The Battle-field.—Antoine's Story._

Half an hour's walk along the high-road brought us to the solitary
building of which we were in search. Uniting the character of an
_albergo_ and a fortified post, of which there are several scattered
throughout the island on commanding spots, the loop-holed walls, with
projecting angles for a cross-fire, and the barrack round a court
within, still occupied by a small party of _gendarmes_, were striking
mementos of the state of insecurity in Corsica, and what travelling was
at no very distant period. Shut in by the mountains, the air of the
valley is close and stifling, disease marked the countenances of the few
inmates, and the barrack-room into which we climbed, with its benches
and tables, were all miserably dirty. The promise of a dish of fresh
trout from the Golo was a redeeming feature in the aspect of affairs to
one who had waited long, and walked far, without his breakfast. But the
dish reeked as if the Golo ran oil, and the fish were still floating in
the unctuous stream, spite of my injunctions to the weird priestess of
the mysteries of the cave beneath—“_Senza olio, senza olio_,” reversing
the phrase in the Baron de Grimm's story of the Frenchman, who, having
sacrificed his own _goût_ to his guest's _penchant_ for asparagus _au
naturel_, on his friend's falling down in a swoon, rushed to the top of
the staircase, shouting to his cook, “_Tout à l'huile, tout à l'huile_.”

We stood on the bridge of Ponte Nuovo, just beneath the post, the scene
of the last struggle for Corsican independence; and there Antoine
pointed out the details. The Corsicans, under Pascal Paoli, having
occupied the strong position in the Nebbio through which we had been
rambling for the last few days, the Count de Vaux, the French
generalissimo, concentrated his forces, amounting to forty-five
battalions, four regiments of cavalry, and a powerful artillery,
determined to crush Paoli's brave but ill-organised militia, and finish
the war by a single blow. The French commenced the attack on the 3rd of
May, 1769. For two days it was an affair of outposts, but, on the 3rd,
De Vaux pressed Paoli with such vigour in his fortified camp at Murato,
that the Corsican general was forced to retire beyond the Golo. He
established himself in the _pieve_ of Rostino, a few miles above the
bridge, leaving orders for Gaffori to hold the strong heights of Lento,
while Grimaldi was to defend Canavaggia,—two points by which the French
might penetrate into the interior. Bribed by French gold, Grimaldi—“_Ah!
il traditore!_” exclaimed Antoine,—and Gaffori, unmindful of his
honourable name, offered no resistance to the advance of the French.

On the 9th of May, the militia left by Paoli to defend the passes into
the valley, finding themselves unsupported, abandoned their posts and

“Down the pass we descended this morning from Bigorno,” said Antoine,
“through those other gorges you see in the mountains, our people poured
in wild confusion, closely pursued by the enemy. They thronged to the
bridge. It was held by a company of Prussians, who had passed from the
Genoese to the Corsican service; and a thousand Corsican militia lined
the river bank. If the French carried the bridge, all was lost. The
Prussians were the only regular troops in Paoli's army. They stood firm
in their discipline. The fugitives threw themselves upon them, charged
with the bayonet by the French in the rear. The Prussians had to hold
their position against friends and foes, indiscriminately, after a vain
attempt to rally the flying Corsicans. Unfortunately they fired into the
mass. A cry of ‘Treachery!’ was raised, the panic became general,
disorder spread throughout the ranks, the enemy profited by it to secure
their victory; the rout was complete, and the Corsicans scattered
themselves among the mountains and forests. The Golo was red with blood,
and the corpses of my countrymen, mingled with their enemies, floated in
its current for many miles. It was a day of woe, a fatal day!”

The feeling of nationality still lingers in Corsica, though without an
object, without a hope. Men such as Antoine, the mountaineers, the
shepherds,—all true-hearted Corsicans treasure up the traditions of
former times, and, with the scene before his eyes, Antoine traced the
action of Ponte Nuovo with as lively an enthusiasm, as deep an interest,
as if it had been an affair of yesterday, in which he had borne a part.

But the vision passed away. Antoine had pressing cares of immediate
interest, to which he now gave vent. Here we were to part; we had an
opportunity of forwarding our baggage to Corte by the _voiture_ which
daily passes Ponte Nuovo, and there was no further need of the services
of Antoine and his mule. He would gladly have followed our steps to the
extremity of Corsica—to the end of the world, and we were sorry to part
from him. Short as our acquaintance was, he had become attached to us.
Our rambles had brought us into close intimacy, and suited his taste.

We sat down on the river bank, and he unbosomed his mind more freely
than he had yet done. We learnt, on our first acquaintance, that he had
left his country and sailed to foreign parts. What forced him to
emigrate had been inferred from a fearful disclosure to which no
reference had been since made. Now, on the eve of parting, he told us
all his story, and opened out his hopes for the future. For reasons into
which we did not inquire, there seemed to be no apprehensions as to his
personal safety; but, lamenting the want of means and opportunity for
bettering his condition at home, his thoughts again reverted to
emigration. It was the best thing he could do; and, reminding him of the
success of many of his neighbours from Capo Corso, who sought their
fortunes in South America, we exhorted him not to indulge the indolence
natural to his countrymen, but apply himself manfully to an enterprise
for which he had many qualifications, and heartily wished him success.

The point on which his story turned was, as I suspected, a tale of love,
jealousy, revenge. He related the catastrophe with more than usual
feeling, but without any seeming remorse. He was justified by the
Corsican code of honour. The details, though simple, might be worked up
into one of those romantic and sentimental tales for which Corsican life
supplies abundant materials. But neither is that my _rôle_, nor am I
willing to betray Antoine's confidence. My readers shall have, instead,
a similar tale—of which, as it happens, a namesake of Antoine is the
hero—developing the same powerful passions. It is not one of the stock
stories borrowed from books which one finds repeated in writers on
Corsica, but, I believe, from the source from which I derived it, an
original as well as authentic tale. The scene lies at a village in the
mountains, not far from Ponte Nuovo, our present halting-place.



On a fine spring morning, some thirty years ago, there was an unusual
stir in a _paese_ standing near the high-road between Bastia and
Ajaccio. The village, like most others in Corsica, clustered round a
hill-top, and stood on the skirts of a deep forest, with which the eye
linked it through intervening groves of spreading chestnut and other
fruit-trees. It was Sunday; and, after mass, the whole population
flocked to the market-place, a large open area in front of the _Mairie_,
to witness one of those trials of skill in shooting at a mark, formerly
common in Corsica as well as in Switzerland.

Above the roof of the _Mairie_ sprung a grim tower, serving at once for
a prison, in which criminals were confined, and for the barracks of the
_gendarmerie_ stationed in that wild district. On the present occasion
the target was set up at the foot of this tower, and all the young men
of the village were, in turn, making a trial of skill with their long
guns, while the old peasants stood near giving advice, and the village
girls, ranged in _costume de fête_ round the palisades inclosing the
place, rewarded the most successful of the competitors with smiles and
glances of encouragement.

The contest had lasted for some time, and many shots were fired without
the mark—fixed at the distance of about 300 paces—having been hit, when
a young man, armed with a short Tyrolese rifle, came up to the barrier.
He was dressed after the fashion of his fathers, but with great
neatness. Short breeches of green velvet descended to the knees, and the
calves of his legs were encased in deer-skin gaiters fastened by metal
buttons. A broad belt of red leather girded his loins. It concealed a
small pouch of cartridges, but the hilt of a strong dagger peeped from
underneath the belt. His open shirt exposed to view a manly breast. He
wore a sort of jacket of the same stuff as the breeches, but faced with
crimson, and garnished, after the Spanish fashion, with a number of
small silver studs. A high-crowned hat of black felt was cocked jantily
on one side of his head, and a medallion of the _Madre dei Dolori_ stuck
in the band, completed the picturesque costume of the Corsican peasant.

The young man, on his arrival, received a cordial welcome from all the
competitors for the honours of the day, and, among the village maidens,
many a bright eye beamed with a tender but modest delight on his manly
form, shown to advantage in the national costume. Still he gave no sign
of an intention to take any part in the sport for which they were

In consequence, after a short interval, during which the firing had
ceased, an old villager thus addressed him:—

“How is it, Antonio, that you, the best marksman in the village, have
joined us so late? The sport flags; let us have one of your true,
unerring shots.”

“Excuse me, father Joachimo, I am in no humour to-day to partake in the
gaiety of my friends.”

Pressed, however, by repeated entreaties, the young man at last
yielded, and, advancing to the barrier, and unloosing his rifle from the
slings, took a cartridge from his pouch, and proceeded to charge his
piece with much deliberation. While doing this, his eyes were fixed on a
crevice in the tower, from which was hanging a little iron cage
containing the mouldering remains of a human skull. At this spectacle
his countenance changed from its usual ruddy hue to a mortal paleness,
and tears were seen to fill his eyes.

Having charged his rifle, Antonio took his position in the attitude of
firing; but, it was remarked, that in taking aim, he levelled the barrel
higher than the mark at the foot of the tower. A moment of solemn
silence was followed by a flash, a sharp crack,—and the whizzing bullet
struck the skull in the cage. The shock brought both to the ground, and,
at the same instant, the young man, quick as thought, leaped over the
palisades, and, gathering up the fragments of skull, quickly
disappeared. The spectators of this strange scene asked each other what
it meant; and, in the midst of the hubbub, Joachimo, the old peasant who
had invited Antonio to try his skill in the feat of arms, raised his
voice to satisfy their curiosity.

“My children,” he said, “Corsican blood has not degenerated; of this you
have witnessed a striking proof in the act of Antonio. The skull, which
hung on the tower wall, was that of a man unjustly condemned to death,
of a man whose only crime was, his having taken vengeance with his own
hand for the insult offered his wife by an inhabitant of the continent.
The skull was that of Antonio's father; and a son, a true Corsican,
could not submit to having his father's remains dishonoured. This day he
has wiped out the ignominy,—henceforth Antonio is an outlaw, proscribed
by the men of law, by the French; but we Corsicans shall ever esteem him
a man of honour and of courage.”

The crowd then dispersed, full of admiration for the brave Antonio, and
the event of the morning became the theme of the evening's conversation
in all the families of the neighbourhood.

Meanwhile Antonio, having gained the forest, rapidly threaded its
tangled paths for nearly an hour. He then stopped in one of its deepest
recesses, and, having keenly reconnoitred every avenue of approach,
threw himself weary at the foot of a tree, and opening the handkerchief
in which he had wrapped his father's skull, gave vent to a flood of

“Oh, my father!” he said, “my father! why could I not take vengeance on
the authors of your death? why could I not avenge myself on the
descendants of the base Frenchman who insulted my mother? why could I
not wash out, in their blood, the shame that has fallen on our family,
and embittered our existence?”

At the thought of vengeance the eyes of the young islander flashed fire,
his tears dried up, and that heart, just now so open to tender emotions,
would have prompted him to plunge his dagger in the bosom of those who
were the cause of his misery.

Again, the fit changed; for, in the midst of this storm of passion, a
name quivered on his lips, like the star seen in the drifting clouds
when the tempest is raging.

“Madaléna!” he cried, “all is now finished between us;—Antonio is a

Then, exercising a strong power over himself, he passed his hand over
his forehead, as if to drive evil thoughts from his brain, and,
unsheathing his strong dagger, dug a hole at the foot of the oak, in
which he deposited his precious burthen. A cross, carved by his dagger
on the trunk of the tree, served for a memorial of his father's
fate:—ah! what thoughts, what sorrows, did that cross recall to his
mind!—and, after a short prayer, he hastened from the spot which had
witnessed his last act of filial duty.

Wretched Antonio! a solitary outcast, abandoned by all, what refuge was
left for you but the forest and the _máquis_?—what protector, but your
good rifle—what hope, but in the grave! Nay, another passion, another
image, was deeply graven on his heart! Love—that divine passion, which
ennobles a man, which gives him courage, which fills him with
heroism—afforded him strength to survive so many calamities.

Some days after these occurrences, a young maiden crept stealthily at
early dawn from among the houses in the village of Allari, fifteen
leagues distant from Bastia, and gained unseen the _purlieus_ of the
neighbouring wood before any of the villagers were abroad. The maiden's
age was about eighteen years; her step was light, her form slender and
graceful; health sparkled in her dark eyes; her enterprise lent a
ruddier hue to her olive skin, and a profusion of raven-black tresses
floated on her shoulders, as she brushed through the evergreen shrubbery
on the verge of the wood, where, concealed in the hollow of an aged
chestnut tree, a young man had been waiting her arrival for upwards of
an hour. This young man was Antonio, the maiden Madaléna.

On perceiving her approach, Antonio hastened to quit his hiding place,
and came to meet her.

“How kind you are, Madaléna,” he said: “you, so rich, so young, so
beautiful—to expose yourself for me to the cold morning air; to brave,
perhaps, the anger of your parents, for one of whom you know so little.

“It is true that you told me once that you loved me; and love knows no
obstacles, and makes nothing of distances. But I must not abuse your
confidence. Madaléna, my bosom labours with a secret which I have too
long preserved. I have done wrong; I have deceived you. I feared, I
dreaded, that in disclosing it to you, I should forfeit your love, your
esteem; that you would avoid me as the world does a man to whom society
gives an ill name. Yes, Madaléna, you have to learn—Madaléna, hitherto I
have not had the courage to tell it to you—learn that I am a....”

Antonio shrunk from giving utterance to a word which would probably
crush all his hopes, and break the last tie which held him to the world.
So, changing his purpose, he continued in an altered tone:—

“Why should I embitter the moments which ought to be given to love? Is
it not true, Madaléna, that you love me for myself? Ah! tell me that you
love me, for there is great need that I should hear it from your own
lips, and without this love I should be wretched indeed. Tell me that
you do not want to know my past; that you love me because our hearts
understand each other; because our two souls, breathed into us by the
Author of our existence, were formed to love each other for ever.”

Madaléna, perceiving the feebleness of her lover, took his hand, and
fixing on him an eager gaze, made him sit by her side. On touching that
much-loved hand, the young man started, and a sudden shivering ran
through his veins. The maiden perceived it, and a gleam of
satisfaction, and almost coquetry, sparkled in her eyes. Poor woman's
heart! Even in the most solemn moments she is always a coquette. Such is
her nature.

“Antonio,” she said, “you vow that you love me; why then hesitate to
confide to me your secrets, your sorrows? Am I not some day to be your
wife? I have sworn it before God and my mother, and I shall be. Why then
do you defer telling me the cause of your long sufferings. I have long
perceived that your heart is oppressed by some secret thought. Can it be
that you are in love with another, Antonio? Tell me if it is so; you
shall have my forgiveness, and I will say to the woman who is the choice
of your heart, ‘Love him, for he is worthy of it!’ And if it were
required that I should shed my blood for your happiness, I would not
hesitate a single moment to make the sacrifice.”

“Oh no, no, Madaléna, think not so! Do you suppose me capable of
betraying you, of casting you off? I, who love you with a perfect love,
a love as pure as that which makes the bliss of angels,—with which a
child loves its mother? For one fond look from you I would brave the
fury of men—of men and the elements. Drive this suspicion from your
heart, and God grant that, when you have learnt my secret, you may
continue to entertain the same sentiments towards me.”

Thus speaking, Antonio drew near to the maiden, and, hiding his face in
her hands, whispered in her ear:—

“Madaléna, Madaléna, I am—a bandit.”

The young girl shrieked with terror, and fainted in his arms. Antonio
laid her on the grass, and, having sprinkled her face with the fresh
morning dew, knelt by her side. Presently, Madaléna opened her eyes, and
seeing Antonio kneeling, and still holding her hand, roused herself
with a sudden effort, and, casting on him a look of mingled horror and
scorn, said to him,—

“Leave me, Antonio, you make me shudder, your hands are stained with the
blood of the innocent.”

Antonio, crazed with love, crawled to her feet and wept; but having,
after much difficulty, prevailed with her to hear him, he related to her
the story of the skull, the only crime for which he was a bandit. After
this explanation, Madaléna seemed to be reassured, and her lover awaited
his final sentence from her lips in breathless suspense. The maiden's
heart was touched by his tale, and observing him with an air of less
severity, she said:—

“I am satisfied that you speak the truth; but I have a mother and
father, and I think, that after this disclosure, I could never become
your wife without abandoning them for ever. At this moment I am too much
agitated to come to any decision; return to morrow, and you shall know
my final resolve. Meanwhile, rest assured that I pity and love you
still, considering you more unfortunate than guilty, and that I will
either be your wife, or the wife of no other man.”

Thus saying, she hastened from the spot.

Antonio saw her depart without having the courage to address to her
another word. That man so brave, who knew no fear, recoiled from no
danger, wept like a child. A sad presentiment told him that it was his
last meeting with Madaléna, though her concluding promise tended in some
degree to reassure him.

Madaléna shut herself up in her chamber and shed floods of tears—tears
not of love, but of shame. For her—the daughter of a wealthy citizen of
Ajaccio, brought up in the manners, and tinctured with the prejudices
of the continent, who knew nothing of the world but its empty phantoms,
nor of love but its coquetry—it was disgrace to love and be loved by the
son of a bandit, by one who was himself a bandit.

From that day Madaléna never returned to the wood. Every morning the
unhappy Antonio retraced his steps to the place of meeting, but only to
have his hopes crushed. He was forgotten, perhaps scorned. Love, the
sentiment of the heart, had yielded to the influence of the frivolous
ideas of society, the conventional maxims of the world. This young
maiden had not the courage to affirm in the face of all, “I love
Antonio, because he is not guilty of any crime; I love him because he
has avenged his father, because he is a true son of Corsica.” But she
had not the spirit, the strength of mind, to say this. The Corsican
blood had degenerated in her veins, or she would have felt that it was
no crime for Antonio to achieve the removal from public view of the
horrid spectacle which was a continual witness of shame and
ignominy,—exposed by a relic of barbarism, called law, to the gaze and
scorn of all who passed along the streets,—that no stain rested on the
memory of Antonio's father, because, as a husband and a father, he had
avenged the honour of his wife and his children.

A year after these events, the whole population of the village of Allari
was again astir. Its only bell clanged incessantly, and gay troops of
both sexes, in holiday dress, flocked through the streets in the
direction of the _Mairie_. It was a bright morning of the month of
April; joy floated in the air, and pleasure sparkled in every eye.
Presently, a nuptial procession was formed, and took its way towards
the church. All eyes rested on the bride and bridegroom; they did not
wear the Corsican dress, but adopted French fashions. Everything about
them betokened wealth, and an affectation of continental manners.

As soon as the procession had entered the church, the streets became
deserted; but a young man, who from an early hour had concealed himself
in the cemetery, now glided round the church, casting anxious glances on
every side, as if apprehensive of being discovered. His clothes, torn to
tatters, his unshorn beard and long, dishevelled, hair, blood-shot eyes,
and haggard countenance, betokened the extremity of anguish and want.
His feet were naked, and he carried in his hand a short rifle.

Arrived at the church door, and having glanced within, he paused for a
moment, leaning against the pillar. The nuptial ceremony had reached the
point where the minister of God, after pronouncing the mystic words,
demands of the betrothed their assent to the marriage union; when, just
as the bride was in the act of uttering the word which binds for ever
the destinies of both, the barrel of the rifle, held by the man
stationed at the door, was levelled, and the _fiancée_ fell, pierced in
the breast with a mortal wound. The man, who fired, threw down his
rifle, and, dashing into the church like one demented, took the dying
woman in his arms, and cried,—

“Madaléna, you broke your troth to me; you rendered me desperate; we die

And, unsheathing his dagger, he plunged it several times into his
breast, falling on the dying woman, who opened her eyes, and,
recognising her lover, expired with the name of “Antonio” on her lips.

Her betrothed was conveyed away by his relations, and the recollection
of this terrible scene disturbed for a long while the tranquillity of
the village. The church in which it took place was, after the
catastrophe, stripped of all its sacred ornaments, and left to decay.
Its ruins may still be seen on a point of rising ground, and, if an
inquiring traveller takes a turn behind the church, he will find in the
cemetery, on the spot where Antonio was concealed, a grave-stone
inscribed with the names of Madaléna and Antonio, surmounted by a rude
representation of a rifle and a dagger.


  _Morosaglia, Seat of the Paolis.—Higher Valley of the
    Golo.—Orography of Corsica.—Its Geology._

On crossing to the right bank of the Golo at _Ponte Nuovo_, we enter the
canton of Morosaglia, the former _piève_ of Rostino, and the home of the
Paoli family. The canton takes its present name from a Franciscan
convent, still standing, and part of it used as an elementary school,
founded by the will of Pascal Paoli.

It is about two hours' walk from Ponte Nuovo to the hamlet in which the
Paolis were born. The house is one of those gaunt, misshapen, rude
structures, built of rough stones, and blackened by age, which one sees
everywhere in the mountain villages; without even glass to the windows.
Standing on the craggy summit of an insulated rock, the access to it is
by a rough wooden staircase. Here Pascal Paoli resided, as a simple
citizen, after the manner of his fathers, polished as his manners were,
and highly as he was accomplished, after he had attained to almost
sovereign power. The rooms are so small that he transacted public
business in the neighbouring convent of Morosaglia.

There also his brother, Clemente Paoli, had a cell to which he often
retired. His was a singular character. Of a saturnine cast of
disposition, he seldom spoke to those by whom he was surrounded; a great
part of his time was spent in religious observances, and in the practice
of the most rigid austerities. In short, he was the monk when at home,
and the most intrepid warrior when engaged with the enemy of his
country. The sanctity of his private life procured him singular
veneration, and his presence in battle produced a wonderful effect on
the patriots. Even when pulling the trigger to destroy his enemy, he is
said to have prayed for the soul of his falling antagonist.[20] After
the fatal field of Ponte Nuovo, declining to follow his brother to
England, he spent twenty years in prayer and penance in the Benedictine
Abbey of Vallombrosa, that shady and sequestered retreat in the heart of
the Apennines, returning to his native Corsica only to die. Such was
Clemente Paoli. Of his brother Pasquale, a fitting place for some more
extended notice will be found at Corte, the seat of his island throne.

The country on the right bank of the river is rugged; rude _paése_ crown
the heights, and the hollows are shrouded in magnificent chestnut woods.
The mountains seen from beyond Bigorno shut in the valley of the Golo so
closely in some places, that it is a mere defile giving passage to the
river and the road. The river is a torrent, and the valley is ascended
at a sharp angle. At _Ponte à la Leccia_, we recrossed to the left bank
of the river; the valley expanded, and there was much cultivated land,
though the soil was poor. Rounded hills in the foreground were backed by
a serrated range of mountains, Monte Rotondo being just visible.

Approaching now, through the high valleys, the central region of the
mountain system of Corsica, this may be a proper place for a brief
survey of the main features in its orography and geological structure.
We have hitherto spoken of a central chain and its ramifications in a
loose manner; but it would be desirable to convey more precise ideas of
the structure of this mountain island; and, as the system happens to be
very simple and intelligible, it affords an example, on a small scale,
which may give the unscientific reader a general idea of the nature of
grander operations. Having traversed the island from north to south, and
from east to west, not without an eye to its general structure and
composition, though making no pretensions to exact scientific knowledge,
I may be able to furnish a not unfaithful digest of the observations of
the foreign geologists _Elie de Beaumont_, _Raynaud_, _Gueymard_ and
others, as I find them quoted in Marmocchi's work.


At first sight, Corsica presents the aspect of a chaos of mountains
piled one on another, with their escarped sides rising from the sea to
great elevations; but on a closer examination, and with the assistance
of an accurate map, it is soon perceived that these mountains,
apparently heaped up in wild confusion, are distinctly arranged in three
principal directions,—from north-east to south-west, from north-west to
south-east, and from north to south.

The point which forms the main link of the whole system lies high, near
the snowy sources of the Golo. This elevated part of the island, with
the districts immediately surrounding it,—an Alpine and forest region
in which the principal rivers and streams take their rise,—this region
so sublime in its vast solitudes, so poetic, so savagely wild, so
picturesque,—may be called the Switzerland of Corsica.

From this central link two great chains, forming, so to speak, the
backbone of the island, diverge in opposite directions. One section,
tending to the south-east, traverses the centre of the island, where the
Monte Rotondo and Monte d'Oro lift to the skies their ever snowy peaks,
and terminates at the Monte Incudine. This high chain throws out its
longest branches to the south-west, each of them forming at its
extremity a lofty promontory washed by the Mediterranean, and the
successive ridges inclosing delightful and fertile valleys.

The other section of the central chain describes a curved line to the
north-north-east, as far as Monte Grosso; and, over the Bevinco, links
itself with the system of Capo Corso by the offsets of Monte Antonio and
San Leonardo, by which latter _col_ we crossed the ridge on the evening
of our landing in Corsica. The spurs from this second chain take, in
general, a north-west direction towards the sea. Less considerable than
those connected with the first, they inclose narrower valleys, and form
promontories less _saillants_, and of inferior elevation on the western

The mountains of Capo Corso, extending in a chain nearly north and
south, at a short distance from the east coast, form the third
orographic division of the island; this chain, as observed in a former
chapter, being cut by deep valleys of short extent, the channels of
torrents discharging themselves into the Tuscan Sea.

Between this long chain, extending from Monte Antonio to Monte
Incudine, and the tortuous ranges detached obliquely from it, lies a
central area equal in surface to a fifth part of the whole island of
which it forms the heart—the interior. The general inclination of this
area, with the openings of the valleys, tends to the east. It does not
form one single bason, but, intersected as it is in various directions
by secondary ranges, and by mountains linking the principal chain, its
_contour_ is composed of a series of deep and generally narrow valleys,
rising one above the other. The grandest as well as the most elevated of
these basons is that of the _Niolo_, the citadel of Corsica.

These lofty mountain chains, with the numerous ramifications detached
from them, and extending in all directions, render the communications
between one place and another, between the coasts on opposite sides of
the island, extremely difficult. The passage from the western to the
eastern shore can only be effected by climbing to great elevations,
through long and narrow gorges, through deep ravines of savage aspect,
and covered with dense forests. The Corsicans give a lively idea of some
of these toilsome paths by calling them _scale_,—ladders,
staircases;—and such, indeed, they are, the steps, often prolonged for
miles, being partly the work of Nature, partly cut in the rock by the
hand of man.


In the present state of science there can be no difficulty in ascribing
the origin of the three great lines of the Corsican mountains, to which
all the others are subordinate, to three vast upheavings of the soil in
the direction they take. The order of these elevations above the
surface of the ancient sea thrice repeated in the long series of past
ages, giving the first existence to the island, and by successive
conglomerations shaping its present bold and irregular profile, may be
also distinctly traced.

The masses first raised to the surface of the sea, supposed to be of
igneous origin, lifted by the intense action of fire or subterranean
heat from vast depths, and called by English geologists “Plutonic
rocks,” as differing from “Volcanic,”—these masses constitute nearly the
whole south-western coast of Corsica, one half of the whole island.

If an ideal line be drawn diagonally from a point so far north-west as
Cape _Revellata_, near Calvi, to the point of _Araso_, far down the
south-east coast near Porto Vecchio, this primary eruption may be traced
in the several ranges, perpendicular to the ideal line and parallel with
each other, which descending to the sea in the direction of from
north-east to south-west, terminate in the principal promontories on the
western coast, and form the numerous valleys which appear in succession
from the Straits of Bonifacio to the Gulf of Porto.

Thus at the earliest epoch the principal axis of the island had its
direction from the north-west to the south-east. The Capo Corso of those
times lifted its head above the Sea of Calvi, and who can say how far
the island extended at the opposite extremity? All we know is, that the
group of rocky islets called the _Isole Cerbicale_, south-west of Porto
Vecchio, with the _Isola du Cavallo_, and that _Di Lavazzi_ off the
coast at Bonifacio; and again, the islets _Die Razzoli_ and _Budelli_ on
the opposite side of the Straits, with the larger islands of _La
Madaléna_ and _Caprera_, all of a similar formation with the primary
Corsican range,—like detached fragments of some vast ruined
structure,—appear to form the links of a chain which united Corsica with
the mountain system of the north-eastern portion of the island of

These primitive masses are almost entirely granitic; and thus, at the
epoch of its first emergence from the waters of the Mediterranean, no
spark of animal or vegetable life existed in the new island.

So also one half of the masses raised by the _second_ upheaval, having
the same general direction, are granitic. But, as we advance towards the
north-east, the granites insensibly resolve themselves into _ophiolitic_
rocks,—a name given by French geologists to certain volcanic eruptions
of the cretaceous era,—which are also found in the Morea.[21] There are
but few traces remaining of this second upheaval, which evidently laid
in ruins great part of the northern extremity of the former one, cutting
it at right angles to the east of the Gulf of Porto. This line, ranging
from the south-west to the north-east into the heart of the _Nebbio_, is
broken up and destroyed through nearly its whole length.

The disorder and ruin of these several points of the original system,
and the almost total destruction of its northern part, were undoubtedly
caused by the _third_ and last upheaval which gave the island the form
it presents at the present day. Its direction was from north to south,
and so long as the mass then raised did not come in contact with the
land created by former upheavals, it preserved its regular line, as we
find in the mountain-chain of Capo Corso. But when, on emerging above
the surface of the sea, this mass had to overcome at its southern
extremity the resistance of the primary rocks upheaved long before, and
now become hard and consolidated,—in that terrible shock, on the one
hand, it changed, crushed, or ruined all that obstructed its progress,
while, on the other, it varied its own direction and was itself broken
up in many places, as appears from the openings of the valleys
communicating from the interior with the plains of the eastern littoral
and giving a passage to the torrents which fall into the sea on this
coast,—the Bevinco, the Golo, the Tavignano, the Fiumorbo.

The fundamental rocks brought up by this third and last upheaval are
ophiolitic, and metamorphic, or primary, limestone, overlaid in some
places by secondary formations. “The granites on the west, as well as
the south, of the island include some beds of _gneiss_ and _schistes_ at
their extremities.”—(_Gueymard_). Almost everywhere the granite is
covered—an evident proof that the epoch of its eruption preceded that
when the deposits were formed in the depths of the sea, and deposited in
horizontal strata on the crystalline masses of the granite.

Masses of euritic and porphyritic rocks intersect the granites, and a
distinct formation of porphyries crowns Monte Cinto, Vagliorba, and
Pertusato, the highest summits of the _Niolo_, covering the granite.
These porphyries are pierced by greenstone two or three feet thick, and
the granites are intersected by numerous veins of amphibolite
(hornblende) and greenstone, generally running from east to west.

Transition rocks, as they are called, occupy the whole of Capo Corso and
the east of the island. They consist of talcose-schiste, bluish-grey
limestone, talc in beds, serpentine, black marble similar to the oldest
in the Alps, quartz, feldspar, and porphyries.

The tertiary strata are only found at certain points in isolated
fragments. One of these occupies the bottom of the Gulf of San Fiorenzo
and part of its eastern shore. There the beds rest with a strong
inclination against the lower declivities of the chain of Capo Corso,
rising from upwards of 600 to 900 feet above the level of the
Mediterranean,—a distinct proof that their formation at the bottom of
the sea was anterior to the upheaval of that chain, and of the whole
system of mountains having their direction north and south.

In the deep escarped valleys between San Fiorenzo and the tower of
_Farinole_, the tertiary deposits are seen in successive layers forming
beds which in some places are in the aggregate from 400 to 500 feet
thick, and the calcareous beds contain great quantities of fossil
remains of marine animals of low organisation, such as sea-urchins,
pectens, and other shells; forming a compact mass, of which the greater
part of the formation consists. The singular phenomenon of the presence
of rounded boulders of euritic porphyry, resembling that of the _Niolo_,
embedded in these strata, proves to a certainty that at an epoch
anterior to the upheaval of the system running north and south, and of
the mountains of _La Tenda_ depending on it, the high valleys of the
present bason of the Golo, and especially that of the Golo, were
prolonged to the sea.

A _second_ tertiary deposit exists near _Volpajola_, on the left bank of
the Golo, nearly eight miles from the eastern coast. The beds lying
horizontally are full of shells.

We find a third fragment of a tertiary formation on the part of the
_littorale_ stretching from the mouth of the Alistro to that of the
Fiumorbo, in the middle of which stood the ancient city of Aleria. In
some places these beds have been lifted without any sensible alteration
of their original form of deposit in horizontal strata, and throughout
they bear a close resemblance to the tertiary formation of San Fiorenzo.

A _fourth_, and more striking, example of the same formation is
exhibited at the southern extremity of the island. There we find an
horizontal _plateau_ from 200 to 300 feet high between the Gulf of
Sta-Manza and Bonifacio. The promontory on which that town and fortress
stands, and the whole adjoining coast along the straits, present exactly
the same appearances as the white chalk cliffs of Dover; and at the
_Cala di Canetta_ these calcareous rocks rise _à pic_ over the sea 150
and 200 feet. There is a perfect analogy between this formation and
those of San Fiorenzo and the Fiumorbo already mentioned. Only, this
last contains a much greater variety of fossil remains, both animal and
vegetable, consisting of lignites, oyster-shells, large pectens,
operculites, and fragments of sea-urchins, polypi, &c. We shall have an
opportunity of mentioning hereafter the curious caverns worn in the soft
calcareous rock by the force of the waves lashing this coast with so
much violence in the storms to which the Straits of Bonifacio are

Coming now to the alluvial deposits, we find them extending over the
great plains on the eastern coast of the island, the _littorale_
mentioned in an early chapter of this work. The plain of Biguglia, for
instance, was formed by one of those vast inundations which have
received the name of diluvial currents, and swept away a great number
of species of animals. In fact, we find traces of one of these
inundations in a breccia formed of the fossil bones of animals in the
hills near Bastia. Among these fossil bones Cuvier has remarked the head
of a _lagomys_, a little hare without any tail,—a species still existing
in Siberia.[22] It would too much lengthen these remarks were we to
enter on an inquiry into the age and character of these osseous breccia,
but the curious reader is referred to Lyell's “Elements”[23] for some
interesting observations on fossil mammalia found in alluvial deposits
alternating with breccia. We are not aware, however, that the hills near
Bastia are connected with volcanic action as those of Auvergne, to which
Mr. Lyell refers.

Indeed, in concluding this notice of Corsican geology, we have only to
remark that, although Corsica has no existing volcanoes, it would
appear, from fragments preserved in the cabinets of Natural History,
that, here and there, a few rare traces of extinct volcanoes of very
ancient date have been discovered, in the neighbourhood of Porto
Vecchio, Aleria, Cape Balistro, in the Gulf of Sta Manza, and some other


  _Approach to Corte.—Our “Man of the Woods.”—Casa Paoli.—The
    Gaffori.—Citadel.—An Evening Stroll._

At Ponte Francardo we left the valley of the Golo, and followed up a
stream tributary to it, among hills and woods; being now on the
outskirts of one of the great forest districts of Corsica.

When mounting the last hill in the approach to Corte we were joined by
an inhabitant of the town, who at first seemed disposed to amuse himself
at our expense. He was surprised, as we afterwards found, at meeting two
foreigners of somewhat rough exterior, without baggage or attendance,
engaged on rather a forlorn enterprise. He told us that not very long
before he had met an Englishman under similar circumstances, and related
some ridiculous stories respecting him. But as I do not believe that any
of our countrymen have been recently tourists in Corsica, I am disposed
to think that the person he made his butt was a German traveller,—a
mistake we have often found occurring in our own case in remote parts of
the Continent. We got, however, into conversation, and it turning on
forests,—a subject on which we happened to be rather at home,—finding us
to be practical people, and, much as we admired his wild country, not
inclined to over-indulgence in sentiment and romance, he altered his
tone, and even went into the opposite extreme of supposing that our
journey was connected with a speculation in timber. That being his
hobby, we soon became great friends. He informed us that he possessed
some large tracts of forest, which he should be happy to show us, and
our “man of the woods” not only performed his promise, but, being a
person of considerable intelligence, gave us much valuable information,
and rendered us many services during our stay in Corte.

    [Illustration: CORTE.]

The approach to Corte on this side is sufficiently striking, though not
so picturesque as from the point of view on the road to Ajaccio, from
which my friend's sketch, lithographed for this work, was taken. After
winding up along a steep ascent, the town suddenly burst on our sight
from the summit of the ridge. Its position is admirable. Seated nearly
in the centre of the island, in the heart of the elevated _plateau_
described in the preceding chapter, and surrounded by lofty mountains,
the passes of which admit of being easily defended, with a bold
insulated rock for the base of its almost impregnable fortress, the
houses of the town clustering round it, and, beneath, a valley of
exuberant fertility, watered by two rivers, having their confluence just
above, it seems formed to be the capital of an island-kingdom, of a
nation of mountaineers. Such it was under the government of Pascal
Paoli, and during the earlier period of the English occupation.

We entered the town by the Corso, its modern _boulevard_,—a long avenue
planted with trees. This and a suburb beyond the castle, built down the
slope of the hill towards the bridge over the Tavignano, are the only
regular streets in the place. Roomy and well-furnished apartments were
found at the Hotel Paoli on the Corso, where we met with most kind
treatment and excellent fare. My notes mention the mutton and trout as
being of superior flavour, and a very good red wine of the country. The
_confitures_—of which an _armoire_ in the _salle à manger_ contained
great store, the pride of our hostess, and the perfection of her
art—were delicious, especially one composed of slices of pear and other
fruits, larded with walnuts, and preserved in a syrup of rich
grape-juice. The coffee, of course, was excellent. Tea we found nowhere,
except from our own packets, and made, much to the general amusement, in
the coffee-pot we improvised at Bastia.

True to his appointment, our “man of the woods” called upon us after we
had dined, and accompanied us to the principal _café_. It was noisy and
disorderly, and we soon adjourned to the hotel and spent the evening in
very interesting conversation. An excursion to his forest was arranged.
He told us that it abounded in game; but it was mortifying to find that
it was out of his power to afford us any sport, the prohibition to carry
fire-arms being so rigorously enforced that no relaxation was allowed in
favour of anyone. So the _chasse_ was deferred till we landed in

The next morning was devoted to a survey of the town. The houses and
churches are mean, the only objects of interest being the Casa Paoli and
the citadel. The house inhabited by Pascal Paoli, when Corte was the
seat of his government, is but little changed, though converted into a
college founded by the general's will. It has an air of rude simplicity.
There is still the homely cabinet in which he wrote, his library, and a
laboratory. The library contained about a score of English books; but
we did not discover among them any of those presented by Boswell. In
the _salle_ are some second-rate paintings presented by Cardinal Fesch.
The college did not seem to be flourishing. Perhaps the most curious
thing in the house are some remains of the supports of a canopy for a
throne, which tradition says Pascal Paoli caused to be erected in the
_salle_ on an occasion when his council of state met, the canopy being
surmounted by a crown. If Paoli affected royalty, he received no
encouragement from his council, and never sat on the throne.

Nearly opposite is an old house formerly belonging to Gaffori, one of
the patriot leaders during the Genoese wars. Assaulted by the enemy
during the general's absence, his heroic wife, with the help of a few
adherents, barricaded the doors and windows, and, herself, gun in hand,
made such a stout resistance, rejecting all terms of capitulation, and
threatening to blow it up and bury herself in the ruins rather than
submit, that she held it for several days against all attacks, until her
husband brought a strong force to rescue her. The shot-holes made in the
walls by the fire of the assailants are still pointed out.

There is another story connected with the Gaffori family, which the
inhabitants of Corte relate with great pride. During the War of
Independence, the general's son was carried off by the Genoese and
imprisoned in the citadel of Corte, which they then held. Assaulted by
the Corsicans with great vigour, the Genoese had the inhumanity to
suspend the boy from an embrasure where the enemy's fire was the
hottest. At this spectacle the assailants paused in their attack, till
the general ordered them to continue their fire. Renucci, who works up
the story in his usual florid style, makes Gaffori exclaim, “_Pera il
figlio; pera la mia famiglia tutta, e trionfi la causa della patria._” I
prefer the version given me by a native of Corte, whose father was an
eye-witness of the scene:—“_J'étais citoyen avant que je n'étais père._”
We shuddered as we looked up from below at the battlement from which the
child was suspended. The fire was renewed with still more vigour; but
the child marvellously escaped, and the garrison was forced to

A _permis_ to visit the castle having been obtained from the French
commandant, we climbed the rocky ascent by corkscrew steps. At present,
the whole area of the rock is embraced by the fortifications which at
different periods have grown round the massive citadel on its summit,
founded by Vincintello d'Istria in the fifteenth century. Recently the
French have cleared away some old houses within the _enceinte_ to
strengthen the works.

“What can be the use,” I said to our conductor, “of strengthening this
place now?”

“_Chi sà?_” was the short reply. Our friend, like many other Corsicans
we met with, still nourished the visionary hopes which had caused his
country so much blood and misery during her long and fruitless struggles
for a national independence.

“_Là_,” said he, pointing to the _grille_ of a dungeon, “_mon père était

On going our rounds, we came to the platform of a bastion formed on the
site of some of the demolished houses.

“Here,” he said, with emotion, planting his stick on a particular spot,
“my mother gave me birth. Here we lived twenty-five years. She used to
talk of the English red-coats and the house of King George.”

It is now the residence of the family of Arrhigi, Duc de Padoue, and
contains a portrait of Madame Buonaparte, Napoleon's mother, and several
pictures connected with the events of the emperor's life.

One of the sketches in my friend's portfolio was taken in the recess of
a bastion, and it required some manœuvring to interpose our Corsican
friend's portly person between the sketcher and the French sentry, as he
passed and repassed—an office which our patriotic guide performed with
much satisfaction—while a liberty was taken contrary to the rules of
fortified places.

    [Illustration: CITADEL OF CORTE.]

The view from the top of the citadel, the centre of so magnificent a
panorama, may be well imagined. We now commanded the confluence of the
two rivers, the Tavignano and the Restonica, beneath the walls, the eye
tracing up the torrents to the gorges from which they rushed, while the
details of the town, the gardens, and vineyards, and the ruined convents
on the neighbouring hills, were brought distinctly under view; and the
mountains towered above our heads, fitting bulwarks of the island

In the evening we strolled down the eastern suburb, and, crossing the
bridge over the Tavignano, rambled on to the hill above, and the ruins
of the Franciscan convent where Paoli assembled the legislative
assembly, and in which the Anglo-Corsican parliament met while Corsica
was united to England. The lithographic sketch of Corte was taken from
beyond the bridge. Faithful as it is, one feels that neither pen nor
pencil can do justice to such a scene. Art fails to lend the colouring
of the tawny-orange vines, the pale-green olive-trees, the warm evening
tints glowing on the purple hills, the mass of shade on the mountain
sides first buried in twilight, the grey rocks, and, far away, aērial
peaks vanishing in distance.

A pleasant thing is the evening stroll on the outskirts of town or
village, where life offers so much novelty. How graceful the forms of
those girls at the fountain, dipping their pitchers of antique form and
a glossy green! Poising them on their heads with one arm raised, how
lightly they trip back to the town, laughing and talking in the sweetest
of tongues—sweet in their mouths even in its insular dialect!

A lazy Corsican is leading a goat, scarcely more bearded and shaggy than
its owner. Others, still lazier, and wrapped in the rough _pelone_
hanging from their shoulders like an Irishman's frieze coat, bestride
diminutive mules, while their wives trudge by the side, carrying
burdens of firewood or vegetables on their heads and shoulders. Waggons,
drawn by oxen and loaded with wine-casks, slowly creak along the road.

It is dusk as we lounge up the suburb, and the rude houses piled up
round the base of the citadel look gloomier than ever. Light from a
blazing pine-torch flashes from the door of a _cave_; it is a wine
vault. The owner welcomes us to its dark recesses. Smeared with the
juice of the ruddy grape, he is a very priest of Bacchus; but the
processes carried on in his cave are only initiatory to the orgies. Here
are vats filled with the new-pressed juice; there vats in the various
stages of fermentation. Jolly, as becomes his profession, he gives us to
taste the sweet must and drink the purer extract. He explains the
process, and tells us that the vintage is a fair average, though the
vine disease, the oïdion, has penetrated even into these mountains.
_Evoe Bacche!_ The fumes of the reeking cave mount to our heads, the
floor is slippery with the lees and trodden vine-leaves. We reel to the
door, glad to breathe a fresher atmosphere.

Calling at the _café_ on the Corso, not from choice but by appointment
with our “man of the woods,” we find it, as before, dirty, disorderly,
and noisy. Where, we ask ourselves, are the gentlemen of Corte? But what
has any one, above the classes who toil for a livelihood, to do in
Corte, except to lounge the long day under the melancholy elms in the
Corso, and wile away the evenings by petty gambling in its wretched


  _Pascal Paoli more honoured than Napoleon Buonaparte.—His
    Memoirs.—George III. King of Corsica.—Remarks on the
    Union.—Paoli's Death and Tomb._

The suppression of brigandage, security for life and property, the
stains of blood washed from the soil, the shame in the face of Europe
wiped out,—these are signal benefits which claim from the Corsicans a
warmer homage to the younger Napoleon than they ever paid to the first
of that name. Not even the honour of having given an emperor to France,
a conqueror to continental Europe, enlisted the sympathies, the
enthusiasm, of the islanders in the wonderful career of their
illustrious countryman. A party, a faction, the Salicete, the Arena, the
Bacchiochi, the Abatucci, rallied round him in the first steps of his
political life, and the Cervoni, the Sebastiani, soldiers of fortune, of
the true Corsican stamp, fought his battles, and were richly rewarded.
Some of his countrymen, to their honour, adhered to him to the end,
sharing his exile in St. Helena. But the great emperor was never popular
in his own country; he neither loved, nor was beloved by, his own
people. He did nothing for them, as before remarked, but construct the
great national roads; and that was purely a military measure. He left
them—designedly, it would seem—to cut one another's throats, and
despised them for their barbarism.

Pascal Paoli was, and ever will be, the popular hero of the Corsicans.
He fought their last battles for the national independence; moulded
their wild aspirations for liberty and self-government into a
constitutional form; administered affairs unselfishly, purely, justly;
encouraged industry, and checked outrage. He was a man of the people,
one of themselves, and he never forgot it; nor have they.

In an Englishman's eyes, Pascal Paoli has the additional merit of having
conceived a just idea of the advantage his country would derive from the
closest union with the only European power under whose protection a weak
State struggling for freedom could hope for repose. He did homage to our
principles, and the public feeling was with him in England as well as in

A work on Corsica that did not tell of banditti, that did not speak of
Pascal Paoli, would fail in the two points with which the name of this
island is instinctively associated. References to the great Corsican
chief have repeatedly occurred in these Rambles, connected with
localities, and may again. We have visited his birthplace, the scenes of
his last campaign and disastrous defeat, and now the seat of his
government, Corte. We must not leave it, though impatient to proceed on
our journey and by no means wishing to fill our pages with extraneous
matter, till we have linked together our desultory notices by a summary
review of the principal occurrences in Pascal Paoli's remarkable life,
and of the strange event which terminated his political career,—the
creation of an Anglo-Corsican kingdom united for a time to the British

Pascal (Pasquale) Paoli was born at Rostino on the 25th of April, 1725,
being the second son of Giacinto Paoli, one of the leaders of the
Corsican people in their last great struggle against the tyranny of the
Genoese. Compelled by the course of events to retire to Naples in 1739,
Giacinto Paoli was accompanied by his son Pascal, who, inheriting his
father's talents and patriotism, there received a finished education,
both civil and military. Being much about the court, the young Corsican
acquired, with high accomplishments, those polished manners for which he
was afterwards distinguished; and he held a commission in a regiment of
cavalry, in which he did good service in Calabria.

Recalled to Corsica in 1755, at the early age of thirty, to take the
supreme management of affairs in consequence of the divisions prevailing
among the patriot leaders, the expulsion of the Genoese became his first
duty; and he soon succeeded, at least, in freeing the interior of the
island, and confining their occupation to the narrow limits of the
fortified towns on the coasts. His next step was to remodel, or rather
to create, the civil government; and in so doing he introduced an
admirable form of a representative constitution, founded as far as
possible on the old Corsican institutions. It was, in fact, a republic,
of which Pascal Paoli was the chief magistrate, and commander of the
forces. One of the earliest acts of his administration was a severe law
for the suppression of the bloody practice of the _vendetta_, followed
in course of time by measures for the encouragement of agriculture, and
by the foundation of a university at Corte. The necessity of meeting the
Genoese on their own element led him to get together and equip a small
squadron of ships, no country being better fitted than Corsica, from its
position and resources, to acquire some share of naval power in the
Mediterranean. With this squadron, after repulsing the Genoese fleet, he
landed a body of troops in the island of Capraja, lying off the coast of
Corsica, and succeeded in wresting it from the Republic.

Intestine divisions had always been the bane of Corsican independence,
and even Paoli's just and popular administration could not escape the
rivalry of Emanuel Matra, a man of ancient family and great power, who
became jealous of Paoli's pre-eminence. All attempts at conciliation on
the part of Paoli proving useless, Matra and his adherents rose in arms,
and, calling the Genoese to their aid, it was only after a long and
bloody struggle, and some sharp defeats, that Paoli and the Nationals
were able to crush the insurrection; Matra falling, after fighting
desperately, in the battle which terminated the war.

Pascal Paoli, being now firmly seated in power, and the island, settled
under a regular form of government, growing in strength, the Genoese
found themselves unequal to cope with a brave and united people. After
some further ineffectual attempts, they once more applied to France for
succour, and engaged her to occupy the strong places in the island, as
she had already done from 1737 to 1741. French troops accordingly,
landing in Corsica, established a footing which has never been
relinquished, except during the short period of English occupation. But
by the Treaty of Compiegne, signed before the expedition sailed (1764),
the French limited their support of the Genoese to a term of four years.
During that period they maintained a strict neutrality towards the
Corsican Nationals, confining themselves to the limits of their
occupation. Their generals maintained harmonious relations with Pascal
Paoli, and, the Genoese power in the island having shrunk to nothing,
the patriots had the entire possession of the country, except the
fortified places, and the Commonwealth flourished under the firm and
active administration of its wise chief. It was at this time that James
Boswell visited the island. Residing some time with General Paoli, and
admitted to familiar intercourse with him, he collected the materials
from which he afterwards compiled “An Account of Corsica, and Memoirs of
Pascal Paoli,” published in London in 1767,—a work, the details of which
are only equalled by his _Johnsoniana_ for their minute and vivid
portraiture of his hero's life, opinions, character, and habits. The
“Account of Corsica” has been the standard, indeed the only English,
work relating to that island from that day to the present.

The time fixed by the Treaty of Compiegne for the evacuation of Corsica
by the French troops was on the point of expiring. They had already
withdrawn from Ajaccio and Calvi, when the Genoese, finding themselves
utterly incapable of retaining possession of the island, offered to cede
their rights to the king of France. This was in 1768. The Duc de
Choiseul, the minister of Louis XV., lent a willing ear to a proposal
which opened the way to the conquest of Corsica—a prize, from its
situation, its forests, its fertility, worthy the ambition of the _Grand
Monarque_. The French generals, receiving immediate orders to cross the
neutral lines, soon made themselves masters of Capo Corso, and pushed
their successes on the eastern side of the island.

Pascal Paoli, his brother Clemente, and the other national leaders, were
not wanting in this crisis of the fate of Corsica, and the people rose
_en masse_ against the overwhelming force that threatened to crush
them. The war, though necessarily short, was marked by obstinate bravery
on the part of the Corsicans. The French troops having met with many
repulses, received a signal defeat at Borgo. There is scarcely a village
in the interior that is not illustrious for its patriotic efforts at
this period. Chauvelin, the French general-in-chief, was recalled, and,
ultimately, the Count de Vaux, an officer of experience, took the field
as generalissimo of the French army, swelled by successive
reinforcements to the vast force of 40,000 men.

The great blow which decided the fate of Corsica was struck at the
battle of Ponte Nuovo, of which some particulars are given in a former
chapter.[24] This defeat entirely demoralised the island militia, and
crushed Paoli's hopes of maintaining the nationality of Corsica.
Retiring to Corte, and thence, almost as a fugitive, to Vivario, in the
heart of the mountains, though he might still have maintained a
_guerilla_ warfare against the French, he resolved to abandon a forlorn
hope, and, pressed by a large body of the enemy's troops, embarked in an
English frigate at Porto Vecchio, with his brother Clemente and 300 of
his followers.

The conquest of Corsica cost France largely both in men and money, it
appearing by the official returns, that the loss sustained in killed and
wounded was 10,721 men, while the expense of the war was estimated at 18
millions of livres. The fate of the Corsicans met with general sympathy.
Rousseau on this occasion accused the French people of the basest love
of tyranny:—“_S'ils savoient un homme libre à l'autre bout du monde, je
crois qu'ils y iroient pour le seul plaisir de l'exterminer._”

After a short stay in Italy, Pascal Paoli proceeded to England, landing
at Harwich on the 18th of September, 1769. The succeeding twenty years
of his life were spent in London. He was well received by the king and
queen, and the ministers paid him the attention due to his rank and
services. But, though an object of much general interest, he shunned
publicity, living in Oxford Street in a dignified retirement. He joined,
however, in good society, and associated with the most eminent literary
men of the day, among whom it was observed that his talents and
accomplishments as much fitted him to shine, as at the head of his
patriotic countrymen. Boswell had the happiness of introducing him to
Johnson, and revelled in the glory of exhibiting his two lions on the
same stage.

The French Revolution opened the way for Pascal Paoli's return to
Corsica, with the prospect of again devoting himself to the service of
his country under a constitutional monarchy, the form of government he
most approved. At Paris, the unfortunate Louis XVI. and his queen
received him with marks of favour, La Fayette greeted him as a brother,
and the National Assembly gave him an enthusiastic reception. He was
named President of the Department of Corte and Commander of the National

Landing in Corsica, amidst the congratulations of his countrymen, all
flocked round him, and mothers raised their babes in their arms that
they might behold the common father of their country. The hopes of the
Corsicans again revived; for, if they had not a national and independent
government, they were members of a free state, with the man of their
choice to administer affairs.

Paoli was, however, soon disgusted with the excesses of the French
Revolution, and, like all citizens of distinguished merit, he fell under
the suspicions of the, so-called, Committee of Public Safety. Summoned
to the bar of the National Convention, and declining to appear, he was
proclaimed an enemy of the Republic, and put out of the protection of
the law. Preparations were made for exterminating the Paolists, who flew
to arms, resolved once more to assert the nationality of the Corsican
people, and throw off their dependence on France. But intestine
divisions again weakened the efforts of the patriots, and Corsica was
divided into two parties—the Paolists and the Republicans; the
Buonaparte family at this time supporting the patriot chief.

In the face of the new invasion threatened by the French Republic, Paoli
perceived that there was nothing to be done but to call the English,
whose fleet hovered on the coast, to the aid of the Nationals, and place
the island under British protection. The firstfruits of this alliance
were the reduction of San Fiorenzo and the surrender of Bastia to the
bold attack of Nelson already described.[25] The fall of these
fortresses was succeeded by the siege of Calvi, in which Nelson also
distinguished himself; and on the reduction of that place—Ajaccio and
Bonifacio being already in the hands of the patriots—the French troops
withdrew from the island.

Corsica being once more free to establish a national government, the
representatives of the people, assembled in a convention at Corte on the
14th of June, 1794, accepted a constitution framed by Pascal Paoli, in
conjunction with Sir Gilbert Elliot, the British Plenipotentiary. By
this national act the sovereignty of Corsica was hereditarily conferred
on the King of Great Britain with full executive rights; the legislative
power, including especially the levying of taxes, being vested in an
assembly called a parliament, composed of representatives elected in the
several _pièves_ and towns. All Corsicans of the age of twenty-five
years, possessed of real property (_beni fondi_), and domiciled for one
year in a _piève_ or town, were entitled to vote at the elections. The
king's consent was required to give force to all laws, and he had the
prerogative of summoning, proroguing, and dissolving the parliament. A
viceroy, appointed by the sovereign, with a council and secretary of
state, were to execute the functions of government. The press was to be
free. In short, the kingdom of Corsica—so called even under the dominion
of the Genoese Republic—was to be a limited monarchy, with institutions
nearly resembling those of Great Britain, except that there was no House
of Peers.

The subject has some interest, even at this present day, as showing how
the principles of a limited monarchy were adapted by such a man as
Pascal Paoli to a _quasi_-Italian nation, than which none could be more
ardent in their love of freedom, or have made greater struggles in its
cause. The Constitutional Act[26] will be found in the appendix to Mr.
Benson's work. It is curious also to find that in the time of our
George III. a kingdom in the Mediterranean was as closely united to the
Crown of Great Britain, as the kingdom of Ireland was at that time.

Sir Gilbert Elliot was appointed viceroy. Unfortunately, with the best
dispositions, his government was not administered with the tact required
to conciliate so irascible a people as the Corsicans. While the viceroy
was personally esteemed and beloved, he pursued a course of policy
little calculated to calm the irritation which speedily arose. Pascal
Paoli felt disappointment at not having been nominated viceroy, and was
suspected of secretly fomenting the disaffection to the government. So
far from this, he published an address to his countrymen, endeavouring
to allay the ferment, and induce obedience to the English authorities.
Jealousy, however, of his great and well-earned influence over the
Corsicans appears to have led to his removal from the island. Towards
the close of the year 1795 the king's command that he should repair to
England was conveyed to him, couched, however, in gracious terms. He
immediately obeyed, and arrived in London towards the end of December.

No sooner had Paoli departed than discontent assumed a more alarming
form. His presence and example had kept many calm who had been secretly
hostile to the English, but who now openly displayed their animosity.
Petitions were presented to the viceroy by some of the leading
inhabitants assembled at Bistuglio, declaring the grounds of Corsican
opposition, and proposing means of conciliation; while many bodies of
the disaffected assembled in the wild neighbourhood of Bocagnono. These
disorders, coupled with the mutual distrust with which the Corsicans and
English viewed each other, finally led to the abandonment of the island
by the latter; and, accordingly, between the 14th and 20th of October,
1796, the viceroy and troops, under the protection of Nelson, embarked
for Porto Ferrajo, leaving the island once more a prey to French

Foreign writers sneer at the ignorance and mismanagement which so soon
alienated the minds of the Corsicans from those whom they had lately
hailed as their liberators and protectors; and it may perhaps be
lamented that so noble a dependency of the British Crown was thus lost.
Its commanding position in the Mediterranean, its fine harbours and
magnificent forests, made it a most desirable position, at least during
the revolutionary war. Such was Nelson's opinion, expressed in a letter
to his wife when a descent on the coast was first contemplated. Added
to these, its products of corn, wine, and oil, capable of almost
indefinite augmentation under a good system of government, gave it great
value as a permanent possession. What are Malta and Gibraltar? Merely
rock fortresses, compared with such an island, capable of defence by the
bravest people in the world, and possessed of such resources that, so
far from being a burden on the finances, a very considerable surplus of
the revenue now flows into the Imperial exchequer. Nothing was wanting
but to reconcile the natives to the rule of their new masters, making
it, as it constitutionally professed to be, national. This was doubtless
a difficult task with a spirited people, alien in race, religion, and
habits. The ministers of the day committed a great error in not giving
the vice-royalty to Pascal Paoli. He was a thorough Anglo-Corsican, and
perfectly understood the working of a constitutional government. The
union had been his policy, and he alone could have carried it out.

Whether the annexation of the island to the British Empire would have
survived the deliberations of the Congress of Vienna is another
question. One does not see why it should not have done so. We retained
the Ionian Islands, less important in many respects, and with a
population as turbulent, it seems, and as alien, as the Corsicans. The
possession of Corsica by the Bourbons was very recent, and acquired by
the most flagrant injustice. The French were scarcely more popular than
the English with the national party; nor are they, according to the
impression made during our Rambles, at the present day. The island had
been offered to Napoleon, and might have become his island-empire. Had
it even followed the fate of Genoa, its former mistress, and been
assigned to Sardinia, there would be reason now for all friends of
constitutional government to rejoice; and the Corsicans, essentially an
Italian people, would more easily have amalgamated with their rulers.

However, these are mere speculations. Pascal Paoli's retirement left his
native island no resource but submission to the French, and it became
once more a department of France, one and undivided. On his return to
England, Paoli had a small pension from the English Government, which he
shared with other exiles from his own country. Little is known of the
latter years of his life. He probably resumed, as far as his advanced
years admitted, the habits he had formed during his former residence in
London. He died there, on the 25th of February, 1807, at the age of
eighty-two, and was interred in the burial-ground of Old St. Pancras. It
is ground especially hallowed in the estimation of Roman Catholics; and
if any reader should chance to turn his steps in that direction, he will
be surprised to see what a large proportion of the monuments and
gravestones in the vast area are inscribed to the memory of foreigners
of all ranks, who, during a long course of years, have ended their days
in London. The little antique church, too—one of the oldest, if not the
oldest, in London—is well worth a visit, as an interesting specimen of
Romanesque architecture, well restored a few years ago.

In the south-western corner of the churchyard, not far from the boundary
wall, he will find a rather handsome tomb marking the spot in which the
remains of the great Corsican are deposited. It bears on one face a long
Latin inscription, said to have been penned by one of his countrymen,
and the east slab bears a coronet, on what authority we are at a loss
to conceive. So also the more humble monument of Theodore of Corsica at
St. Anne's, Soho, is dignified with a shadowy crown. The mock king
created Giacinto Paoli, Pascal's father, and one of his first ministers
of state, a marquis or count. Can it be that, under that patent, Pascal
Paoli assumed the insignia of nobility in his intercourse with the
courtly circles of London? Was it a weakness in the man of the people,
who, simple as his general habits were, had high breeding, and, as we
learn from Boswell's gossip, was not entirely free from aristocratic
tendencies,—nay, is said to have aspired to a royal crown?[27] Or is the
coronet on his tomb an unauthorised device of the officious friends who
are said to have spent 500_l._ in giving the exile a pompous funeral?

Peace to his memory! In death, as in life, his heart was with the people
he had loved and served so well. Still caring for their best interests,
by a codicil to his will he appropriated the annual sum of 200_l._ to
the endowment of four professors in a college he proposed to found at
Corte. They were to teach—1st. The Evidences of Christianity;—2nd.
Ethics and the Laws of Nations;—3rd. The Principles of Natural
Philosophy;—and 4th. The Elements of Mathematics. He also bequeathed a
salary of 50_l._ to a schoolmaster in his native _piève_ of Rostino, who
was to instruct the children in reading, writing, and arithmetic. It
appears to have been the object of Mr. Benson's journey to Corsica to
carry into effect these wise and benevolent provisions, and Paoli's
bequests to his poor relations.

Paoli said when dying:—“My nephews have little to expect from me; but I
will bequeath to them, as a memorial and consolation, this Bible—saying,
‘I have never seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging their


  _Excursion to a Forest.—Borders of the
    Niolo.—Adventures.—Corsican Pines.—The Pinus Maritima and Pinus
    Luriccio.—Government Forests._

Our excursion to the forest came off on the day before we left Corte,
under the auspices of our “man of the woods.” He procured us mules, and
our hostess supplied a basket of provisions and wine; for it promised to
be a hard day's work, carrying us far into the heart of the mountains.

Leaving Corte by the Corso, we soon turned up a valley to the left,
winding among hills of no great elevation and cultivated to their
summits. Not much farther than a mile from the town, we passed a lone
house, the door of which was riddled with bullets. The brigands attacked
it not long before. It was an affair, I believe, of summary justice for
some trespass on property.

“No one was safe,” said our conductor, “two years ago, outside the town.
If you had been in the island then, you would have seen half Corsica
armed to the teeth.”—

“The disarming has been complete, for since our landing we have only
once seen fire-arms except in the hands of the military. Then the
banditti, of whom we have heard more than enough, no longer exist?”

“No; they have been shot down, brought to justice, or driven out of the
island. Many of them escaped to Sardinia; if you go there, you will
find things just in the same state they were here; perhaps worse, if our
outlaws are roaming there. I will tell you, some time, the story of the
last of the banditti. Not far from hence they fell in a desperate
conflict with the gendarmes.”

The hollows between some of the hills among which we wound were
embosomed in chestnut-trees, and the husks were beginning to burst and
shed the nuts on the ground.

“The harvest is approaching,” said our guide. “Soon every house will
have great heaps gathered in for the winter's store.”

We were on the borders of the mountainous district of the _Niolo_, the
most primitive, not only geologically, as we have lately seen, but in
point of manners, of any in Corsica. This it owes to its sequestered
situation, hemmed in by the southern branch of the great central chain.
It is approached by difficult paths and steps hewn out of the rock, the
best being the pass of the _Santa Regina_. The interior of the bason is,
however, extremely fertile. We had now in view the Monte Cinto and Monte
Artica, the principal summits of the Niolo group, nearly 8000 feet high;
and from part of our route Monte Rotondo was seen rising, with its snowy
crest, a thousand feet higher, further to the south.

The country now assumed a wilder and more rugged character, cultivation
disappeared, and the surface was either rocky or thickly covered with
the natural shrubbery so often mentioned. Once more we were in the
_Macchia_, threading it by a rough and narrow path. Flocks of sheep and
goats were browsing among the bushes; and the sight of rude shepherds'
huts, with their blazing fires, gave us to understand that we had
reached the wilds beyond human habitation. At last, a steep ascent
through the thickets by a slippery path surmounted a ridge commanding
the prospect of one flank of a mountain, the forest property of our “man
of the woods.” A furious torrent, its natural boundary, tumbled and
dashed in its rocky channel far beneath. Our mules slid down the almost
precipitous descent clothed with dense underwood; we forded the stream,
and met our friend's forester, who was expecting our arrival, and had
shouted to us as we crossed the ridge.

A storm of rain poured down in torrents while we were clambering up the
opposite heights, making for shelter with as much speed as such an
ascent permitted. Our place of refuge was a well-known haunt of the
shepherds and banditti. It could not be called a cave, but was a hollow
under a mass of insulated rock, worn away in the disintegrated granite,
the harder shell of which formed an umbrella-shaped canopy, protecting
us from the rain. It was miserably cold; but there were no dry materials
at hand for lighting a fire, though the blackened rock and heaps of
ashes and half-burnt logs looked very tempting.

Under such circumstances, the best thing to be done was to apply
ourselves to the contents of Madame ——'s basket, as we had still harder
work before us. The contents were just displayed when my
fellow-traveller made his appearance. I had lost sight of him in the
bush while hurrying on, he having dismounted, and left his mule to be
led up by a shepherd. He, too, had sought shelter in the nearest rock he
could find. It had a cavity with a low aperture, into which he thrust
himself head-foremost. What was his surprise at beholding a pair of
eyes glaring at him through the gloom! The thing—whether it were man or
beast he could not at the moment distinguish—shrunk back. He, too,
recoiled and made a sudden exit. Presently he saw a pair of legs
protruding on the further side of the rock, which it appeared was
perforated from both extremities, and the thing, serpent-like, gradually
wriggled itself out. Then stood erect, shaggy and rough as a wild beast
startled from its lair, one of the shepherd boys, who had also crept
into the cavity for refuge from the storm. He cast one look of
astonishment at the intruder, turned round, and, leaping into the bush,
disappeared without uttering a word.

“Perhaps he took you for a detective in plain clothes, conscience-struck
for having assisted to harbour the proscribed brigands!”

Our meal despatched, and the weather clearing, we began clambering up a
mountain side, as steep as the ridge of a house; and the mules, being
useless, were sent down in charge of the muleteer to the ford of the
torrent. Signor F——'s forest spread over the whole face of the mountain,
and how much further he best knew. We understood that he had a larger
tract in another direction.

Trackless pine forests—some belonging to the communes, others to private
individuals,—clothe the lower ranges of the mountains through all this
part of the island. Vizzavona, which we crossed on our way to Ajaccio,
and Aitona, lying to the south-west of the Niolo, belong to the State,
and the French Admiralty draw from them large supplies of timber shipped
to Toulon; especially the finest masts used in their navy. The Corsican
pine-forests have been famous from early times. Theophrastus[28]
mentions a ship built by the Romans with this timber, of such large
dimensions as to carry fifty sails; and Sextus Pompeius, seizing this
island as well as Sicily and Sardinia, drew from its forests the means
of maintaining his naval supremacy.

Our “man of the woods” appeared to have hardly earned, and well to
merit, the noble property in the possession of which he rejoiced. Yet he
described himself as poor in the midst of his seeming wealth,
impoverished to get together vast tracts of country, from which, at
present, he received no return. His object was to obtain a market for
sale of his timber, which he said could be floated down the rivers to
the sea-coast at a moderate expense. Having seen, as we had, the
Norwegian timber floating down rivers, precipitated over rapids, and
rafted over immense lakes, during a _flottage_ to the sea which it
sometimes takes two years to accomplish[29], we could find no difficulty
in believing that advantage might be taken of the rivers on either
watershed of the central chain in Corsica, to bear this, the only wealth
of these elevated regions, to the coast, which is nowhere more than
about fifty miles distant. Of the anchorage and depth of water at the
mouths of the rivers, I have no precise information, except so far that
Signor F—— assured us there would be no difficulty in shipping his

I had not counted on such an exhausting effort as climbing a thousand
feet nearly perpendicular on the rocky and rugged surface of a mountain
forest in Corsica demanded. Accustomed to traverse some of the finest
pine-forests of Norway in a light _carriole_ on excellent roads, or to
canter along their avenues on little spirited horses, its native breed,
without any feeling of fatigue, I had imagined our present enterprise to
be much easier than it proved. Indeed, had it not been that the tangled
roots of the pines, forming a network on the denuded surface of the
rocks, afforded secure footing and a firm hold, and that, clasping the
giant stems, one could take breath on the edge of the shelving cliffs, I
should never have scrambled, and pulled myself, up to the summit.

    [Illustration: PINUS MARITIMA.]

    [Illustration: PINUS LARICCIO.]

    [Illustration: CONE OF THE PINUS LARICCIO.]

Our “man of the woods,” notwithstanding his great bulk, was agile as a
mountain-goat, leaping from crag to crag, and striking off in every
direction where he could show us trees of the largest growth. Marmocchi
mentions four species of the pine in his catalogue of the indigenous
trees growing in Corsica. Of two of these, _Pinus Pinea_ (the stone
pine), and _Pinus Sylvestris_ (our common Scotch fir), I did not remark
any specimens in the forests we had an opportunity of examining, nor do
they equal the others in grandeur and value. But both the _Pinus
Lariccio_ and the _Pinus Maritima_ are magnificent trees. They were
mingled in the forest I am now describing, the _Lariccio_ prevailing.

The _Pinus Maritima_, so well known to all travellers in Italy and
Greece, and to others by its picturesque effect in the landscapes of
Claude, has often its trunk clear of boughs till near the top, which
spreads out in an umbrella-shaped head, with a dense mass of foliage;
and, where the stem is not so denuded, the tree has the same rounded
contour of boughs. Both are figured and described in Lambert's
magnificent work on the GENUS PINUS; but, unfortunately, from very
insignificant specimens; those of the Pinus Maritima being taken from a
tree at Sion House, only twenty feet high. The spines of the Pinus
Maritima are longer than those of the Pinus Lariccio, and the branches
more pensile. The engravings for the present work are from specimens
brought from Corsica. Mr. Lambert's description, however, coincides with
my own observations in the Corsican forests. He says:—“The branches are
very numerous, and bear long filiform leaves. The cones are nearly the
same size as Pinus Rigida. They are so remarkably smooth and glossy,
that they at once distinguish their species. In shedding their seeds,
they seem to expand very little.”[30] Mr. Lambert considers it to be the
same species as the πεύκος, _Pinus Picea_ of Greece, which grow on the
high mountains, Olympus, Pindus, Parnassus, &c.; and quotes an extract
from Dr. Sibthorp's papers, published in Walpole's _Turkey_, remarking
that the πεύκος furnished a useful resin, used in Attica to preserve
wine from becoming acid, and supplying tar and pitch for shipping. “The
resinous parts of the wood,” he says, “are cut into small pieces, and
serve for candles.”

The _Pinus Lariccio_ is more disposed to retain its lower branches than
the Pinus Maritima, and has a more angular character both in the boughs
and the footstalks of its tassels. The spines are shorter. The boughs
slightly droop, but by no means in the degree of the spruce fir or the
_larch_. From this circumstance, however, it probably derives its name,
though it has nothing else in the slightest degree common with the
larch; and writers who speak of the “Corsican larch” betray their
readers into serious error. The Pinus Lariccio is figured in Mr.
Lambert's work from two specimens in the Jardin des Plantes at Paris,
about thirty feet high and three feet in girth, in 1823. Their age is
not mentioned. Don, quoted in this work, remarks that “this pine is
totally distinct from all the varieties of Pinus Sylvestris, with which,
however, it in some respects agrees. It differs in the branches being
shorter and more regularly verticellate. The leaves are one-third
longer; cones shorter, ovate, and quite straight, with depressed scales,
opening freely to shed the seed. The wood is more weighty, resinous,
and, consequently, more compact, stronger, and more flexible than Pinus
Sylvestris. Its bark is finer and much more entire.” The Pinus Lariccio
is also at once distinguishable from the Pinus Maritima growing in the
same forest, by the bark alone. Drawings are here given of (1) the
exterior and (2) interior coats, from specimens brought from Corsica.
They are very thick, and peel off in large flakes, the inner layer being
most delicately veined, and of a rich crimson hue.

    [Illustration: BARK OF THE PINUS LARICCIO.]

“I observed,” says Mr. Hawkins, quoted by Lambert, “on Cyllene,
Taygetus, and the mountains of Thasos, a sort of fir, which, though
called πεύκος by the inhabitants, and resembling that of the lower
regions, has the foliage much darker, and the growth of the tree more
regular and straight. The elevated region on which it grew leads me to
suspect it must be different from the common πεύκος.”[31] Mr. Lambert
adds:—“The Pinus Lariccio is, I have no doubt, the tree here mentioned,
especially as it is known to grow in Greece, and has been found by Mr.
Webb near the summit of Mount Ida, in Phrygia.”[32] We are inclined,
however, to think that this remark requires confirmation by more exact

The Pinus Lariccio grows to a greater height than the Pinus Maritima. In
this forest Signor F—— estimated some of the finest specimens of the
latter at from sixty to seventy feet in length, while those of the
Lariccio could not be less than 120 feet, and perhaps more, with an
average circumference of about nine feet. Some little experience enabled
us to confirm this estimate.

But these dimensions are often exceeded. In the neighbouring forest of
Valdianello, which, again, abuts on that of Aitona, the chief of the
government reserves, there lately stood a Pinus Lariccio, called by the
Corsicans “_Le Roi des Arbres_.” At five feet from the ground its girth
was upwards of nineteen feet. The height of the tree is not mentioned.
The king of the forest is dead, but it boasts a successor worthy of its
honours, the girth being, as Marmocchi relates on report, twenty-six
feet at one mètre (three feet three inches) from the ground, and only
reduced to twenty-one feet where the trunk is fifty-eight feet high.
Its entire height is 150 feet, and its branches cover a circumference
nearly 100 feet in diameter.

These dimensions are large for European pines, about averaging those of
the Norwegian. Growing in a rocky soil, I can easily believe that the
timber is, as represented, extremely durable. It was surprising to see
in Signor F——'s forest trees of such magnitude springing from fissures
in the granite cliffs, and from ledges of rocks having only a scanty
covering of barren soil. The growth must be slow; by counting the rings
in some of the fallen trees, I calculated that they had stood about two
centuries. The choicest specimens were usually grouped on some platform,
or in hollows of the precipitous cliffs. In these positions they are
often exposed to the worst of enemies, such spots being the haunts of
the brigands and shepherds; and it was lamentable to observe the
destruction caused by their fires in all parts of the wood. Huge
half-burnt logs lay at the foot of some of the finest pines, and the
flames had not only scorched all vegetation within reach, but eaten into
the heart of the trees.

This may be considered as one of the few virgin forests remaining in
Corsica. The vast consumption by the Genoese, and afterwards by the
French, governments, has greatly exhausted the forests; and it is only
in the inaccessible parts of the country, where there are no roads, that
timber of large dimensions is found. Even here they were felling the
smaller trees, sawing them into planks, and carrying them away on mules,
one plank balancing another on each side of the pack-saddle. We ventured
to suggest to our “man of the woods” the advantages of sawmills, a
machinery of the simplest possible construction, adopted in North
America, Norway, and all forest countries, where, as here, there is
abundant water-power. All such industrial resources are wanting in
Corsica, but our friend was too shrewd not to be alive to the value of
the suggestion.

Our course through the forest had led us round to the flank of the
mountain, shelving down to the torrent we forded on our arrival. A
descent is generally considered an easy affair: so we found this in
comparison with the ascent; but the declivity was formidable, there
being no sort of path, and we had to work our way over and amongst huge
masses of rock and slippery boulders, and jumping from crag to crag,
sliding, rolling, and tumbling, not without some severe falls, we at
last reached the bottom.

Remounting our mules, a very pleasant change—active, light-stepping
beasts as they were,—we rode slowly on our return to Corte, often
looking back at the broad forest-clad mountains, with the snowy dome of
Monte Rotondo in the distance. Signor F——, anxious to supply us with all
the information we required, lost no opportunity of pointing out
remarkable objects.

“Do you see that _paése_?” he said, pointing to some grey buildings
about five miles off, on the right bank of the Golo; “that is Soveria,
the birth-place of Cervione, one of Napoleon's best generals. He fell in
the battle of Ratisbon. His last words to the emperor, when ordered on a
desperate attack,” said our friend, with Corsican feeling “were, ‘_Je
vous recommande ma famille_.’”

Valery relates an amusing anecdote of this General Cervione. Having the
command at Rome, which he exercised with great severity, it became his
duty to convey the order to Pope Pius VII. for abdicating his temporal
power and being sent away, which he executed harshly. When Pius VII.
was afterwards at the Tuileries, Cervione, with other generals, came to
pay him his respects. The pope, struck by his pure Italian
pronunciation, complimented him on it. “_Santo Padre_,” said Cervione,
“_sono quasi Italiano._”—“_Come?_”—“_Sono Corso._”—“_Oh! oh!_”—“_Sono
Cervione._”—“_Oh! oh! oh!_” At this terrible recollection the pope
shrank aghast, hastily retreating to the fireside.

“Further on,” said our conductor, “I see it plainly, there is an old
grey house on the top of a rock; a poor place, but the birthplace of
Pascal Paoli. He resided there after he became our chief, but would not
have the home of his fathers altered.”

Near Soveria is Alando, the native place of Sambuccio, the patriot
leader in the first insurrection against the Genoese. All the
neighbourhood of Corte is classic ground in Corsican history.

We returned there to a late dinner.


  _The Forest of Asco.—Corsican Beasts of Chase.—The
    Moufflon.—Increase of Wild Animals.—The last of the Banditti._

Our good “man of the woods” joined us at dinner. It was a just source of
pride to him that he had shown his magnificent forest to foreigners as
enthusiastic as himself, and who might, perhaps, forward his designs for
making it profitable. In this view he now wrote the subjoined

We had already inquired what sport such covers afforded, and the account
given of deer and wild boars, not to speak of smaller game, was very
tempting. There were bears in the forests in the time of Flippini the
historian, but for the last century they have been extinct. There are no
wolves; but the foxes are plentiful, and so strong that they venture to
attack the flocks of sheep and goats. The Corsican _cerf_ is like the
red deer. Their colour is ferruginous. In size they are a little larger
than fallow deer with a heavier body, and stronger horns, springing
upright, spreading less than any other variety, and slightly palmated.
Both male and female have a dark line down the back, rump, and scut. The
_moufflon_ or _muffori_ is a most curious animal, almost peculiar, I
believe, to this island and Sardinia, though a variety of the species is
found in Morocco. Something between a sheep, a deer, and a goat, the
male has spiral horns like a goat, rather turned back, with the legs and
hind-quarter of a goat, but the head of a sheep. The colour is a reddish
brown, with some admixture of black and white, brown predominating. The
skin is fine-grained, not woolly but fine-haired, like a deer. It is
extremely agile, jumping from rock to rock with surprising leaps, and so
wild that, like the chamois and the reindeer, it frequents only the
highest mountains, close to the snow-line, in summer, descending, as the
snow extends, to lower regions. When the winters are very severe, and
the snow covers the ground, it is driven into some of the higher
valleys, and has been known to take refuge in the stables among the tame
sheep and goats. The _moufflon_ goes in troops of from four to twenty.
The females drop their young on the edge of the snow in the month of
May. There are full-grown specimens of the _moufflon_ in the Zoological
Gardens, Regent's Park, and in the _Jardin de Plantes_, at Paris.

Of smaller game, Corsica abounds in hares and red partridges, the only
species found in the island. In winter there are woodcocks, snipes, and
water-fowl, and a _grande chasse_ of thrushes, which, feeding on the
berries of the arbutus, the lentiscus, and the myrtle, become very fat,
have a fine flavour, and are esteemed a great delicacy.

But all these varieties of game were forbidden fruit, as a _permis_ to
carry fire-arms could not be obtained by any class of persons, or for
any purpose whatever. The shepherds have only their dogs to protect
their flocks. If the prohibition continues long, the wild animals must
become the pest of the island, and with their natural increase there
will be splendid shooting when the use of fire-arms is again allowed.
But for the hope of better sport in Sardinia, we thought of getting up a
boar hunt, with spears, in the fashion so picturesquely seen in old
pictures, and a much more spirited affair than shooting pigs. For deer
and birds there is nothing left but to fall back on bows and arrows, as
long as the Corsicans cannot be trusted with fire-arms, lest the _genus
homo_ should be their prey.

It was the last evening we spent with our “man of the woods.” He was
very communicative, and, among other things, told us many stories of the
heroic deeds of his countrymen in former times, and of the wild life of
Corsica, which has only just expired. I preserve one of his tales,
relating a recent event, which happily closes the bloody chapter of
Corsican banditism.

_The Last of the Banditti._

Two brothers, Pierre-Jean and Xavier-Saverio Massoni, men of
extraordinary vigour and desperate courage, banded with Arrhigi, another
determined outlaw, had for many years been the terror of the wild
district of the _Niolo_ in which they harboured, and of the neighbouring
country. Many were the families they had reduced to misery by cutting
off their fathers and brothers; but they had numerous friends, whom they
protected. They shared the scanty fare of the shepherds in the
mountains, and the people entertained them in their houses; some, _par
amitié_, with cordiality and kindness, others from fear. Such was the
renown of these banditti chiefs that the authorities used every effort
to exterminate them, offering large rewards for their heads, and
threatening with severe penalties any who should supply them with the
means of existence.

At length a shepherd, who had received some injury from one of the band,
betrayed their hiding-place in the fastnesses of the _Niolo_ to the
_gendarmes_. Led by him through tracks known only to the shepherds and
banditti, before daylight on a morning of the month of October, 1851, a
body of the _gendarmerie_, twenty or thirty in number, reached the
neighbourhood in which the three resolute bandits were concealed. It was
a place called Penna-Rosa, near Corscia, a village in the canton of
Calacuccia, not very far from Corte.

The bandits are in the habit of separating for their greater security.
At this time Pierre Massoni was alone in one of the caves among the
rocks; Xavier Massoni and Arrhigi together occupied another. The
_gendarmes_, as active and resolute as the banditti, their mortal foes,
with whom they often had desperate encounters, crept towards the cave
occupied by Pierre, who, seeing the disparity of numbers, crept into the
bush, and attempted to escape, probably intending to join his friends,
and with them make a determined resistance. The _gendarmes_ fired a
volley, and Pierre fell mortally wounded.

Xavier and Arrhigi had, somehow, received intelligence of the approach
of the _gendarmes_, and hastening to the spot found them posted in front
of the cave. A shot from each of the brigands brought down two of their
enemies; and during the confusion caused by this unexpected diversion,
the _gendarmes_ drawing off, Xavier Massoni, supposing that his brother
was concealed in the cave, shouted to him—

“Pierre, come out; I have cleared the way.”

This cry drew the attention of the _gendarmes_, and at the same moment
he was shot in the thigh by one of the party. A general fire was then
opened, but Xavier contrived to creep into the bush, and afterwards made
his escape over the mountains, while Arrhigi fled for refuge to a deep
and almost inaccessible cavern. The party followed him, and posted
themselves, under cover of the rocks, near the mouth of the cave into
which they supposed he had retired, for they had not seen him enter; and
as the access was so narrow that it could only be attempted by one at a
time, the attempt to reconnoitre would have been certain death.

The _gendarmes_, though numbering at least twenty to one, thus held at
bay by one man, the bravest of the brave, sent a messenger to Corte to
demand a reinforcement. Four hundred troops were detached for this
service. They were accompanied by the _sous-préfet_, the _procureur
imperial_, a captain of engineers, and men with ammunition to blow up
the cave. It was a four hours' march from Corte, and they arrived late
in the day.

Meanwhile the _gendarmes_ beleaguered the spot, keeping under cover. The
brave Arrhigi kept close, watchful no doubt. He must have had a stout
heart; but we do not paint, we only give the leading details; the
reader's imagination will supply the rest.

At length the troops marched up. A French _gendarme_, boldly or
incautiously, approached the entrance; he was shot dead on the spot.
Then, no doubt was left that Arrhigi was there. Either to spare life, or
because no one was found bold enough to lead the forlorn hope in
storming the entrance, it was resolved to blow up the cave. The
engineers set to work, a shaft was sunk from above, a barrel of
gunpowder was lodged in it—the explosion was ineffectual; it left the
massive vault and sides of the narrow cavern as firm as ever. It was too
deep to be reached without regular mining. Besides, the night was
bitter, and the whole party shaking with cold.

Engineering operations were abandoned. As they could neither beard the
bandit in his den, nor blow him up, it was determined to starve him out.
The troops bivouacked, fires were lighted, and sentinels posted. The
siege was converted into a blockade, all in due military order.

“_Centinelle, prend garde à vous!_” was passed from post to post.
“_Centinelle, prend garde à moi!_” answered the bold Arrhigi from his
rocky hold.

The blockade was maintained for five days and four nights, not without
some loss on the part of the besiegers, for Arrhigi opened fire from
time to time, as opportunity offered, and no less than seven of his
enemies were struck down by his unerring bullets. Some were wounded.

“Brave soldiers of Napoleon,” cried Arrhigi, “carry off your wounded
comrades, who want your assistance.”

It seems extraordinary that 400 troops should be held at bay by a single
man for so long a period; but such was the fact. Perhaps the officials
hoped to take him alive, or they might wish to spare a further effusion
of blood in actual conflict with the desperate bandit. Arrhigi's cavern
had a small store of provisions and some gourds of water. When these
were expended, he resolved on making a last effort to force his way
through the troops. Could he have stood out a day longer, he might
probably have escaped, as the weather became so tempestuous that it
would have been impossible for them to maintain their exposed position
in those bleak mountains.

On the fourth night, just before the dawn of day, he made the attempt.
Dashing from the cavern, and shooting down the nearest sentries right
and left with his double-barrelled gun, he gained the thickets. An alarm
was raised, and there was a general pursuit. Arrhigi fled towards the
Golo, intending, probably, to place that river between him and his
pursuers. It was now daylight, and they were upon him before he reached
it. Again brought to bay, he took his stand sheltered by a rock. The
soldiers cried out to him to surrender; but the resolute bandit,
refusing quarter, continued to resist till he was shot through the head.

We left Xavier Massoni escaping into the _maquis_, but slightly wounded
in the thigh. The _gendarmes_ were so occupied with his brother Pierre
and Arrhigi, that he reached, unpursued, a distant forest in the heart
of the mountains. Soon, however, an officer of the _Gendarmerie Corse_,
with a detachment of forty or fifty men, was laid on his track. After
seven days they discovered the lone cave in which, the last of his band,
he had hoped for concealment. It was high up the face of the mountain,
but the party scaled it, and summoning Xavier to surrender, he gave his
_parole_. Just at that moment a _gendarme_ offering a shot, the bandit
levelled his gun at him and killed him. He then threw down his arms and
came out of the cave, prepared to surrender himself. A sentry posted
near, imagining that he intended to escape, shot him dead without
challenging him or allowing him time to give himself up. The sentry was
punished, as they wished to take the bandit alive, hoping that he would
discover those who were in league with him.

Thus fell, with a gallantry worthy of a better cause, these renowned
banditti chiefs, who for many years had infested the country, and filled
it with alarm and grief. The rest of the band dispersed, were killed, or
taken prisoners. Arrhigi's heroic defence closed the series of romantic
stories on which the Corsicans delight to dwell. His example might have
encouraged the outlaws to emulate his daring resistance; but the unusual
force brought against him convinced them that the authorities were no
longer to be trifled with. The brigands became thoroughly disheartened,
and we hear of no more desperate encounters with the _gendarmerie_. In
the course of the following year, the deep solitudes of the Corsican
forests and mountains, echoing no longer to the crack of the rifle, were
left in the undisturbed possession of the shepherds and their flocks,
the foxes and the _moufflons_.

There is another version of the story of the Massoni and Arrhigi,
cleverly wrought up, and giving it, what was scarcely needed, a more
romantic character. It differs from that here given in many of the
circumstances, and in passing, perhaps, from hand to hand, even the
scene has been transferred to the neighbourhood of Monte Rotondo, many
miles distant from the spot where the events occurred. My informant was
not likely to omit any actual occurrence of a striking nature; and as he
lived at Corte, and his occupation often led him to the canton of
Callacuccia, he had the best opportunities of learning the facts, if
indeed he was not present at the time. His simple narrative is therefore
adhered to.


  _Leave Corte for Ajaccio.—A legend of Venaco.—Arrival at

The distance from Corte to Ajaccio is about fifty miles; the most
interesting objects on the road being the great forest of Vizzavona, and
Bocagnono embosomed in chestnut woods. In order to take these leisurely,
mules were bespoken at Vivario, a mountain village at the foot of Monte
d'Oro, as far as which we determined to avail ourselves of the
_diligence_ passing through Corte, _en route_ from Bastia to Ajaccio.
For the first two stages after leaving Corte we knew that there was
little temptation to linger on the way; and it is unadvisable to waste
time and strength by walking or riding on high-roads when coach or rail
will hurry you on to a good starting point for independent rambling. To
travel systematically from one great town to another by such
conveyances, with perhaps an occasional excursion in the neighbourhood,
is a very different affair.

We were called at midnight, and walking to the _bureau_, shortly
afterwards the _voiture_ came rumbling up, a small primitive vehicle,
drawn by three mules. It contained five passengers, “booked through;”
three rough fellows, all smoking, and a woman with a squalling
_bambino_, dignified by the name of Auguste. Under these circumstances,
we proposed taking our seat on the roof, as there was no _banquette_.
The _commis du bureau_ objected;—we should fall off, and he would be
blamed; it was _contre les régles_; and every traveller knows how
despotically the rules are administered by foreign officials. He must
submit to be a mere machine in their hands, to be stowed away and
conveyed like his portmanteau. The rules are, however, generally
enforced with great civility; but the _commis_ was not civil. Early
rising, or sitting up late, had put him out of temper, and the passion
into which he worked himself about this trifle was very amusing. “There
was room inside, and why could not _messieurs_ accommodate themselves in
the _voiture_ like sensible people?”

We did not lose our temper, and carrying our point, had every reason to
rejoice in our victory. The moon was up, and showed the sort of scenery
through which we passed, by a very hilly but well-engineered road, to
great advantage, in its various aspects. Now we were slowly ascending a
bare hill-side in the full light; then plunging into hollows buried in
the deepest shade of chestnut woods branching over the road. Then there
were scattered groups of the rugged ilex, with its pale green leaves
silvered by the moonbeams; and, where the land was cultivated, there was
the livelier green of the young wheat, and the dark verdure of luxuriant
crops of sainfoin: scarcely a house was passed; a solitary habitation is
a rare sight in Corsica.

Our position also gave us the advantage of the _voiturier's_
conversation, which, under the inspiration of the scene, the woods, and
moonlight on a lonely road, was well spiced with stories of banditti. At
that corner they stole from the thicket, and gave their victim a mortal
stab. There was a cross over his grave, but it has been removed. A
deadly shot from behind that grey rock struck down another. Here they
had a bloody fight with the _sbirri_. Such tales, as it has been already
remarked, are heard everywhere. I forget the particulars; but they are
all variations of one wild strain, of which the key-note is blood.

One legend of another kind I remember. The _voiturier_ related it as we
approached Venaco:—

“A long while ago—it was in the tenth century, I believe—there lived
here a Count of Corsica, by name Arrhigo Colonna, who was so handsome
that he was called _Il Bel Messere_. He had a beautiful wife and seven
beautiful children. Feuds arose in the country, and his enemies, jealous
of his great power, slew the Count and his seven children, and threw
their bodies into a little lake among the hills. There was deep
lamentation among the vassals of the _Bel Messere_; and his wife, having
escaped, led them against the assassins, who had taken refuge in a
neighbouring castle, stormed it, and put them all to the sword. Often
are the ghosts of the _Bel Messere_ and his seven children seen flitting
by the pale moonlight—on such a night as this—among the woods and on the
green hills of Venaco; and the shepherds on the mountains all around
preserve the tradition of their sorrowful fate.”

We reached Vivario before daylight, and leaving the _voiture_, scrambled
up a lane, then some dark stairs, and found ourselves in the gaunt rooms
of a rude _locanda_. The people were astir, expecting us, and the best
sight was, not indeed a blazing fire of logs—though Vivario is close to
the forest, such fires are not to be seen indoors—but at least some
lighted embers on the cooking-hearth, giving promise of a speedy cup of
hot coffee, for we were very cold. The mountain air was keen, Vivario
standing nearly 2000 feet above the level of the sea. The best news was
that the mules for our journey were forthcoming. Meanwhile, we got our
wash, and, it being too early to eat, had our _déjeûner_ of bread and
wine, grapes and ham, packed in a basket, to be eaten on the road.

We were objects of much curiosity. Whence did we come? where were we
going? what was our business?—were questions of course.

“From London.”

“_Sono chiesi in Londra?_”

“_Inglesi—sono tutti Christiani?_”

It may easily be imagined that the communal schools in Corsica give
little instruction in ethnology; and even intelligent persons, like our
former guide Antoine, appeared to doubt our right to be called
Christians. That was often questioned, the people seeming little better
informed than they were when Boswell travelled in Corsica, almost a
century ago.

“_Inglesi_,” said a strong black fellow to him, “_sono barbare; non
credono in Dio grande._”

“Excuse me, sir,” replied Boswell; “we do believe in God, and in Jesus
Christ too.”

“_Um,_” said he, “_e nel Papa?_” (and in the Pope?)


“_E perche?_” (And why?)

This was a puzzling question under the circumstances, for there was a
great audience listening to the controversy. So Boswell thought he would
try a method of his own, and he very gravely replied:—

“_Perche siamo troppo lontano._” (Because we are too far off.) A very
new argument against the universal infallibility of the Pope. It took,
however; for his opponent mused awhile, and then said:—

“_Troppo lontano! Ha—Sicilia è tanto lontano che l'Inghilterra; e in
Sicilia si credono nel Papa._” (Too far off! why Sicily is as far off as
England; yet in Sicily they believe in the Pope.)

“Ah!” said Boswell, “_Noi siamo dieci volte più lontano che la
Sicilia._” (We are ten times farther off than Sicily.)

“_Aha!_” said the questioner; and seemed quite satisfied. “In this
manner,” concludes Boswell, “I got off very well. I question much
whether any of the learned reasonings of our Protestant divines would
have had so good an effect.”

_Barbari_, _heretici_, whatever we were, we parted on good terms with
our kind hostess. Two mules were at the door, attended by a lad, who, at
first sight, appeared too young for the long and rather fatiguing
journey before us; but he had a most intelligent countenance, with hair,
eyes, and features of the true Italian character, and he handled his
mules well, and proved a most active and agreeable attendant.

    [Illustration: VIVARIO.]


  _Leave Vivario.—Forest of Vizzavona.—A roadside
    adventure.—Bocagnono.—Arrive late at Ajaccio._

It was broad daylight when we wound up a narrow path to the heights
above the village of Vivario, thus saving an angle of the
well-engineered high-road by which the _voiture_, preceding us, had
gained the summit. Here we seated ourselves on a bank while my friend
sketched. His view, reproduced in these pages, happily dispenses with
the necessity of any lengthened description. Below, the eye rested on
the tall and graceful _campanile_ of the village church, with the houses
radiating from it, half concealed by the groves of chestnut-trees
embowering the valley. The slope beneath our point of view, as well as
that on the left under the high-road, was covered by vineyards in
terraces and gardens. The contrast of this verdure with the bare ridge
beyond the fertile basin, still in deep shade, and the atmospheric
effects of a soft and not overpowering light on the foreground, as well
as of the vapour rising in the gorge, and hanging in aërial folds about
the mountain tops, can only be imagined.

Smoke now began to curl up from the village hearths, and men, in rough
jackets of black sheep's wool, with axes slung in their belts, are seen
slowly winding up the steep to their work in the forest. The villages on
the tops of the hills under the mountain ranges, of which we counted
ten or more, reflect the early sunlight. A small fortified barrack,
garrisoned by a party of _gendarmes_, held in check the banditti, whose
strongest fastnesses were in this wild neighbourhood, and commands the

This we now follow; and the views from it are exceedingly picturesque,
the engineers having obtained their level for it by pursuing the
sinuosities of the defiles round Monte d'Oro, the rival monarch with
Monte Rotondo of the Corsican Alps. Its snowy summit is continually in
sight on our right, and we observe streaks of new-fallen snow for some
distance beneath. On the left, we have the great forest of Vizzavona,
which we shortly entered. Having before described a Corsican pine-forest
of similar character, repetition would be wearisome. The trees here are
of the same species, with some admixture of oak, many of them on a scale
of equal or greater magnificence. The finest masts for the French navy
have been drawn from this forest.

Heat and hunger now combined to make us look out for a rill of water at
a convenient spot for taking our _déjeûner_, and a torrent crossing the
road, with a rude bridge over it, we sat down on the low parapet, and,
opening our baskets, the boy, Filippi, fetched water from the pure
stream to cool and temper our wine. Bread, slices of ham, and grapes,
were rapidly disappearing, when unexpected visitors appeared on the
scene, in the shape of two country girls, travellers to Ajaccio like

We had not been so much struck, to speak the truth, as some travellers
seem to have been with the beauty and gracefulness of the Corsican
women; but these really were two very pretty girls, of the age of
fifteen or sixteen, brunettes, bright eyed, slightly formed, and with
pleasing and expressive features. They were lightly clad, and one of
them carried a small bundle. Accosted by Filippi, we learnt that they
came from Corte, and were on their way to Ajaccio, in search of domestic
service. Filippi appeared to know some of their family. To desire the
boy to share with them the meal he was making at some little distance
was only returning Corsican hospitality. The girls were shy at first,
and it was only by degrees that we were able to establish a chat with
them; and I was struck with the manner in which the eldest, taking a
handful of new chestnuts from a bag, offered the contribution to our
pic-nic. Poor girls! chestnuts and the running brooks were probably all
they had to depend upon for refreshment during their journey. Happily,
both were easily to be found.

Our road lying the same way, and the girls having walked from Vivario,
while we had been riding, they were offered a ride on the mules, and,
after some hesitation, the offer was accepted. With Filippi for their
squire, the trio being about the same age, they were a merry party,
making the glades of the old forest ring with their laughter and the
sound of their young voices in the sweetest of tongues. The girls were
in such glee, Filippi pressing the mules to a gallop, that though we
enjoyed the fun, we really feared they would be thrown off. Our fears
were groundless; riding astride, as is the fashion of the country—but
with all propriety—they had a firm seat, and laughed at our

With all this exuberance of spirits, there were the greatest modesty and
simplicity in the demeanour of these poor girls. When they proceeded in
a more sober mood, we joined in the conversation, asking questions
about their prospects at Ajaccio, and the schooling they had received.
They had no friends at Ajaccio; but the “Mother of Mercy” would guide
and protect them!

The number of the girls receiving education at the communal and
conventual schools in Corsica is very disproportionate to that of the
boys. Marmocchi states the number of the former, in 1851 or 1852, as
2362, while the males receiving public instruction were 14,196. Of the
girls, only 546 are educated in the communal schools, and 1816 in the
establishments of the _Sœurs de St. Joseph_ or the _Filles de Marie_.
The proportion of boys frequenting the Corsican schools, relatively with
those of France, is 137 to 100 in the winter, and 226 to 100 in the
summer; but that of the girls is in the inverse, the relative number
being much smaller in Corsica—12 only to 100 in the winter, and 21 to
100 in the summer.

Our fellow-travellers were among the favoured number. Bridget, the
eldest, opened her bundle, and took from among the folds of their
slender stock of clothes two little books, which she showed us with
modest pride. They contained catechisms, the _Pater-noster_, the _Ave
Maria_, and a short litany to the Blessed Virgin. Poor girls! their
trust was in Heaven! They had little else to trust in; but there was a
“Mother of Mercy” to befriend her loving children. That was the most
comfortable article in their creed—ideal, but very beautiful.

At the highest point of the _Col_ of Vizzavona, nearly 4000 feet above
the level of the sea, we find a loopholed barrack, surrounded by a
ditch, where a small force of the _gendarmerie_ is stationed to operate
against the brigands. Standing among bare rocks, with the precipices of
Monte d'Oro frowning above it, the position is most dismal. Fancy that
bleak barrack in the long, dreary winter of such an elevation, when ice
and snow reign over the whole _plateau_! And what must have been the
severity of the service when the bleak forest was the hiding-place, and
Bocagnono, just under, the head-quarters, of the most desperate

    [Illustration: BOCAGNONO.]

We still walked on, really preferring it, and glad not only to give the
girls a lift, but to spare the mules, while carrying their light weight,
for the hard service yet before them. After passing the _col_, we had a
splendid view of Bocagnono and its hamlets, buried in trees, with bold
mountains beyond. The pines now gave way to beech woods, and soon
afterwards we reached the level of the chestnut. The fall of the ground
became rapid, but, as usual in such cases, the face of the hill being
traversed by stages of inclined planes, blasted by gunpowder in the
rocks, the gradients of the road were easy.

The chestnut trees in the valley are of extraordinary size, and a rich
_contour_ of growth. Scattered capriciously among the groves are no less
than ten hamlets, all attached to Bocagnono. It is a wild and romantic
neighbourhood; and the principal village, though surrounded with
verdure, has a most desolate aspect, the houses being built of unhewn
stone, black with age, and the windows unglazed.

Walking down the long, straggling street, noting appearances, a little
in advance of our singular cavalcade, we observed a very magnificent
officer of police, with a cocked hat and feathers, and sword by his
side, sitting on a bench, smoking his pipe. He scrutinised us closely as
we passed, munching chestnuts, and carelessly throwing the shells not
very far from his worshipful presence. Filippi soon following with the
mules, he was stopped by this important personage, who questioned him
sharply about us. Appearances were rather against us. The spruce
_gendarme_ might possibly not understand—and it is often a puzzle—how
gentlemen in light coats and stout shoes, bronzed, dusty, and
travel-stained, could be walking through the country quite at their
ease. Foreigners make themselves up for travelling in a very different
style. Our juvenile _suite_ also was somewhat singular, and, altogether,
as I have said, circumstances were suspicious. We might be the last of
the bandits, making their escape to the coast in disguise, with part of
their little family. The orders to arrest such characters were very

However, it is to be presumed that the official was satisfied with
Filippi's report, and we escaped a detention which might have caused us
loss of time and patience. Having cleared the town, we took counsel
together. The day was wearing away, and we were still some thirty miles
from Ajaccio. It was Saturday, and we wished to get to the end of our
journey in order to enjoy a quiet Sunday. There was nothing on the road
to tempt us to linger, and no probability of finding decent
accommodations; while at Ajaccio, we should be in clover, and get a
fresh outfit, our baggage having been forwarded there. On the other
hand, it was a long pull, and Filippi remonstrated on behalf of the
mules and himself. The first objection was overruled, and the other
removed by our engaging to take the boy _en croupe_ by turns. Our female
attendants we dismissed with the means of procuring lodgings for the
night; and we relieved Bridget of her burthen, desiring her to call for
it at the hotel at Ajaccio.

Bocagnono stands in the gorge of a long valley, watered by the Gravone.
This river falls into the sea a little south of Ajaccio, and the road,
for the most part following its course, is generally easy. After leaving
Bocagnono, the valley opened. We were among green hills, with the river
flowing through a rich plain; the Alpine range, from which we had just
descended, making a fine background to this pleasant landscape. Further
on, some very picturesque villages, perched as usual on heights,
increased its interest.

We kept the mules to as sharp a trot as was consistent with the work
still before us. Unfortunately, in the jolting, poor Bridget's bundle
got loose, and the contents being scattered on the road, the wardrobe of
a Corsican girl was exposed to profane eyes, and it became incumbent on
me, in discharge of my trust, to restore it to order with all possible
neatness and security. Again we pricked on, and crossing the Gravone at
the Ponte d'Usciano, the road began to ascend, carrying us for some
miles over a rugged spur of the mountains. Here we found ourselves again
among the shrubbery which forms so characteristic a feature in the
landscape of these islands. Having passed the ruins of a house, the
inmates of which, even to the infant in the cradle, had been butchered
in one of the feuds so common in Corsica, we halted at a roadside
_albergo_, near a _baraque_ of the _gendarmerie_. Bread and grapes, with
new wine, were spread for us under the shade of a tree, and we refreshed
ourselves while our mules got their feed of barley.

We had now nearly a level road all the way to Ajaccio. The plain was
well cultivated, and we remarked some irrigated fields of maize. Soon
afterwards it became dark, and the mules being much distressed, we could
only proceed at a slow pace. The fatigue of riding was much lessened by
having an English saddle; still it was a hard day's travelling: but the
air was deliciously balmy, and the glowworm's lamp and cricket's chirp
helped to cheer the weariness of a road which seemed interminable.
Presently, we met country people returning from the market at Ajaccio,
lights were seen more frequently on the hills, and, at last, the lantern
on the pier-head—a welcome beacon—came in view. Half an hour afterwards,
we dismounted at an hotel on the Corso.


  _Ajaccio.—Collège-Fesch.—Reminiscences of the Buonaparte
    Family.—Excursion in the Gulf.—Chapel of the Greeks.—Evening
    Scenes.—Council-General of the Department.—Statistics.—State of
    Agriculture in Corsica—Her Prospects._

Sunday morning we attended high-mass at the cathedral of Ajaccio, a
building of the sixteenth century, in the Italian style, having a belfry
and dome, with the interior richly decorated. The service was well
performed, there being a fine-toned organ, and the music of the mass
well selected. The congregation was numerous, the girls' school
especially. I was struck with the pensive cast of features in many of
the girls, so like the Madonnas of the Italian masters. There were
formerly six dioceses in Corsica, Mariana being the principal; for many
years they have been all administered by the Bishop of Ajaccio, who is
at present a suffragan of the Archbishop of Aix, in France.

After service, we called on one of the professors of the
_Collège-Fesch_, to whom we had letters of introduction. This college
and the _Séminaire_ are the best buildings in Ajaccio, both being finely
situated fronting the sea. The _Séminaire_ is confined exclusively to
the education of theological students intended for the clerical orders.
In the other, founded and endowed by Cardinal Fesch, the course of
study is that generally pursued in the French colleges. The cardinal
appears to have had more affection for his native place than any other
member of the Bonaparte family, giving a proof of it in this noble
foundation. He also bequeathed to his native place a large collection of
pictures, few of them, however, of much merit. His remains are deposited
with those of Madame Letizia, his sister, in a chapel of the cathedral
of Ajaccio, having been brought from Rome; where I recollect seeing him
in 1819,—short and portly in person, with a mild and good-humoured
expression of countenance. He had been a kind guardian of the young
Bonapartes, and carefully administered the small property they

The _Collège-Fesch_ is a large building, with spacious lecture-rooms,
long and lofty corridors, and a yard for exercise; the windows of the
front looking out on the Gulf of Ajaccio and the mountains beyond. The
professor's apartments had all the air of the rooms of a college fellow
and tutor in one of our universities, carpets _et aliis mutandis_; only
they were more airy and spacious. There are fifteen professors, of whom
the Abbate Porazzi is one of the most distinguished. We were indebted to
him for many good offices during our stay at Ajaccio. The number of
students at this time was 260. They appeared to be of all ranks and
ages; some of them grown men.

Everything here has the southern character. We find rows of lemon-trees
on the Corso; and the cactus, or Indian fig, flourishes in the
environs,—the bright oleander thriving in the open air. The heat was
excessive, my thermometer standing at 80° at noon, in the shade of an
airy room. From the Corso, a short street leads into the market-place, a
square, bounded on one side by the port, and embellished by a fountain.
During the last year it has been further ornamented by a statue of the
first Napoleon, of white marble, standing on a granite pedestal, and
facing the harbour. Concealed during the reigns of the restored
Bourbons, its erection was a homage to the rising fortunes of the
President of the French Republic. Ajaccio, being the modern capital of
Corsica, the _chef-lieu_ of the department, and seat of the _préfetture_
and administration, is more French in habits and feeling than any other
town in the island. But even here, I apprehend, there has never been
much enthusiasm for the Bonapartes.[34] Among the native Corsicans,
Pascal Paoli is the national hero.

We visited, of course, the house in which the first Napoleon was born,
standing in a little solitary court dignified with the name of the
_Piazza Lucrezia_, near the market-place. It has been often described.
Uninhabited, and without a vestige of furniture, except some faded
tapestry on the walls, the desolate and gloomy air of the birthplace of
the great emperor struck me even more than the deserted apartments at
Longwood, from which his spirit took its flight. There, sheaves of corn
and implements of husbandry still gave signs of human life, singularly
as they contrasted with the relics of imperial grandeur recently
witnessed by the homely apartments. A man, born in the first year of the
French Revolution, and who has followed the career of its “child and
champion” with the feelings common to most Englishmen, can have no
Napoleonic sympathies; yet, without forgetting the atrocities, the
selfishness, and the littleness which stained and disfigured that
career, it is impossible that such scenes could be contemplated by a
thoughtful mind, not only without profound reflection on the
vicissitudes of life, but without a full impression of the genius and
force of character which lifted the Corsican adventurer to the dangerous
height from whence he fell.

One afternoon we hired a boat in the harbour, and sailed down the Gulf
of Ajaccio. This fine inlet, opening to the south-west, is from three to
four leagues in length and breadth, and forms a basin of about twelve
leagues in circumference, from the northern extremity, where the old
city stood, to its outlet between the _Isles Sanguinaires_ and the Capo
di Moro, on the opposite coast. A range of mountains, considerably
inferior in elevation to the central chain from which they ramify, rises
almost from the shore, and stretches along the northern side of the
gulf. The other coast is more indented, and swells into the ridges of
the Bastelica, embracing the rich valley of Campo Loro (_Campo del'
Oro_), washed by the Gravone. The Gulf of Ajaccio, like many others, has
been compared to the Bay of Naples; but, I think, without much reason,
except for the colouring lent by a brilliant and transparent atmosphere
to both sea and land. In the case of Ajaccio, the effects are heightened
by a still more southern climate, and the grander scale of the mountain

    [Illustration: HARBOUR OF AJACCIO.]

There were only a few small vessels, employed in the coasting trade, in
the port. We rowed round the mole, under the frowning bastions of the
citadel, a regular work covering a point stretching into the bay; and
then hoisting sail, stood out into the gulf. The wind was too light to
admit of our gaining its entrance; we sailed down it, however, for four
or five miles in the mid-channel, the rocky islands at the northern
entrance gradually opening; one crowned with the tower of a lighthouse,
another with a village on its summit. The coast to our right was
clothed with the deep verdure of the ever memorable Corsican shrubbery,
breathing aromatic odours as we drifted along: otherwise, it appeared
desolate; not a village appeared, and the barren and rugged mountain
chain towered above.

Finding that we made but little progress, the boat was steered for a
little reef of rocks on the northern shore, and landing, we dismissed
the boatman, determining to walk back to Ajaccio along the water's edge.
Meanwhile we sat down on the rocks while my companion sketched.
Presently I strolled up to a little chapel, standing by the side of the
road which winds round the gulf towards _les Isles Sanguinaires_. A
simple and chaste style of Italian architecture distinguished the white
_façade_, rising gracefully to a pediment, crowned with a cross;
pilasters, supporting arches, divided the portico beneath into three
compartments, the central one forming the entrance. The door was closed,
but the interior was visible through a _grille_ at the side. The nave
was paved with blue and white squares, and marble steps led up to the
sanctuary, forming, with two side chapels, a Greek cross. There was no
ornament, no furniture, except two or three low chairs for kneeling.
Under the portico was a marble tablet, inscribed in good Latin, to the
pious memory of a Pozzo di Borgo[35], who restored the chapel in 1632. I
read on another tablet:—

  _“Per gli Orfanelli dei Marinari Naufragati.”_

Under an arch supported by pillars of green marble, a lamp was feebly
glimmering, fed perhaps by the offerings of loving mothers and fond
wives who here offered their vows for the safe return of those dear to

The sun was setting behind the islands at the mouth of the gulf, perfect
stillness reigned, broken only by a gentle ripple on the granite rocks
forming ledges from the water's edge to the base of the chapel. Struck
with its singular interest, and wishing to learn more about it, on
returning to my friend, who was still sketching, I found him in
conversation with some loungers from the town. They could only tell us
that it was called “The Chapel of the Greeks,” and, laughing, turned on
their heels when I pursued my inquiries. Did they suppose that we
Northerns had no sentiment in our religion, or had they none themselves?
I afterwards heard two traditions respecting the Chapel of the Greeks.
One, that it was founded by the remains of a colony from the Morea, who,
having been expelled with great loss from their settlement at Cargese,
were granted an asylum here;—the other, that the original building was
erected, by Greek mariners, in acknowledgment of their escape from
shipwreck on this coast.

It would be difficult, I imagine, to find a more favourable point of
view, or a happier moment, than that of which my friend availed himself
to make the sketch of Ajaccio, which has been selected for the
frontispiece of this volume. The gulf was perfectly calm, and of the
deepest green and azure, a slight ripple being only discernible where a
boat lay in one of the long streams of light reflected from the mass of
orange and golden clouds in which the sun was setting behind the
islands; while, to the east, flakes of rosy hue floated in the
mid-heaven. The sails of the feluccas, becalmed in the gulf, faintly
caught the light, and it gleamed on the houses of Ajaccio, particularly
those of the modern town, distinguished by its white walls and red roofs
from the old buildings about the cathedral. Behind were sugar-loaf
hills; and the mountain-sides across the gulf glowed with the richest
purple. Then came gradual changes of colour, softer and deeper hues,
till, at last, a steamy veil of mist from seaward stole over the gulf. A
faint glimmer from the lighthouse at the entrance of the harbour was
scarcely visible in the blaze left behind by the glorious sunset.

The lights began to twinkle from the windows of Ajaccio, and the
cathedral bells tolling for the Ave Maria, stole on the ear across the
gulf in the silence of the twilight hour. Reluctant to leave the scene,
we lingered till it was shrouded from view, and an evening never to be
forgotten closed in. Then we wound slowly towards the city along the
shore, at the foot of hills laid out in vineyards hedged by the prickly
cactus, or lightly sprinkled with myrtles and cystus, and all those
odoriferous plants which now perfumed the balmy night air. Embowered in
these, we had remarked some mortuary chapels, the burying-places of
Ajaccian families. One of them, high up on the hill-side, was in the
form of a Grecian temple; and we now passed another, standing among
cypresses, close to the shore. Nearer the city, two stone pillars stand
at the entrance of an avenue leading up to a dilapidated country-house,
formerly the residence of Cardinal Fesch, and where Madame Bonaparte and
her family generally spent the summer. Among the neglected shrubberies,
and surrounded by the wild olive, the cactus, the clematis, and the
almond, is a singular and isolated granite rock, called Napoleon's
grotto, once his favourite retreat.

On our return, we found the streets thronged; braziers with roasted
chestnuts stood at every corner; strings of mules, loaded with wine
casks suspended on each side, were returning from the vineyards; and
there was a gay promenade on the Corso—ladies with no covering for their
heads but the graceful black _faldetta_, French officers in not very
brilliant uniforms, and a sprinkling of ecclesiastics in _soutanes_ and
prodigious beavers.

Professor Porazzi took us to the only bookseller's shop in Ajaccio,
where we made some purchases. It was a small affair, the book trade
being combined with the sale of a variety of miscellaneous articles. The
_préfetture_, a handsome building, lately finished, contains a library
of 25,000 volumes. We were introduced there to M. Camille Friess, the
author of a compendious history of Corsica, who was kind enough to show
us some of the archives, of which he has the custody. Among the
documents connected with the Bonaparte family is a memorial, addressed
by Napoleon to the Intendant of Corsica, respecting his mother's right
to a garden. I jotted down the beginning and end:—

    “_Memoire relative à la pépinière d'Ajaccio._

“_Letizia Ramolini, veuve de Buonaparte, d'Ajaccio, a l'honneur de vous

        “_Votre très humble
                et très obeissant serviteur_,
                    “BUONAPARTE[36], _Officier d'Artillerie_.

“_Hotel de Cherbourg_,

  “_Rue St. Honoré, Paris, le 9 Nov. 1787._”

The claim for a few roods of nursery garden was made by a young man who
afterwards distributed kingdoms and principalities! It is said that in
the division of some property which fell to the family after he became
emperor, his share was an olive-yard in the environs of Ajaccio.

M. Friess obligingly gave me copies of the _procès-verbals_ of the
proceedings of the Council-General of the Department for the preceding
years. These reports are printed annually, and, I believe, similar ones
are made in all the departments of France. Those I possess are models of
good arrangement in whatever concerns provincial administration. They
have supplied more information on the present state of Corsica and its
prospects of improvement than all the books of travel, and works of
greater pretensions, it has been my fortune to meet with.

The Council-General, as many of my readers know, is a body elected by
the people; each canton, of which there are sixty-one in Corsica,
sending representatives in proportion to the population. The _préfet_,
who is _ex-officio_ president, opens the session by a speech, in which
he reviews the affairs of the department under the heads of finance,
public works, education, &c., &c., and presents a budget, with detailed
reports on the various branches of administration. All these are
printed, with a short _procès-verbal_ of the debates, and the divisions
when the Council-General comes to a vote. The proceedings are submitted
to the Minister of the Interior, who approves or rejects the proposals
made. Virtually, however, although the Council has no power to act on
its resolutions until they are confirmed by the central government,
whatever relates to the assessment of taxes, police, roads, and other
works, all matters of local interest not only come under discussion in
these provincial assemblies, but are shaped and decided by them. The
services thus rendered must therefore be very valuable, and it is worth
considering whether our over-worked House of Commons might not be
relieved of some of its burthens, and the business better done, by
similar representative bodies, entrusted with legislative powers so far
as concerns matters of local interest. Such assemblies would well accord
with our Anglo-Saxon institutions. But to give them a fair field, with
sufficient weight, impartiality, and importance, a considerable area
should be embraced in each jurisdiction. Durham might be united with
Yorkshire; the three western counties, Somerset, Devon, and Cornwall,
might form a province; North and South Wales, each one. And what a
valuable body of statistics would be furnished by an annual report,
corresponding with those which have led to these remarks!

We gather some general statistics from these documents and other

By the census of 1851, the population of Corsica was 236,251 souls, of
whom 117,938 were males, and 118,313 females. All but 54 were Roman
Catholics. There were no less than 32,364 proprietors of land. The
day-labourers were 34,427; government officials, 1229; clergy, 955;
regular troops, _gendarmes_, &c., 5000. The number of students in all
the public colleges and schools was from 16,000 to 17,000, of which
15,000 were male, and only from 2000 to 3000 females. The proportion of
males frequenting the schools is greater than in France, it being as 137
to 100 in the winter, and 226 to 100 in the summer; while that of the
girls is the reverse, being as 12 to 100 in the winter, and 21 to 100 in
the summer. This disproportion between male and female scholars in
Corsica is very remarkable.

The superficies of the island is estimated at somewhat less than two
millions and a quarter of English acres. Of this surface, only a
six-hundredth part is, on an average, under cultivation, an area which,
it is said, might be doubled. Vast portions of the soil belong to the
communes, and measures are in contemplation for their improvement.

Wheat produces, on an average of years, an increase of nine times the
seed sown; barley and oats, twelve or thirteen; maize, thirty-eight to
forty; and potatoes, twenty.

The rate of daily wages for the year 1851 was fixed by the
Council-General at 75 _centimes_ for the towns of Ajaccio and Bastia,
and 50 _centimes_ for all the other communes.

Among the most important subjects brought to notice by the
_procès-verbal_ of 1851 is the state of agriculture in the island; on
which the _Préfet_ finds little to congratulate the Council-General
except an increase in the cultivation of lucerne and in the plantations
of mulberry-trees. The obstacles to its progress are found in the
insecurity of life, the want of inclosures, and the unbounded rights of
common enjoyed by the shepherds; in the richest plains being
uninhabited, and their distance from the villages; in the pestilential
air of these plains, and the want of roads.—A stranger will be disposed
to add to this list the indolence of the natives. So far as the
obstacles to improvement can be surmounted by judicious legislation and
encouragement, the _procès-verbals_ of the Council-General exhibit
enlightened ideas far in advance of the opinions and habits of the
people; and there is much good sense and right feeling in the
observation with which the _Prèfet_, in one of his addresses, concludes
his statement of the position of affairs:—

“Si la Corse,” he says, “devait passer subitement à l'état des
civilisations avancées, elle courait risque de perdre dans cette
transformation (et ce serait à jamais deplorable) tout ce qu'il y a de
primitif, de généreux, d'énergetique dans ses mœurs séculaires. Je n'en
citerai qu'un exemple. Le mouvement civilisateur trouve, à certains
égards, résistance dans la force des sentiments de famille, dans la
cohésion des membres qui la composent. Et, cependant, qui d'entre vous
consentirait à acheter les progrès de la civilisation au prix du
rélâchement de ces liens sacrés qui sont la clef de voûte de toute
société organisée?”

Delivered from the scourge of _banditisme_ and the _vendetta_ by severe
measures, supposed to be strongly opposed to the popular instinct, and
with hopes held out of such further improvement in civilisation as the
progress of ideas will admit, Corsica may, perhaps, have no reason to
regret that she failed in her long struggles for national independence.
But France will not have performed her duty to this outlying department
of the empire till she promotes the manufactures and commerce of the
island. It is a part of the protective system to which she clings to
discourage all direct foreign trade, just as England formerly engrossed
the commerce of her colonies. The result is that the poor Corsicans,
compelled to purchase the commodities they require—manufactured goods,
colonial produce, and even corn and cattle—in the French market, buy at
enormously high prices. The balance of trade is much against them,
their annual exports to France being only a million and a half of
_francs_, while they import from thence articles of the value of three
millions. The present Emperor of France is understood to entertain
enlightened views on the subject of free trade; and it is to be hoped
that, when he is able to carry them out, Corsica will share in the
benefits of an unrestricted commerce.


  _Leave Ajaccio.—Neighbourhood of Olmeto.—Sollacaró.—James
    Boswell's Residence there.—Scene in the “Corsican Brothers”
    laid there—Quarrel of the Vincenti and Grimaldi.—Road to
    Sartene.—Corsican Marbles.—Arrive at Bonifacio._

We were quite as well served, and the accommodations were as good, at
Ajaccio as in any provincial city of France. They gave us a delicate
white wine made in the neighbourhood, an agreeable beverage, which, we
thought, resembled _Chablais_; and a _confiture_ of cherries preserved
in jelly, which was exquisite. I had told the story of our adventure
with the poor girls from Corte to the mistress of the house, and, on
Bridget's appearing the day after our arrival to claim her wardrobe, she
informed me, with great joy, that our good hostess had taken her into
her service.

On leaving Ajaccio, Sartene was our next point. The road crosses the
Gravone and the Prunelle, flowing into the gulf through fertile valleys,
and then winds through a wild and mountainous country, in which Cauro is
the only village, till, surmounting the Col San Georgio, 2000 feet above
the level of the sea, it descends into a rich plain, watered by the
Taravo. In its upper course its branches water two romantic valleys,
which formed the ancient fiefs of Ornano and Istria, the seats of
powerful lords in the old times. Picturesque scenery, ruins of castles,
and mediæval tales lend a charm to this region, in which we would
gladly have wandered for some days, but that Sardinia was before us.

There are few finer spots in the island than the _paese_ of Olmeto, the
principal village being surrounded by mountains, with a plain below,
extending to the deep inlet of the Mediterranean, called the Gulf of
Valinco, and rich in corn-lands, olive, and fruit trees. At Olmeto we
were served with a dish of magnificent apples, some of them said to
weigh two pounds. On the Monte Buturetto, 3000 feet high, are seen the
ruins of the stronghold of Arrigo della Rocca; and, further on, near
Sollacaró, another almost inaccessible summit was crowned by a castle,
built by his nephew, Vincentello d'Istria—both famed in Corsican story.

It was at Sollacaró, standing at the foot of this hill, that our
countryman, Boswell, first presented himself to Pascal Paoli, in a house
of the Colonna's, with letters of introduction from the Count de
Rivarola and Rousseau. Boswell remained some time with Paoli, who was
then keeping a sort of court at Sollacaró, and admitted him to the most
familiar intercourse. His conversations with the illustrious Corsican,
jotted down in his own peculiar style, form the most interesting part of
the account of his tour, published after his return to England. “From my
first setting out on this tour,” he states, “I wrote down every night
what I had observed during the day. Of these particulars the most
valuable to my readers, as well as to myself, must surely be the memoirs
and remarkable sayings of Pascal Paoli, which I am proud to record.”[37]

Boswell was treated with much distinction, and appears to have been
flattered with the character, which ignorance or policy attributed to
him, of being _Il Ambasciadore Inglese_. “In the morning,” he says, “I
had my chocolate served up on a silver salver, adorned with the arms of
Corsica. I dined and supped constantly with the general. I was visited
by all the nobility; and when I chose to make a little tour, I was
attended by a party of guards. One day, when I rode out, I was mounted
on Paoli's own horse, with rich furniture of crimson velvet and broad
gold lace, and had my guards marching along with me.” His vanity so
flattered, and with what he calls Attic evenings, “_noctes, cœnæque
Deûm_,” giving scope to his ruling passion, James Boswell must have been
in the seventh heaven while Paoli's guest at Sollacaró.

But the most amusing part of the affair is the efforts he made to
ingratiate himself with the lower classes of the Corsicans, his
admiration of whom is sometimes chequered by a wholesome fear of their
wild instincts. “I got a Corsican dress made,” he says, “in which I
walked about with an air of true satisfaction. The general did me the
honour to present me with his own pistols, made in the island, all of
Corsican wood and iron, and of excellent workmanship. I had every other
accoutrement.[38] The peasants and soldiers became quite free and easy
with me. One day, they would needs hear me play upon my German flute. I
gave them one or two Italian airs, and then some of our beautiful old
Scotch tunes—‘Gilderoy,’ ‘The Lass of Patie's Mill,’ ‘Corn-riggs are
bonny.’ The pathetic simplicity and pastoral gaiety of the Scotch music
will always please those who have the genuine feelings of nature. The
Corsicans were charmed with the specimens I gave them.

“My good friends insisted also on having an English song from me. I
endeavoured to please them in this, too, and was very lucky in what
occurred to me. I sung to them ‘Hearts of oak are our ships; hearts of
oak are our men.’ I translated it into Italian for them; and never did I
see men so delighted with a song as the Corsicans were with ‘Hearts of
Oak.’ ‘_Cuore di querco_,’ cried they, ‘_bravo Inglese!_’ It was quite a
joyous riot.”

Boswell's correspondence during this tour is also characteristic. He
informs us that he walked one day to Corte, from the convent where he
lodged, purposely to write a letter to Mr. Samuel Johnson.—“I told my
revered friend, that from a kind of superstition, agreeable in a certain
degree to him as well as to myself, I had, during my travels, written to
him from LOCA SOLEMNIA, places in some measure sacred. That, as I had
written to him from the tomb of Melancthon, sacred to learning and
piety, I now wrote to him from the palace of Pascal Paoli, sacred to
wisdom and liberty; knowing that, however his political principles may
have been represented, he had always a generous zeal for the common
rights of humanity.

“Mr. Johnson was pleased with what I wrote here; for I received, at
Paris, an answer from him, which I keep as a valuable charter. ‘When you
return, you will return to an unaltered and, I hope, unalterable friend.
All that you have to fear from me is the vexation of disappointing me.
No man loves to frustrate expectations which have been formed in his
favour, and the pleasure which I promise myself from your journals and
remarks is so great, that perhaps no degree of attention or discernment
will be able to afford it. Come home, however, and take your chance. I
long to see you and to hear you; and hope that we shall not be so long
separated again. Come home, and expect such a welcome as is due to him
whom a wise and noble curiosity has led where, perhaps, no native of
this country ever was before.’”[39]

We have a certain sympathy for Boswell. He was the first Englishman on
record who penetrated into Corsica, and none but ourselves, as far as we
have any account, have followed his steps for nearly a century. Not to
weary the reader, we have done him injustice in only making extracts
from his work betraying the weak points of his character; for his
account of Corsica is valuable for its research, its descriptions, and
its history of the times. His _memorabilia_ of Pascal Paoli supply ample
materials for any modern Plutarch who would contrast his character with
that of his rival countryman, Napoleon Bonaparte. Commencing their
political career in unison, widely as it diverged, both ended their
lives in exile on British soil. Though Paoli's sphere was narrow, so was
that of some of the greatest men in Grecian history; and, like theirs,
it had far extended relations. The eyes of Europe were upon him; Corsica
was then its battle-field, and the principles of his conduct and
administration are of universal application.

But Sollacaró may have more interest for the public of the present day
from its connection with a romance of Alexandre Dumas, and the play
founded upon it, than from Paoli's having held court, or Boswell's visit
to him, there. We have traced the wizard's footsteps, in one of his
works of genius, at the Château d'If and Monte Cristo[40], we meet them
again in the wilds of Corsica. Few of my readers can follow us there;
but let them go to the “Princess's” when “The Corsican Brothers” is
performed, and they will realise much that we have told them of the
Corsican temperament and Corsican life. How true to nature is the reply
of Fabian, in the first act, to the suggestion of his friend, “Then you
will never leave the village of Sollacaró?”—“It seems strange to you
that a man should cling to such a miserable country as Corsica; but what
else can you expect? I am one of those plants that will only live in the
open air. I must breathe an atmosphere impregnated with the life-giving
emanations of the mountains and the sharp breezes of the sea. I must
have my torrents to cross, my rocks to climb, my forests to explore. I
must have my carbine, room, independence, and liberty. If I were
transported into a city, methinks I should be stifled, as if I were in a

The scene of the first act is laid in an old mansion of the Colonna's at
Sollacaró, perhaps that in which Boswell lodged. The action turns upon
an antient feud between the Orlandi and Colonne, which is with
difficulty extinguished by the intervention of Fabian, one of the
Corsican brothers. A short dialogue tells the story:—

“FABIAN. ‘You come among us to witness a _vendetta_; well! you will
behold something much more rare—you will be present at a

“ALFRED. ‘A reconciliation?’

“FAB. ‘Which will be no easy matter, I assure you, considering the point
to which things are come.’

“ALF. ‘And from what did this great quarrel originate, which, thanks to
you, is on the eve of being extinguished?’

“FAB. ‘Why, I confess I feel some difficulty in telling you that. The
first cause was—’

“ALF. ‘Was what?’

“FAB. ‘The first cause was a hen.’

“ALF. (_astonished_) ‘A hen!’

“FAB. ‘Yes. About ten years ago, a hen escaped from the poultry-yard of
the Orlandi, and took refuge in that of one of the Colonne. The Orlandi
claimed the hen. The Colonne maintained it was theirs. In the heat of
the discussion, an Orlando was imprudent enough to threaten that he
would summon the Colonne before the _Juge de Paix_, and put them on
their oath. At this menace, an old woman of the Colonna family, who held
the hen in her hand, twisted its neck, and threw it in the face of the
mother of Orlando. “There,” said she, “if the hen be thine, eat it!”
Upon this, an Orlando picked up the hen by the claws, and raised his
hand, with the hen in it, to strike her who had thrown it in the face of
his mother; but at the moment he lifted his hand, a Colonna, who
unfortunately had his loaded carbine with him, without hesitation,
fired, and shot him in the breast, and killed him.’

“ALF. ‘Good heavens! And how many lives has this ridiculous squabble

“FAB. ‘There have been nine persons killed and five wounded.’

“ALF. ‘What! and all for a miserable hen?’

“FAB. ‘Yes.’

“ALF. ‘And it is, doubtless, in compliance with the prayers of one of
these two families that you have interfered to terminate this quarrel?’

“FAB. ‘Oh! not at all. They would have exterminated one another to the
very last man rather than have made a single step towards each other.
No, no; it is at the entreaty of my brother.’” ...

The action of this scene consists in the formal but unwilling
reconciliation of the two clans, represented by their chiefs, in the
presence of a _juge de paix_; in token of which a hen was to be
presented by the Orlando to the Colonna. The situation affords scope for
ludicrous disputes whether it should be a white hen or a black one—dead
or alive—which should hold out his hand first, and so on; mixed with the
more serious question, whether they met on equal terms, only four
Orlandi having been slain against five Colonne, but four Orlandi wounded
to one Colonna—the Colonne “counting the wounded for nothing,” if they
did not die of their wounds.

The main plot is beside our purpose. The scene changes to Paris, and
the catastrophe may be imagined from the words of Fabian in the last
act, which give, alas! too true a picture of what the social state of
Corsica was.

“‘A Corsican family is the ancient hydra, one of whose heads has no
sooner been cut off than there springs forth another, which bites and
tears in the place of the one that has been severed from the trunk. What
is my will, sir? My will is to kill him who has killed my brother!’

“‘You are determined to kill me, sir! How?’

“FAB. ‘Oh, be satisfied! Not from behind a wall, not through a hedge, as
is the mode in my country, as is the practice there; but, as it is done
here, _à la mode Française_, with a frilled shirt and white gloves;—and
you see, sir, I am in fighting costume.’”

       *       *       *       *       *

But we must return to our Rambles, trusting to the indulgent reader's
forgiveness, if our pen sometimes rambles too. On leaving Olmeto, the
road skirts the Gulf of Valinco, and, after touching the little port of
Propriano, ascends to Sartene. This town, the seat of one of the five
_sous-préfettures_ into which the island is divided, stands on the
summit of a hill, the plain below being covered with olive-yards and
fruit-trees, with vineyards on the slopes, and groves of ilex further
up. The place has a melancholy aspect, all the houses being of the
rudest construction, built of unhewn granite, black with age, and very
lofty. It is divided into two quarters; one inhabited by wealthy
families, among which, we were told, there are fifteen worth 200,000
_francs_ each; and the other by the lower class of people, a turbulent
race, between whom and the patricians there have long been bloody feuds,
breaking out into open war.

The country between Sartene and Bonifacio is wild and mountainous; and
the road winding along the sides of the hills, many fine points of view
are presented. To the northward, the eye rested on the lofty peak of
Monte Incudine, and the long ridge of the Cascione, the high pasturages
of which are occupied during the summer months by the shepherds of
Quenza and other villages of the Serra. Southward, we have the coast,
deeply indented, the blue Mediterranean, and, at about two hours from
Sartene, the distant mountains of Sardinia, in faint outline. Now, there
is in sight the grey tower of one of the old feudal castles, overgrown
with wood, and rising among pinnacles of rock; vast forests clothe some
of the mountain-sides, and everywhere we find the arbutus, the myrtle,
and evergreen shrubbery. Here it contrasts well with the red and grey
rocks we see around. That reddish rock is a compact granite, evidently
admitting of a high polish. There are quarries by the side of the road,
which is cut through it; and we are informed that it is sent to Rome for
works of art.

Corsica is rich in valuable marbles, as yet turned to little account.
Not far from Olmeto, in this route, in the canton of Santa Lucia, is
found a beautiful granite, peculiar to the island. They call it
_orbicularis_. It has a blueish cast, with white and black spots. I have
observed it among the choice specimens with which the chapel of the
Medici, at Florence, is so richly inlaid. The Corsican mountains present
a variety of other fine granites, with porphyry and serpentine, in some
of which agates and jaspers are incorporated. Of marbles proper, there
are quarries in the island of a statuary marble, of a pure and dazzling
whiteness, said to be equal to the best Carrara. Blocks of it, from
five to eight feet thick, can be obtained from a single layer.
Blueish-grey and pale yellow marbles are found near Corte and Bastia.
But of metalliferous rocks and deposits the island cannot boast; a few
iron mines, that of Olmeta in particular, one of copper, another of
antimony, and one of manganese, form the scanty catalogue. It is to the
island of Elba that we must look for mineral wealth.

Connected with the mineralogy of Corsica, I would just mention, in
passing, that the island abounds in warm, sulphureous, and chalybeate
springs, some of them strongly impregnated with carbonic acid gas. Those
of Orezza, Puzzichello, and the Fiumorbo, are in great repute; and I
collect from the _procès-verbals_ of the Council-General, that the
mineral waters of Corsica are considered objects of much importance,
considerable sums being annually voted for making baths, with roads to
them, and encouraging parties engaged in opening them to the public.

Descending from the heights, after halting at a solitary post-house, we
cross a large tract of partially-cultivated flats, through which the
Ortolo flows sluggishly into the Gulf of Roccapina. Again we climb a
ridge, and the mountains of Sardinia rise distinctly before us over the
straits and islands beneath us. The road now approaches the
Mediterranean, crossing the heads of the small Gulfs of Figari and
Ventiligni. Many streams flow into them through a country uninhabited,
and said to be unhealthy.

Some miles succeed of the undulating shrubbery of the _maquis_, over a
poor and rugged surface, till we surmount the last ridge, and, suddenly,
Bonifacio appears across the harbour, crowning a rocky peninsula rising
boldly from the sea, which washes almost the whole circuit of its base.
The chalk cliffs are of a dazzling whiteness, and scooped out by the
action of the waves and the weather into the most fantastic shapes.
Their entire _enceinte_ is surrounded by fortifications, screening from
sight most of the town; the church domes, with watch-towers and a
massive citadel, alone breaking the picturesque outline. At the foot of
the road, along the harbour-side, lies the _Marino_, inhabited by
fishermen, and the seat of a small coasting trade and some commerce
across the straits with the island of Sardinia.

    [Illustration: BONIFACIO ON THE SEA-SIDE.]

To this Marino we rumble down the steep bank on the opposite side of the
creek, through ilex woods festooned with wild vines, and, lower down,
through olive groves. We travelled in the _coupé_ of the _diligence_
from Sartene with a young Corsican officer in the French service, who
had come on leave from Dieppe to bid farewell to his family at
Bonifacio, expecting to be employed in the expedition to the East. We
talked of the coming war, with an almost impregnable fortress before us,
memorable for its obstinate resistance to sieges, as remarkable in old
times as that in which both, probably, of my fellow-travellers were,
twelve months afterwards, engaged. On approaching the place, we
witnessed a scene which gave us some idea of the warmth of family
feeling among the Corsicans. At the foot of the descent, a mile from the
town, the _diligence_ suddenly stopped. By the road-side a group, of all
ages and both sexes, was waiting its arrival. What fond greetings! what
tender embraces! A young urchin seized his brother's sword, almost as
long as himself; the mother and sisters clung to his side. Leaving him
to walk to the town thus happily escorted, we are set down on the quay.
The only access to the town itself is by a steep inclined plane, with
slopes and steps cut in the rock. No wheel carriage ever enters the
place. We pass under a gloomy arch in the barbican, surmounted by a
strong tower, and establish ourselves in a very unpromising _locanda_,
after vainly searching for better quarters.


  _Bonifacio.—Foundation and History.—Besieged by Alfonso of
    Arragon.—By Dragut and the Turks.—Singularity of the Place.—Its
    Mediæval Aspect.—The Post-office.—Passports.—Detention.—Marine
    Grottoes.—Ruined Convent of St. Julian._

Boniface, Marquis of Tuscany, one of the noblest and bravest of
Charlemagne's peers, was entrusted by his feeble successor with the
defence of the most salient point in the southern frontier of his
dominions against the incessant ravages of the Saracen Corsairs from
Barbary and Spain. Created Count of Corsica, Boniface founded, in 830,
the strong fortress, on the southern extremity of the island, which
bears his name. A massive round tower, called _Il Torrione_, the
original citadel, still proudly crowns the heights, having withstood for
ages the storms of war and the tempests which lash its exposed and
sea-girt site. Three other ancient towers, including the barbican
already mentioned, strengthened the position; and others, with ramparts,
curtains, and bastions, were added to the works in succeeding times,
till the whole circuit of the rocky _plateau_ bristles with defensive
works. Within these the town is closely packed in narrow streets;—but of
that hereafter.

    [Illustration: BONIFACIO]

Of its history it need only be mentioned, that after passing to the
Pisans, the Genoese got possession of the place by a stratagem, and it
remained for many centuries under their protection, but enjoying great
independent privileges. Genoese families of distinction settled there,
and, during the wars with the Corsicans and their allies, Bonifacio
steadfastly adhered to the fortunes of the Republic.

In the course of these wars, the place sustained two sieges, so
signalised by the vigour and obstinacy of the attack and defence,
especially by the heroic resistance of the Bonifacians and the extremity
of suffering they endured, that these sieges are memorable amongst the
most famous of either ancient or modern times.

In 1420, Alfonso of Arragon, having pretensions on Corsica, invested
Bonifacio by sea and land with a powerful force, supported by his
partisan, Vincintello d'Istria, at the head of his Corsican vassals. The
siege, which lasted five months, was vigorously pressed on the part of
the Spaniards, and met by a defence equally determined. Night and day, a
terrible shower of stone balls and other missiles was hurled at the
walls and into the town by the besiegers' engines, both from the fleet
and the position occupied by the king's army on a neighbouring hill. The
besiegers also threw arrows from the ships' towers and round-tops, and
leaden acorns from certain hand-bombards, of cast metal, hollow, like a
reed, as they are described by the Corsican historian, these leaden
acorns being propelled by fire, and piercing through a man in armour.
Artillery, the great arm in modern sieges, thus helped to sweep the
ranks of the devoted Bonifacians. Seventy years before, it had been
employed, in a rude shape, by the English at the battle of Créci. The
walls and towers crumbled under the storm of heavier missiles discharged
by the machines of ancient warfare, and the houses were laid in ruins.
Twice, practicable breaches were effected, and the Spaniards, bravely
mounting to the assault, which lasted several days, were repulsed with
severe loss; the women of Bonifacio, as well as the priests and monks,
vyeing with the townsmen in heroic courage while defending the breaches.
Then, both sexes and every age worked night and day in throwing up
barricades and repairing the walls.

In the face of this obstinate defence, Alfonso, despairing of being able
to carry the place by assault, determined on forcing the enemy to
surrender from starvation, during a protracted siege; and, still pouring
missiles incessantly into the place, he maintained a close blockade by
sea and land, drawing chains across the harbour to prevent supplies
being thrown in. The corn magazine had been burnt; and the besieged,
reduced to the last extremity, were compelled to devour the most
loathsome herbs and animals. Many, wounded and helpless, would have been
carried off by hunger had not the compassion of the women afforded them
relief; for the kind-hearted women of Bonifacio, we are told, actually
offered their breasts to their brothers, children, blood-relations, and
sponsors; and there was no one during the terrible siege of Bonifacio
who had not sucked the breast of a woman. They even, it is said, made a
cheese of their milk, and sent it to the king, as well as threw bread
from the walls, to disguise their state of distress from the Spaniards.

The republic of Genoa, receiving intelligence of the extremity to which
its faithful town was reduced, lost no time in fitting out a fleet to
convey to its aid a strong reinforcement, with supplies of arms and
food; but the season was so stormy that for three months, between
September and January (1421), the expedition was detained in the harbour
of Genoa.

Meanwhile, the townsmen, almost in despair, listened to the honourable
terms offered by the King of Arragon, and at last agreed to capitulate
if no relief arrived within forty days. But the king refusing to allow
them to send messengers to Genoa, they hastily built a small vessel, and
lowering it by ropes from the rock, then let down the devoted crew, who,
at every peril, were to convey the magistrates' letters to the senate of
Genoa. Followed to the point of rock by multitudes of the citizens, the
women, it is said, by turns offered them their breasts: food there was
little or none to take with them.

After fifteen days of terrible suspense, during which the churches were
open from early morning till late at night, the people praying for
deliverance from their enemies and for forgiveness of their sins, and
going in procession, barefoot, though the winter was severe, from the
cathedral of St. Mary to St. Dominic and the other churches, chanting
litanies;—at last, when hopes were failing, the little vessel crept
under the rock by night, and the crew, giving the signal and being drawn
up by ropes, brought the joyful news to the anxious crowd that the
Genoese fleet was close at hand. The period for the surrender was come,
when sorrow was turned to joy. The bells pealed, fire signals were
lighted on all the towers, and shouts of exultation rose to heaven. The
Arragonese thundered at the gates, demanding the surrender, for the
relieving fleet was not yet descried. The Bonifacians asserted that
relief had arrived in the night; and, to countenance the assertion,
there appeared bands of armed men, who marched round the battlements,
with glittering lances and armour, and the standard of Genoa at their
head; for the women of Bonifacio had put on armour, so that, like the
female peasantry of the coast of Cardigan, in their red whittles, when
the French landed during the war of the revolution, the force opposed to
the enemy was apparently doubled or tripled.

Alfonso of Arragon, seeing this, exclaimed, “Have the Genoese wings,
that they can come to Bonifacio when we are keeping a strict blockade by
land and by sea?” And again he gave orders for the assault, and his
engines shot a storm of missiles against the place. Three days
afterwards, the relieving fleet anchored off the harbour, and some brave
Bonifacians, swimming off to the ships, horrified the Genoese by their
haggard and famine-worn features. After a terrible fight, which lasted
for seven hours—ship jammed against ship in the narrow channel, and the
Bonifacians hurling firebrands, harpoons, and all kinds of missiles on
such of the enemy's ships as they could reach from the walls and
towers—the Genoese burst the chain across the harbour, and unbounded was
the joy of the famished townsmen when seven ships, loaded with corn,
were safely moored along the Marino. Alfonso of Arragon raised the
siege, and, abandoning his enterprise in deep mortification, sailed for

The citizens of Bonifacio displayed equal heroism in defence of their
town in 1554. It was then the turn of Henry IV. of France to invade
Corsica. Invited by Sampiero and the other patriot chiefs, the French
troops, acting in concert with the island militia, drove the Genoese
from all their positions except some fortified places on the coast;
while the Turks, the natural enemies of the republic, co-operating with
the French, appeared off the island with a powerful fleet, under the
command of their admiral, Dragut, and laid siege to Bonifacio.

The defence offered by the townsmen was all the more obstinate from
their being inspired with the sentiment that it was a religious duty to
fight against the Infidel. Again the women rushed to the ramparts, and
fell gloriously in the breach. The Turks had been repulsed with great
slaughter in repeated assaults, and Dragut had drawn off his forces to
some distance, disconcerted, and almost resolved to raise the siege,
when an unexpected occurrence brought it to an end. An inhabitant of
Bonifacio was entrusted by the senate of Genoa to carry over a sum of
money, and announce the approach of succour to the besieged town.
Landing at Girolata, he was making his way through the island, when,
betrayed by one of his guides, he was arrested, and brought to De
Thermes, the French general. Means were found of inducing the Genoese
emissary to betray his employers. He was instructed to proceed to
Bonifacio with Da Mare, a Corsican noble, and engage the authorities to
surrender, informing them that the Genoese could afford them no relief.

The stratagem succeeded. The letters of credence with which the traitor
had been furnished at Genoa satisfied the commandant of the truth of his
mission, and he consented to deliver up the place to Da Mare, on
condition that the town should be saved from pillage, and the soldiers
conducted to Bastia, and embarked for Genoa. But when the Turks saw
those brave men, who had foiled all their assaults by an obstinate
defence, file out of the place, they fell on them, and massacred them
without mercy. Moreover, Dragut demanded that Bonifacio should be put
into his hands, or that he should receive an indemnity of 25,000
crowns. It was impossible to deliver up a town to be sacked by the
Turks, the inhabitants of which it was policy to conciliate, nor could
De Thermes provide the sum required. He promised, however, speedy
payment, and sent his nephew to the Turks as an hostage. Dragut then
sailed for the Levant, in dudgeon with his allies, and disgusted with an
enterprise which had terminated so little to his honour. Bonifacio, with
the rest of Corsica, was soon afterwards restored by the treaty of
Château-Cambresis to the Genoese, who repaired and considerably added to
the fortifications.

One easily conceives that the rock fortress must have been impregnable
in ancient times, if bravely defended. Even now it is a place of
considerable strength, garrisoned by the French, who have erected
barracks and improved the works. But the place still singularly
preserves the character of a fortified town of the Middle Ages. Nothing
seems changed except that French sentries pace the battlements instead
of Genoese. There are the old towers, walls, churches, and houses;—the
houses, tall and gloomy, many of them having the arms of Genoese
families carved in stone over the portals. A network of narrow and
irregular streets spreads over the whole _plateau_ within the walls,
which rise from the very edge of the cliffs. There is not a yard of
vacant space, except an esplanade and _place d'armes_, where the
promontory narrows at its southern extremity. The only entrance is under
the vaulted archway of the barbican, still as jealously guarded as if
Saracen, Turk, or Spaniard threatened an attack. This tower commands the
approach from the Marino by the broad ramp, a long inclined plane, at a
sharp angle, the ascent of which, _en échelon_, by the troops of
diminutive mules and asses employed for conveying all articles necessary
for subsistence and use in the town, it was painful to witness. The
streets are as void of every kind of vehicle as those of Venice, and
almost as unsavoury as its canals. There is scarcely room for two loaded
mules to pass each other. Every morning, nearly the whole population
pours forth, with their beasts of burthen, to their labour in the
country, there being no villages in the canton; returning to their homes
in the evening. They are an industrious race, snatching their
subsistence from a barren soil.

Few strangers visit Bonifacio, and those who do must be content with
very indifferent accommodations. We were lodged _au premier_ of a gaunt
_locanda_, our last resource, after exploring the place for better
quarters. Its best recommendation was the zeal and kindness of the host;
and even the resources of his culinary skill, which, I believe, could
have produced a _ragout_ from a piece of leather, failed for want of
materials on which to exercise it. The supplies of flesh, fowl,
and—strange to say—fish, were scanty and bad. The French officers in
garrison messed, _en pension_, at our hotel, but their fare, limited by
a close economy, was not only meagre, but, with all the accompaniments
of the table, absolutely disgusting.

To make matters worse, we were detained several days beyond our allotted
time in this ill-provisioned fortress by an unexpected mischance. Armed
with Foreign Office passports, current at least through the friendly
states of France and Sardinia without the slightest hindrance, we had
taken the additional precaution of proposing to have them _visé_ by the
French and Sardinian Legations in London, that there might be no sort of
obstacle to our crossing from one of the two islands in our route to
the other. The _visé_ was refused as perfectly unnecessary; and even at
Ajaccio, where we passed some hours at the _Préfeture_, our passports
were returned to us on mere inspection. Greatly, however, to our
mortification, we discovered, at Bonifacio, that international
conventions between friendly governments had no force in this
out-of-the-way corner of the civilised world. We could not be allowed to
embark for Sardinia without authority from the Administration at
Ajaccio, which it would take at least forty-eight hours to procure. All
arguments were vain; the Foreign Office passport could not be
recognised; the orders were precise for a strict _surveillance_ of all
persons endeavouring to cross the Straits. As private individuals and
English gentlemen, we were on particularly pleasant terms with the
_maire_ and his son; but, officially, such was their language, they had
nothing to show that we were not brigands meditating escape. Officials
generally, and foreign officials especially, are not to be moved by any
force of circumstances from their regular track.

Unwilling to submit, and anxious to get forward, we lost twenty-four
hours of precious time in vainly negotiating with the master of a small
vessel to smuggle us over. He would be well paid, and we proposed going
to some unfrequented part of the coast, from whence he could take us
off. But, tempting as the offers were, after much deliberation, they
were rejected. Such things were common a short time before, and hundreds
of the banditti had been ferried over to the coast of Sardinia; but now
there was a sharp look-out, and discovery would be ruin. Insignificant
as is the commerce of Bonifacio, it is well watched by a staff of
_douaniers_, consisting of a captain, four _sous-officiers_, and
thirteen or fourteen _préposés_, _matelots_, &c., besides _officiers de
santé_ and swarms of _gendarmes_. They were everywhere: at our landing;
while sketching; always in pairs; and seeming to dodge our steps. Two
presented themselves while we were at supper the evening after our
arrival. The passports had been exhibited;—what could they want with us?
what offence had we committed? Their business was with the innkeeper; he
had omitted to fix a lantern at his door! He hated the French like a
true Corsican. He would not pay even decent respect to the officers, his
guests, and boasted of starving them to the last fraction his contract
for the mess allowed; while nothing was good enough for the Englishmen.

Piétro was, indeed, a true Corsican; had killed his man, given a _coup_,
as he called it, to his enemy, was condemned to death, but bought off.
_Encore_; a man he had offended came to his hotel, and called for food.
They sat down to table in company, Piétro observing that his enemy
frequently kept his hand on a side-pocket. After supper, the man asked
for a chamber to sleep. Piétro replied that they were all occupied, but
he might sleep with him. The other was staggered at his coolness, and,
hesitating to comply, Piétro seized him, and finding a pistol secreted
on his person, doubled him up, and kicked him down stairs.

Our host was not singular in his disaffection to the French. The
Bonifacians feel their thraldom more perhaps than any other people in
Corsica, overshadowed as their small population is by a strong garrison
and a host of _douaniers_ and _gendarmes_. Republican ideas prevail; and
they have not forgotten the days when their important town was more an
ally, than a dependance, of Genoa. Now, from their small population, a
single deputy represents them in the departmental council, while
Ajaccio sends twenty-nine and Bastia twenty-five members. The
Bonifacians despise their masters. “The French are inconstant,” said an
inhabitant, high in office, with whom I was talking politics; “they have
_tant de petitesses_; they have no national character: we have, and
you;—our very quarrels, which are deep and lasting, show it.”

Everything is primitive in Bonifacio, except the emblems of French
domination. On the evening of our arrival, having threaded my way alone
with some difficulty through a labyrinth of dark streets and lanes to
the Post Office, I found it closed; and there being no apparent means of
announcing my errand, was departing in despair, when a neighbour
good-humouredly cried out, “_Tirate la corda, signore!_” After some
search, for it was getting dark, I discovered a string, running up the
wall of the house to the third story. Pulling it lustily, at last a
window opened, and an old woman put her head out, inquiring, in a shrill
voice, “_Que volete?_” Having made known my wants, after some delay,
steps were heard slowly descending the stairs. Admitted at length into
the _bureau_, the old crone, spectacle on nose, proceeded very
deliberately to spell over, by a feeble lamplight, the addresses of a
bundle of letters taken from a shelf. The process was excruciating,
anxious as we were for news from home. She could make nothing of my
friend's truly Saxon name;—what foreign official can ever decipher
English names? Mine was more pronounceable, and as I kept repeating
both, she caught that, and, incapable as I should have thought her of
making a pun, she exclaimed at last, in despair, “_Forestier, ecco! sono
tutti forestière_,” tossing me the whole bundle to choose for myself.
Happily, I was not disappointed.

We shall not easily forget Bonifacio. Our detention within the narrow
bounds of the fortress-town afforded us leisure to realise the scenes
which the crowded _enceinte_ must have offered during its memorable
sieges. The combined effects, too, of loathsome smells—the filth of the
purlieus being indescribable—of bad diet, confinement, and the
irritation natural to Englishmen under detention, brought on suddenly
severe attacks of diarrhœa, though we were both before in robust health.
Our sufferings shadowed out, however faintly, the miseries endured by a
crowded population during the sieges, and again when half the
inhabitants of Bonifacio became victims to the plague in 1582—a scourge
which then devastated Corsica and parts of Italy.

Gasping for pure air, we were forbidden by the everwatchful _gendarmes_
to walk on the town ramparts. From early dawn till late evening, the
eternal clang of hand cornmills forbade repose in our _locanda_. The
neighbouring country has few attractions, even if we had been in a state
to profit by them. All interest is concentrated in the place itself. Our
steps were therefore especially attracted to the open area forming the
southern extremity of the Cape, as already mentioned. There at least we
could breathe the fresh air, look down on the blue Mediterranean washing
the base of the chalk cliffs, far beneath, and trace the outline of the
coast of Sardinia across the Straits. The Gallura mountains rose boldly
on the horizon, and the low island of Madaléna, our proposed
landing-place, was distinctly visible. It needed not that we should
indulge imagination in picturing to ourselves Castel Sardo, and other
places along the coast, which we hoped soon to visit. The esplanade was
generally solitary, and suited our musings. One evening, the silence was
broken by a melancholy chant from the chapel of a ruined monastery
within the guarded _enceinte_. It was a service for the dead, at which a
prostrate crowd assisted in deep devotion. The sentries on the walls
rested on their arms, and we stood at the open door, facing the western
sky and the rolling waves, listening to strains of wailing which would
have suited the times of the siege and the plague.


Nearer the town stands the old church of the Templars, dedicated to St.
Dominic, of fine Gothic architecture, full of interest for its armorial
and other memorials of the knightly defenders of the faith, and of noble
Genoese families. Over the edge of the cliff towers the massive
_Torrione_, the original fortress of the Marquis Bonifacio, consecrated
in memory as long the bulwark of the island against the incursions of
Saracen corsairs. Here, is the spot where the hastily-built galley, with
its adventurous crew, was lowered down the face of the cliff, to convey
to Genoa the intelligence of the extremity to which the citizens of
Bonifacio were reduced when besieged by Alfonso of Arragon. There, is a
ladder of rude steps, cut in the chalk cliffs to the edge of the water,
two hundred feet beneath, the descent of which it made one dizzy to
contemplate. Perhaps, under cover of night, the now ruinous steps have
been boldly trodden in a sally for surprising the enemy, or stealthily
mounted by emissaries from without, conveying intelligence to the
beleaguered party. Perhaps, in the Genoese times, some Romeo and Juliet,
of rival families, found the means of elopement by this sequestered
staircase. One could imagine shrouded figures gliding from the convent
church close by—the perilous descent, the light skiff tossing beneath,
with its white sails a-peak, waiting to bear off the lovers to freedom
and bliss. For what legends and tales of romance, real or imaginary,
have we materials here!

    [Illustration: CAVE UNDER BONIFACIO.]

It is by sea only that one can escape from Bonifacio, except by miles of
dreary road. To the sea we looked for ours. _En attendant_, we tried our
wings to the utmost length of the chain which bound us to the rock.
Procuring a boat, we pulled out of the harbour, and round the jutting
points crowned by the fortress, half inclined to pitch the _padrone_
overboard, and make a straight course for the opposite coast of
Sardinia. Not driven to that extremity, we wiled away the time
pleasantly enough in a visit to the caverns worn by the sea in the chalk
cliffs, which front its surges. Some of these are exceedingly
picturesque. Their entrances festooned with hanging boughs, they
penetrate far into the interior of the rocks, and the water percolating
through their vaulted roofs, has formed stalactites of fantastic shapes.
The boat glides through the arched entrance, and we find ourselves in
the cool and grateful shade of these marine grottoes. Fishes are
flitting in the clear water; limpid streams oozing through the rocks
form fresh-water basins, with pebbly bottoms; and the channels from the
blue sea, flowing over the chalk, become cerulean. These are, indeed,
the halls of Amphitrite, fitting baths of Thetis and her nymphs. Poetic
imagination has never pictured anything more enchanting.


One afternoon, we walked a mile out of the town, up a narrow valley in
the limestone cliffs, to the ruined convent of St. Julian. The bottom of
the valley is laid out in gardens, with cross walls, and channels for
irrigation. The gardens appeared neglected, but there were some vines
and fig-trees, pomegranates, and crops of a large-growing kale. The
ruins lie at the head of the glen, facing Bonifacio and the sea; the
walls of the convent and church still standing, approached by a broad
paved way on a flight of marble steps. Seated on these, we enjoyed at
leisure a charming view.

Vineyards and plots of cultivated land overspread the slopes on either
side of the valley. There were scattered olive-trees, and bamboos waving
in the wind. The old convent walls, mantled with ivy, contrasted with a
chapel at the foot of the steps, having a handsome dome, covered with
bright glazed tiles of green, red, and black, and surmounted by a
cross—the only portion of the conventual buildings still perfect. In the
distance was the little landlocked haven, with a brig and some small
lateen-sailed vessels moored alongside the Marino. Above it rose the
fortress-town, with its towers and battlements. The sound of the church
bells tolling for vespers rose, softened by distance, up the valley.
Ravens were croaking over the ruins of the convent, and lizards frisking
on the banks and the marble steps on which we reposed. It was a fitting
spot for a Sunday afternoon's meditation—our last in Corsica!


  ISLAND OF SARDINIA.—_Cross the Straits of Bonifacio.—The Town and
    Harbour of La Madelena.—Agincourt Sound, the Station of the
    British Fleet in 1803.—Anecdotes of Nelson.—Napoleon Bonaparte
    repulsed at La Madelena._

Released, at length, from our irksome detention by the return of the
courier with the passports _visés_ from Ajaccio, and a boat we had
hired, meanwhile, lying ready at the Marino to carry us over to
Sardinia, not a moment was lost in getting under sail to cross the

The Bocche di Bonifacio were called by the Romans _Fossa Fretum_, and by
the Greeks _Tappros_, a trench, from their dividing the islands of
Corsica and Sardinia like a ditch or dyke. These straits are considered
dangerous by navigators, from the violence of the squalls gushing
suddenly from the mountains and causing strong currents, especially
during the prevalence of winds from the north-west during nine months of
the year. Lord Nelson describes them during one of these squalls as
“looking tremendous, from the number of rocks and the heavy seas
breaking over them.” In another letter he says, “We worked the ‘Victory’
every foot of the way from Asinara to this anchorage, [off La Madelena,]
blowing hard from Longo Sardo, under double-reefed topsails.” The
difficulties of the Bonifacio passage can hardly be understood by a
landsman who has not visited the straits, but they are stated to have
been so great, “and the ships to have passed in so extraordinary a
manner, that their captains could only consider it as a providential
interposition in favour of the great officer who commanded them.”[42]

    [Illustration: LOOKING BACK ON CORSICA.]

It has been my fortune to pass these straits on three several occasions
when they were perfectly calm. During the passage from Corsica in an
open boat, which I am now relating, there was so little wind that, with
all the spread of high-peaked sails a Mediterranean boat can carry, we
made but little way, and the surface was so unruffled that my friend was
able to sketch at ease the outline of the Corsican mountains, from which
we were slowly receding. It was, however, pleasurable to linger midway
between the two islands, retracing our route in the one by the lines of
its mountain ranges, and anticipating fresh delight in penetrating those
of the Gallura now in prospect. The appearance of a French revenue
cutter to windward tended to reconcile us to the failure of our plan of
getting smuggled across the straits, which might have led to more
serious consequences than the detention we suffered.

The coast line on both sides of the channel, as on all the shores of
the two islands, is remarkably bold; and the scene was diversified by
the groups of rocky islets scattered across the straits, and described
in a former chapter as the broken links of a chain which once united
Corsica with the mountain system of the north-east-portion of the island
of Sardinia. They are composed entirely of a fine-grained red granite.
In some of the islets lying nearest the Corsican coast quarries were
worked to supply blocks and columns for the temples and palaces of
imperial Rome. Quarries of the same material were also worked by the
Romans, as we shall find presently, on the coast of Sardinia, opposite
these islands.

With two exceptions, these “Intermediate Islands” are uninhabited. They
were considered of so little importance that, till the middle of the
last century, it was considered a question which of them belonged to
Sardinia and which to Corsica. It was then easily settled by drawing a
visual line equidistant from Point Lo Sprono on the latter, and Capo
Falcone on the former; it being agreed that all north of this line
should belong to Corsica, and all south of it to Sardinia.

The distance between the two capes is about ten nautical miles. To the
westward of Capo Falcone lies the small harbour of Longo Sardo, or
Longone, the nearest landing-place from Bonifacio, from which it has
long carried on a contraband trade; its proximity to Corsica also making
it the asylum of the outlaws exiled from that island. A new town, called
Villa Teresa, built on a more healthy spot on the neighbouring heights,
has received a considerable access of population from the same source.

The Capes Falcone, with La Marmorata close by, and La Testa forming the
north-west point of Sardinia, are all of the same formation as the
rocky islands in the straits already mentioned, and, like them, this
district furnished the Romans with many of the granite columns which
still form magnificent ornaments of the Eternal City. Those of the
Pantheon are said to have been excavated near Longone; and several
similar ones, as well as rude blocks, may still be seen in the quarries
on the promontory of Santa Reparata, near which the remains of some
Roman villas have also been discovered. In later days we find the value
of the Gallura granite appreciated by the Pisans. Their Duomo, built by
Buschetto in 1063, soon after their possession of Sardinia, shows the
beauty of the Marmorata rocks; and the Battisterio, built in 1152 by
Dioti Salvi, has also much of Gallura material in its construction.

La Madelena is the largest island in the Sardinian group, and while
Porto Longone is a poor place, the town and harbour of La Madelena are
much frequented in the communications and trade between Corsica and
Sardinia. Our course therefore was shaped for the latter, though twice
the distance from shore to shore. The island of La Madelena, the _Insula
Ilva_, or _Phintonis_, of the Romans, is about eleven miles in
circumference. Till about a century ago it was only inhabited or
frequented by shepherds, natives of Corsica, who led a nomad life, and
by their constant intercourse with Corsica and Sardinia, and by
intermarriages with natives of both, formed a mixed but distinct race,
as the Ilvese are still considered. The town of La Madelena was only
founded in 1767, some Corsican refugees being among its first settlers;
but from its fine harbour, the healthiness of its site, and its
convenience for commerce with Italy, it rapidly became a place of
considerable population and trade.

There are numerous channels and many sheltered bays frequented by ships
between the group of islands of which La Madelena is the principal. Our
own course from the north-west led us through a strait between the main
land of Sardinia and the islands of Sparagi, Madelena, and Caprera,
which opened to view all the points of interest in its most celebrated
harbour. Right ahead, it was almost closed by the little rocky islet of
Santo Stefano, now defended by a fort, and remarkable for having been
the scene of a severe repulse received by Napoleon at the outset of his
long successful career. A point to the south, on the main land of
Sardinia, marking the entrance of the Gulf of Arsachena, is called the
Capo dell'Orso, from a mass of granite so exactly resembling the figure
of a bear recumbent on its hind legs, that it attracted the notice of
Ptolemy 1400 years ago. The island of Caprera, probably deriving its
name from the wild goats till lately its sole inhabitants, presents a
ridge of rugged mountains, rising in the centre to a ridge called
Tagiolona, upwards of 750 feet high, with some little sheltered bays,
and a few cultivated spots on its western side.

Sheltered by Caprera, La Madelena, and Santo Stefano, we find the fine
anchorage of Mezzo Schifo; the town of La Madelena, for which we are
steering, lying about half a mile south-west of the anchorage. This
harbour, named by Lord Nelson “Agincourt Sound,” was his head-quarters
while maintaining the blockade of Toulon, from 1803 to 1805. He formed
the highest opinion of its position for a naval station, as affording
safe and sheltered anchorage, and ingress and egress with any winds. His
public and private correspondence at that period shows the importance
he attached to its possession, and his anxiety that it should be secured
permanently to the crown of England.

“If we could possess the island of Sardinia,” he says, in a letter to
Lord Hobart, “we should want neither Malta nor any other island in the
Mediterranean. This, which is the finest of them, possesses harbours fit
for arsenals, and of a capacity to hold our navy,—within twenty-four
hours' sail of Toulon,—bays to ride our fleets in, and to watch both
Italy and Toulon.” In another letter, he says:—“What a noble harbour is
formed by these islands! The world cannot produce a finer. From its
position, it is worth fifty Maltas.” This opinion we find repeated in a
variety of forms, and with Nelson's characteristic energy of expression.

When at anchor in Agincourt Sound, he kept two or three frigates
constantly cruising between Toulon and the Straits of Bonifacio, to
signal any attempt of the enemy to leave their port; occasionally
cruising with his whole fleet, and then retreating to head-quarters. His
sudden appearance and disappearance off Toulon, in one of these
exercises, with the hope of alluring the French to put to sea, led their
admiral, M. Latouche-Tréville, to make the ludicrous boast, that he had
chased the whole British fleet, which fled before him. This bravado so
irritated Nelson, that it drew from him the well-known threat, contained
in a letter to his brother: “You will have seen by Latouche's letter how
he chased me, and how I ran. I keep it; and, if I take him, by God, he
shall eat it!”

Our boatman pointed out to us the channel through which Lord Nelson led
his fleet when at length, after more than two years' watching, the
object of all his hopes and vows was accomplished by the French fleet
putting to sea. This, the eastern channel, of which the low isle of
Biscie forms the outer point, is the most dangerous of all, from the
sunken rocks which lie in the fairway, and its little breadth of sea
room. Yet Nelson beat through it in a gale of wind, in the dusk of the
evening, escaping these dangers almost miraculously. Our sailor pointed
out all this with lively interest, for Nelson's name and heroic deeds
are still household words among the seafaring people of La Madelena.

It was on the 19th of January, 1805, that the look-out frigate in the
offing signalled to the admiral that the French fleet had put to sea. At
that season there was much gaiety, in dances, private theatricals, and
other amusements, on board the different ships in the harbour, and
preparations for an evening's entertainment were going on at the moment
the stirring signal was discovered. It was no sooner acknowledged on
board the “Victory” than the responding one appeared, “Weigh
immediately!” The scene of excitement and confusion ensuing the sudden
departure and interruption of festivities may be easily conceived. It
was a dark wintry evening; but the suddenness of the order to get under
way was equalled by the skill and courage with which it was executed.
The passage is so narrow that only one ship could pass at a time, and
each was guided only by the stern lights of the preceding vessel. At
seven o'clock, the whole of the fleet was entirely clear of the passage,
and, bidding a long farewell to La Madelena, they stood to the southward
in pursuit of the French fleet. The daring and determined spirit
exhibited by Nelson on this particular occasion was the subject of
especial eulogy in the House of Lords by his late Majesty, then Duke of
Clarence; being cited as the greatest instance of his unflinching
courage and constant activity.

Thus, as we have already found Corsica, we now see Sardinia, witnessing
some of the boldest achievements of our great naval hero.

Further interest attaches to La Madelena from its having repulsed the
attack of Napoleon, and driven him to a precipitate retreat from his
first field of arms. The young soldier, after being for some months in
garrison at Bonifacio, was attached, by order of Paschal Paoli, to the
expedition which sailed from thence in February, 1793, to reduce La
Madelena. He acted as second in command of the artillery, the whole
force being under the command of General Colonna-Cesari. A body of
troops having effected a lodgment on the island of Santo Stefano by
night, and a battery having been thrown up and armed, a heavy fire was
opened by Bonaparte on the town and its defences. They were held by a
garrison of 500 men, and the fire was returned by the islanders with
equal fury. The opposite shore of Gallura was lined by its brave
mountaineers, who, on the French frigate being dismasted and bearing up
for the Gulf of Arsachena, embarked from Parao, and attacked Santo
Stefano. Their assault was so vigorous that Bonaparte found himself
compelled to make a precipitate retreat from the island with a few of
his followers, leaving 200 prisoners, with all the _matériel_, baggage,
and artillery. In passing between the other islands, the fugitives were
also attacked by some Gallurese, who, concealing themselves near Capo
della Caprera, by the precision of their firing committed great havoc on
the flying enemy.

Mr. Tyndale states that many of the Corsicans and Ilvese who witnessed
this action, being still living when he visited La Madelena, and
relating various circumstances relative to it, he heard the following
story from an old veteran, who was an eyewitness of the fact:—

“Bonaparte was superintending the firing from the battery, and watching
the effect of it with his telescope, when observing the people at
Madelena going to mass, he exclaimed, ‘_Voglio tirare alla chiesa, per
far fuggire le donne!_’ (‘I should like to fire at the church, just to
frighten the women!’) While in garrison at Bonifacio, as lieutenant [?
captain] of artillery, he had mortar and gun practice every morning, and
had on all occasions shown the greatest precision in firing. In this
instance he was no less successful, for the shell entered the church
window, and fell at the foot of the image of N.S. di Madelena. It failed
to burst in this presence, and this miraculous instance of religious
respect had its due weight with the pious islanders, by whom it was
taken up, and for a long time preserved among the sacred curiosities of
the town. A natural cause was, however, soon discovered for the
harmlessness of the projectile. Napoleon continued his firing; but
finding that the shells took no effect, though they fell on the very
spot he intended, he examined some of them, and found that they were
filled with sand. ‘_Amici_,’ he exclaimed, burning with indignation;
‘_eccole il tradimento_;’ and the troops, who had been suffering much by
the fire from Madelena, imagining that the treason was on the part of
General Cesari, would have put him _alla lanterna_, had he not made his
escape on board the frigate.”

It has, indeed, been said that Paoli, reluctantly obeying the orders of
the French Convention to undertake the expedition against Sardinia,
entrusted the command to Colonna-Cesari, his intimate friend, with
instructions to secure its failure, considering Sardinia as the natural
ally of their own island. However this may be, the affair terminated by
the retreat of the general with the rest of his force, having thrown
from Santo Stefano 500 shells and 5000 round shot into Madelena, without
much effect.

We found in the harbour a Sardinian steam-ship of war[43], and ten or
twelve vessels of very small tonnage, engaged in the trade with Corsica,
Leghorn, and Marseilles. About twenty of this class belong to the port;
besides which it is frequented annually by from 200 to 300 other small
vessels, principally Genoese, their united tonnage amounting to about
5000 tons. Besides this legitimate commerce, the Ilvese carry on a
prosperous contraband trade, taking advantage of the numerous little
creeks and bays along the rocky coasts of the island. They are naturally
a seafaring people, while the Sardes manifest a decided repugnance to
engage in seafaring pursuits. The quays round the port of Madelena are
spacious, and the town, straggling up the side of a hill, has a neat
appearance, is said to be healthy, and is cleaner than any Sardinian
town we saw.

There are tolerable accommodations at Santa's Hotel. The reception of
foreign guests is however, I imagine, a rare occurrence, and the means
of supplying the table from the resources of the island appeared scanty;
so that we should have fared ill but for the kindness of an English
officer long settled at Madelena, who sent some substantial
contributions to our comforts, in addition to his own hospitality. The
name of Captain Roberts, R.N., is so well known to all visitors, as well
as among the Sardes, that it is public property, and I may be allowed to
bear testimony to the high esteem in which the hearty and genial old
sailor is generally held. His loss would occasion a blank at Madelena
not easily filled up; and I was happy to hear on my last visit to
Sardinia that his health had improved.

More English, I believe, are settled in the neighbourhood of La Madelena
than in the whole island of Sardinia; if, indeed, there are any to be
found, we did not hear of them. The English visitors consist principally
of officers on shooting excursions from Malta. We had a very pleasant
walk along the shore to the villa of an Australian colonist who, after
wandering about the world, had, seemingly to his content, settled down
on a small farm on the slopes of a valley a mile or two from the town. A
man fond of cultivation might be very happy here, with such a climate,
and the means of commanding a profusion of vegetables, fruits, and
flowers. Irrigation was effected from a well provided with the simple
machinery for lifting the water common in such countries, and by its aid
the gardens just seeded and planted for the spring, or rather winter,
crops, so early is vegetation, looked greener and fresher than anything
we had seen for a long time. The cauliflowers and peas were already
making forward progress; the latter, indeed, grow wild in this
neighbourhood. But while these carried us in imagination to the latter
days of an English spring, the hedges of prickly pear bore witness to
the arid nature of the soil and the heat of the climate; of that,
indeed, we were very sensible in our walks, though the month of November
had now commenced.

A cottage occupied, it was said, by an English botanist was pointed out
to us; and an English family has been settled for some time in the
solitude of the island of Caprera, of whose improvements great things
were said. Every one spoke especially of Mrs. C.'s beautiful flower
garden, and an anecdote was told respecting it, characteristic, I think,
rather of Sarde than of English feeling. On some occasion when the king
visited La Madelena, Mrs. C. having been requested to contribute flowers
to the decorations of the festa in preparation to do honour to the royal
visit, she is said to have replied: “I cultivate my flowers for my own
pleasure—_pour m'amuser_—not to ingratiate myself with a court. If his
majesty desires to see them, he must come to Caprera.” I cannot vouch
for the truth of the story, though it was in every one's mouth. What
amused me was, that the islanders considered this as evincing a truly
English spirit of independence, which they heartily approved.

The principal church of La Madelena, dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene, is
a neat structure of granite and marble. Its decorations are less gaudy
than those one usually sees, the most valued ornaments being a pair of
massive altar candlesticks and a crucifix, all of silver, the gift of
Lord Nelson, in acknowledgment of the kindness and hospitality he
received from the islanders while his fleet lay in the harbour. On the
base of the candlesticks are enchased the arms of Nelson and Brontë,
with this inscription:

                        VICE COMES
                        NELSON NILI
                     DUX BRONTIS ECC.E
                    ST.E MAGDAL.E INS.E
                       ST.E MAGDAL.E

It is said that when the town publicly thanked Lord Nelson for the
donation, he replied: “These little ornaments are nothing; wait till I
catch the French outside their port. If they will but come out, I am
sure to capture them; and I promise to give you the value of one of
their frigates to build a church with. I have only to ask you to pray to
La Santissima Madonna that the French fleet may come out of Toulon. Do
you pray to her for that, and as for capturing them, I will undertake to
do all the rest.”

We landed at La Madelena on the anniversary of the day when Nelson first
anchored his fleet off the town just fifty years before. As we trace his
career among the Mediterranean islands, recollections of those eventful
times crowd on our memories. In the half century that has intervened,
how has the aspect of affairs changed!

It was the eve of the feast of All Saints (1st Nov.), devoutly observed,
with that of All Souls on the day following, in all Catholic countries.
From daylight till ten at night the bells of St. Magdalene incessantly
clanged, and the church was thronged with successive crowds, absorbed
in pious and affectionate devotion to the memories of their departed
friends, according to the rites of the Roman Church. How thrilling are
the deep tones of the _De Profundis_ from the compositions of a good
musical school! And what observance can be more touching than this
periodical commemoration of the dead? There is none that more harmonises
with the best feelings of our nature; and yet of all the dogmas rejected
by ecclesiastical reforms, I know of none which has less pretensions to
Scriptural authority or has been more mischievous, corrupting alike the
priesthood and the laity, than that which makes the masses and prayers
incident to the commemoration of the dead propitiatory for sins
committed in the flesh.

The solemn festival brought out all the women of La Madelena, never
perhaps seen to more advantage than in a costume of black silk, suited
to the solemnity, with the Genoese mantle of white transparent muslin
attached to the back of the head, and falling gracefully over the


  _Ferried over to the Main Island.—Start for the Mountain Passes
    of the Gallura.—Sarde Horses and Cavallante.—Valley of the
    Liscia.—Pass some Holy Places on the Hills.—Festivals held
    there.—Usages of the Sardes indicating their Eastern Origin._

The halt at La Madelena was only a step in our route to the main island.
We had still to cross a broad channel, and landing at Parao, on the
Sardinian shore, horses were to be waiting for us. This arrangement,
kindly made by Captain Roberts, required a day's delay. We were to
proceed to Tempio, in the heart of the Gallura Mountains, under guidance
of the courier in charge of the post letters.

Ferried across the channel in less than an hour, we found the horses
tethered among the bushes. House there was none, which must be
inconvenient when the weather is too tempestuous for crossing the strait
from Parao. We took shelter from the heat under a rook, making studies
of a group of picturesque shepherds, and amusing ourselves with some
luscious grapes,—baskets of which were waiting for the return of the
passage-boat to La Madelena,—while a pack-horse was loaded with our

The outfit for this expedition was more than usually cumbersome, as it
comprised blankets and other appendages for camping out, if occasion
required. The cavallante, however, made nothing of stowing it away,
cleverly thrusting bag and baggage into the capacious leather pouches
which hung balanced on each side of the stout beast, with a portmanteau
across the pack-saddle. When all was done, the cavallante mounted to the
top of the load, where he perched himself like an Arab on a dromedary.

The cavallo Sardo _par excellence_, such as the higher classes ride, is
a strong spirited barb, highly valued. These horses are carefully broken
to a peculiar step, called the “portante,” something between an amble
and a trot, for which we have neither a corresponding word or pace. I
cannot say that I admired the pace. It only makes four or five miles an
hour, and, to my apprehension, might be described as a shuffle, not
being so easy as a canter, nor having the invigorating swing of a trot.
The natives, however, consider the movement delightful; and a writer on
Sardinia says: “_Il viaggiare in Sardegna è perciò la più dolce cosa del
mondo; l'antipongo all'andare in barca col vento in poppa_”—“The
travelling in Sardinia is, on this account, one of the pleasantest
things in the world; I prefer it to sailing in a vessel with the wind

The ordinary Sarde horse is a hardy, sure-footed animal, undersized, but
capable of carrying heavy burthens. Great numbers of them are kept, as
the poorest native disdains walking. They are ill fed, and have rough
treatment. As pack-horses they convey all the commodities of home
produce, or imported and interchanged, throughout the interior of the
island, there being scarcely any roads, and consequently no
wheel-carriages employed, except on the Strada Reale, through the level
plains of the Campidano, between Cagliari and Porto Torres.

The _viandanti_ who conduct this traffic are a numerous and hardy class
of people, much enduring in the long and toilsome journeys through such
a country as their vocation requires them to traverse. We found them
civil, patient, and attentive, but hard at a bargain,—so that this mode
of travelling is more expensive than might be expected,—and occasionally
rather independent. A curious instance of this occurred at Tempio. We
had made a bargain, on his own terms, with one of these people, for
horses to proceed on our route, and they were brought to the door ready
for loading up and mounting, when the cavallante refused to allow our
using our English saddles. Not wishing to lose time, we took
considerable pains to point out that the saddles being well padded would
not wring his horses' backs, conceiving that to be what he apprehended.
But it was to no purpose; there seemed to be no other reason for the
scruple than that a Sarde horse must be caparisoned _à la Sarde_, with
high-peaked saddle and velvet housings. The cavallante, persisting, led
his horses back to the stable, losing a profitable engagement rather
than being willing to submit to their being equipped in a foreign
fashion. After a short delay we procured others from a cavallante who
made no such difficulties, and proved a very serviceable and attentive

    [Illustration: VALLEY OF THE LISCIA.]

After leaving Parao, and calling at a solitary _stazza_ or farm, the
track we pursued led through a wide plain watered by the Liscia. The
river made many windings among meadows clothed with luxuriant herbage,
and fed by numerous herds of cattle, and sheep, and goats; forming a
pastoral scene of singular beauty, of which my companion's sketch,
here annexed, conveys a good idea. The valley is bounded by ridges of no
great elevation, partially covered with a shrubbery of myrtle, cistus,
and other such underwood, among rocks and cliffs worn by the waters into
fantastic shapes. We occasionally crossed spurs of these ridges,
commanding extensive views of the Straits of Bonifacio, with the
mountains of Corsica in the distance on the one hand, and the nearer
island of Madelena on the other.

Nearly all the province of Gallura, washed by the Mediterranean on three
sides, consists of mountainous tracts, with valleys intervening, similar
to this of the Liscia. There is scarcely any cultivation, and they are
uninhabited; almost all the towns and villages of the Capo di Sopra
lying on the coast. On these plains a few shepherds lead a nomad life
during the healthy season, being driven from them by the deadly
_intempérie_ prevailing in summer and autumn. Until lately, the whole
district was notorious for the crimes of robbery and vindictive murder,
for the perpetration of which, and the security of the offenders, its
solitudes and natural fastnesses afforded the greatest facilities.

Continuing our route we crossed some park-like glades, with scattered
forest trees, and fringed by the graceful shrubbery, the _macchia_,
common to both the islands of Corsica and Sardinia. At some distance on
our left (south-east) appeared a beautifully wooded hill, with a chapel
on the summit, Santa Maria di Arsachena, one of the sanctuaries held in
great veneration by the Gallurese. To these holy places they flock in
great numbers on certain festivals, when the lonely spots, often
hill-tops, surrounded by the most wild and romantic scenery, witness
devotions and festivities, to which the revels form the chief

There is a still holier place further to the south of our track, the
Monte Santo, and I think its lofty summit, with a small chapel scarcely
visible amid the dark verdure of the surrounding woods, was pointed out
to us. It overhangs the village of Logo Santo, well described as the
“Mecca of the Gallurese.” The sanctity of the place was established in
the thirteenth century, the tradition being that the relics of St.
Nicholas and St. Trano, anchorites and martyrs here A.D. 362, were
discovered on the spot by two Franciscan monks, led to Sardinia by a
vision of the Virgin Mary at Jerusalem. A village grew up round the
three churches then erected in honour of the Saints and the Blessed
Virgin, with a Franciscan convent, long stripped of its endowments, and
fallen to ruin.

On the occurrence of the festivals celebrated at these holy places, the
people of the neighbouring parishes assemble in multitudes, marching in
procession, with their banners at their head; and the sacred flag of
Tempio, surmounted by a silver cross, is brought by the canons of the
cathedral and planted on the spot. The devotions are accompanied by
feasting, dancing, music, and sports, the people prolonging the revels
into the night, as many of them come from far, and the festivals occupy
more than one day.

That Christian rites were, from very early times, blended with
festivities accordant to the national habits of the new converts, with
even some alloy of pagan usages, is understood to have been a policy
adopted by the founders of the faith among semi-barbarous nations—a
concession to the weakness of their neophytes. Our own village wakes
and fairs, with their green boughs and flags, cakes and ale, originally
held in the precincts of the church on the feast-day of the patron
saint, partook of a similar character as the festivals of the Gallurese;
but with us the religious element has been long extinct.

The festivals are not confined to the Gallura; they have their stations
throughout the island, every district having some shrine of peculiar
sanctity. Their celebration is distinguished by some peculiarities,
which, in common with many other customs of the Sardes, and numerous
existing monuments and remains, leave no doubt of Sardinia having been
early colonised from the East. Traces may also be found in the customs
of the Sardes of similarity with the Greek life and manners, derived
indeed by the Greeks from the same common source.

Thus the usages of the Sardes afford, in a variety of instances, a
living commentary, perhaps the best still existing, on the modes of life
and thought recorded in Homer and the Bible. This they owe to their
insular position, their slight admixture with other races, and the
consequent tenacity with which they have adhered to their primitive

Of some of these indications of origin we may take occasion to treat
hereafter, as they fall in our way. For our present purpose may we not
refer to the worship in “high places” and in “groves,” to which the
Sardes are so zealously addicted, as a relic of practices often
denounced in the Old Testament, when the sacrifice was offered to idols?
They appear also to have been common and legitimate in the patriarchal
age and the earlier times of the Israelitish commonwealth, Jehovah alone
being the object of worship. What more biblical, as far as the Old
Testament is concerned, than the idea that worship and prayer are more
acceptable to the Almighty when offered on certain spots, holy ground,
remote, perhaps, from the usual haunts of the worshipper! What a living
picture we have in the festivities of the religious assemblies at Logo
Santo and Santa Maria di Arsachena, of the feasting and music, the songs
and dances accompanying the rites of Israelitish worship in common with
those of other eastern nations; not to speak of the festive character of
Greek solemnities, derived, indeed, from the same source, vestiges of
which, left by the Hellenic colonies, may also be traced.

However contrary these ideas and practices may be to the spirit and
precepts of the Gospel, they are so inherent in the genius and
traditions of the Sarde people, that I have heard it asserted that these
festas give, at the present day, almost the only vitality to the
ecclesiastical system established in the island. Their religious
character has almost entirely evaporated, though the forms remain. The
“solemn meetings,” instead of merely ending in innocent merriment, have
degenerated into scenes of riot, and often of bloodshed.

I was informed by the same person who made the remark that the festas
were the main prop of the priesthood in Sardinia—and a more competent
observer could not be found—that, from his own observation, men of the
most sober habits of life lost all command of themselves, became
absolutely frantic when tempted by the force of example, and led by what
may be called an instinctive national passion to participate in these
religious orgies. And Captain Smyth, R.N., who gives an interesting
account of one of these feasts, at which he was present[44], after
mentioning that “prayers, dances, poems, dinner, and supper concluded
[occupied] the day,” remarks, “that the feast of Santa Maria di
Arsachena has seldom been celebrated without the sacrifice of three or
four lives.” “The year preceding my visit,” he states, “two of the
carabiniere reale had been killed; and I was shown a young man who, on
the same occasion, received a ball through the breast, but having thus
satisfied his foe according to the Sarde code of honour, and fortunately
recovering, was, with his wife and a beautiful child, now enjoying the
gaieties of the day.”

Captain Smyth adds:—“I could not learn why there were no carabineers in
attendance on this anniversary; but the consequence was a numerous
concourse of banditti from the circumjacent fastnesses, notwithstanding
the presence of a great many ‘barancelli,’[45] who, it is known, will
not arrest a man that is only an assassin.”

The themes suggested by wayside objects have led us away from our track,
and we have still a long and rugged road to Tempio. We shall be in the
saddle for hours after sunset. Let us devote another chapter to the
continuation of our journey.


  _The Valley narrows.—Romantic Glen.—Al fresco Meal.—Forest of
    Cork Trees.—Salvator Rosa Scenery.—Haunts of Outlaws.—Their
    Atrocities.—Anecdotes of them in a better Spirit.—The Defile in
    the Mountains—Elevated Plateau.—A Night March.—Arrival at
    Tempio, the Capital of Gallura.—Our Reception._

After following the course of the Liscia for about an hour, we struck up
a lateral valley, the water of which stood in pools, separated by pebbly
shallows, but overhung by drooping willows, and fringed with a luxuriant
growth of ferns and rank weeds. The hills were covered with dense woods,
intersected by rare clearings and inclosures on their slopes. Here and
there stood a solitary _stazza_, as the stations or homesteads of the
few resident farmers are here called. We observed that they were
generally fixed on rising ground. At some of these the courier stopped,
his errands consisting not in the delivery of letters, that office
appearing to be a sinecure in this wild track, but in leaving packets of
coffee, sugar, &c., and, in one instance, a cotton dress,—commodities
none of which had probably been taxed to the Customs at La Madelena.

The valley narrowed, and its water quickened into a lively trout stream,
gurgling over a rocky bed, bordered on one side by thick underwood,
feathering down to its edge. The myrtles here were thirty feet high,
and, blended with the tall heath (Erica arborea), the branching arbutus,
the cistus, lentiscus, with scores of other shrubs, formed thickets of
as exquisite beauty as any we had seen in Corsica. The stream on its
hither bank washed a narrow margin of grass beneath the woods. Here we
rested our horses and dined. Wayfarers in such countries generally
select the right spot for their halt. This was a delightful one, and we
fared well enough on the contents of a basket provided at La Madelena.
Such rough _al fresco_ meals, the uncertainty when you will get another,
even when and where your ride will end, the living in the present, with
fresh air and sunshine, and perpetual though gradual change of scene,
with the absence of all care about the future—these form the charms of
such travelling as ours.

Again in the saddle, we soon afterwards entered a forest of magnificent
cork trees, festooned with wild vines, relieving the sombre tints of the
forest by the bright colours of their fading leaves. It hung on a
mountain's side, and the gloomy depth of shade became deeper and deeper,
as, after a while, the dusk of evening came on, and we began to thread
the gorges which led to the summit of the pass.

Salvator Rosa himself might have studied the wild scenery of Sardinia to
advantage. If I recollect right, we are informed that he did. Nor would
it require much effort of the imagination to add life to the picture in
forms suited to its savage aspect,—to conjure up the grim bandit
bursting from the thickets on his prey, or lurking behind the rock for
the hour of vengeance on his enemy. Such scenes are by no means

    [Illustration: A SALVATOR ROSA SCENE.]

Even now, numbers of the _fuorusciti_ find shelter in the fastnesses of
the Gallura; the remnant of bands once so formidable that they spread
terror through the whole province, bidding defiance alike to the law and
the sword. Only within the present century the government has succeeded
in quelling their ferocity, but not without desperate resistance to the
troops employed, eighty of whom were destroyed by a party of the bandits
in a single attack.

Still, though a better spirit begins to prevail, and outrages have
become less common and flagrant, we found, in travelling through the
island, a prevailing sense of insecurity quite incompatible with our
ideas of the supremacy of law under a well-ordered government. Some of
the mountainous districts were in so disturbed a state that we were
cautioned not to approach them; and every one we met throughout our
journey was armed to the teeth.

For ourselves, we felt no apprehensions, and took no precautions. In the
first place, we were not to be easily frightened by possible dangers;
and, in the second, we knew that a peaceable guise, in the character of
foreign travellers, was our best protection. The violences of the
_fuorusciti_ are, it is well understood, mingled and tempered with a
strong sense of honour. I imagine, indeed, that they originate for the
most part in that principle, developed in _vendetta_, though
degenerating into rapine and robbery. Outlaws must find means of
subsistence as well as honest men, and are not likely to be very
scrupulous as to the mode of obtaining them. Among such characters there
will be miscreants capable of any crime, and therefore there is always
danger. But, still, the virtue of hospitality to strangers, so inherent
amongst the Sardes, as in most semi-barbarous races, is not extinguished
in hearts which are hardened against every other feeling of humanity. As
the stranger is secure when he has “eaten salt” in the tent of the
Bedouin, the Caffre's kraal, or the wigwam of the Red Indian, so there
are numerous instances of the Sarde outlaws having afforded shelter and
assistance to strangers throwing themselves on their honour and
hospitality. Mr. Warre Tyndale relates such an adventure by a friend of
his. We will venture to give the details.

“In passing over the mountains from Tempio to Longone he fell in with
five or six _fuorusciti_, who, after the usual questions, finding that
he was a stranger in the country, offered to escort him a few miles on
his road, for ‘security.’ According to his story of the occurrence, he
could not at all comprehend the meaning of their expression; for the
fact of finding himself completely at the mercy of six men, any one of
whom might, could, or would in an instant have deprived him of life,
gave him very different ideas as to the meaning of the word. In thanking
them for their offer he elicited their interpretation of the phrase, and
was not a little amused and comforted by their assurance that the
proffered security consisted in delivering him safely into the hands of
the very party with whom they were waging deadly warfare. ‘_Incidit in
Scyllam qui vult vitare Charybdim_,’ thought my friend; but having no
alternative he accepted their offer, and, after partaking of an
excellent breakfast with them, they all proceeded onwards. For three
hours they continued their slow and cautious march through defiles to
which he was a perfect stranger; and while in conversation with them on
matters totally unconnected with the dangers of the place, they made a
sudden and simultaneous halt. Closing in together, a whispering
conference ensued among them, and as my friend was excluded from it, he
began to suspect he had been ensnared by the offer of escort, and that
the fatal moment had arrived when he was to fall their dupe and victim.
His suspicions were increased by seeing one of the party ride forward,
and leave his companions in still closer confabulation; but the
suspense, though painful, was short, for in a few minutes the envoy
returned, and an explanation of their mysterious halt and secrecy took
place. It appeared that the keen eyes and ears of his friends had
perceived their foes, who were concealed in the adjoining wood, and
that, having halted, one of them had gone as ambassador with a flag of
truce and negotiated an armistice for his safe escort. My friend parted
from his first guard of banditti with all their blessings on his head,
and having traversed a space of neutral ground, was received by the
second with no less kindness, and treated with no less honourable
protection. They accompanied him till he was safely out of their
district, assuring him that his accidental arrival and demand on their
mutual honour and hospitality did not at all interfere with their
dispute and revenge; and that if they were to meet each other the day
after they had discharged the duty of safely escorting him, they would
not be deterred by what had happened from instantaneously shedding each
others' blood.

“This scene,” adds Mr. Warre Tyndale[46], “took place in the forest of
Cinque-Denti, or ‘five-teeth,’ a tract of several miles in extent, said
to contain upwards of 100,000,000 trees and shrubs, principally oak,
ilex, and cork, with an underwood of arbutus and lentiscus; and such is
the thickness of the foliage, that the sunbeams and the foot of man are
said never to have entered many parts of it.”

Another instance of the honourable feeling and forbearance hospitably
shown by the Sarde mountaineer outlaws, under circumstances of great
temptation to plunder, was related to me by a friend long resident in
the island, as having occurred in his own experience.

Not many years ago, he was passing through the wild district in the
defiles of which we have just described ourselves as being engaged. My
friend had a considerable sum of money in his possession, more, he
remarked, than he should have liked to lose. “_Cantabit vacuus coram
latrone viator_”—“A traveller who meets robbers with his purse empty may
hope to escape scot free.” That was not my friend's case when he fell in
with a party of outlaws armed to the teeth. The rencontre was not very
pleasant, but putting the best face on it, he replied to their inquiries
“whither he was bent,” that he was in search of _them_; knowing that
they were in the neighbourhood, and would give him shelter, as night was
approaching, and on the morrow put him on his way, which he had lost.
This appeal to their best feelings had the desired effect. Pleased with
my friend's assurance of the confidence he placed in them, the outlaws
conducted him to their place of refuge, treated him with the best they
had, and, next morning, escorted him to the high-road, where they parted
from him with good wishes for the prosecution of his journey. “These men
must have known,” said my friend, “from the weight of my valise, which
they handled, that I had a large sum of money with me. It was no less
than 600_l._” The weight of such an amount of _scudi_ could not have
escaped their notice.

Pages might be filled with tales of the secret assassinations and
wholesale butcheries perpetrated, at no very distant period, by the
_malviventi_ who swarmed in the woods and mountains of Sardinia; of
deadly feuds in which families, and sometimes whole villages, were
involved with an implacable thirst for revenge; of places sacked, and of
travellers murdered and plundered in lone defiles. Some instances of a
generous sympathy for adversaries in distress, and more of a gallantry
displayed by some of the bandits which would have graced a better cause,
might serve to relieve the dark shades of these pictures. But enough of
this kind has found a place in our chapters on Corsica. I prefer
relating a story which may leave on the mind pleasing recollections of
the Robin Hoods of the Sardinian wilds. My friend, lately mentioned, who
is universally esteemed and respected by all classes of the Sardes
throughout the island, has been thrown by circumstances into
communication with the better sort of outlaws, and occasionally been the
medium of communication between them and the Sardinian authorities, to
their mutual advantage. He has thus acquired considerable influence over
those unhappy men, enjoying their full confidence, without which the
circumstances I am about to relate could not have occurred.

It appeared that, not very long since, my friend had kindly undertaken
to conduct an English party from La Madelena to Tempio, the same route
on which we are now engaged. The party consisted of an officer and his
lady, and I believe some others. The lady was fond of sketching;
attractive subjects, we know, are not wanting, and the indulgence of her
taste caused frequent delays on the road, notwithstanding my friend's
repeated warnings of the ill repute in which that district was held in
consequence of its proximity to the haunts of the banditti. Of all
things the tourists would have rejoiced to have seen a real bandit, but,
probably, under any other circumstances than in a wild pass of the
Gallura mountains. So when the shades of night were closing in, as they
do very soon after sunset in southern latitudes, and the party became
apprehensive that they should be benighted in those dreary solitudes,
there was considerable alarm:—what was to be done?

My friend, having politely suggested that he had not been remiss in
pointing out the consequences of delay, replied that they must make for
shelter in some _stazza_, which they might possibly reach. Accordingly
he led the way by a rough track through dusky thickets, and after
pursuing it for some time, great was the joy of his companions at
discovering a house, where they were received with great hospitality,
and the promise of all the comforts a mountain farm could offer.

The ladies had thrown aside their travelling equipments, the table was
spread, and, congratulating themselves on having found such an asylum,
the party sat down to supper, in all the hilarity which their escape
from the perils and inconveniences of a night spent in the forest was
calculated to promote. The occurrence was regarded as one of those
unexpected adventures which give a zest to rough travelling.

While, however, their gaiety was at the highest, it was interrupted by
loud knocking at the house door, and hoarse voices were heard without,
demanding immediate admittance. A short consultation took place between
my friend and their host, who agreed that no resistance could be
offered, that the door should be opened, and they must all submit to
their fate. Then the banditti rushed in with fierce gestures; truculent
men, with shaggy hair and beards, wrapped in dark _capotes_, with long
guns in their hands, and daggers in their belts and bosoms. “Spare our
lives, and take our money, and all that we have,” was the cry of some of
the travellers. Nor were the bandits slow in falling upon the _sacs_ and
_malles_, and beginning to rummage their contents, without, however,
offering the slightest molestation to any of the party, who stood aghast
witnessing their movements.

So far from it, suddenly, as if by a concerted signal, the outlaws,
relinquishing their booty, throw off their dark mantles, disclosing all
the bravery of the picturesque costume of Gallurese mountaineers, and
grouping themselves round the table, leaned on the slender barrels of
their fusils with a proud expression of countenance which seemed to
say:—“We are outlaws, indeed; but we hold sacred the laws of hospitality
and honour.”

The travellers found that they were safe, and, recovering from their
panic, finished their supper with renewed gaiety. The outlaws withdrew,
but shortly returning, some of them accompanied by their wives and
children _en habits de fête_, the evening was spent in the exhibition of
national dances, with songs and merriment.

This formed the concluding scene in the little drama which my informant
had got up for the gratification of his friends. Travellers might
naturally wish to see specimens of a race so unique and so celebrated as
the Corsican and Sardinian bandits, if they could do so with impunity,
just as they would a lion or a tiger uncaged and in his native woods,
from a safe point of view. My informant was able to gratify his friends
at the expense of a temporary fright. Perhaps they might have been
better pleased if the “_Deus ex machinâ_” had not appeared to disclose
the plot, and they had been suffered to consider the happy _dénouement_
as the natural result of the outlaws' magnanimity. Such, by all
accounts, it might have been.

But I can assure my readers that it requires a stout heart, and a strong
faith in what one has heard of the redeeming qualities in the outlaws'
character, to meet them in the open field without shuddering. It was in
the dusk of early morning, that, soon after leaving a village on the
borders of the Campidano, where we had passed the night, we suddenly
fell in with a party of ten or twelve of these men, who crossed our
track making for the hills. They were mounted on small-sized horses,
stepping lightly under the great weight they carried; for the bandits
were stalwart men, and heavily accoutred. Their guns were, variously,
slung behind them, held upright on the thigh, or carried across the
saddle-bows; short daggers were stuck in each belt, and a longer one
hung by the side; a large powder-horn was suspended under the arm.
Saddles _en pique_, with sheepskin housings, and leathern pouches
attached on both sides, supplying the place of knapsack and haversack,
completed the equipment. The “cabbanu,” a cloak of coarse brown cloth,
hung negligently from the shoulders, and underneath appeared the
tight-fitting pelisse or vest of leather; and the loose white linen
drawers, which give the Sardes a Moorish appearance, were gathered below
the knee underneath a long black gaiter tightly buckled.

Already familiar with the garb and equipments of a Sarde mountaineer,
these details were caught at a glance. The gaze was riveted on the
features of these desperate men,—the keen black eyes flashing from their
swarthy countenances, to which a profusion of hair, falling on the
shoulders from beneath the dark _berette_, gave, with their bushy
beards, a ferocious aspect;—and, above all, the resolute but melancholy
cast of features which expressed so well their lot of daring—and

Whether the party was bent on a plundering raid, or returning from some
terrible act of midnight murder, there was nothing to indicate; but the
impression was that they were the men “to do or die” in whatever
enterprise they were engaged. The party kept well together, riding in
single file with almost military precision. Their pace was steady, with
no appearance of haste, though they must probably have been aware that
some carabineers were stationed in the place hard by, which we had just
left. It was a startling apparition,—these “children of the
mist”—sweeping by us in grim cavalcade over a wild heath, in the cold
grey dawn of a November day, every hand stained with blood, every bosom
steeled to vengeance. They took no notice of us, though we passed them
closely, not even exchanging salutations with our _cavallante_. We gazed
on them till they were out of sight.

No such thoughts as those suggested by the occurrences just related
occupied our minds while we ascended the defile which penetrates the
mountain chain intervening between Tempio and the valleys terminating on
the coast. The savage character and the traditions of the locality might
have inspired them, but we were under the protection of the courier, a
privileged person—probably for good reasons,—and, besides this, as I
have already said, under no sort of personal apprehension. Our attention
was divided between the stern magnificence of the gorge, the more
striking from its being now half veiled in darkness, and the
difficulties of the ascent which, as usual, increased step by step,
until, at last, winding stairs cut in the rock surmounted the highest
cliffs and landed us at the summit of the pass.

On emerging from the gloomy defile, there was a total change of scene.
We found ourselves on open downs, apparently of great extent, with a
flood of light shed over them by a bright moon, and two brilliant
planets in the south-west, pointing like beacon lights to the position
of Tempio. An easy descent of the sloping downs brought us to the level
of a vast elevated plateau, extending, with slight undulations, and
broken by only one rocky ridge, to the vicinity of the town. When at the
summit of the pass, we had still eight or ten miles to accomplish. Late
as it was, the ride would have been highly enjoyable, in that pure
atmosphere, with the vault of heaven blazing overhead, and the stillness
of the night broken only by our horses' hoofs, but for the weariness of
the poor beasts after a long day's journey and the toilsome ascent of a
mountain pass, and the ruggedness of the tracks along which we had to
pick our way.

Welcome, therefore, were the lights of Agius, Luras, and Nuches,
villages standing some little way out of the road, at from two to three
miles' distance from Tempio. These places, Agius in particular, were
formerly notorious for robbery and vendetta, notwithstanding which the
population, which is chiefly pastoral, has always maintained a high
character for kindness, hospitality, industry, and temperance.

Our path lay now through very narrow lanes, dividing vineyards and
gardens, extending all the way to Tempio. The replies of the courier to
our inquiries after a hotel had left a complete blank in our prospects
of bed, board, and lodging at the end of our journey. For travellers,
such as ourselves, there was no accommodation. Tempio was rarely visited
by strangers. This looked serious, after a mountain ride of nearly
thirty miles, and between nine and ten o'clock at night;—what was to be
done? We had letters of introduction to persons of the highest
distinction in the place, but they hardly warranted our intruding
ourselves on them, hungry, travel-stained, and houseless, at that late
hour. The case, however, being desperate we decided, at last, on
presenting ourselves to the Commandant of the garrison, as the most
likely person to give or procure us quarters.

The horses' feet clattered sharply on the _pavé_ in the stillness of the
narrow deserted streets; and the huge granito-built houses overhanging
them, gloomy at all hours, appeared doubly inhospitable now that all
lights were extinguished, the doors closed, and none ready to be opened
at the call of weary travellers. Thus we traversed the whole city, the
Commandant's mansion lying at the furthest extremity. Our tramp roused
to attention a drowsy sentry at the gate; there were lights _à la
prima_—the family then had not retired for the night. The strange
arrival is announced, and our _viandante_ makes no scruple of depositing
our baggage in the hall. The Commandant receives us with politeness,
regrets that he is so straitened in his quarters that he cannot offer us
beds, and sends an orderly who procures us a lodging, meanwhile giving
us coffee. Attended by two soldiers, carrying our baggage, we retrace
our steps to the centre of the town, and take possession of very sorry
apartments, the best portion of a gaunt filthy house. We are installed
by the mistress, a shrewish person, who, making pretensions to
gentility, receives her guests under protest that she does not keep a
hotel, but is willing to accommodate strangers,—a phrase repeated a
hundred times while we were under her roof, and emphatically when
presenting a rather unconscionable bill on our departure. And this was
the only refuge in a city of from six to eight thousand inhabitants,
many of them boasting nobility, the capital of a province, the seat of a
governor and a bishop, and head-quarters of a military district. I may
be pardoned for being circumstantial in details giving an idea of what
travelling in Sardinia is. Things are much the same throughout the
island. The tourist who sets foot on it must be steeled against
brigands, vermin, _intempérie_, and indifferent fare. “_Per aspera
tendens_” would be his suitable motto. He must be prepared to rough it.


  _Tempio.—The Town and Environs.—The Limbara
    Mountains.—Vineyards.—The Governor or Intendente of the
    Province.—Deadly Feuds.—Sarde Girls at the Fountains.—Hunting
    in Sardinia.—Singular Conference with the Tempiese
    Hunters.—Society at the Casino.—Description of a Boar Hunt._

Unpropitious as first appearances were, we found no want of real
hospitality and kindness among the Tempiese, and I have seldom spent a
few days more pleasantly in a provincial town. Daylight, indeed, failed
to improve the internal aspect of the place, but rather disclosed the
filth of the narrow streets, without entirely dissipating the gloom shed
upon them from the dusky granite of which the buildings are constructed,
and the heavy wooden balconies protruding over the thoroughfares. The
houses have, however, a substantial air, some of them are stuccoed, and
Tempio can even boast its palaces of an ancient nobility, with coats of
arms sculptured in white marble over the entrances. It possesses not
less than thirteen churches, of which the collegiate and cathedral
church of St. Peter is the only one worth notice,—a large and lofty
building of a mixture of styles, with some tawdry ornaments, but a
handsome high altar and well carved oak stalls in the choir. The
foundation consists of a dean and twelve canons, with eighteen other
inferior clergy. Since 1839 it has ranked as a cathedral, Tempio having
been erected into a see united with those of Cività and Ampurias, and
the bishop residing here six months of the year. There is a massive old
nunnery, now, I believe, suppressed, in the centre of the place, and
outside the town a reformatory for the confinement of criminals
sentenced to secondary punishment, a large building with a handsome

A finer position for a large city, of greater importance than Tempio,
can scarcely be imagined. Placed on a gentle swell of the wide
undulating plain already mentioned—the Gemini plain,—a plateau of nearly
2000 feet above the level of the sea, it stands midway between two grand
mountain ranges, the Limbara stretching the bold outlines of its massive
forms in a course south of the town, its summit rising to 4396 feet;
and, to the north-east, a chain not quite so elevated, but of an equally
wild and irregular formation, and presenting to the eye, when viewed
from Tempio, even a more rugged and serrated ridge. The defiles of this
chain we passed in approaching Tempio; those of the Limbara were to be
penetrated in our progress southward.

Its high situation and exposure render Tempio healthy, and it is even
said to be cold in winter, of which we found no symptoms in the month of
November, when Limbara is supposed to assume its diadem of snow,
retaining it till April.

    [Illustration: THE LIMBARA, FROM TEMPIO.]

I hardly recollect anything finer of its kind than the panoramic view of
the country between Tempio and the mountains on either side, as seen
from its terraces. It combined great breadth, striking contrasts, and a
most harmonious blending of colour. For a wide circuit round the town,
gardens, orchards, vineyards, and a variety of small inclosures,
occupying the slopes and hollows of the undulating surface, and well
massed, give an idea of fertility one should not expect at this
elevation. Here and there, a single round-topped pine, or a group of
such pines, crowns a knoll, and breaks the flowing outlines. The open
pastoral country beyond is linked to this cultivated zone by detached
masses of copse and woods of cork and ilex, extending to the base of the

The Tempiese are a hardy and industrious people, exhibiting their spirit
of activity in the careful cultivation about the town and the
occupations of vast numbers of the population as shepherds,
_cavallanti_, or _viandanti_. The dull town also shows some signs of
life by a considerable trade in the country produce of cheese, fruits,
hams, bacon, &c. They manufacture here the best guns in Sardinia, and
know how to use them; being capital sportsmen, _cacciatori_, as well as
formidable enemies in the vindictive feuds for which they have been
celebrated, and not yet entirely extinct. A short time ago, two factions
fought in the streets, and, though the bloody strife was quelled, they
are said still to eye each other askance. Returning one night from the
Casino, in company of the Commandant, he stopped on the piazza in front
of the cathedral and related to us the circumstances of an assassination
perpetrated a short time before on the very steps of the church.

The office of viceroy of Sardinia having been abolished, each of the
eleven provinces into which the island is divided, the principal being
Cagliari, Oristano, Sassari, and Tempio including the whole of Gallura,
is administered by an _Intendente_, who communicates directly with the
Ministers at Turin. The military districts correspond with the civil
divisions of the island. We found two companies of the line, and a squad
of _carabinieri_, mounted gendarmes, stationed at Tempio. Sardinia
returns twenty-four members to the national parliament at Turin. The
ecclesiastical jurisdiction is administered by three archbishops,
filling the sees of Cagliari, Sassari, and Oristano, and eight bishops,
seated in the other principal cities.

High official appointments at Tempio are not very enviable posts;
governors and commandants not being exempt from the summary vengeance,
for real or supposed wrongs, at which the Sardes are so apt. The
Commandant told us that his immediate predecessor had received one of
the death-warnings which precede the fatal stroke: I believe he was soon
afterwards removed. For himself, his successor said, he took no
precautions, did his duty, and braved the consequences. A few years
before, the Governor, having compromised himself by acts of injustice,
was assassinated, after receiving one of these “death-warnings” peculiar
to Sardinia. “During the night he heard a pane of glass crack, and on
examining it in the morning he found the fatal bullet on the floor. The
custom of the country is that, whenever the _vendetta alla morte_,
revenge even to death, is to be carried out, the party avenging himself
shall give his adversary timely notice by throwing a bullet into his
window, in order that he may either make immediate compensation for the
injury or prepare himself for death. The Governor for some time used
every caution as to when and where he went, but at length disregarded
the warning, imagining he was safe. The assassin, however, had watched
him with an eagle's eye, and he fell in a moment he least expected.
Report further says,” observes Mr. Tyndale, in whose words we relate the
occurrence, “that he is not the only Governor of Gallura to whom this
summary mode of obtaining justice, or inflicting vengeance, has been

The present Intendente of Tempio, the Marchese Clavarino, though he only
entered on his office in the month of April before our visit, had
already done much by his firm and enlightened administration to restore
order and confidence. He had been able to collect the arrears of taxes,
and, by impartial justice between all factions, had removed every
pretence for a resort to deeds of violence for the redress of injuries.

“The Governor's palace, establishment, and retinue,” observes Mr.
Tyndale, “consist of three rooms on a second story, a female servant,
and a sentry at the door.” Things were little changed in 1853, but, in
the absence of all state, we were impressed on our first visit of
ceremony that the government of a turbulent province could not have been
intrusted to better hands. In the antechamber we found a priest waiting,
as it struck me from his deportment, to prefer his suit with “bated
breath,” and the feeling that the wings of the priesthood are now
clipped in the Sardinian states. The Marquis conversed with frankness on
his own position and the state of the island. He had been in London at
the time of the “Great Exhibition,” and his views of the English
alliance, and of politics generally, were just such as might be expected
from an enlightened Sardinian. A worthy coadjutor to such statesmen as
D'Azeglio and Cavour, I would venture to predict that the Intendente of
Tempio will ere long be called to fill a higher post.

Our rambles in the environs of Tempio were very pleasant. It was the
season of the vintage, late here; and great numbers of the people were
busily employed in the vineyards and the “lodges”[47] attached to them.
Observing smoke issuing from most of these, we learned, in answer to our
inquiries, that a portion of boiled lees is added in the manufacture of
wine, to insure its keeping, the grapes not sufficiently ripening in
consequence of the coldness of the climate. We found no such fault with
those we tasted. A very considerable extent of surface is planted with
vines, divided, however, into small vineyards. At the entrance of each
stands an arched gateway, generally a solid structure of granite, with
more or less architectural pretensions, and a date and initials carved
in stone, commemorative, no doubt, of the planting of so cherished a
family inheritance. One of these is represented in the foreground of the
accompanying plate.

There are several fountains in the neighbourhood of Tempio, the waters
of which are deliciously cool and pure. One of them, on the road beyond
the Commandant's house, gushes out of the rock, under shade of some fine
Babylonian willows. Sheltered by these in the heat of noon, and in still
greater numbers at eventide, one saw the damsels of Tempio resort with
their pitchers, as in ancient times Abraham's steward, in his journey to
Mesopotamia, stood at the well of Nahor, when the daughters of the men
of the city came out with their pitchers[48]; as Saul, passing through
Mount Ephraim and ascending the hill of Zuph, met the maidens going out
to draw water[49]; or as the spies of Ulysses fell in with the daughter
of Antiphates at the well of Artacia.[50] Sardinia abounds with such
mementos of primitive times.

The Tempiese women have the singular habit of raising the hinder part of
the upper petticoat, the _suncurinu_, when they go abroad, and bringing
it over the head and shoulders, so as to form a sort of hood. So far
from this fashion giving them, as might be supposed, a _dowdy_
appearance, it is not inelegant when the garment is gracefully arranged.
It has generally broad stripes, and is often of silk or a fine material.
The under-petticoat, of cloth, is either of a bright colour, or dark
with a bright-coloured border. Both of them are worn very full. The
jacket is of scarlet, blue, or green velvet, fitting very tightly to tho
figure, the edges having a border of a different colour, and sometimes
brocaded. The simple head-dress consists of a gaily-coloured kerchief
wound round the head, and tied in knots before and behind.

We expected to get some shooting in the woods at the foot of the
Limbara, as they abound with wild hogs, _cingale_, and deer, _capreoli_,
a sort of roebuck. Our letters of introduction to some gentlemen of
Tempio failed of assisting us. They were from home, probably engaged in
the vintage. But the Sardes of all ranks are determined sportsmen,
_cacciatori_, and we did not despair, though hunting excursions in the
island require, as we shall find, a certain organisation. In our dilemma
we made the acquaintance—of all people in the world—of a little barber,
who appeared deeply versed in the politics of the place, and undertook
to arrange the desired _chasse_ with the Tempiese hunters. We were to
meet him the same evening, at a low _caffè_, where he was to introduce
us to the leaders of the band. A singular conference it was, that
meeting of ourselves, men of the north, with the wild _chasseurs_ of the
Gallura, between whom there was nothing in common but enthusiastic love
of the field and the mountain.

The low vault of the _Caffè de la Costituzione_ was lighted by a single
lamp, by whose glimmerings we dimly discerned, amidst wreaths of
tobacco-smoke, the grim features of the men with whom we had to do. They
were honest enough, no doubt, according to Sarde notions of honour, and
received us with great cordiality; but the consultation between
themselves was carried on in a patois quite unintelligible, except that
we gathered that there were some difficulties in the way.

_La caccia di cingale_, a boar-hunt in Sardinia, requires a number of
hunters, besides those who beat the woods to rouse the game; and,
whether there were any feuds to be stifled, any jealousies to be
allayed, which, with armed men in that state of society, might endanger
the peace, the difficulties appeared serious. Whatever they were, our
_Barbière di Seviglia_, who, to use a familiar phrase, seemed up to
everything, and conducted the treaty on our part, did not think proper
to disclose them. One thing, however, we soon learned, that the services
of these men were not to be hired; their ruling passion for the chase
and the national principle of hospitality were incentives enough to the
proposed expedition. We were also informed that there were other parties
to be consulted, and the meeting was adjourned to the following day.

Very different was the scene at the Casino to which we were introduced
by the Commandant shortly after our consultation with the hunters. At
the Casino there is a _réunion_ of the best society in Tempio every
evening. We found good rooms, well lighted, with coffee and refreshments
nicely served. There were newspapers, and a small collection of
books,—the standard works of Italian writers, with some French. The
society was unexpectedly good for such a place as Tempio, consisting,
besides the officers of the garrison, of many of the resident nobles and
gentry. We spent some pleasant hours there, finding among the members
well-informed and intelligent persons. Politics were freely discussed,
liberal opinions prevailing even to the degree of such ultra-liberalism
as might have better suited the class of persons we met at the _Caffè de
la Costituzione_, if politics are discussed there also. No doubt they
are, the Tempiese, like the rest of the islanders, being a shrewd race,
devotedly patriotic, and jealous of their independence.

We could not, as already hinted, reckon Madame Rosalie's _ménage_ among
the pleasant things that reconciled us to a longer stay than we intended
in the rude capital of Gallura; but, at least, she supplied us in her
own person with a fund of amusement. My companion, who had the happy
gift for a traveller of being almost omnivorous, used to laugh heartily
at my vain attempts to extract something edible from the meagre _carte_
offered by Madame. Her replies parrying my demands, and uttered with
amazing volubility, in shrill tones and a patois almost unintelligible,
invariably ended to this effect:—“Signore, my house is not a locanda,
though I have opened my doors to accommodate you.” It was a species of
hospitality that cost us dear. Madame's airs of gentility, though very
amusing, were of course treated with due respect. But what gave zest to
my friend's mirth, and, with the hopeless prospect of dinner, produced
in me a slight irritation, sometimes, perhaps, ill concealed, was Madame
Rosalie's evolutions on these occasions. I fancy, now, that I see her
slight figure skipping into the room, dancing a jig round the table,
never at rest, screeching all the while at the highest pitch of her
voice, with every limb in motion, as if she had St. Vitus's dance, or,
as they say, went on wires. I can only compare the play of her limbs to
that of one of those children's puppets of which all the limbs—head,
legs, and arms—are set in motion by pulling a string.

Nothing detained us at Tempio but the proposed boar-hunt. We attended a
second meeting of the principal hunters, committing ourselves
unreservedly to their disposal, and, after some further consultation,
among themselves, our little barber had the glory of bringing the
negotiations to a successful issue. All the difficulties, whatever they
were, had been removed, and it was settled that the affair should come
off on the morrow.

Accordingly, at an early hour, there was an unusual stir in the dull
streets of Tempio, snapping of guns, trampling of horses, and barking of
dogs. On our joining the party at the rendezvous in front of the
_caffè_, we found some twenty horsemen, carrying guns,—rough and ready
fellows, looking as if a dash into the forest, whether against hogs or
gendarmes, would equally suit them. We were followed by a rabble on
foot, attended by dogs of a variety of species, some of them strong and
fierce. After winding through the narrow lanes among the vineyards, our
cavalcade was joined by one of the gentlemen on whom we had called with
a letter of introduction, and his son, who mixed freely with our rank
and file. There is a happy fellowship in field sports which, to a great
degree, levels for the time distinctions of rank; and this we found
particularly in Sardinia, where all classes are so devoted to these
sports, and they are of a character requiring extended and rather
promiscuous operations.

Our irregular cavalry shaped their march in broken order towards a spur
of the mountains, covered with dense thickets, at the foot of the Punta
Balestiere, the highest point of the Limbara. After clearing the
inclosures our track led us over the wide undulating plain already
described, interspersed with scattered thickets, but with few signs of
cultivation. On approaching the mountains there were indications giving
promise of sport in patches of soil grubbed up by the wild hogs in
search for the root of the Asphodel, which they greedily devour. This
handsome plant springs from a bunch of long fibrous bulbs, something
like the Dahlia, throwing up straight stems two or three feet high, with
numerous angular filiformed leaves and yellow flowers.[51] It grows
freely on all the wastes throughout the island. The root contains so
large a portion of saccharine matter, and is so plentiful, that while we
were in Sardinia a Frenchman was forming a company for distilling
alcohol from it on an extensive scale. A distillery was to be
established at Sassari, with moveable stills throughout the island,
wherever the bulbs could be most easily procured. The projector gave us
a sample-bottle of the alcohol, a strong and purely tasteless spirit. I
heard afterwards that the speculation did not succeed. There is fine
feeding for the wild hogs, in season, on the acorns of the vast cork and
other oak woods in the interior of the island, where we afterwards
hunted them. They commit great ravages in the cultivated grounds. One
was shot in the vineyards skirting the town during our stay at Tempio.

Approaching the mountains we threw off our attendants on foot, with
their mongrel pack, whose business it was to scale the wooded ridge from
behind, and beat the thickets for the game. The rest of our party soon
afterwards struck up a valley parallel with the ridge, and facing the
mountain side, which rose above it a vast amphitheatre of hanging woods,
shelving and precipitous cliffs, rocks and pinnacles,—so glorious a
spectacle that it riveted my attention, and almost drew it off from the
work before us. But now our leaders proceeded to “tell off” the party,
stationing them singly at distances of about seventy or eighty paces
along the bottom of the valley, within gunshot of the verge of the wood,
which sloped to it. In this open order the line extended more than half
a mile. The horses were tethered in the rear.

It was my lot to be posted near the extreme right on a detached rock,
slightly elevated, so as to command the ground. I could just distinguish
my neighbours on either hand, “low down in the broom,” the valley being
rather thickly covered with brakes of underwood. The instructions for my
noviciate in boar-hunting were,—not to quit my post, and to maintain
strict silence; injunctions not likely to be disregarded, as a breach of
the former might have exposed me to be winged, in mistake for a pig
among the rustling bushes, considering that there were dead shots on
either flank, with two or three balls in their barrels. As to the other
word of order, silence, the injunction was needless, for the ear of my
nearest neighbour could only have been reached by shouts which might
scare the game, and prevent their breaking cover, and that I was not
quite novice enough to risk.

So I sat down on the rock, with my gun across my knees, watching the
play of light and shade on the mountain sides as the clouds flitted
round them. But this did not last long, for the line of _vedettes_ could
have been scarcely formed when the shouts of the party who had now
gained the heights, and were beating the woods in face of our position,
summoned the hunters in the valley beneath to be on the alert. The
interval of suspense and silence being now broken, the scene became very
exciting. The dogs in the wood gave tongue, and the short and snapping
bark was shortly followed by a full burst, which told that the game was
on foot. Then, no doubt, every gun was at full cock, every eye intently
watching the avenues in the thickets through which boar or deer, driven
from the woods, might cross the valley. The shouts and cries sounded
nearer and nearer, till at length a shot from the extreme left announced
that some game had been marked as it broke cover. A dropping fire now
extended at intervals along the line, as cingale or capreole burst from
the thickets. Several fell to the guns of the party, some escaped;
others, wounded, were pursued by the dogs to the rear of the position,
with a rush of some of the hunters on their trail.

The thickets having been completely swept, the line was now broken, and
the party remounting their horses bore their trophies to a woody glen,
where we dined, the spot chosen being the grassy bank of a little
rivulet. Arms were piled; some gathered wood and lighted fires, others
fetched water from the brook, and the more handy opened the baskets of
provisions we had brought from Tempio and spread them on the grass. A
wild boar was cut open, and, in Homeric style, the choicest portions of
the intestines were torn out, and, broiled on wooden skewers, offered to
the hunting-knives of the guests. The wine cup went round, and the
hunters' feast was seasoned with rude merriment.

“When they had eaten and drank enough,”[52] the party mounted their
horses and returned to Tempio, carrying the game across their
saddle-bows. The cavalcade was as joyous as the feast. Jumping from
their horses when they got among the vineyards, some dashed over the
fences and brought away large bunches of grapes. And so we entered the
city in triumph. In the course of the evening the skin of the finest
wild boar was sent to our quarters as a trophy of our share in the work
of the day, with a joint of the meat. Madame Rosalie's _cuisine_ failed
to do it justice; but, when well cooked, wild boar is excellent eating.
This mode of hunting, generally practised by the Sardes, resembles the
_battue_ of wolves and leopards at which I have assisted in South
Africa, where the Boers, assembling in numbers, make an onslaught on the
ravagers of their flocks; having the dens and thickets driven, and
stationing themselves on the outskirts with their long roers to shoot
down the vermin as they issue forth. Such meetings are jovial, and the
sport is exciting, but not to be compared, I think, to deer-stalking or
fox-hunting, to say nothing of a foray against lions and tigers.


  _Leave Tempio.—Sunrise.—Light Wreaths of Mist across the
    Valley.—A Pass of the Limbara.—View from the Summit.—Dense
    Vapour over the Plain beneath.—The Lowlands unhealthy.—The
    deadly Intempérie.—It recently carried off an English
    Traveller.—Descend a romantic Glen to the Level of the
    Campidano.—Its peculiar Character.—Gallop over it.—Reach

I have reason to believe from information received during a recent visit
to Sardinia that the insecurity which, to some extent, prevailed when we
were in the island in 1853, had considerably lessened. But while at
Tempio in that year we learnt by an official communication from Cagliari
that some of the central mountain districts, through which we proposed
to pass on a shooting excursion, were in a disturbed state and must be
approached with caution. In consequence, the _Lascia portare arma_
forwarded to us was accompanied by an open order from the Colonel
commanding the royal Caribineers, addressed to all the stations, for our
being furnished with an escort. So, also, on our visit of leave to the
Intendente of Tempio he pressed us to allow him to send us forward under
escort, though I did not learn that there had been any recent outrages
in his own province. On our declining the offer, as at variance with our
habits and feelings, the Intendente said, “I assure you that, here, the
lowest government employé will not travel without an escort;”—and he
again urged our accepting it, adding, “the Marchese d'Azeglio having put
you under my especial protection, I am responsible for your safety, and
wish to use every precaution, lest anything unpleasant should occur.” On
our again respectfully declining the offer, the kind Intendente said,
with a shrug, “Well, gentlemen, I have done my duty, and I hope that
when you get to Turin you will so represent it.”

Such precautions exhibit a singular state of society in the midst of
European civilisation; I apprehend, however, that the Piedmontese
officials, and the continentals in general, paint the Sardes in darker
colours than they merit; and there is little good blood between them.

Having no such prejudices, and entertaining no apprehensions, we
started, as usual, having a honest viandante, with his saddle and
pack-horses, for our only escort. The sun was just rising over the
serrated ridge of the eastern mountains, when, emerging from the fetid
shade of the narrow streets of Tempio, we came suddenly into his blessed
light. The mountain sides still formed an indistinct mass of the richest
purple hue, while, over the whole plain beneath, light mists rolled in
fantastic waves, floating like a mysterious gauze-like veil, shreds of
which touched by the sun's rays became brilliantly coloured, and others
drifting through the scattered woods had the appearance of being combed
out into long and fine-spun threads like the spiders'-webs which, gemmed
with dew-drops, hung from spray to spray. It was a magnificent view, of
great breadth, like one of Martin's mysterious pictures, and seen under
the most splendid effects; but so transitory that after we crossed the
first ridge all was changed. Meanwhile denser, but still light, wreaths
close at hand mingled with the mists, as the blue smoke curled up from
the vineyard sheds where the industrious Tempiese had already commenced
their labours. The temperature was delicious, and rain had fallen in the
night cooling the air and refreshing vegetation. Pleasanter than ever
was our early ride through the pretty winding lanes dividing the
vineyards and gardens skirting the town, and again, as we descended
through deep banks among scattered woodlands to the open plains
extending to the foot of the Limbara Mountains.

A long but easy ascent led to the top of the pass, the ridge we mounted
being thickly clothed with evergreen shrubbery, the arbutus
predominating, profusely decked with fruit and flower. The summit of the
pass opened to us a double view in strong contrast. Looking back, we
once more saw through a gap the mountains of Corsica, in faint outlines,
eighty miles distant, with a glimpse of a blue stripe of water, the
Straits of Bonifacio. Turning southward, we stood at the summit of a
long winding glen richly wooded with ilex and cork trees, and far away
beneath there lay before us a broad plain partially covered with a sea
of vapour, not like the gay wreaths of mist that lightly floated over
the elevated plateau surrounding Tempio, but so still, so condensed, so
white, as to have been easily mistaken for a frozen lake powdered with
snow, and its hills for islands rising out of the water.[53]

But such an image is unsuited to the climate of Sardinia at any season.
Smiling as the landscape now appeared, its most striking feature was
associated with the idea of death.

That dense creamy vapour, formed by the pestiferous exhalations of the
lowlands, is the death shroud of the plain outstretched beneath it.

    [Illustration: DESCENT TO THE CAMPIDANO.]

During the heats of summer, nay, sometimes from April till the latter
end of November, the ravages of the deadly _intempérie_ extend
throughout the island to such a degree that in Captain Smyth's list of
nearly 350 towns and villages included in his “Statistical Table of
Sardinia,” full a third are noted as insalubrious. The disorder has the
same character as malaria, but is far more virulent. Captain Smyth thus
describes the symptoms: “The patient is first attacked by a headache and
painful tension of the epigastric region, with alternate sensations of
heat and chilliness; a fever ensues, the exacerbations of which are
extremely severe, and are followed by a mournful debility, more or less
injurious even to those accustomed to it, but usually fatal to
strangers.” We have conversed with natives and residents who have
recovered from repeated attacks of _intempérie_; foreigners suffer most.
“Instances have been related to me,” observes Captain Smyth, “of
strangers landing for a few hours only from Italian coasters, who were
almost immediately carried off by its virulence; indeed, the very
breathing of the air by a foreigner at night, or in the cool of the
evening, is considered as certain death in some parts.”[54]

Not twelve months before our visit, an English officer was suddenly
struck down and carried off while on a similar excursion in this part of
the island. Sir Harry Darrell was one of the last men I should have
thought liable to so fatal an attack. A few years ago, when returning
from Caffreland just before the breaking out of the last war, I met him
on the march to the frontier. I had off-saddled at noon, and while my
horses were grazing, knee-haltered, on a slip of grass by the side of a
running stream, was lying under the shade of a wild olive-tree, when the
head-quarters' division of the —— Dragoon Guards passed along the road.
Sir Harry and some other officers rode down into the meadow, and we
talked of the state of Caffreland and of the principal chiefs, most of
whom I had recently seen. I heard afterwards that he had got out
fox-hounds and hunted the country about Fort Beaufort. He was a keen
sportsman and clever artist. Some of his sketches in South Africa were
published by Ackerman. His remains lie at Cagliari, where he was
conveyed when struck by the _intempérie_, dying a few days after. A
friend of mine, who was there at the time, informs me that Sir Harry's
constitution had become debilitated, and he had rendered himself liable
to the attack by exposure and over-fatigue. I mention the circumstance
as a warning, but do not think there is much risk, with proper
precautions, for men in good health, through most parts of the island,
after the November rains have precipitated the miasma and purified the
air. We ourselves slept in most pestiferous places, where the ravages of
the disease were marked in the sallow countenances of the inhabitants,
without experiencing the least inconvenience.

We rested at the summit of the pass commanding the distant view of the
Campidano, which led to these remarks on the insalubrity of the country
and the scourge of the _intempérie_. They are not, however, confined to
the plains, but of course are more prevalent where marshes, stagnant
waters, and rank vegetation engender vapours rising in the summer.
Leaving my companion to finish the sketch copied in a former page, I
slowly trotted on with the _viandante_, and, the descent becoming
rapid, proceeded leisurely down the wooded glen, a depth of shade in
which the heat, as well as the picturesque character of the scenery,
tempted to linger. Old cork and ilex trees, with their rugged bark and
grey foliage, throwing out rectangular arms of stiff and fantastic
growth, wild vines hanging from the branches in festoons of brilliant
hues, other trees with tawny orange leaves,—I believe a species of
ash,—some of a rich claret, and the never-failing arbutus, here quite a
tree, with its orange and crimson berries, all these massed together
formed admirable contrasts in shape and colour. And then there was the
gentle brook, never roaring or boisterous, but purling among rocks
dividing it into still pools, with giant ferns hanging over the stream
and bunches of hassock-grass luxuriating in the alluvial soil of its
little deltas, and, where the forest receded, a graceful growth of
shrubbery feathering the winding banks.

Some of the cork-trees were fine specimens, of great age. Several I
measured in a rough way by embracing their trunks with extended arms.
This, repeated four or five times, gave a circumference of twenty or
twenty-five feet. The bark was ten inches thick. While so employed I was
startled by a wild boar rushing by me into the thickets. The cork wood
gradually thinned into scattered clumps on the slopes of the hills, and
the winding valley, five or six miles long, was abruptly terminated by a
bold mamelon, or green mound, covered with dwarf heath or turf; so shorn
and smooth it appeared, probably from being pastured, in immediate
contrast with the shaggy sides of the mountain glen. The horsetrack,
avoiding this obstacle, led up the eastern acclivity of the glen, and
the summit commanded the Campidano, now clear of fog, spread out before
us, far as the eye could reach, in a broad level, broken only by some
singular flat-topped hills in the foreground.

Striking and novel as this landscape appeared at the first glance, I
confess that, at the moment, my attention was most directed backward on
the track I had just followed. It was now some hours since I parted from
my fellow-traveller. I had often listened for his horse's steps in the
deep glen, where there was no seeing many hundred yards backwards or
forwards; and though the present elevation commanded some points in the
track, he did not appear. I was getting fidgetty, and the guide's
replies to my inquiries did not tend to reassure me, for there are
“_malviventi_” as well as “_fuorusciti_” in the wilds—a well known
distinction—when, just as we were on the point of returning back, after
half an hour's additional suspense, I got a glimpse of my friend
trotting out of the woods close under the point of view. He, too, had
lingered in the romantic glen after finishing his sketch.

We had now cleared the defiles of the Limbara, and, descending to the
level of the plains, made up for lost time by galloping _ventre à terre_
over the boundless waste. Here were no shady nooks, no forest masses, no
fantastic growths, no grey crags, no bright-flowered thickets, so
grouped as one might never see again, and tempting to linger. All the
features were now on a broad scale; they were caught at a glance, and
the few which broke the monotony of the scene were repeated again and
again. But they were not without interest. The rivulet had expanded into
a wide stream, making long bends through the deep loam of the grassy
meads, and looking so cool and refreshing, that, but for the pebbly
shoals in its bed, it was difficult to conceive the midsummer heats
rendering these verdant plains desolate and pestilential.

Along the banks of the river, and far away in every direction, were
scattered herds of cattle, guarded by armed shepherds, wild bearded
fellows in goatskin mantles and leather doublets, mostly on horseback.
We meet such figures on the grassy track, looking fiercely as we sweep
along; we see them at a distance on the edge of some of the gentle
slopes in which the plain is rolled, when only the profile of the horse,
the stalwart rider and his long gun, comes out clear against the sky.
There is more life on the Campidano than in the mountains. Not that it
is inhabited; there is scarcely a house on this whole plain, fifty or
sixty miles in circumference. Not that there is much cultivation; here
and there, at rare intervals, we see patches of a livelier green than
the surrounding expanse of grass, and the young wheat just springing up,
the strong blade and rich loamy furrow, remind us that Sardinia was
reckoned in former times a granary of Rome. We see also the grey mounds
of the Nuraghe scattered over the plain, some mouldering down to its
level, a few still rearing their truncated cones, like solitary
watch-towers, for which they have been mistaken. They, too, remind us of
times long past, of a primitive age. But they are to be found in all
parts of the island, and we shall fall in with them again, more at
leisure to examine their structure and hazard a conjecture as to their
origin. Now we gallop on over the level plain. The sward on the beaten
track is close and elastic, and our cavallante's spirited barbs, spared
in the glen during the noontide heat, spring as if they had never been
broken to the _portante_ pace. The morning fog and the cadaverous
features of the shepherds have warned us that the teeming Campidano is
no place to linger in after nightfall. Their homes are in the villages
scattered round the edge of the great plain; not much elevated, as the
_paese_ in Corsica, but standing on gentle acclivities. We marked them
at a distance. Already we have passed Sassu on our right and Oschiri on
our left; they are poor places. Codriaghe and Codrongianus and Florinas
stand at the extremity of the plain towards Sassari, and we shall see
them on our road thither, if we ever get there. Ardara, once the capital
of the province of Logudoro, founded as early as 1060, and having many
historic traditions, crowns, with its massive towers rising above the
ruined walls, a hillock on the plain right before us. It boasts also a
fine church, enriched with curious objects of art; but the town has
dwindled to a collection of hovels with a small population, few of whom,
we are told, survive their fiftieth year, so destructive is the
_intempérie_. We turn away: Ozieri stands invitingly on rather a bold
eminence at the head of a gorge where the plain narrows towards the
hills. The rays of the setting sun are full upon its houses and
churches. It is a place of some importance, and lies in our proposed
line through byroads to the forest districts of the interior. If our
pace holds on we may reach it by an hour after sunset. Perhaps we shall
find good cheer, the best preservative, I should imagine, against the
miasma that produces _intempérie_.

    [Illustration: THE PLAIN OF OZIERI.]


  _Effects of vast Levels as compared with Mountain
    Scenery.—Sketches of Sardinian Geology.—The primitive Chains
    and other Formations.—Traces of extensive Volcanic action.—The
    “Campidani,” or Plains.—Mineral Products._

Vast open plains, such as that described in the preceding chapter, form
a singular feature in the physical aspect of the island of Sardinia.
There are few travellers, I think, of much experience who, in traversing
such tracts of country, have not been struck at one time by the
desolation of their depths of solitude, or been pleased, at another, by
the glimpses of nomade life, their occasional accompaniments; and who
would not be willing to admit that, in their general impressions on the
imagination, they sometimes rival even mountain scenery. For if grandeur
be one main ingredient in the sublime, when an object such as a
seemingly boundless level, or rolling plain, the extent of which the eye
is unable to scan, lies before you, when, after long marches, it still
appears interminable, the mind is perhaps more impressed with the idea
of magnitude than by large masses, however enormous, with defined
outlines presented to the view. In the former instance, the imagination
is called into play and fills out the picture on a scale corresponding
with the actual features, as far as they are subject to observation;
but the imagination proverbially adopts an extravagant measure.

One of my friend's sketches of Campidano scenery, introduced here,
cleverly represents the effects produced by great distances on one of
these rolling plains.

    [Illustration: THE CAMPIDANO.]

Perhaps the idea of illimitable extent is better conveyed by the
lithographic sketch, No. 8, in which the level, not being interrupted by
the intersection of a mountain ridge, as in the former, vanishes in
distance. But the termination of the plain in the woodcut is only
apparent as, winding round the base of the mountains, the level is still
continued though lost to sight. It is not however intended to intimate
that these Sardinian plains can at all vie with the great continental
levels in various quarters of the globe, the immensity of which occurred
to my mind, and some of them to my recollection, when remarking on the
impressions such scenes produce on the traveller's sensations. The most
extensive of the Sardinian Campidani is only fifty miles in length, and
they are all of far less breadth. Their effect is therefore only
comparative, but being proportioned to the scale of other surrounding
objects, to the area of the insular surface, and the limited height and
extent of the mountain ranges, they produce a proportionate effect; but
that, as it has been already remarked, is sufficiently striking.

Some brief details of these interesting features in Sardinian
scenery—the larger of which are termed _Campidani_, and the secondary
_Campi_—will be fitly combined with a general sketch of the geological
formations of the island; as we are now approaching the same standing
point, the central districts, from which we took occasion to review the
orology of Corsica. It was then remarked that the mountain systems of
the two islands are of similar character and were formerly united; of
which there is evidence in the rocky islets scattered from one coast to
the other, across the Straits of Bonifacio.[55] Sardinia, however,
though apparently a continuation of Corsica, is essentially different in
its physical aspect; the elevations being less, the plains more
extensive and fertile, its mineralogical riches far more varied, and
volcanic action on a large scale being traced throughout the island,
while few vestiges of it are discovered in Corsica.

While these sheets have been passing through the press, General Alberto
de la Marmora has published two volumes in continuation of his “_Voyages
en Sardaigne_,” devoted exclusively, with an accompanying Atlas, to the
geology of the island; a work of the greatest scientific value, from the
high character of the author, and the time he has zealously spent in his
researches, but too elaborate for any attempt to reduce its details
within the compass or the scope of these pages. Our brief sketch must be
confined to a few general remarks derived from La Marmora's former
volumes, and Captain Smyth's very accurate account of Sardinia;
availing ourselves also of Mr. Warre Tyndale's digest of these accounts,
and giving some results of our own limited observation.

The principal chain of primitive mountains trends from north to south,
extending through the districts of Gallura, Barbagia, Ogliastra, and
Budui, along the whole eastern coast of the island. This range consists
of granite, with ramifications of schist, and large masses of quartz,
mica, and felspar. It is intersected by transverse ranges, and by plains
and valleys partly formed by volcanic agency; indeed, the connection
between the Gallura group and that of Barbagia is entirely cut off by
the great plain of Ozieri.

The most northerly of the series is the Limbara group. Its highest peak,
according to La Marmora 4287 feet, is an entire mass of granite. The
Genargentu in the Barbagia range, of the same formation, the highest and
most central mountain in Sardinia, has two culminating points of the
respective heights of 6230 and 6118 feet. They are covered with snow
from September till May, and the inhabitants of Aritzu, who make it an
object of traffic, are, I believe, able to continue the supply
throughout the year.[56] The Monte Oliena in the central group near
Nuoro, 4390 feet high, is calcareous, as are two others, between 2000
and 3000 feet high, in the same chain. It terminates with the Sette
Fratelli, prolonged to Cape Carbonaro, the eastern point of the gulf of
Cagliari, the highest point of the group, which is entirely granite,
being 3142 feet.

We find a detached formation called the Nurra mountains, composed of
granite, schist, and primitive limestone, filling the isthmus of the
Cape at the north-west extremity of the island, and extending to the
little isle of Asinara. The mountains of Sulcis, at the extreme
south-west, and terminating in the Capes Teulada and Spartivento, are
similarly composed; their highest peaks, the Monte Linas and Severa,
being from 3000 to 4000 feet high.

But the most striking geological feature in Sardinia consists in the
great extent of the volcanic formations. These, as well as the slighter
traces of such action in Corsica, are doubtless connected with the
subterranean and submarine fires of which the coasts and islands of the
central Mediterranean basin afford so many evidences in active and
extinct volcanoes (some of them in activity in the times of Homer,
Pindar, and Thucydides), and ranging in a circle from the Roman
territory to that of Naples, to the Lipari islands, Sicily, and those
forming the subject of our present inquiry. Sardinia has been widely
ravaged by internal fires, but at too remote an era to admit of our
conjecturing the period. The volcanic action can be traced from Castel
Sardo, where it has formed precipices on the northern coast, to the
vicinity of Monastir, a distance southward of more than 100 miles; its
central focus appearing to have been about half-way between Ales, Milis,
and St. Lussurgiu, where, as Captain Smyth remarks, “the phlægrean
evidences are particularly abundant.” The action was principally
confined to the western side of the island, though, south of Genargentu,
the volcanic formations approach the primitive chain, and the rounded
hills we remarked in the present rambles, after crossing the Limbara, as
far east as Oschiri on the Campo d'Ozieri, are, I doubt not, craters of
extinct volcanoes. The flat-topped hill, or truncated cone, figured in
the lithograph drawing, No. 8, represents one of them, and, scattered as
these verdant cones are over the long sweeps of the Campidani, they
formed additional features in the interest with which, as I have already
said, we regarded those immense tracts.

From the supposed centre of volcanic action just suggested, it may be
traced northward through the districts of Macomer, Bonorva, Giavesu,
Keremule, with the hillock on which Ardara stands, and Codrongianus, to
its termination in the cliffs of Lungo Sardo. But its most salient
feature is the detached group of mountains on the western coast between
Macomer and Orestano, which are entirely volcanic. This group has the
name of “Monte del Marghine,” in the small map prefixed to Captain
Smyth's survey, but I do not find that or any other distinct name
attached to it in La Marmora's large “Carta dell'Isola.” The village
of St. Lussurgiu is literally built in a crater connected with this
group, as is also that of Cuglieri. The highest point, Monte Articu, the
summit of Monte Ferro, entirely volcanic, rises 3442 feet above the
Mediterranean, and the Trebia Lada, 2723 feet high, is one of the three
basaltic feet forming the _Trebina_, or Tripod, on the summit of Monte
Arcuentu, a mountain between Orestano and Ales formed of horizontal
layers of basalt. Further south at Nurri, closely approaching the
primitive chain, are two hills, called “pizzè-ogheddu,” and “pizzè ogu
mannu,” or peaks of the little and great eye, which were certainly
ignivomous mouths, and the peasants believe that they still have a
subterraneous communication. A volcanic stream has run from them over a
calcareous tract, forming an elevated plain nearly 1600 feet above the
level of the sea, called, “_Sa giara e Serri_.” It overlooks Gergei, and
is covered with oaks and cork trees, while the northern side of its
declivity affords rich pasture. North-west from this place is the
“_Giara di Gestori_,” of similar formation, proceeding from a crater at
Ales, but strewed with numerous square masses of stone—principally
fragments of obsidian, and trachytic and cellular lava—so as to resemble
a city in ruins. At Monastir there is a distinct double crater, now well
wooded; and a bridge constructed of fine red trap, with the bold outline
of the neighbourhood, render the entrance to the village by the Strada
Reale singularly picturesque. The volcanic current, flowing westward
from Monastir by Siliqua and Massargiu, again approached the coast
towards the southern extremity of Sardinia, extending across the deep
gulf of Palmas to the islands of S. Pietro and S. Antonio, which are
entirely composed of trachytic rocks. Their bold escarpments arrested
our attention on approaching the coast, near Cape Teulada, in one of our
excursions to Sardinia.

Plains of lava, called “_giare_” by the natives, are often found
reposing on the large tracts of recent formation, such as those of
Sardara, Ploaghe, and other places; and considerable extents of trap and
pitchstone are frequently met with on limestone strata, while others,
tending fast to decomposition, are incorporated with an earth formed of
comminuted lava. Vestiges of craters, though generally ill defined,
still exist in the vicinity of Osilo, Florinas, Keremule, St. Lussurgiu,
Monastir, &c. Some of these are considered, from their less broken and
conical shape, and from the surrounding country consisting of fine red
ashes, slaggy lava, scoria, obsidian, and indurated pozzolana, with
hills of porphyritic trap,—all lying over tertiary rock,—to have been of
a much more recent formation than the others, which in form present a
lengthened straggling appearance, and in composition resemble those of

The tertiary formation lies on the west side of the principal granitic
chain, and, besides forming the Campidano and the bases on which the
volcanic substances rest, constitutes the hills of Cagliari, Sassari,
and Sorso. The tertiary limestone seldom ranges more than 1313 feet
above the level of the sea, though at Isili and some other places it is
1542 feet high. La Marmora considers it analogous to the upper tertiary
formations found in the south of France, central and southern Italy,
Sicily, Malta, the Balearic Islands, and Africa. The plains generally
consist of a deep alluvial silt, interspersed with shingly patches,
containing boulder stones. Such is the valley of the Liscia, occupying
nearly the whole surface from sea to sea towards the northern extremity
of the island. This, it may be recollected, we crossed north of the
Limbara. Then succeeds the series of _Campi_ or _Campidani_, properly so
called. We have already spoken of the vast plain of Ozieri, terminating
in the south-west with its minor branches, the Campi di Mela, St.
Lazarus, and Giavesu, to which it spreads transversely from the Gulf of
Terranova, on the eastern coast. The bottom of this gulf forms one of
the finest harbours in the island, with some trade, but the town of that
name is a wretched place, remarkable for its insalubrity and the
truculent character of the inhabitants.

On the western side of the island are the small _Campi_ of Anglona,
lying round Castel Sardo, and another plain highly cultivated between
Sassari and Porto Torres. The largest of these plains on the eastern
side of the island is that of Orosei, washed by several rivers having
their sources in the neighbouring primitive chain of mountains. Westward
of this chain we have the great central plain, which, first surrounding
the Gulf of Oristano, extends in an unbroken line, for upwards of fifty
miles, to the Gulf of Cagliari. This is generally spoken of as “_the
Campidano_,” without further specification, though its parts are
distinguished by local names, such as—di Uras, di Gavino, &c.

The mineral riches of Sardinia were well known to the ancients, and vast
excavations, with the remains of a number of foundries, afford ample
testimony of the extent of their operations. Tradition asserts that gold
was formerly extracted; and there is no doubt that silver was found in
considerable quantities, as it is even now procured in assaying the
lead. Copper is found near Cape Teulada, and at other places, and in one
of the mines beautiful specimens of malachite occur. Iron is very
plentifully distributed, but is found principally at the Monte Santo of
Cape Teulada, and at Monte Ferru. The richest mine is in the Ogliastra,
where the _intempérie_, however, is so malignant as to preclude the
formation of an establishment. Lead is the most abundant of Sardinian
ores, and its mines are profusely scattered throughout the islands.

Anthracite has been found, but only that of the Nurra district is fit
for working; and the coal, though met with in various places in the
secondary formations, and especially in the lower parts of the beds of
magnesian limestone, is neither sufficient in quantity nor good enough
in quality to be generally used. The granites of the Gallura, as we have
already mentioned, were known to the ancients, and highly appreciated in
Italy for their beauty and colours. Among the other mineral products may
also be mentioned the porphyries of the Limbara, the basalt of Nurri,
Gestori, and Serri, the alabaster of Sarcidanu, and the marbles of the
Goceano and Monte Raso. Jasper abounds in the trachyte and dolomite, and
large blocks, of beautiful variety, are found in some districts. Among
the chalcedonies are the sardonyx, agates, and cornelian. The districts
from whence the ancients obtained the sardonyx, once held in high
repute, are not known, but the vicinity of Bosa abounds in chalcedenous
formations. A fine quality of quartz amethyst has been obtained, and
also hydrophane, known for its peculiar property of becoming transparent
when immersed in water. Good turquoises and garnets are also found, but
not frequently. Though there have been so many volcanoes, and selenite,
gypsum, lime, and aluminous schist frequently occur, neither sulphur nor
rock salt have been discovered, and but very little alum. Mineral
springs are numerous, but not much frequented.


  _Ozieri.—A Refugee Colonel turned Cook and Traiteur.—Traces of
    Phenician Superstitions in Sarde Usages.—The Rites of
    Adonis.—Passing through the Fire to Moloch._

We entered Ozieri by a new carriage-road in the course of construction
to connect it with the great Strada Reale between Sassari and Cagliari;
such an undertaking being a novelty in Sardinia, and, of itself,
indicating that Ozieri is an improving place. It is the chief town of a
province, and contains a population of 8000, having the character of
being, and who were to all appearance, thriving, industrious, and
orderly. The streets are airy and clean, the principal thoroughfare
being watered by a stream issuing from a handsome fountain. There are
many good houses, and, including the cathedral, a large heavy building,
nine churches in the city, with three massive convents. That of the
Capucins, from its cypress-planted terrace, commands a fine view of the
Campidano, as does the church of N.S. di Montserrato on the summit of a
neighbouring hill.

The piazza, a large area in the centre of the town, was thronged with
people, lounging and enjoying the evening air, when we rode into it, not
having the slightest idea where we were to dismount. In this dilemma,
observing among the crowd, through which we slowly moved, a serjeant of
the Bersaglieri, distinguished by the neat uniform of his rifle corps,
with the drooping plume of cock's feathers in his cap, we addressed
ourselves to him, having among our letters one to the Commandant of the
garrison, which he undertook to deliver. Meanwhile, he turned our
horses' heads to a house in the piazza, kept by an Italian, with the
accommodations of which we found reason to be well satisfied.

Mr. Tyndale describes the osteria at Ozieri as execrable, while, on the
other hand, Captain Smyth speaks favourably of the locanda at Tempio. At
the period of our visit the circumstances were just the reverse. The
“_Café et Restaurant de Rome_” proved more than its titles implied.
Fully maintaining the latter of these, it supplied us also with two good
apartments. Mine was festooned with bunches of grapes hung from the
ceiling, and heaps of apples and pears were stored on shelves—so there
was no lack of fruit; while, much to our surprise, several excellent
_plats_ were served for supper, the master of the house uniting the
offices of _chef de cuisine_ and _garçon_. On our praising his
dishes,—“Ah,” said he, rather theatrically, “_Je n'ai pas toujours
rempli un tel métier!_”—“How so?”—“Sirs, I am a Roman exile; I have
fought for liberty; I was a Colonel in the service of the republic,—and
now I make dishes in Sardinia! But a good time is coming; before long, I
shall be recalled, and then”—there would be an end of popes and
cardinals, &c. He told us that many of Mazzini's partisans had taken
refuge in Sardinia. We afterwards met with another of them under similar
circumstances. Unwilling to wound the feelings of a Colonel who, like
the Theban general, was also our Amphitryon, we did not inquire under
what circumstances our host had acquired the arts which he practised so
well; suspecting, however, that our Colonel's earliest experience was in
handling _batteries de cuisine_. In his double capacity, he might have
more than rivalled in the Crimea even our “General Soyer.” To recommend
some liqueurs of his own composition, which certainly were excellent, he
told us that Sir Harry Darrell, who was here the preceding winter, just
before he was seized with the _intempérie_, prized them so much that he
carried off great part of his stock.

In the course of the evening we had a visit from the Commandant. Among
other civilities, he made the agreeable proposal that we should join a
party formed by the Conte di T—— to hunt in the mountains south of
Ozieri, following the sport for several days. This scheme suited us
exactly, as it would lead us into the forest district of Barbagia, which
it was our design to visit. Such is the warmth of the climate, that
though it was now the middle of November, after the Commandant took his
leave we sat to a late hour in our shirt-sleeves, with the casements
wide open on the now solitary piazza, while I wrote and my companion was
drawing. So employed, a strain of distant music stole on the ear in the
stillness of the night, one of those plaintive melodies common among the
Sardes, a sort of recitative by a tenor voice, with others joining in a

Among the many usages derived by the Sardes from their Phenician
ancestors, one of a singular character is still practised by the Oziese,
of which Father Bresciani gives the following account:—“Towards the end
of March, or the beginning of April, it is the custom for young men and
women to agree together to fill the relation of godfathers and
godmothers of St. John, _compare e comare_—such is the phrase—for the
ensuing year. At the end of May, the proposed _comare_, having procured
a segment of the bark of a cork tree, fashions it in the shape of a
vase, and fills it with rich light mould in which are planted some
grains of barley or wheat. The vase being placed in the sunshine, well
watered and carefully tended, the seed soon germinates, blades spring
up, and, making a rapid growth, in the course of twenty-one days,—that
is, before the eve of St. John,—the vase is filled by a spreading and
vigorous plant of young corn. It then receives the name of _Hermes_, or,
more commonly, of _Su Nennere_, from a Sarde word, which possibly has
the same signification as the Phenician name of garden; similar vases
being called, in ancient times, ‘the gardens of Adonis.’”

On the eve of St. John, the cereal vase, ornamented with ribbons, is
exposed on a balcony, decorated with garlands and flags. Formerly, also,
a little image in female attire, or phallic emblems moulded in clay,
such as were exhibited in the feasts of Hermes, were placed among the
blades of corn; but these representations have been so severely
denounced by the Church, that they are fallen into disuse. The young men
flock in crowds to witness the spectacle and attend the maidens who come
out to grace the feast. A great fire is lit on the _piazza_, round which
they leap and gambol, the couple who have agreed to be St. John's
_compare_ completing the ceremony in this manner:—the man is placed on
one side of the fire, the woman on the other, each holding opposite ends
of a stick extended over the burning embers, which they pass rapidly
backwards and forward. This is repeated three times, so that the hand of
each party passes thrice through the flames. The union being thus
sealed, the _comparatico_, or spiritual alliance, is considered
perfect.[57] After that, the music strikes up, and the festival is
concluded by dances, prolonged to a late hour of the night.

In some places the couple go in procession, attended by a gay company of
youths and damsels, all in holiday dresses, to some country church.
Arrived there, they dash the vase of Hermes against the door, so that it
falls in pieces. The company then seat themselves in a circle on the
grass, and feast on eggs fried with herbs, while gay tunes are played on
the _lionedda_.[58] A cup of wine is passed round from one to another,
and each, laying his hand on his neighbour, repeats, with a certain
modulation of voice, supported by the music of the pipes, “_Compare e
comare di San Giovanni!_”. The toast is repeated, in a joyous chorus,
for some time, till, at length, the company rise, still singing, and,
forming a circle, dance merrily for many hours.

Father Bresciani, La Marmora, and other writers, justly consider the
_Nennere_ as one of the many relics of the Phenician colonisation of
Sardinia. Every one knows that the Sun and Moon, under various names,
such as Isis and Osiris, Adonis and Astarte, were the principal objects
of worship in the East from the earliest times; the sun being considered
as the vivifying power of universal nature, the moon, represented as a
female, deriving her light from the sun, as the passive principle of
production. The abstruse doctrines on the origin of things, thus
shadowed out by the ancient seers, generated the grossest ideas,
expressed in the phallic emblems, the lewdness and obscenities mixed up
in the popular worship of the deified principles of all existence. Of
the prevalence in Sardinia of the Egypto-Phenician mythology, in times
the most remote, no one who has examined the large collection of relics
in the Royal Museum at Cagliari, or who consults the plates attached to
La Marmora's work, can entertain any doubt. But it is surprising to
find, among the usages of the Sardes at the present day, a very exact
representation of the rites of a primitive religion, introduced into the
island nearly thirty-five centuries ago, though it now partakes rather
of the character of a popular festival than of a religious ceremony.

The Phenicians worshipped the sun under the name of Adonis, while the
moon, Astarte, the Astaroth of the Bible, and the Venus-Ouranie of the
Greeks, was their goddess of heaven. The story of Adonis is well
known:—how, being slain by a wild boar in the Libanus, his mistress
sought him in vain, with loud lamentations, throughout the earth, and
following him to the infernal regions, prevailed on Proserpine by her
tears and prayers to allow him to spend one half the year on earth, to
which he returned in youth perpetually renewed. Thus was shadowed out
the annual course of the sun in the zodiac, and especially his return to
ascendancy at the summer solstice, a season devoted to joy and
festivity. In after times, this period corresponding with the feast of
St. John the Baptist (24th June), that festival was celebrated in many
parts of Christendom with bonfires and merriment,—usages adopted from
pagan traditions. The practices of the _Nennere_, in the neighbourhood
of Ozieri and other parts of Sardinia, still more distinctly coincide
with the rites which accompanied the ancient festival.

It was the custom of the Phenician women, towards the end of May, to
place before the shrine, or in the portico of the temples, of Adonis,
certain vessels, in which were sown grains of barley or wheat. These
vessels were made of wicker-work or pieces of bark, and sometimes
wrought of plaster. The seeds, sown in rich earth, soon sprung up, and
formed plants of luxuriant growth. These verdant vases were then called
by the Phenicians “the Gardens of Adonis.” The ceremonies of the summer
solstice commenced over night with lamentations by the women, expressive
of grief for the loss of Adonis. But on the morrow, “when the sun came
out of his chamber like a giant refreshed,” all was changed to joy; the
garden vases were crowned with wreaths of purple and various-coloured
ribbons, and the resurrection of the boy-god was celebrated by dancing,
feasting, and revelry. The priestesses of Adonis led the way in a
mysterious procession, bearing the vases, with other symbols already
alluded to, and on re-entering the temples, dancing and singing, they
cast the vases and scattered their verdure at the feet of the god. All
the women then danced in a circle round the altar, and the day and night
were spent in pious orgies, feasting, and revelry. It is needless to
point out the close identity of the Oziese _Nennere_ with these
Phenician rites.

The worship of Adonis, under the name of Tammuz[59], with all its
seductive abominations, was one of the Canaanitish idolatries into which
the Israelites were prone to fall. Father Bresciani considers these
rites to be emphatically referred to in the indignant apostrophe of
Isaiah:—_How is the faithful city become an harlot!... ye shall be
confounded with idols to which ye have sacrificed, and be ashamed of the
gardens which ye have chosen._[60] And again, in the prophet's terrible
denunciation:—_Behold, the Lord will come with fire, and with his
chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke
with flames of fire ... and the slain of the Lord shall be many. They
that sanctified themselves and esteemed themselves clean in the garden
of the portico[61] shall be consumed together, saith the Lord._

Whether the learned Jesuit's interpretation of these passages be well
founded or not, we may add another from the prophet Ezekiel, not
referred to by him, but of the application of which to some of these
rites there can be no doubt. In one of those lofty visions, vividly
portraying the iniquities of Israel, her idolatries and wicked
abominations, the prophet's attention is directed to the intolerable
scandal that, even _at the gate of the Lord's house, behold there sat
women weeping for Tammuz_.[62]

            “Thammuz came next behind,
    Whose annual wound in Lebanon allured
    The Syrian damsels to lament his fate,
    In amorous ditties, all a summer day,
    While smooth Adonis, from his native rock
    Ran purple to the sea, supposed with blood
    Of Thammuz, yearly wounded: the love tale
    Infected Zion's daughters with like heat;
    Whose wanton passions in the sacred porch
    Ezekiel saw, when, by the vision led,
    His eye surveyed the dark idolatries
    Of alienated Judah.”—_Par. Lost_, i. 447.

One of the remarkable incidents in the Sarde _Nennere_, just described,
consists in the consecration of the spiritual relation between the
_compare_ and _comare_, by their thrice crossing hands over the fire in
the ceremonies of St. John's day. A still more extraordinary vestige of
the idolatrous rite of “passing through the fire,” is said to be still
subsisting among the customs of the people of Logudoro, in the
neighbourhood of Ozieri, and in other parts of Sardinia.

Of the worship of Moloch—_par excellence_ the Syrian and Phenician god
of fire—by the ancient Sardes, there is undoubted proof. We find among
the prodigious quantity of such relics, collected from all parts of the
island, in the Royal Museum at Cagliari, a _statuette_ of this idol,
supposed to have been a household god. Its features are appalling: great
goggle eyes leer fiercely from their hollow sockets; the broad nostrils
seem ready to sniff the fumes of the horrid sacrifice; a wide gaping
mouth grins with rabid fury at the supposed victim; dark plumes spring
from the forehead, like horns, and expanded wings from each shoulder and
knee. The image brandishes a sword with the left hand, holding in the
right a small grate, formed of metal bars. It would appear that, this
being heated, the wretched victim was placed on it, and then, scorched
so that the fumes of the disgusting incense savoured in the nostrils of
the rabid idol, it fell upon a brazier of burning coals beneath, where
it was consumed. There is another idol in this collection with the same
truculent cast of features, but horned, and clasping a bunch of snakes
in the right hand, a trident in the left, with serpents twined round its
legs. This image has a large orifice in the belly, and flames are
issuing between the ribs, so that it would appear that when the brazen
image of the idol was thoroughly heated, the unhappy children intended
for sacrifice were thrust into the mouth in the navel, and there
grilled,—savoury morsels, on which the idol seems, from his features,
rabidly gloating, while the priests, we are told, endeavoured to drown
the cries of the sufferers by shouts and the noise of drums and timbrels

    ” ... horrid king, besmeared with blood
    Of human sacrifice, and parents' tears;
    Though, for the noise of drums and timbrels loud,
    Their children's cries unheard, that pass'd through fire
    To his grim idol.”—_Par. Lost_, i. 392.

This cruel child-sacrifice was probably the giving of his seed to
Moloch[63], fwhich any Israelite, or stranger that sojourned in Israel,
guilty of the crime was, according to the Mosaic law, to be stoned to
death. We are informed in the Sacred Records, that no such denunciations
of the idolatries of the surrounding nations, no revelations of the
attributes, or teachings of the pure worship of Jehovah, restrained the
Israelites from the practice of the foul and cruel rites of their
heathen neighbours; and we find, in the latter days of the Jewish
commonwealth, the prophet Jeremiah predicting[64] the desolation of the
people for this sin among others, that they had estranged themselves
from the worship of Jehovah, and burned incense to strange gods, and
filled the holy place with the blood of innocents, and burned their sons
and their daughters with fire for burnt-offerings unto Baal.[65]

There appear to have been two modes in which the ancient idolaters
devoted their children to Moloch. In one they were sacrificed and
consumed in the manner already described, a burnt-offering to the cruel
idol for the expiation of the sins of their parents or their people. In
the other, they were only made _to pass through the fire_, in honour of
the deity, and as a sort of initiation into his mysteries, and
consecration to his service. Thus Ahaz, King of Judah, is said to have
“made his son to pass through the fire, according to the abominations of
the heathen.”[66] And it is reckoned in the catalogue of the sins of
Judah, which drew on them the vengeance of God, that they “built the
high places of Baal, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass
through the fire unto Moloch.”[67]

In the case of infants, it is supposed that this initiation, this
“baptism by fire,” was performed either by placing them on a sort of
grate suspended by chains from the vault of the temple, and passed
rapidly over the sacred fire, or by the priests taking the infants in
their arms, and swaying them to and fro over or across the fire,
chanting meanwhile certain prayers or incantations. With respect to
children of older growth, they were made to leap naked through the fire
before the idol, so that their whole bodies might be touched by the
sacred flames, and purified, as it were, by contact with the divinity.

The Sardes, we are informed by Father Bresciani[68] still preserve a
custom representing this initiation by fire, but, as in other Phenician
rites and practices, without the slightest idea of their profane origin.
In the first days of spring, from one end of the island to the other,
the villagers assemble, and light great fires in the _piazze_ and at the
cross-roads. The flames beginning to ascend, the children leap through
them at a bound, so rapidly and with such dexterity, that when the
flames are highest it is seldom that their clothes or a hair of their
head are singed. They continue this practice till the fuel is reduced to
embers, the musicians meanwhile playing on the _lionedda_ tunes adapted
to a Phyrric dance. This, says the learned Father, is a representation
of the initiation through fire into the mysteries of Moloch; and,
singular as its preservation may appear through the vast lapse of time
since such rites were practised, we see no reason to doubt his
relation, exactly as he treats on this subject after repeated visits to
the island, even if the account were not confirmed by other writers, as
we find it is. Bresciani's recent work is almost entirely devoted, as we
have already observed, to the task of tracing numerous customs still
existing among the Sardes to their eastern origin. We may find future
opportunities of noticing some in which the coincidence is most


  _Expedition to the Mountains.—Environs of Ozieri.—First View of
    the Peaks of Genargentu.—Forests.—Value of the Oak Timber.—Cork
    Trees; their Produce, and Statistics of the Trade.—Hunting the
    Wild Boar, &c.—The Hunters' Feast.—A Bivouac in the
    Woods.—Notices of the Province of Barbagia.—Independence of the

The hunting excursion in the mountains south of Ozieri was in the order
of the day, the expedition being on a much larger scale than that
arranged by our honest Tempiese friends at the _Caffè de la
Costituzione_. We were to camp out; and the party consisted of upwards
of thirty horsemen, well mounted and armed, with the Conte di T—— and
some other Oziese gentlemen for leaders. We had also a large pack of
dogs, some of them fine animals, almost equal to bloodhounds.

Our route from the town led us over a succession of scraggy hills, with
cultivation in the bottoms, and some straggling vineyards, not very
flourishing. The walnut trees in the glens, and small inclosures mixed
with copse wood, reminded us more of English or Welsh scenery than
anything we had before seen in either of the Mediterranean islands.
After passing a village standing on high ground, there was a long
ascent, and in about an hour and a half from our leaving Ozieri, on
gaining the summit of a ridge of hills outlying from the Goceano range,
we opened on a magnificent view of the great central chain of mountains,
stretching away to the south-east in giant limbs and folds, with
Genargentu and other summits shrouded in a grey silvery haze. A broad
valley was spread out beneath our point of view, and the mountain range
immediately opposite, the lower regions of which, as far as the eye
could command the view, right and left, were clothed with dense forests,
straggling down in broken masses and detached clumps to the edge of the
intervening valley.

Into the depths of these forests we were to penetrate in pursuit of our
game, and finer covers to be stocked with _cingale_ and _capriole_, or
bolder scenery for the theatre of our sylvan sport, can scarcely be
imagined. It was spirit-stirring when, full in view of these grand
natural features, our numerous cavalcade wound down the hill in
scattered groups to the plain beneath, among pollard cork trees, just
now shedding their acorns. There was deep ploughing in the rich vale
watered by the upper streams of the Tirso, which winds through the
valley at the foot of the Goceano range. After crossing the holms, we
were on slopes of greensward, lightly feathered with the red fern, and
dotted with trees, like a park.

And now we touched the verge of the forest, rough with brakes of giant
heaths, such underwood alternating with grassy glades wherever the woods
opened. This part of the forest consists of an unbroken mass of
primitive cork trees of great size. The rugged bark, the
strangely-angular growth of the limbs, hung with grey lichens in
fantastic combs, and the thick olive-green foliage almost excluding the
light of heaven, with the roar of the wind through the trees,—for it
was a dull, cold day, the coldest we spent in Sardinia,—with all this, a
Scandinavian forest could not be more dreary and savage. After tracking
the gloomy depths of shade for a considerable distance, it was an
agreeable change to quit the forest and warm our blood by cantering up a
slope of scrub. Then, after crossing a grassy hollow, we came among
scattered woods of the most magnificent oaks, both evergreen and
deciduous, I ever saw. Some of the trees were of enormous size, and if
the quality of the timber be equal to the scantling, Sardinia would
supply materials of great value for naval purposes.

The forests of the Barbagia, into which we now penetrated, like those of
the Gallura, are principally virgin forests; the want of roads, of
navigable rivers, and even of flottage, presenting formidable obstacles
to the conveyance of the timber to the seaboard for exportation, though
the first is not insurmountable. The forests of the Marghine and Goceano
ranges round Macomer, having the little port of Boso on the western
coast for an outlet, are felled to some extent. The contracts are mostly
in the hands of foreigners, who obtain them on such low terms that their
profits are enormous. Mr. Tyndale gives the details of a contract
obtained by a Frenchman for 18,000 oak trees, at fifteen _lire nove_,
12_s._ each, the trees being said to realise from 200 to 300 francs
(8_l._ to 12_l._) each at Toulon or Marseilles. In England, we pay from
1_s._ 6_d._ to 2_s._ 3_d._ per cubic foot for very indifferent American
oak, and from 1_s._ 9_d._ to 2_s._ 6_d._ for Baltic oak, perhaps
superior to the Sardinian.

In the course of the Corsican notices in this volume, it was mentioned
that after my return to England, I had some communications with a
government department respecting the pine forests of Corsica.[69] On my
taking occasion also to represent the great abundance of oak timber of
large dimensions standing in Sardinia, I learnt that a valuable report
on the subject had been made to the Admiralty by Mr. Craig, Her
Majesty's excellent Consul-General in the island. It did not, however,
appear that any steps had been taken in consequence.

Great damage is done to the forests by the herdsmen and shepherds, who
are permitted, under certain restrictions, to burn down portions of
underwood, such as the lentiscus, daphne, and cistus, to allow the
pasturage to grow for their flocks. But though this is not legal before
the eighth of September, when the intense heat of the summer has passed
away, and the periodical autumnal rains are necessary for the young
herbage, the law is broken, and not only accidental but wilful
conflagrations have been the destruction of numerous forests. What with
this waste, the injury done to the growing timber by the contractors,
and the indolence of the natives, the noble forests of Sardinia are of
little account. Even the government, it is said, purchase most of the
oak used in the dockyards of Genoa at the French ports before mentioned.

Similar observations apply to cork, though capable of easier transport,
and said to be as fine as any in the world. The Sardinian forests would
supply large quantities; but it enters little into the exports of the
island. We saw a great many trees stripped by the peasants for domestic
uses, naked and miserable skeletons; with them it is indiscriminate
slaughter, doing irreparable injury to the trees. There now lie before
me the specimens I collected of the successive layers of the bark. The
spongy external cuticle, swelling into excrescences, is only used for
floats of the fishermen's nets in the island. Beneath lies a coating of
more compact, but cellular, tissue, of a beautiful rich colour—a sort of
red umber. This layer, called _la camicia_ (the shift), covers the good
or “female” bark, with which every one is acquainted in the shape of

The bark will bear cutting every ten years, commencing when the trees
are about that age; but it should not be cut till the inner bark is an
inch or an inch and a quarter thick. I consider that the bark of old
trees is less valuable. Some of those we saw in the forests of the
Gallura and Barbagia must have been the growth of many centuries. It is
calculated that each tree, on an average, produces upwards of 30 lbs. of
bark at a cutting; there are about 220 lbs. in a quintal, worth, at
Marseilles, 20 francs; and a quintal of cork makes from 4500 to 5000

The woods are generally leased at an annual rent, proportioned to the
number of trees; but this rent, with the cost of stripping the bark, and
even the transport to the coast, form but small items in the lessee's
account of profit and loss. The heaviest charges are the export duty
from Sardinia, the freight, and the import duties in France, to which
country, I understand, the greatest part of the cork cut in the island
is shipped. The French customs' duty is 2frs. 20 cents. the quintal.
England imports no cork in its rough state from the island of Sardinia;
but probably a considerable part of the manufactured corks we import
from France (upwards of 226,000 lbs. in 1855[70]) grew in Sardinian
forests. Our principal imports of unmanufactured cork bark are from
Portugal, the quantity in the year just mentioned being 3300 tons and
upwards. From Spain we only received 300 tons, and about 100 from
Tuscany and other parts; the official value being from 32_l._ to 35_l._
per ton. It appears extraordinary that we should draw so considerable a
portion of our supplies of this valuable commodity from France in a
manufactured state, and subject to a heavy customs' duty and other
double charges, when the raw material might be imported direct from
Sardinia, subject only to an export duty of 1fr. 20 cents. per quintal.
This arises, I imagine, from the trade being left by the apathy of the
islanders mostly in the hands of French houses, who take leases of the
forests and conduct the whole operations.

These details, though they smack of woodcraft, have led us away from our
sylvan sports. We had reached the point where the dogs were thrown into
the covers with a party detached to drive the woods. Having given a
description in a former chapter of the _caccia clamorosa_, as wild boar
hunting is well termed by the Sardes, repetition would be wearisome. It
was conducted precisely as on the former occasion, except that the
proceedings were on a more extended scale, and led us far among wilder
and more varied scenery. As before, the stations of the hunters were
assigned at about seventy or eighty paces apart, with the horses
tethered in the rear. The line of shooters was first formed among the
heather on the easy slope of a glen, lightly sprinkled with wood. The
exhilarating sounds of the men and dogs breaking the silence of the
woods as they drove the game before them, the minutes of eager
expectation, the sharp look-out, the ringing shots, may now be easily

My fellow-traveller was fortunate enough to knock over the first wild
boar that ran the gauntlet of the _cordon_, when the Count's gun had
missed fire from the cap having become damp. Our next position was in an
open piece of forest, where luck planted me in a notched cork tree,
standing on a wooded knoll, at which several avenues met, so that I had
not only a good chance of a shot, but the command of the _champ de
bataille_ on all sides. Wild boars were plentiful, roebucks not so,
hares innumerable in some of our _battues_. I confess, however, that the
incident in the day's sport in which I felt most interest was when a
wild boar, slightly wounded, rushed by one of my posts, pursued by some
of the dogs. Throwing myself on my spirited barb, I led the chase,
followed by my neighbours, right and left, and was lucky enough to be in
at the death, after a sharp run. Under such circumstances the wild boar,
standing at bay with his formidable tusks, becomes dangerous to the
dogs, if not to the hunters. Then the sharp steel is wanting. Oh, for a
boar spear! instead of having to despatch the rabid animal by a shot.

Having had a long morning's ride, our first day's _battue_ was closed
early. The party defiled in loose order among the trees in the open
forest, cantered over springy turf, and brushed through patches of fern
to a sheltered dell in which we were to bivouac, and where the sumpter
horses had already halted. Then followed such a rude feast as in all my
rambles I had never before chanced to witness. Imagine the grassy margin
of a rivulet, surrounded by thick bushes, which spread in brakes
throughout the glen under scattered oaks, intermingled with crags and
detached masses of rock, covered with white lichens. On the grass are
piles of flat bread, which served for plates, loads of sausages, hams,
cheeses, bundles of radishes, and heaps of apples, pears, grapes, and
chestnuts, strewed about in the happiest confusion, with no lack of
flasks and runlets of various sorts of wines. Our contribution to the
pic-nic, a basket of signor Juliani's best cold dishes and larded fowls,
seemed perfectly insignificant. Add to all this, the game we had
bagged,—wild boar and roebuck, to say nothing of hares,—and the general
stock might seem inexhaustible, if one glance at the crowd of hungry
hunters did not banish the thought.

Eager for the attack, they were busily employed in preparations for it.
Horses were unsaddled and tethered among the bushes, guns piled or
rested against the boughs, wood collected, fires lighted, and
dagger-knives whetted, ready to rip open and quarter the game. The
leaders only stood apart, under a spreading tree. They had a grave duty
to perform in apportioning the spoils among those who had been
successful in the day's sport. This was done with great exactness and
the perfect equality existing among all ranks on these occasions. It was
Robin Hood and his merry men all through; or might have been taken for
an episode of Sarde banditti life, except that, our party being all
honest fellows, there was no plunder to divide. By the laws of the chase
in Sardinia, the hunter to whose gun an animal falls is entitled
exclusively to some distinct portion, varying with the species of the
game,—sometimes to the skin, sometimes to the choicest parts of the
_roba interiora_, the intestines; the rest falls into the common stock.
The award being made, such choice morsels, with rashers of hog and
venison steaks, were grilled over the embers on skewers of sweet wood,
and handed round, filled each pause in the attack on the cold
provisions, portions being detached by the formidable _couteaux de
chasse_ with which every man was armed; nor did English steel fail of
doing its duty.

Though the party distributed themselves indiscriminately on the grass,
they naturally fell into familiar messes, perfect harmony and good
fellowship prevailing. But at times there was great confusion. Now, the
horses, kicking and fighting, got free from their tethers, and there was
a rush of the hunters to restore order; while the ravenous hounds, not
content with the bones and fragments thrown to them, were making
perpetual inroads on the circle of guests, and snatching at the morsels
they were appropriating to themselves. The feast was drawing to a close,
when Count T—— proposed the health of the foreigners associated in their
sports, and the toast, with the reply, which, if not eloquent, was short
and feeling,—“_Agli nobili cacciatori della Sardegna, e di noi
forestieri li sozii amicissimi, benevolentissimi_,” &c., &c., &c., drew
forth _ev-vivas_ which made the old woods ring to the echo. And now all
started on their legs, and there was a rush to the guns as if scouts had
suddenly announced that the woods were filled with enemies. As an hour
or two of daylight still remained, a _bersaglio_, or match of shooting
at a mark, had been arranged during the feast.

The _bersaglio_ is a favourite amusement of the Sardes, forming part of
most of their festivities; and constant practice on these occasions, and
in the field, makes them expert shots. Our party now addressed
themselves to this exercise of skill with passionate eagerness. Some ran
to fix a small card against the bole of a tree, eighty or a hundred
yards distant, the rest gathered round the point of sight, loading their
guns or applying caps, all talking rapidly, in sharp tones, as if they
were quarrelling. They formed picturesque groups, in all attitudes—those
mountain rangers, with their semi-Moorish costume, embroidered pouches,
and bright ornamented arms, their dark-olive complexions and bushy hair,
in strong contrast with their visitors from the north, in gray plaid and
brown felt, unmistakable in their physiognomy, though almost as hairy
and sunburnt as the children of the soil. The match was well contested,
the card being often hit; which, as the Sarde guns are not rifled, may
be considered good shooting, at the distance stated. The firing was
continued till it was almost dark with eager zest, but much
irregularity, and almost as great an expenditure of animal spirits in
vociferation, as of powder and bullets.

An hour after sunset, when night came on, fresh wood was heaped on the
smouldering fires, and after sitting round them, smoking and chatting,
the party gradually broke up, some stretching themselves near the
embers, and the rest seeking some shelter for the night, about which a
Sarde mountaineer is not fastidious, any bush or hollow in a rock
serving his purpose. For ourselves, after exchanging the “_felice
notte_” with the Count and his friends, we lingered over a scene so
singular in civilised Europe, though with such I had been familiar in
other hemispheres. The smouldering fires cast fitful gleams on piled
arms and the hardy men sleeping around in their sheepskins or shaggy
cloaks; the deep silence of the woods was only broken by a neighing
horse or the bay of a hound, and presently the stars shone out from the
vault of heaven with a lustre unknown in northern climes. We, too, lay
down ensconced in a brake, the younger traveller disdaining any other
wrapping than his plaid, and the elder luxuriously enveloped in a couple
of blankets which formed part of his equipments, having his saddle for a
pillow. With sound sleep, the rivulet for our ablutions, and a hot cup
of coffee, bread, cheese, and fruit for the _collazione_,—what more
could be wanting?

In this expedition one day was like another, except in the ever-varying
scenery, interesting enough to the traveller, but wearisome in
description. Suffice it to say, that on the third morning, the
provisions being exhausted, and no fresh supplies to be had in that wild
country, our leaders decided on returning to Ozieri. It then became a
question with us whether we should return with them, or pursue tho
mountain tracks to Nuoro, whence it was only two days' journey to the
foot of Monte Genargentu, on the higher regions of which it had been our
intention to hunt the _moufflon_, proceeding then, along byroads,
through a chain of mountain villages to Cagliari. Nuoro, a poor place,
though dignified with the title of “_città_,” and a large ecclesiastical
establishment, stands high on a great table-land in the heart of the
central chain, answering, in many respects, to the Corte of the sister
island. This ancient capital of Barbagia is still the chief place of a
province containing a population of 54,000 souls, very much scattered
through an extensive and mountainous district, but containing many large
villages, such as Fonni, Tonara, and Aritzu already mentioned.

The mountaineers of Barbagia have been distinguished from the earliest
times for their indomitable courage and spirit of independence. Some of
the best ancient writers relate that Iolaus, son of Iphicles, king of
Thessaly, and nephew of Hercules, settled Greek colonies in this part
of the island. The expedition, in which he was joined by the Thespiadæ,
was undertaken in obedience to the oracle of Delphi; and it declared
that, on their establishing themselves in Sardinia, they would never be
conquered. Iolaus is said to have been buried in this district, after
founding many cities; and, the Greek colonists intermingling with the
native Sardes, their descendants, deriving their name of Iolaese or
Iliese from their founder, became the most powerful race in the
island,—just as the Roumains of Wallachia, boasting their descent from
Trajan's Dacian colonists, long proved their right to the proud

The Iolaese offered a determined resistance to the Carthaginian
invaders, and, on the decline of their power in Sardinia, maintained,
during a long series of years, an unequal contest with the Roman
legions; for, though often worsted in pitched battles, they found a safe
and impregnable retreat in their mountain fastnesses. The triumphs of
the Romans figure in history; but the traditions of the Sardes do
justice to the heroic and patriarchal chiefs who fought in defence of
their country. In after times, the Barbaricini (the Barbari of the
Romans, whence Barbagia) exhibited their hereditary warlike spirit in
resisting the invasions of the Moors; and, when Sardinia passed to the
crown of Arragon, they refused to acknowledge Alfonso's rights and
authority, resisting all claims of homage, tribute, or service. A sullen
submission of three centuries to their Spanish sovereigns had not
effaced their spirit of independence, and the Barbaricini were in arms
against an unjust tax, and, moving their wives, children, and valuables
to the mountains, kept the Spaniards entirely at bay, when, in 1719,
Sardinia was ceded to the house of Savoy. The demand being prudently
withdrawn, they returned to their villages, and their allegiance to the
present dynasty has not been broken by any open revolt. But the
indomitable spirit of their race has still been exhibited in sullen or
violent resistance to the Piedmontese authorities. Driven by the corrupt
administration of the laws to take a wild and summary justice, every
man's hand has been against his neighbours' and the government
officials. Mr. Tyndale states “that upwards of 100 (or one in every 279)
annually fall victims to _vendetta_, in contest with their enemies, or
with the authorities. Those openly known to live in the mountains as
_fuorusciti_, of some kind, are more than 300; and to them may be added
another 300 unknown to the Government, so that, on an average, there is
nearly one in every 46 an outcast from society, a fugitive from his
hearth.” I was happy to learn, on a second visit to the island of
Sardinia, in 1857, that the numbers of these unhappy men were
decreasing, outrages had diminished, and the system of _vendetta_ was
gradually dying out. This, it was stated, principally resulted from the
Barbaricini beginning to feel that the government is able and willing to
afford them the redress of their private wrongs, and the personal
protection which, as individuals or banded together, they have so long
asserted by the red hand in defiance of the authorities.

Thus the independence predicted by the oracle of Delphi to the race of
Iolaus, preserved for untold centuries and through all political
changes, has been maintained to the last by their direct descendants,
the _fuorusciti_ of Barbagia. They were in arms as late as our travels
in 1853, and we were officially warned against venturing into the
mountains without due precautions. It was not, however, this state of
affairs which interfered with the prosecution of our journey, as we did
not doubt being able to establish, as foreigners, amicable relations
with their chiefs. Such a state of society could not be without
interest, the scenery is represented as most romantic, the shooting
excellent; but our time was limited, and, reserving the expedition to
Barbagia for a future opportunity, we reluctantly retraced our steps to
Ozieri, in company with our friendly hunters.


  _Leave Ozieri.—The New Road and Travelling in the Campagna.—Monte
    Santo.—Scenes at the Halfway House.—Volcanic Hills.—Sassari;
    its History.—Liberal opinions of the Sassarese.—Constitutional
    Government.—Reforms wanted in Sardinia.—Means for its

Ozieri standing on the verge of the great Sardinian plains, we dismissed
our _cavallante_, and changed our mode of travelling. A primitive
_diligence_ plies occasionally between Ozieri and Sassari, by the new
road just constructed to join the Strada Reale between Cagliari and
Porto Torres. Missing the opportunity during our hunting excursion, we
hired a _voiture_ for the day's journey. It was comparatively a smart
affair, a light _calèche_ with bright yellow pannels, and drawn by a
pair of quick-stepping horses; so that we travelled in much comfort.
Carriages are seldom found in the island except on this great road, and
in a few of the principal towns; the mode of travelling in the interior,
for persons of all ranks and both sexes, being either on horseback or on

We rattled out of Ozieri with a flourish of the driver's horn, more
intent on which than on the management of his spirited horses he nearly
brought us to grief. After some narrow escapes of being capsized over
the heaps of stones scattered along the new road, now in the course of
construction, we came to a dead lock in an excavation; and one of the
horses, though mettlesome enough, hung in the collar, refusing to draw.
It was said to be an Irish horse, but how or when it got to Sardinia was
as much a myth as the immigration of some of the various races by which
the island is said to have been peopled in ancient times. However, Miss
Edgeworth's Irish postilion and “Knockecroghery,” could scarcely have
afforded us more amusement than our Sarde driver and his horse, whose
good qualities he ludicrously vaunted, alternately cursing and
glorifying, thumping and coaxing, the vicious beast, while we heaved at
the wheels. Our united efforts at length succeeded in extricating the
vehicle from the sandy hollow; and after jolting for awhile over the
new-formed road, the material having become solid and compact, we rolled
at our ease across the plain. I remarked, that though the road was well
levelled and macadamised, scarcely a man was to be seen employed in the
present operations. Boys were breaking the metal, and girls carrying it
in baskets on their heads.

The plains being undulating, extensive views are commanded by the
eminences far away over the Campidano, backed by the Limbara mountains
on the north-west. We passed the village of Nores, pleasantly situated
on a hill at the verge of the Ozieri plain, across which Monte Santo,
appearing from this point a long ridge, rose in full view to our left,
2000 feet high. The junction with the Strada Reale from Cagliari to
Sassari was reached soon afterwards. About noon, we halted while the
horses baited at a roadside _locanda_, the half-way house to Sassari,
standing at the foot of Monte Santo, here reduced to the shape of a
round-topped mountain. Lesser hills fell away to the great plain, the
slopes and flats being sprinkled with large flocks of sheep. On a
hillock two or three miles distant, were the ruins of a Nuraghe,
mellowed to a rich orange tint.

It was a pleasant spot, and at the present moment full of life, numbers
of Sardes of all classes having, like ourselves, halted there for rest.
Two _voitures_ were drawn up by the roadside, as well as several light
carts, with high wheels and tilts made of rushes or cloth, conveying
goods to and fro between Cagliari and Sassari. Women in yellow
petticoats and red mantles, with bright kerchiefs round their heads, and
men in their white shirt sleeves open to the elbow, and Moorish cotton
trowsers, contrasting with their dark jackets, caps, and gaiters, were
bustling about, fetching water and fodder for the horses. Others were
sitting and eating under the shade of a group of weeping willows,
overshadowing a bason of pure water, fed by a streamlet trickling down
from the neighbouring hills. Intermingled with these were Sarde
cavaliers, in a more brilliant costume; and a priest, carrying a huge
crimson umbrella, came forth from the _locanda_, and with his
attendants, mounting their horses, proceeded on their journey at a pace
suited to the priest's gravity, and the requirements of his gorgeous

Presently a horn sounded, and a coach came thundering down the hill,—the
diligence on its daily service between the two capitals. The vehicle was
double-bodied, well horsed, and, altogether, a superior turn-out. We
took the opportunity of its pulling up for a moment to bespeak beds at
Sassari. After amusing ourselves with a scene of life on the road not
often witnessed in Sardinia,—having already lunched in our _voiture_ on
a basket of grapes, with bread, and a bottle of the excellent white wine
of Oristano,—we sauntered up the course of the rivulet to its source, at
the foot of a rock among the woods. There we drank of the clear
fountain, and washed; bees humming among the flowers, as in the height
of the summer, and the gabble from the roadside below, coming up mixed
with the cries of the carrier's fierce dogs. The spot commanded charming
views of Monte Santo and the far-stretching _campagna_ beneath.

Pursuing our route, the country assumed a peculiar aspect from the
number of the flat-topped hills, swelling in green slopes out of the
plains which spread before us in long sweeps. These vividly green
hillocks are probably the craters of long extinct volcanoes, as we were
now in the line, and near the centre, of that wide igneous action
mentioned in a former chapter. There were signs of more extensive
cultivation than we had hitherto observed, and the evident fertility of
the soil left no doubt on the mind of its powers of production under a
better system. Large flocks of sheep were feeding in every direction;
this being the season for their being driven from the mountains for
pasture and shelter in the teeming plains. Sardinia remains still in
that pastoral state, which, however picturesque to the eyes of the
traveller, as well as suited to the indolent habits of the Sarde
peasant, must yield to agricultural progress, or, at least, be reduced
within due bounds, before the soil of the island can be made the source
of that wealth which, with proper cultivation, large portions of it are
naturally fitted to yield. Sardinia will continue to be poor and
uncivilised while vast tracts of country are open to almost promiscuous
and lawless commonage, and while the occupation of the shepherd, with
all its hardships, is esteemed preferable and more honourable than that
of the tiller of the soil.

After this, we got among hills bounding the plain in the neighbourhood
of Florinas and Campo di Mela. The country became rugged, and, after
crossing a river, over a still perfect Roman bridge, of several arches,
with massive substructions of large square stones, which we alighted to
examine, there commenced a steep ascent, winding among woods. We walked
up it by moonlight, our driver's bugle echoing that of a _diligence_
which preceded us at some distance in mounting the pass. Sassari was
entered by an arched and embattled gateway in the square-towered wall
surrounding the place; and, passing through the best quarter of the
town, the dark mass of the citadel contrasting well with the white
_façades_ and lofty colonnades of the neighbouring houses, we were set
down at the Albergo di Progresso, opposite the great convent of St.
Pietro, one of the richest of the many religious houses of which Sassari
once boasted. The accommodations at the hotel were the best we enjoyed
in the island.

Sassari, the second city of Sardinia, containing a population of some
30,000 souls, has always been a jealous rival of Cagliari, the
metropolis, boasting an independent history of its own, of which it has
just pretensions to be proud. It was an insignificant village till the
inhabitants of Porto-Torres,—the ancient _Turris Libysonis_, founded on
the neighbouring coast by the Greeks, and colonised by the Romans,—were
driven by the incursions of the Saracen corsairs, and, finally, by the
ruin of their town by the Genoese, in 1166, to seek a refuge further
inland. They established themselves at Sassari, where the long street,
still called Turritana, was named from the new settlers. In 1441, the
archiepiscopal see and chapter of St. Gavino, near Porto-Torres, were
translated to Sassari by Pope Eugenius IV., and thenceforward it
rivalled the metropolis in opulence and power. When, in the thirteenth
century, the Genoese occupied the northern division of the island,
Sassari became a republic, entering into an alliance, offensive and
defensive, with that of Genoa. The articles of the treaty are a curious
amalgamation of independence assumed by the one, and of interference and
jurisdiction claimed by the other. The general effect was, that the
Sassarese accepted annually from the Genoese a Podesta, who swore
fidelity to their constitution; and the Sassarese assert that while
their city was under the protection of Genoa, they only styled that
haughty republic in their statutes and diplomas, “_Mater et Magistra,
sed non Domina:_” “_non Signora, ma Amica._”

Mutual quarrels induced a rupture of the alliance in 1306, and on the
Arragonese kings advancing pretensions to the sovereignty of the island,
the Sassarese made a voluntary transfer of their allegiance to Diego II.
of Arragon, who, in return, guaranteed their rights and privileges; and
Sassari continued to be governed as a republic long after the Spanish
conquest in 1325. The city, however, suffered severely during the
protracted contests between the Genoese, Pisans, and the Giudici of
Arborea, for the expulsion of the Spaniards; sustaining no less than ten
sieges, courageously defended, in the short interval between 1332 and
1409. It continued to be the victim of contending parties till 1420,
when for the last time, and after a struggle of nearly a hundred years,
it fell into the hands of Alfonso V., who conferred on it the title of
“Città Reale.” In the middle of the fifteenth century it flourished both
commercially and politically, enjoying privileges beyond any other town
in the island. From this power and prosperity arose its rivalry with
Cagliari; and the jealousies and dissensions in matters of government,
religion, and education, surviving the transference of the sovereignly
to the House of Savoy, have descended from generation to generation.

This feeling prevails to the present day, partly owing, perhaps, to the
circumstance of society in Sassari being less under the influence of
Piedmontese and Continental opinions than in the capital, Cagliari,—and
partly to the Sassarese population being mostly of Genoese extraction.
The descendants of these settlers having almost all the trade, commerce,
and employment in their hands, form a very important and influential
middle class. I found at Sassari opinions more distinctly pronounced on
the abuses of the government, and the necessity of reforms in the
various branches of the administration, than I have reason to believe
they are in the more courtly circles of Cagliari. Some numbers of a
work, in course of publication, were put into my hands during our stay
at Sassari, in which these topics were discussed in a sensible, bold,
but temperate style.[72] Though written by a foreigner, a Venetian
refugee, I have no doubt, from the manner in which it was spoken of by
well-informed persons, and from its having reached a second edition,
that it may be accepted as representing the opinions of a large class of
the Sassarese, and I imagine of Sardes in general.

Much interest attaches to the working of the constitutional system in
the Sardinian dominions, not only politically, but in its effects on the
social and economical condition of the country. Hitherto the island of
Sardinia has been treated by the cabinet of Turin much as it was long
the misfortune of the English government to deal with Ireland; regarding
the native race as a conquered, but turbulent, impracticable and
semi-barbarous people; the consequences of such misrule being poverty,
disaffection and bloodshed. But I trust we see the dawn of brighter
days, when this fine island, partaking of the benefits following in the
train of constitutional government,—its wrongs redressed, its great
natural resources developed, and the natural genius and many virtues of
its inhabitants being cultivated and having free scope,—will be no
insignificant jewel in the crown which assumed its regal title from this
insular possession.

With our own happy country in the van of political, social, and material
progress, there are three secondary European states, which, in our own
memory, have raised the banner of freedom, and are consistently marching
under it with firm, vigorous, and well-poised steps. It need hardly be
explained that we speak of Norway, Belgium, and Sardinia.[73] Occupying,
geographically and politically, important positions ranging, at wide
intervals, from the far north to the extreme south of Europe, these
small, flourishing, and well-ordered states, offer a spectacle as full
of hope and encouragement to all lovers of constitutional liberty, as it
must necessarily be offensive to the despotic governments of the great
continental monarchies, on whose thresholds the altars of freedom, newly
lighted, have burnt with so steady and pure a flame. They may serve as
beacon-lights to European populations gasping for that political
regeneration, the hour of which will assuredly come, and may not be far

Of the state and prospects of the kingdom of Norway,[74] we have treated
in another work. The democratic element is so predominant in its
constitutional code, that the only fear was lest it should clash with
the executive functions of even a limited monarchy. But, hitherto, the
natural good sense, patriotism, and loyalty of the Norwegian people,
though represented in a Storthing of peasant farmers,—and we may add,
the moderation displayed by the Bernadotte dynasty,—have so obviated the
difficulties of a hastily formed, and somewhat crude, code of
fundamental laws, that it has been harmoniously worked to the great
benefit of the nation. In Belgium, notwithstanding religious
antagonisms, which have also perplexed the young councils of Sardinia,
the constitutional system has been so consolidated, under the rule of a
sagacious prince, that it may be hoped its permanence is secured. We
need not speak of the rising fortunes of the Sardinian States, the only
hope of fair Italy. The eyes of Europe are upon them; they are closely
watched by friends and foes. Our business at present is, not with the
political, but with the social and material, condition of the insular
kingdom which forms a valuable portion of those singularly aggregated
dominions. In a work devoted to a survey of the island, even a passing
traveller may be pardoned for pausing in his narrative while he collects
some cursory notices of its present condition under these aspects, and
its requirements for improvement.

All enlightened Sardes with whom we conversed unite with Signor Sala,
who has devoted several sections of his work to the subject, in
representing the corruption and other abuses pervading the
administration of justice in Sardinia, as lying at the root of its
greatest social evil. It is the ready excuse for rude justice, for
private revenge, for the assertion of the rights of persons or of things
by the strong hand, that the laws are inoperative, or iniquitously
administered. There is too much reason to believe that this has been the
normal state of Sardinia under all its rulers for ages past. And when at
the same time we find the natural instincts of the people to be
turbulent and lawless, and prone to theft and robbery, and consider the
facilities afforded by a wild, mountainous, and densely wooded country,
for the commission of crimes of violence, the scenes of bloodshed and
rapine by which it has been desolated, are not to be wondered at. In the
absence of a vigorous justice, and a sufficient military or police force
for the protection of property, a voluntary association sprung up,
consisting of armed men, under the name of Barancelli, who, for a sort
of black mail paid by the peasants, undertook to recover their stolen
cattle, or indemnify them for the loss. They fell, however, into
disrepute, and I believe have been disbanded. Banditism has been finally
and effectually extinguished in Corsica, as related in a former part of
this work, by a total disarmament of the population, without respect of
persons, or of the purposes for which fire-arms may be properly
required. So stern a measure is neither suited to the genius of the
Sardes or their rulers. With a numerous resident gentry, who, with their
retainers, and the great mass of the population, are passionately fond
of the chase, and with wastes so stocked with destructive wild animals,
the total prohibition of fire-arms must be both unpopular and impolitic.
The law, however, requires that no one shall carry them without a
license. But it is not, or cannot be, enforced, for we saw them in every
one's hands.

It gave me great pleasure to learn, as it has been already stated, on a
recent visit to Sardinia, that the administration of the law was become
more pure, the police improved, outrages were less frequent, and
confident hopes entertained that banditism, now confined to a small
number of outlaws, would gradually die out. There is no doubt it will do
so when the laws are respected as in other parts of the Sardinian

In regard to the judges and other civil functionaries, we found
everywhere the deepest antipathy towards the Piedmontese. Sardinia for
the Sardes, was like the cry we often hear from our own sister island.
Sala treats the subject with his usual temper and good sense. He admits
the advantages of an administration conducted by natives possessing a
knowledge of the country, conversant with its language and customs, and
of a temper more conciliatory than foreigners invested with authority
are likely to exhibit. He also admits that there is extreme mediocrity,
and even ignorance, in the lower class of functionaries who arrive in
the island with appointments obtained in Turin or Genoa. Sala relates a
ludicrous story of one of these officials, who chanced to be his
companion in the steam-boat from Genoa to Cagliari, being recommended to
the Intendant-General as the chief of a department under him. When
half-way across, the candidate for office had yet to learn whither they
were bent,—“_Si fece interrogarci per dove possimo diretti_.”
Afterwards, says Sala, when chatting in Cagliari, he reproached the
Sardes with ignorance and indolence because, though their land was
surrounded by the sea, they did not know how to supply themselves with a
river,—“_Non sapevano formarsi un fiume_;” adding, with great
self-complacency,—“_Li civilizzeremo, li civilizzeremo!_”

Such impertinences are calculated to irritate the native Sardes against
the continental officials; and they are generally detested. Our author,
however, candidly allows that intrigue prevails so universally in the
island, and the influences of relationship and connexions are so great,
as to raise suspicions of the purity and fairness of native
functionaries, especially of those who have been brought up under the
old system,—a school of corruption. Signor Sala therefore suggests, that
while appointments, both on the continent and the island, should be
equally open to competent candidates, without respect of birth, great
advantages would be obtained by this interchange. The Sardes being
habituated by residence for a while, and the transaction of business, on
Terra Firma; and thus withdrawn from unfavourable influences, would be
prepared to fill honourably offices at home. This seems a wise and
obvious mode of abating a grievance of which the Sardes not unjustly

Having mentioned before the gigantic evil of the vast extent of
commonage claimed and exercised throughout the island, destructive of
the rights of property and quite incompatible with agricultural
progress, I have only to add that measures are contemplated for
facilitating and protecting inclosures where lawfully made; but so as
not to injure the great interest of the proprietors of flocks and herds,
the staple production of the island. In this view it is proposed to
place the great domains of the communes under better management.

Among various other reforms and beneficial projects to which the
attention of a more enlightened government must be directed, in order to
raise Sardinia to the rank she is entitled to hold by the extent of her
resources, and the intelligence of great numbers of her inhabitants, we
can only enumerate, without observation, the educational system
generally, including a reform of the Universities of Cagliari and
Sassari,—sanitary measures tending, at least, to alleviate the
insalubrity which is the scourge of the island,—improved police
arrangements throughout the interior,—an increased supply of the
circulating medium, the deficiency of which is represented as extreme
and injurious to trade, and “Agrarian Banks;”—an entire new system of
communal roads, connected with the great national highways, which roads,
it is said, would double the value of property wherever they passed,—the
protection and careful administration of the forests,—measures for
developing the great mineral wealth of the island,—and the encouragement
of the coral fisheries.

Nor have we exhausted the list; but enough has been shown to satisfy the
reader who accepts the statements we have laid before him, from our own
observation and from the best information of the capabilities of
Sardinia and its present condition,—how much is required to place her
on a footing with other European states, and with what hope of eventual
success. A vast field is, indeed, open for cultivation by an enlightened
and patriotic administration. Great difficulties will have to be
encountered, arising mainly from the indolence, the supineness, the
prejudices, the ignorance, and the poverty of the Sarde population. The
progress must be gradual, but noble will be the reward earned by that
exercise of vigour, discretion, and perseverance, by which the obstacles
to improvement may be overcome.

There is one highly gifted man, who has long filled a distinguished
place in the service of his sovereign and the eyes of the world, in
whose hands the task of regenerating Sardinia, herculean as it may
appear, would be not only a labour of love, but facile comparatively
with any others on which it may devolve. I speak of General the Count
Alberto di Marmora, known to all Europe by his Topographical Survey, and
his able work, the _Voyage en Sardaigne_, of which two additional
volumes have been recently published. But, perhaps, his devotion to the
best interests of the Sarde people, his labours in that cause, and the
esteem and affection with which he is universally regarded in the island
are less understood. Enjoying also the confidence of the king and his
ministers, General La Marmora is eminently fitted to carry out the
beneficial designs which he has long conceived and furthered; but his
advanced age precludes the hope of his seeing them accomplished. May his
mantle fall on no unworthy successor!

One subject of special interest in connection with Sardinian progress
has been reserved for a more particular notice than we have been able to
afford most others, both on account of its importance, and its having
much engaged the attention of the master-mind most conversant with the
situation of affairs. At the outset of our rambles in Sardinia, it was
observed that the Sardes are averse to maritime occupations; the Iliese
of La Madelena, who are so employed to some extent, being a distinct
race. Sardinia has no mercantile marine. Signor Sala states that there
are only four or five vessels belonging to natives, and, of these, two
are the property of the same rich owner. Considering the advantages of
her position, and the products the island is capable of supplying for an
active commerce, he considers the want of a mercantile marine one of
Sardinia's greatest misfortunes, and treats with much good sense of the
means calculated to promote its establishment.[75]

General La Marmora drew attention to the subject in a pamphlet published
at Cagliari in 1850, under the title of _Questioni marittimi spettanti
all'isola di Sardegna_; and resumed the subject in 1856, in another
work, which he was so obliging as to give me, when at Cagliari, in 1857.
It originated in the expected completion of the line of Electric
Telegraph between Algeria, Sardinia, Corsica, and the continent of
Europe; its connexion with which, and its bearings on commerce, I may
have to refer to on a future occasion. The General comments on the
extraordinary fact, that, in an island 800 miles in circumference, there
only exist four sea-ports, properly so called. These are Cagliari, on
the south coast, Terranova, on the east, Porto-Torres, on the north, and
Alghero on the west. All the other villages and towns on the coast stand
more or less distantly from it, and cannot be called maritime. He
considers this depopulation of the coast as the deplorable consequence
of the devastations of the Saracen corsairs, and the continual piracy
which was carried on to a late period, and only ceased on the conquest
of Algeria by the French.

It would be foreign to our province to detail the projects which General
La Marmora suggests, or advocates, for giving expansion to the commerce
of Sardinia,—such as the establishment of light-houses on Cape
Spartivento, and other points; improvements in the harbour of Cagliari,
and a better supply of the place with water. He considers the now almost
deserted town and port of Terranova, at the head of the fine gulf _Degli
Aranci_, on the north-eastern coast, to be a point of great importance
from its position in face of the Italian ports, and as the proper
station for the postal steamboats communicating between Genoa and the
island of Sardinia. In reference to this, he mentions that the project
of a law for encouraging colonisation in the island, was presented by
the Minister to the Chamber of Deputies in February, 1856; the proposal
being to grant 60,000 hectares of the national domains to a company
formed for establishing agrarian colonies. The cabinet of Turin, then,
are alive to one of the great wants of Sardinia,—an increased and
industrious agricultural population. But General La Marmora desires that
a part of the colonists should be maritime, drawn from La Madalena,
Genoa, and other ports, and settled at the proposed new harbour of

By these and other aids, the General is sanguine that Sardinia will, ere
long, take the place naturally belonging to it among maritime countries,
and he repeats as a motto to his recent pamphlet, a sentence from the
first edition of his _Voyage en Sardaigne_, published in 1826, to which,
he remarks, recent events have almost given the character of a
prediction in the course of speedy accomplishment:—_Qui sait si un jour,
par suite des progrès que fait depuis quelque temps l'Egypte moderne, le
commerce des Indes Orientales ne prendra pas la route de la Mer-Rouge et
de Suez? La Sardaigne, alors, ne pourrait-elle pas devenir la plus belle
et la plus commode échelle de la Méditerranée?_

The cabinet of Turin and the national legislature must be well disposed
to foster the commerce and agriculture, the natural resources, and
social interests of the Sardes. Should the Ministers be negligent or
ill-advised, the representatives of the people, or, in the last resort,
the Sarde constituencies, have their constitutional remedy. British
institutions are said to be models imitated in the young commonwealth.
They present similar features; and let it be recollected what influence
either the Irish or the Scotch members, acting in concert in our House
of Commons, can bring to bear on any question affecting the interests of
their respective countries. The Sardes return twenty-four deputies to
the popular chamber, and if they be good men and true, inaccessible to
intrigue, and find in their patriotism a bond of union, their united
votes cannot be disregarded by any Minister.

How different is the case of Corsica, the sister island! In reviewing
her industrial position we quoted rather largely from a _Procès-Verbal_
of the deliberations of the Council-General, also an elective body,
which canvasses, but not regulates, the internal administration of the
island. It arrives at certain conclusions, but without any power to give
them effect. “Le Conseil-Général émet le vœu,” “appelle l'attention,”
are the phrases wherewith, with bated breath, the representatives of the
people convey their resolutions to the foot of the throne. The courtly
Prefect communicates them to the Minister of the Interior, and he, the
organ of the Imperial will, rejects, confirms, or modifies the “vœu.”
The Sarde representatives meet the Ministers face to face in the
Parliament at Turin, demand, discuss, explain, remonstrate, carry their
point, or are content to yield to a majority of the Chamber. With a free
press, the public learns all; public opinion ratifies or condemns the
vote. It will prevail in the end. Herein lies the difference between a
despotic and a popular government. A bright day dawned on the future
destinies of Sardinia, when it exchanged the one for the other.


  _Alghero—Notice of.—The Cathedral of
    Sassari.—University.—Museum.—A Student's private
    Cabinet.—Excursion to a Nuraghe—Description of.—Remarks on the
    Origin and Design of these Structures._

Sassari is about equidistant from Alghero and Porto-Torres. Of these two
ports Alghero is far the best, but all the commerce of Sassari passes
through Porto-Torres, by the Strada Reale. The ancient rivalry between
the two cities engendered a hatred which continues to the present day,
insomuch that the Sassarese have resisted all efforts to make a good
road from Alghero, to enable it to become their port of trade. These
feuds arose in the age when Alghero was the chief seat of the Arragonese
power in the island, enjoyed great exclusive privileges, and was peopled
by Catalonian settlers. It is still Spanish in the character of the
inhabitants, their customs, and buildings. Surrounded by a fertile and
well-cultivated country, abounding in orange and olive groves,
vineyards, and fields of corn and flax, Alghero is a city of some seven
thousand inhabitants, many of them in affluent circumstances. It is a
fortified place, with a richly ornamented cathedral, and thirteen other

Sassari also boasts a spacious cathedral, with a very elaborate façade,
a work of the 17th century. It contains also twenty churches, including
those that are conventual. If the religious state of the community were
to be estimated by the number of those devoted to the service of the
church, the Sassarese ought to be models of piety; for Mr. Tyndale
calculates the number of priests and monks in 1840 as giving a total of
769 clerical persons, about one for every thirty-two individuals of the
community. Their numbers have been diminished by the suppression of some
of the convents, but, even at the time of our visit, his remark, that
one cannot walk fifty yards in the street without meeting an
ecclesiastic, was confirmed by our own observation.

The object which the Sassarese are most proud to exhibit to strangers,
is the fountain of Rosello, outside the north-east or Macella gate. At
the angles are large figures of the four seasons, at the feet of which
the stream issues forth, as well as from eight lions' mouths in the
sides of the building. The whole is of white marble, and though open to
criticism as an architectural design, the utility of a fountain, which
has twelve mouths constantly pouring forth pure water, in such a
climate, cannot be overrated.

The University of Sassari, founded by Philip IV. in 1634, is established
in the spacious college formerly belonging to the Jesuits. It numbers
about 200 students. The library contains a scanty collection of books,
mostly ecclesiastical works. The museum exhibits some few articles of
interest, relics of the Phœnician colonisation and Roman occupation of
the island, mixed up in the greatest confusion, as in a broker's shop,
with meagre specimens of mineralogy and conchology; and cannot for a
moment be compared with the museum of Cagliari, rich in valuable remains
of antiquity, and admirably arranged. It will be noticed in its proper

We were much more interested in being allowed to examine a small private
collection belonging to a young Sassarese, whose acquaintance it was our
good fortune to make, and of whose talents, intelligence, and courtesy I
retain a most pleasing impression. The pursuits of the young men of the
higher classes in Sassari, are described as entirely frivolous, and the
bent of the bourgeoisie as eminently sordid. It was, therefore, with an
agreeable surprise, that we found ourselves in a studio embellished with
the portraits of such characters as Dante, Ariosto, and Sir Isaac
Newton; and where mathematical instruments, scattered about, and a
cabinet containing some of the best French, English, German, and Italian
authors, gave a pleasing idea of the tastes of the owner. With imperfect
aid he had made himself sufficiently proficient in foreign languages to
be able to read them; and it appeared that his severer studies were
relieved by accomplishments displaying considerable talent, such as
painting, and taking impressions from the antique in electrotype. He was
good enough to offer me some of his casts, with a few coins from his
museum of antiquities; two engravings from which, illustrating the Punic
and Saracenic periods of the history of Sardinia, will appear in future
pages, together with one copied from a unique coin of the Roman age,
preserved in the Royal Museum at Cagliari.

One seldom finds such talents and accomplishments accompanied by the
modesty with which our young student spoke of his pursuits. Nor was he a
mere recluse, though his health appeared feeble; for he entered with
zest into conversation on the various topics of European interest
suggested by a visit from foreigners, while he did not hesitate to
expose, with patriotic zeal, the follies and abuses which opposed the
march of civilisation in his native country. Such characters are rare.
We had unexpectedly stumbled on a delicate flower, nurtured on an
ungrateful soil, and destined to shed its sweetness in an atmosphere
where, I fear, it is little appreciated. I may be excused, then, for
devoting a page to the adventure, and allowed to inscribe on that page,
a name of which I have so agreeable a recollection—that of Carlo Rugiu.

Our new friend was kind enough to be our conductor in a walk to a
Nuraghe, standing about three miles from Sassari, and in good
preservation. We had already seen many of these very ancient structures
scattered over all parts of the country; more or less ruinous, they are
said to number 3000 at the present day, and many others have been

    [Illustration: EXTERIOR OF A NURAGHE.]

Whether seen on the plains or on the mountains, the Nuraghe are
generally built on the summits of hillocks, or on artificial mounds,
commanding the country. Some are partially inclosed at a slight distance
by a low wall of similar construction with the building. Their external
appearance is that of a truncated cone from thirty to sixty feet in
height, and from 100 to 300 in circumference at the base. The walls are
composed of rough masses of the stones peculiar to the locality, each
from two to six cubic feet, built in regular horizontal layers, in
somewhat of the Cyclopean style, and gradually diminishing in size to
the summit. Most commonly they betray no marks of the chisel, but in
many instances the stones appear to have been rudely worked by the
hammer, though not exactly squared.

The interior is almost invariably divided into two domed chambers, one
above the other; the lowest averaging from fifteen to twenty feet in
diameter, and from twenty to twenty-five feet in height. Access to the
upper chamber is gained by a spiral ramp, or rude steps, between the
internal and external walls. These are continued to the summit of the
tower, which is generally supposed to have formed a platform; but
scarcely any of the Nuraghe now present a perfect apex. On the ground
floor, there are generally from two to four cells worked in the solid
masonry of the base of the cone.

Independently of the interest attached to the object of our search, the
fertile plains surrounding Sassari formed a sufficient attraction for a
long walk. Plantations of olives, of vines, oranges, and other
fruit-trees, succeeded each other in rich profusion; the olive trees
being especially productive, and the oil, exported from Sassari in large
quantities, being of the first quality. The environs, far and wide, are
laid out in these plantations, and in gardens highly cultivated,
interspersed with villas and pleasure-grounds. Tobacco is largely
cultivated, and the vegetables are excellent. A cauliflower served up at
dinner was of enormous size, nor can I forget the baskets of delicious
figs which, at this late period of the year, were brought by the
market-women to the door of our hotel.

The Nuraghe to which our steps were directed proved to be a very
picturesque object, rising out of a thicket of shrubs, with tufts
growing in the crevices of the tower, which on one side was dilapidated.
The other, composed of huge boulders, laid horizontally with much
precision, considering the rude materials, still preserved its conical
form, rising to the height of twenty or twenty-five feet. The entrance
was so low that we were obliged to stoop almost to our knees in passing
through it. A lintel, consisting of a single stone, some two tons'
weight, was supported by the protruding jambs. No light being admitted
to the chamber, but by a low passage through the double walls, it was
gloomy enough.

    [Illustration: ENTRANCE TO A NURAGHE.]

    [Illustration: INTERIOR OF A NURAGHE.]

In this instance, the interior formed a single dome or cone about
twenty-five feet high, well-proportioned, and diminishing till a single
massive stone formed the apex. The chamber was fifteen feet in diameter,
and had four recesses or cells worked in the solid masonry, about five
feet high, three deep, and nearly the same in breadth.

The small platform on the summit of the cone, to which we ascended by
the ramp in the interior of the wall and some rugged steps, commanded a
rich view of the plain of Sassari, appearing from the top one dense
thicket of olive and fruit trees spreading for miles round the city. Out
of these groves rise the towers and domes of Sassari, the enceinte of
its grey battlemented walls, and the lofty masses of its white houses.
The view over the plain to the west is bounded by the Mediterranean,
intersected by the bold outlines of the island of Asmara. After feasting
our eyes on perhaps the most charming _tableau_ the island affords,
decked with nature's choicest gifts, and exhibiting an industry unusual
among the modern Sardes, we sat down at the foot of the hillock, while
my friend was completing his sketches of the Nuraghe, and our thoughts
were naturally drawn to these relics of a primitive age. “What was their
origin—their history—what were the purposes for which they were

It needed only that we should lift our eyes to the rude but shapely cone
before us,—massive in its materials and fabric, and yet constructed with
some degree of mechanical skill,—to come to the conclusion that the
Nuraghe are works of a very early period, just when rude labour had
begun to be directed by some rules of geometrical art. But, in examining
the details, we find little or nothing to assist us in forming any clear
idea of the period at which they were erected, or the purpose for which
they were designed. There are not the slightest vestiges of ornament,
any rude sculpture, any inscriptions. Of an antiquity probably anterior
to all written records, history not only throws no certain light on
their origin, but, till modern times, was silent as to their existence.
Successive races, and powers, and dynasties have flourished in the
island, and passed away, scarcely any of them without leaving some
relics, some medals of history, some impress on the manners and
character of the people still to be traced. The mouldering cones which
arrest the traveller's attention, scattered, as we have observed, in
great numbers throughout the island, enduring in their simple and
massive structure, have thrown their shade over Phœnicians and Greeks,
Romans and Carthaginians, Saracens, Pisans, Genoese, and Spaniards, and
still survive the wreck of time and so many other early buildings,—the
remains of a people of whose existence they are the only record, and,
except monoliths, the oldest of, at least, European monuments.

In the absence of any positive evidence regarding the origin and design
of the Sardinian Nuraghe[76], there has been abundance of conjecture and
speculation on the subject. On the present occasion, I had the advantage
of discussing it with our intelligent Sassarese student, I have also
heard the remarks of one of the most distinguished Sarde antiquarians,
and having since consulted the works of La Marmora and other writers,
whose extensive researches and personal investigations entitle their
opinions to much respect, I shall endeavour to lay the result,
unsatisfactory as it proves, before the reader, in the shortest compass
to which so wide an inquiry can be reduced.

The world has been searched for styles of building corresponding with
that of the Sarde Nuraghe; without success. Neither in Etruscan,
Pelasgic, or any other European architecture are any such models to be
found, nor do Indian, Assyrian, or Egyptian remains exhibit any identity
with them. They have been supposed, among other theories, to have some
affinity with the Round Towers of Ireland; but after a careful
examination of some of those almost equally mysterious structures, and
considerable research among the authorities for their antiquity and
uses, I have failed to discover anything in common between them and the
Nuraghe. If my memory be correct, Mr. Petrie, the highest authority on
the subject of the Round Towers, though he had not seen the Nuraghe,
incidentally expresses the same opinion. The only existing buildings
exhibiting a cognate character with those of Sardinia, are certain
conical towers found in the Balearic islands, which were also colonised
by the Phœnicians. They are called _talayots_, a diminutive, it is said,
of _atalaya_, meaning the “Giants' Burrow;” and if the plate annexed to
Father Bresciani's work be a correct representation, they would appear
to be identical with the Nuraghe in the exterior, except that the ramp
leading to the summit is worked in the outward face of the wall. We
find, also, from La Marmora's description of the _talayots_ examined by
him, that the character of the cells is different, the style of masonry
more cyclopean, and that many of them are surrounded with circles of
stones and supposed altars, scarcely ever met with in Sardinia. The
resemblance, however, is striking, as connected with the facts of the
contiguity of Minorca, and the colonisation of both the islands by the

Opinions as to the purposes for which the Nuraghe were erected are as
various as those regarding their origin. From their great number,
scattered over the country, they are supposed by some to have been the
habitations of the most ancient shepherds; and the words of Micah—“the
tower of the flocks,”[77] and other similar passages, are referred to as
supporting this view. But it is hardly necessary to point out that the
inconveniences of the structure, from its low entrance and dark
interior, to say nothing of the waste of labour in heaping up such vast
structures for shepherds' huts, will not admit of the idea being
entertained. With somewhat more reason, but still with little
probability, they have been represented as watch-towers, strongholds,
and places of refuge; a theory to which their position, their numbers,
and their structure are all opposed. Another hypothesis treats the
Nuraghe as monuments commemorating heroes or great national events,
whether in peace or war; forgetting, as Father Bresciani suggests, the
centuries that must have elapsed while the mountains, and hills, and
plains of Sardinia were being successively crowned with monuments of
this description.

Discarding such conjectural theories, the best-informed travellers and
writers are agreed in considering the Nuraghe as being designed either
for religious edifices or tombs for the dead. La Marmora confesses his
inability to pronounce decidedly between the two opinions, but inclines
to the opinion that they may have been intended for both purposes.
Father Bresciani, the latest writer on Sardinian antiquities, after a
personal examination of the Nuraghe and much general research, though he
does not venture a decided opinion, is disposed to agree with La
Marmora. In confirmation of the idea that the most ancient monuments
were at once tombs and altars, he quotes a Spanish writer[78] on the
antiquities of Mexico, referring also to Lord Kingsborough's splendid
work. So general an assumption is hardly warranted either by historical
testimony or existing relics of antiquity. If such were the primitive
custom, it did not prevail among the Greeks and Romans, and it is in the
rites and practices of the Christian Church that we find its revival.

However this may be, the theory not only of the twofold design or use of
the Nuraghe, but of either of them, is confessedly quite conjectural: it
rests upon a narrow basis of facts. Though a great number of the Nuraghe
have been carefully ransacked, in very few instances only have human
bones been discovered, but neither urns, arms, nor ornaments usually
inhumed with the dead; nor are many of them so constructed as to permit
the supposition that they were designed for sepulchral purposes.
Occasionally, also, some of the miniature idols, such as are preserved
in the museum at Cagliari, have been found buried in Nuraghe, or their
precincts. But this is not general; and there are neither altars nor any
other indications in the structure of the buildings to indicate their
appropriation to religious uses, except their pyramidal or conical form,
which they share in common with most buildings of the earliest age. So
far as these were designed for idolatrous uses—as many of them doubtless
were—the argument from analogy may apply to the Nuraghe, but it can be
carried no further.

Whatever were the purposes of the Nuraghe, almost all writers on
Sardinia consider these ancient structures of Eastern origin. Father
Bresciani attributes them to Canaanitish or Phœnician colonies, which
migrated to the west in early times; and he takes great pains, but, I
consider, without much success, to establish their identity, or, at
least, their analogy, with the religious or sepulchral erections,—the
altars, and “high places,” and tombs,—of which notices are found in the
Old Testament. No doubt exists that extensive migrations, favoured by
the enterprise of the earliest maritime people of whom we have any
record, took place, perhaps both before and after the age of Moses, from
the shores of Syria to the islands and shores of the West of Europe.
There is reason to think that the island of Sardinia, if not the first
seat, was, from its peculiar situation, the very centre, of a
colonisation, embracing in its ramifications the coasts of Africa and
Spain, with Malta, Sicily, and the Balearic islands. It appears singular
that Corsica, the sister island to Sardinia, should not have shared in
this movement of settlers from the East; perhaps from its lying out of
the direct current, while, in its onward course, the wave flowing
through the Straits of Hercules bore forward on the ocean the “merchants
of many isles,” for commerce if not for settlement, as far as the
Cassiterides, our own Scilly Isles.

Though there is little historical evidence of the Phœnician colonisation
of Sardinia, and even that of the early Greek settlements in the island
is obscure and conflicting, we have abundant traces of the former, more
imperishable than written records, still lingering in the manners and
customs of the modern Sardes, and in the great number of those
extraordinary antiquities known as the Sarde idols. The greater part of
these, as Mr. Tyndale undertakes to show, were symbols of Canaanitish
worship, the miniature representations of the gods adored by the Syrian
nations, especially of Moloch, Baal, Astarte or Astaroth, Adonis or
Tammuz, the very objects of that idolatry so frequently and emphatically
denounced in the Old Testament, to which we have already referred. Mr.
Tyndale, however, justly observes, that “so distinct and peculiar is the
character of these relics, that their counterparts are no more to be met
with out of Sardinia than the Nuraghe themselves.” From this
circumstance, in conjunction with the fact of the images being often
found in and near those buildings, he infers that they may have been,
directly or indirectly, connected with each other, in either a
religious, sepulchral, or united character.

The inquiry would be incomplete unless it were extended to other Sarde
remains, of equal or greater antiquity, for the purpose of discovering
whether they have any affinity with, or can throw any light on, the
mysterious origin of the Nuraghe. We propose devoting another chapter to
this investigation.


  _Sardinian Monoliths.—The Sepolture, or “Tombs of the
    Giants.”—Traditions regarding Giant Races.—The Anakim, &c., of
    Canaan.—Their supposed Migration to Sardinia.—Remarks on
    Aboriginal Races.—Antiquity of the Nuraghe and Sepolture.—Their
    Founders unknown._

We can hardly be mistaken in supposing that, among the relics of
antiquity still existing in Sardinia, the monoliths, of somewhat similar
character with the Celtic remains at Carnac, Avebury, and Stonehenge,
and common also in other countries, belong to the earliest age. These
Sarde monoliths are found in several parts of the island, being, as the
name expresses, single stones, or obelisks, set upright in the ground.
In Sardinia they are called _Pietra-_ or _Perda-fitta_, and
_Perda-Lunga_. We generally find them rounded by the hammer, but
irregularly, in a conical form tapering to the top, but with a gradual
swell in the middle; and their height varies from six to eighteen feet.
They differ from the Celtic monuments, in being generally thus worked
and shaped; in not being often congregated on one spot beyond three in
number—a _Perda-Lunga_ with two lesser stones; and in there not being
any appearance of their ever having had, like the Trilithons of
Stonehenge, any impost horizontal stone.

Father Bresciani finds the prototype of all these rude pillars
scattered throughout the world, in the Beth-El of Jacob and other
Bethylia, sepulchral or commemorative, mentioned in the Hebrew
Scriptures. By Mr. Tyndale, the Sarde _Perda-Lunga_ is considered a
relic of the religion common to all the idolatrous Syro-Arabian nations,
which, deifying the powers and laws of nature, considers the male sex to
be the type of its active, generative, and destructive powers, while
that passive power of nature, whose function is to conceive and bring
forth, is embodied under the female form. And this worship, he
conceives, was introduced into Sardinia, with the symbols just
described, by the Phœnician or Canaanitish immigrants.

    [Illustration: SEPOLTURA DE IS GIGANTES.]

The _Sepolture de is Gigantes_, the tombs of the giants, as they are
called, form another class of Sarde antiquities of the earliest age. The
structures to which the popular traditions ascribe this name, may be
described as a series of large stones placed together without any
cement, inclosing a foss or hollow from fifteen to thirty-six feet long,
from three to six wide, and the same in depth, with immense flat stones
resting on them as a covering. Though the latter are not always found,
it is evident, by a comparison with the more perfect Sepolture, that
they have once existed, and have been destroyed or removed.[79]

The foss runs invariably from north-west to south-east; and at the
latter point there is a large upright headstone, averaging from ten to
fifteen feet high, varying in its form, from the square, elliptical, and
conical, to that of three-fourths of an egg; and having in many
instances an aperture about eighteen inches square at its base.

    [Illustration: SEPOLTURA DE IS GIGANTES.]

On each side of this stele, or headstone, commences a series of separate
stones, irregular in size and shape, but forming an arc, the chord of
which varies from twenty to twenty-six feet; so that the whole figure
somewhat resembles the bow and shank of a spur.

“The shape of the foss and headstone,” observes Mr. Tyndale, “of these
remains, fairly admits of the probability that they were graves, as some
of the earliest forms of sepulchres on record are the upright stones
with superincumbent slabs, such as the Druidical cistvaens and some
tombs in Greece. Still, like the ‘Sarde Idols’ and the Nuraghe, the
_Sepolture_ are peculiar to the island, being entirely different in
point of size and character from any other sepulchral remains. Judging
from the many remains of those partially destroyed, their numbers must
have been considerable. The Sardes believe them to be veritable tombs of
giants; and that there may be legends of their existence in the island
is undeniable, as a similar belief is found in almost all countries.”
Mr. Tyndale, in speaking of the supposed connexion between the _Nuraghe_
and the _Sepolture_, observes that, “if a Canaanitish race migrated
here, nothing is more probable than that the tradition and worship of
the giants would be also imported; and that it is even possible that
some of the actual gigantic races of the Rephaim, Anakim, and others
mentioned in Scripture, might have actually arrived in Sardinia.” Father
Bresciani goes further: he fixes the era of this migration, points out
the event which caused it[80], and traces its route by the Isthmus of
Suez, through Egypt, and along the coast of Africa, which they are also
said to have colonised; and whence he considers they could easily
navigate to Sardinia and other islands in that part of the

This immigration, however, of the Canaanitish giants rests upon very
slender evidence; and it may be questioned whether the oldest Sardinian
monuments do not belong to an age far anterior to that of any Phœnician
or Canaanitish colonisation of the island whatever. That such there was,
undoubted proofs have already been gathered; but the statuettes of
Phœnician idols, forming part of those proofs, with the arts and skill
required for the maritime enterprise it required, betray the
civilisation of a period more advanced than that to which we should be
disposed to attribute such rude structures as the Nuraghe and the
Sepolture. In this uncertainty, it may be worth an inquiry, whether
these ancient monuments did not exist before the colonists landed on the
shores of Sardinia,—in short, whether they were not the works of an
aboriginal race. The question is raised by M. Tyndale: “We may reduce
the inquiry,” he says, “to the simple question, Were the Nuraghe built
by the autochthones of the island, of whom we have no knowledge, or by
the earliest colonists, of whom we have but little information?” On the
former alternative the author is silent; nor is the question even raised
by any other writer on Sardinian antiquities within our knowledge.

Yet surely, independently of its bearing on the origin of the Nuraghe
and the early population of Sardinia, the subject of indigenous races is
interesting in a general point of view. And it is worthy of notice, that
the accounts handed down to us of the earliest colonists of the ancient
world, speak of an aboriginal population existing in the countries to
which they migrated, just as the European adventurers and
circumnavigators of the last three centuries found indigenous races on
the continents and islands they discovered, except on some few islands
of the Pacific Ocean, recently emerged from the state of coral reefs.
The parallel may be carried further. The ancient, as well as the modern,
colonists carried the arts of a superior civilisation in their train;
but the indigenous races of the New World were destined to gradual decay
and extinction, leaving some ancient monuments as the records of their
existence, just as the primitive children of the soil in the West of
Europe, whose relics we endeavour to decipher, disappeared and were
lost; so uniform is the order of events in the designs of Providence.

Poetical legends, generally founded on, and blended with, traditionary
facts, help us to form some idea of the character and habits of the
aboriginal races; but history, and even tradition, seldom carry us
further back in the review of past ages than the arrival of colonists,
generally of Eastern origin, to form settlements on the shores and the
islands washed by the Mediterranean. Did they find these shores and
islands uninhabited? To say nothing of countries more remote and less
accessible, many considerations would induce us to imagine that these
fair regions were not all deserts; that, even at this early period, they
were already peopled.

In Sardinia, where, as already observed, the manners, the superstitions,
and the traditions of the earliest ages, are more faithfully preserved
than in any other European country, we find, among the most ancient
existing structures, some which, to this day, are pointed out by the
natives as “the Tombs of the Giants.” And who were the “giants,” of whom
we read much, both in sacred and profane history? The very term is
significant. It is formed from two Greek words—γῆ and γένω, and
signifies earth-born, sons of the earth.[81] The word αὐτόχθνονες
(autochthones) has a cognate meaning; Liddell and Scott render it, “of
the land itself; Latin, _terrigenæ, aborigines, indigenæ_, of the
original race, _not settlers_.” The mythical account of the origin of
the “giants” concurs with this etymology. It paints them as the sons of
Cœlus and Terra—Heaven and Earth. In the poetry of Hesiod, they spring
from the earth imbued with the blood of the gods. Traces and traditions
of this aboriginal race are found in all parts of the world, and in
sacred as well as profane history. We are told that there were giants in
the days before the flood[82]; and Josephus considers them the offspring
of the union, mysteriously described by the sacred writer, of “the sons
of God with the daughters of men;” for, as might be supposed, there were
females also of the race of the earth-born. So the poets sang. Such was
Cybele, daughter of Heaven and Earth, pictured as crowned with a diadem
of towers, as the patroness of builders. We read of the giants, in the
Old Testament, under the names of Rephaim, Emim, Zamzummim, and Anakim.
In the time of Abraham, these tribes dwelt in the country beyond Jordan,
in about Astaroth-Karnaim[83], and it is now the received opinion of
biblical archæologists, that they were the most ancient, or aboriginal,
inhabitants of Palestine; prior to the Canaanites, by whom they were
gradually dispossessed of the region west of the Jordan, and driven
beyond that river. Some of the race, however, remained in Palestine
Proper so late as the invasion of the land by the Hebrews, and are
repeatedly mentioned as “the sons of Anak,” and “the remnant of the
Rephaim;”[84] and a few families existed as late as the time of

In the most ancient legends we find the giant race located in all parts
of the then known world. In Thessaly, under the name of Titans, poetic
fiction records their deeds of prowess in piling mountain on mountain,
and hurling immense rocks in their battles with the gods. Writers of
credit have transmitted to us accounts of the discovery of their remains
on the coast of Africa, from Bona to Tangier, in Sicily, and in Crete.
The earliest navigators who touched on the shores and islands of the
Mediterranean, brought back romantic tales, receiving their colouring
from the terrors of the narrators, of the barbarity and the stature of
the races they found on those then inhospitable shores. They were
robbers, and even cannibals; enemies of the gods and men. Such tales are
not without their parallels in the annals of modern maritime discovery.

Before the fall of Troy, Sicily was peopled by a giant or aboriginal
people, called Cyclopes; that insular race being said to be descended
from Neptune and Amphitrite, just as the giant Antæus, the founder of
Tangier on the African coast, was called the son of Neptune and Terra.
If we take Polyphemus, the chief of a tribe of the Cyclops, for a type
of this cognate race, what do we find in his story, divested of the
fiction with which it was clothed by tradition, transmuted into the
poetry of the Odyssey and the Æneid? The Grecian and Trojan heroes,
successively land on the eastern coast of Sicily, near the base of Mount
Ætna, whose throes and thunders lend horror to the scene. There dwelt
this Cyclop chief, in a cavern of the rocks. The race were Troglodytes,
as were the aboriginal Sardes, Baleares, Maltese, Libyans, &c. In
Sardinia, their caverns are still to be seen in an island of the
territory of Sulcis. Caves were probably the first habitations of
primitive man, before emerging from a condition hardly superior to that
of the savage beasts, his competitors for such rude shelter.
Irrespective of climate, in these we find his home, whether among the
Celts of the frozen regions of the North, or the Arabs of the stony
wastes bordering on the Erythrean Sea, in the Libyan deserts, or in the
sandstone rocks of Southern Africa. There one still sees the pygmy
Bushmen, perhaps the last existing Troglodyte race, the very reverse of
the Cyclops in stature, but, like them, their hand against every man's,
unchanged by ages in the midst of African tribes of considerable
civilisation, neither sowing nor pasturing, but living on roots,
berries, and grubs, like other aboriginal races, which sprang into
existence with the forests through which they roam, and the various
brutes which shared with them the possession of the soil:

    “Cum prorepserunt primis animalia terris,
    Mutum et turpe pecus.” HOR. _Sat._ i. 3.

But the traditions of Polypheme and his Cyclops represent them as
advanced beyond this first rude stage of society, though they still
adhered to their ancestral caves. They were robbers, no doubt; at least,
they plundered and made captive unfortunate mariners thrown on their
shores. Perhaps they feasted on their captives, as American Indians and
South-Sea islanders are reported to have done. This may be doubted; but
at least the cannibal feasts of the Sicilian aborigines were but _bonnes
bouches_ occasionally thrown in their way. They had better means of
subsistence. Polypheme was a shepherd, and so were all his clan. Picture
him, as described by Virgil[86], descending from the mountains,
probably at eventide, leaning on his staff, with his shepherd's pipe
hanging on his bosom, surrounded by his flocks, and leading them to the
shelter of some cavern on the shore; and we have a pleasant scene of
pastoral life. Such were all his tribe, a pretty numerous one,
comprising one hundred males, with their families, each having a flock
as large as their chiefs. They led a nomad life, “_errantes_” between
the mountain pastures and the plains on the coast[87].

Now, if we may be allowed to separate these facts, which seem genuine,
from the fictions with which they are blended, we find the aborigines of
Sicily, though barbarous, in a somewhat advanced stage of social life
beyond that when we are told they roamed in the woods and fed on acorns.
Such we may justly presume, divested of poetical fiction, was the
condition of the aborigines of the neighbouring island of Sardinia, the
largest in the Mediterranean except Sicily, when the first foreign
colonists landed on its coast. And such, after the lapse of more than
thirty centuries, are the Sarde shepherds of the present day, generally
lawless, sometimes robbers, making the caves of the rocks their shelter,
and their flocks and herds providing them with food and clothing.
Tenacious, above all other European races, of the traditions and customs
of their forefathers, when they point to structures of the highest
antiquity scattered on their native soil, and call them “_Sepolture de
is Gigantes_”—as we now have some idea what these giants were,—may we
not find reason to accept their tradition, and consider these monuments
as the tombs of the chiefs and first founders of their aboriginal race.

Still, it may be objected that the ancient legends relating to giants
are too fabulous to admit of any sound theories being built on them; and
some have even gone so far as to reject all the received accounts of
families or tribes of men of gigantic stature, as worthy only of the
belief of credulous ages. It may indeed be difficult to imagine whole
districts and countries peopled with gigantic races so formidable that
we can hardly conceive any other people subsisting in contact with them.
But that individuals, and even families, of extraordinary stature and
strength existed in the earliest ages cannot be denied, except by those
who regard the narrative of Scripture as equally fabulous with the
fictions of the poets; although the statements are literal and exact,
occur in a variety of incidental notices, and are confirmed by
discoveries related by authors of good repute.[88]

A solution of the difficulty may, perhaps, be found in the
consideration, that, as even now we find families and races exceeding in
stature and strength the average of mankind, there is still more reason
to believe in the existence of such phenomena in the youth of the
generations of man, when a simple mode of life, abundance of nutritious
food, and a salubrious atmosphere, gave to all organic beings huge and
sinewy forms. Such might be the special privilege of the Rephaim, and
other tribes of which we read. But while the rank and file, as we may
call them, of the nation, though tall and robust, might not much exceed
the average height of the human species, the chiefs and heroes who took
their posts in the van of battle may have attained the extraordinary
dimensions recorded of them; and, their numbers being magnified by
terror and tradition, the attributes of the class were extended to the
whole tribe. Thus the poets gave the name of Cyclops to all the
aboriginal inhabitants of Sicily, though the Cyclops, properly so
called, are represented by them as a single family, sons, as before
mentioned, of Neptune and Amphitrite.

That the _Sepolture de is Gigantes_ may be considered the tombs of the
chiefs or heroes of the aboriginal inhabitants of Sardinia seems to be
generally allowed; and the opinion receives some confirmation from a
passage in Aristotle's “Physics,” where, treating of the immutability of
time, notwithstanding our perception or unconsciousness of what occurs,
he incidentally illustrates his argument by the expression:—“So with
those who are fabulously said to sleep with the heroes in Sardinia, when
they shall rise up.”[89]

The best authorities being thus led to the conclusion that the Sarde
aborigines were a giant race, the question remains whether the Nuraghe
had the same origin as the Sepolture; and, passing by some trivial
objections to this hypothesis, we are disposed to adopt Mr. Tyndale's
conclusion, that—“the coincidence of two such peculiar monuments in the
same island, their non-existence elsewhere, and their being both
indicative of some abstract principle of grandeur and power, practically
carried out in their construction, are strong reasons for the
presumption that they may have had some mutual reference to each
other,—as burying places, temples, and altars, and consequently were
works of the same times and the same people.”

Perhaps it may be objected, with some show of reason, that a people so
rude and so primitive as the aborigines, could not have possessed the
skill required for the construction of such buildings as the Nuraghe; so
that they must be assigned to a later age. But we are informed in
Genesis that, among some families of mankind, not only useful, but
ornamental, arts were taught before Noah's flood![90] and, without
instituting an inquiry how soon the inventive and mechanical faculties
of mankind were more or less developed in various countries, we may
venture to assume that, before the historical period, before navigation
had conveyed the higher arts of civilisation to distant shores, the
aboriginal races, generally, were not incapable of erecting the massive
structures attributed to them by universal tradition, and which, defying
the ravages of time, still remain the sole monuments of lost races, on
which the puzzled antiquary can hope to decipher the records of their
existence and condition.

To rear the lofty perpendicular monolith, to set up the tall stele as
the headstone of a grave, to lift and poise the ponderous rocking-stone,
to raise and fix the massive impost of the trilithon, or the slab
covering a sepoltura, a cromlech, or a cistvaen; (for the remark applies
to Celtic as well as Mediterranean antiquities), to heap up, not Pelion
on Ossa, but untold loads of earth and stone to form the conical tumulus
over the chambers of the dead, to build “Cyclopean” walls, and
construct the cone of rude but solid masonry, with its cavernous
recesses,—all these are the works we should just expect from races of
mankind when emerging from primitive barbarism, in the youth of the
species, and possessed of enormous strength of limb.[91] Those who
reared these works are supposed to have been in possession of some
knowledge of the pulley, the lever, and the incline; but, after all,
giant strength must have been the main fulcrum for such operations. Had
there been ornament, sculpture, or inscriptions on these primeval
monuments, our thoughts might have been carried forward to a later age,
when colonisation from the East brought in its train the arts which
there first undoubtedly flourished.

That the Sardinian antiquities of the earliest age are unique, that this
is the case in other parts of the world, every primitive people having,
with certain resemblances, a peculiar style in its ancient monuments,
that none such as these are found in the countries from whence the first
colonists migrated, nor are described in their records, are facts
strengthening the argument for their being of indigenous origin. That
the forms of these structures scattered over the world are generally
pyramidal, often rounded, and sometimes spiral, tells nothing to the
contrary. The cone, as Father Bresciani observes, was more graceful to
the eye, more easy of construction, more durable, and, perhaps,
connected with some mysterious ideas of Eternity, or the circling course
of the heavenly bodies. Such was the form of the first great building on
record, the Tower of Babel, as we have it represented; the type in many
respects of the Sarde Nuraghe. Nor is it an unreasonable conjecture that
the alien people, mysteriously alluded to in Genesis, as mixing with the
children of God, having seduced the most froward of the chosen race,
were the instigators and planners of the profane enterprise. “Go to ——,”
said a man to his neighbour, as the marginal translation renders the
passage,—“let us make bricks, let us build a tower whose top may reach
to heaven.”[92]

“There were giants in those days,”—men not only of gigantic forms, but
imbued with grand ideas. The structures included among the number of
their monuments are, as just observed, “indicative of some abstract
principle of grandeur and power, practically carried out in their
construction.” In the strength of their might, the Titanic race bade
defiance to the deities of Olympus, with whom they are poetically
represented as combating; but that does not preclude our supposing that,
in common with all the generations of man, however barbarous, the giant
races had their religious instincts, their altars, their rites.
Reverence, also, for the memories of their departed heroes, of their
progenitors, was a common feeling, most powerful in the earliest times.
In these two principles we trace the ideas to which the mysterious
monuments of the ancient Sardes owe their origin, and thence we arrive
at a reasonable conclusion respecting their object and uses.

Researches the most extended and the most profound, have failed to
penetrate the obscurity in which the mists of ages have enveloped the
origin of the primeval monuments of all nations, and of the people who
founded them. Something may have been contributed towards the solution
of the difficulties surrounding the subject, if we have been able to
connect existing monuments with a rude race of extraordinary strength,
the supposed giant-builders of those ancient structures. Such buildings
we discover in various parts of the world, varying in their details, but
similar as respects their simple but massive and durable forms. Gigantic
stature and strength of limb we consider to have been the essential
requisites, in the infancy of art, for transporting and raising the
ponderous materials; and these properties were characteristics of the
races of which, and of their Herculean labours, we find everywhere
corresponding traditions.

In the absence of a satisfactory reply to the inquiry, whence, when, or
how the giant race reached Sardinia, we are willing to accept the
alternative, as regards the founders of the Nuraghe and its other
ancient monuments, that these structures were the work of the
autocthonoi, the aboriginal inhabitants. But we embrace the theory in a
different sense from that in which it is proposed; suggesting that the
so-called giants themselves may have been the autocthonoi, and not
immigrants; and the remark is generally applicable. The etymology of the
words used by the Greeks and Romans, to designate the aboriginal races,
supports the conjecture of their identity; for, as already shown[93],
the term “giant” (γίγας) is not descriptive of extraordinary strength,
but, equally with the phrases _autocthonoi_, _terrigenæ_, and
_aborigines_, signifies “the earth-born,” the natives of the soil.

Further than this we cannot here pursue the inquiry. In a work of this
description, it would be idle to speculate on the means by which
aboriginal races, as well as a peculiar fauna and flora, were planted in
distant lands, whether islands or remote continents, on which they have
been found established by colonists and navigators, from the earliest to
the latest times. Ethnologists have laboured to solve the difficulties
surrounding the subject; with what success, those who have studied their
works must decide for themselves.

The Sardinian Nuraghe are probably among the oldest structures in the
world, and may therefore be reasonably considered the works of an
aboriginal race; but their origin, and that of the founders, are equally
involved in impenetrable mystery. Their rude, but massive and shapely,
cones have survived the ruin of the sumptuous edifices of Babylon and
Nineveh, of Ecbatana and Susa, of Tyre and the Egyptian Thebes. Like the
pyramids of Egypt, they have witnessed, from their hoary tops, the
current of untold centuries rolling onwards, wave after wave, in its
turbid course. They have marked the rise and the fall of empires, the
vicissitudes of fortune, the illusory hopes, the vain fears, and the
insatiable desires of successive generations of men, whose brief span of
existence has been that of a moment compared with the centuries that
have looked down from their summits. But unlike the Pyramids, whose
mysteries are partially unveiled, they give no note by which their age
or their history may be discovered. Mute on their solitary mounds, they
give no answer to the inquiries of the traveller or the learned, when
questioned,—what people of Herculean strength and undaunted will reared
their massive walls, wrought the dark cells under the cover of their
domes, and raised the ponderous slab which crowns the cone? No image of
man, no form of beast, neither symbol nor inscription, are sculptured or
graven on the solid blocks, within or without, to tell their tale. Well,
then, may the thoughtful traveller, contemplating with silent wonder
these mysterious cones, soliloquise in some such sort as this:—“Surely
these structures must have been raised before men had learned the arts
of writing and engraving, for how many thousands of the Nuraghe were
built, in successive periods, without their founders having acquired the
faculty of inscribing on them the name of a god or a hero, for a
memorial to future generations.”


  _Oristano.—Orange-groves of Milis.—Cagliari.—Description of.—The
    Cathedral and Churches.—Religious Laxity.—Ecclesiastical
    Statistics.—Vegetable and Fruit Market.—Royal
    Museum.—Antiquities.—Coins found in Sardinia.—Phœnician
    Remains.—The Sarde Idols._

The high road between Sassari and Cagliari, called the _Strada Reale_,
runs through the great level of the Campidano for a distance of 140
miles, and as there is a daily communication between the two cities by
the well-appointed _diligences_ already mentioned, the journey, unlike
others in Sardinia, is performed with comfort and rapidity. But,
whatever he may gain by the exchange, the traveller will hardly bid
adieu to the mountains and forest-paths of the Gallura and Barbagia
without regret.

About half way, stands Oristano, an old city, of some 6000 inhabitants,
with some of the Spanish character of Alghero. Though fallen from its
former importance, the place is still wealthy, and, in some degree,
commercial. It is, however, deserted in the summer and autumn, when the
atmosphere becomes so pestilential from the inhalations of the
neighbouring stagna and lagunes as to justify the proverb:—

    A Oristano che ghe vù,
    In Oristano ghe resta!

The most striking object in the place is the belfry of the cathedral, a
detached octangular tower, roofed with a pear-shaped dome, of coloured
tiles, and commanding from the summit a fine view of the plains from the
sea to the distant mountains. The orange groves of Milis, a village
lying a little out of the high road to Oristano, are worth a visit. The
trees are considered the finest in Europe. I have never seen orange
trees that will bear comparison with them in any part of the world,
except on some of the Dutch farms in the Cape colony, where they are
still more magnificent; vying in size with the European oaks, planted,
probably at the same time, by the German settlers from the Black Forest,
the disbanded soldiers of the States of Holland, to whom many of the
African Boers owe their origin. Such orange groves, when loaded with
blossoms and fruit, glowing in the shade of their dense masses of glossy
deep-green foliage, are perhaps the most charming of vegetable
productions. No idea of their richness and beauty can be formed from the
dwarf, round-topped trees, one sees in most orange districts. Here, as
in South Africa, they owe their luxuriance to abundant irrigation. Some
of the trees at Milis are from thirty-five to forty feet high, and there
are said to be 300,000 of them of full growth. The annual produce is
estimated at from fifty to sixty millions of fruit, and, being in great
repute for their quality, they are conveyed to Sassari and Cagliari, and
all parts of the island, the price varying from 1-1/2_d._ to 4-3/4_d._
per dozen, according to circumstances.

Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia, a city containing upwards of 35,000
inhabitants, is seen to most advantage when approached from the sea, the
campagna in the vicinity being neither fertile nor picturesque. Standing
at the head of a noble bay or gulf, twenty-four miles in depth and
twelve across, with good anchorage everywhere, its advantageous position
pointed out Cagliari as a seat of commerce from the earliest times. The
Phœnicians, the Greeks, and Carthaginians were attracted by the fine
harbour, and the inducements offered by the neighbouring heights for the
construction of a fortified town. The Romans made it the chief seat of
their rule in the island. The port, called the Darsena, is capable of
containing more than all the shipping at present frequenting it, with
such a depth of water that, while I was at Cagliari, one of the largest
steamships in the royal Sardinian navy lay alongside the quay.

In the view from the gulf, the eye first rests on the upper town,
surrounded with walls and towers, and crowning the summit of a hill
upwards of 400 feet above the level of the sea. At the base of the
heights lie the suburbs of the Marina, Stampace, and Villanova, the
former occupying the space between the Castello, or Casteddu, as the
whole circuit of the fortified town is called, and the port; and, with
the two other suburbs, on the east and west of the Marina, forming one
long continuous line of irregular buildings. In our _tableau_, the
Casteddu towers proudly over the lower town, which has grown up beneath
it since the Middle Ages. It still retains its original importance,
containing all the principal public buildings, and being the residence
of the government officials, and, in short, the aristocratic quarter.
The best houses in the Marina are occupied by the foreign consuls and
persons engaged in commerce, so that there is a marked distinction
between the upper and lower parts of the city.

Besides a strong citadel, there are, in the circuit of the
fortifications three massive towers, called the Elephant, the Lion, and
the Eagle, built by the Pisans; and the Castello is entered by four
arched and embattled gateways. One of these was in the act of being
demolished during my recent visit to Cagliari, in order to afford freer
communication between the upper town and the Marina. Its removal seemed
emblematic of an improving state of society, tending to level the
barriers of caste, and engage the rising generation of the privileged
orders in pursuits calculated as much for their own benefit as the
development of the resources with which Sardinia abounds.

Easy access to the Casteddu is gained by a circuitous avenue cut on the
sloping side of the hill and under the escarped heights. Being planted
with trees, it forms a pleasant walk, commanding extensive views of the
Campidano, the distant mountains, and the Gulf of Cagliari. The direct
ascent from the Marina is steep and toilsome, it being gained by a
series of narrow avenues and flights of steps, landing in streets
running parallel with that side of the Castello. These also are narrow
as well as lofty, like those of most fortified places in the south of
Europe. Here we find the best shops; and the thoroughfares have a busy
appearance, except in the heat of the day, when most of the inhabitants
indulge in the _siesta_.

The cathedral, standing in the heart of the Castello, was built by the
Pisans with part of the remains of a basilica founded by Constantine. It
is on a grand scale, having three naves, and a presbytery ascended by
several ranges of steps. The church is embellished with fine marbles,
and the ornaments being rich, with some good pictures and grand
monuments, the effect, on the whole, is striking. A crypt hewn out of
the solid rock, under the presbytery, is regarded with great reverence
by the Sardes, as containing the supposed remains of two hundred martyrs
removed there from the church of St. Saturninus, in 1617.

Among the fifty-two churches in the Castello and the suburbs, I will
only mention that of St. Augustine, attached to which is the oratory
built by himself during a short visit to the island. A story is told of
one of the beams for the roof proving too short; upon which the saint,
quoting to the workmen the text declaring that to those who have faith
all things are possible, ordered them to pull at one end while he took
the other, when, scarcely touching it, the beam stretched to the
required length. St. Augustine's remains were transported here in 505,
from Hippo-Regius, where he died, by the Catholic bishops exiled from
Africa by Thrasamond, king of the Vandals.[94] The Chronicles inform us
that these bishops, two hundred and twenty in number, were sustained by
the benevolence of Pope Symmachus, a native of Sardinia, who sent them
every year money and clothes. St. Augustine's relics remained at
Cagliari till 722, when Luitprand, king of the Lombards, in consequence
of the danger to which they were constantly exposed by the invasions of
the Saracens, obtained them from the Cagliarese, and carrying them to
Pavia deposited them in the duomo of that city, where they rested, till
in 1842, these were restored to Hippo by the French.[95]

The church of the Jesuits, at Cagliari, is described as distinguished
among the others for the sumptuousness of its style, and its decorations
of coloured marbles and columns. It was closed, with the adjoining
college, at the time of my visit. The Jesuits formerly possessed large
estates, and had colleges in several of the principal towns of the
island. The whole were suppressed long ago; but in 1823, the late king,
Carlo Felice, partially restored and re-endowed the order, some of the
monks being re-established in the college of Cagliari. Of late years,
there seems to have been a considerable reaction in the temper of the
Sardes as regards religion, at least, in the towns. No people were more
bigoted, more priest-ridden, more credulous of the absurdest
superstitions. But in a conversation I recently had on the subject with
a very intelligent and well-informed friend in the island, he assured me
that the utmost laxity now prevails in the religious sentiments of the
people. They have lost all respect for the clergy, calling them
_bottégaie_, shopkeepers, as mindful only of the gains of their trade;
and the churches _bottége_, shops. There is no vitality in the religion
of the people, the services are a mere mummery, and the system is held
together principally by the attractions of the popular _festas_, such as
those described in a former chapter as scenes of bacchanalian revelry
tricked out in the paraphernalia of religion. As for the Jesuits, the
most obnoxious of the ecclesiastics, my friend stated, that the populace
of Cagliari “burnt them out,” intending, I apprehend, to convey that
they were violently expelled.

In earlier visits to the Continent, and reflecting on the subject at
home, the question had often occurred whether, with advancing
intelligence, and growing aspirations for civil and religious liberty,
the people of Catholic countries might not be drawn, in the course of
events, to a movement similar to that of our own Reformation of the
Church in the 16th century; the ruling powers, as then, taking the
lead, and emancipating their States from the papal yoke. Thus, while
abuses and gross doctrinal errors were reformed, the exterior frame of
the establishment, its hierarchy, ceremonial, privileges and property
would remain intact; the whole system being so arranged as to be brought
into harmony with the action of government, and to meet the demands of
an enlightened age. Why should there not be more reformed national and
independent churches?

In this view, when conversing with foreigners of intelligence, I have
often pointed out the distinction between the Anglican Church and the
“Evangelical” and other Protestant communities abroad. Such a reform
would seem to be well suited to answer the wants of the kingdom of
Sardinia in the present state of her relations with the Court of Rome.
It would consolidate the fabric of the constitutional government; and we
may conceive that the cabinet of Turin, and perhaps the king, are
enlightened enough to be sensible of its advantages.

But it may well be doubted whether the masses of the population, in
either that or any other Catholic country, are ripe for such a
revolution. In this age of reason, the dogmas which formed the war-cries
of Luther and Calvin have lost their influence on the minds of men, and,
except in some sections of the various religious communities, a general
apathy on doctrinal subjects has succeeded the excitement with which the
Reformation was ushered in. The tendency of the present age is in the
direction of more sweeping reforms, and when the time comes, as no
thoughtful man can doubt it will with growing intelligence, for the
people of Europe to cast off the shackles of superstition and bigotry,
it may be feared that things of more serious account than ecclesiastical
systems and institutions may be swept away by the overwhelming tide so
long pent up.

Meanwhile, there appears little probability of any great change. The
territorial distinctions between Catholic and Protestant States remain
much the same as when they were shaped out in the time of the
Reformation, and the wars succeeding it. Each party holds its own; and
there is little probability of a national secession from the Church of
Rome, even in the Sardinian dominions, where many circumstances concur
to point out its expediency, and even its possibility. Among others, it
will not be forgotten, that the standard of Protestantism was raised in
the valleys of Savoy, ages before it floated triumphantly in the north
of Europe.

In 1841 there were 91 monasteries in Sardinia, containing 1093 regular
monks, besides lay brothers, &c., and 16 convents with 260 nuns; the
whole number of persons attached to these institutions being calculated
at 8000. There are about the same number of secular clergy, including
the bishops, dignitaries, and cathedral chapters, with the parochial
clergy, the island being divided into 393 parishes. The population of
Sardinia, by the last returns I was able to procure[96], was 541,907 in
1850; so that one-ninth were ecclesiastics of one description or
another. It should be stated, however, that most, if not all, the
monasteries and convents have been lately suppressed, and the religious
pensioned off, so that the system is dying out.

The revenues of the bishops' sees, and the cathedral and parochial
clergy, were calculated in 1841 at about 66,000_l._, arising from church
lands, besides the tithes, estimated at 1,500,000 lire nove, or
60,000_l._, supposed to be a low estimate, the tithes being worth one
million of lire more. These revenues are exclusive of voluntary
contributions, alms, offerings, and collections. The church lands
contributed upwards of 3000_l._ annually as state subsidies, for the
national debt, the maintaining roads and bridges, and the conveyance of
the post. Mr. Tyndale estimates “the revenue of the see of Cagliari at
from 60,000 to 80,000 scudi,—from 11,520_l._ to 15,360_l._ per annum;
while that of the priests is about 1000 scudi, or 192_l._” This gives
some idea of the incomes of the Sardinian clergy. I imagine that the
government has not interfered with any part of the ecclesiastical
revenues, except those attached to the monasteries.

The fruit and vegetable markets of large foreign towns must always be
attractive to a traveller, especially in the South and East, where the
fruit, in great varieties, is so abundant, and he meets with vegetables
unknown in the gardens and cookery of his own country. Not only so, but
the dresses, and even the gestures and manners, of the country people,
to say nothing of the dealings of the buyers, form a never-failing
source of interest and amusement; while an additional zest is lent in a
warm climate, by the freshness of the early hour at which the visit must
be paid to be really enjoyed. The market at Cagliari is held in the
suburb of Stampace, and approached by one of those avenues shaded with
exotic trees, which make such agreeable promenades in the neighbourhood
of the city. The principal supply comes from Pula, Arabus, and other
villages at considerable distances from Cagliari; the soil in the
vicinity being too arid to be productive. The supply appeared abundant,
and of excellent quality. Among the fruits,—it was in the early part of
September,—I noted grapes, figs, pears, oranges, lemons, citrons,
peaches, melons, and prickly pears. Among the vegetables, the heaps of
tomatas, chilis, and other condiments were surprising, and there were
gigantic “_torzi_,” a kind of turnip-cabbage, and other varieties, whose
names have escaped my memory.

My visit to the Royal Museum was also paid at an early hour, through the
kindness of Signor Cara, the Curator, who was so obliging as to show me
also his cabinet of antiques at his private residence,—rich in cameos,
intaglios, and scarabei of rare beauty. The Royal Museum occupies a
suite of small apartments in the University. The collection owes great
part of its objects of interest, and their good order and arrangement,
to the indefatigable zeal and disinterested devotion of Signor Cara,
whose appointments, and the allowance for purchasing objects, are not
unworthy of a liberal government.

The collection of Roman antiquities occupying the entrance-wall is very
meagre, considering the many stations established in the island during
the republic and empire. Besides two colossal consular statues, having
an air of dignity, and with the toga well chiselled, there was little to
observe but some Roman milestones, sarcophagi, and fragments of various

    [Illustration: SARDO-ROMAN COIN.]

The coins of the Roman period are numerous, but most of them of little
value. One here figured is, however, unique; being, I imagine, the only
coin known to have been struck in the island. Atius Balbus, whose name
and bust appear on the face[97], was grandfather of the Emperor
Augustus, and prefect of Sardinia about sixty years before Christ. The
reverse represents a head wearing a singular cap, crowned by an ostrich
plume; with a sceptre, and the words “Sardus Pater,” who is supposed to
be the founder of Nora, the first town built in Sardinia, and of Libyan
and Phœnician origin.[98]

    [Illustration: CARTHAGINIAN COIN.]

The cabinet also contains about 100 coins of the Carthaginian period.
Many such are found in the island, but, as may be supposed, not in
numbers equal to those which attest the long duration of the Roman
power. While Captain Smyth was engaged in his survey of the coast, a
farmer in the island of St. Pietro, successively a Greek, Carthaginian,
and Roman station, passed his ploughshare over an amphora of
Carthaginian brass coins, of which Captain Smyth purchased about 250.
“They were,” he states, “with two exceptions, of the usual type:
obverse, the head of Ceres; and reverse, a horse or palm-tree, or both.”
Some presented to me by Carlo Rugiu, one of which is here figured, have
a horse's head on one face, and the palm-tree with fruit, probably
dates, on the other.

There are specimens in the British Museum, but not so good as those
given me by Signor Rugiu. The coins in the possession of Captain Smyth
appear to have represented the horse in full detail, as he mentions the
peculiarity of their having a Punic character between the horse's legs,
differing in every one. It need hardly be observed how appropriate, on
an African coin, were such devices as the date-palm of the desert, and
the horse, emblematic of its fiery cavalry.

    [Illustration: SARACEN COIN.]

Some Saracenic coins are also found in the island, with Arabic
characters both on the obverse and reverse. The one here represented was
also given me by Carlo Rugiu, with some Roman coins, both silver and
brass. We do not find that the Saracens ever effected any permanent
settlement in Sardinia; which accounts for the comparatively small
number of these coins discovered. The Saracen pirates who infested the
coast from the time that St. Augustine's relics were rescued, in 722, to
so late a period as 1815, were more likely to pillage the money of the
inhabitants than to leave any of their own behind them.[99]

The Terracotta collection in the Royal Museum exhibits about one
thousand specimens of vases, &c. of Sardo-Phœnician, Carthaginian,
Egyptian, and Roman fabric, similar to those preserved in the British
Museum. In the natural-history department, the ornithological class is
most complete, containing upwards of a thousand specimens of native and
foreign birds, collected and prepared by Signor Cara, who has paid much
attention to this branch of the science. Among the native objects of
interest was the flamingo, frequenting, with other aquatic birds, in
vast flocks, the lagunes in the neighbourhood of Cagliari, whither they
resort during the autumn and winter, from the coast of Africa. The
largest of these lakes, called the Scaffa, is six or seven miles long by
three or four broad. Vast quantities of salt are procured from the
salterns in the same neighbourhood and other parts of Sardinia, and it
forms an important article of export, and of revenue. In conchology and
mineralogy, the cabinet is rich both in foreign and native specimens;
the minerals having been in great part collected by La Marmora, and
arranged by him in 1835.

The Phœnician remains are, in some respects, the most interesting part
of the collection. Among them we find a block of sandstone, with a
Phœnician inscription, discovered in 1774 at Pula, the ancient Nora, now
a pleasant village embowered in orange groves and orchards, and crowned
with palms, on the coast of the Gulf, about sixteen miles from Cagliari.
Nora, it may be remembered, is stated by Greek writers to have been the
first town founded by colonists in the island of Sardinia; and though
the inscription on the stone has not been satisfactorily deciphered, it
seems to be agreed that it records the arrival of “Sardus,” called
“Pater,” at “Nora,” from “Tarshish,” in Libya.

But the Sarde idols, already mentioned, form the unique feature in this
collection. La Marmora enumerates 180 of these bronzes, the greater part
of which are preserved in the museum at Cagliari, consisting principally
of small images, varying from four to seventeen inches high, of
irregular and often grotesque forms, and betraying a rude state of
art.[100] They are considered miniatures of the large and original idols
adored by the Canaanites and Syro-Phœnicians; and from their diminutive
size may have been household gods. Mr. Tyndale conjectures that the
“Teraphim” of Scripture were of the same class. There appears, however,
no doubt that these bronzes, as well as the objects in Terracotta
already mentioned, are of native manufacture. Thus, while the images
appear to be the symbols of a religion peculiar to the inhabitants of
Sardinia at a very early period, they bear a certain affinity to similar
objects of worship in other countries, especially in Syria and Egypt; so
that in Signor Cara's nomenclature these remains are denominated
Sardo-Phœnician and Sardo-Egyptian. It is remarkable, however, that no
corresponding relics have been found in those countries.

There is a small collection of Sardinian antiquities in the British
Museum, recently supplied by Signor Cara; but it does not contain, as
might have been wished, any specimens of these singular images. They are
accurately figured and described by La Marmora, and Mr. Tyndale has
fully investigated their history and relations in his very valuable
work. It would be out of place further to pursue the subject here,
especially as we have already devoted a chapter to traces among the
Sardes of the rites of Moloch and Adonis, in which two of these images
are described. The subject is interesting both as connected with the
Phœnician migrations, and as bringing to light symbols of that
Canaanitish idolatry so frequently and emphatically denounced in the
Sacred Writings.

Returning to modern times, I do not find that I have anything of
importance to add to my notices of the present state of Cagliari, except
the introduction of the Electric Telegraph connecting it with the
continents of Europe and Africa. Prom its having been the medium of
communication between England and India during the recent crisis,
Cagliari has acquired a notoriety to which it had previously few
pretensions. Some account of the establishment of this Telegraph will be
given in our concluding chapters.


  _Porto-Torres.—Another Italian Refugee.—Embark for Genoa.—West
    Coast of Corsica.—Turin.—The Sardinian Electric Telegraph.—The
    Wires laid to Cagliari._

The preceding notices of Cagliari were gathered during a visit to
Sardinia in the autumn of 1867; the “Rambles” in this island, detailed
in preceding chapters, having been rather abruptly terminated, under
circumstances already adverted to, without our being able to reach the
capital. On that occasion we embarked for the continent at Porto-Torres,
the origin and decay of which place is before incidentally mentioned.
The neighbourhood abounds in remains of Roman antiquities; and at a
short distance is the cathedral of St. Gavino, one of the oldest
structures in Sardinia, having been founded in the eleventh century. The
roof is covered with lead, and supported by antique columns dug up in
the adjacent ruins. There also were found two marble sarcophagi,
preserved in the church, on which figures of Apollo surrounded by the
Muses are represented in high relief.

Having to embark at an early hour, we were obliged to pass a night at
Porto-Torres, notwithstanding its notoriety for a most pestiferous
atmosphere, occasioned, as usual, by the exhalations from the marshy
lowlands adjoining the coast. The impression was confirmed by the
miserable aspect of the place, one long wide vacant street, in which, as
we drove down it, the effects of the intemperie were stamped on the
sickly faces of the few stragglers we met. We found, however, a roomy
and decent hotel, and, after rambling about the neighbourhood, sat down
to our usual evening tasks of writing and drawing. We were in light
costume, and had thrown open the casements, for though the apartment was
both lofty and spacious, the air felt insufferably close and stifling.
Shortly afterwards, on the waiter coming in to lay the supper table, he
stood aghast at our exposure to the night air, and precipitately dosed
the casements, exclaiming, “Signore, it would have been death for you to
have slept here in August or September; and, even now, the risk you are
running is not slight.”

This man was another of the Italian refugees, a Lombard; but of a very
superior cast of character and intelligence to our _maître de cuisine_
at Sassari. These qualities first opened out on his begging permission
to examine my friend's drawings and some ancient coins which lay on the
table; on both which he made remarks, showing that he was a person of
education and taste. He had been an _avocat_ at Milan, and, compromised
by the insurrection, “You see,” said he, “what I have been driven to,”
throwing a napkin, over his shoulder with somewhat of a theatrical air.
“But a good time is coming; meanwhile, not having much to do here, I
employ my time as well as I can. You shall see my little library;”—and
he brought in some volumes, mostly classical, the Odyssey, Euripides,
Sophocles, Æschylus, and Cornelius Nepos. After awhile he pulled out of
his bosom, with some mystery, for he was still professedly a catholic, a
small copy of Diodati's Italian version of the New Testament. “This,” he
said, with emphasis, “is my greatest consolation; I retire into the
fields, and there I read it.” It was impossible not to commiserate the
fate of Ignazio Mugio, the Lombard refugee. A very different character
was old Pietro, the steam-boat agent. Groping our way with some
difficulty up a gloomy staircase, in the dusk of the evening, we found
him, spectacles on nose, poring over a gazette by a feeble oil lamp. The
old man was so eager for news that it was difficult to fix him to the
object of our inquiries; and then he expatiated on the attractions of
the neighbourhood, and the “chasse magnifique de grèves,” as he called
thrush-shooting, in the country round, if we came to Porto-Torres in the
month of December. We laughed at the idea of such sport; but I think it
is said that the thrushes, fattening on the olive berries, are very

A considerable commerce, considerable for a Sardinian port, gives some
life to this desolate place; facilitated by Porto-Torres being the
northern terminus of the great national road running through Sassari,
only nine miles distant. The principal exports are oil and wine. The
little haven is defended by a strong tower, erected in 1549. We found
moored in the port several Greek brigs, polaccas, and feluccas, with
their long yards and pointed lateen sails; and the fine steam-boat
which was to carry us to Genoa.

    [Illustration: PORTO-TORRES.]

The mountainous and nearly desert island of Asinara forms a fine object
in running out of the gulf to which it gives its name, forming the
north-western point; and the high lands of Corsica soon came once more
in view. Our course lay along its western coast, the weather being
favourable; but with a foul wind it is considered unsafe, and vessels
run through the Straits of Bonifacio and coast the eastern side of the
island. In the afternoon we were off the entrance of the Gulf of
Ajaccio, and gazed from seaward on the Isles Sanguinaires, with the
tower of the lighthouse, behind which the sun set on the pleasant
evening when we took our view from the Chapel of the Greeks. Now,
towards sunset, we were rapidly gliding along the shore of Isola Rossa,
and the slanting rays glowing directly on the porphyritic cliffs gave a
rich but mellow intensity to the ruddy hue whence they derive their
name. Some of the boats stop at the town, a new erection by Pascal
Paoli, and the seat of an increasing trade. Leaving it behind, we ran
along the coast of Corsica with a fair wind, exultingly bounding
homewards as, the breeze freshening, our boat sprung from wave to wave,
dashing the spray from her bows. Farewell to Corsica! Her grey peaks and
shaggy hill-sides are fast fading from our sight, in the growing
obscurity. We pass Calvi, famous in Mediæval and Nelsonian annals, San
Fiorenzo, on which we had looked down in our rambles on the
chestnut-clad ridges of the Nebbio; and the mountain masses of the
Capo-Corso, now loom like dark clouds on the eastern horizon. All beyond
is a blank. Again we cross the Tuscan Sea in the depth of the night. We
are on deck when rosy morning opens to our view the glories of the Bay
of Genoa. At six we are moored in the harbour, and have to wait for the
visit of the officer of health. At last we land, breakfast, and take the
rail to Turin.

At Turin we passed some hours very pleasantly at the British Minister's.
We are indebted to Sir James Hudson for facilitating our excursion in
Sardinia with more than official zeal and interest in its success. He
knows the island well, having braved the inconveniences of rough
travelling in its wildest districts. At his hotel we chanced to meet Mr.
I. W. Brett, the promoter of a line of electric telegraph intended to
connect the islands of Corsica and Sardinia with the European and
African continents. A company had been formed to carry out this project,
consisting principally of Italian shareholders, part of whose outlay was
to be recouped, on the completion of the undertaking, by the Governments
interested in its success—the French in regard to Corsica and Algeria,
and the Piedmontese as far as concerns Sardinia.

Starting from a point in the Gulf of Spezzia, the wires were to be
carried by a submarine cable to the northern extremity of Capo-Corso;
where landing they would be conveyed, through the island, partly by
submarine channels, with a branch to Ajaccio, to its southern point near
Bonifacio. Thence, submerged in a cable crossing the Straits, they would
again touch the land at Capo Falcone, mentioned in these rambles as the
nearest point in Sardinia; the distance being only about ten nautical
miles. The wires were then to be conducted on posts, through the island
of Sardinia, in a line, varying but slightly from our route, by Tempio
and Sassari to Cagliari. From Cape Spartivento, or some point on the
southern shore of Sardinia, a submarine cable was to be laid, the most
arduous part of the whole undertaking, to the African coast; landing
somewhere near Bona, a town on the western frontier of the French
possessions in Algeria.

Up to the point of the landing in Sardinia all was evidently plain
sailing; but when we met Mr. Brett at Turin, on our return from
Sardinia, in November, 1853, he was under some anxiety about the land
line through the island; the mountainous character of the northern
province of Gallura presenting obstacles to the operation of carrying
the wires through it, and the lawless character of the inhabitants
threatening their safety. On both these points we were able to reassure
him; we had seen and heard enough of the brave mountaineers to feel
convinced that there was no cause for apprehension of outrages connected
with the undertaking. And my fellow-traveller, who belonged to the
scientific branch of the army, had not passed through the country
without making such observations as enabled him to satisfy Mr. Brett's
inquiries respecting the line to be selected and its natural facilities.

In the end, the wires were successfully stretched throughout the island
from Capo Falcone to Cagliari, after surmounting, however, serious
obstacles, though not of the sort previously apprehended. For the
success of this operation the company are greatly indebted to the
exertions of Mr. William S. Craig, H.B.M.'s Consul-General in Sardinia.
Having neither any personal interest in the concern, nor official
connection with a Company entirely foreign in its object and supporters,
he devoted his time gratuitously to the furtherance of this branch of
its operations, actuated only by a desire to promote an important public
undertaking. The whole practical management of the work (I do not speak
of engineering, little of which could be required) devolved on Mr.
Craig; and with much self-sacrifice, he threw into it all that zeal and
intelligence which, with universal goodwill, have acquired for him the
high estimation in which he is generally held.

I have before had occasion to mention the respect entertained for him by
the mountaineers of Gallura, resulting from a former connection
beneficial to parts of that district; and I feel convinced that his name
and sanction better obviated any prejudices, and offered a broader
shield for the protection of the wires from injury, than all the power
of the Piedmontese officials, backed by squadrons of carabineers, could
have done. Not only so, but Mr. Craig had less difficulty in making
arrangements with the proprietors of the lands in the northern province
than in the more civilised districts of the south, where, in some
instances, the privileges required were reluctantly conceded as a mark
of personal respect.

It was on descending to the plains that the worst difficulties were
encountered. Mr. Warre Tyndale states that during the construction of
the great central road from Cagliari to Porto-Torres, which it took
seven years to complete, more than half the engineers employed in the
work died of the intemperie, or were obliged to retire from the effects
of that fatal malady. This scourge swept off with no less virulence the
workmen employed on the line of telegraph, and as the season advanced,
cartloads after cartloads were carried to the hospitals, so that the
works were stopped. Mr. Craig had to provide for all emergencies, the
whole expenditure was managed by him, and this calamity added to his
cares and responsibilities. But he persevered, and brought the
operations to a successful end. Such valuable services merited a more
liberal treatment than they received at the hands of those who
gratuitously secured them. A body of English directors and shareholders
would not have failed to mark their sense of the obligation conferred by
some honorary acknowledgment. I have not heard of any such act of
generosity on the part of the Sardo-French Company. It was a foreigner
who remarked to me the _petitesses_ which pervaded the dealings of his
countrymen. I imagine that the phrase would be found particularly
applicable to the dealings of this company, if all its history were

But we are anticipating occurrences. On our return from Sardinia, the
operations of the Sardo-French Telegraph Company connected with the
island were yet in embryo. The travellers who discussed the
probabilities of success at Turin little thought that one of them would
two years afterwards, towards the close of the Crimean war, be the Chief
of the Staff employed in the organisation and superintendence of the
military telegraph service in the East, having to inspect the laying
down many hundred miles of submarine cable and wires in the Black Sea;
or that it would be the fortune of the other to witness the final
accomplishment of the long-delayed and frustrated hopes of the
Sardo-French Company, by being present at the laying down of the
submarine Mediterranean cable between Cagliari and Bona on the coast of
Algeria. But so it turned out; and the completion of this undertaking
being an event in Sardinian history, considered by no less an authority
than General Della Marmora to have an important bearing on the
commercial prospects of the island,—and the operation of successfully
submerging telegraph cables in very deep water, in oceans or seas, being
both new and possessing considerable interest,—a short account by an
eyewitness of the occurrences attending the laying down the African
cable may prove both amusing and instructive. It will form an
appropriate episode to the Sardinian Rambles, and in that view an
additional chapter will be devoted to it.

For the rest, it only remains briefly to close the “Rambles” of 1853.
Our visit at Turin reopened Sardinian interests; but after that, the
best thing to be done was to hasten homewards before the inclemency of
the season should retard our progress. Still, the snow fell heavily as
we walked over the summit of the pass of the Mont-Cenis, preceding the
diligence in which we had travelled all night. The railway had not then
been extended from Turin to Suza on one side of the Alps, nor, on the
other, beyond Châlons sur Saône, between Lyons and Paris; so that,
travelling by diligence, we were three nights and two days on the road
to Paris. Both the French and Italian lines of railway have been much
advanced since the period of our journey. To complete the line, it
remains only that the gigantic undertaking of tunnelling the chain of
the Alps be successfully executed. Allowing ourselves the refreshment of
spending a day in Paris, we reached London in the evening of the 17th of


  _Sardinian Electric Telegraph.—The Land Line completed.—Failures
    in Attempts to lay a Submarine Cable to Algeria.—The Work
    resumed.—A Trip to Bona on the African Coast.—The Cable
    laid.—Cagliari an Important Telegraph Station.—Its
    Commerce.—The return Voyage.—CONCLUSION._

After completing the land line of telegraph, as already mentioned, the
Sardinian Company[101] failed in three attempts at laying a submarine
cable to connect the wires from Cagliari with the coast of Algeria. We
will not here enter into an inquiry as to the causes of these disasters,
instructive as it might be if we had space, and this were a fitting
opportunity. Suffice it to say that the first experiment failed soon
after leaving Cape Spartivento; on the second, the line was laid for
about two-thirds of the course, but with such a profuse expenditure of
the submarine cable that it was run out, and the enterprise abruptly
terminated. A third attempt to renew the operation proved equally

The project received a severe check from these repeated failures. The
company had established their line, by sea and land, as far as Cagliari.
So far, well: the communications of the respective Governments with
their islands of Corsica and Sardinia were complete. Incidentally, also,
England derived some advantage from the stations at Cagliari during the
most anxious period of the crisis in Indian affairs. It was one step in
advance towards telegraphic communications with India, though a short
one. But the main object of the French Government in promoting the
enterprise was to link its connection with Algeria by the electric
wires; and till that was accomplished, the Company had no claim to be
reimbursed for that portion of their expenditure guaranteed in the event
of success.

One may imagine the dismay of the shareholders, mostly Italians, in this
state of affairs. Their capital must have been greatly, if not
altogether, exhausted by the expenditure on previous works and the
abortive attempts at laying the African cable. It was now only, in all
probability, that they became seriously alive to the difficulties of the
undertaking, and the immense risks that must be incurred in laying
submarine cables in great depths of water. For it was now known that the
depth of the Mediterranean in many parts crossed by the track of
submarine cables, is no less than that through which the Transatlantic
cable has to be laid.

The prosecution of the scheme was suspended; but meanwhile time was
running on, and the period fixed for completing the line had nearly
expired. In this event, the government guarantee being forfeited, the
concern would become a ruinous affair, as the telegraph traffic of two
small islands could not be remunerative for the capital expended in
connecting them with the continent. A short extension of the term for
completing the undertaking had been obtained; but that was nearly run
out before matters were put in a better train.

In this emergency, Mr. Brett, the _gérant_ of the foreign company, who
had contracted for and personally superintended the previous attempts to
lay the African cable, entered into negotiations for its being
undertaken by Messrs. Newall and Co. They had an established reputation,
not only as having long been manufacturers of submarine electric cables,
the quality of which had been tested by continuous service, but as
having, under contracts with the English Government, laid down between
five and six hundred miles of cable in the Black Sea during the Crimean
war, without a single mishap. They were, therefore, not mere theorists;
having acquired by long experience a practical knowledge of submarine
telegraphy which had not fallen to the lot of any others who had turned
their attention to that branch of the science.

The overtures made on the part of the Sardo-French Company having been
favourably received in the course, I believe, of the summer of 1857,
Messrs. Newall and Co., nothing daunted by the previous failures, though
doubtless fully aware of the difficulties they had to encounter, agreed
to lay the African cable for a given sum, taking all risks on
themselves. When it is understood that, about the same time, they also
contracted with the “Mediterranean Extension Company,” on like terms as
to responsibility, to lay down submarine cables between Cagliari and
Malta, and from Malta to Corfu, extending over 795 nautical miles, and
making, with the African cable, a total of 920 miles, some idea may be
formed of the magnitude of the operations undertaken by a single firm.
The mileage is more than one third of the distance embraced in the
scheme of the great Transatlantic Company; and, as we find that the
Mediterranean has its deep hollows as well as the Atlantic, the
difficulties were proportionate.

Having entered into these engagements, Messrs. Newall and Co., after
completing their contract for one half, 1250 miles, of the Transatlantic
cable, lost no time in proceeding with the manufacture of the
Mediterranean cables at their works in Birkenhead. Towards the end of
August, the African cable, with some portion of the Malta cable, was
shipped in the Mersey aboard their steamship Elba, the vessel before
employed in laying down the cable between Varna and Constantinople. It
should be mentioned that the African cable contained four wires, so that
it was more ponderous and less flexible than the Atlantic cable, which
has only one.

About this time, the writer happened to hear what was going on. Being
then engaged in preparing these Sardinian “Rambles” for the press, he
was desirous to make another trip to the island before their
publication; and, besides the connection of the Cagliari line of
telegraphs with the objects of his work, other circumstances had made
him generally interested in the subject of submarine telegraphy. He
therefore requested Mr. R.S. Newall's permission for his joining the
expedition, which was kindly granted.

With this preliminary statement, we proceed at once to the scene of
action. At the last moment it had been decided, for reasons with which I
am unacquainted, but, I believe, on the suggestion of the foreign
Governments interested in the project, to start from the African coast,
instead of from Cagliari; Cape de Garde, a few miles eastward of Bona, a
town on the Tunisian frontier of the French possessions in Algeria,
being selected as the point at or near which the submarine cable was to
be submerged. The Elba, with the cable on board, anchored off Bona on
Saturday, the 5th of September. Three war-steamships, appointed by the
foreign Governments to attend and assist in the operations, had arrived
some days before, and lay at anchor in the haven of Cazerain. The little
squadron consisted of the Brandon, a large frigate under the French
flag, with the Monzambano and the Ichnusa, both belonging to the royal
Sardinian navy; and on board were the Commissioners appointed by the
respective Governments to watch the operations.

It blew hard after the Elba's arrival, and the ships being detained in
harbour, waiting for a favourable wind, opportunities offered of landing
at Bona, and making some excursions into the surrounding country. The
old Arab town rises from the sea in the form of an amphitheatre, and you
see its high embattled walls running up the hill-side and embracing in
its enceinte the citadel, or Casbah, crowning the heights; the whole
backed by the towering summits and shaggy slopes of the chain of Mount
Edough. Within is a labyrinth of narrow streets; that leading direct
from the port crossing a steep ridge to the Place d'Armes, a square with
a fountain in the centre, overhung with palms and other exotics, and
where French architecture is singularly mixed with the Moorish style. On
one side stands a mosque, with its tall minaret; on the other, range
cafés and restaurants, and magazins de mode, with their lofty fronts,
arcades, and balconies. We linger for a moment on the spectacle offered
by the various populations which crowd the square from morn to eve, and
most after nightfall; a motley crowd of Arabs, Moors, Zouaves,
Chasseurs, Jews, and Maltese. In the picturesque contrast of costume it
presents, the gayest French uniforms possess no attractions compared
with the white and flowing bournous, with even the sheepskin mantle of
the poor Arab of the desert, the bright braided caftan of the Moor, the
turban, and the fez. But the limits assigned to this work being already
exceeded, I may not allow myself to dwell on the numberless objects
which attract the attention of a curious traveller, in scenes where the
modes and forms of Oriental life are singularly blended with those that
bear the freshest European stamp.

Nor is this the place for more than noting an excursion to the
picturesque ruins of Hippona, the old Roman city, the Hippo-Regius,
where the great St. Augustine laboured in the African episcopate, and
ended his days during the sufferings of Genseric's siege. They stand on
a hillock facing the sea, now covered with thickets of wild olive trees
and fragments of the buildings. What a plain is that you see from the
summit, stretching away in all directions, a vast expanse of grassy
meadows on the banks of the river Seybouse; parched indeed now by the
torrid heat of an African summer, but of rich verdure after the rains!
What prodigious ricks of hay we observe at the French cavalry barracks,
as we ride along! What growth of vegetables in the irrigated gardens of
the industrious, but turbulent, Maltese! Surely, but for the French
inaptitude to colonisation, this part of Algeria, at least, might be
turned to good account.

Changing the scene for a moment from the sultry plains, we may just note
another excursion, which led to the summit of the pass crossing the
chain of Mount Edough. At the top we look westward over a sea of
mountains, towards and beyond Constantine, the strongholds of the
indomitable Kabyles. Turning homewards, we slowly descend the winding
road, among slopes covered with a coarser _maquis_—still more fitted to
endure the drought—than the evergreen thickets of Corsica and Sardinia;
the dwarf palm, _chamærops humilis_, most prevailing. Bona, with its
walls and terraces and the Casbah and the minarets, rising above a grove
of orchards and gardens, now makes a pleasing picture. Beyond, in the
still water of the haven, our little fleet lies at anchor, with the
French guardship; outside, the blue Mediterranean is now very gently
rippled by the evening breeze.

We are recalled to the ships, and hasten on board, for the wind having
changed, with a promise of fair weather, it is decided to commence
operations. The point selected for landing the shore-end of the cable
was a sandy cove, a little to the eastward of Cape de Garde, or as it is
otherwise called Cap Rouge, a literal translation of _Ras-el-Hamrah_,
the name given it by the natives. There is an easy ascent from the cove
to Fort Génois, about half a mile distant. The fort, a white square
building at the edge of the cliffs, said to have been built by the
Genoese to protect their coral fisheries on this coast, was convenient
for establishing a temporary telegraph station, wires being run up to it
from the end of the submarine cable.

It was a lovely morning, the sun bright in a cloudless sky and the blue
Mediterranean calm as a lake, when the little squadron having got up
steam, ran along the shore, and successively anchored in the cove. There
floated, in happy union, the flags of the three allied Powers recently
engaged in very different operations: and the ships, with their boats
passing and repassing, formed a lively scene contrasted with that desert
shore, on the rocks of which a solitary Arab stood watching proceedings
so strange to him.

The Elba's stern having been brought round to the land, the ship was
moored within cable's length of the sandy beach; but the operation of
landing the submarine cable was delayed in consequence of the neglect of
the Sardinian company's agents, whose duty it was to have the land-line
of telegraph wires ready to communicate with Port Génois. This occupied
the whole day, and I took advantage of it, landing in one of the first
boats, to make a long ramble, visiting, in the course of it, Fort
Génois, an encampment of Arabs at some distance in the interior, and
climbing to the lighthouse on Cape de Garde, commanding, as may be
imagined, magnificent views. It was a toilsome march, over rocks and
sands, and through prickly thickets, in the full blaze of an African sun
at noontide; but the excursion was full of interest, and not without its
trifling adventures.

The shore works were not completed till sunset, when, all the boats
being recalled to the ships, they got under weigh, the Monzambano towing
the Elba, with the Ichnusa ahead, and the Brandon on her larboard bow.
The engineers began paying out the cable at eight o'clock, proceeding at
first slowly, as the night was dark, and being desirous to try
cautiously the working of the machinery. As the water deepened, the
cable ran out fast, and the speed was increased, so that by midnight we
had run about seventeen miles, with a loss in slack, it was reckoned up
to that time, of under twenty per cent, of cable, compared with the
distance run.

Few, I imagine, aboard the Elba got much sleep that night. The very idea
of sleep was precluded by the incessant roar of the cable, rushing, like
a mighty cataract, through the iron channels confining its course over
the deck, while the measured strokes of the steam-engine beat time to
the roar. Having laid down for two hours, I gave up my cabin to one of
our numerous guests; for the French and Italian commissioners being now
on board the Elba, besides Mr. Werner Siemens and his staff of German
telegraphists, her accommodations were fully tried; and as for
languages, she was a floating Babel. Coming on deck at twelve o'clock,
the lighthouse on Cape de Garde was still visible. The attendant ships
carried bright lanterns at their mastheads, sometimes throwing up signal
rockets; and so the convoy swept steadily on through the darkness, the
Elba still following in the wake of the Monzambano. Mr. Newall and Mr.
C. Liddell, who directed the whole operations, never quitted their post
at the break. The telegraphists, from their station amidship, tested the
insulation from time to time, speaking to the station at Port Génois.
Looking down into the mainhold, which was well lighted up, you saw the
men cutting the lashings to release the cable, as, gradually unfolding
its serpentine coils from the cone in the centre, it was dragged rapidly
upwards by the strain of its vast weight, and rushed through the rings
to the vessel's stern. There the speed was moderated, before it plunged
from the taffrail into the depths beneath, by the slow revolutions of a
large wheel, round which the cable took several turns.

As day broke and the sun rose magnificently over the Mediterranean,
Galita Island came in sight, distant from thirty to forty miles to the
eastward; the high lands of Africa being still visible. With the sea
perfectly calm, all augured well for the success of the enterprise,
except that serious apprehensions were entertained lest the cable,
paying out so fast in the great depth of water we were now
crossing,—1500 fathoms,—might not hold out to reach the land. Thus we
ran on all the morning, the vessel's speed being increased to between
five and six knots per hour, and the strain on the cable to five tons
per mile; the depth ranging from 1500 to 1700 fathoms.

Towards the afternoon the land of Sardinia was in sight between fifty
and sixty miles ahead, our course being steered towards Cape Teulada,
the extreme southern point of the island. By sunset we had reached
within twelve miles of the shore, and angles having been carefully taken
to fix our exact position, we anchored in eighty fathoms water. Soon
afterwards the attendant ships closed in, and anchored near us for the
night. The little squadron, well lighted, formed a cheerful group, the
sea was smooth as a mill-pond, and the mountains of Sardinia, after
reflecting the last rays of the setting sun, loomed heavily in the
growing twilight. All hands on board the Elba were glad of rest after
thirty-six hours of incessant toil.

In the morning, as we had run out the whole of our cable proper, a piece
of the Malta cable was spliced on, with some smaller coils also on
board. Meanwhile, the Ichnusa had gone ahead at daybreak to take
soundings, and when all was ready we began paying out the cable, being
then, as already stated, about twelve miles from the land. All went on
smoothly, and there was scarcely any loss of cable by slack. The eye
turned naturally, again and again, from anxiously counting the
lessening coils in the hold to measure our decreasing distance from the
shore, as its hold features and indentations became hourly more
distinct. Cape Teulada stood right ahead, a bold headland, with peaked
summits 900 feet high. It forms the eastern point of the Gulf of Palmas,
and has a long face of precipitous cliffs towards the sea. To the west
of this deep inlet appeared the rocky islands of San Antioco and San
Pietro, with cliffs of volcanic formation; and the Toro rock stood out a
bold insulated object, 500 or 600 feet high, marking the entrance of the
Gulf of Palmas, a spacious bay offering excellent anchorage.

We had run ten miles towards a beach under the cliffs, a little to the
eastward of Cape Teulada, when the small cable, now in course of being
paid out, suddenly parted. The mishap occurred about a mile and a half
from the shore, in forty fathoms water, with a sandy bottom. It was
provoking enough to have our expectations baulked, when holding on for
another half hour we should have succeeded in bringing the cable to
land; but, for our comfort, the main difficulties of the enterprise were
overcome. The African cable had been securely laid in the greatest
depths of the Mediterranean, and the shore-end of the line could be
easily recovered in the shallow water. The only question was, whether it
should be immediately effected; but for this the weather had become very
unfavourable. The wind had been blowing strong from the south-east all
the morning; and a gust of it caught the Elba's stern, and canted it
suddenly round, when the small cable snapped like a packthread. Rather a
heavy sea was now running, and, on the whole, it was thought advisable
to defer the concluding operations until an entirely new end to the
cable could be procured from England.

For this purpose, and at the same time to bring out the Malta cable, the
Elba was despatched homeward a few hours after the accident happened.
Fresh angles having been carefully secured, nothing remained but to take
leave of our friends before the squadron parted,—the Brandon for the
Levant, and the Sardinian frigates for ports in the island. While all
belonging to the Elba considered that the submersion of a cable between
Algeria and the coast of Sardinia was virtually a _fait accompli_, it
was almost painful to witness the dismay of the Italians, at the mishap
which had occurred to cloud their anticipations. It was evident that
they entirely distrusted all assurances of the contractors' ability to
recover the end of the cable, and perfect the line. Their fears were
groundless; within a few weeks the new coil was brought from England,
and the end of the submerged cable having been grappled at the first
haul, the work was completed without any difficulty. Messrs. Newall and
Liddell immediately proceeded to lay down the Cagliari and Malta, and
the Malta and Corfu cable, 375 and 420 miles respectively; both which
they effected with entire success in the months of November and December
following, with a very small average waste of cable over the distance,
and in depths equally great with those in which the African line was

My own object now being to reach Cagliari, the commander of the
Monzambano was kind enough to give me a passage in his fine frigate. I
got on board just as the officers and their guests were sitting down to
dinner under an awning on the deck. Among them was the old General Della
Marmora, whose love of science and devotion to the interests of
Sardinia had induced him, though suffering from bad health, to make the
voyage for the purpose of witnessing the important experiment. I found
that he did not share in the apprehensions of the Italian shareholders
on board as to the loss of the cable. The General had long cherished the
idea that the ports of Sardinia, and especially Cagliari, are destined
to partake largely of the commercial advantages resulting from a variety
of recent events. In a little work, already referred to, which he was
kind enough to give me[102], he points out the fine position of
Cagliari, its spacious gulf, with good anchorage, open to the south, and
in the highway of all ships navigating the Mediterranean between the
Straits of Gibraltar, the Levant, and the Black Sea. A glance at the
map, he truly observes, will show no other port, either on the coast of
northern Africa, in Sicily, or the south of Italy, which can be its
rival. Malta alone competes with it both in position and as a harbour;
but he justly asks,—“Can a barren rock like Malta be compared, in a
commercial point of view, with an island of such extent, and possessing
so many natural resources, as Sardinia?”

The General also points out the advantages offered by the electric
telegraph station at Cagliari to masters of ships bound to the
Mediterranean, the Levant, and the Black Sea, from the ports of Northern
Europe, or, _vice versâ_, to those coming from the eastward, to induce
them to touch at Cagliari. After, perhaps, long and wearisome voyages,
they will find, he observes, in their very track, in the heart of the
Mediterranean, the means of correspondence, in a few hours, with their
families and their owners, receiving news and instructions from home.
These facilities he considers of inestimable value; and it strikes us
that the area included in the General's observations will be much
extended when the electric wires are carried across the Atlantic, and
that American ships are more likely to avail themselves of the
advantages offered than those of any other nation.

Without sharing the sanguine anticipations of the excellent General La
Marmora as to the speedy regeneration of Sardinia, and the development
of her natural resources, undoubtedly great as they are, the remark may
be allowed, that it would be a singular and happy event if this island,
which appears to have been one of the first, if not the first, station
of the earliest maritime people, in their advance towards Western
Europe, should, now that the tide of civilisation, so long flowing from
the East, has evidently taken a reflex course, become again that centre
of commercial intercourse for which its geographical position so well
fits it.

Towards evening, the Monzambano was running along the iron-bound coast
terminating with Cape Spartivento, the western headland of the Gulf of
Cagliari. I know not whether it was from the position of the ruins, or
the hazy state of the atmosphere, night coming on, that I failed to make
out some Cyclopean vestiges mentioned by Captain Smyth—Mr. Tyndale says
they are a large Nuraghe—as standing on one of the most remarkable
summits, at an elevation of upwards of 1000 feet, and called by the
peasants, “The Giants' Tower.” “This structure,” observes Captain Smyth,
“situated amongst bare cliffs, wild ravines, and desolate grounds,
appeared a ruin of art amidst a ruin of nature, and imparted to the
scene inexpressible grandeur.” During our passage we had a stormy sky
and a strong head-wind, the sun setting gorgeously among masses of
purple and orange clouds. There was nothing to relieve the barren aspect
of this desert coast but the grey watch-towers from point to point,
similar to those we saw on the coasts of Corsica; and, having paced for
an hour the frigate's long flush deck, I was glad to turn-in early, and
enjoy the comforts of a state cabin after the fatigues and watches of
the two preceding days and nights.

The contrary wind retarded our progress, and it was not till after
daylight that, approaching the harbour of Cagliari, I enjoyed the fine
view, described in a former chapter, of the city, stretching a long line
of suburbs at the base of the heights crowned by the Casteddu, with its
towers and domes. The frigate entering the port was moored alongside the
government wharf; from which may be inferred the depth of water, and the
class of vessels the port is capable of receiving. It now contained only
about twenty ships, one only of which, a brig, was under the English
flag. The rest were of small burthen, and mostly Genoese and French.
General La Marmora states, in the Memoir before quoted, that “since the
crosses of Savoy and of Genoa have been united in the same flag,” the
Genoese have turned much attention to the trade of Sardinia; and that a
company was forming for the improvement of the port of Cagliari, in
order to draw to it some part of the corn trade of the Black Sea. Thus
the ancient granary of Rome might become the emporium of the trade in
corn for Italy and Southern France, and even for Africa; the General
observing, with what reason there may be some doubt, that, while only
two voyages can be made between the ports of those countries and the
Black Sea, three, or even four such, could be accomplished from

It is to be regretted that I did not obtain the latest statistics of the
commerce of Sardinia, and the port of Cagliari in particular, from our
very intelligent Consul, Mr. Craig; recollecting only his having
mentioned that coal is the principal import from England;—France and
Genoa, I conclude, supplying manufactured articles and colonial produce.
Salt, he said, was the chief export, great part of it being shipped to
Newfoundland and Labrador.

I cannot mention Mr. Craig, for the last time in these pages, without an
acknowledgment of the many kind offices for which I am indebted to him
during the present and preceding visits to Sardinia, nor can I easily
forget the pleasure enjoyed in his amiable family circle. Hours so spent
in a foreign country have a double charm; for in such agreeable society
the traveller breathes the atmosphere, and is restored to the habits, of
his cherished home. I have no reason to think that Mr. Craig's long and
valuable services are not duly appreciated by his Government; but it
might be wished that, in any re-arrangement of the consular service,
they be taken into consideration. It is a sort of honourable exile for a
man to spend sixteen years of his life on a foreign service, with a
family growing up, who enjoy very rare opportunities of conversing with
any of their own countrymen, and still less of their countrywomen, in
their mother tongue. I take some liberty in venturing to offer these
wholly unauthorized remarks on a subject of some delicacy; and only wish
I could flatter myself they have any chance of reaching influential
quarters, and not being forgotten. Mr. Craig's position, respected and
esteemed as he long has been, is eligible in many respects; but it might
perhaps be improved.

At the Consul-General's I again met some of the officers of the Ichnusa,
to whom, as well as to Boyl commanding the Monzambano, I wish to offer
my acknowledgments for many civilities. Lieutenant Baudini, of the
Ichnusa and other Sardinian officers who understand English, may chance
to peruse this page, and will interpret my sentiments to their brother
officers. Commandant Boyl was kind enough to give me a passage to Genoa,
being under orders for that port. We had a pleasant run, the style of
living on board the Monzambano being excellent, the society agreeable,
and enjoying magnificent weather. I have before observed that the
officers of the Sardinian navy are intelligent and gentlemanly, and
appear to be well up to their profession. The crews are smart, and every
thing aboard the ship was in the highest order and conducted with
perfect discipline.

Steaming close in-shore along the eastern coast of Sardinia, remarkable
principally for its bold and sterile character, there was a striking
contrast in the appearance of the same coast of Corsica, which came in
sight after crossing the mouth of the Straits of Bonifacio. This was
comparatively verdant, not only as regards the fertile plains of the
_littorale_, described in an early chapter, but, even where the mountain
ranges approached the Mediterranean south of these extensive plains, the
sterile aspect of their towering summits and precipitous cliffs was
often relieved by immense forests encircling their bases, while every
hillside and slope to the valleys appeared densely clothed with the
evergreen _macchia_, for which Corsica is so remarkable.

Part of this coast was already well known to the homeward bound
traveller: again he caught sight of the bold outlines of Elba and Monte
Cristo, rising out of the Tuscan sea; again, as on the first evening of
these rambles, the white terraces of Bastia reflected the rays of the
setting sun. Soon afterwards the mountain ranges of Capo-Corso were
veiled in darkness, and, as we ran along the shore nothing was visible
but the twinkling lights of the fishermen's huts in the little
_marinas_, to bring to mind those features which had so fascinated us on
our first approach to the island.

Again, farewell to Corsica! Farewell to the twin islands which, like
emeralds set in an enamelled vase, deck the centre of the great
Mediterranean bason, embraced by the coasts of Italy, France, and
Spain,—radiant points midway to Africa, in the great highway to the
East, and partaking the varied character of all these climes. It had
been my fortune not only to ramble through these islands from north to
south, but, in different voyages, to sail round the entire coasts of
both, except some part of the west of Sardinia. I can only wish that
these pages more adequately represented the impressions made under the
opportunities thus enjoyed.

It was again my fortune to approach the lovely bay of Genoa with the
earliest morning light; and, taking leave of my good friends on board
the Monzambano, I landed before breakfast. To vary the route homeward,
instead of crossing the Mont-Cenis, as had been done in frost and snow
at a late season of the year in the former tour, I enjoyed the enviable
contrast of journeying along the _Riviera di Ponente_ from Genoa to
Nice,—that exquisite strip of country between the Apennines and the
Mediterranean, studded with orchards, orange groves, vineyards, and
gardens; with towns, towers, churches, and convents, nestled in the
groves, washed by the sea, or perched high on rocky pinnacles; and all
this encircling the lovely Bay of Genoa, the road being carried _en
corniche_ along its winding shores and round its jutting points. Of this
exquisite scenery no description of mine could convey any adequate idea
to those who have not seen it, and those who have will need little
memento to bring its varied features to their recollection.

Farewell, a long farewell to, perhaps, the loveliest strip of country in
the bright South! The Neapolitan proverb may be applied with equal
justice to the Ligurian, as to the fair Campanian, coast,—_vedere e pói
morire_,—a fitting motto wherewith to conclude the tale of an old man's

Pursuing the journey from Nice to Marseilles, in heat and in dust, the
express train, by Lyons and Paris, conveyed the Rambler to Calais in
about thirty hours, and six more landed him in London.

                               THE END

                          NEW-STREET SQUARE.


[1] _Dei Costumi dell'Isola di Sardegna, comparate cogli antichissimi
Popoli Orientali, par Antonio Bresciani. D.C.D.G. Napoli, 1850._

[2] Πολλῶν δ' ἀνθροπῶν ἲδεν ἂσεα—καὶ νὰον ἐγνῶ. Od. i. 3.

[3] _Lamartine_. See THE ISLAND EMPIRE, dedicated to Lord Holland.
Bosworth, 1855.

[4] In the same way, Ordericus Vitalis represents William the Conqueror
to have said in his last moments, when reviewing his life, that he
fought against Harold (meaning what English historians call the Battle
of Hastings—a name never given to that battle by the Normans) _in
Epitumo_ (query _Epithymo?_), a word only found in the work of
Ordericus; referring, probably, as his editor remarks, “to the
odoriferous plants found on heaths.”—_Forester's Ordericus Vitalis_,
Bohn's Edition, vol. ii. p. 412.

[5] _Benson's Corsica_, p. 81.

[6] The following biographical sketch is compiled from the works of
Boswell and Benson, and the compendious _Histoire de la Corse_, by M.
Camille Friess.

[7] This appears from the Report of a Committee on the Public Safety
made to the Council General of the Department of Corsica in 1851. It
says: “La société et l'innocence doivent trouver dans la loi une égale
protection; mais l'avantage ne doit pas rester au crime.

“Les acquittements multipliés, et souvent scandaleux, n'ont que trop
démontré que notre législation actuelle renferme trop de chances pour
l'impunité, et ne présente pas toutes les garanties que la société est
en droit de reclamer pour la répression des crimes.

“Elle a pensé qu'en ce qui touche les proportions de la majorité,
_l'institution du jury devrait être modifiée_.”

The proposition was rejected, on the principle which operated when the
difficulty of obtaining convictions in Ireland raised a similar
question; namely, that such an exceptional measure was inexpedient.

“En ce qui touche l'organisation du jury, le Conseil a pensé que cette
proposition ne pouvait être faite que dans un intérêt général pour la
France, et qu'en lui donnant un caractère spécial pour la Corse, elle
resemblerait trop à une mesure d'exception que le Conseil repousse.”

[8] “With all the outrages,” continues Mr. Benson, “of which Galluchio
and his followers are guilty, he is by no means void of moral feeling,
and is quite a polished character when he enters private society, as I
learnt from a French gentleman who had met him at breakfast at the house
of a mutual acquaintance. My friend, when he found himself in such
company, naturally betrayed a little alarm, but Galluchio reassured him,
saying, ‘You and yours have nothing to fear at my hands.’

“I am really afraid to extract from my notes many of the wild adventures
of this Corsican Rob Roy. Not long since, a shepherd, personating him,
violated a female peasant. The chieftain soon obtained information of
the gross outrage that had been committed on his character; and finding
the shepherd, took him before the mayor of Bagniola, and this at a time
when Galluchio had six sentences of death hanging over him. At the
chieftain's instigation, the shepherd was compelled to espouse the poor
girl. Galluchio, after the marriage had been solemnised, said to the
shepherd, ‘Remember that you make a good husband. I shall keep a
watchful eye over your conduct; and should I hear that your wife
receives any maltreatment from you, yourself and your family shall pay
with their lives for your misconduct.’ The man little attended to
Galluchio's warning. The chieftain adhered to his threat, and the
shepherd, with his father and several other members of the same family,
fell victims.”—_Benson's Sketches in Corsica_, pp. 23-25.

[9] _Corsica, by F. Gregorovius._ Chap. x. p. 149. of the translation
published by Longman & Co.

[10] _Novelle Storiche Corse, di F.O. Renucci._ Bastia, 1838.

[11] _Novella VIII. L'Amore e la Religion._ Renucci, p. 43.

[12] Marmocchi. _Géographie Politique de l'Ile de Corse_, p. 117.

[13] In this sanguinary battle, fought in 1768, the Corsicans, under
Pasquale and Clemente Paoli, Murati, and their other chiefs, thrice
repulsed the French army of 15,000 men under Chauvelin, and forced them
to retreat in disorder to Bastia. The garrison of Borgo, a force of 700
men, laid down their arms, and surrendered to the Corsicans.

[14] _Géographie Physique_, p. 57.

[15] _Norway in 1848-1849_, pp. 188, 189. (8vo. Ed., Longman & Co.)
Professor Forbes arrives at nearly the same result from the observations
of Von Buch and others. _Norway and its Glaciers_, pp. 207, &c.

[16] Professor Forbes (_Travels in the Alps_) states the average height
of the snow-line at 8500 feet.

[17] See an Essay by Professor Forbes on Isothermal Lines and
Climatology, in _Johnstone's Physical Atlas_, p. 17.

[18] “Un Arrêt du Conseil du 22 Juin, 1771, avait défendu de planter des
châtaigniers dans aucun terrain de l'île susceptible d'être ensemencé de
blés ou autres grains, ou d'être converti en prairies naturelles ou
artificielles, ou plantés de vignes, d'oliviers, ou de mûriers. Deux ans
après cet arrêt fut revoqué par un autre, où l'on reconnaissait que les
châtaigniers étaient pour les habitants de certains cantons un moyen
d'existence nécessaire dans les temps de disette, et dans tous les temps
un objet de commerce avantageux. Ce dernier arrêt fut rendu sur le
rapport du célèbre économiste Turgot.”—_Robiquet_, quoted by
_Marmocchi_, p. 225.

[19] _Clarke and McArthur's Life of Nelson_, vol. i. pp. 156, &c.

[20] Benson's _Sketches of Corsica_, p. 97.

[21] Lyell's _Elements_, vol. ii. c. xxxi.

[22] _Recherches sur les Ossements fossiles_, t. iv. p. 198.

[23] Vol. ii. c. xxxi.

[24] Chap. XIII.

[25] See Chap. XI.

[26] The article of the Constitutional Act, vesting the sovereignty of
Corsica in the king of Great Britain, runs as follows:—

“Il Monarca, e Rè della Corsica, è sua Maestà Giorgio III., Rè della
Gran-Bretagna, e li de lui Successori, secondo l'ordine della
successione al trono della Gran-Bretagna.”

The oath sworn by the king on accepting the crown and constitution of
Corsica was to the following effect:—

“Io sotto scritto Cavaliere Baronetto, &c., &c., Plenipotenziario di S.
Maestà Britannica, essendo specialmente autorizzato a quest'effetto,
accetto in nome di sua Maestà GIORGIO III., RÈ DELLA GRAN-BRETAGNA, la
corona e la sovranità della Corsica secondo la Costituzione, &c., questo
giorno dicianove Giugno (1704). E giuro in nome di SUA MAESTÀ di
mantenere la libertà del popolo Corso, secondo la Costituzione e la

                                        “(Sottoscritto) ELLIOT.”

The oath of the president and deputies:—

“Io giuro per me, ed in nome del popolo Corso che rappresento, di
riconoscere per mio Sovrano e Rè sua Maestà GIORGIO III., RÈ DELLA
GRAN-BRETAGNA, di prestargli fede ed omaggio, secondo la Costituzione,”

    Compared with the original,

        PASQUALE DI PAOLI, _Presidente_.
        CARLO ANDREA POZZO-DI-BORGO,} _Segretarj._
        GIO. ANDREA MUSELLI,        }

The oath of allegiance was to be taken by all Corsicans in their
respective communities.—_Benson's Sketches in Corsica_, pp. 193-195.

[27] See before, p. 159.

[28] _Hist. Plant._ lib. 1, cap. 8.

[29] See _Norway in 1848—1849_, 8vo., Longman & Co., pp. 36, 37.

[30] Lambert's _Genus Pinus_, vol. i. p. 18.

[31] Walpole's _Turkey_, p. 236.

[32] Lambert's _Genus Pinus_, vol. ii. p. 28.


“La Forêt d'Asco est située dans l'arrondissement de Corte. Elle est
traversée par une rivière au moyen de laquelle on pourrait l'exploiter
avec de grands avantages. Cette forêt, une des plus considérables,
considérée comme forêt particulière, pourrait fournir deux cents
cinquante mille mètres cubes de bois. Elle renferme des arbres de toute
dimension. Il y en est qu'on pouvait faire servir pour la marine comme
matière de bâtiments. Par sa nature grasse ou résineuse, le bois est
employé avec succès pour les chemins de fer, et présente tous les
conditions de solidité et de durée. La plus grande partie de la forêt
renferme les Pins Larix; il y a aussi une grande quantité de Pins
Maritimes. La dimension des arbres maritimes est de 12 à 20 mètres de
hauteur; et celle des Pins Larix de 16 à 40 mètres de hauteur, sur une
circonférence moyenne de trois mètres.”

At the suggestion of one of our foreign ministers, who drew the
attention of Government to the possibility of obtaining supplies of
timber for naval purposes from the forests of Corsica in private hands,
the author, on his return to England, had some communications with
official persons respecting the forests of Signor F——; but the matter
dropped. Should it be thought a subject worth inquiry, with a view to
commercial enterprise, the author will be happy to put any person
applying to him, through his Publishers, in the way of procuring further

[34] There was no appeal to any personal attachment of the Corsicans to
the Bonaparte family, as sprung from among themselves, or to their
gratitude for benefits conferred on them, in the address with which, in
1851, the _Préfet_ urged the Council-General to take part in the general
movement in France for the abrogation of the article in the Constitution
which precluded the advance of Louis Napoleon to supreme power.
“_Marchons_,” he said, “_avec la grande majorité de la France vers ce
grand jour qui doit rendre le calme aux esprits, la confiance aux
intérêts, et la liberté d'action à l'autorité!_”

The resolution, passed by a large majority after a warm debate, was thus
prefaced:—“_Considérant qu'il importe de donner à la France des
institutions que ses besoins reclament, et que ses intérêts moraux et
matêriels exigent: Considérant que le commerce et l'industrie, ces
sources indispensables de l'existence de toute société ne se relèveront
de leur affaissement, et ne reprenderont un nouvel essor, qu'autant que
la constitution leur promettra un avenir plus assuré: Considérant, en
outre, que la souveraineté nationale trouve dans l'article 45 de la
Constitution un obstacle légal à la libre manifestation de sa volonté et
de sa reconnaissance envers le Président actuel de la Republique, qui a
rendu l'ordre et la sécurité au pays par la sagesse et la fermeté de son
gouvernement: renouvelle, à la majorité de quarante-deux voix contre
quatre, le vœu que la Constitution de 1848 soit revisée, et l'article 45

[35] This family is one of the most ancient in Corsica. Count Pozzo di
Borgo, the celebrated diplomatist, was born at Alata, a village near
Ajaccio. He commenced his public career under the administration of
Pascal Paoli, signed the Anglo-Corsican Constitutional Act as Secretary
of State (see before, p. 173.), and was afterwards President of the
Corsican Parliament. His subsequent career is matter of history.

[36] I find the name spelt indiscriminately Bonaparte and Buonaparte.
Napoleon, when young, wrote it both ways. It is spelt Bonaparte in the
entry of his baptism in the Register of Ajaccio, which was solemnised
(by-the-bye) two years after his birth, the dates being 15 Aug. 1709; 21
July, 1771. His father signed the entry as “Carlo Buonaparte.”

[37] _An Account of Corsica and Journal of a Tour_, by James Boswell, p.

[38] Boswell figured in this costume at the Jubilee Shakespeare Festival
held at Stratford-on-Avon under Garrick's auspices.

[39] _An Account of Corsica and Journal of a Tour_, by James Boswell, p.

[40] See before, p. 15. and 46.

[41] Ridiculously trifling as the origin of this bloody quarrel may
appear, the story is very probably founded on fact. Renucci relates
another scarcely less absurd. Feuds, similar to those mentioned in the
play, had long existed between the Vinconti and Grimaldi families,
inhabitants of the village of Monte d'Olmo, in the _pieve_ of Ampugnano.
Like good Catholics, however, they met sometimes at mass. The church was
sacred and neutral ground; there, at least, the _trêve de Dieu_ might be
supposed to be in force. Thither, on some solemn feast, the villagers,
indiscriminately, bent their steps. Some had already entered the church,
and were engaged in their devotions, many loitered about the door, and
the _piazza_ was crowded. Talking about one thing and another, the
conversation naturally turned to the ceremonies of the day, and a
dispute arose whether the officiating clergy ought to wear the black
hoods of the Confraternity in the processions which formed part of the

Orso Paolo, one of the Vincenti family, gave it as his opinion that they
should wear their surplices, alleging that to be the ancient and fitting

“No!” cried Ruggero Grimaldi, “they ought to wear the black hoods;”
giving reasons equally authoritative for his view of the question.

The strife waxed warm. The villagers took one side or the other;
“hoods,” and “surplices,” became the party cries. From words they came
to blows, and Orso Paolo, the only man of the Vincenti family present,
being sore pressed in the struggle, rashly drew out a pistol, and
mortally wounded Ruggero Grimaldi's eldest son.

So the story begins, and as it is one of the few in Renucci's
“_Novelle_” that are worth translating, we will give the sequel.

The rage and fury of Grimaldi and his party were now worked up to the
highest pitch. The mass was interrupted, the church deserted, and the
whole village a scene of uproar. Orso Paolo fled as soon as he had fired
the fatal shot, pursued by his enemies, who overtook and surrounded him.
His fate had been sealed on the spot, but that, quick as lightning, he
burst through the throng and darted into a house of which the door stood
open. It was the house of Grimaldi, his deadly foe, but there was no
other chance of escaping instant death. To close and bar the door, and
stand on his defence, was the work of a moment. Corsican houses are
strongholds; Orso Paolo was in possession of the enemy's fortress. He
threatens death to the first assailant, and the boldest recoil. What was
to be done? It was proposed to set fire to the house, but Ruggero's
youngest son, a child of seven or eight years old, had been left asleep
in the house when the family went to church. He would perish in the
flames. At that thought Grimaldi became irresolute. Just at this moment
the eldest son is brought from the church, bleeding to death from his
mortal wound, amidst lamentations and women's shrieks. At that spectacle
Ruggero can no longer contain himself. Frantic with grief, he runs to
set fire to his own house. The voice of nature pleading for his
remaining child is stifled by passion and resentment. The tears and
expostulations of the wretched mother are of no avail; they have no
influence over the mind of the infuriated father.

“What are you doing, cruel Ruggero?” she cried, in the midst of sobs and
groans; “Is it for you to fill up our cup of misery? Will you destroy
the dearest and sweetest of our hopes? One son is gasping his last
breath before our eyes, the other, still in infancy, will perish from
the transports of your rage. Who, then, will be the support of our
miserable old age? Who will defend us from the insults of the powerful?”

“So that Orso Paolo perish, let the world be at an end!” exclaimed
Ruggero. Such is the terrible force of the passions in the human breast.

Ruggero's house is burning, the fire crackles, the flames burst forth,
the sparkles fill the air. Vincenti, involved in smoke and flame, rushes
from place to place, seeking a retreat to prolong his life for a few
moments. All at once he is startled by the wailing cries of a child. He
directs his steps towards it, and discovers, with amazement, the son of
his cruel enemy. Struck with indignation at the father's barbarity, he
suddenly raises his hand to take vengeance on the child of his
relentless adversary. The boy utters a plaintive cry, and stretches its
little hands towards him, trembling and frightened.

“Take courage, my boy, take courage!” said Vincenti, snatching him to
his bosom; “you see a man who is not deaf to the voice of pity. If
Heaven will not protect your innocency, at least you shall die in the
arms of a second father.”

Meanwhile, the fire spreads through every part of the building; nothing
can resist the fury of the devouring flames. Fanned by the wind, they
surge in waves, ever greedy of new food. The roof quivers, the floors
crack, the whole falls with a terrible crash. What chance was there for
Vincenti's escape with life? He had abandoned all hopes.

Ruggero, satiated with vengeance, retires to the house of a relation, to
which his wounded son had been removed. The spectacle of his sufferings,
his imminent danger, and the sobs and lamentations of his inconsolable
wife, awaken in his soul the affections of a father. A faint ray of
reason penetrates his mind, and he perceives all the horrors of his
proceeding. Trouble, remorse, repentance, succeed; his heart is wrung
with anguish, and he attempts his own life. Friends interfere to
restrain him.

At the news of the atrocity committed by the Grimaldi, in firing the
house and leaving their enemy to perish in the ruins, the kinsmen of
Orso Paolo assemble and rush to Monte d'Olmo, threatening vengeance on
the perpetrators. The Grimaldi rally round Ruggero to shield him from
his exasperated enemies. Just then, shouts are raised in the piazza,
mingled with the name of Vincenti, and at intervals with gentler sounds
which speak to the heart of the wife of Ruggero.

She flies to the window, and exclaiming, “Oh heaven! Orso Paolo! My son!
My son! My son!” falls speechless and fainting on the floor. The
spectacle which produced this vivid emotion was that of the noble
Vincenti, who, scorched, and covered with ashes, and pressing the child
firmly to his breast, was hastening on amid the acclamations and
_evvivas_ of the populace. He had taken refuge under an arch of the
staircase, clasping the child firmly in his arms.

Ruggero's wife, recovering from her swoon, runs and throws herself into
the arms of Vincenti, calling him the preserver and father of her
beloved son. Ruggero, full of admiration and gratitude, salutes
Vincenti, with a modest humility, invoking his pardon, and begging his
friendship. Vincenti embraces him, pardons him, and swears eternal
friendship for him. The wounded youth unexpectedly recovers, the two
factions become friends, and the generous Vincenti, loaded with praises
and benedictions, had the happiness to extinguish an inveterate feud
between the two families, and thus restore peace to the community of
Castel d'Acqua.

[42] _Clarke and McArthur's Life of Nelson_, vol. ii. p. 336.

[43] The “Ichneusa,” so called from the ancient name of the island. On a
subsequent visit to Sardinia I had the pleasure of making an agreeable
acquaintance with the officers of the “Ichneusa,” the ship being one of
a little squadron then employed in the service of assisting in the
laying down the submarine telegraph cable between Cape Teulada and the
coast of Algeria, of which I hope to be able to give some account in the
sequel. The engineer of the “Ichneusa” was an Englishman, who was often
ashore at our hotel while his ship lay in the harbour of La Madelena; an
intelligent man, as I have always found the many of his class employed
in the royal steam navy of the Sardinian government. I cannot believe
that the engineers of the steam-ship “Cagliari” had any complicity with
the Genoese conspirators. They worked the ship, no doubt, in compliance
with orders enforced by the Italian desperadoes in possession of her
with stilettoes at their throats; and it is to be regretted that
peremptory measures were not taken by our Government for their release.
We can only conclude that the unfortunate engineers were sacrificed to
political expediency.

[44] _Sketch of the Present State of the Island of Sardinia_, pp.
187-191 (1827). It is but fair to remark, that Captain (now Admiral)
Smyth does not describe any excesses in the festivities he witnessed. We
have reason, however, to believe that they have sadly deteriorated, as
well as the religious instincts of the Sardes, in the thirty years since
they came under Captain Smyth's observation.

[45] The “barancelli” will be noticed hereafter.

[46] Mr. Warre Tyndale's _Island of Sardinia_, vol. i. p. 313, &c.

[47] Cf. Isaiah, i. 8.: “A lodge in a vineyard, and a cottage in a
garden of cucumbers.”

[48] Gen. xxiv. 11, 15.

[49] I Sam. ix. 11.

[50] Odyss. lib. x.

[51] Asphodels were planted by the ancients near burying-places, in
order to supply the manes of the dead with nourishment.

    “By those happy souls that dwell
    In yellow meads of Asphodel.”—_Pope._

The plant _lilio asphodelus_ belongs to the liliaceous tribe. It
flourishes also in Italy, Sicily, Crete, and Africa, some varieties
bearing white flowers.

[52] αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ πόσιος καὶ ἐδητύος, &c. HOMER, _passim_.

[53] See the sketch in the next page.

[54] “That certain local causes have through all ages tainted the
atmosphere of Sardinia, may be gathered from the remarks and sarcasms of
a host of early authors. Martial, in mentioning the hour of death,
celebrates salubrious Tibur at the expense of this pestilent isle:

    ‘Nullo fata loco possis excludere: cum mors
    Venerit, in medio Tibure Sardinia est.’

“Cicero, who hated Tigellius, the flattering musical buffoon so well
described by Horace, thus lashes his country in a letter to Fabius
Gallus: ‘Id ego in lucris pono non ferre hominem pestilentiorem putriâ
suâ.’ Again, writing to his brother: ‘Remember,’ says he, ‘though in
perfect health, you are in Sardinia.’ And Pausanias, Cornelius Nepos,
Strabo, Tacitus, Silius Italicus, and Claudian, severally bear testimony
to the current opinion. In later times the terse Dante sings:

    ‘Qual dolor fora, se degli spedali
      Di Valdichiana tra 'l luglio e 'l settembre
    E di maremma, e di Sardinia i mali
      Fossero in una fossa tutte insembre,’” &c.

                                      _Smyth's Sardinia_, p. 81.

[55] See before, pp. 150, 260.

[56] The trade in snow is farmed by the Aritzese, it being, like that in
salt and tobacco, a royal monopoly, leased for terms of years at a
considerable rent. Upwards of 9000 cantars (about 375 tons) are brought
down every year from the mountains of Fundada Cungiata and Genargentu,
and carried on horseback to all parts of the island. The labour,
fatigue, and difficulty attending the conveyance of the snow from those
great altitudes are severe; as in the paths where there is no footing
for a horse, the men are obliged to carry the burden on their shoulders;
and the quantity they can bear is a matter of boast and rivalry among

It has been observed in a former chapter that none of the Sardinian
mountains rise to what would be the level of perpetual frost. The snow
trade must therefore be supplied from deep hollows in the mountains,
serving as natural ice-houses, in which it is lodged during the summer.

We have an account of a forest in Scotland held of the Crown by the
tenure of the delivery of a snow-ball on any day of the year on which it
may be demanded; and it is said that there is no danger of forfeiture
for default of the quit-rent, the chasms of Benewish holding snow, in
the form of a glacier, throughout the year.—_Pennant's Tour in
Scotland_, i. 185.

[57] “There is among the Sardes a degree of adopted relationship called
‘compare’ (_comparatico_), a stronger engagement than is known under the
common acceptation of the term in other countries.”—_Smyth's Sardinia_,
p. 193.

[58] “The lionedda is a rustic musical instrument formed of reeds,
similar to the Tyrrhenian and Lydian pipes we find depicted on the
ancient Etruscan vases. It consists of three or four reeds of
proportionate lengths to create two octaves, a _terce_ and a _quint_,
with a small mouthpiece at the end of each. Like a Roman tibicen, the
performer takes them into his mouth, and inflates the whole at once with
such an acquired skill that most of them can keep on for a couple of
hours without a moment's intermission, appearing to breathe and play
simultaneously. He, however, who can sound five reeds is esteemed the
Coryphæus.”—_Ib._ p. 192.

[59] Ezekiel, viii. 14.

[60] Isaiah, i. 29.

[61] Isaiah, lxvi. 15-17. _Mundos se putabant in hortis post

[62] Ezekiel, viii. 14.

[63] Leviticus, xx. 2.

[64] Jeremiah, xix. 4, 5.

[65] “They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to devils, and shed
innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and their daughters, whom
they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan.”—_Psalm_ cvi. 26, 27.

“Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body
for the sin of my soul?”—_Micah_, vi. 7.

[66] 2 Kings, xvi. 3.

[67] Jeremiah, xxxii. 35.

[68] Vol. ii. p. 264.

[69] See before, p. 191.—The pine does not flourish in Sardinia. Deal
planks for house-building are imported from Corsica.

[70] _Annual Statement of Trade and Navigation presented to Parliament_.

[71] The vehicular statistics of Sardinia, ten years before, as summed
up by Mr. Warre Tyndale, show three vehicles for hire at Porto Torres,
seven at Sassari, four at Macomer, and about twenty at Cagliari. These
and about ten private carriages made the total in this island:
sufficient, he adds, for the unlocomotive propensities of the
inhabitants and their almost roadless country. Things were not much
improved at the period of our visit.

[72] _Memorie Politico-Economiche intorno alla Sardegna nel 1852, di
Vincenzo Sala, da Venezia. Seconda Edizione, riveduta dall'Autore._

[73] We do not include, in the enumeration of free states, the Swiss
confederacy, nor flourishing Holland. Both date their liberties to much
earlier times.

[74] _Norway in 1848 and 1849._ Longman and Co.

[75] La sua positura nel Mediterraneo la rende intermediara fra l'Africa
e l'Europa; fra il porto di Marsiglia da una parte, quelli di Genova e
Livorno dall'altra, e per conseguenza potrebbe proccaciarsi un conspicuo
reddito dal cabottagio. Se si considera che la francia scarreggia di
marina mercantile, relativemente alla sua potenza ed a suoi besogni, non
sembrerà per certo un sogno l'asserire che la Sardegna si troverebbe a
miglior portata di concorrere a soddisfare le sue bisogne di transporte,
principalmente per le coste d'Africa, dove la colonia francese va
prendendo sempre maggiore sviluppo, e prenunzia un avvenire fecondo. Si
la città di Cagliari e le altre terre littorale possedessero una marina
mercantile, quante fonti di richezza non troverebbe la Sardegna lungo le
coste d'Italia, di Francia, di Spagna e d'Africa! Non si credono queste
visioni o travidementi d'immaginazione; che anzi non temiamo d'affirmare
ch'essa potrebbe divenire, un giorno, _la piccola Inghilterra del
Mediterraneo.—Memorie Politico-Economiche_, p. 134.

[76] A passage in Aristotle's work “De Mirabilibus,” (chap. 104.) has
been supposed to refer to the Nuraghe. The words are these:—“It is said
that in the island of Sardinia are edifices of the ancients, erected
after the Greek manner, and many other beautiful buildings and _tholi_
(domes or cupolas) finished in excellent proportions.” Again, Diodorus
Siculus informs us (l. iv. c. 29, 30) that “after Iolaus had settled his
colony in Sardinia, he sent for Dædalus out of Sicily and employed him
in building many and great works which remain to this day.” And in
another place (l. v. c. 51) he reckons among these works “temples of the
gods,” of which, he repeats, “the remains exist even in these times.”
These passages, however, afford but slight grounds for considering that
the Nuraghe were built by the Greeks, or even were temples of the gods.
The term Θολούς, used by Aristotle, may indeed describe a round building
roofed with a dome, but the Nuraghe cannot be considered as
corresponding to the Grecian idea of buildings that are
“beautiful”—“finished in excellent proportions”—or fitting temples for
the gods. Pausanias denies that Dædalus was sent for out of Sicily by
Iolaus, and makes it an anachronism. See _Tyndale's Sardinia_, vol. i.
p. 116.

[77] Micah, iv. 8; and see 2 Kings, x. 12, xvii. 9, xviii. 8; and 2
Chron. xxvi. 10, &c.

[78] “_Apenas se diferenciaba el_ ARA de la TUMBA.

“_La graderia_ (del monumento sepolcrale) _se hallaba practicada en el
costade occidental per donde se subia para_ ORAR, _o para_
SACRIFICAR.”—Dupaix, vol. v. p. 243. 261.

[79] We borrow this description from Mr. Tyndale's work, as well as the
illustrations, not finding a sketch of a Sepoltura in our own portfolio.

[80] The learned Jesuit disconnects this migration from the expulsion of
the Canaanitish tribes by the Israelites under Joshua, considering it to
have occurred from one to two centuries before, when the giant tribes
east of Jordan were subdued by the Moabites and Amorites, who succeeded
to their possessions. Moses relates that “the Emims dwelt therein [that
is, in Moab,] in times past, a people great, and many, and tall, as the
Anakims; which also were accounted giants, as the Anakims; but the
Moabites call them Emims.” Of Ammon, Moses says:—“That also was
accounted a land of giants: giants dwelt therein in old time; and the
Ammonites call them Zamzummims; a people great, and many, and tall, as
the Anakims; but the Lord destroyed them before them; and they succeeded
them, and dwelt in their stead even unto this day.”—_Deut._ ii. 10, 11,
20, 21.


    Οὓς καλέουσι Γίγαντας ἐπώνυμον ἐν μακάροισι
    Οὕνεκα γῆς ἐγενόντο καὶ αἵματος οὐρανίοιο      ORPHEUS.

[82] Gen. vi. 1-4.

[83] These giant tribes were defeated by Chedorlaomer and the kings
allied with him, in the same expedition in which the kings of Sodom and
Gomorrah were put to the sword, and Lot, who dwelt in Sodom, was carried
off, but afterwards rescued by Abraham. Numbers, xiv. 5. &c.

[84] Numb. xiii. 33.; Deut. iii. 11., ix. 2.; Josh. xv. 14.

[85] 1 Sam. xvii. 4; 2 Sam. xxi. 16-22.


    .  .  .  .  . “Summo cum monte videmus
    Ipsum, inter pecudes vastâ se mole moventem,
    _Pastorem_ Polyphemum, et littora nota petentem.

         .     .     .     .     .     .

    Trunca manum pinus regit, et vestigia firmat.
    Lanigeræ comitantur oves;  .  .  .  .
    .  .  .  . de collo fistula pendet.” _Æn._ iii. 653, &c.

[87] Polypheme's clan are thus described;—

    “Nam, qualis quantusque cavo Polyphemus in antro
    Lanigeras claudit pecudes, atque ubera pressat,
    Centum alii curva hæc habitant ad littora vulgo
    Infandi Cyclopes, et altis montibus errant.” _Æn._ iii. 641.

[88] Father Bresciani has collected all the authorities for the
existence of giant races, with great diligence, in the course of his
remarks on the Sarde Sepolture. Vol. i. p. 89, &c.

[89] De Physicis, iv. 3.

[90] Gen. iv. 21, 22.

[91] A general idea seems to have prevailed in early times of the
prodigious muscular strength possessed by the men of an age still
earlier. Thus Turnus, the warlike chief of the Rutuli, is represented in
the Æneid as lifting and hurling at the Trojan an immense boundary stone
which would defy the united efforts of _twelve such men as the earth
produced in those days_ to lift on their shoulders.

    “Saxum antiquum, ingens, campo quod forte jacebat,
    Limes agro positus, litem ut discerneret arvis.
    Vix illud lecti bis sex cervice subirent,
    Qualia nunc hominum producit corpora tellus.” _Æn._ xii. 897.

[92] Gen. xi. 4.

[93] See before, p. 394.

[94] _Ordericus Vitalis_, vol. i. p. 113. (Bohn's Antiq. Library.)

[95] Ib. vol. i. pp. 130, 338; ii. 149.

[96] _Circonscrizione amministrativa delle provincie di Terra Ferma e
della Sardegna_.—Torino, Stamperia Reale, 1850.

[97] Atia, the daughter of M. Atius Balbus, by Julia, sister of Julius
Cæsar, was the mother of Octavius Augustus.—_Suetonius._

[98] Cohen, in his _Déscription des Médailles Consulaires_ recently
published (Paris, 1857), notices a bronze medal of the same type, of
which he says:—“Cette médaille était frappée par les habitans de la
Sardaigne, sous le règne d'Auguste, et pour gagner ses bonnes grâces ils
y placèrent le portrait de son aïeul en même tems que celui du fondateur
de leur patrie.” The cabinet of the British Museum contains a specimen
of this bronze medal, “de fabrique très-barbare,” to use Cohen's
description. He does not appear to be aware of the existence of the
silver coin, which is of a far better style.

[99] Captain Smyth states that in 1798 upwards of 2000 Moors suddenly
disembarked on the beach of Malfatano from six Tunisian vessels; when
the town was surrounded and taken. Brutality and pillage in all their
hideous forms visited every house; and 850 men, women, and children were
driven into slavery. The unhappy captives remained at Tunis; and, from
the embarrassments of the Sardinian Government, were not ransomed until
the year 1805. In 1815 the Tunisians, recollecting the rich booty they
had before obtained, reappeared off the port, but finding the garrison
well prepared to give them a warm reception, they sheered off.—_Sketch
of Sardinia_, p. 300.

[100] Among the other emblems of divinity we find the heads of dogs,
cats, apes, and birds, and also rude figures of the boats of Isis,
establishing a connection between the Egyptian and Phœnician
mythologies. Some exhibit astronomical and astrological symbols. Other
images appear to be carrying cakes, a part of the offering made to
Astarte, to which Jeremiah alludes:—“The women knead their dough, to
make cakes to the queen of heaven.”—Chap. vii. 18.

[101] The concern is incorporated under the name of “The Mediterranean
Telegraph Company,” but the terms “Sardinian” or “Sardo-French” Company
are adopted, as more distinctly indicating the nature of its origin and

[102] _L'Istmo di Suez, e la Stazione Telegrafico-Electrica di Cagliari;
Ragiamento del T. G. Alberto Della Marmora. Torino, 1856._


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