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Title: Wanderings in Corsica, Vol. 2 of 2 - Its History and Its Heroes
Author: Gregorovius, Ferdinand
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Wanderings in Corsica, Vol. 2 of 2 - Its History and Its Heroes" ***

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Transcriber's Note:

  Inconsistent hyphenation and spelling in the original document have
  been preserved. Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

  Italic text is denoted by _underscores_.

  The following words may be variant spellings for the same word, or
  different words with similar (correct) spellings.

  Speloncato and Speloncata
  Sagone and Sagona
  Buttafuoco and Buttafucco
  Rakotzy and Ragotzy
  Capraja and Caprara

  On page 129. "Signor Lucgi Biadelli" is a possible typo.
  On page 202. "Franceso" is a possible typo.


For our supply of the comforts and luxuries of life, we lay the world
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annual ministry of enjoyment. Believing that a sufficient demand exists
to warrant the enterprise, THOMAS CONSTABLE & CO. propose to present
to the British public a Series of the most popular accessions which
the literature of the globe is constantly receiving. Europe alone,—its
more northern and eastern lands especially,—offers to the hand of the
selector most inviting and abundant fruits; Asia may supply a few rarer
exotics; whilst in America the fields are whitening to a harvest into
which many a hasty sickle has been already thrust, and from which many
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and they take this opportunity of stating, that even where no legal
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The Series will be made as varied as possible, that there may be
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healthful recreation for the mind,—and its range will therefore be as
extensive as the field of Literature itself: while, at the same time,
it shall be the endeavour of its editors to select, for the most part,
works of general or universal interest.

The Publishers are unable to state the exact periods at which their
MISCELLANY OF FOREIGN LITERATURE will appear, but they believe that
the number of volumes issued during the first year will not exceed
six; so that taking the average price per volume as _Three Shillings
and Sixpence_, the cost to Subscribers would not exceed _One Guinea_;
while, by the addition of a _special_ title-page for each work issued,
those persons who may wish to select an occasional publication will be
saved the awkwardness of placing in their library a volume or volumes
evidently detached from a continuous Series.

                    EDINBURGH: THOMAS CONSTABLE & Co.
                          AND ALL BOOKSELLERS.

             Constable's Miscellany of Foreign Literature.

                  *       *       *       *       *

               Already published, Vol. I., price 3s. 6d.,
                            By MORITZ JOKAI.

                        Vol. II., price 2s. 6d.,

                        Vol. III., price 3s. 6d.,

                        Vol. IV., price 3s. 6d.,
                      PAPERS. By WASHINGTON IRVING.

                    *       *       *       *       *

                       Preparing for Publication,


     VOL. VI.





     VOL. II.




     CHAP. I.—To Isola Rossa through Nebbio,           1
     II.—Strand-Idyl of Isola Rossa,                   7
     III.—Vittoria Malaspina,                         12
     IV.—From Isola Rossa to Calvi,                   20
     V.—Calvi and its Men,                            24
     VI.—A Musical Festival,                          31
     VII.—The Corsican Dirges,                        34

     BOOK VII.

     CHAP. I.—To Corte through Balagna,               58
     II.—The City of Corte,                           64
     III.—Among the Goat-herds of Monte Rotondo,      73
     IV.—The Mountain-top,                            85
     V.—Vendetta or not?                              92
     VI.—From Corte to Ajaccio,                       95


     CHAP. I.—Ajaccio,                               100
     II.—The Casa Bonaparte,                         108
     III.—The Bonaparte Family,                      113
     IV.—The Boy Napoleon,                           120
     V.—Napoleon as Zealous Democrat,                130
     VI.—Napoleon's Latest Activity in Corsica,      148
     VII.—Two Coffins,                               162
     VIII.—Pozzo di Borgo,                           165
     IX.—Environs of Ajaccio,                        173

     BOOK IX.

     CHAP. I.—From Ajaccio to the Valley of Ornano,  181
     II.—From Ornano to Sartene,                     188
     III.—The Town of Sartene,                       192
     IV.—Two Stories of the Vendetta—Orso Paolo and
         Dezio Dezii,                                197
     V.—The Environs of Sartene,                     208
     VI.—The Town of Bonifazio,                      211
     VII.—The Siege of Bonifazio by Alfonso of
          Arragon,                                   218
     VIII.—Other Reminiscences of Bonifazio, and a
           Festival,                                 227
     IX.—The Strait,                                 235
     X.—The Caves of Bonifazio,                      241

     BOOK X.

     CHAP. I.—The East Coast,                        248
     II.—Sulla's Colony,                             253
     III.—Theodore von Neuhoff,                      258
     IV.—Theodore the First, by the Grace of God and
         through the Holy Trinity, King of Corsica
         by Election,                                272
     V.—Mariana, and Return to Bastia,               284




Crossing from Bastia the hills which form the continuation of the Serra
of Cape Corso, you reach the district of Nebbio, on the other side of
the island. The excellent road first ascends Monte Bello for about
a league. To the left, you look down upon the plain of Biguglia and
Furiani, and the large inlet into which the river Bevinco flows. On
gaining the ridge, the sea becomes visible on both sides. The road now
descends towards the western shore—the eastern has vanished, and the
enchanting panorama of the Gulf of San Fiorenzo suddenly unfolds itself
to the eye. A shore of low, reddish rocks, almost without vegetation,
and singularly zigzagged, encircles the deep blue basin. The sight is
grand, strange, and southern.

On the declivity of the mountain stands the gloomy village of
Barbiguano; the road passes it through groves of chestnuts and olives.
This road was made by Count Marbœuf, and it was here that Bernadotte
worked among the other labourers. The _conducteur_ of the Diligence
pointed out to me that its vast curves describe an _M_.

We were now approaching the beautiful Gulf of San Fiorenzo, which lay
within its silent, monotonous, red margin, smiling the "unnumbered
smile" that Æschylus speaks of, from the countless waves and wavelets
that crisped its lustrous surface. And from a valley watered by
a winding brook smiled gaily back to it thousands on thousands of
laurel-roses or oleanders, whose red blossoms clothed its slopes far
and wide. In our northern homes the brook is glad when it can clothe
its margin with alder and willow; here, in the beautiful south, it decks
itself with the gorgeous oleander.

The region is almost entirely uncultivated. I saw frequently, here
and there, forsaken or half-ruined houses, picturesque objects in the
landscape, for they were covered over and over with ivy, whose festoons
obscured the very doors and windows. In such little ivy houses must the
elves dwell, and titter, and twinkle their roguish eyes when a sunbeam
or the moonlight steals in through the lattice of creepers to see what
knavery the little wights are about. The history of those who once
lived there was perhaps bloody and cruel; the Barbary Corsairs may have
expelled them, or the murderous wars with Genoa, or the Vendetta.

Old Genoese towers are seen at intervals along the coast.

The country becomes more and more picturesque in the neighbourhood of
San Fiorenzo. To the right stretched now the full expanse of the gulf—to
the left, sweeping round it in a wide semicircle, towered far in the
background the amphitheatre of the hills. They are the proud hills of
Col di Tenda, at the foot of which the Romans were once defeated by
the Corsicans. They encircle the little province of Nebbio—the district
around the Gulf of San Fiorenzo, towards which alone the amphitheatre
of mountains opens. It is a hilly province of great aridity, but rich
in wine, in fruit, in olives, and chestnuts. Since the earliest times,
Nebbio has been considered as a natural stronghold, and all invaders
of the island, from the Romans to the French, have sought to force an
entrance, and to effect a firm footing at this point—a circumstance
which has made it the theatre of innumerable conflicts.

Nebbio, as at present divided, contains four cantons or pieves—San
Fiorenzo, Oletta, Murato, and Santo Pietro di Tenda. San Fiorenzo is
the principal place.

We reached the little town, which consists of but few houses, and
has only five hundred and eighty inhabitants, at mid-day. It has a
magnificent situation on one of the finest gulfs of Corsica. The only
large valley of Nebbio—the valley of Aliso—traversed by a stream of
the same name, lies before the town. The Aliso flows lazily through a
marsh that poisons the whole region with malaria. On its margin stood
a solitary fan-palm, giving, in the sultry glare of noon, a tropical
character to the whole landscape. Some women and children lay idling
round a cistern, their metal water-pitchers beside them—a group that
harmonized admirably with the palm. The Corsican strand on the gulfs
is, throughout, idyllic; its pictures have a half Homeric, half Old
Testament character.

In a quarter of an hour I had walked over the town. A little fort,
which, with its cupola-crowned tower, looks more like a Turkish mosque
than a castle, protects the harbour, in which a few fishing-boats lay at
anchor. The situation of San Fiorenzo is so singularly advantageous—the
gulf, one of the finest in the Mediterranean, holds out such tempting
commercial facilities, that one cannot but be astonished at the
prevailing desolation. Napoleon, in Antommarchi's memoirs, mentions the
place in these terms: "San Fiorenzo has one of the finest situations I
have ever seen. It lies most favourably for commerce; it touches France,
borders on Italy; its landing-places are safe and convenient; its roads
can accommodate large fleets. I should have built there a large and
beautiful city, which would have become a metropolis."

According to Ptolemy, the old city of Cersunum must have stood in the
neighbourhood of the gulf. The considerable town of Nebbio lay here in
the Middle Ages, and its ruins are still visible half a mile from the
present San Fiorenzo. On an eminence rises still the old Cathedral of
the Bishops of Nebbio, very much dilapidated, but still imposing. It
exhibits the style of the Pisan Basilica, and was probably built in the
eleventh or twelfth century. The church was dedicated to Santa Maria
dell' Assunta. Beside it stand the ruins of the bishop's residence. The
bishops who lived here were no less warlike than the most turbulent of
the Corsican seigniors. They gave themselves the title of Counts of
Nebbio, and it is related that they appeared in the popular assembly
of the Terra del Commune with their swords by their side; and that
when they read mass, they had always a pair of loaded pistols lying on
the altar. The city fell into decay like Accia and Sagone, two other
considerable cities and bishoprics of Corsica. At the present day many
Roman coins are found in that quarter, and many urns have been dug out
of Roman tombs there.

The more modern town of San Fiorenzo was one of the first places which
gave its adherence to the Bank of Genoa, in consequence of which the
city enjoyed many rights and privileges. The Bank sent over a Castellano
and a Podestà yearly, who conducted affairs along with four consuls. In
later wars, the Castle of San Fiorenzo was frequently of importance.

The fresh-caught fish with which our table was here supplied, were
excellent. Scarcely had we despatched them when we resumed our journey.
The road now for some distance leaves the shore, and ascends a range of
hills which sometimes shut out the view of the sea. This coast country
continues mountainous and barren into the province of Balagna, and as
far as Isola Rossa. The Plutonic forces have scattered large fragments
of rock on every side. They cover the declivities in gigantic blocks
or shattered into debris; slate, limestone, granite, are everywhere

The olive and the chestnut are no longer so abundant; but the wild
olive-shrub (oleastro) covers the hills, with the arbutus, rosemary,
myrtle, and erica. All this shrubbery had suffered from the sun; the
reddish brown tinge of the twigs, the gray of the olive-bushes, and
the weather-worn stones, gave the region, as far as the eye reached, a
melancholy tone. The glimmering of the heated air is the only motion in
this desert stillness; not a bird sings, only the grasshopper chirps.
Sometimes you see a flock of black goats lying under an olive-tree, or
scouring over the rocks, seized with the panic-terror.

From time to time we passed little lonely wayside taverns, where the
mules of the _diligenza_ were changed, or we stopped where a spring
filled a stone trough, at which man and beast were equally glad to slake
their thirst.

I saw in some places little fields of grain—barley and rye. The grain
had been already cut down, and was being threshed upon the field. The
arrangement for this is very simple. In the middle of the field is a
little round threshing-floor, built of stone, and upon this the Corsican
throws down his sheaves, and has them trodden out by oxen, which drag
a heavy stone behind them. I observed that, contrary to the scriptural
injunction, the ox was always muzzled. Innumerable threshing-floors of
this description were scattered over the fields, yet no village was
in sight. Near the threshing-floors stood little barns, four square
erections of stone, with flat roofs. The circular threshing-floors, and
these little gray houses, dotting the fields far and wide, had a most
singular appearance; they seemed the dwellings of gnomes. The Corsican
laughs when you tell him how the husbandman of the north swings the
flail with his own arms; such galley-slave toil he would submit to at
no price.

During the whole journey I saw no wheeled vehicle but our own. Now and
again a Corsican met us on horseback; his double-barrel slung behind
him, and his parasol over his head.

At length, after crossing the little river Ostriconi, we again
approached the shore. The coast has frequently only an elevation of a
hundred feet; then it again shoots upwards in the steepest and rudest
forms. The mountains grow more and more imposing as you approach Isola
Rossa. They are the romantic summits of Balagna—the Promised Land of
the Corsicans, for it literally flows with honey and oil. Some of the
mountains wore snow-caps, and glittered with crystalline splendour.

Yonder lies Isola Rossa before us on the strand! yonder the two gray
towers of the Pisans! yonder the blood-red islet-cliffs that give the
town its name! What an exquisite little idyl of the sea-shore and the
sunset! Silent mountains bending over a silent sea, gray olives holding
out to the pilgrim their branches of peace, a hospitable smoke ascending
from the hearths—verily, I swear that I am come to the enchanted shore
of the Lotus-eaters.



     ——"Of which fruit what man soe'er
     Once tasted, no desire felt he to come
     With tidings back, or seek his country more.
     But rather wish'd to feed on lotus still
     With the Lotophagi, and to renounce
     All thoughts of home."—_Odyssey._

A large rural esplanade lies at the entrance of the little town,
enclosed however within its walls, which look like the walls of gardens.
In the centre of the esplanade rises a square fountain of granite,
surmounted by a marble bust of Paoli. It had been placed there two
months previously. Paoli is the founder of Isola Rossa. He founded it
in the year 1758, when the war with the Genoese was at its hottest, and
the Republic was in possession of the neighbouring fortified town of
Algajola. He said at the time: "I have erected the gallows on which I
shall hang Algajola." The Genoese came with their gun-boats to hinder
the operations, but the new town rose under their hail of balls; and
Isola Rossa has now 1860 inhabitants, and is important as the emporium
and principal seaport of the oil-abounding Balagna.

I found some children playing round the fountain; among them, a
beautiful boy of six, with the darkest curling hair, and large, dark,
impressive eyes. The child was lovely as an angel. "Do you know,
children," I asked, "who that man is there on the fountain?" "Yes, we
know," said they, "it is Pasquale Paoli." The children asked me what
country I came from; and when I told them to guess, they guessed all the
countries, and at last Egypt, but they knew nothing of Germany. Since
then, they follow me wherever I go; I cannot get rid of them. They sing
me songs, and bring me coral-dust, and painted shells from the shore.
I find them everywhere; and they bring their companions to see me,
so that, like the Piper of Hameln,[A] I draw crowds of children after
me, and they accompany me even into the sea. Earth-shaking Neptune is
friendly, and the blue-footed Nereids approve, and the dolphins play
close by, among the crystal waves.

This is a place where one may well be a child among children. The sense
of remoteness and seclusion one has here, on the shore and in the woods,
soothes and strengthens. The little town lies still as a dream. The
little flat-roofed houses with their green jalousies, the two snow-white
towers of the little church—everything has a miniature look, and an air
of privacy and retirement. In the sea stand the three red cliffs; an
ancient tower keeps watch over them, and tells in the silent evening old
stories of the Saracens; swifts and blue wild pigeons circle round it. I
ascended these rocks in the evening; they are connected with the land by
a dike. A grotto difficult of access, and open to the sea, penetrates on
one side the rugged cliff. Not far off a new mole is being built; French
workmen were occupied in elevating huge cubical masses of cemented stone
by machinery, and then launching them into the waves.

The evening landscape is very beautiful, from the Red Islands. To
the right, the sea and the whole peninsula of Cape Corso veiled in
haze; to the left, running out into the gulf, a red tongue of land;
in the foreground the little city, fishing-skiffs, and one or two
sailing-vessels in the harbour. In the background three glorious
hills—Monte di Santa Angiola, Santa Susanna, and the rugged Monte
Feliceto; on their slopes olive-groves and numerous black villages. Here
and there glow the fires of the goat-herds.

Nowhere can people lead a more patriarchal and peaceable life than do
the inhabitants of Isola Rossa. The land yields its produce, and the sea
too. They have enough. In the evening they sit and gossip on the mole,
or they angle in the still water, or wander in the olive-groves and
orange-gardens. Through the day the fisherman prepares his nets, and the
handicraftsman sits plying his work under the mulberry-tree before his
door. Here should be no lack of song and guitar. I had made myself at
home in a little coffeehouse. The young hostess could sing beautifully;
at my wish a little company assembled in the evening, and I had twanging
of guitars and charming Corsican songs to my heart's content.

The children who followed me sang me songs too, the Marseillaise, the
Girondist's March, and Bertram's Parting, the last with new words in
honour of the President of France, the refrain always closing with _Vive
Louis Napoléon!_ Little Camillo could sing the Marseillaise best.

We looked for shells on the beach. There are as many of them as you
can desire opposite the little nunnery which stands in the garden by
the sea, and in which the Sisters of the Madonna alle Grazie live. The
Madonna-Sisters have an enchanting view of sea and hill from their
villa; and perhaps some of them have dreams of their lost romance
of life and love, when the golden sickle of the moon is shining so
beautifully above Monte Reparata as it is now. The strand is, as far
as you can see, snow-white, broidered with coral-dust and the most
exquisite shells. Little Camillo was indefatigable in picking up what he
thought would please me. He was fondest, however, of the little living
_leppere_—mussels which suck themselves fast to stones. These he brought
out of the water, and forthwith consumed with great gusto, wondering
that I would not share his feast. In the evening we bathed together,
and swam through the phosphorescent waves amid a million sparks.

Beautiful child-world! It is good sometimes when its voices begin again
to speak. The people of Isola Rossa will not let me leave them. They
have taken it into their heads that I am a rich baron, and propose that
I should buy an estate beside them. To lose one's-self here might be
worth while.

"Yes, the Vendetta is our ruin!" said a citizen of the Red Islands
to me. "Do you see the little mercato, our market-hall yonder, with
its white pillars? Last year a citizen was walking up and down there;
suddenly a shot was fired, and the man fell dead! In broad daylight
Massoni had come into the town, had put a bullet into the breast of his
foe yonder in the mercato, and away he was again into the hills; and
that all in broad daylight!"

There is the house where Paoli was surprised, when the famous Dumouriez
made his plot to capture him. And here landed, for the last time,
Theodore von Neuhoff, King of the Corsicans, only to put out again to
sea—for he had dreamed his dream of royalty to an end.

I went one day with an Alsatian of the tenth regiment, which is at
present distributed over Corsica, to Monte Santa Reparata, and the paese
of the same name. It is difficult to paint in words the picture of such
a Corsican village among the hills. The reader will come nearest to it
if he imagines rows of blackish towers, divided longitudinally so as
properly to be only half towers, and furnished with windows, doors, and
loop-holes. The houses are constructed of granite stones, often totally
undressed, generally only covered with a coating of clay, from which
sometimes plants grow. Very narrow and steep stairs of stone lead up
to the door. The mountain Corsicans probably inhabited the same sort
of dwellings in the times of the Etruscans and Carthaginians. I found
everywhere poverty and a want of cleanliness; swine housing with the
human inmates in cavernous little rooms, into which the light fell
through the door. These poor people live high up on the mountains, in an
ocean of air and light, and yet their abodes are those of troglodytes.
I saw a pale young woman issue from one of these dens with a child in
her arms, and asked her if she had ever felt herself well, since she
lived constantly in the dark. She stared at me, and laughed.

In another house, I found a mother putting her three children to bed.
All three stood naked on the clay floor, and looked sickly and wasted.
The beds on which the poor things slept were very wretched little nests.
These stout-hearted mountaineers are nurtured in poverty and misery.
They are at once huntsmen, herdsmen, and husbandmen. Their sole wealth
is the olive, the oil of which they sell in the towns. But not every
one is rich in olives. Here, therefore, life is rendered miserable, not
by the evils of civilisation, but by those of a primitive condition on
which no advance has been made.

I went into the church, the black façade of which attracted me. The
white spire is new. The steeples of the Corsican churches are not
pointed, but end in a belfry, with a pierced, curving roof. The interior
of the church had a gallery and a great altar, a singularly uncouth
affair of whitened stone, with most extravagant decorations. Above
the altar stood the inscription in Latin: "Holy Reparata, pray for thy
people;" _populus_—it sounds antique and democratic. Some rude attempts
at painting were meant to adorn the walls, and there were niches with
half-projecting columns on each side, their capitals Corinthian, or
entirely fanciful. An interdict lies at present on the Church of the
Holy Reparata, and there is no mass read in it. On the death of their
priest, the people refused to accept of the successor sent by the Bishop
of Ajaccio. They split into two parties, and the feud became bloody.
The interdict which was in consequence laid upon the church, has not
yet settled the dispute.

I passed through the narrow and dirty lanes of the village to the edge
of the valley, from which there is an extensive view of the range of
hills enclosing the Balagna. Many brown villages lie along the circle
of the hills, and many olive-woods. The arid rocks contrast powerfully
with the green of the gardens and groves. The Corsican who guided me
to this point, stuttered, and had erysipelas in his face; I believe
he was half-witted. I made him name to me the villages in the dale of
the Balagna. He told me, in a thick gurgling tone of voice, a great
deal that I only half understood, but I understood very well what he
meant when he pointed to more than one place, and gurgled: _Ammazzato,
ammazzato col colpo di fucile_,—he was showing me the spots among
the rocks where human blood had been shed. I shuddered, and left his
disagreeable company as speedily as possible. I returned through the
paese of Oggilione, descending by narrow shepherds' paths through
olive-groves. Armed Corsicans came riding up on little horses, which
clambered nimbly from rock to rock. Evening fell, and the desolate
Monte Feliceto lay bathed in softest colours; a bell among the hills
tinkled the Ave Maria, and a goat-herd on a slope blew his horn. All
this harmonized beautifully; and by the time I reached Isola Rossa, my
mood was once more idyllic.

The contrasts here are frightfully abrupt—child-life, shepherd-life,
and blood-red murder.



     "Ed il modo ancor m'offende."—_Francesca di Rimini._

I had become acquainted in Bastia with a gentleman of Balagna, Signor
Mutius Malaspina. He is a descendant of the Tuscan Malaspinas,
who governed Corsica in the eleventh century. Through his wife he
became connected with the Paoli family, for Vittoria Malaspina was a
great-granddaughter of Hyacinth Paoli, and descended from the renowned
Clemens. Her father, Giovanni Pietri, Councillor of State, is one of
the most meritorious public men in Corsica, and universally beloved.

Signor Malaspina had offered me hospitality in his house at Monticello,
a paese in the hills a few miles above Isola Rossa, and I had gladly
consented to be a guest in a house where Pasquale had once lived, and
from which he has dated so many of his letters. Malaspina gave me a
letter to present at his house, which, he said, I should not fail to
find open, even though he himself might not have yet returned.

I had accordingly come to Isola Rossa with the intention of going up
to Monticello, and spending some days there. I learned, however, on
my journey, what I had been totally ignorant of, and what Malaspina
had concealed from me—the fearful misfortune, namely, which, less than
three years previously, had there befallen his family; so that I now
did not know which to be most astonished at, the unparalleled nature of
the catastrophe, or the character of the Corsican, who, notwithstanding
what had happened, offered hospitality to an unknown stranger. I could
no longer prevail upon myself to accept of it in a house where it had
been murdered, but I went up to Monticello, to honour misfortune with
human sympathy.

The house of the Malaspina family lies at the entrance of the paese,
on the plateau of a rock hung with verdure; it is a large old mansion
of the earliest times, stern, strong, and castle-like. Dark cypresses
mourn round its terraces. Even from a distance they announce to the
wanderer the tragedy that was enacted beside them. A neglected little
esplanade lies at the entrance of the house. There is a little chapel
on it encircled by young plane-trees; it covers the family burial-vault.

Passing under the arched doorway of the mansion, I ascended a narrow and
gloomy stone staircase, and looked round for the inhabitants. The house
seemed utterly forsaken and desolate. I walked through large dreary
rooms, which the genius of comfort had deserted. At length I found the
housekeeper, an old lady in mourning, and along with her, a girl eight
years old, the youngest daughter. It cost me a great deal of trouble to
gain any approach to a welcome from the ancient dame, but she gradually
laid aside her distrust.

I put no questions. But the little Felicina asked me of her own accord
to come and see her mother's room, and in her innocence said a great
deal more than enough.

The old Marcantonia sat down beside me, and told me the story; and what
she related I shall faithfully repeat, withholding only the unhappy
man's surname, and the name of his native city.

"In the summer of 1849, a great many Italians fled their country, and
came over to Corsica. There was one among them whom the authorities
were going to send back, but Signor Pietri, who is kind to everybody,
so managed matters that he was allowed to stay, and he took him into his
own house in Isola Rossa. The stranger—his name was Giustiniano, stayed
a month with Signor Pietri down there in Isola Rossa, and as at the
end of that time the Signor had to go to Ajaccio to the council, Signor
Mutius and Signora Vittoria brought Giustiniano up here. He had every
kind of enjoyment with us that he could desire, horses and hunting, a
good table, and plenty of company. The Italian was very pleasant and
very affable, but he was melancholy, because he had to live in a foreign
country. Every one liked the Signora Vittoria, and most of all, the
poor; she was an angel."

"Was she beautiful?"

"She had a delicate complexion, still blacker hair than Felicina,
and wonderfully beautiful hands and feet. She was large and full. The
Italian, instead of finding himself happy in our house, where he enjoyed
the most kind and friendly treatment possible, grew more melancholy
every day. He began to speak little and to eat little, and looked as
pale as death. He wandered about for hours among the hills, and often
sat as if oppressed with some great grief, without saying a word."

"Did he never make any disclosure of his love to the Signora?"

"He once followed her into her room, but she made him instantly quit
it, and told the servant to say nothing of the affair to her master.
Some days before the 20th of December—it is almost three years ago
now—Giustiniano began to look so wretched, that we believed he would
become seriously ill. We talked of his going to Bastia, for the sake
of the change, and he himself had expressed a wish to do so. There
were three days during which he did not eat a morsel. One morning,
when I brought him his coffee as usual, I found his door locked. I came
again after a while, and called him by name. He opened the door. I was
terrified to see how he looked. I asked him, 'Signor, what ails you?'
He laid his hand on my shoulder, as I now lay mine on yours, and said
to me: 'Ah! Marcantonietta, if you knew how sore my heart is!' He did
not say another word. I saw a pistol lying on his table, and powder
in a paper, and bullets. He had made Felicina's elder sister fetch
them for him from the bottega, the evening before. He now said he was
going back to Bastia, to take ship there for another country. He took
farewell of us all, and rode away down towards Isola Rossa. It was the
20th of December. On the morning of that day, the Signora Vittoria had
said to me: 'I had a bad dream last night; I thought my sick _compare_
(godmother, gossip) was dying. I will go and see her to-day, and take a
cordial with me.' For that was her way. She often visited sick people,
and took them wine, oil, or fruits."

Here Marcantonia wept bitterly.

"Signor Malaspina had gone off to Speloncato; I was out, there was
nobody in the house but the sick Madamigella Matilde—she was a relative
of the Signora—the youngest children, and a maid-servant. It was the
afternoon. As I was returning home, I heard a shot. I thought there were
huntsmen in the hills, or that some one was blasting rocks. But soon
after, I heard a second shot, and it seemed to come from the house. I
was trembling in every limb when I entered the house; and, in terrible
anxiety, I asked the girl, where is the Signora? She was trembling too,
and she said: 'Ah, _Dio mio!_ She is up stairs in her room changing her
dress, for she is going to see the sick woman.' Run, I said, and see
after her."

"The girl came rushing down stairs again as pale as a corpse. 'Something
must have happened,' said she, 'for the Signora's door is standing
wide open, and everything in the room is tumbled up and down, and the
stranger's door is locked.' I ran up with the girl, and Felicina and her
sister—it was frightful to see my poor Signora's room—the Italian's door
was fastened. We knocked, we called, at last we tore the door off its
hinges—there, Signor, we saw before us!—but I shall tell you no more."

No, not a word more, Marcantonia! I rose, thrilled and shocked, and went
out. The little Felicina and the housekeeper followed me. They led me
to the little chapel. The child and the old woman kneeled down before
the altar, and prayed. I took a myrtle twig from the altar, and threw
it on the spot beneath which Vittoria lies buried. And sadly I wandered
down towards Isola Rossa.

One can hardly grasp in thought the enormity of such a deed, much less
prevail on one's-self to talk of it. Giustiniano had suddenly returned
after leaving Monticello, and secretly gone up stairs; his room,
and that of Vittoria, were on the same flat, separated by a passage.
Giustiniano rushed in on her, armed with a pistol and a dagger. He
wrestled fearfully with the powerful woman. He threw her on the floor,
he dragged her into his room;—she was already dying, pierced with his
dagger-thrusts. Her beautiful hair was found strewed about the floor,
and the room all disordered with the struggle. Giustiniano threw the
unhappy lady on his bed—he shot her with a pistol through the temples—he
took her rings from her fingers, and put them on his own—then he lay
down by her side, and blew out his brains.

So they were found by old Marcantonia, and poor little Felicina, then
a child of five; weeping, she cried: "That is my mother's blood"—a
fearful sight, a horrid catastrophe, to be impressed for life on a
child's soul. The people of Monticello wanted to tear Giustiniano limb
from limb. Malaspina, who had returned without the least misgiving from
Speloncato, prevented this. The body was interred among the rocks of
Mount Monticello. Vittoria was thirty-six years old, and the mother of
six children. Giustiniano had scarcely reached his twenty-fifth year.

I found Mutius Malaspina a plain and unpretending man, with iron
features and an iron composure. I should have refrained from telling the
tragic story here, were it not that it is already in every one's mouth,
and even published in a little book printed in Bastia, which contains
also sonnets on Vittoria. The memory of Vittoria Malaspina will endure
while the island lasts. When centuries have passed, the melancholy fate
of the noble woman, which I learned from the mouth of a member of the
family in the house itself, will have become a popular tradition. Even
when I was at Monticello, I could see how quickly real events, in the
mouths of the people, began to assume something of the mythical. The
same old housekeeper informed me, that the ghost of poor Vittoria had
appeared to a sick woman in the paese. And soon the report will spread,
too, that her murderer rises nightly from his tomb among the rocks,
pale and restless as when in life, and glides towards the house where
he perpetrated the dreadful deed.

Disposed to take a very gloomy view of human nature, I descended the
hills, musing on the narrow boundary at which love, the noblest of all
passions, becomes a criminal and terrific madness, if it passes it by a
hair's-breadth. How closely in the human soul the divine borders on the
devilish! and how comes it that the same feeling supplies the material
for both? I saw neither the hills nor the serene sea; I cursed all
Corsica, and wished I had never set foot on its bloody soil. Suddenly
the beautiful child Camillo came leaping to my side. The little fellow
had followed me over stock and stone up the hills. He now came towards
me, holding out a handful of bramble-berries that he had plucked, and
with bright friendly eyes asked me to take some. The sight of the
innocent child brought back my good humour. It seemed as if he had
thrown himself in my way, to show me how beautiful and innocent man
leaves the hands of Nature. Camillo ran along by my side, bounding from
stone to stone, till all at once he said: "I am tired; I want to sit
a little." He sat down on a fragment of rock. I thought I had never
seen a more beautiful child. When I said this to his elder brother,
he answered: "Yes, everybody likes Camilluccio; in the procession of
Corpus Domini he was an angel, and had a snow-white robe on, and a
great palm-branch in his hand." I looked with delight upon the boy as he
sat upon the rock, gazing silently from his large eyes, the beautiful
raven curls hanging wild about his face. His little dress was torn;
for his parents were poor. All at once he began unasked to sing the

     "Allons enfans de la patrie...
     Contre nous de la tyrannie
     L'étendard sanglant est levé."

It was strange to hear the Marseillaise from the mouth of so lovely a
child, and to see the grave face with which he sang. But how historical
this bloody song sounds in the mouth of a Corsican boy! As little
Camillo sang—"Tyranny has raised its bloody flag against us!" I thought,
Poor child! Heaven guard you, and grant that you do not fall some day
yet from the bullet of the Vendetta, nor wander as avenger in the hills.

As we approached Isola Rossa, we were alarmed by a red glow, as of
flame, in the little town. I hastened on, believing fire had broken out.
It proved to be a bonfire. The children, girls and boys, had kindled a
huge bonfire on the Paoli Place, had joined hands and were dancing round
about it in a ring, laughing and singing. They sang numberless little
couplets of their own composition, some of which I still remember:—

     Amo un presidente,             I love a president—
     Sta in letto senza dente.      He lies in bed, and has no teeth.

     Amo un ufficiale,              I love an officer—
     Sta in letto senza male.       He lies in bed, and nothing ails

     Amo un pastore,                I love a herdsman—
     Sta in letto senza amore.      He lies in bed, and has nothing to

     Amo un cameriere,              I love a valet—
     Sta in letto senza bere.       He lies in bed, and has nothing to

The youngsters seemed to have an exhaustless store of these little
verses, and kept singing and swinging round the fire as if they would
never stop. The melody was charming, _naïve_, childlike. I was so
pleased with this extemporized child's festival, that in honour of it I
improvised one or two couplets myself, whereupon the little folks burst
into such uproarious shouts of merriment, as made all Isola Rossa ring

On the following day, I drove in a _char-à-banc_ to Calvi. Little
Camillo was standing beside the vehicle as I stepped into it, and said
sorrowfully: _Non me piace che tu ci abbandoni_—I'm not pleased that
you're going to leave us. The wanderer fills his note-book with sketches
of mountain, stream, and town, records deeds honourable and vile, why
not for once preserve the picture of a beautiful child? When long years
have elapsed, the face still returns upon our inward vision, and haunts
the memory like a lovely song.



My vetturino was not long in informing me that I had the honour of
travelling in an extraordinary vehicle. "For," said he, "in this
same _char-à-banc_ I drove last year the three great bandits—Arrighi,
Massoni, and Xaver. They came up to me as I was driving along, all armed
to the teeth, and ordered me to take them to Calvi. I did so without
saying a word, and after that they let me turn back unharmed. Now they
are all dead."

The road from Isola Rossa to Calvi keeps constantly by the coast. The
ruins of many villages, destroyed by the Saracens, are visible on the
hills. Above Monticello lie the ruins of a castle which belonged to the
famous Giudice della Rocca, the lieutenant of the Pisans. This righteous
judge of his people still lives in the memory of the Corsicans. He
was just, they tell, even towards the brutes. One day he heard an
unusual bleating among the lambs of a flock in the Balagna; he asked
the shepherd what ailed them, and the man confessed that they were
bleating for hunger, as the milk had been taken from their dams. Giudice
thereupon ordered that the sheep should henceforth not be milked till
the lambs were satisfied.

The first town I passed was Algajola, a seaport of considerable
antiquity, but with only two hundred inhabitants. Lying in ruins, as
the bombs of the English left it sixty years ago, it bears mournful and
striking testimony to the present state of Corsica. Even the inhabited
houses resemble black ruins. A friendly old man, whom the wars of
Napoleon had at one time taken as far as Berlin, showed me what was
remarkable in Algajola, pointing out to me a great heap of stones as
the _Palazzo della Communità_. In the time of the Genoese, Algajola
was the central point of the Balagna; and as it was so situated that
the inhabitants of every village in the province could travel to it and
return home the same day, the Genoese fortified it, and raised it to a
residency of one of their lieutenants of the island.

But the most notable thing about the little town is its story of two
faithful lovers, Chiarina and Tamante. The French had condemned Tamante
to death; but his true-love armed herself, and with the aid of her
friends rescued him from execution. The noble deeds that spring from
faithful love are everywhere honoured by the people, and become immortal
in their traditions; the story of Chiarina and Tamante is popular over
the whole of Italy, and I have found it selling as a cheap pamphlet in
the streets of Rome.

On the shore near Algajola there is a quarry of singularly beautiful
blue granite. I saw a pillar there which would do honour to an Indian
or Egyptian temple. It is sixty feet in length, and twelve feet in
diameter. It has been lying for years neglected on the field, exposed
to the injuries of the weather, and noticed at most by the passing
traveller, or the eagle that alights on it. Originally intended for a
monument to Napoleon in Ajaccio, it was never removed from the quarry,
as the necessary sum could not be raised for its transport. It will
probably now be conveyed to Paris. The enormous block which supports
the Vendôme pillar in Paris is also of this same exquisite granite of
Algajola. With what just pride, therefore, may the Corsican stand before
that pillar of Austerlitz, and tell the French: "My country produced
both the great man up yonder, and the glorious granite on which he

By and bye I reached Lumio, a high-lying village, whose black-brown,
tower-like houses it had been at a distance totally impossible to
distinguish from the rocks. Green jalousies marked here and there the
house of a man of some means. Descendants of the ancient seigniors still
live in all these villages; and men of the proudest names, and endless
pedigree, live in the gloomy paeses of Corsica among the common people,
and mix in their society. Nowhere in the world, perhaps, is so much
democratic equality in social life to be found as in this island, where
distinctions of rank are hardly ever visible, and the peasant conducts
himself before the noble with the upright bearing of an independent man,
as I have often myself seen. Above Calvi, in this region, lives Peter
Napoleon, Lucian's son—at the time I was in Corsica the only Bonaparte
resident on the native island of the family. The Balagnese are fond of
him; they say he is a good hunter, associates freely with the shepherds,
and has not forgotten that his forefathers belonged to the Corsicans.
The election of Louis Napoleon of course filled the Corsican people
with pride and exultation. I found the portrait of this man everywhere
throughout the island, and heard his energy praised as Corsican
energy. Men of more insight, however, did not allow their patriotism to
carry them so far; and I heard Corsicans express the opinion that the
Napoleons were tyrants, and the _last_ oppressors of liberty.

Lumio has many orange-orchards, and such an astonishing quantity of
cactus-hedges as I found nowhere else, except at Calvi. The cactus has
here the size and stem of a tree. The view of the valley and gulf of
Calvi from the mountains of Lumio is very beautiful. Calvi lies on a
tongue of land at the foot of the hills of Calenzana. With its dark
flat houses, two cupolas rising high above them, and the walls of the
fort, which stands at the extreme end of the little peninsula, it has
a striking resemblance to a Moorish city.

Calvi is the leading town of the smallest of the arrondissements of
Corsica. This arrondissement contains six cantons, thirty-four communes,
and about 25,000 inhabitants, and extends over almost the entire
north-west of the island, mountains and coast. Not one half of it is
under cultivation, for the whole district of coast from Galeria lies
completely waste. The Balagna alone is well cultivated, and it has also
the larger proportion of the population.

The little city of Calvi, containing at present about 1680 inhabitants,
owes its origin to Giovaninello, lord of Nebbio, the bitter enemy of
Giudice della Rocca, and an adherent of Genoa. The town, therefore,
became subject to Genoa, and it remained constantly true to the
Republic. Like the Bonifazians, the Calvese were allowed important
privileges. In the time of Filippini, Calvi contained four hundred
hearths; and he terms it one of the principal cities of Corsica for
two reasons—its antiquity, and the handsomeness of the houses, as he
adds, "in comparison with those of the interior." The Bank of Genoa,
he says, built the fortress; and, according to some, its erection cost
1850 scudi.

Calvi lies on the tongue of land which terminates one of the ranges of
hills that encircle the extensive basin round the gulf. These hills
are bare, and consist of granite and porphyry. They form an imposing
amphitheatre. Olives and vines thrive on their slopes, and their base
is covered with yew, and shrubbery of myrtle, albatro, and tinus, the
blossoms of which supply the bees with honey. From this arises the
bitterness of the Corsican honey, to which allusion is made by Ovid
and Virgil. Calenzana particularly abounds in honey. A stream flows
through the valley of these hills, and forms in the neighbourhood of
Calvi a marsh, the exhalations of which are dangerous. This marsh has
the name of _La Vigna del Vescovo_—the Bishop's Vineyard—and its origin
is connected with one of those significant popular traditions which so
much amuse the traveller in Corsica.



The miasma of the marsh made the Borgo of Calvi—the little
suburb—unhealthy. More salubrious is the air of the fortress above,
which encloses the city proper. I ascended to this old Genoese
citadel—the strongest fortification in Corsica next to Bonifazio. Above
the gate, I read these words—_Civitas Calvis semper fidelis_. Calvi was
unfailingly true to the Genoese. Fidelity is always beautiful when it
is not slavish, and Calvi was in fact a Genoese colony. The proverbial
fidelity of Calvi, as expressed in the motto over its gate, has become
in more than one sense historical. When the republican General,
Casabianca, after the heroic defence of Calvi against the English,
was obliged to capitulate in the year 1794, one of the stipulations of
surrender was, that the old inscription above mentioned should remain
untouched. This condition was honourably fulfilled, as the inscription
itself still testifies.

There is only one point in regard to which Genoa and the "ever-faithful"
Calvi are at feud. For the Calvese affirm that Columbus was a
fellow-countryman of theirs. They say that his family, admittedly
Genoese, had at an early period settled in Calvi. A very earnest contest
was in fact for some time maintained about this question of birth,
as formerly the seven cities disputed about the cradle of Homer. It
is affirmed that Genoa suppressed the family register of the Colombos
of Calvi, and changed the name of one of the streets of the town, the
Colombo Street, into the street _Del Filo_. I find it also recorded that
inhabitants of Calvi were the first Corsicans who sailed to America.
I am informed further, that the name Colombo still exists in Calvi.
Corsican authors even of the present day claim the great discoverer as
their fellow-countryman; and Napoleon, during his residence in Elba,
proposed instituting historical researches in regard to this point.
We shall forbear attempting to settle it; Columbus in his will calls
himself a native Genoese. The world might become envious if it were
established that fate had bestowed upon the little Corsica the man who
was greater even than Napoleon.

Valiant men enough do honour to Calvi; and when we look at this little
town within the fortress, and see that it is nothing but the heap of
black and shattered ruins to which the bombs of the English reduced it,
we read in its chronicle of desolation the history of departed heroes.
Very strange is the aspect of a city, which, shattered by a bombardment
almost a century ago, remains still at the present day in ruins. The
clock of time seems here in Corsica to have stood still. An iron hand
has maintained its grasp upon the past—upon the old popular customs—the
dirges of the Etruscans, the family feuds of the Middle Ages, the
barbarism of the Vendetta, the ancient, simple modes of life, and the
ancient heroism; and as the people live in cities that have become
gray in ruin, they live socially, in a state that, for the cultivated
nations, is hoary tradition.

In the principal church of Calvi, whose Moorish cupola is pierced by
the balls of the English, they show the tomb of a family that bears the
dearest, the most precious of all names—the name Libertà—Freedom! It is
the old heroic family of the Baglioni which has this title. In the year
1400, when certain aristocrats in Calvi had made themselves tyrants of
the town, and were on the point of putting the city into the hands of
the Arragonese, a young man named Baglioni arose, and suddenly, with his
friends, attacked the two tyrants in the citadel, as once Pelopidas fell
upon the tyrants of Thebes, put them to the sword, and called the people
to freedom. From that call—Libertà! Libertà!—came the surname which his
grateful fellow-citizens immediately gave him, and which his family
has ever since borne. The three heroic brothers, Piero, Antonio, and
Bartolommeo Libertà, were descendants of Baglioni. They had emigrated
to Marseilles. This city was in the hands of the League, and, though
left alone, continued to defy Henry IV. after he had entered Paris, and
received the submission of the House of Guise. Casaux, the consul of the
League, was the tyrant of Marseilles; he had determined to surrender
the town to the Spanish fleet, which was commanded by the celebrated
Andreas Doria. Piero Libertà, with his brothers and other bold men of
Marseilles, conspired to rescue the city. Piero collected them in his
house, and, when they had matured their plan, they proceeded daringly
to its instant execution. They burst into the citadel of Marseilles,
and, with his own hand, Piero Libertà sent a lance through the throat of
the consul Casaux. When he had either slain or disarmed all the guards,
he shut the doors of the castle, and, with the bloody sword in his
hand, he ran through the city, shouting, "Libertà! Libertà!" The people
rose at his call, ran to arms, stormed the towers and fortifications
of Marseilles, and freed the city. Immediately the Duke of Guise took
possession of Marseilles in the name of Henry IV., and he dated from the
Camp of Rosny, the 6th March 1596, a memorial eulogizing Piero Libertà.
He made him supreme judge of Marseilles, captain of the Porta Reale,
governor of _Nostra Donna della Guardia_, and heaped upon him other
honours besides. This happened at the same time that another Corsican,
Alfonso Ornano, the son of Sampiero, won Lyons for the King of France,
on which occasion Henry IV. called out: "Now am I king."

Piero Libertà died not many years after the deliverance of Marseilles.
The town buried him in state, and placed his statue in the City
Hall. These words were engraven on the pedestal of the statue: _Petro
Libertæ Libertatis assertori, heroi, malorum averrunco, pacis civiumque
restauratori, &c._

The reproductive power that characterizes the Corsican families is truly
remarkable. Any one who has directed attention to the history of this
nation will have found, that almost universally the abilities of the
father descend to the son and the son's sons.

It is not with a light heart that I now pass from the tomb of the family
of Libertà, to that field of Calenzana, where lie graves of Schiavitù—of
Slavery. They are the graves of five hundred brave Germans, sons of my
fatherland, who were bought and sold, and who fell there at Calenzana.

I have told how it was in the history of the Corsicans. The Emperor
Charles VI. had sold a corps of German auxiliaries to the Genoese,
and the Genoese despatched them to Corsica. On the 2d of February
1732, the Corsicans under their general, Ceccaldi, attacked the German
troops at Calenzana; these latter were commanded by Camillo Doria
and Des Devins. After a fearful struggle the imperial troops were
beaten, and five hundred Germans lay dead on the field of Calenzana.
The Corsicans buried the strangers who had come to fight against the
liberties of their country, on the beautiful mountain-slope between
Calvi and Calenzana. Beneath a foreign soil rest there the bones of my
unhappy countrymen. Rocks of dark, blood-tinged porphyry stand near.
Myrtles and flowering herbs crown the graves. And still every year at
the Festival of All-Souls, the clergy of Calenzana visit these graves
of their foes—_Camposanto dei Tedeschi_, as people call the field of
Calenzana; and sprinkle with consecrated water the ground where the poor
mercenaries fell. Such is the vengeance the Corsican takes upon the foes
who come to assassinate his independence! I feel as if on me—one of the
few Germans who have ever stood upon the graves of the mercenaries of
Calenzana, and probably the only German who has thus made public mention
of them—devolved the duty of thanking, in the name of my country, the
noble Corsican people for their generous sympathy and wide-hearted

The Corsicans gave my countrymen a grave; I will write their epitaph:—

     We came, five hundred luckless mercenaries,
     Sold by the Emperor to Genoa,
     To crush the freedom of the Corsicans—
     We came, and paid the penalty in blood;
     We expiate the crime in foreign graves.
     Call us not guilty, give us tender pity,
     The foeman's soil a pitying shelter lends.
     Despise not, wanderer, children of a time
     So dark; ye who now live, wipe off the stain!

Those were in truth dark times when our fathers were sold like a
brutish herd, and sent to Corsica, it might be, or to America. But
Pasquale Paoli arose here—in the other hemisphere Washington; and
beyond the Rhine, the rights of man became clamorous. The reproach of
these old times was wiped away, and with the rest of it, the reproach
of Calenzana; for the children of those who lie here in slavish graves
fought for wife and child and the independence of their country, fought
for European freedom, and vanquished the Corsican despot.

The sun is setting; it throws its splendours on the gulf, and the
rocky hills of Calenzana are all a-glow. How magical is this southern
haze of distance, and how delicate the tones of the colouring! All
transition has a profound effect upon the human soul. On the boundary
line where the transition is made from Being to non-existence, or from
non-existence to Being, lies the fairest and deepest poesy of life. It
is not otherwise in history. Its most wonderful phenomena invariably
occur on the boundary where two different periods of culture touch, and
pass the one into the other; as in Nature, the seasons of the year and
the times of the day exhibit the most glorious phenomena when they are
merging into one another. I believe it is the same with the history of
the individual. Here too, the transitions from one period to another,
from one phase of culture to another, are full of enchantment, and more
fruitful than all other periods, for it is in them alone that the germs
of poetry and productive power are developed.

There is a world-forsaken loneliness about Calvi which is almost
fabulous. No movement on the still mirror of the gulf—no ship on all
those miles of sea—no bird cleaving the air—the black tower rising
yonder on the snow-white strand like a dark shape in a dream. But here
sits an eagle, a magnificent creature, resting with a grave majesty—now
he takes flight, and with mighty strokes of his pinions makes for the
hills. He is satiated with blood.—There I have started a fox, the first
I have met with in Corsica, where these animals attain an astonishing
size, and, like wolves, commit depredations among the sheep. He was
sitting much at his ease upon the shore, apparently enjoying the
rose-red of the waves, and quite lost in the contemplation of nature,
for he was in such a brown study that I got within five paces of him.
Suddenly Master Reynard jumped up, and as the strand was narrow I had
the pleasure of stopping his way, and making him lose his composure
for a minute or two. Hereupon he doubled cunningly, turned the enemy's
flank, and ran merrily away into the hills. He is very well off in
Corsica, where the beasts make him their king, as there are no wolves.

After dark, I stepped into a boat, and rowed about in the gulf. What
a glorious night-picture! The sky of Italy set with sparkling stars—a
magic transparency in the atmosphere—away at the extremity of the
headland a flashing beacon—lights in the castle of Calvi—one or two
sleeping ships on the water—herdsmen's fires on the dark hills above—the
waves phosphorescing round the boat, and the drops sparkling as they
fall from the oars—in the deep stillness the sounds of a mandoline borne
from the shore.



The poetry of this evening was not yet exhausted. I had scarcely fallen
asleep in my little locanda, when the twanging of citherns, and the
sounds of voices singing in parts, awakened me. They played and sang
for at least an hour before the house. It was meant for a young girl
who was one of its inmates. They sang first a serenade, then Voceros or
dirges. Singular, that a young girl should be serenaded with dirges; and
the proper serenade itself with which they commenced was as mournful
as a Vocero. It is impossible to tell how overpoweringly touching is
the solemn melancholy of this music in the stillness of the night; the
tones are so wailing, so monotonous, and long drawn out. The first voice
sang solo, then the second joined, and the third, and at last the whole
band. They sang _in recitativo_, as they sing in Italy the ritornello.
In the ritornello too, sentiments not meant to be melancholy are sung
in an almost plaintive strain; but when this in itself melancholy kind
of music is applied to the Vocero, the whole soul is thrilled with
sadness. I had heard night-singing in other parts of Corsica, but none
of such a powerful and solemn character as this; I shall never forget
the dirges of that night in Calvi. Often yet I hear their echo; and one
word particularly, _speranza_, becomes frequently audible to me in the
plaintive tones in which it was sung.

In the morning I wandered accidentally into the shop of an old
shoemaker, who proved to be the cithern-player of the previous night.
At my request he readily brought out his instrument. The Corsican
_cetera_ has sixteen sides; it has almost the form of the mandoline;
but is larger, and has the sounding-board not quite round, but
somewhat flattened. The strings are struck with a little, flat, pointed
ram's-horn. I found here, therefore, the universal experience confirmed,
that shoemakers as a class are thoughtful, musical, and poetical. This
Hans Sachs of Calvi readily got an assemblage of the best singers
together. Shoes and lasts were thrown into a corner, and the little
company collected in a room behind the shop, the window of which looked
out upon the gulf through a profusion of flowers and creeping plants;
the singers drew their seats together, their leader took his cithern,
and opened in rich full tones. But let me mention who the singers
were. There was first of all the old shoemaker as _maestro_; then there
was his young apprentice, who learnt from him music and boot-making;
then a well-dressed young man of the legal profession; and finally a
silver-haired old man of seventy-four. Old as he was, he sang right
heartily, though not perhaps with all the vigour of his youth; as the
notes of the Corsican Voceros are very long, the amiable old fellow
sometimes lost breath.

Now commenced a really beautiful concert. They sang whatever I wanted,
serenades and voceradi or laments, but generally laments, because the
originality and beauty of these charmed me most. One among the many
Voceros was upon the death of a soldier. The story was this. A young
man from the mountains has left his father, mother, and sister, and
gone to serve on the Continent. After many years he returns home an
officer. He ascends to his paese; none of his relations recognise him.
He confides the secret to his sister only, to her unspeakable joy.
He bids his father and mother, to whom he has not made himself known,
prepare for to-morrow a meal as sumptuous as they can—he will pay them
for it. In the evening he takes his gun, and goes out to shoot. He has
left a knapsack heavy with gold in his chamber. His father discovers
this, and determines to murder the stranger that same night. The horrid
deed is consummated. When morning has come, and noon has come, but still
not her brother, his sister inquires after the stranger; in the anguish
of her heart she tells her parents that he is her brother. They rush
into the room, father, mother, and sister, and——there he lies in his
blood! Now follows the Lamento of the sister. The story is true; the
popular ballads of the Corsicans invariably deal with real events. The
shoemaker narrated the circumstances in most dramatic style, and the
silver-haired old man assisted him with the liveliest gestures; then
the first snatched up his cithern, and they sang the lamento.

These friendly minstrels, whom I told that I would translate their songs
into my native tongue, and that I would not forget them and the hours
I had spent with them, entreated me to stay yet this other evening in
Calvi, and they would spend the whole night in singing to me; but if I
was resolved on leaving, then I must go to Zilia, which, they said, had
the best singers in Corsica. "Ah!" said the shoemaker, "the best of them
all is dead. He sang as mellow as any bird, but he went to the hills
and became a bandit, and the country-people protected him long from the
officers, because he sang so beautifully; but they caught him at last,
and he lost his head in Corte."

Thus Calvi became an oasis of song to me in these quiet,
thinly-inhabited regions. I found it interesting, therefore, to remember
that two of the best Corsican poets had been natives of Calvi—Giovanni
Baptista Agnese, a writer of religious poetry born in the year 1611, and
Vincenzo Giubega, who died in the year 1800, at the age of thirty-nine,
as judge in Ajaccio. Giubega is not unjustly termed the Anacreon of
Corsica. I have read some beautiful love-poems and sonnets of his,
characterized by much grace and feeling.

Few of his songs survive; he burned most of them before his death.
As Sophocles says that memory is the queen of things, and because the
muse of poetry herself is a daughter of Mnemosyne, I shall mention here
another once world-renowned Corsican of Calvi—Giulio Giudi, in the year
1581 the wonder of Padua on account of his unfortunate memory. He could
repeat 36,000 names after once hearing them. People called him _Giudi
della gran memoria_. But he produced nothing; his memory had killed
all his creative faculty. Pico von Mirandola, who lived before him,
produced, but he died young. It is with the precious gift of memory as
with all other gifts—they are a curse of the gods, when they give too

I have already mentioned the name of Salvatore Viale. This author, a
native of Bastia, is the most productive poet the island can yet boast
of. One of his works is a comic poem called _La Dinomachia_, in the vein
of the _Secchia Rapita_ of Tassoni; and he has translated Anacreon,
and part of Byron. Byron in Corsica, therefore!—Viale has earned the
gratitude of his country by an unwearied scientific activity, and his
illustrations of the manners and customs of the Corsicans are highly
meritorious. Corsica has also a translator of Horace—Giuseppe Ottaviano
Savelli, a friend of Alfieri, of whom I have already spoken. I could
name many more Corsican poets, as, for example, Biadelli of Bastia, who
died in the year 1822, a writer of songs. But their poems will never
attain more than a Corsican celebrity. The most beautiful poetry of
Corsica is her popular poetry, and Grief is the greatest Corsican poet.



In order to understand the Corsican dirges, we must consider them in
their relation to the existent usages in connexion with death—usages
which date from a remote antiquity. Among a people with whom death
assumes, more than anywhere else, the character of a destroying
angel, whose bloody form is almost constantly before their eyes, it
is natural to expect that the dead should have a more striking cultus
than elsewhere. There is something mysterious and impressive in the
circumstance, that the finest poetry of the Corsicans is the poetry of
death, and that they hardly ever compose or sing except in the frenzy
of grief. Most of these strange flowers of their popular poetry have
their root in blood.

When a death has occurred, the relatives standing round the bed repeat
the prayers of the rosary; they then raise a loud wail (_grido_). The
corpse is now laid upon a table standing by the wall, called the _tola_.
The head, on which a cap is placed, rests on a pillow. To preserve the
natural appearance of the features, the head is bound with a cloth or
fillet, supporting the chin, and fastened beneath the cap. If it is a
young girl, she lies in a white shroud, and on her head is a wreath of
flowers; if it is a grown-up female, she usually wears a coloured dress;
that of aged women is black. A male corpse lies in a shroud and Phrygian
cap, resembling thus the Etruscan dead, as they may be seen, surrounded
with mourners, in representations contained in the Etrurian Museum of
the Vatican.

The friends watch and wail beside the tola often throughout the whole
night; and fire is always kept burning. But the principal lament
occurs early on the morning of the funeral, when the body is laid in
the coffin, and before the Brothers of Death come to lift the bier.
The friends and relatives come from the neighbouring villages to the
funeral. This assemblage is called the _corteo_, cortege, or procession,
or the _scirrata_—a word which looks like the German _schaar_, though
the origin cannot be accurately ascertained. A woman, always the poetess
of the dirge which she sings, leads a chorus of wailing females. They
say, therefore, in Corsica—_andare alla scirrata_, when the women go
in procession to the house where the dead body lies; if it is the body
of a man who has been killed, they say: _andare alla gridata_—to go
to the wailing, or, more strictly, the howling. When the women of the
chorus enter the house, they greet the widow, mother, or sister of the
dead, as the case may be, keeping head bended towards head for about
half a minute. Then a woman of the family invites the assembled females
to begin the lament. They form a circle, the _cerchio_ or _caracollo_,
about the tola, and move round the dead body howling, breaking the
circle, and again closing it, always with loud lamentation and gestures
of the wildest grief.

This pantomime is not the same in all parts of the country. In some
places it has become altogether obsolete, in others it has a milder
form; among the mountains, far in the interior, particularly in Niolo,
such usages exist in all their old pagan force, and resemble the
death-dances of Sardinia. Their dramatic animation and ecstatic fury
shock and horrify the spectator. They are all women who dance, wail, and
sing. Like Mænads, the hair dishevelled and flying about the breast,
eyes darting fire, their black mantles waving, they sway to and fro
and round the tola, shriek, strike their hands together, beat their
breasts, tear their hair, weep, sob, throw themselves on the bier,
besprinkle themselves with dust; then the lament ceases, and these women
sit silent, like a sisterhood of sibyls, on the floor of the chamber
of death, breathing deeply, and calming themselves. There is a fearful
contrast between this wild death-dance, with its shrieks and howling,
and the corpse lying in the midst of it rigid and still, and yet ruling
all the while the frantic orgies. Among the mountains, the wailers tear
their faces till the blood flows, because, according to ancient heathen
belief, blood is acceptable to the dead, and appeases the shade. This
is called _raspa_ or _scalfitto_.

There is a demoniac wildness about these wailing women, which reaches a
frightful pitch when their dance and lament concern a murdered man. Then
they become the very Furies themselves, the snaky-haired avengers of
murder, as Æschylus has painted them. Their loose hair, howling, singing
revenge, circling in their horrid dance, the effect of their chant on
the murderer who hears it is frequently so overpowering, that, seized
with shuddering horror and agony of conscience, he betrays himself.
I have read of a murderer who, disguised in the cowled capote of the
Brothers of Death, had the hardihood to hold one of the tapers by the
bier of him whom he had helped to assassinate; and who, when he heard
the dirge begin to shriek for vengeance, trembled so violently that
the taper fell from his hand. In criminal trials, affirmations on the
part of witnesses that the accused has been seen to tremble during the
lament, are received as condemnatory proof. Yes! there is many a man in
this island like the Orestes of Æschylus, of whom the prophetess might

           "On the navel-stone behold a man
     With crime polluted to the altar clinging,
     And in his bloody hand he held a sword
     Dripping with recent murder;

            *       *       *       *       *

     And, stretch'd before him, an unearthly host
     Of strangest women, on the sacred seats
     Sleeping—not women, but a Gorgon brood,
     And worse than Gorgons, or the ravenous crew
     That filched the feast of Phineus (such I've seen
     In painted terror); but these are wingless, black,
     Incarnate horrors."[B]

The silence of the grave now reigns in the chamber. Nothing is heard
but the deep breathing of those weird women cowering on the floor,
wrapped in their mantles, the head sunk upon the breast, expressing the
deepest grief in the manner customary among the ancient Greeks, whose
artists represent those overwhelmed with sorrow as covering the head
and concealing the face. Nature herself has given the human being only
two ways of indicating extreme suffering—the irrepressible outburst
of feeling in the loud cry in which the whole vital energy seems to
concentrate itself, and the profound silence in which the vital energies
sink into stupor. Suddenly one of the women springs out of the cowering
circle, and, like an inspired seeress, begins the song upon the dead.
She chants it _in recitativo_, strophe after strophe, ending each with a
wo! wo! wo! which the chorus of wailers repeat, as in the Greek tragedy.
The woman who thus sings and leads the chorus, has also composed the
dirge, or has improvised it as she sang. In Sardinia, it is usually the
youngest girl who leads. As a general rule, these songs of revenge or of
eulogy, in which the praise of the dead is mingled with complaint for
his loss, or with calls for vengeance on his murderers, are improvised
on the spot.

How strangely contradictory to the culture of our time the state of
things in a country where we can still witness scenes like these, which
seem separated from our present European civilisation by a gulf of three
thousand years!

Let the reader imagine, then, the corpse upon the tola, the women
crouching round it on the ground; a young girl rises, and, her
countenance flaming with enthusiasm, improvises, like a Miriam or a
Sappho, verses of the most surpassing grace, and full of the boldest
images; exhaustlessly her wrapt soul pours forth the rhythmic stream of
dithyrambs, which express melodiously all that is deepest and highest
in human sorrow. The chorus wails at the close of each strophe, Deh!
deh! deh! I know not whether anywhere in the world a picture could be
found, which combines the repulsive with the beautiful in a manner so
profoundly poetical and significant as such a scene, where a maiden
sings before a bier what her pure young soul has that moment been
inspired with, while a chorus of Furies howl the accompaniment; or
where a girl, with flaming eye and glowing cheek, rises like an Erinnys
over her murdered brother who lies armed upon the tola, and imprecates
vengeance in verses whose fierce and bloody language no male lips could
utter more relentlessly. In this country, where the position of woman
is low and menial, it is nevertheless woman that sits in judgment, and
summons the criminal before the tribunal of her plaint. Thus, too, the
chorus of the maid-servants, in the Libation-bearers of Æschylus, sings—

       ——"Son, the strong-jaw'd funeral fire
     Burns not the mind in the smoky pyre;
     Sleeps, but not forgets the dead
     To show betimes his anger dread.
     For the dead the living moan,
     That the murderer may be known.
     They who mourn for parent slain
     Shall not pour the wail in vain.
     Bright disclosure shall not lack
     Who through darkness hunts the track."[C]

Some of these seeresses, who may be compared to the Germanic Velleda,
become celebrated for their inspired singing; as Mariola delle Piazzole,
a leader of the dirge-choruses, whose improvisations were everywhere
in request; and Clorinda Franceschi of Casinca. In Sardinia, the
women of the chorus are called _Piagnoni_ or _prefiche_; in Corsica,
_vecoratrici_ or _ballatrici_. It is not always a practised leader
of choruses who sings; in many cases it is some relative of the
deceased—the mother, the wife, very frequently the sister. For the
grief-burdened heart relieves itself in plaints that are eloquent
without art, and renders the thoughts poetical, and the language
elevated, even though the improvisatrice may be gifted with no special
poetic talent. Moreover, the dirges have a standing form; and long
before a death occurs, the Corsican woman has familiarized herself with
the popular laments, which pass from mouth to mouth as other songs do
with us. A cast of gloom is thus diffused over the whole life of the
people here. When the Corsicans are sitting together, and begin to sing,
they choose very frequently a Lamento, as if they wished to practise for
that lament which, perhaps, each of them will yet sing in earnest over
the tola of a brother, a husband, or a child.

The pantomimic dance that accompanies the lament is called in Corsica
the _ballata_ (_ballo funebre_); _ballatare sopra un cadavere_, is
to dance over a corpse. The wailing is termed _vocerare_, the dirge
_Vocero_, _Compito_, or _Ballata_. In Sardinia these obsequies are
called _Titio_ or _Attito_. This word is said to be derived from the cry
of grief _ahi! ahi! ahi!_ with which the leader of the chorus concludes
each strophe, and which the wailers repeat. The corresponding cry with
the Latins was _atat_, and in the Greek tragedies we find _otototoi_;
among the Germans the vehement cry of suffering is frequently
_ahtatata_, as any one may remark who notices what he ejaculates when
he has burnt his fingers, and is dancing a _ballata_ with the pain.[D]

When the Brothers of Death have arrived before the house to take away
the bier, a loud wail is again raised, and the funeral procession now
accompanies the deceased with laments to the church, where he receives
consecration, and from the church again with wail and song to the
churchyard. The obsequies are closed with a meal called the _convito_ or
_conforto_; a repast called the _veglia_ has previously been given those
who watched by the corpse, and each Brother of Death receives a cake.
The _conforto_ is given to the relations and friends of the deceased,
either in his own house or in that of a kinsman, and it is customary to
invite the guests with a pressing vehemency. It honours the departed
if the repast be on as munificent a scale as possible; and if he has
been respected during his life, it is observable in the number of the
guests. Great expense is frequently lavished on this funeral banquet
(_banchetto_), and bread and meats are distributed through the houses
of the village. Black is the Corsican mourning colour; frequently the
beard is allowed to remain for a long time uncut. When the anniversary
of the funeral comes round, the banquet is sometimes repeated.

Such is the Corsican cultus of the dead, as it is preserved at the
present day in the interior and the southern parts of the island. It is
remarkable as a remnant of primitive paganism subsisting in the midst
of our modern Christendom, and in combination with Christian usages.
How old this _ballata_ may be, and when and how it was brought into the
country, are questions difficult to answer, and I shall not here venture
upon their discussion.

The expressions of grief over beloved dead are everywhere the same—the
weeping and lamenting, the copious and eloquent allusion to what they
were in life, and to the affection that was felt for them. Passionate
emotion finds vent in lively, forcible, and dramatic indications of
grief. But the restraining power of culture, which regulates even
the emotional part of our nature, checks those over whom it has
established its sway, and refuses to the feelings all expression by
extravagant gesture. It is not so in a primitive state of society, or
among children. Neither is it so among the common people, so called,
who represent, in the midst of our civilisation, the epic period of
human development. If we wish to convince ourselves that the epic men,
heroes, chiefs, and kings, demeaned themselves as passionately in giving
expression to their grief, as the Corsicans of the present time in their
_ballata_, we must read the songs of Firdusi, Homer, and the Bible. Esau
cries aloud and weeps for the stolen blessing; Jacob rends his clothes
for Joseph; Job rends his garments, and tears his hair, and falls to the
earth, and his friends do the same, lifting up their voice and weeping,
and each rends his garment and sprinkles dust upon his head towards
heaven. David rends his garments for Saul and Jonathan, and afflicts
himself, and weeps, and laments; he does the same for Absalom: "the king
wept, and had his head covered, and he went barefoot."

Still more passionate and unbridled are the outbursts of grief with the
men of Homer. Achilles laments for Patroclus, with both hands he strews
black dust upon his head—

     "Then, stretch'd in ashes, at the vast extent
     Of his whole length he lay, disordering wild
     With his own hands, and rending off his hair.
     The maidens, captured by himself in war
     And by Patroclus, shrieking from the tent
     Ran forth, and hemm'd the glorious chief around;
     All smote their bosoms, and all, fainting, fell."

When Hector falls, Hecuba tears her hair, and Priam piteously mourns
and laments; and afterwards he says to Achilles, when he is begging
of him a couch whereon to rest himself, that he has constantly sighed
and groaned, full of endless sorrow, "rolling myself upon the earth in
the court." So, in Firdusi, the hero Rustem tears his hair for his son
Sohrab, roars for grief, and weeps blood; Sohrab's mother throws fire
upon her head, rends her clothes, swoons continually, fills the hall
with dust, weeps day and night, and dies in a year. The expression of
the emotion is here in gigantic proportion, as the forms of the heroes
themselves are colossal.

In the Nibelungenlied, the greatest tragedy of the Vendetta, the
expression of passionate grief is no less colossal. Chrimhild raises
her wail of sorrow over the dead Siegfrid,—blood gushes from her throat,
she weeps blood above his corpse, and all the women help her with their

In almost all the instances alluded to, we find the passion of sorrow
pouring itself forth lyrically in the dirge. No loftier utterance of
this kind is to be found than the lament of David for Saul and Jonathan.
For the sake of the Corsican dirges, let us quote it here—

       The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places:
     How are the mighty fallen!

       Tell it not in Gath,—publish it not in the streets of Askelon;
     Lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice,
     Lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.

       Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew,
     Neither let there be rain, upon you, nor fields of offerings:
     For there the shield of the mighty is vilely cast away,
     The shield of Saul, as though he had not been anointed with oil.

       From the blood of the slain,—from the fat of the mighty,
     The bow of Jonathan turned not back,
     And the sword of Saul returned not empty.

       Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives,
     And in their death they were not divided:
     They were swifter than eagles,—they were stronger than lions.

       Ye daughters of Israel, weep over Saul,
     Who clothed you in scarlet, with other delights,
     Who put on ornaments of gold upon your apparel.

       How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle!
     O Jonathan, thou wast slain in thine high places.

       I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan:
     Very pleasant hast thou been unto me:
     Thy love to me was wonderful,—passing the love of women.

       How are the mighty fallen,—and the weapons of war perished!

The lament around the dead body of Hector, in the last canto of the
Iliad, is thoroughly dramatic, and completely resembles a _ballata_ over
the tola. Let us hear this vocero too.

     (_Andromache takes up the lament._)

       My hero! thou hast fall'n in prime of life,
     Me leaving here a widow, and the fruit
     Of our ill-fated loves—a helpless child,
     Whom grown to manhood I despair to see.
     For, ere that season, from her topmost height
     Precipitated shall this city fall,
     Since thou hast perish'd, once her sure defence,
     Faithful protector of her spotless wives
     And all their little ones. Those wives shall soon
     In Grecian barks capacious hence be borne,
     And I among the rest. But thou, my child!
     Shalt either share my fate, ordain'd to drudge
     Beneath some tyrant in a distant clime,
     Or, seizing thy weak hand, some furious Greek
     Shall headlong hurl thee from the tower of Troy
     To a sad death—whose brother, it may chance,
     Whose father or whose son brave Hector slew,
     For he made many a Grecian bite the ground.
     Thy father, boy, bore never into fight
     A milky mind, and for that self-same cause
     Is now bewail'd in ev'ry house of Troy.
     Sorrow unutterable thou hast caused
     Thy parents, Hector! but to me hast left
     Largest bequest of misery, to whom,
     Dying, thou neither didst thy arms extend
     Forth from thy bed, nor gav'st me precious word,
     To be remember'd day and night with tears.
       So spake she weeping, whom her maidens all
     With sighs accompanied.

     (_Hecuba takes up the lament._)

       Hector! far dearest of my sons to me,
     Thee living must the gods have also loved,
     Whose kindness even in the bands of death
     Attends thee; for what son soe'er of ours
     Achilles seized besides, to Samos, him,
     Or Imbrus, or the dreaded Lemnian coast,
     Far o'er the barren deep, for sale he sent;
     But thee, poor victim of his ruthless spear,
     Oft, at his wheels, around Patroclus' tomb
     He dragg'd as he would waken into life
     His friend whom thou hadst slain—yet still he slept.
     But thou, the freshness of a fragrant flower
     New-gather'd hold'st, and more resemblest far
     Some youth whom Phœbus with his gentle shafts
     Hath pierced at home, than one in battle slain.
       So spake the queen, exciting in all hearts
     Sorrow immeasurable.

     (_Helen takes up the lament._)

       Hector! far dearest of my brothers here!
     Me godlike Paris to the shores of Troy
     Seduced, and made me partner of his bed,
     But, O that I had perish'd first at home!
     For this, since stolen from my native land
     I wander'd hither, is the twentieth year,
     Yet never heard I once hard speech from thee,
     Or taunt morose: but if it ever chanced
     That male or female of thy father's house
     Blamed me, and even if herself the queen
     (For in the king, whate'er befell, I found
     Always a father)—thou hast interposed
     Thy gentle temper and thy gentle speech
     To soothe them; therefore, with a breaking heart
     Thee and my wretched self at once I mourn,
     For other friend within the ample bounds
     Of Ilium have I none, nor hope to hear
     Kind word again, with horror view'd by all.
       So spake she weeping, and the countless throng
     With groans replied.[E]

The Pelasgians, Greeks, Phœnicians, the Egyptians more especially, the
ancient tribes of Italy, the Etruscans, the Romans, all lamented their
dead with song and loud wailing; this is not less true of the Celts
(_e.g._ the Irish) and the ancient Germans. Usages of this kind exist
among the uncivilised tribes of America and Africa at the present day;
and are to be found in other Italian countries besides Corsica and
Sardinia, particularly in the Neapolitan territory.

Peter Cyrnæus finds the Corsican cultus of the dead very similar to
that prevalent among the ancient Romans. Those who are acquainted with
ancient Roman customs, will agree with the Corsican historian. They had
the wailing women, called, as they are at the present day in Sardinia,
_præficæ_, and they had the dirges (_næniæ_).[F] In connexion with the
funeral obsequies of Germanicus, Tacitus speaks of the ceremonies, the
songs in praise of the deceased, the weeping and wailing and exciting
to violent grief, as ancient Roman usages. In the laws of the twelve
tables, the _ballata_ was called _lessus_, and punished as barbarous.
The laws of Solon forbade it in these terms—"The women shall not scratch
their cheeks, neither shall the _lessus_ be held at burials; the women
shall not tear the face."

The funeral-banquet is also an ancient pagan custom. Three sources
may be assigned as its origin: the necessity of refreshment after the
exhaustion induced by the ceremonies observed; the honour shown to the
deceased by a last festive meal, of which he is in a certain sense the
giver; and the religious and mystic symbolism involved in the partaking
of food—an act which denotes the return from the sphere of death to
that of life, and indicates that the mourners now once more have their
share in the common every-day world. Among the Phœnicians, Pelasgians,
Egyptians, and Etruscans, this meal consisted chiefly in beans and
eggs. These two kinds of food are, according to the ancient Oriental
and Pythagorean mysticism, symbols of the active and passive forces
of vitality and productivity. At the present time, beans and eggs are
eaten in many parts of Sardinia on occasion of the funeral repast; I
have not heard, however, that this occurs in Corsica. The Roman name for
the funeral feast was Silicernium.[G] The Trojans who have attended as
mourners the obsequies of Hector, also return to a stately banquet in
the house of Priam.

The Corsican Voceros or dirges, some specimens of which I shall now
give, are all composed in the Corsican dialect of the Italian. The
Trochaic measure usually prevails in them, though it is frequently
transgressed. Triple rhymes are general; but here also departures from
the rule occur. This measure, and the monotony of the rhymes, have
a profoundly melancholy effect, and it would be difficult to find a
rhythm more suitable as an expression of grief. The Voceros themselves
are of two classes: the wild, terrific chant of revenge, and the milder
lament for the loss of a departed friend. These songs throw much light
upon the Corsican character. They show how vengeful and hot-blooded
the temperament of the Corsican is, and how strong his passions. It is
frightful to think that these ballads are almost all composed by women,
since woman is destined to give expression to the gentler emotions
of the soul, and to soften the rude vigour of the masculine nature.
Throughout the entire range of popular poetry, I know of no instance
in which the horrible and frightful pervade the material of the ballad
to the same extent, and we observe here the strange power of poetry
in general, which can throw around even what is in itself appalling a
softening tinge of melancholy beauty. For the Corsican poetry may on
the other hand, and does frequently, become the vehicle of tenderest
emotion and the most delicate sentiment. In the Voceros is to be
found the imagery of Homer, of the Psalms, and of the Song of Solomon.
Altogether artless, they bear the stamp of improvisations which admit
of being indefinitely lengthened in the same strain; and because they
are improvisations, they are alive with the inspiration of the moment of
overflowing feeling. The inexpressible innocence and touching simplicity
of many Voceros transport us from our every-day life into the world
of children, of shepherds, or of the patriarchs. No poetic genius can
invent these utterances of nature. Beautiful songs, like tears wept by
a noble sorrow, are sometimes called pearls—I call the Voceros blood-red
Corsican corals.[H]


     E come i gru van cantando lor lai.—_Dante._


     (_The Mother sings._)

     Ah! already they sing the Ave,
     And I still hang weeping here—
     All the women are come to see thee
     Dress'd for death upon thy bier;
     Mother's darling, my Chilina,
     More than jewels bright and dear!

     Whiter wast thou than the hill-snow,
     Than the rice more pure and fine;
     Now thy body is on the tola,
     And thy soul where angels shine;
     Ah, Chilina! why this cruel
     Haste to leave me, daughter mine?

     O Chilina! thou didst keep me
     Like a lady of the land;
     Bringing water, splitting firewood,
     Still it was my daughter's hand;
     Now has death her wings unfolded,
     Lonely and bereaved I stand.

     Where are now the nimble fingers,
     Moving finely, moving fast,
     As she spun upon the spindle,
     Or the knots and meshes cast?—
     Death, the sudden thief, he snatch'd her,
     As he stole on tiptoe past.

     How, Chilina, couldst thou leave us,
     Go to yonder darksome place,
     Where no firelight and no sunlight
     Cheers the cold, the narrow space?
     Ah, Chili! mine eyes will seek thee,
     And they will not find thy face!

     All so soon to be forsaken—
     How could I such woe foresee?
     Ah! thy sister Annadea,
     She will meet thee joyfully—
     She will beam with brighter glory
     When she clasps her own Chili.

     Thou wilt go no more to Ave,
     Thou wilt go to mass no more;
     My Chilina, mother's darling,
     This is grief that wounds me sore—
     That I now must live so lonely,
     Who so blithely lived before.

     (_A girl, one of her playmates, enters, and takes up the dirge._)

     Now arise, arise Chilina!
     We have come to fetch the bride;
     Hark the bells! thy horse is waiting,
     To Carcheto thou must ride,
     There to stand before the altar
     With the bridegroom by thy side.

     —Thou movest not, thou speakest not,
     She will not ope her eyes;
     Thy little hands are bound, Chili,
     Thy little feet are bound, Chili;
     Sisters, she fain would go with us,
     Loose her, and let her rise.

     (_One of the women takes up the dirge._)

     Hush, O hush thee, Magdalena!
     Something I would ask the child;
     Sooner, haply, than her mother,
     She will give me answer mild.
     At her head the wailing mother
     Sobs and shrieks in grief so wild.


     Jesus, Joseph, and Marie,
     And the holy sacrament,
     All in blessed companie,
     Help me now with my lament.
     It shall ring from hill to shore—
     The two heroes are no more!

     Ye may walk the world all over,
     Ye may search through every state,
     But the good Cæsario's mate
     All your quest will not discover.
     He could well and wisely speak,
     Bend the strong, and win the weak.

     Like a dog the base Mastini
     Cowardly revenge did take;
     Stealthily crept within brake,
     Hounded on by the Mastini.
     There he waited for his foe,
     There he dealt the dastard blow.

     Pauses now with carbine ready,
     Sees approach Chiucchinu;
     When he has him full in view,
     Takes a certain aim and steady;
     And he sees him earthward stagger,
     As if struck through with a dagger.

     Cappato in wrath up-started,
     Fierce as lion from his lair;
     At Tangone's throat he darted,
     Who for life doth make his prayer.
     Dearly must he rue the day,
     That he mingled in the fray.

     Paolo stayed when these departed;—
     In the covert of the wood
     He will tarry, steadfast-hearted,
     He will bear a name of blood;
     He will sweep down on the plain,
     He will cover it with slain.

     Patience till the winter's snow
     Be dissolved from off the land;
     Then shall sudden vengeance flow
     From the mountains to the strand!
     Spreading, catching, far and near,
     Like the fiery flame's career.

     Stab the richest and the noblest,
     Stab a dozen—'tis too few;
     That were hardly worthy vengeance
     For the boots of Chiucchinu.
     Vengeance too must pity show
     For the hapless Cappato.

     So concludes my lamentation,
     I have now no more to say.
     Wo upon you in the day
     Of your coming desolation!
     Take good heed, that may avail;
     But if not, the mourners wail.


(_Mixed dialect of either side of the mountains._)

     (_The sister sings._)

     Oh! the bearing proud of Piero,
     Oh! the boasting of Orazio—
     They had made the land a desert
     Betwixt here and San Brancazio,
     Satiated with our heart's blood
     Are Michele and Orazio.

     Death, O death, how black and dreadful—
     How remorseless is thy sway!
     From a home once full thou'st taken,
     Save the nest-egg, all away;
     Is it fit that I, an orphan,
     Here as head of house should stay?

     I alone, amongst all women,
     By this hearth my place maintain'd;
     Over five strong, gallant brothers,
     I the right to rule obtain'd:
     Past and gone that sweet dominion,
     Lost the prize that I had gain'd!

     I will put on the faldetta,
     Black my garment as their pall;
     For no more one ray of gladness
     On this lonely heart can fall:
     Which has lost five noble brothers,
     Father, mother—seven in all.

     I will send at once to Asco,
     Blackest pine-black I will crave,
     Black as raven's wing the raiment
     That from henceforth I will have;
     While my life ebbs back and forwards
     Like the rain-flood in their grave.

     See ye not the ceaseless fountains
     From these clouded eyes that well,
     O'er the two beloved brothers
     That in one hour bravely fell?
     Two deaths are at once proclaimed
     By the tolling of one bell.

     Thou my crown of gold so ruddy—
     Thou my ring of precious stone;
     O Pierù! my former gladness—
     O Orà! my present moan!
     In the Chapel of Tallanu,
     Like you two there is not one.

     And to you, too, Rev'rend Curate,
     Bitter words I needs must say;
     For the love my kin still show'd you,
     Thanklessly you now repay;
     Three years since we number'd seven—
     You have borne them all away.

     Only to the first street's ending
     Will I follow in your train—
     Follow, blinded by my weeping—
     Weeping, get me home again,
     This the saddest, last procession
     Of the five dear brothers slain.


     On the beach his corpse is lying
     Where the two old cork-trees spread;
     O Francesco! faithful herdsman!
     Fearful 'tis to see thee dead!
     How shall I, by thee forsaken,
     Gloomy forest-pathways tread?

     I will tear away the branches
     From yon spreading Palo-tree—
     Leathern bags and caps shall no more
     From its boughs suspended be;
     And the sheep-dog he most valued,
     With his ears clipp'd, all shall see.

     Wo! wo! wo! my heart is breaking,
     Let your wailing fill the air;
     O my brothers! O my sisters!
     Such a stroke is hard to bear.
     From the house the head is taken,
     God has doom'd me to despair.

     (_After the burial is over, the shepherdess returns to her
     cabin, and describes the ceremony to her friends and

     On the bier I saw them lay him,
     Towards Prunelli carry slow;
     There, in dumb but heartfelt mourning.
     Flocks and cattle bleat and low—
     E'en the kids between the hurdles
     Bah, bah, bah! their loss to show.

     In the Church of Blessed Mary,
     In the holy churchyard ground,
     Chants and prays the rev'rend Father,
     With attendant priests around;
     Loud as at a noble's burial,
     Peals the sad and solemn sound.

     When the funeral was over,
     Oh, how hastily each rose!
     Straight an open grave discov'ring,
     My Francesco to enclose;
     Borne on by a rush of people.
     Towards that grave the coffin goes.

     Oh! but what their cruel purpose!
     Oh! the thought is endless wo;
     I looked down, in hopes the sunlight
     Through some grave-wall chink might flow;
     But I saw then my husband lower'd
     Into darkness—lower'd slow.


     (_The Mother sings._)

     See, she lies now on the tola,
     She, my child of sixteen years.
     Darling daughter! her short life-lease
     Has been fraught with pain and tears,
     Now her snowy festal garment—
     Her transparent veil she wears.

     In that snowy festal garment
     Far away she now must go,
     For the Lord of all forbids her
     Longer to remain below.
     They who wear an angel's semblance,
     Early to the angels go.

     Where, belov'd, are now the roses
     On thy chisell'd cheeks and lips?—
     All the blossoms of thy beauty
     Death with icy fingers strips;
     Seems the change on which I'm gazing,
     Like a sudden sun-eclipse.

     Oh! amongst the band of maidens
     Thou wert fairest of the fair;
     To the rose all flowers are subject,
     With the moon no stars compare;
     Other charms with thine contrasted,
     Show'd thy beauty still more rare.

     When the youths from yonder village
     To thy presence would aspire,
     Straight they seem'd like pine-wood torches
     Kindled at a glowing fire.
     Thou to all wert mild and courteous,
     But not one might venture nigher.

     In the church each eye was straining
     To espy thee as we pass'd;
     All, from first to last, kept gazing,
     But thine eyes were downward cast.
     Service ended, thou wouldst pray me,
     "Let us hurry homeward fast."

     Oh how highly wert thou valued,
     Honour'd both by great and small;
     Taught and train'd by Heavenly teaching,
     Wise with wisdom best of all!
     From the world thy spirit screening,
     Prayer and praise its special call.

     Who can ever soothe my anguish?
     Oh, my glory and my pride!
     Since the Lord has bid thee leave me,
     Call'd thee with Him to abide;
     Wherefore does not His compassion
     Bid my agony subside!

     Yet in heaven thou'rt resting sweetly,
     From all burdens smiling free;
     If too bright for earth thy beauty,
     As all own'd who look'd on thee—
     How much brighter, thro' its presence,
     Henceforth Paradise will be!

     But for me the earth will only
     Seem a place of wo and tears,
     And each day of hopeless longing
     Lengthen to a thousand years;
     While I ask of thee, my daughter,
     From each stranger that appears.

     Death, why did'st thou from my bosom
     Such a loving daughter tear?
     Wherefore, in a nest now empty,
     Leave me lonely to despair?
     When I miss her care and tendance,
     How shall I life's burden bear?

     Lonely 'midst my kindred standing,
     Helpless with my neighbours by;
     Who will wipe away the pain-drops
     When I lay me down to die?
     Who will give the drink I thirst for
     When the fever rages high?

     Oh! thou fondly cherish'd daughter,
     Think upon my wretched case,
     When grown old, by all forsaken;
     Far from help or friendly face,
     Never knowing peace or comfort,
     Even for a moment's space.

     If, like thee, I were permitted
     From this cold world to depart,
     Having seen thy early fading—
     Hope and glory of my heart!
     I should find thee up in heaven,
     And live with thee where thou art.

     Therefore pray our dear Lord Jesus,
     Till He calls me ceaseless pray!
     For my only hope I cannot
     Live on thus from day to day—
     Cannot end these vain lamentings—
     Cannot weep my tears away!


     I came forth from Calanca
     At the twelfth hour of the night,
     And everywhere I sought him,
     I sought him by torchlight,—
     And when I found my father,
     'Twas his corpse that met my sight.

     (_Another girl enters, seeking a relative, also slain._)

     Ye who would find Matteju,
     Go farther up the steep;
     The dead here is my father,
     And I must stay to weep.

     Take apron, trowel, hammer,
     My father, and come away,
     For you must work at the chapel
     Of San Marcello to-day;
     But they had slain my father,
     And my brother wounded lay.

     Oh, scissors to cut my long locks,
     Make haste and bring to me!
     Let me staunch with my hair those gashes
     Where the blood is running free—
     For the red drops on my fingers
     Are a fearful sight to see.

     I will dye me a mandilè,
     In his blood I will dye it red;
     And when I have time to be merry,
     I will deck with it my head.[J]

     Now I bear him to Calanca—
     To the Church of the Holy Cross,
     Still crying, O speak, my father!
     Still wailing for my loss—
     For they have crucified him,
     Like Christ upon the cross.


     Eo partu dalle Calanche
     Circa quattr' ore di notte:
     Mi ne falgu cu la teda
     A circà per tutte l'orte,
     Per truvallu lu mio vabu:
     Ma li avianu datu morte.

     Cullatevene più in su,
     Chi truvarete a Matteju;
     Perchè questu è lu mio vabu,
     E l'aghiu da pienghie eju.
     Via, pigliatemi u scuzzale
     La cazzola e lu martellu.
     Nun ci vulete andà, vabu,
     A travaglià a San Marcellu?
     Tombu m'hann lu miò vabu,
     E feritu u miò fratellu.

     Or circatemi e trisore,
     E qui prestu ne venite:
     Vogliu toudemi i capelli
     Per tuppalli le ferite;
     Chi di lu sangue di vabu
     N'achiu carcu le miò dite.

     Di lu vostru sangue, o vabu,
     Bogliu tinghiemi un mandile;
     Lu mi vogliu mette a collu
     Quandu avrachiu oziu di ride.

     Eo collu per le Calanche
     Falgu per la Santa Croce,
     Sempre chiamand uvi, vabu:
     Rispunditemi una voce.
     Mi l'hanu crucifissatu
     Cume Ghesù Cristu in croce.

I have added the original text of this vocero, to give the reader some
idea of the Corsican dialect, and enable him to compare it, if he is
interested in such matters, with the Italian spoken on the Continent. I
find a great resemblance between the dialect of Corsica and that used
by the lower orders in Rome, particularly in Trastevere.[K] All the
Italian popular dialects, however, have a tendency to drop or mutilate
the infinitive endings, _are_ and _ire_, and to substitute _r_ for _l_.
The Corsican says _soretra_ for _sorella_. Philologists have pronounced
the Corsican one of the purest of the Italian dialects, and Tommaseo
especially has much to say in its praise in his collection of Tuscan,
Corsican, and Greek popular songs—which contains also, though in a
defective form, a number of Corsican dirges, with elucidations. In this
book he calls the Corsican dialect "a powerful language, and of all the
dialects of the Italian tongue, one of the most thoroughly Italian."
It seems to me to be genuine gold compared with the _patois_ of the
Piedmontese and Lombards, and the dialects of Parma and Bologna. Even
from the single specimen communicated, the reader will see that the
language of the Corsicans, though no doubt one of the lower forms of
Italian, is soft and graceful.


     [A] See Browning's Ballad of "The Red Piper of Hameln."

     [B] Blackie's translation.

     [C] Blackie.

     [D] An analogous interjection in English is _tut! tut!_ which is
     an expression of annoyance merely, and not of suffering; in Scotch

     [E] Cowper's translation.

     [F] A specimen of the Roman nænia has already been given, with a
     view to its being remembered in connexion with the present subject.
     I refer to Seneca's dirge on Claudius, which is, however, strictly
     speaking, parodistic.

     [G] _Siliqua_, in Latin, the pod or husk of any leguminous

     [H] Of the numerous dirges given by the author, a few of the more
     characteristic have been selected as likely to furnish an idea of
     the Corsican Vocero.—_Tr._

     [I] This wild song of vengeance, which is popular in Corsica, is
     said to have been composed by the mistress of a certain friar
     (!!)—a friend of Cæsario's. As the ballad predicts, the Paolo
     therein mentioned—a relative of the fallen men, afterwards avenged
     them; he then took to the bush, and after living some years as
     bandit, fell into the hands of justice.

     [J] The irony is here so wild as to be at first hardly
     intelligible. Red is usually a gay and festive colour; when _she_
     is disposed to be gay—when her absorbing grief leaves her "leisure
     for laughing," as she says in the original, it will be when she can
     wear a mandile dyed in her father's blood—that is, never. By the
     bold figure in the concluding lines of the vocero, she intimates
     at once the victim's innocence and the cruel circumstances of his

     [K] Quarter of the city beyond the Tiber.—_Tr._




I gave up the thought of a journey which I had at one time intended
to make along the coast from Calvi to Sagone, where the large gulfs
of Porto and Sagone, and those of Galeria and Girolata run into the
country. The region is for the most part uncultivated, and the roads
are frightful.

I travelled through the glorious valley of Balagna by the Diligenza
which runs between Calvi and Corte. As I have already mentioned, this
large, beautiful, and well-cultivated district receives the name of
the Garden of Corsica. Lofty mountains enclose it, snow-capped summits
like Mount Tolo, and the mighty Grosso—heights of the finest forms, and
that would enchant the landscape painter. Great numbers of villages are
seen upon the slopes, San Reparato, Muro, Belgodere, Costa, Speloncata,
Feliceto, Nessa, Occhiatana—all formerly seats of noble families and
Caporali, and full of memories of old times. The Malaspinas once ruled
here, the Tuscan margraves of Massa and the Lunigian marches, a race of
powerful seigniors, whom Dante celebrates in the _Divine Comedy_. When
he finds Currado Malaspina in purgatory, we have the following verses:—

     "Oh, never have I seen thy land, I said;
     But where throughout all Europe may be found
     The spot to which thy glory hath not spread?
     The fame that o'er this house such lustre throws
     Makes both its nobles and the land renowned:
     E'en he who ne'er was there, their greatness knows."

The Malaspinas built the village of Speloncato. Subsequently to the year
1019, five counts of this house had come to Corsica—Guglielmo, Ugo,
Rinaldo, Isuardo, and Alberto Rufo. The family is spread in numerous
branches over the Italian countries.

In later times the democratic constitution of the Terra del Commune
deprived the barons of their power in Balagna. The Corsican popular
assemblies (_veduta_) were frequently held here, in the Field of
Campiolo. At one of these vedutas, the brave Renuccio della Rocca
displayed a degree of heroic fortitude which deserves our admiration.
Filippini narrates the incident. Renuccio was in the act of addressing
the assembly, when his son, a youth of fourteen, who chanced to be
riding over the field, was hurled by his startled horse upon the point
of the lance carried by a squire who rode behind him. The dying youth
was brought to his father. But Renuccio, with unaltered mien, continued
in his speech to rouse his countrymen to insurrection against Genoa.
This Spartan self-command, the heroism of Gaffori, the heroism of
Leoni of Balagna before the tower of Nonza, always remind me of the
manly firmness of Xenophon. The news that his son Gryllus had fallen
in battle, came to Xenophon when he was engaged in offering sacrifice.
The father, overcome at first by the sudden intelligence, took the
sacrificial wreath from his head; but when he was told that his son
had fallen bravely fighting, he immediately replaced it, and calmly
continued his act of worship. Indeed, these stout-hearted Corsicans seem
more Spartan than the Spartans themselves.

I found in Balagna a great many fields of grain already cut—a beautiful
sight in Corsican regions. Everywhere, especially in the vicinity of the
villages, are the most luxuriant and magnificent groves of chestnut,
walnut, and almond trees, gardens of oranges and citrons, and wood
on wood of olives. The excellent road keeps close by the foot of the
mountains, and from all points the traveller enjoys the finest views
towards the sea or into the hills. The largest villages of Balagna are
Muro and Belgodere; the latter of which owes its name to its beautiful
situation. Belgodere might be a sanctuary of Pallas, it lies embosomed
in such luxuriant groves of her favourite tree.

It is said that there is no district throughout the whole of Italy where
the olive attains such a size as it does in the Balagna. The thickness
of its stem, its abundance of branches, and the quantity of fruit it
produces, are equally astonishing. It is mighty as a beech, and in the
heat of noon you rest cool under its shelter. The olive is a tree that
one cannot but love. It has not the imposing magnificence of the oak or
the plane; its bole, its grayish green, long, narrow leaves, remind us
of our own homely willow; but it is laden with riches—with the very fat
of the earth, and it is associated with all the poetry of human culture.
Sitting under a gray olive by the sea-strand, we are transported to
the sacred, sunny East, where our fancy has been at home ever since
we turned over the leaves of the picture-Bible, and heard a mother's
stories of the Mount of Olives at Jerusalem. How often have we imagined
to ourselves those olive-groves! Then, again, in the whispering of its
branches, we hear the wisdom of Minerva, and the poetry of the Hellenes,
and are borne away to the land of Homer, of Pindar, of Æschylus, to
the Muses and gods of Olympus. The olive is thus doubly dear to us as
at once a Christian and a Hellenic tree; its branch is more precious
than that of the laurel, it is the beautiful symbol of prosperity and
peace, and a man's first prayer to the immortal gods should be: Send
into my life the green olive-branch. They send us all kinds of them, the
laurel-branch, the myrtle-branch; and they send also the cypress-bough;
with humility be the award received.

There are various species of olives in the Balagna—the Sabine
(_Sabinacci_), the Saracen (_Saraceni_), and the Genoese
(_Genovesi_);—named according to their descent, like noble families of
Signori. The third family is the most common. It is ascribed to the
Genoese, who, during the government of Agostino Doria, compelled the
Corsicans to plant olives in great numbers. This is therefore at least
one beautiful and peaceful memorial of Genoese rule in Corsica. When
the olive was first introduced into Corsica, I am unable to say. One
of the complaints in the epigram of Seneca is, that the gift of Pallas
does not exist on the island. Yet it appears to me hardly credible that
the olive was not cultivated on the island before Seneca's time. The
Corsican olives have at present the reputation of resisting better than
all others the changes of the weather; the great Humboldt awards them
this praise. They require little attention. The oldest branches are cut
off to strengthen the tree, the soil about its roots is loosened, and
manure is laid round the trunk. The olives are collected when they fall
off. Twenty pounds of olives produce five pounds of clear oil. This
is put into large jars, in which it stands till the month of May. The
olive-tree yields abundantly every three years.

The birds come and carry away the olive kernels to the four winds of
heaven, scattering them over the face of the country. The island thus
becomes covered with wild olive-bushes, which flourish lustily on
mountain and in valley, waiting to be improved. In the year 1820, an
attempt was made to count them, and their number was said to be twelve
millions. The richest olive-districts at the present time in Corsica
are Balagna, Nebbio, and the country round Bonifazio.

We left the province of Balagna at the village of Novella. At this
point the road bends into the mountainous interior, and for hours the
Diligenza rolls on through narrow valleys, and between barren rocky
hills, not a hamlet in sight, till we reach Ponte alla Leccia in the
valley of the Golo, where the principal highways of Corsica, from Calvi,
from Ajaccio, and from Bastia, meet. You now drive along the Golo,
through a pleasant valley. To the right lies the pastoral district of
Niolo, the present canton of Calacuccia—a remarkable region, encircled
by lofty mountains, in which lie the two lakes of Neno and Ereno. The
district forms a natural stronghold, for it opens only at four points,
towards Vico, Venaco, Calvi, and Corte. A steep road, called the _Scala
di Santa Regina_, leads to Corte. In Niolo live the strongest men
in Corsica, patriarchal shepherds, who have faithfully preserved the
customs of their forefathers.

There are many remarkable places on the road to Corte, as for example,
Soveria, the home of the brave family of the Cervoni. It was Thomas
Cervoni who rescued Pasquale Paoli at the cloister of Alando, when he
was besieged there by the furious Matra. The reader will remember that
Cervoni, who was at feud with Paoli, had his weapons put into his hands
by his own mother, who, threatening to curse him if he refused to obey
her, drove him from the house to rescue his foe. Cervoni hastened to
the besieged convent, and Matra was slain. It is no ordinary pleasure
to wander through a country like this island of Corsica, where there
is not a city or village, a mountain or valley, which is not associated
with some deed of heroism.

Cervoni's son was the talented general, who, as officer at Toulon, won
his first laurels along with Napoleon. He distinguished himself at Lodi;
in the year 1799, he was commandant of Rome. It was he who announced
to Pope Pius VI. that his power was at an end, and that he must leave
Rome. Cervoni made his name terrible in that city, as is evinced by
an incident related by Valery. He once in the Tuileries stepped up to
Pope Pius VII. at the head of the Generals, and complimented him. His
fine voice and beautiful Italian pronunciation astonished the Pope, and
he said a great many flattering things to Cervoni. The latter hereupon
remarked: "_Santo padre, sono quasi Italiano._" "Oh!" "_Sono Corso._"
"Oh! oh!" "_Sono Cervoni!_" "Oh! oh! oh!" and at the mention of the
dreadful name the Pope receded horror-stricken to the fireplace. In the
year 1809, a cannon-ball carried away the head of Marshal Cervoni at

Near Soveria stands Alando, famous as connected with the name of
Sambucuccio, the ancient legislator and Lycurgus of the Corsicans, and
founder of their democratic constitution. The scarcely distinguishable
ruins of his castle are shown upon a rock. In 1466, four hundred years
later than Sambucuccio, one of his descendants was vicegerent of the
Corsican nation. Some of the Caporali resided in this quarter, in the
neighbouring Omessa. Originating as tribunes of the people, and intended
in the democratic system of Sambucuccio to defend the rights of the
communes, they succumbed in the course of time to a malady that never
fails to undermine and destroy the wisest human arrangements—ambition
and the love of self-aggrandizement, and became like the seigniors,
the most oppressive petty tyrants. In Filippini's time, we find that
historian still complaining that the Caporali were the most dreadful
scourges of Corsica.

Chestnuts thrive around Alando, but the region is poor. Black sheep and
goats find their nourishment on the mountain heaths. Their wool is here
made into the Corsican pelone.

After crossing the Alluraja, a lofty range of hills between the rivers
Golo and Tavignano, we descend, on an admirable road, towards Corte.



The arrondissement of Corte, the central district of the island,
embraces fifteen cantons and 113 communes, and contains a population of
55,000. The town itself has about 5000 inhabitants.

Corte is an inland city with a situation not less imposing than those
of the Corsican seaports. The panorama of brown hills in the midst of
which it lies, the citadel on an inaccessible and rugged crag, give the
town an air of iron defiance. Mountains rise on every side in the most
varied forms. To the north the heights are low, and mostly dome-shaped,
covered with copsewood, or fields of grain. The summer has clad these
hills in a dark brown, and the region thus wears an aspect of the utmost
sternness. They are the last spurs of the ranges that form the watershed
between the Golo and Tavignano, and separate two valleys, the pastoral
dale of Niolo, and the valley of the Tavignano. At the opening of the
latter, where the Tavignano is joined by the Restonica, lies Corte.
Three high and craggy hills command the entrance to this valley. Both
rivers have forced a channel for themselves through deep ravines, and
rush into one another over fragments of shattered cliffs. There is a
stone bridge over each.

The little city has only one main street, which is newly built, and
is called the Corso; an alley of elms gives it a singularly rural
appearance. And here too I was astonished at the lonely seclusion, the
idyllic stillness, that so peculiarly characterize the Corsican towns.
You really believe yourself in the farthest nook of the world, and cut
off from all connection with its ongoings.

The city is venerable from its associations with events in Corsican
history. In the time of Paoli it was the centre of his democratic
government, and in ancient times the residence of Moorish kings; it was
important in every period as the central point of the island, and as
possessing a fortress which frequently decided the course and issue of
a campaign.

The citadel has a singular appearance. It is the Acropolis of Corsica.
It stands on a black, steep, and rugged crag, which rises over the river
Tavignano. Walls, towers, the old town—which the citadel encloses—all
look black, ruinous, and desolate. They have been battered in a thousand
sieges. This castle of Corte has been assaulted and defended oftener
than Belgrade. The brave Vincentello d'Istria laid the foundations of
the present structure, in the beginning of the fifteenth century. The
loop-hole is still shown from which the Genoese suspended Gaffori's
son, to deter his father from continuing his cannonade of the fortress.
Enacting itself on and around this grim, giddy height, how wild must
have been that heroic scene! The action of Gaffori is one of the noblest
traits to be found in the range of Corsican history, which, as I have
already said, for every instance of magnanimity in Greeks and Romans,
can produce another no way inferior. The spirit that has animated this
Corsican people, has proved itself no less heroic than that which we
admire in Brutus and Timoleon; but the acts of national and individual
heroism which this spirit produced, have lain buried in the obscurity
of the period and the locality.

The name of Gaffori is Corte's fairest ornament, and his little house,
still standing pierced with balls, the most splendid monument the city
can show. This house preserves another heroic association, connected
with Gaffori's brave and high-souled wife. The Genoese, whose constant
policy it was to use the families of dreaded Corsicans as hostages, and
to oppose natural affection to love of country, on one occasion took
advantage of Gaffori's absence from home to attack his house, in order
to secure the person of his wife. But she instantly barricaded the door
and window, and, with a few friends who had hurried to her assistance,
defended herself, musket in hand, for days against the Genoese, who
showered a storm of bullets upon the house. The little garrison was
reduced to the utmost extremity, and her friends counselled her to
capitulate; Gaffori's wife, however, conveyed a cask of powder into a
cellar, and seizing a match, swore that she would blow up the house
the moment they ceased to fire upon the besiegers. Her friends, who
knew her desperate courage, continued their resistance, and at length
Gaffori himself appeared with a band of Corsicans, and rescued his wife.
After the murder of Gaffori, this woman took his son, the boy who had
once been bound to the walls of the castle, and made him swear to hate
the Genoese and avenge his father. Hamilcar did the same with his son
Hannibal in ancient times.

In this house of Gaffori's, Carlo Bonaparte lived with his wife Letitia
in 1778; it was a house worthy to give origin to a Napoleon.

Many memories of Paoli are connected with a house which bears the name
of the Palazzo de Corte, and was the seat of Paoli's government, and his
residence. Here is the room in which he worked, a mean-looking little
place enough, as beseemed the legislator of the Corsicans. They tell
that the great man, who was not safe from the balls of the assassin,
kept the windows of this room always barricaded; and in fact, the
window-shutters are still to be seen lined with cork, as they were in
his time. The National Assembly had decreed him a guard of twenty-four
men, acting in this like the ancient democracies of Greece; he had
another body-guard always in the room beside him, consisting of six
Corsican dogs. I cannot help being reminded here of his contemporary
and admirer Frederick the Great, and how he too, in his cabinet, was
always surrounded by dogs; but these were kept for amusement or ornament
merely—the pretty Biche, and the graceful Alcmene, and other greyhounds.
The scene is characteristically different. If Paoli were painted in
the company of his dogs, as Frederick the Great has so often been
represented surrounded by his, it would make rather a wild picture: the
Corsican hero in his mean-looking cabinet, writing by the fireplace,
wrapped in a coarse woollen gown, behind a barricaded window, grim,
shaggy wolf-hounds crouched upon the floor—there we have a Corsican
historical _genre_ painting.

In another room, formerly the hall where the Council of Nine sat, are
preserved some very interesting relics; the rods, to wit, which were
to have supported the canopy of Paoli's throne. Paoli and a throne?
Impossible! Had the great democrat a hankering after kingly emblems?
So it is affirmed; the story is as follows:—One day workmen were seen
erecting a throne in the National Palace. It was of crimson damask, hung
with gold fringes, and supported, above the Corsican arms, a golden
crown, so placed that when Paoli seated himself, it stood over his
head. To suit the throne, there were nine smaller crimson chairs, for
the members of the Council of Nine. When the councillors had assembled
in the hall, the door of Paoli's room opened, and Paoli, as it is said,
in a magnificent robe of state, his head covered, and his sword by his
side, entered, and moved towards the throne. A murmur of astonishment
and displeasure instantly arose among the councillors, followed by a
deep silence. Paoli stopped, was disconcerted, and he never took his
seat upon the throne.

I have found so many confirmations of this story, that it seems to me
almost presumption to doubt it. If it is true, it is a remarkable trait
in the character of the great man, and at least a proof that human
weakness everywhere asserts its sway, and that no mortal is safe from
the moment when he may be overcome by vanity and outside show. Paoli and
a throne—there can hardly be a greater contradiction. Liberty and the
Corsican people were the noble man's loftiest throne, and no potentate
ever occupied one more glorious than that plain arm-chair on which Paoli
sat, the legislator and deliverer of a people.

His enemies have accused him of aiming at regal authority, but they
wrong him in this, and Paoli's history gives the lie to the charge.
Did he wish, perhaps, by means of regal emblems, to secure from foreign
countries and from his own people a greater degree of respect for the
state over which he presided, and which still bore the time-honoured
appellation of the Kingdom of Corsica? We have no other instances of
his indulging in kingly pomp. He, and all the other members of the
government, went about in the common dress of the country; their clothes
were of the Corsican wool, they lived like the simplest commoners. The
heads of the state were distinguishable from the people only by their
superior intelligence, and it was merely to give the French, in matters
of exterior as well as in those of more importance, the impression of
a regular and formal government, that he ordered the members of the
Supreme Council to wear a distinct dress, a green coat, gold-laced—green
and gold being the Corsican colours. He and they put on this official
dress for the first time, when French officers came first to Corte.
The country's rulers were to appear in a manner becoming their dignity.
This was, however, a concession to French etiquette which we cannot but
lament, because in making it Paoli ceased to maintain himself superior
to appearances, and abolished the beautiful democratic equality which
had previously expressed itself even in dress, by some pieces of gold
lace. The Corsicans were entitled to wear their woollen blouse with
greater pride than the French their glittering uniforms. Trifling and
subordinate as these matters may in themselves appear, they nevertheless
furnish material for thought. For time makes unessential differences
essential, and of extrinsic makes intrinsic. There is in time an
invisible influence for evil, which gradually stains all that is pure,
dwarfs all that is great, debases all that is noble. In this world
of ours, it is so and not otherwise; exalted virtue is a phenomenon
confined to the period of _struggle_ towards a great aim. In Corsica
it has often made me sad to think, that all those heroic exertions of
its people, all those battles for freedom, have proved fruitless; and
that now, in the land of Sampiero, of Gaffori, and of Paoli, "the vain
nation" bears rule. Yet it would have been an experience still more
sad, had the state of Paoli sickened of itself, and yielded to human
selfishness. For my part, I do not believe that it would have escaped
this universal fate. For true freedom exists only in Utopia. Mankind
appears to be capable of it only in the highest, most sacred moments.

On one occasion Paoli received in this Palazzo Nazionale a very splendid
embassy. A ship of Tunis had stranded on the coast of Balagna, and Paoli
had not only restored to the shipwrecked strangers all the property of
which the peasantry of the region had deprived them, but hospitably
entertained them, and sent them home to the Bey of Tunis under the
conduct of two officers, and well supplied with every necessary for
their journey. The Bey thereupon sent an embassy to Paoli to thank
him, and convey to him the assurance that he would remain eternally
his and his country's friend, and that no Corsican would ever sustain
injury within the bounds of his territories. The ambassador from Tunis
kneeled down before Paoli, and, putting his hand to his forehead, said
in Italian, _Il Bey ti saluta, e ti vuol bene_—the Bey greets thee, and
wishes thee well. He brought him as presents, a beautiful, splendidly
caparisoned horse, two ostriches, a tiger, a sabre set with diamonds;
and after residing some days in Corte, returned again to Africa.

Close to Corte lies the old convent of the Franciscans—a ruin of
considerable size. In Paoli's time, the Corsican parliament assembled
in the church of this convent; and from its pulpit not a few noble
patriots have lifted their earnest voices. Many and not vain sacrifices
were made to liberty in this church, and her name was not heard as an
empty phrase. Those who called upon it, also died for it. In the year
1793, a general assembly of the Corsicans had met on the open ground
before the convent; the time was stormy, for the grayhaired Paoli stood
impeached of high treason by the National Convention of France. Pozzo
di Borgo, that unrelenting enemy of Napoleon—like him, a citizen of
Ajaccio—climbed upon a tree, and delivered a powerful and fiery speech
in defence of Paoli, whose accusers, the furious clubbists, Arena and
the Bonapartes, were here declared infamous.

At the present day, wandering about in the streets of the little city,
which are silent as the grave, and beneath whose shady elms here and
there, poor-looking Corsicans idle in dreamy listlessness, one can
hardly believe that scarcely a hundred years ago such an obscure,
secluded nook was the seat of the most enlightened political wisdom of
the age.

Paoli founded a university in Corte; and he here called the first
Corsican printing-press and the first Corsican newspaper into existence.
From this university knowledge and enlightenment were to spread like a
flood of light over the mountains, and into all the valleys of Corsica,
dispelling the mediæval barbarism of her inhabitants. I have already,
in the History of the Corsicans, mentioned this university, and spoken
of its high merits as a patriotic institution. Many of Corsica's ablest
men have been its pupils—talented advocates, who form in this island
the majority of the literary class. Carlo Bonaparte, Napoleon's father,
studied at this university. The young institution fell, however, when
the country lost its freedom. Paoli on his deathbed set apart a legacy
for its restoration, and with the help of this capital a sort of college
was re-established in the year 1836. There are at present a director and
seven professors for the sciences connected with it, but its condition
is not very flourishing. An institution of this academic kind is
also perhaps less suited to the wants of Corsica than good commercial

I found among the Corsicans many learned and highly cultivated men,
and here in Corte I became acquainted with a gentleman, the extent of
whose reading in the literature of the Romanic languages astounded me.
He is the son of one of the brave captains who, after the battle of
Ponte Nuovo, remained in arms till the last moment, and whom I have
mentioned by name. His memory is so retentive, that he knows by heart
the best passages of all the great Italian, French, and Latin authors,
and that it is a slight matter for him to repeat whole pages of Tasso
or Ariosto, and long extracts from Voltaire or Macchiavelli, or from
Livy, Horace, Boileau, or Rousseau. Talking with him of literature on
one occasion, I asked him if he had ever read any works of Goethe. "No,"
said our well-read friend, "Pope is the only English author with whom
I am acquainted."

Some gentlemen, whose agreeable acquaintance I made at the _table
d'hôte_ of my inn, among them an artist, the only Corsican painter with
whom I became acquainted on the island, took me to the marble quarries
in the vicinity of Corte. A quarry of this kind was discovered not
long ago in the rocks above the Restonica. The stone is of a bluish
colour, with reddish-white veins, and is available for architecture and
ornaments. We found the workmen occupied in getting a large block, of
which a pillar was to be made, down the hill. It was laid on rollers,
and shoved by means of the Archimedean screw to the edge of the incline,
at the foot of which the blocks are dressed. The large and beautiful
stone slid rapidly down, enveloping itself in a cloud of dust, and as it
forced its way onwards, rung clear as a bell. At the foot of the hill on
which this rich quarry lies, the Restonica turns a mill that cuts the
marble into plates. Seven days are required to cut a block into thirty
of these. In Corte, therefore, Seneca's assertion is now disproved—_non
pretiosus lapis hic cæditur_—here no costly stone is hewn. Speaking
generally, however, the philosopher's words are still applicable, for
Corsica's treasures of beautiful stone have remained dead capital.



     ————"tomo un puño de bellotas en la mano, y mirandolas atentamente
     sotto la voz a semejantes razones: Dichosa edad y siglos dichosos
     aquellos a quien los antiguos pusieron nombre de dorados."—DON

I had formed the resolution of ascending the highest mountain in
Corsica, Monte Rotondo, which lies about half a day's journey to the
south-west of Corte, and may almost be considered as the middle point
of the island. Although the excursion was described to me as most
fatiguing, still I hoped to find a clear day and sufficient remuneration
for my trouble. But what I most of all wished was, some insight into
the still entirely primitive life of the herdsmen.

I hired a guide and a mule, and, provided with a little bread and some
calabashes of wine, early on the morning of the 28th of July I rode
into the hills. The road, a shepherd's track, never leaves the valley
of the wild Restonica, from its confluence with the Tavignano, close
by the town, up to the very summit of Monte Rotondo, where it has its
source. The bed of this beautiful mountain-stream, is, during most of
its course, a ravine of gloomy and impressive character. In the vicinity
of Corte, it expands into a valley of considerable breadth, in which
chestnut and walnut trees thrive. As you ascend, it grows narrower and
narrower; the walls of rock on each side rise in black, gigantic masses,
shadowed with dark-green, natural wood, of old pines and larches.

My sure-footed mule clambered safely up the narrowest paths along the
very edge of abysses; and a glance downwards into these, where the
Restonica foamed milk-white far below, had something in it both of
terror and of beauty. A magnificent forest of pines and larches received
me as the sun got higher. Very picturesque are these giant trees—the
pine with its broad, green roof, and the larch, like the cedar of
Lebanon, gnarled, soaring, and rich in branches. Tall erica, box, and
wild myrtles, covered with a snow of blossoms, clustered in profusion
round their mighty stems. And the fragrance of all those medicinal
herbs, in which the mountains of Corsica are so rich, made the air of
the woods balsamic and refreshing.

My guide kept on before me at a rapid pace. I sometimes almost
shuddered, when I saw myself alone with him in this wilderness of woods
and rocks, and he threw a backward glance on me. He was an ill-favoured
fellow, and had a villanous eye. I learned afterwards that there was
blood on his hands—that he was a murderer. A year previously he had
stabbed a Lucchese dead, with a single thrust, on the market-place of

Riding for hours through these romantic mountain-solitudes you hear
nothing but the rushing of the streams, the screaming of falcons, and
now and then the clear whistle of a goat-herd calling to his goats.

The herdsmen live in caverns or in huts, on the declivities of Monte
Rotondo, to the topmost ridge of which their flocks clamber. The highest
community of shepherds is to be found at an altitude of 5000 feet above
the level of the sea.

After three hours' ride I reached the first of these singular
stations—the Rota del Dragone. Descending from the edge of the ravine
towards the water, I saw a black, sooty cave before me, running, like
a vault, into the cliff, below enormous blocks of granite—a few paces
from its entrance the furious Restonica, chafing itself to madness among
huge fragments of rock; all around, crag above crag, and dense forest. A
wall of uncemented stones formed an enclosure round the entrance of the
grotto. A fire was burning in the cave, round which cowered the shepherd
family. A miserable-looking woman seemed to be engaged in mending some
article of dress; beside her a fever-sick boy lay wrapped in a brown
blanket of goat's wool, from which his pale face and glittering eyes
looked out inquiringly.

The herdsman had come out of his cave, and hospitably invited me
to alight, and refresh myself with new milk and cheese. I willingly
accepted his invitation, and proceeded to inspect the interior of this
singular cavernous abode. The grotto, I found, ran a considerable way
into the mountain, affording room for a flock of two hundred goats and
sheep, which the herdsman every evening brings in to milk. It was so
exactly the cave of Polyphemus, that it almost seemed Homer must have
taken his description from it. Every item of the description was here,
even the rows of dishes full of milk, and more than a hundred flat round
cheeses arranged on fresh leaves. Only Polyphemus himself was wanting;
for mine host, however robber-like and wild he might look in his shaggy
habiliments, was hospitality itself.

"Do the bandits ever pay you a visit?" I asked the Troglodyte.
"Sometimes they do," said the man; "when they're hungry. You see the
stone here on which I sit?—two years ago a couple of bandit-hunters
concealed themselves in my cave; they were after Serafin. But Serafin
stole in upon them through the night, and with two stabs he made them
both cold upon this stone; then he went his way again into the hills."

My guide hinted that it was time to go. I thanked the herdsman for his
refreshment, and rode off, not without a shudder.

The path, which now took us through the Restonica to the other bank,
became constantly steeper and more difficult. At last, after a ride
of two hours, I reached, thoroughly damp with mist, and during a
magnificent thunderstorm, the last of the pasturing-stations on the
lower heights of Rotondo. Its name is Co di Mozzo.

I had heard a great deal about the shielings of Monte Rotondo; and the
pictures of them my imagination drew were original enough, slightly
idyllic perhaps—little huts in the green pine-forest, or on flowery
Alpine slopes, with all proper pastoral adjuncts. But now, as I rode up
in the midst of thunder and lightning, and through a drizzling rain, I
saw nothing but a wild waste of titanic fragments of stone—a confusion
of vast granite blocks clothing the sides of a huge, gray, desolate
cone. A light smoke was rising from among the stones. The gray of the
watery clouds, the pale lightnings, the roll of the thunder, the rushing
of the Restonica, and the deep melancholy of the gray hills, were
irresistibly saddening.

Some storm-battered larches stood on the steepest edge of a naked
ravine, through which the Restonica foamed and tumbled from block to
block. All around, nothing but the dreariest cliffs; and one grand
glimpse into the mist-filled valley out of which I had ascended. My
eye sought long for the huts towards which the guide was pointing. At
length I detected them among the rocks, and advancing, I soon had before
me this most singular of pastoral communities. It consisted of four
dwellings, erected in the most primitive manner conceivable, probably
with less architectural skill than the termites or the beavers expend
on their houses.

Each of these huts consists of four stone walls, built without mortar.
They are about three feet in height, and support a sloping roof of
sooty stems of trees and boards, on which heavy stones are laid to keep
them in their places. An aperture in the front wall serves as door and
principal chimney; but the smoke issues through the roof and the walls
wherever it finds a chink. An enclosure of stones surrounds a narrow
space before the hut, and within this space, dishes of various kinds
stand; also, in one corner of it rises the _palo_—a rude stake with
projecting pegs, on which hang pots and kettles, clothes, and strips of
goat's flesh.

Some shaggy dogs sprang out as I rode up, and forthwith the men, women,
and children crept from their huts, and curiously eyed the stranger.
They looked picturesque enough in the midst of the stony waste; the
_pelone_, their shaggy, brown mantle flung about them, the red _baretto_
on their heads, and their bronzed features looking out from their dark
bushy beards.

I called to them: "Friends, bestow your hospitality on a stranger who
has come over the sea to visit the herdsmen of Co di Mozzo!"

In friendly tones they returned: "Evviva!" and "Benvenuto!"

"Come into my hut," said one, "and dry yourself at the fire; it is
warm in there." I immediately twisted myself through the door, curious
to see the interior of such a habitation. I found myself in a dark
chamber, about fourteen feet in length and ten in breadth—wholly without
furniture, not a stool, not a table, nothing but the black naked ground,
the black, naked stone walls, and such a smoke of pine-wood as, I
thought, it must be impossible to live in. Close by the wall a huge log
was burning, and a kettle hung above it.

Angelo, my host, spread a blanket which I had brought with me on the
floor, and gave me the place of honour, as near the fire as possible.
Soon the whole family had cowered about it—Angelo's wife, three little
girls, my host, myself, and my guide. The hut was full. Meanwhile,
Angelo threw some pieces of goat's flesh into the kettle, and Santa his
wife brought cheese and milk. Our table equipage was as original and
pastoral as you choose; it consisted simply of a board laid upon the
ground, on which Santa placed a wooden bowl of milk, a cheese, and some
bread. "Eat," said she, "and think that you are with poor herd-people;
you shall have trouts for supper, for my son has gone a-fishing."

"Fetch the broccio," said the shepherd; "it is the best we have, and you
will like it." I was curious to see what the broccio was; I had heard it
praised in Corte as the greatest dainty of the island, and the flower of
all the hill-products. Santa brought a sort of round covered basket, set
it before me, and opened it. Within lay the broccio, white as snow. It
is a kind of sweet, curdled, goats' milk; and eaten with rum and sugar,
it certainly is a dainty. The poor herdsmen sell a broccio-cake in the
city for one or two francs.

With our wooden spoons we wrought away valiantly at the broccio—only
the wife and children did not share. Crouching thus on the ground at
the fire, in the narrow, smoke-filled hut, wild and curious faces all
about me, the wooden spoon in my hand, I began humorously to celebrate
the life of the shepherds among the hills, who are contented with what
their flocks yield them, and know not the wretchedness of _mine_ and
_thine_, nor the golden cares of palaces.

But the honest _pastore_ shook his head, and said: "_Vita povera, vita
miserabile!_"—a poor life, a miserable life!

And so it really is: these men lead a wretched life. For four
months of the year—May, June, July, and August—they burrow in these
cabins, destitute of everything that makes life human. In _their_
world occur no changes but those of the elements—the storm, the
clouds, the thunder-shower, the hail, the heat; in the evening, a
robber-story by the fire, a melancholy song, a _lamento_ to the pipe,
a hunting-adventure with the muffro or the fox; high above them and
around them the giant pyramids of the hoary Rotondo, and the starry
magnificence of the sky; in their breast, perhaps, despite the _vita
povera_, an uncomplaining, serene, pious, honest human heart.

With the dawn of day these poor people rise from the hard ground—on
which they have been sleeping in their clothes, and without other
covering—and drive their herds to the pastures; there they consume their
scanty meal, of cheese, bread, and milk. The old people, who remain at
home, lie in the hut by the fire, occupied with some simple household
work. In the evening, the flocks return and are milked; light falls,
and it is time to go to sleep again.

The snow and rains of September drive the herdsmen from their mountain
cabins. They descend with their flocks to the coast and the paese,
where they have usually more habitable dwellings, in which frequently
the wives and children stay all summer. My hostess Santa was the only
female in the pastoral community of Co di Mozzo, which consists of
six families. "Why," I asked her, "did you come up from the paese to
this gloomy hut?" "Look you," put in Angelo, "she came up to refresh
herself." I was on the point of laughing outright, for the smoke in the
hovel was bringing tears to my eyes, and the atmosphere was infernal.
So, after all, I was to view the wretched heap of stones as a summer
villa, to which the family had retired to refresh itself! "Yes," said
Angelo, as he caught my sceptical look; "below, it is warm; and up
here, we have the mountain wind, and the clear stream, fresh and cold
as ice. We live as the merciful God grants." I began to have respect
for Angelo and his philosophy. His speech was serious and laconic; and
he was taciturn, as it becomes a philosopher to be.

Angelo was owner of sixty head of goats, and fifty sheep. The quantity
of milk drawn from these is inconsiderable. In summer it is barely
sufficient to support the family. The broccio and the cheese, sold
below, furnish bread, and the coarsest clothing. Winter is a hard time,
for the milk goes to feed the kids and lambs. Many a shepherd, however,
has a flock of some hundreds. When the sons and daughters have to be
portioned, it is a fortunate thing if the luck of the patriarchs can
be had, so that the flocks multiply. The dowry of a shepherd's girl
consists in twelve goats if she is poor; if she is wealthy it ranges
higher, according to her parents' means.

The weather had cleared up. I stepped out of the cabin, and drew long
breaths of the fresh air. The shepherds sat here and there on the
stones, smoking their little wooden pipes. They are in the habit of
choosing the oldest, or the most respected of their number, to preside
in the community, and arbitrate in all disputes. This circumstance,
which I discovered accidentally, surprised me; for it allowed me,
in this little democracy of shepherds, a glance into the primitive
condition of human society, and the beginnings of political life. It
seems six men cannot live together without regulating their society, and
developing laws. I greeted the little stumpy podestà most reverently;
and as I contemplated him in silence, I thought him more venerable than
Dejoces, the first and wisest of all the kings of the Medes.

Near the cabins I remarked smaller covered huts of stone, of a round or
of an oblong form. These were the storehouses. Angelo opened a little
door in his, and creeping in, beckoned me to follow; I contented myself
with peeping in. I saw the flat cheeses lying on green twigs, and white
balls of goats'-milk butter in little baskets.

I sat down on a stone, and commenced sketching the cabins. The whole
community came round me, and looked on with expressions of the liveliest
delight. Every one now wanted to have his portrait taken, in order that
it might afterwards be "printed" in Paris, as they said. They would
have it that I was from Paris; and I could not make it intelligible to
them, that besides Paris, there was another country called Germania.
"Germania, then," said my host, "is your paese; and this paese has
kings, and it belongs to Paris." There the matter had to rest.

The afternoon sun shone warmly, and tempted me into the hills. I took
the children with me—Antonio, a boy of thirteen, shaggy as a bear; Paola
Maria, and Fiordalisa. Fiordalisa means Lily-flower. Let the reader
picture to himself this Lily-flower of Monte Rotondo: she has seen
twelve summers; her dress is considerably tattered, her dark hair hangs
wild about her brown face, her eyes are clear and keen as a falcon's,
her teeth are white as ivory, and she climbs the rocks barefoot with
the agility of a chamois. We botanized along the Restonica. I espied
some beautiful red pinks on a ledge that I could hardly have reached,
and I pointed to them. "Aspettate! wait!" cried the Lily-flower; and
she was off like lightning up the cliff, and presently she was down
again with a handful of the pinks. The children now emulated each other
in climbing and dancing on the perilous crags like so many elves; fear
seemed a thing quite unknown to these little mountain-sprites. As we
were crossing the Restonica on our return home, Lily-flower sprang into
the stream, and took the wild fancy of splashing me with water, which
she did most unsparingly. I found the red foxglove growing in great
abundance in these hills—my little elves brought it me in armfuls;
and when we got home, we encircled the smoking hut with a garland of
the poisonous beauties—a decoration that it had probably never before
met with. This was to be a holiday token on the cabin that a guest
was there, since with good men it is always festival when their house
shelters a guest.

Lily-flower's delight in the garland was unbounded. "To-morrow," she
said, "when you are up on the hill, you will find a blue flower—the most
beautiful flower in all Corsica."

"If you say it, Fiordalisa, then it must be true, and to-morrow I shall
find the blue wonder-flower."[L]

Evening came on in the great, silent wilderness. Weary with my day's
fatigues, I sat down before the cabins, and contemplated the changeful
play of the clouds. Mists ascended from the ravines, and, attracted or
repelled by the mountains, rolled themselves together in the valleys,
or dispersed, and were lost among the clouds trailing slowly from above
along the hill-tops. The flocks and herds were coming in. I saw with
pleasure the long lines of the graceful black goats, and the black
sheep, to which the poor shepherds owe their subsistence. Each herdsman
drove, or drew them by a peculiar clear call, into an enclosure beside
his cabin, and there milked them. This operation is managed with
astonishing rapidity: the herdsman sits in the centre of the herd, and
catches one goat after another by the hind legs. He calls every animal
by its name; he knows each exactly. The mark of ownership is generally
on the ear. Forty head of goats, belonging to my host, yielded only a
single moderate pailful of milk.

The herds remain within the enclosure during the night. The shaggy dogs
protect them, not from the wolf, which is not found in Corsica, but from
the fox, which is remarkably bold and powerful among the hills, and
attacks the lambs. My host's Rosso and Mustaccio were two magnificent

Meantime the eldest son had returned with a number of beautiful trouts,
and Angelo busied himself with supper. I noticed that it was always the
man who cooked, and not his wife. Was this in honour of his guest? For
the position of woman in general in Corsica is low and menial. As I was
thinking of this, it occurred to me that in Homer the men perform all
similar operations—put the meat on the spit, roast it, and bring it to
the table; so that I had living and acting before me, the man of the
epic and primitive epoch of culture. In Corsica are to be found the men
of Homer and the men of Plutarch.

We had a bread-soup, cheese and milk, and, in honour of the guest,
roasted goat's flesh. For this classic goat-herd took the flesh from the
_palo_, and, after the fashion of ancient times, stuck it on a spit,
and, kneeling, held it over the glowing fire. Carefully, from time
to time, a piece of bread was pressed upon the dripping fat, that the
precious juice of the sweet loin-pieces might not be lost. He cooked
the trouts in a broth of goat's flesh; and when they were ready, he set
them before me, and ladled me forth from the mighty ladle as much as
heart could desire. I saw it in the children's eyes, that this was no
ordinary meal; and it would have refreshed me still more admirably, had
they been allowed to share it.

It was night in the cabin. I was puzzled to imagine how our sleeping
was to be arranged within the narrow limits. But that was soon managed.
My blanket was spread for me on the ground, and I stretched myself on
it, beside the innermost wall; I was at a loss, however, for something
on which to rest my head. I looked at Angelo. "Divine and wise Angelo,"
I said, "give ear. I have never, I swear to you, been a Sybarite, yet
am I accustomed to pillows. Could not your hospitality provide me with
some such convenience?" Angelo pondered; then he handed me his zaïno or
shepherd's bag of goatskin, and spoke the winged words—"Now sleep, and
_felicissima notte_!"

Gradually the others laid themselves down, wife and children, on
the naked earth, leaning their heads on the wall. Angelo lay nearest
the threshold; beside him the youngest child Maria; then Santa his
wife, Lily-flower, Paola Maria, and myself. So we all lay peaceably
together, our feet turned towards the fire. It was not long till
they were all asleep, and I lay contemplating with satisfaction this
happily slumbering family of Gymnosophists, and mused on the words of
the wise Sancho, when he praised the inventor of sleep, "the mantle
that covers all human care, the food that appeases hunger, the water
that extinguishes thirst, the fire that warms the cold, the cold that
alleviates the heat—in short, the universal money for which all things
may be bought, the beam and scale that equalizes king and shepherd."
The fire shed a red glow over the singular group. I lamented that I
was not a painter. But the intolerable heat and smoke of the pitch-pine
would not let me sleep. I rose from time to time and stepped over the
sleepers into the free air. I may say this was stepping from hell into
heaven—for I walked straight into a cloud that had descended on the
hill, and enveloped the cabins.

The night was chill and moist; but the clouds passed off, and the
infinite sky threw its myriad lights on the mists, on the craggy
heights, and the dark larches. I sat long beside the rushing Restonica,
whose tumultuous din broke the impressive silence of the still, pure
night. The spirit of solitude had never come so near me as it did that
night among the black crags, at the brink of a headlong brook, far up
among the clouds and mists, face to face with primitive nature, lost
in a foreign island girt with many a mile of sea. In such moments,
the feeling of loneliness becomes oppressive, and the sudden thought
alarms the soul, that the human being is but an insignificant atom;
and that perhaps this spiritual atom may in an instant lose and forget
its connexion with all related to it, and remain lonely in void space.
But the soul is not thus to be overcome; it spreads its wings for the
distant home, there regains its serenity, and loneliness has fled. I
listen to sounds that seem to be borne to me from the hills; they sound
sometimes like wild laughter—it is the mad Restonica that is so unquiet.
These stones are the dumb witnesses to ancient, dreadful birth-pangs,
offspring of the fieriest embraces of Uranus and Gaea.

The cold air drove me again to the fire. Overcome with fatigue, I at
last fell asleep, when I was suddenly awakened by the clear voice of
Santa, who cried several times, _Spettacoli divini! spettacoli divini!_
She was putting the children to rights; they had flung themselves
about into all sorts of comic positions. Divine spectacles they were
certainly. Lily-flower lay rolled up like a snake half over her mother;
Paola had thrown her arm about my neck. The child had perhaps heard an
owl in her sleep, or seen the vampire in a dream, that comes to suck
the heart's-blood.

I spent the rest of the night sitting looking into the fire, and amused
myself with imaginary representations of the heretics whom the Holy
Catholic Church has burned to the honour of God. Now this is quite an
endless amusement.



The day was dawning. I went out and refreshed myself in the waves of the
sleepless Restonica, which sprang young and fresh from rock to rock, and
hastened down into the valley. The young stream has a beautiful life.
After a merry career of twelve hours through ever-green woods, it dies
in the waters of the Tavignano. The Restonica gained my affections. I
know the whole story of its life; for I have accompanied it in a single
day, from its first leap to the end of its course; and many a glorious
draught did it afford me. Its water is as clear, as fresh, and as light
as ether; and is renowned far and wide throughout the land of Corsica.
I never drank better water; it was more grateful than the noblest wine.
There is such a keen quality in this incomparable stream, that it cleans
iron to the purity of a mirror in the shortest time, and preserves it
from rust; Boswell mentions that the Corsicans of Paoli's time laid
their rusty gun-barrels in the Restonica to clean them. It makes all the
stones and gravel that it washes milk-white; and its channel and banks
glitter with such stones down to its confluence with the Tavignano.

On asking my guide to ascend with me now to the summit of Rotondo, he
confessed that he did not know the road. Angelo, therefore, became
my guide. We began the ascent between three and four o'clock in the
morning. It was less dangerous but infinitely more fatiguing than I had

A number of ridges that rise one above the other, have to be surmounted
before we reach Trigione, from which the ascent of the highest peak
commences. These successive heights form a mighty scala—a stair piled by
the hand of Nature—of colossal steps of primeval reddish granite; huge
Titans, storming heaven with rocks in their giant hands, might be fit
to stride them. Block lies here over block, vast and formless as chaos,
and towering upwards and upwards in such endless masses of monotonous
gray, that the heart almost quails, and the foot refuses to go farther.
The rains of autumn have, in many places, given the granite such a
remarkable smoothness, that it presents large surfaces with all the
polish of a mirror. The water was running in a thousand little channels,
in exhaustless abundance. Tree vegetation, however, here ceases, and
only alder-bushes mark where the young Restonica is collecting its

In two hours we had climbed Trigione, and the white snow-covered summit
lay before us. Its steep and jagged cliffs form an incomplete circle
(hence the name Rotondo—round), partly hollowed out, like a crater; and
where this huge wild amphitheatre of rocks opens, lies a little dark
lake, the Lago di Monte Rotondo, encircled by gentle green slopes; an
ice-cold draught in a giant beaker of granite. Snow-fields rise from the
lake to the summit—a strange sight, and producing a peculiar impression,
in the hottest dog-days, under a southern sky and the 42d degree of
latitude. They were covered with a crust of ice, and perceptibly cooled
the air near them. But though I was in the region of eternal snow,
I found the temperature pleasantly cool and bracing, and by no means
uncomfortably low.

The summit appeared to the eye near enough, yet it took us two full
hours' climbing, often on our hands and feet, over the shattered
fragments of rock, before we reached it. The most difficult part of
it was the ascent over a strip of snow, on which we could not keep our
footing. We succeeded, however, by dint of hammering steps in the icy
crust with sharp stones, in making cautious progress. At length, much
exhausted, we reached the extreme peak, a torn and rugged obelisk of
gray rock ending in a slender pinnacle, clinging to which one manages
to support himself on the giddy and somewhat perilous height.

From this highest point of Corsica, then, 9000 feet (exactly 2764
metres) above the sea level, I saw the greater part of the island,
and the sea far below washing its coast on both sides—a sight of
inexpressible grandeur, once to have enjoyed which may justly be to any
man a life-long source of pleasant thought. The horizon which the eye
can take in from Rotondo is much grander and more beautiful than that
afforded by Mont Blanc. The view ranges far over the island itself into
the glittering distances of the sea, over the Tuscan islands to the
mainland of Italy, which in clear weather shows the white Alps of the
northern lakes, and the entire bend of the coast from Nice to Rome. On
the other side rise the mountains of Toulon, and the wondrous panorama
thus includes within its magic circle, mountains, seas, islands, the
Alps, the Apennines, and Sardinia. I was not so fortunate as to have the
prospect presented to me in its entire magnificence, for the clouds that
rolled themselves unceasingly up from the ravines, and the exhalations,
deprived me of part of the distance. To the north I saw the peninsula
of Cape Corso stretching itself into the sea like a dagger; to the east
the level coast country descending in easy lines, the islands of the
Tuscan sea, and Tuscany itself; to the west the Gulfs of Prato, Sagone,
Ajaccio, and Valinco. Ajaccio showed itself very distinctly on its
tongue of land in the beautiful bay—a row of little white houses, that
looked like swans swimming in the sea. The sea itself seemed an ocean
of light.

Southwards the broad-breasted Monte d'Oro shuts out the view of the
island. A great many peaks, little lower than Rotondo, and, like
it, crowned with glittering snow, were visible on every hand, as the
finely-formed Cinto, and Cape Bianco towards the north—the highest
summits of the district of Niolo.

From such a comprehensive point of view the island itself shows like
an enormous skeleton of rocks. Monte Rotondo does not lie within the
main mountain-chain which traverses the island from north to south—it
belongs to a subsidiary range running towards the east; nevertheless
from its summit the spectator commands the entire gigantic net-work of
cells that forms the mountain-system of the island. He sees the main
chain close before him, and from this backbone the ribs running out on
each side in parallel ranges, with valleys between, which are inhabited
and cultivated. Each of these valleys is traversed by a stream, while
from the principal range run also the three largest rivers of the
island—towards the east coast, the Golo and Tavignano; towards the west,
the Liamone.

Glancing from the summit of Rotondo on the scene in the immediate
vicinity, the eye is startled and affrighted at these vast and desolate
wastes of rock, and the giant ruins of shattered crag and cliff lying
around. Huge blocks are tumbled about here in a wild chaos, like
monuments of the struggle of the spirits of the elements with the light
of heaven. Frightfully steep walls of rock form a net-work of dreary
valleys. In the centre of most of them lies a little motionless lake,
blue, gray, or deep black, according as it receives light from the
sky or shadow from the cliffs. I counted several such lakes not far
off, Rinoso, Mello, Nielluccio, Pozzolo, from which brooks run to the
Restonica, and Oriente, the principal fountain-head of the Restonica
itself. Farther to the north-west I had before me the famous pastoral
highlands of Niolo, the most elevated basin of the island, with its
black lake Nino, from which the Tavignano flows.

These diminutive lakes are all of great depth, and swarming with trout.

As you stand on the summit you hear a continual sound of rushing waters;
part of them are forcing their way under ground. This rigid, blasted
wilderness, we perceive, overflows with living fountains, which descend
to bless the valleys, and there make culture and human society possible;
far down on the lower declivities of these mountains the eye catches
here and there a paese and green gardens, and patches of yellow field.

Clouds began to gather round the peak; we had to descend. Returning,
we took the difficult route by the Lago di Pozzolo. In this direction
rises, black and jagged, the colossal Frate, the mightiest granite
pyramid of Rotondo. Chaotic debris covers its huge base, which sinks
into the dreary glen of the Pozzolo. That blue wonder-flower, which
Fiordalisa had said I should find, was growing in the crevices of
the rocks. Angelo had plucked one, and cried to me: _Ecco, ecco la
fiore?_—see, see the flower! I took it from his hand; it was our
Forget-me-not. On the summit of Rotondo itself, I saw camomile, the
amaranth, and the ranunculus, growing in abundance, and our own violets
graced the very edge of the snow-fields.

It was with great difficulty that we succeeded in scrambling over the
stones of Frate, and a strip of snow threatened at last to block up the
way altogether. The goat-herd proposed making a _détour_ to avoid it,
but as a North-Prussian I was not inclined so readily to succumb, and
could not resist the temptation of a capital slide. I accordingly placed
myself on Angelo's pelone, and made the descent. I had thus the pleasure
of a little sledging-trip beneath the summer glow of an Italian sun,
and under the 45th degree of latitude.

We breakfasted at the foot of another cone, and, refreshed with
some bread, and a draught from a neighbouring brook, pursued our way
downwards. I looked round in vain for the wild animals that haunt the
rocks of Monte Rotondo—the Muffro namely, or wild sheep—and the bandits.
Although Angelo assured me there were plenty of them in the clefts and
ravines that we passed, I could discover none. The only wild creature
I saw on these heights was the pretty mountain-finch of Monte Rotondo—a
bird with gray body, and red, white, and black wings.

The Corsican wild sheep, the Muffro or Mufflone, is one of the most
remarkable products of the island. It is a beautiful, strong-limbed
animal, with spiral horns, and silky hair of a brownish-black. It
inhabits the highest regions of eternal snow, mounting constantly higher
as the summer sun melts the snow from the hills. By day it frequents
the shores of the lakes, where it finds pasturage; at night it retires
again to the snow. The muffro sleeps on the snow, and the female drops
its young on the snow. Like the chamois, the muffro posts sentinels
while feeding. Sometimes, in severe winters, when deep snow covers their
pasture-grounds, these wild sheep appear in herds among the tame goats,
and they are frequently to be seen in the valleys of Vivario, Niolo, and
Guagno, feeding peaceably among the flocks of the shepherds. The young
animal may be tamed, the old not. They are frequently hunted, and when
shots are heard echoing from rock to rock up among the hills, people
know that men are stalking the muffro or the bandit. Both are lawful
game, brothers of the mountain-fastnesses, and both climb to the eternal

After a descent of three hours we reached the cabins, and the foul
atmosphere of these wretched hovels contrasted so disagreeably with the
pure ether I had been breathing, that I did not rest more than an hour
till I had the mule saddled, and put myself on the road for Corte. I
bade the good people of Co di Mozzo a hearty farewell, and wished that
their flocks might increase and multiply like the flocks of Jacob. They
accompanied me to the gate of the enclosure; and as I rode away, men
and children saluted me with an honest burst of _evvivas_.

A ride of some hours brought me once more to the region of chestnuts
and citrons, and I had thus, in one day, from the heights of perpetual
snow to the gardens of Corte, travelled through three distinct zones of
climate, which was like journeying from the arctic winter of Norway to
the countries of southern Europe.



I was not destined to leave the quiet Corte without some slightly
unpleasant recollections, and that owing to my guide of Monte Rotondo.
It was not till after I had returned to the town that I learned to what
a furious and passionate individual I had trusted myself. Although he
had told me a falsehood, and, proving to be unacquainted with the road
to the summit, had compelled me to take the goat-herd Angelo as guide,
I gave him the full hire we had agreed on. But the fellow, in the most
impudent way, demanded half as much again. The vehement language on both
sides drew the notice of some Corsican gentlemen, who took my part.
"This is a stranger," said one of them to the guide, "and with us the
stranger is always in the right." I replied to the polite speaker, "that
I claimed my rights not as a stranger, but as a man, and that I should
instantly have recourse to the authorities of the town, if the rascal
continued to molest me." The latter threw his wages on the table, and
stormed out of the room, exclaiming that he should know how to have
his revenge on the German. On this the landlady of the locanda came to
me and bade me be on my guard, as the fellow was passionate beyond all
bounds, and last year had stabbed a man in the market-place.

Somewhat anxious, I asked the reason. "Because," said the landlady,
"the Lucchese had struck his little brother for hanging on to his cart,
as children do. The boy ran with his complaint to his brother, who
instantly rushed out with his dagger, and murdered the other with one

"How was he punished?" "With five months' imprisonment; for somehow or
other the murder could not be properly proved." "Now, I confess—_la
giustizia Corsa è un poco corta_—your Corsican justice is a little
short; but, my good woman, you knew the ungovernable temper of this
man—you knew he had already shed blood, and yet you yourself engaged
me this devil for a guide, and allowed an unarmed stranger to enter the
hills with him!"

"I thought, sir, you would see it in his eyes, and I gave you a wink
once or twice, too. The fellow had offered himself, and if I had been
the reason of your sending him away, then _I_ should have got myself
into trouble."

I now remembered that the good woman had asked me as I was going off
with the guide: "When do you expect to return?" and that when I said,
"In two days," she shrugged her shoulders, and seemed to intimate
something with her eyes.

"Very well," I said to the woman, "I shall not give the man a single
quattrino more than was agreed on. On that my mind is made up."

He came in the evening and took away quietly enough the money I
had thrown down. But although this looked like an admission of his
misconduct, I thought it best to maintain a sharp look-out, and did not
go beyond the gates after night-fall.

The following evening I took a walk in the company of a Corsican officer
whose acquaintance I had made. Outside the gate I witnessed a slight
specimen of Corsican temperament. A youth of about fifteen had tied a
horse to a fence, and was throwing stones at it, quite beside himself
with rage, and howling out his fury like some maddened beast. The poor
animal had probably offended him by a fit of obstinacy. I stood looking
at him, and provoked at such malignant brutality, at last called to him
to cease. Instantly my companion said to me: "For Heaven's sake come
away, and be quiet." I obeyed, not a little struck with the scene, and
the suppressed tones in which my companion had addressed me. This, too,
was a glimpse of the state of Corsican society.

Shortly after, the youth flew past on the horse like a demon, his hair
streaming, his face on flame, his eyes still sparkling with fury.

I felt deeply at that moment that I was among barbarians, and a sudden
longing for Florence and its mild Italians filled me.

But there was still another disagreeable little incident in store for
me. We had not gone a mile further into the hills, when I saw my guide
walking along a height a little distance from the road, his gun upon
his shoulder. He sat down on a rock, resting his piece across his knee.
I did not know whether he still bore me a grudge, and meant mischief,
but it was possible. I pointed him out to my companion, and continued
my walk past him, not choosing to show any signs of fear; but I felt
uncomfortable. "He will not shoot at you," said the officer, "unless
you have offended him by some injurious word. But if you have done that,
no saying what may happen; these men will stand no insult." He did not
shoot, for which I was obliged to the bloodthirsty vampire, or the poor
devil, let me rather call him—for nature sins here more than man. The
blood that is shed among the Corsican hills is seldom shed from such a
despicable motive as lust of gold—almost always from false notions of
honour. The Corsican Vendetta is a chivalrous duel for life and death.



Travelling from Corte to Ajaccio, you keep ascending for several
leagues till you reach Monte d'Oro; the road leads southwards through
a beautiful and well-cultivated undulating region, full of magnificent
chestnut-groves. Nothing can be more cheerful than the landscapes of the
canton of Serraggio, formerly the pieve of Venaco. Brooks which descend
from Monte Rotondo water here a lovely green country, on whose eminences
little hamlets stand, as Pietro, Casa Nova, Riventosa, and Poggio.

Poggio di Venaco preserves the memory of the handsome Arrigo Colonna,
who was Count of Corsica in the tenth century. As the traveller wanders
onwards, he lights every now and then on romantic old traditions, which
keep his imagination busy, and form great part of his pleasure. Arrigo
was so beautiful in person, and courteous and graceful in manner, that
he was called the Bel-Messere; and by this name he still lives in the
mouths of the people. His wife, too, was a beautiful and noble woman,
and his seven children were all fair and young. But his foes were
resolved to rob him of his authority, and a fierce Sardinian conspired
with them against his life. One day, the assassins fell upon him and
stabbed him, and they took his seven children and threw them all into
the lake "of the seven bowls." When this wicked deed had been done, a
voice was heard in the air, which wailed and cried, "Bel-Messere is
dead! Luckless Corsica, hope for no happiness more!" All the people
raised a lament for Bel-Messere; but his wife took shield and spear,
and hastened at the head of her vassals to the castle of Tralavedo, to
which the murderers had retired, and she burned down the castle, and put
all the murderers to the sword. Still many a night on the green hills
of Venaco nine ghosts may be seen wandering about; these are the ghosts
of Bel-Messere, his wife, and the seven poor children.

It was Sunday. The people were walking about in the villages, or,
oftener, they were to be seen, like their fathers in times long gone by,
sitting round the church;—a beautiful picture in the Sabbath stillness,
men peacefully keeping the holiday of God's rest. But even on Sunday,
and before the church-door, there comes a sudden musket-shot sometimes,
and then the scene changes.

In the neighbourhood of Vivario the country becomes wilder, and the
eminences more considerable. Many a passer-by stops a while at the
threshold of the little church of Vivario, and looks at a gravestone
there. A verse of the Bible in Latin is engraved on it—_Maledictus qui
percusserit clam proximum suum, et dicet omnis populus amen_—Cursed be
he that smiteth his neighbour secretly, and all the people shall say,
Amen. The stone tells a Vendetta story of the seventeenth century; under
it the avenger of blood lies buried. Blessed be the memory of the priest
of Vivario, who took this curse from the Bible and engraved it upon the
stone. They say it is the talisman of Vivario, for the last Vendetta
of the village is thereon inscribed. Would that the hand that wrote it
had been the hand of a giant, and had written in giant letters over all
Corsica—_Maledictus qui percusserit clam proximum suum, et dicet omnis
populus amen!_

In a lonely and desolate part of the mountains of Vivario stands a
little blockhouse, with a garrison of ten men. The large valley of
the Tavignano ends here, and a range of heights forms the water-shed
between it and the Gravone, which flows in the opposite direction,
towards Ajaccio. On the boundary line between the two valleys stand the
two snow-capped mountains, Monte Renoso and Monte d'Oro, which latter
attains an elevation only a few metres less than that of Rotondo, and
surpasses it in grandeur of form. For many hours the traveller has this
mountain constantly before his eye.

The road passes between the two mountains, through the glorious forest
of Vizzavona. It consists mainly of larches, which are frequently 120
feet in height, and twenty-one in thickness. Of all the fir species this
mighty, broad-branched, fragrant larch is probably the finest, next to
the cedar; and as I have no acquaintance with the cedars of Asia I may
say that the Corsican larch is the most imposing tree I ever beheld.
To see it in its silent, gloomy majesty on the mighty granite rocks of
these hills was always a high enjoyment for me. It well befits this
imperial tree to stand on granite. It towers high above the cliffs,
which its roots victoriously pierce; and on many spots, known only to
the eagle and the wild sheep, it rises in solitary majesty. There are
magnificent specimens of various other kinds of firs in the forest, red
beeches, and evergreen oaks (_ilex_). It shelters abundance of game,
particularly deer, which are in Corsica of no great size; the wild swine
frequent the regions nearer the coast, where they are eagerly hunted.

The forest of Vizzavona is, next to that of Aitone in the canton of
Evisa, the largest in Corsica. All these forests are in the mountainous
districts. Some belong to the state, most of them to the communes.
Nothing, comparatively speaking, has yet been made of them. I observed
a snake sunning itself by the wayside. Corsica has only two species of
snakes, and no poisonous animals except a spider called Malmignatto—the
bite of which produces a sudden chill all over the body, and sometimes
death—and the venomous ant Innafantato.

It was about noon when I passed through the forest. There was a
suffocating heat in the atmosphere, but the wood offered its cool
springs. Everywhere they trickle down the rocks to swell the waters of
the Gravone; their water is cold and pleasant. Seneca can never have
tasted the Corsican mountain streams, else he would not have said in
his epigram that Corsica could not afford a draught of water.

At length I reached the ridge of the hills, at the highest point on
the road to Ajaccio, 3500 feet above the level of the sea. This is the
Foce, or Pass of Vizzavona, frequently mentioned in the Corsican popular

The road now descends into the valley of Gravone. Two chains of
mountains confine this fruitful valley. The northern, running out from
Monte d'Oro, ends above Ajaccio in the Punta della Parata. It separates
the basin of the Gravone from that of the Liamone. The southern runs out
in a parallel direction from Monte Renoso, and separates the valleys
of the Gravone and the Prunelli. On both sides of the Gravone stand
villages on the hills. They have a more cheerful appearance than any I
have ever seen in Corsica.

The first village we enter in this canton is Bocognano, which lies
near the mouth of the wild gorge of Vizzavona. On every side rise
dark, wooded hills with snowy summits; the whole region is of a stern,
impressive character. They are herdsmen that dwell here—poor men, but
stout in heart and strong in arm. They live on milk, or on chestnuts.
Many manufacture the pelone. Every one goes armed in this district. The
sight of these powerful men, with their double-barrels and carchera, and
in the brown woollen blouse, accords well with the gloomy Alpine heights
and the pine-forests all around. These Corsican highlanders look as if
they were made of iron, like the fusils which they carry. The people
here seemed to be still sticking fast in all the rust and rudeness of
the Middle Ages.

The road continues to descend towards Ajaccio. At length we descried
the magnificent gulf. It was about five o'clock in the afternoon when
we gained the neighbourhood of the city. The richer cultivation of
the heights, vineyards, and olive-orchards, and the fertile plain of
Campoloro, announced the vicinity of the capital of Corsica. It showed
itself as a row of white houses stretching into the gulf, at the foot of
a range of hills, and surrounded by villas. Through the avenue of elms,
which leads along the gulf into the town, I now, with joyous emotion,
entered the little native city of the man who convulsed the world.


     [L] An allusion to the blue flower in the _Henrich von Ofterdingen_
     of Novalis—_Tr._




Ajaccio lies at the northern end of one of the most magnificent gulfs in
the world. The lines of its two opposite coasts are of unequal length.
The northern is the shorter; it runs out in a westerly direction to
the Punta della Parata, off which lie the Isole Sanguinarie, or Bloody
Islands. The southern side of the gulf stretches from north to south
in a long and very irregular line to Cape Muro, on rounding which you
enter the Bay of Valinco.

No villages are seen on the northern shore; on the southern but few,
with here and there a solitary tower or a lighthouse. Lofty hills rise
over the northern end of the beautiful gulf; at their base lies the
valley of the Gravone, ending towards the sea in the fertile plain of
Campo di Loro. The situation of Ajaccio has an astonishing resemblance
to that of Naples.

It is said that Ajaccio is one of the oldest cities in Corsica.
According to the fable of some chroniclers, it derives its name from
the Telamonian Ajax; according to others, it was founded by Agazzo,
the son of the Trojan prince Corso, who wandered with Æneas into the
western Mediterranean, carried off Sica, the niece of Dido, and thus
gave the island the name of Corsica. Ptolemy places the ancient city
of Urcinium on the Gulf of Ajaccio, supposed to be the Adjacium of the
earliest period of the Middle Ages, a town which is always mentioned
along with the oldest in the island—with Aleria, Mariana, Nebium, and
Sagona, cities which now no longer exist.

The ancient Ajaccio, however, did not occupy the site of the present
town; it lay on an eminence farther to the north. The hill is called San
Giovanni; on its summit lie the ruins of an old castle, named _Castello
Vecchio_, and there formerly lay near them the remains of an ancient
cathedral, in which it was customary for the bishops of Ajaccio to
be consecrated, long after it had fallen into decay. These ruins have
vanished; nothing now betrays the former existence of a city on this
spot. But many ancient Roman coins have been found in the vineyards;
also oval-shaped sarcophagi of terracotta, always containing a skeleton
and a key. It is said that the vaulted tombs of the Moorish kings were
also formerly shown here; but they have disappeared.

The new town and the citadel were founded by the Bank of St. George
of Genoa in the year 1492. It was the residence of a lieutenant of the
Governor of Bastia, and did not become the capital of the island till
the year 1811, when it was elevated to its new dignity at the instance
of Madame Letitia and Cardinal Fesch, who wished in this way to give
distinction to their own and the Emperor's birthplace.

The best view of the town and its environs is from the hill of San
Giovanni. It presents one of the prettiest pictures that can be
imagined, and is equalled by no other city in Corsica. The distance is
incomparable. Cloud-topped hills stretching far into the interior, the
majestic gulf in azure splendour, an Italian vegetation and a southern
sky—no finer combination could be thought of; and here in the midst
of it lies a quite idyllic, silent, innocent little town of 11,500
inhabitants, concealed among the verdure of its elms, the mistress of a
region which seems intended to be the environment of one of the capitals
of the world.

Ajaccio lies on a tongue of land, the extremity of which is occupied
by the castle. Portions of the town stretch on each side of this tongue
along the gulf. The avenue of elms and planes which leads into the city
is continued along its main street—the Cours Napoleon, which is properly
the prolongation of the road from Corte. Part of it has had to be
blasted through the rocks, two of which still stand at the entrance of
the town, close to the houses. In the Corso itself the elms give place
to orange-trees of considerable size, which give the street a rich and
festive look. The houses are high, but destitute of architectural merit.
The gray jalousies are characteristic; this is the colour preferred in
Corsica, while in Italy they are usually of a lively green. The gray
gives to the buildings a dead, monotonous air. All the more considerable
edifices of the Corso stand on the right side; the little Theatre, the
Prefecture—a handsome building—and the military barracks.

The rural quiet pervading these streets of Ajaccio surprised me; but
their names speak loudly to the traveller, and relate the history
of Napoleon. You read Cours Napoleon, Rue Napoleon, Rue Fesch, Rue
Cardinal, Place Letitia, and Rue du Roi de Rome, which last awakens
mournful recollections. The memory of Napoleon is the proper soul
of the town, and you saunter onwards, out of one little street into
another, musing on the wonderful man and his childhood, and soon you
have wandered through them all. The Rue Fesch runs parallel with the
Cours Napoleon; the former leads to the spacious Place du Diamant,
which lies on the shore, and has beautiful view of the gulf and its
southern coast; the latter ends in the market-place (_du marché_), and
leads to the harbour. These are the two principal streets and squares
of Ajaccio. Narrow lanes connect them, and intersect the whole of the
tongue of land. The silence invites memory and thought, and silently the
mirror of the blue gulf stretches away before the view. You see it from
almost every street. The eye is nowhere imprisoned by walls, for the
main streets are wide, the squares spacious, planted with green trees;
and the sea, and green olive-clad hills, which rise close upon the city,
look in upon you wherever you go or stand. Ajaccio is at once an inland
and a coast town—you live there in the heart of Nature.

In the cool of the evening, the Corso and Diamond Place grew livelier.
The military band began to play in the Place; the people gathered here
and there in groups, or moved about. Most of the women wore black veils,
those of the middle classes were enveloped in the black faldetta. It
was easy to imagine you were in some city of Spain.

The Ajaccians have the finest promenades in the world, whether they
choose the beautiful esplanade which has so romantic a name, or the
walks along the gulf among alleys of elms, and through vineyards and
olive-gardens. I know few promenades from which so fine a view is to
be had as that from the quiet Place du Diamant in Ajaccio. Immediately
in front of it the murmuring sea; towards the land cheerful rows of
houses; among them, a stately military hospital and a handsome Catholic
College; close over these houses a green hill. A stone breastwork runs
along the side next the gulf; a few steps bring you to the strand, which
is fringed by an alley of trees.

I found nothing in Ajaccio more pleasant than to wander about on the
Place du Diamant in the evening, when the west wind blew fresh over
the gulf, or to sit on the breastwork, and feast my eyes on the magic
panorama of sea and hills. The sky of Italy is then lit up with a
brilliance as of fairy-land; the air is so clear that the Milky Way
and the planet Venus throw long lines of radiance across the gulf, and
the waves reflect a mild splendour. Where they are in motion, or are
furrowed by a passing skiff, they tremble with phosphorescent sparks.
Above, the shore wraps itself in night; the beacons gleam from the
headlands, and on the hills you see in many places great fires blazing.
They are burning copsewood there—a practice common in the month of
August, in order to gain land for tillage, which is at the same time
manured by the ashes. These fires continue to burn for days. During the
day they roll white clouds of smoke over the hills, at night they glare
over the gulf like volcanoes, and then the resemblance to the Gulf of
Naples becomes striking. A magnificent illumination may thus be enjoyed
every evening on the Diamond Place of Ajaccio.

The market-place is no less beautiful, though it affords a less
comprehensive view. You see from it the safe and beautiful harbour,
confined by a granite mole erected by Napoleon. On the side of the
harbour, a beautiful quay of granite bounds the market-place, which,
planted with trees, has a look of rural peace. At its entrance stands
the principal fountain in Ajaccio, a large cube of marble, from the
sides of which the water gushes into semi-circular basins. It is
thronged from morning till night with women and children drawing water;
and I could never look on these groups without being reminded of Old
Testament scenes of the same character. In warm countries, the wells are
the very fountains of poetry and sociable intercourse; well and hearth
are the time-honoured centres round which human society has always
gathered.—The women here do not draw their water in the antique vessels
of metal used in Bastia, but in cask-shaped pitchers of terracotta, the
handles of which lie across the mouths. These pitchers are also ancient;
and another kind of earthenware pitcher, common in Ajaccio, with a long
slender neck, has a thoroughly Etruscan look. The poor inhabitants of
the barren island of Capraja support themselves partly by making these
vessels, which are sent to great distances.

On the same market-place, behind the fountain, close upon the harbour
and before the handsome town-house, stands a marble statue of Napoleon,
on an excessively high and disagreeably tapering pedestal of granite.
The inscription is as follows: "His native city to the Emperor Napoleon,
on the 5th May 1850, the second year of the presidency of Louis
Napoleon." Ajaccio had long been endeavouring to raise a monument to
Napoleon, and always in vain. The arrival of a statue in Corsica was
therefore an event of no small importance for the island. It chanced
that the Bonaparte family on one occasion sent Signor Ramolino the
statue of a Ganymede. The people seeing it as it was taken out of the
vessel, took the eagle of Ganymede for the imperial eagle, and Ganymede
himself for Napoleon; they assembled in the market-place, and demanded
that the statue should forthwith be placed on the above-mentioned
fountain, that they might at last have the great Napoleon in marble
in the market-place. The worthy Corsicans, in thus turning the Trojan
youth Ganymede into their countryman Napoleon, certainly seem to give
some colour to the old fable of the chroniclers, that the Ajaccians are
descended from a Trojan prince.

The beautiful statue of Napoleon, by the Florentine Bartolini, was
originally intended for Ajaccio; but a disagreement arose about the
price (60,000 francs), and Bartolini's work never became one of the
ornaments of Ajaccio. The statue of Napoleon in the market-place is
by Laboureur, and is only of mediocre merit; but its position, in full
view of the gulf, gives it an admirable local effect. It is a consular
statue. The consul looks from the pedestal upon the sea, turning from
his little native town to the world-embracing element. He wears the
Roman toga, and on his head a wreath of bays; his right hand grasps
a rudder, which rests upon a ball representing the globe. The idea
is happy; for in sight of the gulf the rudder appears a quite natural
symbol, and is doubly significant in the hand of an islander. The mind
of the beholder dwells here not on the history of the complete, but
of the incipient ruler; for he sees around him the little world of
Ajaccio, in which the mightiest European man went about as child and
youth, unconscious who he was, and for what fate had destined him. Then
the memory wanders from the market-place to the gulf, and sees the ship
anchor there, which bore the General Napoleon Bonaparte from Egypt to
France. During the night he sat on board that vessel, eagerly reading
such newspapers as could be procured for him in Ajaccio; and it was here
that he formed the resolution to seize that rudder with which he was
to rule not France alone, but an empire and a hemisphere, till it broke
in his hand, and the man of Corsica went to wreck on the island of St.

Very few vessels, some luggers, and one or two schooners, lie in the
harbour. Not, like the Bay of San Fiorenzo, exposed to the maestrale,
or north-west wind, but protected by its shores from every storm, this
magnificent gulf is capable of sheltering in its roads the largest
fleets. But the port is completely dull, and destitute of trade. Once
a week, on Saturday, comes a steamer from Marseilles, and brings news
of the world, and supplies of necessary articles. I have often heard
Corsicans complain that the native city of Napoleon, though possessing
the advantages of an incomparable situation, and an excellent climate,
was nothing more than an ordinary little provincial town of France. You
only need to walk round the market-place, where most of the shops are,
on the ground-floors of the houses, to see how slow the sale of goods
is, and how limited the native industry. You do not see a single shop
where articles of luxury are sold—nothing but the most indispensable
handicrafts, such as shoemaking and tailoring; and the wares that look
most like to articles of luxury, seem old-fashioned and spoiled.

I found only one book-shop in Ajaccio: it was kept by a dealer in small
wares, who sold soap, cordage, knives, and baskets as well as books.
The town-house, however, contains, for Ajaccio, a highly considerable
library, of 27,000 volumes. It was founded by Lucian Bonaparte, and the
opinion is, that he has done greater service to his country in connexion
with this library, than by his epic in twelve cantos: _La Cyrneïde_.
The prefecture also possesses a valuable library, which is particularly
rich in archives and important documents of Corsican history.

In the town-house is also preserved the collection of pictures which
Cardinal Fesch bequeathed to his native city. It consists of 1000
paintings. The poor citizens of Ajaccio have no proper museum in which
to hang these; they have consequently lain for years in a lumber-room.
Fesch also proposed to make his house an institution for the Jesuits;
latterly he made it a college, which now bears his name. It has a
principal, and twelve teachers for various branches of science and

Ajaccio is very poor in public institutions and public buildings. Its
most important edifice is the house of the Bonapartes.



The narrow street of St. Charles issues upon a little square. An elm
stands there before an oldish three-storied house, the plaster of
which has been coloured a yellowish-gray; it has a flat roof, and a
balustrade above it, a front of six windows in breadth, and doors that
look greatly decayed. On the corner of this house you read the words:
"_Place Letitia_."

No marble tablet tells the stranger who has come from Italy, where the
houses of great men always bear inscriptions, that he stands before
the house of the Bonapartes. He knocks in vain at the door; no voice
answers, and all the windows are closely veiled with gray jalousies, as
if the house were in a state of siege from the Vendetta. Not a human
being is stirring upon the square; a deathlike stillness rests upon
the neighbourhood, as if the name of Napoleon had frightened it into
silence, or scared all else away.

At length an old man appeared at the window of a house close by, and
requested me to return in two hours, when he should be able to give me
the key.

Bonaparte's house, which has, I am assured, sustained but slight
alteration, though no palace, has plainly been the dwelling of a
patrician family. Its appearance shows this, and it is without doubt a
palace compared with the village-cabin in which Pasquale Paoli was born.
It is roomy, handsome, and convenient. But the rooms are destitute of
furniture; the tapestries alone have been left on the walls, and they
are decayed. The floor, which, as is usual in Corsica, is laid out
in small hexagonal red flags, is here and there ruinous. The darkness
produced in the rooms by the closed jalousies, and their emptiness, made
them quite dismal.

Once, in the time of the beautiful Letitia, this house was alive
with the busy stir of a numerous family, and brilliant with joyous
hospitality. Now, it is like a tomb, and in vain you look around you for
a single object on which fancy may hang associations with the history
of its enigmatic inhabitants. The naked walls can tell no tale.

I do not know when the Casa Bonaparte was erected, but it can hardly
be very old. It was built, no doubt, when the Genoese were supreme in
the island, perhaps when Louis Quatorze was filling the world with his
own fame, and with the fame of France. I thought of the time when the
master of the craftsmen who erected it pronounced over the house, on
its completion, the customary blessing, and when, according to ancient
usage, the family for whom it had been built was solemnly conducted into
it by an assemblage of kinsfolk—all alike unconscious that the whim of
fortune would one day shower upon its roof the crowns of kingdoms and
of empires, and that it was yet to cradle the race of princes who were
to share among them the thrones of a continent.

The excited fancy seeks them in these rooms, and sees them assembled
round their mother, children in no respect differing from ordinary
children—boys who toil over their Plutarch and their Cæsar,
schoolmastered by their grave father, or their granduncle Lucian, and
three young sisters who grow up thoughtlessly, and rather wild, like
their playmates, in the half-barbarous island-town. There is Joseph,
the eldest, and there Napoleon, the second son, with Lucian, Louis, and
Jerome; there Caroline, Eliza, and Paulina, the children of a notary
of moderate income, who is constantly and to no purpose carrying on
lawsuits with the Jesuits of Ajaccio about a contested property, of
which, with his large family, he stands in great need. For it is a
matter of much anxiety to him, how his children are to be provided
for. How will they prosper in the world? and in what way secure for
themselves a respectable livelihood?

And lo! these same children one day put forth their hands, one after
another, and grasp the mightiest crowns of the earth, tear them from
the heads of the most unapproachable majesties of Europe, wear them
before all the world, are embraced as brothers and brothers-in-law by
emperors and kings, while great nations fall submissive at their feet,
and abandon to the sons of the notary of Ajaccio their country, their
wealth, and their blood. Napoleon is European Emperor, Joseph king
of Spain, Louis king of Holland, Jerome king of Westphalia, Paulina a
princess of Italy, Eliza a princess of Italy, Caroline queen of Naples.
In this little house were so many crowned potentates born and brought
up; their mother a woman whose name the world had never heard, daughter
of a citizen of a small, obscure, provincial town, Letitia Ramolino, who
married at the age of fourteen a man as little known to fame as herself.
It may be said with truth, that in her labours this mother travailed
with the world's history.

There is no fable in all the Arabian Nights apparently more fabulous
than the story of the Bonaparte family. That this romance has, however,
realized itself in the quiet, sober days of our modern era, must be
regarded as a great fact in history, and as a piece of great good
fortune. The history of humanity, clogged with political precedent,
and paralysed by bureaus and red tape, has thereby been shaken with
earthquake force into fresh activity, and flushed with a new life, and
man has been shown to be stronger than a supposed political necessity.
Human power and human passion have been freed from the spell under
which the traditional limitations of rank had bound them, and it has
been proved that the individual, though born among the dust, may become
anything and everything, because men are equal. That the history of the
Bonapartes should appear fabulous is the fault of the mediæval tinge
that still attaches to our ideas of life, and of the received notions
as to the impassable barriers interposed by social difference. Napoleon
is the political Faust. His historical greatness does not lie in his
battles, but in his revolutionary nature. He overthrew the political
gods of tradition. The history of this predestined man is therefore very
simple, human, and natural, but it cannot yet be written.

History, too, is Nature. There is a chain of causes and effects, and
what we call genius, or a great man, is always the necessary result of
definite conditions.

More than a thousand years of almost uninterrupted conflict between
Corsica and her oppressors preceded the birth of the great conqueror
Napoleon, in whose nature this rock-bound island, and this insular
people, steeled in conflict, and forcibly thrown back upon itself by the
narrow space to which it was confined, created for themselves an organ
whose law was—illimitedness. The ascending series was this: the Corsican
bandit, the Corsican soldier, Renuccio della Rocca, Sampiero, Gaffori,
Pasquale Paoli, Napoleon.

I entered a little room with blue tapestry, and two windows, one of
which, with a balcony before it, looked into a court, the other into
the street. You see here a wall-press, behind a tapestried door, and
a fireplace with a mantelpiece of yellow marble ornamented with some
mythological reliefs. In this room, on the 15th of August 1769, Napoleon
was born. It is a strange feeling, hard to put in language, which
takes possession of the soul on the spot hallowed as the birthplace
of a great man. Something sacred, mystic, a consecrated atmosphere,
pervades it. It is as if you were casting a glance behind the curtain
of Nature, where she creates in silence the incomprehensible organs of
her action. But man discerns only the phenomenal, he attempts in vain
to ascertain the _how_. To stand in silence before the unsearchable
mysteries of Nature, and see with wonder the radiant forms that ascend
from the darkness—that is human religion. For the thoughtful man nothing
is more deeply impressive than the starry sky of night, or the starry
sky of history. I saw other rooms, the ballroom of the family, Madame
Letitia's room, Napoleon's little room where he slept, and that in
which he studied. The two little wall-presses are still to be seen there
in which his school-books stood. Books stand in them at present. With
eager curiosity I took out some of them, as if they were Napoleon's;
they were yellow with age—law-books, theological treatises, a Livy,
a Guicciardini, and others, probably the property of the Pietra Santa
family, who are related to the Bonapartes, and to whom their house in
Ajaccio now belongs.

It is well to review in connexion with this house the early history of
Napoleon, about which our information is still insufficient. I shall
relate what I know of it by hearsay or reading. I am largely indebted
to the lately published work of the Corsican Nasica—_Mémoires sur
l'Enfance et la Jeunesse de Napoléon jusqu'à l'age de vingt-trois ans_.
It is dedicated to the uncle's nephew, and is written without talent
or insight, but contains facts which are undoubtedly correct, and some
valuable documents.



The origin of the Bonaparte family can no longer be precisely
ascertained. Low flattery has availed itself of the most ridiculous
means to procure Napoleon ancient and dignified ancestors. A pedigree
has even been constructed beginning with Emanuel II., the eighth Greek
emperor of the house of the Comneni, whose two sons are said to have
emigrated under the name of Bonaparte after the fall of Constantinople,
first to Corfu, then to Naples, Rome, and Florence. From them, as this
ridiculous fiction will have it, the Corsican Bonapartes are descended.

It has been historically proved that the Bonapartes figured among the
seigniors of the Italian cities during the Middle Ages. The Bonapartes
were inscribed in the Golden Book of Bologna, among the Patricians of
Florence, and in the book of the nobility of Treviso. When Napoleon
became son-in-law of Austria, the Emperor Francis ordered active
researches to be made as to the position occupied by the Bonaparte
family in Italy during the Middle Ages; and sent his son-in-law some
documents purporting to prove that the Bonapartes had been for a long
period the lords of Treviso. Napoleon expressed himself as obliged, but
replied that he found himself sufficiently honoured in being the Rudolph
of Hapsburg of his race. On another occasion he declined the ancient
patents of nobility which were being palmed on him, with the words: "I
date my nobility from Millesimo and Montenotte."

It is quite uncertain when the Bonapartes came to Corsica.
Muratori quotes a document of the year 947, in which three Corsican
seigniors—Otho, Domenico, and Guido—gift their estate of Venaco in
Corsica to Silverio, Abbot of the cloister of Monte Cristo; a Messer
Bonaparte signing the instrument in Mariana, along with other witnesses.
The family, or rather a branch of it, would therefore seem to have
come to Corsica at an early period. Others, perhaps, followed in later
centuries, for the Tuscan Bonapartes were partly Guelphs and partly
Ghibellines, and were alternately expatriated with the one or the
other faction. It is known that some of them removed to Sarzana, in
the district of Lunigiana, where they entered into the service of the
powerful Malaspinas, with whom, as I am disposed to believe, they came
over to Corsica. Another branch remained in Tuscany, establishing itself
there permanently—first in Florence, and afterwards in the little town
of San Miniato al Tedesco, which lies upon the road to Pisa. The family
had its tomb in the Church of San Spirito at Florence; and I saw there,
in the piazza of the convent, a stone with the inscription, in antique

       S. di Benedeto
       Di Piero di Giovanni
     Buonaparte. E di sua Descendenti.

The coat of arms above the inscription bears two stars, one in its upper
and one in its lower division, significantly enough—for the star has
twice ascended over the house of Bonaparte.

Members of his family were still living in San Miniato in the time of
Napoleon. After his expedition from Leghorn, he found in the little
town the last of that branch of the Bonapartes, in the person of an old
canon, Filippo Bonaparte, who made the young hero his heir, and died in
the year 1799.

As regards the Bonapartes of Ajaccio, they can be traced with certainty
as far back as Messire Francesco Bonaparte, who died in the year 1567.
Without doubt, the Corsican branch of the family came over from Sarzana.

The following little table gives Napoleon's ancestry so far as it is
known with certainty:—

                            Francesco Bonaparte, 1567.
                            Gabriele Bonaparte Messire,
                     Built towers in Ajaccio against the Saracens.
                   Geronimo Bonaparte Egregius, _procurator nobilis_,
                          Head of the Senators of Ajaccio.
                               Francesco Bonaparte,
                               Capitano of the Town.
                          |                           |
                 Sebastiano Bonaparte.          Fulvio Bonaparte.
                          |                           |
               Carlo Bonaparte, _nobilis_.  Ludovico Bonaparte, 1632,
                          |                   Married Maria of Gondi.
                 Giuseppe Bonaparte.
                 Senator of the Town.
               |                                    |
     Sebastian Bonaparte, _magnificus_.    Luciano Bonaparte,
        Senator of the Town, 1760.           Archidiaconus.
            Carlo Maria Bonaparte,
    Born 29th March 1746, Father of Napoleon,
             married Letitia

The Bonapartes played no part in Corsican history. Influential in their
own city, and honoured with titles of nobility by the Genoese, to whom
Ajaccio was subject, they confined themselves to a share in the civic
administration of the town. It is not till Carlo Bonaparte that the name
acquires consideration throughout the whole of Corsica, and becomes to
a certain extent historic.

Napoleon's father was born, as we have seen, on the 29th of March 1746,
at Ajaccio, in a stormy time, when the Corsicans were mustering all
their force to shake off the detested yoke of Genoa. Gaffori was then
the leader of the Corsicans, and Pasquale still in banishment at Naples.
It had become customary with the Bonapartes of Ajaccio, to send their
children to complete their education in Tuscany, and particularly to
let them study in Pisa. For the Bonapartes remembered their Florentine
nobility, and never ceased to assert it. Carlo Bonaparte himself, called
himself Nobile and Patrician of Florence. The young Carlo studied first
at Paoli's newly founded University in Corte; and then went to Pisa,
where many of his countrymen were his fellow-students. He studied
jurisprudence; and it is said of him, that his talents and learning
procured him respect, and his generosity attachment. Returning to his
native country after graduating as Doctor of Laws, he soon became the
most popular advocate in Ajaccio.

Carlo Bonaparte, with his prepossessing exterior, powerful intellect,
and fervid eloquence, was not long in attracting the attention of
Paoli, whose perception of character was acute. He began to employ
him in business of state. In the year 1764, the young advocate became
acquainted with the most beautiful girl in Ajaccio, Letitia Ramolino,
at that time fourteen years of age. Both were warmly attached to each
other; but the Ramolinos belonged to the Genoese party, and would not
consent to their daughter's marriage with a Paolist. Paoli himself,
however, interfered, gained the good-will of the parents, and obtained
their permission. Letitia's mother had, as widow, married a Signor
Fesch, captain of a Swiss regiment in the service of Genoa; Cardinal
Fesch was their son.

Paoli, meanwhile, made the young Carlo Bonaparte his secretary, and
took him with him to Corte, the seat of government. Letitia followed
unwillingly. Corsican liberty was on the eve of its extinction;
the French had already entered the island, after the treaty of
Fontainebleau; and in the critical position of affairs, a parliament had
assembled to decide upon the course to be followed. Carlo Bonaparte, in
a fiery, patriotic speech, demanded war against France.

After the defeat at Ponte Nuovo, when the flight had become universal,
and the French were already in the vicinity of Corte, some hundreds
of families of the higher classes sought refuge on Monte Rotondo, and
among them Carlo Bonaparte and his wife, who was then pregnant with
Napoleon. The mountain presented a mournful spectacle of despairing,
defenceless fugitives, of terrified women and children, who believed
that their last hour was come. Several days of anguish and uncertainty
passed in these rocky wilds among the goat-herds. At length French
officers appeared on the mountain with a flag of truce, sent by Count
Devaux, who had occupied Corte. They announced to the fugitives that
the island had been conquered, that Paoli was about to leave it, and
that they had nothing to fear, but might descend from the mountain to
their homes. The fugitives immediately sent a deputation to Corte, at
the head of which were Carlo Bonaparte and Lorenzo Giubega of Calvi, to
obtain passes providing for the safety of all their families, furnished
with which the deputation returned to Monte Rotondo, and brought their
friends away.

Bonaparte descended with his wife into the little pastoral district of
Niolo, taking this difficult route for Ajaccio. They had to pass the
river Liamone, which was swollen, and Letitia was in danger of being
drowned. Only her own courage and the activity of her attendants rescued
her from the stream. Carlo Bonaparte now purposed to accompany Paoli,
his patron and friend, into exile, holding it dishonourable to remain in
Corsica now that the common fatherland had fallen under the yoke of the
French. But the entreaties of his uncle, the Archdeacon Lucian, and the
tears of his wife, induced him to relinquish this despairing thought. He
remained on the island, returned to Ajaccio, and there, under the French
government, became assessor in the Supreme Court. Marbœuf showed him
many marks of distinction; and it was through his influence that Carlo
procured for his eldest son Joseph a place in the seminary of Autun;
and for his second son Napoleon, a cadetship in the military school
of Brienne. It was Marbœuf, therefore, the conqueror of Corsica, who
made the career of the young Corsican, Napoleon Bonaparte, possible. He
was a frequent visitor at the house of the Bonapartes, and spent many
agreeable hours in the society of the beautiful Madame Letitia; this,
and the patronage which the French Count bestowed on Napoleon, gave
occasion to the scandalous reports circulated by the enemies of the
latter, that the gallant Frenchman had enjoyed the favours of Napoleon's
handsome mother.

Marbœuf was himself, however, under obligation to Carlo Bonaparte. For
when General Narbonne-Fritzlar was intriguing in Corsica against his
countryman, in order to obtain the command of the island, Bonaparte had
by his courage and energy prevailed with the French ministry to retain
Marbœuf as governor. The count repaid this service with his friendship,
his good offices, and the recommendation of the young military scholar
Napoleon, to the influential family of Brienne. Carlo Bonaparte showed
his attachment to Marbœuf in every possible way; I have read a sonnet
of his addressed to the count, which I shall not communicate, as it
contains nothing characteristic;—any cultivated Italian can write a
tolerable sonnet in his native language.

In the year 1777, Napoleon's father was made deputy of the nobility
for Corsica, and travelled to Paris by way of Florence. He visited the
French capital a second time, in order to bring to a conclusion his
process with the Jesuits of Ajaccio in regard to certain properties.
While prosecuting this business he died, in February 1785, in his
thirty-ninth year, of the same malady in the stomach, which was to
prove fatal to his son Napoleon. The incoherent dreams of his deathbed
ran always upon Napoleon—a proof that he centred his hopes upon this
son; he cried, dying: "Where is Napoleon; why does he not come with his
great sword to help his father?" He died in the arms of his son Joseph.
They buried him in Montpellier. When Napoleon had become Emperor, the
citizens of this town offered to erect a monument to his father. But
Napoleon replied to their proposal, that they should allow the dead to
rest; for if a statue were raised to his father, now so long dead, his
grandfather, and his great-grandfather, might with equal justice demand
a similar honour. Louis Bonaparte, King of Holland, afterwards had his
father's body disinterred and deposited in St. Leu.

Napoleon was at school in Paris, when Carlo Bonaparte died. The
following is the letter which the youth of sixteen wrote to his mother
on the occasion:—

                                                "PARIS, _March 29, 1785_.

     "MY DEAR MOTHER,—Time has to-day somewhat calmed the first outbreak
     of my sorrow; and I hasten to convince you of the gratitude with
     which your constant kindness to us has inspired me. Console
     yourself, my dear mother. Circumstances demand it. We shall
     redouble our care and our grateful attention, and shall be happy
     if we can in any degree compensate to you by our obedience, for
     the incalculable loss of a beloved husband. I conclude, my dear
     mother—my grief compels me; while, at the same time, I beg you
     to moderate your own. My health is excellent, and I pray Heaven
     every day that yours may be equally good. Give my respects to aunt
     Gertrude, Minana Saveria, Minana Fesch, &c.

     "_P.S._—The queen of France was confined of a prince, named the
     Duke of Normandy, on the 27th of March, at seven o'clock in the
     evening.—Your very devoted and affectionate son,

                                                 "NAPOLEON DE BONAPARTE."

If this laconic epistle of the young Napoleon is genuine, it is of some

Carlo Bonaparte was a man of brilliant talent and clear intellect,
an impassioned orator, a patriot, and yet, as we have seen, capable
of adapting himself to circumstances, and not wanting in political
prudence. He was fond of splendid living, and his expenditure was
lavish. Madame Letitia was only thirty-five years old at his death, and
had already borne him thirteen children, five of whom were dead. Jerome
was an infant in the cradle.

The Archdeacon Lucian now became the head of the house and proved
himself a careful and frugal steward of the family property. The
Bonapartes owned some lands, some vineyards, and herds.



     "I too am a mortal man
     Like others, born
     Of the race of him who was first made."

     _Wisdom of Solomon._

We dwell with singular interest on the childhood of extraordinary men;
the imagination pleases itself with the picture of the boy still lost
among his play-fellows, and unconscious of his destiny. We are tempted
to guess, in the physiognomy of the child, the traits that mark his
future greatness as a man; but childhood is a deep mystery; who shall
distinguish in the soul of a child the form of the genius or the demon
that sleeps therein?—who prophesy of the mysterious power that is
suddenly to determine the vast and slumbering forces, and send them
forth commissioned into space and time?

I once saw in Florence the marble bust of a boy. The innocent smile on
the childish face attracted me, and I contemplated it with pleasure. On
the pedestal was inscribed: NERO.

Little is known of Napoleon's infancy. His mother Letitia was in church
at the festival of the Assunta of the Virgin when she felt the first
pangs of approaching labour. She immediately hastened home; but had
not time to gain her own room, and gave birth to her child in a small
cabinet, on a temporary couch of tapestry representing scenes from the
Iliad. Gertrude, her sister-in-law, attended her. It was eleven o'clock
in the forenoon when Napoleon came to the world.

He was not baptized till the 21st of July 1771, nearly two years after
his birth, along with his sister Maria Anna, who died soon after. It is
said that he resisted vehemently when the priest was about to sprinkle
the consecrated water on him; perhaps he wanted to baptize himself, as
at a later period he crowned himself, taking the crown from the hands
of the Pope when he was about to set it on his head.

His boyhood showed symptoms of a vehement and passionate temperament,
and he was at perpetual variance with his eldest brother Joseph. In
these childish quarrels Joseph had always the worst of it, and was
rudely handled; and when he ran to complain, Napoleon was declared to
be in the right. Joseph became at last quite submissive to his younger
brother, and the family began very early to look upon Napoleon as taking
the lead among his brothers and sisters. The Archdeacon Lucian said to
Joseph on his deathbed, "You are the oldest of the family, but there
stands its head—you must not forget that."

We are willing enough to believe that the boy Napoleon showed a quite
indomitable passion for everything military, and that this born soldier
liked nothing so well as to run by the side of the soldiery of Ajaccio.
The soldiers had a pleasure in seeing the boy go through the exercise
beside them, and many a grayhaired veteran lifted him in his arms and
caressed him for imitating the drill so valiantly. He teased his father
till he purchased him a cannon, and the toy was long shown in the house
of the Bonapartes with which he used to make his mimic battle-thunder,
and play the cloud-compelling Jove. He soon began to exercise empire
over the youth of Ajaccio, and, like Cyrus with the shepherd-boys of the
Medes, and Peter the Great with his play-fellows, he formed the children
of Ajaccio into a regiment of soldiers, who bravely took the field
against the youngsters of the Borgo of Ajaccio, and fought sanguinary
engagements with stones and wooden sabres.

In the year 1778, his father took him to the military school of
Brienne, where the afterwards celebrated Pichegru was his master. It
is known that Napoleon here at first showed himself quiet, gentle,
and diligent. His impassioned temperament broke out only occasionally
when his delicate sense of honour was touched. His quartermaster one
day condemned him for some fault to eat his dinner on his knees in the
woollen dress of disgrace, at the door of the refectory. Such a dinner
was more than the pride of the young Corsican could stomach; he had
an attack of vomiting and a fit. The Père Petrault immediately freed
him from the punishment, and made it matter of complaint that his best
mathematician was treated so shamefully.

In 1783, Napoleon went to the military school of Paris to complete his
studies, already a completely-formed character, highly cultivated,
glowing with the fires of genius and of youth, his head full of the
heroes of his favourite Plutarch, and his heart penetrated with the
deeds of his great Corsican forefathers. Society had already begun to
ferment, and coming great events threw their shadow forward on the time.
It was a period worth living in, heaving with mighty energies, big with
change, and full of creative, Titanic impetuosity; it had given Nature
the command to prepare great men.

The young officer, Napoleon Bonaparte, joined his regiment in Valence
in the year 1785. His soul, profoundly though uncertainly stirred,
needed expression. He wrote on the theme proposed for a prize essay
by the Academy of Lyons: "What are the Principles and the Institutions
which we must give to mankind to make them happy?"—a favourite subject
in that humanistic period. Napoleon wrote anonymously. When he had
become Emperor, and Talleyrand had extracted the paper from among the
archives of Lyons to flatter the potentate, he threw it into the fire.
Sentimentality was one of the features of the age, and we see that the
young philanthropist did not escape without paying tribute to his time.
What if Napoleon should have become the popular author of a sentimental
romance in the vein of Richardson and Sterne? He had undertaken a
journey to Mount Cenis with his friend Demarris, and on his return,
agreeably excited by his little love-affair with Mademoiselle Colombier
of Valence, who gave him secret rendezvous and very innocent banquets
of cherries, he sat down to write a Sentimental Journey on Mount Cenis.
He did not get far with it; but this fit of tender susceptibility in
Napoleon is remarkable—and had he not "The Sorrows of Werther" with him
in Egypt?

Still body and soul a Corsican, he also wrote in Valence a History
of the Corsicans—a theme that suited the young Napoleon well. The
manuscript exists in an incomplete state in the Library at Paris, and
is now about to be published. Napoleon sent his manuscript to Paoli,
whom he admired, and who was at that time living in exile in London.
The following is part of the letter to his great countryman, which
accompanied it:—

"I was born when our country died. Three thousand Frenchmen infesting
our island, the throne of freedom sinking in waves of blood—such was the
detested spectacle that first shocked my gaze. The groans of the dying,
the sighs of the oppressed, the tears of despair, surrounded my cradle
from the moment I was born.

"You left Corsica, and with you vanished the hopes of better fortune;
slavery was the tribute we had to pay to conquest. Under an accumulation
of burdens—under the threefold chain of the soldier, the legislator,
and the tax-gatherer—our countrymen lived on in contempt,... despised
by those who had the reins of government in their hands. Is not this the
most cruel torture that any one possessed of feeling can have to suffer?

"The traitors to their country—the venal souls whom the love of
base hire corrupts—have disseminated calumnies against the national
Government, and against you personally. Authors adopt them, and transmit
them as truths to posterity.

"Reading them, I was fired with indignation, and I have resolved to
dissipate these mischievous falsehoods—the children of ignorance. An
early-commenced study of the French language, attentive observation,
and _memorabilia_ extracted from the papers of the patriots, put me
in a position even to hope for some success.... I shall compare your
Government with the present.... I shall paint the betrayers of the
common cause, with the pencil of shame, in black.... I shall summon
those in power before the bar of public opinion, give the minutest
details of their vexatious system of oppression, disclose their secret
intrigues, and, if possible, interest the virtuous minister who at
present governs the State, for the lamentable fate which keeps us so
cruelly prostrate."

Such are the sentiments and language of the young Corsican, Napoleon—the
revolutionary democrat and scholar of Plutarch. In his History of
the Corsicans, he says in one place: "When his country is no more,
a high-spirited citizen should die." These were, in those days, no
mere phrases from Tacitus; they were the glowing language of a young
soul capable of all that was great and noble. There is hardly another
character whose development—rapid as the flush of youth and genius
can make it—we follow with the same passionate delight as we do that
of the young hero, Napoleon, till about the peace of Campio Formio.
We see a more than ordinary man—a demigod passing before us, still
uncontaminated by the foul touch of selfishness—till the fair picture
gradually becomes blurred, and we class it with those of ordinary
despots. For no greatness endures, and Macchiavelli is right: "There
are none but ordinary men." Other youthful literary attempts of Napoleon
are mentioned by his biographers, and they are now to be printed; among
them two novels, _Le Comte d'Essex_, and _Le Masque Prophête_, and a
dialogue on Love, entitled _Giulio_.

Napoleon visited Ajaccio every year, and made his influence be felt on
the education of his brothers and sisters. They were brought up simply,
after the fashion of their country, and with a primitive strictness. "It
was almost," says Nasica, "as if you were living in a convent. Prayers,
sleep, study, refreshment, pleasure, promenade—everything went by rule
and measure. The greatest harmony, a tender and sincere affection,
prevailed among all the members of the family. It was in those days a
pattern to the town, as it afterwards became its ornament and boast."

The Archdeacon Lucian managed the family affairs economically; and it
cost the young Napoleon great exertion to obtain a little additional
money to meet his expenses. But he obtained it. The whole family felt
the influence of the young man, and was subject to the sway of this
born ruler. It is characteristic—since empire was his destiny—that he,
the second-born, has not only the mastery of his younger brothers and
sisters, but even of his elder brother, and that his interference has a
decisive effect on their upbringing. It was soon quite well understood
that the young Napoleon was to be obeyed.

I find an authentic letter of Napoleon to his uncle Fesch, afterwards
the Cardinal, dated from Brienne, the 15th July 1784. The boy of
fifteen, in writing here as to the career on which his eldest brother
Joseph ought to enter, speaks in the clearest and most sensible way
of the circumstances necessary to be taken into account. The letter
is sufficiently well worth reading—especially if we consider that the
Joseph of whom so many doubts are therein expressed, afterwards became
King of Spain.


"MY DEAR UNCLE,—I write to inform you of the journey of my dear father
over Brienne to Paris, where he has gone in order to take Marianne
(afterwards Eliza of Tuscany) to St. Cyr, and to re-establish his
health. He arrived here on the 21st with Lucian, and the two demoiselles
whom you saw: he has left Lucian here. He is nine years old, and three
feet, eleven inches, ten lines high: he is in the sixth in Latin, and
will learn the various branches taught in this school; he shows much
talent and willingness, and we may hope that something will come of him
(_que ce sera un bon sujet_). [Lucian was the only one of the family who
scorned a crown.] He is healthy, he is strong, lively, and thoughtless,
and, in the meantime, his masters are content with him. He knows French
very well, and has completely forgotten his Italian; but he will write
to you along with this, and I shall say nothing to him, that you may
see how matters stand with him.

"I hope he will write to you oftener now, than he did when he was in
Autun.... I am confident my brother Joseph has not written to you yet.
How could you expect it? He sends my dear father, when he does write
to him, at most two lines. He is, in truth, quite changed. He writes
to me, however, frequently. He is in the rhetoric class; and he would
do better if he were diligent, for the master told my dear father that
there was no one in the college (at Autun) who showed more talent than
he in physics, rhetoric, or philosophy, or who could make so good a
translation. In regard to the profession he is to follow, you know he
at first chose the clerical. He kept by this resolution up till the
present hour, but he now wishes to serve the king. In this he is wrong,
on several grounds.

"1. As my father remarks, he has not courage to face the dangers of a
battle; his weak health does not allow of his enduring the fatigues of
a campaign; and my brother looks at the life of a soldier only from the
garrison side. Yes, my dear brother will make an excellent officer in
garrison. Well, as he is light-minded, and therefore clever at making
frivolous compliments, he will always, with his talents, make a good
figure in society—but in a battle? It is about this my dear father is

          Qu'importe à des guerriers ces frivoles avantages?
          Que sont tous ces trésors sans celui du courage?
          A ce prix fussiez vous aussi beau qu'Adonis,
          Du Dieu même du Pinde eussiez-vous l'éloquence,
          Que sont tous ces dons sans celui de la vaillance?

"2. He has received an education for the clerical profession; it is
too late to forget it. The Bishop of Autun would have given him a large
benefice, and he was certain to have become a bishop. What an advantage
for the family! The Bishop of Autun has done all he could to prevail
on him to stay, and has promised him that he never would have cause to
repent it. In vain!—he persists. I commend his resolution, if he has
a decided taste for this profession—the finest of all professions—and
if the Great Mover of human things (_le Grand Moteur des choses
humaines_) had, in forming him, given him, as He has given me, a decided
inclination for a military life.

"3. He wishes to obtain a commission; that is very well, but in what
corps? In the marine, perhaps. 4. He knows nothing of mathematics.
It would take him two years to learn them. 5. The sea does not agree
with his health. Perhaps among the engineers? Then he would require
four or five years to master what is necessary. Moreover, I think that
to work and be occupied the whole day does not suit the levity of his
disposition. The same reason exists for his not joining the artillery as
for the engineers, with the exception that he would only have to work
eighteen months to become _élève_, and as many to be made officer. Oh!
but that is still not his taste. Let us see, then—doubtless he wishes
to join the infantry. Good! I understand; he wants to have nothing to
do the whole day but wear the pavement; but what is an insignificant
infantry officer?—a _mauvais sujet_ for three-fourths of his time. And
neither my father, nor you, nor my mother will hear of this, nor my
uncle the archdeacon, for he has already given some little specimens of
lightheadedness and extravagance. It follows that a last attempt must be
made to gain him for the clerical profession; if this cannot be done, my
dear father will take him with him to Corsica, where he will be under
his own eye. They will try to make a law-clerk of him. I conclude by
begging that you will continue your good-will towards me; to make myself
worthy of it will be my chief and my most agreeable duty. I am, with
the most profound respect, my dear uncle, your very devoted and very
obedient servant and nephew,

                                                  "NAPOLEON DE BONAPARTE.

"_P.S._—Tear this letter.

"We may hope, nevertheless, that Joseph, with the talents he possesses,
and the sentiments with which his education must have inspired him, will
think better of it, and become the stay of our family. Represent to him
a little these advantages."

Have we not almost a right to doubt that a boy of fifteen can have
written so self-conscious, so clear and decisive a letter? It has never
hitherto been published anywhere but in the work of Tommaseo—_Letters of
Pasquale Paoli_—where I found it; the author says he owes it to Signor
Lucgi Biadelli, councillor at the Supreme Court of Bastia. The letter
appears to me to be an invaluable document; we seem to be present at
the family council of the Bonapartes, and have all its members vividly
before our eyes. Monsieur Fesch in Ajaccio, when he received the letter
with the news about the giddy Joseph, wore his woollen blouse, and had
his little wooden pipe in his mouth, precisely as many eye-witnesses
remember to have seen him. Later, he wore the cardinal's hat; and the
light-headed young Joseph became king of Spain.

We can recognise, in the Napoleon of this letter, the future tyrant
of his family. We here find him caring for his brothers—pondering over
their prospects; afterwards, he gave them kingly crowns, and demanded
unconditional obedience. The plain citizen Lucian, and Louis King of
Holland, alone withstood his tyranny.



When Napoleon came on a visit to Ajaccio, he liked to live and work in
Milelli—a little country-house in the neighbourhood of Ajaccio belonging
to the family—where the old oak-tree may still be seen under which the
stripling Bonaparte used to sit and dream, and anxiously revolve his
plans of life.

The French Revolution came, the storming of the Bastille, the overthrow
of the existing state of things.

The young Napoleon threw himself, with all the force of his impassioned
nature, into the excitement of the time. Destiny, however, did not
mean him to exhaust his energies in the struggle of the revolutionary
parties; it had reserved him for something else. At a distance from
Paris, and on his own little island, he was to play a merely preparatory
part in the first stormy agitations of the new period. Corsica became
his school.

We find him in Ajaccio as a young, enthusiastic revolutionist,
declaiming in the clubs, writing addresses, helping to organize the
national guard—in short, playing the great politician precisely in the
way we are acquainted with from our own experience.

Ajaccio was at that time the centre of the Corsican revolutionists; the
house of the Bonapartes their place of meeting; the two brothers, Joseph
and Napoleon, undisputed leaders of the democracy. The little town was
in a state of wild uproar. The commotion appeared to General Barrin, at
that time in command of the island, of a threatening character; and he
sent Gaffori's son, Marshal Francesco Gaffori, to check it. Gaffori was
by no means successful in this; on the contrary, he was glad to find
hospitality and protection in the house of Bacciocchi, afterwards Prince
of Lucca and Piombino.

Napoleon and Joseph, meanwhile, assembled the democratic party in the
Church of San Francesco, and prepared a congratulatory address to the
Constituent Assembly, which contained at the same time the bitterest
complaints of the oppressive character of the existing administration in
Corsica, and expressed an urgent wish that the island should be declared
an integral part of France.

Napoleon understood his time: renouncing his Corsican patriotism,
he became decidedly French, and threw himself into the arms of the

He returned to Valence in 1789; and soon after he is again in Ajaccio,
where the active Joseph, while the national guard was in the process
of formation, was zealously exerting himself to obtain an officer's
commission. Marius Peraldi, the richest man in Ajaccio, and an enemy of
the Bonaparte family, was made colonel of the national guard, and Joseph
an officer.

It had in the meantime been proposed in Corsica to recall the exiles;
and by the exertions of the two brothers Bonaparte and the Abbot Coti,
the Corsican General Assembly was induced to name four deputies, who
were to meet Paoli in France, and conduct him to the island. Among
these was Marius Peraldi, and both Napoleon and Joseph accompanied the

When Paoli arrived in Paris, the Constituent Assembly had already (1st
December 1789) incorporated Corsica with France, by a decree which for
ever put an end to the political independence of the island. Mirabeau
and Saliceti—Corsican deputy for the Third Estate, afterwards the
celebrated statesman, and minister of Murat in Naples—proposed the

Napoleon himself hastened to Marseilles to welcome Paoli, and was
witness to the tears of joy which the noble patriot shed when he again
set foot on his native soil in Cape Corso. An assembly met in Orezza
to deliberate on and regulate the affairs of the island. Napoleon and
his foe, the young Carlo Andrea Pozzo di Borgo, earned here, at the
elections, the first honours as public speakers. Carlo Bonaparte's son
could not but attract the attention of Paoli, who, astonished at the
exuberance of intellectual resource and unerring judgment of the young
man, is said to have expressed himself with regard to him in these
terms: "This young man has a career before him; he needs nothing but the
opportunity, to be one of Plutarch's men." It is related that Paoli on
one occasion entered a locanda, and finding the rooms in disorder, was
told in explanation by the landlord that a young man, by name Bonaparte,
had been lodging there; had written day and night, and constantly torn
what he wrote to pieces; had run restlessly up and down, and at last
started off for the battle-field of Ponte Nuovo.

The young Napoleon had left no stone unturned to procure his brother
Joseph the presidency of the district of Ajaccio, travelling as an
adroit partisan through the villages of the region, soliciting votes,
and spending money.

In Ajaccio he was indefatigably occupied in keeping the republican
club at the due heat, and thwarting the priests and the aristocrats. A
sanguinary struggle took place between the two parties in the little
town; Napoleon's life was endangered, and an officer of the national
guard was killed by his side. He narrates the details in a manifesto
of his own composition. Blood continued to be shed for several days and
several times the lives of Joseph and Napoleon were a stake.

Napoleon was considered the soul of the club of Ajaccio. Reminding
us of the young politicians of our late popular commotions, we see
him fulminate a stinging address against an aristocrat—Count Matteo
Buttafuoco, the same who had invited Rousseau to Vescovato, and who,
during the Corsican war of independence, had served in the French army,
and lent the enemies of his country his arm against his country's cause.
He was deputy of the nobility for Corsica, had voted in Versailles
against the union of the Estates, and made himself odious by other
votes of aristocratic and unpopular tendency. Against this man the
young Napoleon wrote a manifesto in his country house at Milelli,
which he printed in Dôle, and then sent to the club of Ajaccio. The
pamphlet, rhetorical and impassioned, but substantially based on
fact, is a notable contribution to our acquaintance with Napoleon.
It has all the bold, poetic exuberance of diction characteristic of
young revolutionists; and as I read it in this solitude of Ajaccio, it
awakened in me amusing recollections of the years 1848 and 1849. But it
is more than the mere pamphlet of a young demagogue—it is a preparatory
exercise for the imperial edicts; it is the Emperor himself trying his
wings. This manifesto is indispensable if we are desirous of insight
into the nature and growth of Napoleon in the earlier periods of his


"MONSIEUR,—From Bonifazio to Cape Corso, from Ajaccio to Bastia, is
but one chorus of curses upon you. Your friends hide themselves, your
relatives disown you; and even the prudent man, who never allows himself
to be mastered by popular opinion, is this time carried away by the
general indignation.

"What is it you have done, then? What are the crimes that can legitimate
an animosity so universal, and a desertion so complete? This, Monsieur,
is precisely what I am about to investigate, by the aid of light which
you yourself shall supply.

"The history of your life, at least since you were thrown upon the
stage of public affairs, is known. Its main features are drawn here in
characters of blood. There are details, however, not so generally known;
I may therefore make mistakes, but I count upon your indulgence, and on
your correcting them.

"After entering the service of France, you returned to see your
relations; you found the tyrants beaten, the national government
established, and the Corsicans, animated by the most generous
sentiments, emulating each other in making daily sacrifices for the
public weal. You, Monsieur, did not allow yourself to be led astray
by the general ferment; far from it; you listened only with compassion
to the babble of fatherland, freedom, independence, and constitution,
with which the demagogues had been puffing up our meanest peasants.
Profound reflection had taught you to estimate at its proper value
this artificial excitement, which can only be maintained at the
expense of the community. Of course the peasant must labour, and
not act the hero, if he is not to die of hunger, but to bring up his
family, and respect the authorities. As regards the persons who by
their rank or good fortune are called to rule, it is impossible that
they can for any length of time be so stupid as to sacrifice their
ease and their influence to a chimera, and that they should stoop to
pay court to a cobbler, for the sake of playing the Brutus. However,
when you fell upon the project of gaining the friendship of Monsieur
Paoli, it was necessary you should dissemble. Monsieur Paoli was the
centre of all national movement. We will not deny him talent, nor even
genius, of a certain kind; he had for a while made the affairs of
the island flourish; he had founded a university, in which, for the
first time since the creation, perhaps, those sciences which further
the development of the mind were taught among our mountains; he had
increased our means of defence by establishing an iron-foundry and
powder-mills, and by erecting fortifications; he had opened ports which
by encouraging commerce enlivened agriculture; he had created a marine
which favoured our communications, while it was destructive to our
enemies—and all that he had thus begun, was but the indication of what
he would one day have accomplished. Harmony, peace, and freedom were the
forerunners of national prosperity—had it not been, that, as _you_ had
discovered, an ill-organized government, constructed on a false basis,
was the still surer omen of the misfortunes into which the nation was
to be plunged.

"Paoli's dream was to play the Solon, but he copied his model badly. He
had put everything into the hands of the people, or its representatives,
so that one could not exist except at its pleasure. Strange mistake,
to subordinate to a day-labourer, a man who by education, birth, and
fortune, is destined to rule! Such a palpable perversion of reason
cannot fail, in the long-run, to produce the ruin and dissolution of
the body politic, after it has brought it into uproar by every species
of abuse.

"You succeeded according to your wish. Monsieur Paoli, continually
surrounded by hot-headed enthusiasts, did not conceive it possible
that a man could have any other passion than the fanaticism of freedom
and independence. Through certain French introductions, you procured
his intimacy, and he did not take time to test your moral principle by
anything deeper than your words. By his influence you were chosen to
conduct the negotiations in Versailles, in regard to the settlement of
affairs which was effected through the mediation of the French cabinet.
Monsieur de Choiseul saw you and understood you. Men know in an instant
how to estimate souls of a certain stamp. Very soon you transformed
yourself from the representative of a free people into the agent of
a satrap. You communicated to him the instructions, the projects, the
secrets, of the cabinet of Corte.

"This conduct, which people here find base and shameless, I, for
my part, find quite simple; after all, in every sort of affair, the
important point is to have a clear eye and a cool judgment.

"The prude judges the coquette, and thereby makes herself ridiculous;
that is her history in a few words.

"A man of principle would judge you very severely; but you do not
believe in men of principle. The common man, who is constantly misled
by virtuous demagogues, can have no consideration from you, who do not
believe in virtue. Your own principles alone must pronounce sentence
upon you, like the laws upon a criminal; but those who know what supple
policy means, find nothing but the greatest simplicity in your mode of
acting; we come to the same result as before, therefore—in every sort
of affair we must first see clearly, and then judge calmly. As to other
matters, you can defend yourself no less victoriously, for you have not
coveted the reputation of a Cato or Catinat; it is sufficient for you to
resemble a certain class; and, with this class, it is a received dogma,
that he who can have money and does not use it, is a simpleton, since
money procures all the pleasures of the senses, and nothing is of any
value but these pleasures. The liberal Monsieur de Choiseul accordingly
was sufficiently pressing in his offers, whereas your own ridiculous
country, according to its pleasant custom, repaid your services with
the honour of serving it.

"When the treaty of Compiègne had been concluded, Monsieur de Chauvelin
landed with twenty-four battalions on our coasts. Monsieur de Choiseul,
who attached the utmost importance to the speedy accomplishment of the
objects of the expedition, became so uneasy that he could not conceal
his anxiety from you—you advised him to send you here with a few
millions. As Philip took cities with his sumpter-mule, you promised to
overcome every obstacle, and produce complete subjection.... No sooner
said than done; you hastened over the sea, threw off the mask, and, with
money and promotion in your hand, you opened communications with those
whom you considered most accessible.

"The Corsican cabinet had no idea that a Corsican could love himself
more than his country—it had intrusted you with its interests. As
you, on the other hand, had no idea that a man could _not_ love money
and himself more than his country, you sold yourself and hoped to buy
every one else. Profound moralist! you knew the price of each man's
fanaticism. A few pounds of gold more or less, were for you the shades
of difference in character!

"You deceived yourself, however; the weak were perhaps shaken, but
they were shocked at the frightful thought of lacerating the bosom of
their country; they imagined they saw their fathers, their brothers,
or their friends, who had perished in its defence, rising from their
graves to overwhelm them with curses. These ridiculous prejudices were
powerful enough to check you in your career. You sighed that you had to
deal with a childish people; but, Monsieur, such refined sentiments as
yours are not given to the multitude, and they live on in poverty and
wretchedness, while the prudent man, as soon as circumstances become
in any degree favourable to him, knows how to rise. And that is pretty
nearly the moral of your history.

"In giving account of the obstacles which interfered with the fulfilment
of your promises, you proposed that the Royal-Corse regiment should be
sent here. You hoped that its example would convert our too good and too
simple peasantry; that it would accustom them to a thing in which they
found so much that was repulsive—but you were deceived in this hope too.
Did not Rossi, Marengo, and some other fools, excite such an enthusiasm
in this regiment, that the collective officers declared, in an authentic
document, that they would rather send back their commissions than break
their oath, or be unfaithful to still more sacred duties?

"You found yourself compelled to set the example yourself. Not at all
disconcerted, you threw yourself into Vescovato, at the head of some
friends and a detachment of French soldiers; but the terrible Clemens
hunted you from the nest. You retired to Bastia with the companions of
your adventure, and with your family. This little affair did not bring
you much honour; your house, and the houses of your associates, were
burnt down. In your place of security, you mocked at these impotent
exertions of a dying cause.

"It is boldly affirmed here, that you wished to arm the Royal-Corse
against its own brothers. And, in the same spirit, people are inclined
to call your courage in question, on account of your slight defence of
Vescovato. These are useless imputations. For the first is an immediate
consequence, is a means for the execution, of your projects; and as we
have affirmed that your mode of acting has been very simple, it follows
that this incidental accusation is done away with. As regards your want
of courage, I do not see that this is proved by the action of Vescovato;
you did not go there to make war in earnest, but to encourage, by your
example, those of the opposite party who already wavered. And then,
what right had people to demand that you should have risked the fruit
of two years' good behaviour, in order to let yourself be killed like a
common soldier? But you must have been moved when you saw your house,
and the houses of your friends, become the prey of the flames. Good
God! when will silly mortals cease to take everything so seriously?
When you allowed your house to be burnt, you compelled Monsieur de
Choiseul to compensate you. The issue has confirmed the correctness of
your calculations; you have been paid far beyond the value of what you
lost. It is true, complaints have been made that you kept everything for
yourself, and gave only a trifle to the wretched men you had corrupted.
In order to know to what length you were capable of going, we only
require to see how far you could go with safety; now, poor people, who
were so much in need of your protection, were neither in a position to
assert their claims, nor even to see clearly the wrong that was done
them; they dared not exhibit their discontent, and rebel against your
authority; detested by their countrymen, their return would not have
been so much as safe. It is, therefore, natural that when you found a
few thousands of dollars among your fingers, you did not allow them to
slip through; that would have been stupid.

"The French, defeated notwithstanding their gold, their commissions,
the discipline of their numerous battalions, the lightness of their
squadrons, and the skill of their artillery, routed at Penta, at
Vescovato, at Oreto, at San Nicolao, at Borgo, Borbaggio, and Oletta,
retired behind their entrenchments completely discouraged. The winter,
the time of their repose, was for you, Monsieur, a period of the
greatest diligence; and though you could not triumph over the obstinacy
of prejudices deeply-rooted in the minds of the people, you succeeded
in corrupting some of their leaders, whom you robbed of their nobler
sentiments, though with difficulty; and this, and the thirty battalions
that Monsieur de Vaux brought with him in spring, made Corsica bow her
neck to the yoke, and forced Paoli and the most enthusiastic to retire.

"A number of the patriots had fallen in the defence of their
independence, others had fled a proscribed country—now the loathsome
nest of tyranny; but many had neither died nor been able to flee, they
became the objects of persecution. Souls that had proved themselves
superior to corruption were of another stamp. The French supremacy
could only be secured by their complete extinction. Ah! this plan was
but too punctually executed. Some died the victims of supposititious
crimes; others, betrayed by those to whom they had extended their
hospitality and their confidence, expired upon the scaffold, repressing
their tears. Great numbers, immured by Narbonne-Fritzlar in the jail
of Toulon, poisoned by bad food, tortured by their chains, loaded with
every species of misusage, lived for some time in the spasms of the
death-struggle, only to see death slowly approaching.... O God, witness
of their innocence, why hast Thou not made Thyself their avenger?

"In this general misery, in the midst of the cries and groans of this
unhappy people, you began meanwhile to enjoy the fruits of your labour.
Honours, titles, pensions rained upon you; your possessions would have
increased still more rapidly if Madame Dubarry, occasioning the fall
of Monsieur de Choiseul, had not deprived you of a protector who knew
how to estimate your services. The blow did not discourage you; you
re-established yourself by your activity in the subordinate bureaus; you
saw nothing in it but the necessity of increasing your diligence. People
in higher quarters found themselves flattered, your services were so
notorious!... Nothing was withheld from you. Not content with the lake
of Biguglia, you requested portions of the lands of several communes.
How could you rob them of these? people ask. I, for my part, ask: What
consideration could you be expected to have for a nation which you knew
detested you?

"Your favourite project was the division of the island among ten barons.
What! not content with helping to forge the chains of your country, you
proposed also to subject it to an absurd feudalism! But I commend you
for doing the Corsicans all the harm that was in your power; you were
at war with them, and in war it is an axiom to do hurt for your own

"But passing all this wretched business, let us come to the present, and
conclude a letter, the shocking length of which cannot but have tired

"The posture of affairs in France was ominous of extraordinary events;
you dreaded their effect in Corsica. The same madness with which we
were possessed before the war, began again, to your great annoyance,
to deprive this amiable people of its senses. You saw what would
be the consequence; for, if generous sentiments were to sway public
opinion, from an honest man you became a mere traitor; if these generous
sentiments stirred the blood of our fiery fellow-citizens, something
more wretched still; if a national government followed, what was to
become of you? Your conscience accordingly began to make you uneasy.
Frightened, cast down, you still did not despair; you resolved to
stake your all, but you did it like a man of sense; you took a wife to
strengthen your connexions. A worthy man, who, trusting to your honour,
had given his sister to your nephew, saw himself deceived. Your nephew,
whose paternal inheritance you had devoured to increase a property that
should have been his, found himself with a numerous family plunged into

"When you had arranged your private affairs, you threw a glance upon the
country. You saw it reeking with the blood of its martyrs, covered with
victims, and everywhere breathing nothing but thoughts of vengeance.
You saw the reckless soldier, the impudent official, the greedy
tax-gatherer, lording it with none to gainsay, while the Corsican,
loaded with the triple chain, did not dare to think either on what he
was, or on what he might yet be. In the joy of your heart you said to
yourself: 'Matters are going on well, the only point is now to preserve
them as they are, and forthwith you banded yourself with the soldier,
the official, and the farmer of the revenue. All your aims were now
centred on obtaining deputies inspired with similar sentiments; for,
as concerned yourself, you could not imagine that a nation hostile
to you would elect you as its representative. But you were destined
to alter this opinion when the writs, with a perhaps intentional
absurdity, ordered that the deputy of the nobility should be elected in
an assembly composed of only twenty-two persons—all that was necessary
was to gain twelve votes. Your associates of the Supreme Council were
exceedingly active; threats, promises, caresses, everything was tried:
you were successful. Your candidates in the communes were not: your
First President was rejected, and two men—in your opinion, of extreme
ideas—the one was son, brother, nephew of the most zealous defenders
of the people's cause; the other had seen Sionville and Narbonne, and,
sighing over his impotence, well remembered the atrocities which he
had witnessed—these two men were proclaimed, and met the wishes of
the nation, whose hope they became. The secret indignation, the rage,
which seized on every one, when you were elected, does honour to your
intrigues, and the influence of your associates.

"On arriving in Versailles, you became a zealous royalist; in Paris
you saw, to your great affliction, that the government which was being
erected on the ruins of the fallen system, was the same which among us
had been drowned in so much blood.

"All the exertions of the despotic party were powerless; the new
constitution, the admiration of Europe, has become an object of
solicitude to every thinking being. There remained for you but one means
of rescue, and that was, to make it be believed that this constitution
was not fitted for our island, although it was precisely the same as
that which had worked so prosperously, and to deprive us of which had
cost so much blood.

"All the deputies of the old administration, entering as a matter of
course into your cabals, served you with the warmth of men seeking
their own interest. You drew up memorials in which you affirmed that
the advantages of the existing government among us were matter of
experience, and in which it was represented that any alteration was
contrary to the wishes of the nation. At this time the town of Ajaccio
got wind of your machinations; she raised her head, formed her National
Guard, organized her committee. This, intervening so unexpectedly,
alarmed you. The excitement spread. You persuaded the minister, of whom
you had the advantage in knowledge of Corsican affairs, that it was
necessary to send your father-in-law, Monsieur Gaffori, to the island,
the worthy forerunner of Monsieur Narbonne; and Monsieur Gaffori,
at the head of his troops, had the impudence to attempt to maintain
by violence the tyranny which his father, of glorious memory, had by
his genius beaten and suppressed. Innumerable blunders disclosed the
mediocre talent of your father-in-law: the only art be possessed was
that of making himself enemies. On every side people were uniting
against him. In this imminent danger you lifted up your eyes and saw
Narbonne. Narbonne, seizing a favourable moment, had formed the plan
of establishing in an island which he had desolated by unheard-of
cruelties, the despotism which tormented his own conscience. You assent:
the plan is adopted, five thousand men receive orders; the decree
directing the provincial regiment to be increased by a battalion, is
despatched; Narbonne himself sets off. This poor nation without arms,
without spirit to resist, is delivered, hopeless and helpless, into the
hands of its executioner.

"O unhappy fellow-citizens, what detestable intrigues were you to be
the victims of! You would not have understood them till it was too late.
Where were your means of withstanding, without arms, ten thousand men?
You yourselves would have signed the act of your degradation, hope would
have fled, hope would have been extinguished, and days of misery would
have succeeded each other without intermission. Liberated France would
have looked on you with contempt, afflicted Italy with indignation, and
Europe, astonished at a humiliation so profound, would have torn from
her annals the pages that do your virtues honour. But the deputies of
your communes penetrated the design, and put you on your guard in time.
A king, who has constantly desired only the happiness of his people,
informed by Monsieur Lafayette, that steadfast friend of liberty, of the
true state of the case, was able to crush the perfidious machinations of
a minister whom revenge ceaselessly spurred on to injure you. Ajaccio
showed itself resolute in its address; the lamentable condition into
which the most despotic of all governments had brought you had there
been so powerfully impressed on people's minds. The hitherto slumbering
Bastia awoke at the sound of danger, and seized its weapons with that
resolution which has ever characterized it. Arena came from Paris to
Balagna full of those sentiments which make a man capable of undertaking
everything, and of fearing no danger. His weapons in the one hand, the
decrees of the National Assembly in the other, he made the people's
enemies turn pale. Achille Murati, the conqueror of Capraja, who carried
despair into Genoa itself, and who wanted but opportunity and a wider
field to be a Turenne, reminded the sharers of his fame that it was
time to win it over again, and that their country needed—not intrigue,
which it never understood—but steel and fire. Before the rising din
of a resistance so universal, Gaffori withdrew into the nothingness
from which intrigue had made him emerge against his will. He remained
trembling in the fortress of Corte. Narbonne hastened away from Lyons
to bury his shame and his hellish plans in Rome. A few days later, and
Corsica is linked to France, Paoli is recalled, and in a single instant
your prospects are changed, and a new career offered you for which you
would never have ventured to hope.

"Excuse me, Monsieur, excuse me; I took my pen to defend you, but my
heart utterly revolted against a system which brought treachery and
perfidy in its train. What! son of this same fatherland, have you
never had a filial feeling towards it? What! was there no emotion
in your heart at the sight of the rocks, the trees, the houses, the
neighbourhoods, which were the scene of your sports in childhood? When
you came to the world, it carried you on its bosom, it nourished you
with its fruits. When you came to years of discretion, it set its hopes
upon you, it honoured you with its confidence, it said to you: 'My son,
you see the wretched state to which the injustice of men has brought
me; collecting my energies in my passionate grief, I once more attain
a vigour which promises me sure and infallible restoration; but I am
threatened anew; hasten, my son, to Versailles; inform the great king
better, dissipate his suspicions, implore his friendship.'

"Well, and what then? A little gold made you a betrayer of the trust
your country had reposed in you; for the sake of a little gold you were
soon seen with the parricidal sword in your hand lacerating its bosom.
Ah! Monsieur, I am far from wishing you any harm; but tremble ... there
are pangs of conscience that avenge. Your fellow-citizens, who abhor
you, will enlighten France as to your true character. The estates and
the pensions, the fruit of your treasons, will be taken from you. Bowed
down by age and misery, in the horrible solitude of crime, you will live
long enough to be tormented by your conscience. The father will point
you out to his son, the teacher to his scholar, and say: "Children,
learn to honour your country, virtue, fidelity, and humanity.'

"And she, whose youth, beauty, and innocence they prostitute—her pure
and chaste heart trembles under the touch of a polluted hand? Estimable
and unhappy woman!...

"Soon the cordons of honour and the pomp of wealth will vanish, and the
contempt of mankind will be heaped on you. Will you seek, on the breast
of him who is the author of that report, a consolation with which your
gentle and loving soul cannot dispense? Will you seek in his eyes tears
to mingle with your own? Will your trembling hand, laid upon his heart,
try to tell him the emotion of yours? Ah! if you find tears with _him_,
they will be tears of remorse. If his heart beats, it will be in the
convulsions of the wretch who dies cursing nature, himself, and the hand
that leads him.

"O Lameth! O Robespierre! O Petion! O Volney! O Mirabeau! O Barnave!
O Bailley! O Lafayette! see, this is the man that dares to sit by
your side! Quite drenched in the blood of his brothers, polluted with
crimes of every kind, he presents himself shamelessly in his General's
uniform, the unrighteous hire of his villanies! He dares to call himself
a representative of the nation, he—who has sold it, and you suffer
it! He dares to raise his eyes to listen to your discourses, and you
suffer it! This the voice of the people!—he had but the votes of twelve
aristocrats! This the voice of the people!—and Ajaccio, Bastia, and most
of the cantons wreaked that upon his effigy which they would willingly
have done upon his person.

"But you, whom the mistake of the moment misleads, whose belief is for
the present abused to make you oppose the projected alterations, will
you endure the traitor? him who, under the cold exterior of a sensible
man, conceals the greed of a lackey? I cannot believe it. You will be
the first to drive him forth in shame and disgrace, as soon as you have
been made to comprehend that web of knaveries of which he has been the

"I have the honour, Monsieur, to be your very humble, and very obedient


     "From my Cabinet of Milelli,
     "Jan. 23, in the second year."

"From my Cabinet of Milelli"—it sounds quite imperially. The reader will
probably find that this bold, unsparing, powerful letter of the youth of
twenty-one, half-Robespierre, half-Murat, is in no respect inferior to
the best specimens of revolutionary eloquence furnished by the pamphlets
of the period.

I may observe here, that of the six Corsican deputies to the Convention,
three voted for the perpetual confinement of Louis Capet, two for his
confinement till peace was established and his banishment thereafter,
Cristoforo Saliceti alone for his death.



In the year 1790, two battalions were to be formed in Corsica, the
soldiers being allowed to name their _chefs_ themselves. It is worth
noticing on this occasion, how the subsequent Cæsar, Napoleon, holds
it for the highest honour, and an almost unattainable piece of good
fortune, to become _chef_ of a battalion. The difficulties were as
great as the energy of the young candidate. The most influential men
of Ajaccio were opposed to him, Cuneo, Ludovico Ornano, Ugo Peretti,
Matias Pozzo di Borgo, and the rich Marius Peraldi. Peraldi laughed at
Napoleon, ridiculed his personal appearance, his diminutive stature, his
limited prospects. This made Napoleon furious, and he challenged him.
Peraldi agreed to a duel. His rival waited for him till nightfall at the
little Chapel of the Greeks, walking restlessly up and down; but Peraldi
did not make his appearance; his family had found means to prevent the

The wanderer who now takes his way to the Chapel of the Greeks, to enjoy
from it the beautiful view of the city and gulf, sees above him, on the
rocks of the shore, a little Ionic temple. I asked what it meant, and
was told it was the tomb of the Peraldi. Marius, the rival of Napoleon
for a Major's commission, lies buried there. His family has left behind
it no other reputation than that of having been one of the wealthiest
in Corsica.

Madame Letitia sacrificed half her fortune to procure her favourite
son the command of the battalion. Her house was constantly open to
Napoleon's numerous party, her table always covered. Mattresses lay
constantly ready in the rooms and in the passages, to receive his armed
adherents during the night. It was as if the house were in a state
of defence from the Vendetta. Matters looked threatening. Napoleon
was never so excited as at this period; he could not sleep at night,
during the day he wandered restlessly through the rooms, or deliberated
with the Abbé Fesch and his partisans. He was pale and abstracted; his
eyes full of fire, his soul full of passion. Perhaps he approached the
consulship and the empire more calmly than the rank of major in the
National Guard of Ajaccio.

The commissary, who was to conduct the election, had arrived, and was
lodging in the house of the Peraldi. This was alarming. It was resolved,
therefore, on the 18th Brumaire, to have recourse to stratagem. The
partisans of Napoleon arm themselves; one of these—the fierce and
reckless Bagaglino, armed to the teeth—forces his way at night into the
house of the Peraldi, where the family are sitting at supper with the
commissary. "Madame Letitia wishes to speak with you," cries Bagaglino
threateningly; "and immediately!" The commissary follows him, the
Peraldi not venturing to detain their guest; who, carried off by the
Napoleonists, is compelled to quarter himself in the Casa Bonaparte,
under the pretext that with the Peraldi he was not free. This little
_coup d'état_ shows us Napoleon complete.

The Casa Bonaparte now held itself ready for an assault; but Peraldi
made no attempt. The day of the election came, and the people assembled
in the Church of San Francesco. A disturbance arose, Geronimo Pozzo
di Borgo was torn from the pulpit, and with difficulty rescued. The
result of the election was this: Quenza, a Bonapartist, was made first
_chef_—Napoleon, the second. The victory was almost complete, and the
unattainable all but attained; Napoleon was second in command of a

Napoleon lived henceforth only among his soldiers, and he was the
soul of his battalion. He now made his practical military studies
before engaging in actual warfare, as he had received his political
schooling in the clubs. Meanwhile, the irritation between the national
battalion and the aristocrats and citizens—the latter worked upon
by the priests—grew stronger every day. After seeing the highland
Corsicans of the present time, one can form some idea of the nature
and appearance of that Quenza-Napoleon battalion. The citizens of
Ajaccio may not have dreaded this troop of Montagnards in the process
of training altogether groundlessly. On Easter-day, of the year 1792,
open hostilities commenced between the battalion and the inhabitants
of Ajaccio. The struggle began on the Place du Diamant; the fighting
lasted several days, and a great deal of blood was shed, neither the
civil authorities nor the military commandant, Maillard, interfering.
Napoleon escaped without injury. When quiet was re-established, he
drew up a justification, in the name of the battalion, and addressed it
to the Department, to the Minister of War, and the Legislative. Three
commissaries hereupon appeared in Ajaccio; they returned a favourable
report as to the conduct of the battalion, but it was removed from the
town. Napoleon went to Corte, where Paoli received him coldly.

In May of the same year, he made a journey to Paris to bring his sister
Eliza from St. Cyr. The changes in the political world took him here
by surprise, and shattered all the hopes of military promotion which
he had thought to realize in Paris. This is said to have produced so
powerful an effect on the passionate nature of the young Corsican, as
to make him entertain thoughts of suicide. He freed himself from them in
a dialogue on self-murder. Napoleon left Paris soon after the frightful
2d of September, and returned to Corsica.

While Dumouriez, therefore, was astonishing the world with the first
military achievements of the young Republic, the man who was destined
to give new shape to Europe, was exerting himself in the wild Corsica,
to make head against the cabals of his opponents—himself forming
counter-cabals, and daily exposing his life to the dagger-thrust and
the musket-ball. Arrived again in Corte, Paoli received him austerely.
The paths of the two had completely separated; for another ambition
was now stirring in the soul of the young Napoleon than to tread in the
footsteps of the noble patriot. Had he done so—had his heart remained
warm for the freedom of Corsica, then perhaps a wild goat-herd, as he
pointed out to me some spot among the hills associated with a tale of
blood, would have said: "See, it was here the Corsican patriot-leader,
Napoleon Bonaparte, fell; he was almost as great as Sampiero."

Paoli gave Napoleon orders to proceed to Bonifazio, and join the
expedition against Sardinia. Napoleon obeyed murmuringly. He remained
eight months in Bonifazio, to make the necessary preparations, as far as
they had been committed to him. On the 22d of January, the day after the
execution of Louis Capet, Napoleon almost lost his life in Bonifazio.
Some marines—a furious rabble from Marseilles—had landed, and commenced
a quarrel with the Corsican battalion; and when Napoleon hastened up to
prevent bloodshed, they received him with shouts of _ça ira!_ cried out
that he was an aristocrat, and, rushing in upon him, would have hung
him on the lamp-post, had not the Maire, the people, and the soldiers
succeeded in putting them to flight.

The enterprise upon Sardinia, of which Truguet was commander-in-chief,
undertaken with a view to frighten the court of Turin, proved utterly
futile. It is affirmed that Paoli had a share in its ill success. It
is true that he had sent a thousand of his National Guards, under the
command of his most trusted friend, Colonna Cesari; but, as the latter
himself afterwards admitted, he had said to him: "Remember, O Cesari!
that Sardinia is the natural ally of our island; that it has, under all
circumstances, supplied us with victuals and ammunition, and that the
King of Piedmont has ever been the friend of the Corsicans and their
cause." The squadron, under the command of Colonna, at length left the
harbour of Bonifazio, and made sail for the island of Santa Maddalena.
Napoleon was next in command under Colonna, and was intrusted with the
artillery. The young officer burned with impatience; it was his first
deed of arms. He was one of the foremost to jump ashore, and he threw,
with his own hand, a fireball into the little town of Maddalena. But
the admirable measures he had taken proved completely fruitless; the
Sardinians made a sortie; Colonna immediately ordered the retreat to be

The young Napoleon wept for rage; he made the most vehement
representations to Colonna, and when the latter listened to him with
cool indifference, Napoleon turned to some officers, and said, "He does
not understand me." "You are an impudent fellow!" thundered Colonna to
him. The born soldier knew his duty, was silent, and placed himself at
his post. "He is a parade-horse, and nothing more," said he afterwards.
Napoleon's first expedition was thus unfortunate, discreditable—a

On his return to Bonifazio, he learned that Paoli, who now saw himself
compelled to throw off the mask, had dissolved the Quenza battalion.
This occurred in the spring of 1793, about the time that the Convention
sent Saliceti, Delcher, and Lacombe, to the island as commissaries.
Lucian Bonaparte and Bartolommeo Arena had denounced Paoli. But Napoleon
had no part in this denunciation; the memory of his father, and his
own generous spirit, led him, on the contrary, to defend his great
countryman. He himself wrote an apology for Paoli, and sent it to the
Convention—an action that does him honour. This remarkable document
has been preserved, though in a somewhat defective state. We have the
defence, it appears to me, as Napoleon first threw it off, previously
to giving it a complete form.


"REPRESENTATIVES!—You are the true organs of the people's sovereignty.
All your decrees are dictated by the nation, or receive their effect
immediately from the nation. Every one of your laws is a benefit, and
earns for you a new claim on the gratitude of posterity, which owes to
you the Republic, and on that of the world, which will date from you
its freedom.

"A single decree that you have passed has greatly disheartened the city
of Ajaccio; that which commands a feeble gray-haired man of seventy
to drag himself to your bar, and place himself for a moment beside the
impious mover of sedition or the venal self-seeker.

"Paoli a mover of sedition, or an ambitious man?

"Seditious! and with what object? To revenge himself on the family of
the Bourbons, whose _perfidious policy_ overwhelmed his country with
calamity, and _forced himself into banishment_. But was not the end
of their tyranny also the end of his exile; and have you not already
appeased his wrath—if he still cherished it—by the blood of Louis?

"Seditious! and with what object? To restore the aristocracy of the
nobles and the priests? He who, since his thirteenth year ... he who
was no sooner at the head of affairs than he destroyed _feudalism_, and
knew no other distinction than that of the citizen; he who, thirty years
ago, fought against Rome, and was _excommunicated_,[M] who made himself
master of the estates of the bishops to give them away, to Venice ...
in Italy....

"Seditious! and with what object? To deliver Corsica into the hands of
England? he who would not deliver it to France, despite the efforts of
Chauvelin, who did not spare titles nor marks of favour!

"Give Corsica to England! What would he gain by living in the mire of
London? Why did he not remain there when he was banished?

"Paoli a self-seeker! If Paoli is a self-seeker, _what more can he
desire_? He is the object of his people's affection, and they refuse
him nothing; _he is at the head of the army_; he is on the eve of the
day when he must defend the island against a foreign attack.

"If Paoli was ambitious, then he has gained everything by the Republic;
and if he has showed himself an adherent of ... since the Constituent
Assembly, what should he do now, _when the people is everything_?

"Paoli ambitious! Representatives! when the French were governed by
a corrupt court, when men believed neither in virtue nor in love
of country, then certainly it might have been said that Paoli was
ambitious. _We made war against the tyrants; it is to be supposed that
that was not from love of country and of liberty, but from the ambition
of our leaders!_ In Coblenz, Paoli must be considered as ambitious;
but in Paris—_the centre of French freedom_—Paoli, if people know him
well, must be accounted the patriarch of the French Republic; _posterity
will think thus_—the people think thus. Follow my advice, silence
calumny, and the utterly corrupt men who use it as their instrument.
Representatives! Paoli is more than a grayhaired man of threescore and
ten—he is infirm. Otherwise he would have gone to your bar to crush his
enemies. _We owe him everything_—even the happiness of being a French
Republic. He enjoys our constant trust. Revoke, as concerns him, your
decree of the 2d of April, and restore joy to this whole people."...

Soon after this, however, the young revolutionist completely quarrelled
with Paoli; they became deadly enemies. The aged patriot found in
the young man the most violent adversary, not of his person, but of
his ideas. It is said that Paoli did not quite know him at that time,
and had hinted to him that it was his intention to separate Corsica
from France, and effect a connexion with England, that the indignant
Napoleon did not conceal his anger, and that Paoli hereupon flew into a
furious passion, and conceived the most violent hatred for his opponent.
Pasquale's adherents were numerous, and the fortress of Ajaccio was
in the hands of his friend Colonna. Paoli and Pozzo di Borgo, then
procurator-general, cited before the Convention, defied the summons, and
lived now under the ban of the Convention, and at open war with France.

The three representatives now made Napoleon Inspector-general of
Corsican Artillery, and instructed him to reduce the citadel of Ajaccio.
He attempted it, but all his exertions to conquer the fortress of his
native town were in vain. Destiny had planted no laurels for Napoleon
in Corsica. During the siege, his life was on one occasion in extreme
danger. He had occupied the Tower of Capitello with about fifty men,
in order to operate from that point by land, while the vessels of war
carried on the bombardment from the sea. A storm blew the fleet out of
the gulf, and Napoleon remained cut off from it in the tower, where he
had to defend himself for three days, living on horse-flesh, till some
herdsmen from the mountains freed him from his perilous situation, and
he succeeded in reaching the fleet.

Much disconcerted, he was proceeding to Bastia by land. On the way,
however, he learned that his life was threatened, that Marius Peraldi
had instigated the people to seize him, and put him into the hands of
Paoli, who meant to shoot him as soon as he had him in his power. In
Vivario he was concealed by the parish priest; in Bocognano his friends
rescued him with the greatest difficulty from the fury of the people;
during the night, he escaped through the window from the chamber in
which he had hid himself, and at length reached Ajaccio in safety.
Here again, however, menaced still more seriously, he fled from his
house to a grotto near the Chapel of the Greeks, where he remained
concealed for a night. His friends now conveyed him safely on board
a vessel, and he reached Bastia by sea. The fury of the Paolists was
meanwhile directed upon Napoleon's family. Madame Letitia, terrified at
the symptoms of approaching danger, fled with her children to Milelli,
accompanied by some trusty peasants of Bastelica and Bocognano. Louis,
Eliza, Paulina, and the Abbé Fesch were with her; Jerome and Caroline
remained in concealment with the Ramolinos. Still insecure in Milelli,
the persecuted family fled during the night to the shore in the vicinity
of the Tower of Capitello, to await there the arrival of the French
fleet, which had been announced as on its way to reduce the citadel of
Ajaccio. The flight through the rugged hill-country was difficult and
fatiguing; for there are no paths in that region but over the rocks,
through the macchia, and over the mountain-torrents. Madame Letitia
held little Paulina by the hand, Fesch preceded with Eliza and Louis; a
troop of adherents from Bastelica, the birthplace of Sampiero, marched
in advance, and behind them the men of Bocognano, armed with daggers,
muskets, and pistols. The family of Napoleon wandering thus through the
mountains, reached at length, after great exertions—clambering over
rocks, and wading through streams—the shore at Capitello, where they
all concealed themselves in the woods.

About this time Napoleon had thrown himself on board a small vessel
in Bastia, had out-sailed the French fleet, and landed at Isola Rossa,
where many of the herdsmen of his family have their pasturing-grounds.
Here learning that his relatives were in flight, he sent shepherds
out in all directions to seek for them, and passed the night waiting
in the most painful suspense for news. Morning dawned; he was sitting
under a rock, anxiously pondering the fate of his friends. Suddenly a
herdsman rushed up to him, crying, "Save yourself!" A band of men from
Ajaccio, in quest of Bonaparte and his family, was hastening towards
him. Napoleon sprang into the sea. His little vessel, a _chebeque_, kept
his pursuers off by its fire, and the boat it had immediately lowered
took him safely on board.

On the same day Bonaparte sailed into the gulf, and keeping close in
shore, he saw people making signals to be taken off. These were his
mother Letitia and her children.

The suffering family was conveyed with all speed to Calvi, where
hospitable entertainers were found. But the house of the Bonapartes, in
Ajaccio, had been entered and plundered by the furious mob. The family
owed its rescue entirely to the prudence and foresight of the Corsican
Costa, to whom Napoleon in his will bequeathed the sum of 100,000 francs
in acknowledgment of the service.

The young Bonaparte himself, called away from a fruitless attempt upon
Ajaccio, in which he was not supported by the fleet, also sailed to
Calvi; and leaving Corsica from this point, he appears again at Toulon.

Pasquale Paoli himself had thus driven him out into European history.
Two men, bitter enemies of each other—Marbœuf and Paoli—that is,
despotism and democracy, had guided Napoleon to his special career. When
Napoleon became consul, and his star shone the Cynosure of the world,
the star of Paoli had long since set. Deeply does it move me when I
think of the noble old Pasquale living in forgotten and solitary exile
in London, and illuminating his house in unselfish joy, when he hears of
the dignity to which his countryman has attained, forgetting his grudge,
and hoping that the great Corsican may become a blessing to humanity. In
one of his letters, he says: "Napoleon has consummated our Vendetta on
all those that were the authors of our fall. I only wish he may remember
his country." He remained in banishment; Napoleon did not recall him,
perhaps because he feared to excite the jealousy of the French.

In the days of his prosperity, Bonaparte forgot his little fatherland;
thankless and weak, like all _parvenus_, who are unwilling to be
reminded of the obscure spot that gave them birth. He did nothing for
the poor island, and the Corsicans have not been able to forget this.
They still remember that the Emperor, when a Corsican once presented
himself to him, drily asked him: "Well, how is it in Corsica; are the
Corsicans always murdering each other yet?"

He visited his native island only once after that flight from Calvi—on
his return from Egypt. On the 29th of September 1799, his ship ran
into the harbour of Ajaccio; with him were Murat, who was yet to leave
this same harbour under very changed circumstances—Eugene, Berthier,
Lannes, Andreosi, Louis Bonaparte, Morge, and Berthollet. He sat there
on board, and read the journals during the night and great part of the
next day. He was unwilling to land; but his officers were curious to
become acquainted with his birthplace, and he at length yielded to their
solicitations, and those of the citizens of Ajaccio. A man, who had
in his boyhood been one of the spectators of this landing, gave me an
account of it. "Look you," said he, "this Place du Diamant was covered
with a huzzaing crowd, and the people filled the roofs; they wanted
to see the wonderful man, who, a few years before, had walked about
these streets a simple officer, and one of the leading democrats of
Ajaccio. He alighted at the Casa Bonaparte, and came out afterwards and
walked in the Place du Diamant. But I must tell you of a circumstance
that does him honour. When Napoleon lived in Ajaccio, the priests and
aristocrats were his bitter enemies. He was one day returning to his
house, and had arrived just at the corner of this street, when he saw a
priest, a relation of my own, standing at the window of yonder house,
and levelling a musket at him. Napoleon bent himself that moment, and
the ball whizzed over his head into the wall behind;—a moment sooner,
and the world would never have seen an Emperor Napoleon. Well, General
Bonaparte met that priest on the Place du Diamant. The man, well
remembering that he had once shot at him, turned off to one side. But
Napoleon saw him, stepped up to him, gave him his hand, and reminded
him good-humouredly of old times. Look you, he was no Corsican in that;
great men readily forget injuries." Napoleon, however, was a thorough
Corsican when he had the Duke of Enghien shot. This deed was the deed
of a Corsican bandit, and can only be rightly understood when we know
what the custom of the Vendetta in Corsica allows—the murder even of
innocent members of an enemy's family. Napoleon could not quite disown
his Corsican temperament; and thus we find him romantic, theatrical,
adventurous, as the Corsicans in a certain degree are. Egypt, Russia,
Elba, are passages in his history in which he was nothing but a great
and genial adventurer.

He went out shooting on occasion of that visit to Ajaccio, and spent a
day in Milelli, where he wrote the pamphlet against Buttafucco. How many
wonderful deeds lay already behind him! how many princes and peoples
had the might of his sword and the thunder of his phrases already
overthrown! He called his herdsmen about him, and richly rewarded that
Bagaglino who had aided him in carrying out his first _coup d'état_.
He distributed his herds and his lands. His nurse, too, Camilla Ilari,
came to see him: she embraced him weeping; and as she presented him
with a flask of milk she had brought, said in her _naïve_ and simple
way: "My son, I gave you the milk of my heart—take now the milk of my
goat." Napoleon gave her a comfortable house in Ajaccio, and a large
extent of arable land; and when he became Emperor, he added a pension of
3600 francs. After remaining six days in Corsica, he again sailed from
Ajaccio for France.

He never afterwards visited his native island; but fate one day gave
him a sight of it, when, a defeated man, whom history had laid aside
as no longer available for its aims, he stood upon the narrow cliff of
Elba. Then ironic destiny showed him the obscure corner from which, as
a child of fortune, he had issued into the world to seek a career.

Later, on St. Helena, his thoughts constantly recurred to Corsica.
People on their deathbeds usually wander back in imagination through
the course of their lives, and dwell with greatest pleasure on
their childhood. He spoke a great deal of his native island. In the
Commentaries, he says on one occasion: "My good Corsicans were not
contented with me in the time of the Consulate and the Empire. They
affirmed I had done little for my country.... Those who hated me, and
still more those who envied me, were continually on the watch; all
that I did for my Corsicans was cried down as a theft and an injustice
to the French. This necessary policy had turned away the hearts of my
countrymen from me, and made them cold towards me. I pity them, but I
could not act otherwise. When the Corsicans saw me unfortunate, abused
by many an ungrateful Frenchman—when they saw all Europe in conspiracy
against me, they forgot all, like men of steadfast and incorruptible
virtue, and were ready to sacrifice themselves for me if I had
wished.... What memories Corsica has left me! I think with joy still
on its fair regions, on its mountains; I remember still the fragrance
that it exhales. I should have bettered the lot of my beautiful Corsica,
I should have made my fellow-countrymen happy; but days of misfortune
came, and I have not been able to carry out my plans."

The first question that Napoleon put to the Corsican Antommarchi, his
physician, when he entered his room in St. Helena, was: "Have you a
Filippini?" Many of his countrymen had been his companions throughout
his career; he had raised many to elevated stations—Bacciocchi, Arena,
Cervioni, Arrighi, Saliceti, Casabianca, Abbatucci, Sebastiani. His
relation to that Colonna who had been the friend of Paoli, and who had
once been hostile to him, was to the last one of intimate friendship.
It is said that Paoli had commissioned Colonna to lay an ambuscade for
Napoleon near Ajaccio, and take him alive or dead; such, at least, is
the report. Colonna refused. He remained the friend of both, of Napoleon
as well as Paoli—and that without playing the hypocrite, for he was
a high-spirited man. He was the first who knew of Napoleon's flight
from Elba; and in the will which he made in St. Helena, the Emperor
intrusted to him the charge of his mother. Colonna discharged this
trust conscientiously, and till Letitia's death remained with her as
her friend and manager of her affairs. He then retired to Vico, near

The dying Napoleon received extreme unction from the hands of a
Corsican, the priest Vignale, who was afterwards murdered in his native
island. He died thus among brother Corsicans, who had not forsaken him.



     "Where are the princes who held mightiest sway?
     Where are the heroes all, the wise and bold?
     The world endures when thou hast pass'd away,
     And none has read its riddle deep and old.
     The course of things is full of teachings wise,
     But, reckless still, we close unheeding eyes."—FIRDUSI.

As I called up before my mind the history of Napoleon, his splendid
empire, the peoples and princes that this headlong comet had drawn
onward in his train, the flood of events he had thrown upon the world,
the influence he had exercised over unnumbered human destinies—there
came over me, in his now desolate and silent house, at once a sadness
and its consolation.

All those boundless passions that devoured half the world and were
not satisfied, where are they, and what power have they now? They
are as a dream, as a great fable that Father Time tells his children.
Our thanks are due to Time—the silent and mysterious power that again
levels all, humbles heaven-aspiring potentates, checks unscrupulous
self-aggrandizement, and effectually ostracizes over-grown ambition.

Where is Napoleon? What is left of him?

A name and a relic, which an easily blinded nation now publicly
worships. What lately happened beyond the Rhine, appears to me like the
celebration of Napoleon's suppressed funeral of 1821.[N] But the dead
do not rise again. After the gods have come their ghosts; and after the
hero-tragedy, the satyr-farce. The breath of a charnel-house has spread
through the world from beyond the Rhine, since they wakened a dead man

I went from the house of Letitia to the church where her coffin stands.

The street of the King of Rome leads to the Cathedral of Ajaccio.
This church is a heavy building, with a plain facade; above its portal
are some defaced armorial bearings. They are, doubtless, those of the
extinct Republic of Genoa. The interior of the cathedral has a motley
and rustic appearance. Heavy pillars divide it into three naves (_drei
Schiffe_); the dome is small, like the gallery.

Near the choir, to the right, a little chapel, hung with black, has been
put up. Two coffins, covered with black velvet, stand therein, before
an altar, coarsely decorated in the style we find in village churches.
Clumsy wooden candlesticks have been placed at the head and foot of each
coffin; and above each hangs a perpetual, but extinguished lamp. On the
coffin to the left lies a cardinal's hat and an amaranth-wreath; on the
coffin to the right an imperial crown and an amaranth-wreath.

They are the coffins of Cardinal Fesch and Madame Letitia. They were
brought hither from their Italian tombs in the year 1851. Letitia died
in her Roman palace, in the Place di Venezia, on the 2d of February
1836, and her coffin had since stood in a church of the little town of
Corneto, near Rome.

No marble, no sculpture, nothing of the pomp of death, adorns the spot
where a woman lies who gave birth to an emperor, three kings, and three

I was astonished at the unconscious irony, the deep tragic meaning that
lay, as it seemed to me, in the almost rustic simplicity of Letitia's
tomb. It was like a princely tomb in the scenes of a theatre. Her
coffin rests on a high wooden platform; the clumsy candlesticks are of
wood, the gold is tinsel. The canopy of the chapel would fain look like
velvet, but it is of common taffeta, and the long silver fringes are
only silver paper. The golden imperial diadem on the coffin is of gilded
wood. The amaranthine wreath of Letitia alone is genuine.

I was told that this chapel was merely temporary, and that a new
cathedral was to be built, with a beautiful tomb for Letitia. Improbable
enough; the Corsicans are very poor, and for my part, I should be sorry
to see it. The worthy citizens of Ajaccio do not know how wise they have
been. A profound philosophy speaks from this chapel—what sort of crowns
were those that Letitia of Ajaccio and her children wore? For one short
evening they were princes, then they hurriedly threw away sceptre and
purple, and vanished. History itself, therefore, has laid the tinselled
crown on the coffin of the daughter of the citizen Ramolino. Let it
lie—it is not the less beautiful that it is counterfeit, like the lofty
fortunes of the bastard kings that this woman bore.

Never, so long as the world has stood, has a mother's heart beat higher
than the heart of the woman in this coffin. She saw her children, one
after another, stand at the loftiest zenith of human glory; and, one
after another, saw the same children fall. She has paid Destiny its

Truly, it is hard for him who stands by this coffin to restrain his
emotion, so sad, so moving is the great tragedy of a mother's heart that
lies therein enclosed. What an undeserved fate!—and how came it that, in
the bosom of this gay, young, unpretending woman, those world-convulsing
forces and those men and city-devouring passions were to ripen?



The house in the street Napoleon, in which the fugitive Murat lived, has
been rebuilt in a style of great magnificence. The arms of the Pozzo di
Borgo family, above the door, inform us to whom it belongs. After the
Bonapartes, these Pozzi di Borgo are the most famous family in Ajaccio;
they are of an old and noble stock, and their name began to be of
note long before that of the Bonapartes. In the sixteenth century they
distinguished themselves in the service of the Venetians. The Corsican
poet, Biagino di Leca, who, in his epic called _Il d'Ornano Marte_,
celebrates the achievements of Alfonso Ornano, praises also several of
the Pozzi di Borgo, and predicts to their race undying fame.

The family has certainly attained a European importance, in the person
of Count Carlo Andrea Pozzo di Borgo, the friend of Paoli, and in his
youth the friend of the young Napoleon; but later, the unrelenting,
the truly _Corsican_ foe of the Emperor. He was born in Alata, a
village near Ajaccio, on the 8th of March 1768; he studied law in Pisa
together with Carlo Bonaparte, and afterwards made himself conspicuous
in Corsica, first as revolutionary democrat, then as Paolist. In the
year 1791 he was representative for Ajaccio, then Procurator-general
and Paoli's right hand. When Corsica allied herself with England, this
clever politician was chosen president of the Council of State, under
the viceroyship of Elliot. People say that he brought his patron, Paoli,
into bad odour with the English, in order to make his own influence
supreme. He afterwards left Corsica, made several journeys to London,
travelled to Vienna, to Russia, to Constantinople, to Syria; wandering
from country to country and court to court, this unwearied foe kept
stirring up with ceaseless activity the hatred of the cabinets against
Napoleon. Alexander had made him a member of the Russian Privy Council
in 1802. Napoleon, in his turn, pursued him with a hatred equally
bitter; he longed to have this man within his power—this artful and
dreaded antagonist that crossed him at every turn. At the peace of
Presburg he demanded that he should be delivered into his hands. Had
he obtained this demand, he would have done with Pozzo di Borgo what
Charles XII. did with Patkul. Remarkable is this enmity—it is true
Corsican Vendetta—Corsican hatred playing a part in universal history.
It was Pozzo di Borgo who induced Bernadotte to become the active
opponent of Napoleon; it was he who impelled the allies to a speedy
march on Paris; it was he who set the King of Rome aside; he who, at
the Congress of Vienna, insisted that Napoleon should be banished from
the dangerous Elba to a distant island. At Waterloo he fought with
armed hand against his great adversary, and received a wound. And when
at length his gigantic but now for ever vanquished foe lay dead in St.
Helena, he uttered those haughty and terrible words: "I have not killed
Napoleon; but I have thrown the last shovelful of earth upon him!"

Pozzo di Borgo earned a Russian coronet, and the honour of remaining
the perpetual representative of all Russian states at the court of
France. Living in Paris, he became a frank opponent of the reaction,
and thereby endangered his relation to the courts. Notwithstanding his
career, he was, and remained, a Corsican. I have been told that he never
laid aside his Corsican habits of life: he loved his country. It was,
one may say, another victory of his over Napoleon, that he took from
him the gratitude of his countrymen. Napoleon did nothing for Corsica,
Pozzo di Borgo much. He had the works of the two Corsican historians,
Filippini and Peter Cyrnæus, published at his own expense, and Gregori
dedicated to him a collection of the statutes. Pozzo di Borgo's name
is now inseparably connected with the three greatest documents of
Corsican history, and is imperishable. He freely spent his large
means on charitable foundations, and in general beneficence towards
his countrymen. He died a private individual at Paris, on the 15th of
January 1842, at the age of seventy-four, at variance with the world
about him, sick and sad at heart, and weary of life. He was one of the
most skilful diplomatists and clearest heads of the present century.

His immense fortune passed to his nephews, who have bought rich estates
in the neighbourhood of Ajaccio. A few years ago, one of them was
murdered close to the town. He had the management of the funds devoted
by Count Carlo Andrea to benevolent purposes, and had drawn odium upon
himself by acts of injustice. I was told, besides, that he had seduced
a girl; and that, as he refused to pay a certain large sum demanded
in reparation by her kinsfolk, they resolved upon his death. One day
when he was driving from his villa to the town, these men stopped and
surrounded the carriage, and called to him: "Come out, nephew of Carlo
Andrea Pozzo di Borgo!" The unhappy man obeyed instantly. The murderers
then coolly completed this summary execution, in broad daylight, and
on the open highway, as if it were an act of popular justice against
a criminal. Their shots, however, had not quite killed the man. The
murderers placed him in his carriage, and bade the coachman drive
homewards, that the nephew of Pozzo di Borgo might die in his bed. They
then took to the woods, where they met with their death some time after,
in a fight with the gendarmes.

Such is one shocking instance of the rude popular justice still so
prevalent in Corsica. I shall here relate another. The circumstances
excite our astonishment and admiration, but are at the same time
exceedingly painful. The scene is Alata, the native village of the Pozzo
di Borgo family, a few miles from Ajaccio.


Two grenadiers belonging to a French regiment, forming, as Genoese
auxiliaries, the garrison of Ajaccio, one day deserted. They fled to
the hills of Alata, and kept themselves concealed there in the wild
fastnesses, subsisting on the hospitality of the poor but kind-hearted

Sacred are the laws of hospitality; he who breaks them is before God
and man like Cain.

When the next spring came, it chanced that some officers from the
garrison went a-hunting to the hills of Alata. They came near the
place where the two fugitives lived in concealment. These latter
caught sight of the huntsmen, and cowered behind a rock, lest they
should be recognised and perhaps shot down as game. Quite near them a
young herdsman was watching his goats. The colonel of the regiment, De
Rozières, stepped up to him and inquired if any deserters were concealed
in the mountains thereabouts. The herdsman said that he did not know,
and was embarrassed. De Rozières began to have suspicions. He threatened
the youth with severe punishment—with immediate imprisonment in the
Tower of Ajaccio, if he did not tell the truth.

Joseph was frightened; he said nothing, but he pointed to the spot where
the poor grenadiers lay hiding. The officer did not understand him.
"Speak!" he shouted. Joseph said nothing, but pointed again. The other
officers, who had laid hold of the young man, now left him, and hastened
in the direction where he had pointed, expecting possibly to find some
animal which this stupid mute knew to be lying there.

The two deserters started up and took to flight, but were overtaken and
made fast.

Colonel de Rozières gave Joseph four bright louis-d'ors as informer's
reward. When the young herdsman saw the gold pieces in his own hand,
he forgot, in his childish joy, officers and grenadiers and the whole
world; for he had never seen the like before. He ran into his father's
hut—called father, mother, and brothers together, and behaved like one
out of his wits as he showed them his treasure.

"How didst thou earn this gold, my son Joseph?" asked the old shepherd.
The son narrated what had happened. With every word he uttered, his
father's countenance grew darker; the brothers seemed horror-struck,
and, by the time his story was told, Joseph had grown pale as death.

Sacred are the laws of hospitality; he who breaks them is before God
and man like Cain.

The old shepherd threw one terrible glance on his trembling son, and
left the hut. He called all his kinsfolk together. When they were
assembled, he related to them the circumstances, and requested them
to pronounce judgment on his son; for it appeared to him that he
was a traitor, and had brought shame on his own house, and all the

This court of kinsmen pronounced the deed worthy of death, and there was
not a dissenting voice. "Wo to me and to my son!" cried the old man in
despair. "Wo to my wife that bare me the Judas!"

The kinsmen went to Joseph. They took him and led him to the city-wall
of Ajaccio, to a lonely place.

"Wait here," said the old shepherd; "I will go to the commandant, and
beg of him the lives of the two grenadiers. Let their lives be my son's

The old man went to Colonel de Rozières. On his knees he implored
of him the pardon of the two soldiers. The officer gazed on him in
astonishment, and could not understand why this compassionate shepherd
should weep so bitterly for two foreign soldiers. But he said to him
that the punishment of the deserter was death; so the law willed it.
The old man rose, and went out groaning.

He returned to the wall, where his friends stood with the unhappy
Joseph. "It was in vain," he said, "my son Joseph, thou must die; die
like a brave man; and farewell!"

Poor Joseph wept, but he was quiet and composed. A priest had been
brought, who confessed him, and endeavoured to comfort the unhappy

It was just the hour when they were scourging the two deserters to death
with rods. Joseph placed himself quietly by the wall. The kinsmen took
certain aim—and Joseph was dead!

When he had fallen, his old father, bitterly weeping, took the four
louis-d'ors, gave them to the priest, and said: "Go to the commandant,
and say: "Sir, here you have the Judas-money back. We are poor and
honest people, and have executed justice on him who took them from your
hand. The laws of hospitality are sacred, and he who breaks them is
before God and man as Cain.'"

       *       *       *       *       *

In Alata and Ajaccio, the noble action of a woman of the Pozzo di Borgo
family is still well remembered.


In Appietto, near Ajaccio, the people were merrily celebrating the
Carnival. According to an ancient custom, still observed in the island,
the Carnival-king sat on a throne in the middle of the market-place,
a golden crown on his head, and surrounded by his Ministers of State.
Tables had been placed there, covered with fruits, wine, and provisions
of every sort. For the Carnival-king had vigorously imposed his taxes;
it is Corsican Carnival-law that he has the right to tax the families
of the village, each according to its means; and this tribute they must
pay in wine and viands for the common entertainment.

It was a merry feast, and the wine was not spared. Guitar and violin
were not idle, and the young folks were wheeling in the dance.

Suddenly, in the midst of the merriment, was heard a shot and a cry,
and the revellers scattered in every direction. A wild tumult arose in
the market-place of Appietto. The young Felix Pozzo di Borgo was lying
in his blood. Andrea Romanetti had shot him dead—some insulting words
had been dropped. Andrea had taken to the macchia.

They bore the dead youth into the house of his mother. The women raised
their wail; the guitars were silent.—Felix's mother, Marianna, was a
widow; she had seen much trouble. As soon as the youth was buried, she
dried her tears, and thought only of avenging him, for she was a woman
of a high spirit, and sprung of the ancient house of Colonna d'Istria.

Marianna laid aside her female dress, and put on male attire. She
wrapped herself in the pelone, put a Phrygian cap upon her head, girded
herself with the carchera, placed dagger and pistols in her belt,
and grasped the double-barrel. In all respects she was like a rough
Corsican man; but her scarlet girdle, the velvet border of her pelone,
and the ornamented hilt of her dagger, which shone with ivory and
mother-of-pearl, showed that she belonged to a noble house.

She put herself at the head of her relations, and unrestingly pursued
the murderer of her son. Andrea Romanetti flew from bush to bush, from
grotto to grotto, and from hill to hill. But Marianna kept close upon
his track. In the darkness of night, the fugitive threw himself into his
own house in the village of Marchesacchia. Here a girl connected with
the family of his enemies detected him, and gave information. Marianna
was immediately on the spot. Her relations surrounded the house.
Romanetti made a brave defence, but when his powder was exhausted, and
his enemies had got upon the roof, and from that side were forcing an
entrance, he saw that he was a lost man. He now thought of nothing but
the welfare of his soul; for he was pious and God-fearing.

"Stop!" cried Romanetti from the house, "I will surrender; but promise
me first, that before I die, I shall have a confessor." Marianna Pozzo
di Borgo promised him this.

Romanetti then came out, and gave himself into the hands of his foes.
They brought him to the village of Toppa, and there they led him before
the house of the parish priest, Saverius Casalonga. Marianna called the
priest out, and prayed him to receive the confession of Romanetti, for
that after it he must die.

The priest begged the unhappy man's life with tears; but his prayers
were fruitless. He then received his confession, and while this
proceeded, Marianna lay upon her knees and besought God that He would
have mercy on the murderer of her son.

The confession was ended. The Pozzi di Borgo led Romanetti outside the
village, and bound him to a tree.

They raised their pieces; suddenly Marianna rushed before them. "Stop!"
she cried, "for God's sake, stop!" and she ran to the tree where
Romanetti stood bound, and flung her arms round the murderer of her son.
"In the name of God," she cried, "I forgive him. Yes, he has made me
the most unhappy of mothers, but ye shall do him no further harm, and
shoot me rather than him." And she continued to hold her enemy in her
embrace, and to protect him with her own body.

The priest came forward; but his words were not needed. The men loosed
Romanetti, and from that moment he was free, and his life sacred for
the Pozzi di Borgo, so that none ever touched a hair of his head.



I spent some time in wandering through the country round Ajaccio.
The uneven nature of the ground allows you to walk only in three
directions—along the shore to the north, inland along the highway to
Bastia, and on the other side of the gulf, on the road to Sartene;
the mountains close in on the fourth side. Footpaths wind among the
vineyards, which adorn in great numbers the country to the north-east
of Ajaccio.

In these vineyards are to be seen those curious watch-houses, which
are peculiar to Ajaccio, and are called Pergoliti. They are formed
of the stems of four young pines, which support a small hut, raised
entirely above the ground, and thatched with straw. The watchman bears
the dignified name of Baron. He is armed with a double-barrelled gun,
and from time to time blows a blast on a conch or a shrill pipe made
of clay, for the purpose of notifying his presence, and of terrifying

One evening, a hospitable old man conducted me into his vineyard on
San Giovanni. He loaded me with bunches of beautiful Muscatel grapes,
plucked almonds for me, and juicy plums and figs, which grow in
luxuriant confusion among the vines. I happened to be passing along the
road, when, after the hospitable manner of the country, he invited me
to enter his garden. A very benevolent old man he was, and his reverend
appearance reminded me strongly of the pictures of old age we find
in the poems of Gleim's epoch, the touching simplicity of which often
evidences a truer human wisdom than is discoverable in the most popular
poems of our own time. Can there be seen a more beautiful picture than
that of a cheerful and healthy old man in the garden planted by himself
in his youth, the fruits of which he now kindly shares with the weary
travellers by the wayside? Yes! thus peaceful and benevolent ought the
close of man's life upon this earth to be.

The old man was talkative, praised this and that fruit, and described
the processes necessary for raising a juicy growth. The vines are here
trained to the height of four or five feet on poles, like beans, and
in general four vines are planted with their tops bound together in a
square shallow trough. The grape-harvest was large, but the disease
had made its appearance in many places. The wine of Ajaccio is hot,
like the Spanish. I found in this vineyard also, for the first time,
the ripe fruit of the Indian fig-tree. After these trees have shed
their cactus blossoms, the fruit ripens very rapidly. The fig is of a
yellowish colour; the rind is peeled off, and only the inside of the fig
eaten, which is unpleasantly sweet. Various attempts have been made to
extract sugar from them. The power of growth displayed by this species
of cactus, which grows in astonishing luxuriance round Ajaccio, is very
remarkable. A leaf placed in the ground quickly strikes out roots, and
becomes an independent plant. It requires the very least nourishment,
and will grow on the thinnest soil.

A beautiful villa, in the castellated style, with Gothic towers, and
immense imperial eagles carved in stone, stands near Mount San Giovanni.
It belongs to Prince Bacciocchi.

The small fertile plain lying beyond, at the end of the bay, is
called Campo Loro. The spirit of a sad event, which occurred in the
Genoese war, hovers over this fruitful spot. Twenty-one herdsmen from
Bastelica—all powerful men, worthy of Sampiero's canton—had taken up a
position here. They made a brave stand against eight hundred Greeks and
Genoese, till they were driven to a marsh, where they were surrounded
and all killed, except one young man. This youth had thrown himself down
among the dead, and, partly covered by the bodies of his companions,
escaped slaughter for a time. But the Genoese afterwards came upon
the field for the purpose of cutting off the heads of the fallen, and
setting them up on the walls of the citadel. They raised the young
herdsman, and brought him before their lieutenant. Condemned to death,
he, the last of the little band, was led through the streets of Ajaccio
with six of his companions' heads hung round him, and was afterwards
quartered, and his body exposed upon the wall to the birds of prey.

At one end of this plain lies the Botanical Garden, which Ajaccio owes
to Louis XVI., and which was commenced under the superintendence of
Carlo Bonaparte. Its original purpose was the acclimatizing of foreign
plants, which were intended to be introduced into France. This garden,
sheltered by high mountains from the cold winds, and lying exposed to
the noonday sun, contains the noblest productions of foreign countries,
which, in the warm climate of Ajaccio, thrive in the open air. You
can walk here among splendid magnolias, those wonderful plants called
poincianas, tulip-trees, gleditschias, bignonias, tamarinds, and cedars
of Lebanon. The cochineal insect is found on the mighty Indian fig-tree
here, just as in Mexico.

The sight of this beautiful garden transports the mind to tropical
regions; and, when standing among these wondrous, foreign trees,
with our eyes fixed on the deep blue waters of the gulf, upon which
the warm summer air broods, it is difficult not to imagine ourselves
on the shores of some Mexican bay. The garden lies near the road to
Bastia—the most frequented of all the highroads from Ajaccio. This is
especially the case in the evening, when the townspeople return from
their occupations in the country.

It was a favourite amusement with me to take a seat on the shore of the
gulf, and to observe the passers-by. The women have all good figures,
and their features are clear and delicate. I was often struck with
the softness of their eyes and the fairness of their complexion. They
wear the fazoletto, or mandile as a head-dress; on Sundays it is of
white gauze, and contrasts well with the black faldetta. The peasant
women generally wear round straw hats with very low crowns. Upon the
straw hat they place a little cushion, and in this manner carry easily
and conveniently very heavy burdens. The Corsican, like the Italian
women, are distinguished by natural grace of deportment. I had frequent
occasion to be delighted with the ease and grace of their movements.
One day I met a young woman carrying fruit to the town. I requested
her to sell me some. The maiden immediately removed her basket from her
head, and, with the most perfect grace, requested me to take as much as
I wished. With equal delicacy, she declined my offer of money. She was
very poorly dressed. Afterwards, every time I met her in Ajaccio she
returned my salutation with a grace which would have well become a lady
of the noblest birth.

A man gallops past me. His pretty little wife has perhaps just gone
before him, laden with a bundle of brushwood or fodder, while her
indolent husband has come from the mountains, where he has been doing
nothing all day but waiting for an opportunity to shoot some mortal
enemy. When I see these half savages alone, or in companies of three
or six, on horseback or on foot, all armed with their double-barrelled
guns, I can hardly persuade myself that the country is not permanently
in a state of war. Even the peasant, who sits on his hay-cart, has his
gun slung upon his shoulder. I counted in half an hour twenty-six men
armed with double-barrelled guns, who passed me on their way to Ajaccio.
The people in the neighbourhood of Ajaccio are known to be the most
quarrelsome in the island.

The appearance of these men is often bold and picturesque; often, too,
frightfully hideous, and even ridiculous. You see them on their small
horses, men of short stature—generally about Napoleon's height—with
jet-black hair and beard, deep bronze complexion, in brownish-black
jacket of a shaggy material, trowsers of the same sort, their
double-barrelled gun on their shoulder, the round yellow zucca—usually
filled with water—strapped to their back, the pouch of goat-skin
or fox-skin, stuffed with bread, cheese, and other necessaries, the
shot-belt buckled round the waist, with the leathern tobacco-pouch
attached. Thus is the Corsican horseman equipped; and thus he lies
all day in the field, while his wife is hard at work. I could never
repress a feeling of annoyance and disgust when I saw these furious
fellows—two generally on one horse, spurring him on unmercifully—pass me
at a gallop, and turned to look upon the beautiful shores of the gulf,
where not a single village is visible. The soil might produce a hundred
kinds of fruit, while at present it is overgrown with rosemary, thorns,
thistles, and wild olives.

The walk along the shore, on the north side of the bay, is delightful.
It is a pleasure, during the prevalence of a light breeze, to watch
the waves breaking upon the granite reefs, and covering them with their
pure white foam. On the right rise mountains, which, near the town, are
covered with olive-trees, but beyond, and as far as Cape Muro, are bleak
and desert.

On this part of the coast stands, close to the sea, the small
Greek chapel. I have not been able to discover why it bears this
name—dedicated as it is to the Madonna del Carmine, and bearing
a tablet with the name of the family of Pozzo di Borgo—_Puteo
Borgensis_—inscribed upon it. It was probably ceded to the Greeks on
their arrival at Ajaccio. The Genoese had settled the colony of Mainotes
at Paomia, which lies a considerable distance above Ajaccio. These
industrious colonists were continually threatened by the Corsicans.
Hating and despising the intruders—whose settlement had flourished in a
remarkable degree—they stabbed the husbandman at the plough, shot the
vine-dresser in his vineyard, and laid waste the fields and gardens.
In the year 1731, the poor Greeks were expelled from their settlement;
they fled to Ajaccio, where they were quartered by the Genoese, to
whom they had always remained faithful, in three separate divisions of
the town. When the island fell into the hands of the French, they were
allowed to settle in Cargese. They brought this part of the country into
a high state of cultivation, but had hardly time to become properly
domesticated before the Corsicans again fell upon them, in the year
1793, set fire to their houses, slaughtered their cattle, destroyed
their vineyards, and forced them to flee once more to Ajaccio. In 1797,
General Casabianca led the poor wanderers back to Cargese, where they
now live in peace and safety. All peculiarities in their manners and
customs have disappeared; they speak Corsican, like their troublesome
neighbours, and among themselves a corrupt kind of Greek. Cargese lies
on the sea, north from Ajaccio, and not far from the baths of Vico and

On the same part of the coast are scattered many small chapels, in
various forms—round, polygonal, with and without cupolas, and some
in the shape of sarcophagi and temples, surrounded by white walls,
and overhung with cypresses and weeping willows. These are the
country-houses of the dead—family burying-places. Their situation on
the sea-shore, in sight of the beautiful gulf, standing, too, among
green trees and shrubs, and the elegant Moorish style in which they are
built, give a very pleasant and romantic appearance to the country. The
Corsican has strong antipathies to being buried in a public churchyard;
he follows the ancient custom of the patriarchs, and prefers to rest
with his fathers on his own possessions. Thus the whole island is
covered with small tombs, often in the most beautiful situations, and
heightening greatly the picturesque appearance of the landscape.

Walking further on towards Cape Muro, where the traveller sees, close to
the shore, several red granite cliffs—the Bloody Islands, as they are
called—on which stand a lighthouse and several Genoese watch-towers, I
found some fishermen engaged in drawing a net to land. They stood in
rows of from ten to twelve men, each company pulling in a long rope,
to which the net was fastened. These ropes are more than a hundred and
fifty yards long on each side; the part pulled in is neatly and cleverly
arranged in a round coil. In three-quarters of an hour the net was on
shore, heavy with fish. When they spread it out on the beach, such a
spluttering, and leaping, and bounding, and springing! The fish were
mostly anchovies, the largest were ray-fish (_razza_), very similar to
our Baltic flinder. They carry a sharp and painful sting at the end
of their long tails. The fishermen lay the ray-fish very carefully
on the ground, and sever the tail from the body with a knife. They
were an industrious and active body of men, of a powerful build; for
the Corsicans are as active and useful on sea as among their native
mountains. The old granite mountains and the sea develop and determine,
on the one side and on the other, the character of the island and
its population; and thus the Corsicans are naturally divided into two
powerful bodies—herdsmen and fishermen. The fishery in the neighbourhood
of Ajaccio is, as in all the bays of the island, of great importance.
In April, the tunny coasts along the shores of Spain, France, and Genoa,
and makes its appearance in the Corsican channel; the shark is its sworn
enemy. It also is often seen in these seas, but it does not come near
the shore.

Returning in the twilight from this sea-side walk to Ajaccio, the
report of a gun at no great distance among the hills, struck my ear.
Presently a man came running up to me and inquired in an excited manner:
"You heard the shot?" "Yes." "Did you see any one?" "No." He then left
me. Two sbirri passed. "What was it?" I inquired. "Some one has been
murdered, we suppose." A walk in the country may be diversified in
this island by somewhat dramatic occurrences. Death breathes around one
everywhere, and the beauty of Nature herself has here the sad charm of
melancholy and gloom.


     [M] This is incorrect.

     [N] An allusion to the fact that Napoleon's wish to be buried on
     the banks of the Seine was not complied with.—_Tr._




The road from Ajaccio to Sartene is rich in remarkable scenery and
peculiar landscape. It runs for a time along the Gulf of Ajaccio,
crosses the river Gravone, which falls into the gulf, and winds through
the valley of the Prunelli. From all sides the view of the gulf is
magnificent, at times unseen, at other times reappearing, as the road
pursues its spiral windings among the mountains.

At the mouth of the Prunelli stands the solitary tower of Capitello,
with which the history of Napoleon has made us acquainted.

The towns in this part of the country are but few in number: they are
called Fontanaccia, Serrola, and Cavro. Cavro is a paese, consisting of
several distinct hamlets, in a wild and romantic mountainous country,
rich in granite and porphyry, and interspersed with the most luxuriant
vineyards. Ten minutes' walk into this mountainous region of Cavro
brings us to the scene of the treacherous assassination of Sampiero. The
Ornanos chose their place well. There, in a circle, stand high rocks,
down the side of which winds a narrow path into the gorge, through
which a mountain stream flows, while around grow oaks, olive-trees,
and brushwood. On a rock near the place are still visible the ruins
of Castle Giglio, where Sampiero spent the night before his death. I
looked around in vain for some memorial which might inform the wanderer
that in this gloomy spot the most heroic of all Corsicans met his fate.
This, too, is a characteristic trait of the Corsican nation; the living
memory of the people is the only monument of their wild tragic history.
Every rock in the island is a memorial stone; and the Corsicans may
well dispense with monumental pillars and tablets, so long as the great
events of their history continue to form a living element of their own
being. For, when a people begin to decorate their land with statues and
with monuments, it is a sure sign that their primeval power is gone.
The whole of Italy is at present a mere museum of monuments, statues,
and inscriptions; while in Corsica, nature continues to reign, and
living tradition has lost none of its power. Indeed, the Corsicans
would not even understand the meaning of a statue or a monument; such
a thing would appear to them strange and foreign. When a statue—which
he declined—was voted to Pasquale Paoli, after his return from England,
a Corsican remarked: "As well give an honest man a box on the ear, as
offer him a statue."

Near this gloomy spot, however, stood a group of living monuments of
the greatness of Sampiero—peasants, with the Phrygian cap of freedom
pressed down upon their brows, talking together in the sun. I went
up to them, and entered into conversation with them about their old
national hero. The people have conferred upon him the most honourable
agnomen that could be borne by the son of any nation; for he is never
mentioned by any other than Sampiero Corso—Sampiero the Corsican. In a
striking manner has the judgment of his countrymen been pronounced in
this name—that Sampiero is himself the most complete expression of the
character of the Corsican people, and a symbol of the nation's power
and greatness. This great man, hewn from the primeval granite of his
country, is the perfect representative of the character of the island
as of its history—rude valour, unconquerable obstinacy, a glowing love
of freedom, patriotism, a penetrating sagacity, poverty without its
wants, roughness and violent passion, volcanic emotions, thirst for
revenge—leading him even like Othello to murder his wife; and, that
no bloody trait (and bloodthirstiness is a remarkable psychological
characteristic of the Corsican nationality) in the history of Sampiero
Corso may be wanting, we find the completion of the picture in his own
violent death. Living several centuries ago, his character could embrace
within itself every element of the Corsican nature. The same traits are
observable in Pasquale Paoli, but, from the philosophical and humanistic
character of the century in which he lived, their manifestations are
not so intense nor so peculiarly national.

The eldest of Sampiero's sons continued the war against the Genoese for
some time after his father's death, but afterwards emigrated. In the
year 1570, Catherine de' Medici appointed him colonel of the Corsican
regiment which she had taken into her service. He distinguished himself
by his courage in many battles and sieges, under Charles IX. and Henry
III. After the murder of Henry, under whom he had been governor of
Dauphiné, the League exerted themselves to draw over the influential
Corsican to their side; but Alfonso was among the first who acknowledged
the claims of Henry IV., and became one of the most powerful supports
of his throne. The king created him Marshal of France, and rewarded
the fidelity of the hero with his personal friendship. Henry thus
writes to Alfonso: "Dear Cousin—Your despatch, delivered to me by M.
de Tour, has given me the earliest information with regard to your
successful exertions in my town of Romans. By God's grace, few, if any
evil consequences have followed from these wicked plots; and, next to
him, there is no one who deserves greater praise in this affair than
yourself, for you have acted with unparalleled skill and courage.
Receive my best thanks. Your present exertions are but the continuation
of your usual decided style of action, and they have been attended with
the success which always accompanies your endeavours." In the year
1594, Alfonso took Lyons, Vienne, and several towns in Provence and
Dauphiné. He was the terror of the anti-royalists; and, honoured and
feared for his military genius, he was equally beloved and respected
for his uprightness and benevolence. Several French towns, ruined by
the plague and the severities of war, were assisted by Alfonso from his
own private purse. He died at Paris in 1610, at the age of sixty-two,
and was buried in the Church de la Merci at Bordeaux. By his wife,
a daughter of Nicolas de Ponteveze, lord of Flassau, he had several
children; and one of his sons, Jean Baptiste d'Ornano, likewise rose to
the dignity of Marshal of France. His fall, in the period of Richelieu's
government, was occasioned by certain court intrigues; the minister
threw him into the Bastille, where he died by poison—administered, it
is said, by Richelieu's orders—in 1618. In the year 1670, the line of
Sampiero's family, which had made its first appearance in France with
Alfonso, became extinct.

His second son, Antonio Francesco d'Ornano, met, like his father,
a violent end. It was he with whom the unhappy Vannina fled from
Marseilles to Genoa, and who was with her when she was murdered by
her enraged husband. Antonio Francesco lived, like his brother, at
the court of France. Young, of a fiery temperament, and with a strong
desire to see the world, he sought and obtained leave to accompany the
ambassador of Henry III. to Rome. One day, at cards, a quarrel arose
between him and some French gentlemen of the embassy, among whom one
M. de la Roggia took the lead. The impetuous Corsican let fall some
insulting words; but the Frenchman restrained his anger and concealed
his desire for revenge, and the youthful Ornano suspected nothing. A
riding-party was soon after formed for a visit to the Colosseum. Here
Ornano, after his Italian friends had left him, remained alone with his
servant and twelve Frenchmen, half of the number on horseback, and half
on foot. M. de la Roggia invited him to dismount and accompany him into
the Colosseum. Ornano agreed; but had hardly dismounted from his horse,
before the treacherous Frenchmen—those who were mounted as well as
those on foot—fell upon him. Though bleeding from several wounds, Ornano
defended himself against this unequal force with heroic courage. Setting
his back to a pillar of the Colosseum, he made a bold and vigorous stand
with his sword, till he was overpowered and fell. The murderers fled,
leaving him weltering in his blood. Mortally wounded, he was carried
to his own house, where he died on the following day. This event took
place in the year 1580. He was never married, and left no descendants.

I visited the tomb of this the youngest son of Sampiero, in the Church
of San Chrysogono, in the Trastevere at Rome, where he lies buried, with
many other Corsican gentlemen. San Chrysogono is a church belonging
to the Corsicans, having been ceded to them several centuries ago,
when numerous fugitives from the island settled in Ostia, and upon
Tiber-Borgo. Antonio Francesco d'Ornano is said to have been the perfect
image of his father; and it is added, that, in addition to his face and
form, he possessed also his intrepidity—a virtue for which Sampiero was
as celebrated as the Roman Fabricius. History informs us that Pyrrhus
plotted to terrify this great general by the sudden appearance of an
elephant; and there is a tradition that the Sultan Solyman tried a
like experiment with Sampiero. The story goes that one day the Grand
Seignior wished to discover for himself whether the accounts he had
heard of Sampiero's intrepidity were exaggerated or not. Accordingly,
when Sampiero was seated at table with him, one of his attendants, who
had received proper instructions, fired off a two-pound cannon under the
table, the moment the Corsican hero was about to drink from the goblet
of wine he had carried to his lips. All eyes were turned upon him.
Not a feature of his countenance altered; and the shot made no greater
impression on him than the noise of a cup falling.

Further north from Cavro lies the large canton of Bastelica, separated
by a chain of mountains from the canton of Zicavo. This rugged
and mountainous country, piled up with immense masses of granite,
interspersed with wild valleys shaded by the knotty oak-tree, and hemmed
in by the snow-capped peaks of giant mountains, is the fatherland of
Sampiero. In Bastelica, or rather in the little village of Dominicaccia,
they still show the dark gloomy house in which he was born; his own
dwelling was pulled down by the Genoese under Stephen Doria. He is
well remembered in this district, and the imagination of the people has
consecrated many a natural memorial of his life and deeds. Here it is a
foot-mark of the hero in the rock—here the impression of his gun—here
a cave, or an oak-tree under which he rested and ate. The inhabitants
of this valley are distinguished for their powerful frames and warlike
appearance. They are mostly herdsmen—rude natures, with the iron
manners of their forefathers, and completely untouched by culture or
civilisation. The inhabitants of the cantons of Bastelica and Morosaglia
are considered the most powerful men in Corsica—curiously enough, since
they are the brothers of Sampiero and Paoli, both of whom were veritable
men of the people, without titles and without ancestry.

The mountain-ridge of San Giorgio divides the valley of Prunelli
from the broad valley of the Taravo. After passing the crest of the
mountain—the Bocca, as it is called—the traveller's eye falls upon two
beautiful mountain-valleys thickly studded with hamlets and villages—the
valleys of Istria and Ornano. The river Taravo flows through them
in a very rocky channel. My memory in vain seeks for some well-known
region of Italy, to illustrate to the reader the character of these
Corsican valleys. Many parts of the Apennines are somewhat similar.
But these Corsican mountains and valleys, with their chestnut-groves,
their dark-brown rock-walls, their foaming streams, their black and
scattered villages, appeared to me far more sublime, far wilder and more
picturesque than any Italian scenery; and, when suddenly the distant
shining sea broke upon the view, the scene was not to be compared with
the landscape of any other country in the world.

In these mountains dwelt the old noble families of Istria and Ornano,
the head of whom local tradition declares to have been Hugo Colonna;
the same whom I have mentioned in my history of the island. Many a tower
and ruined castle still attest, but in uncertain accents, the glory of
their rule. The chief cantons of this district are those of Santa Maria
and Petreto.

In Santa Maria d'Ornano was the seat of the Ornanos. Originally the
pieve went by the name of Ornano, but it is now called Santa Maria.
The country around is beautiful, with green smiling hills, broad rich
pastures, and thick olive-groves. This was the native land of the fair
Vannina; and here still stands the tall, brown, castellated house where
she lived, picturesquely situated on a height commanding the valley. Not
far from this house are still to be seen the ruins of a castle, built
by Sampiero, with a chapel near it, in which he heard mass. It is said,
however, that he never went to the chapel, but contented himself with
sitting at a window of the castle when mass was being read. It was built
in the year 1554.



The Taravo forms the boundary between the province of Ajaccio and that
of Sartene, the most southern of the arrondissements of Corsica. The
traveller, on entering it, comes at first to the beautiful canton of
Petreto and Bicchisano, which extends along the Taravo to the Gulf
of Valinco. The view of this district, and of the bay far below, is
regarded by the Corsicans themselves as one of the most magnificent
in their romantic island. In general, the country on the other side of
these mountains is of a grander and more sublime character, and bears
upon it the colossal stamp of primeval nature. In many parts of this
canton the traveller meets with ruins of the castles of the lordly house
of Istria, but in a sad state of decay, and seldom distinguishable at
the first view from the black granite of the surrounding rocks.

On a mountain above Sollacaro stand the ruins of a castle belonging to
Vincentello d'Istria—of whom mention is made in the history—deep buried
among trees, and thickly shrouded with creeping plants. With this castle
is connected one of those wild traditions, which peculiarly distinguish
Corsica, as they likewise characterize the terrible times of the Middle
Ages. On this spot stood, in earlier times, another castle, in which
dwelt a lady, very beautiful, but of a fierce and savage disposition.
This lady, Savilia by name, enticed a powerful lord of the family of
Istria—Giudice d'Istria—into her castle, after having promised him
her hand. Istria entered the castle, and was immediately cast into a
dungeon by the lady Savilia. Every morning, she went down to the prison
where he was lying, and while she undressed herself before the eyes of
Istria, at the grated window of the dungeon, she mocked and scoffed at
him with cruel gibes. "Look upon me!" she said; "is this fair body made,
thinkest thou, to be enjoyed by a hideous wretch like thee?" And thus
she continued, morning after morning, for a long time, till at length
Istria succeeded in making his escape. Vowing revenge, he marched with
his vassals to Lady Savilia's castle, broke into it, and laid it level
with the ground; the fair Savilia he shut up in a hut, which stood at
the crossing of several roads, and compelled her to expose herself to
every passer-by. The miserable lady expired on the third day of her
captivity. Vincentello d'Istria afterwards built, on the site of the
former, the castle whose ruins are at present to be seen there. The
family of Colonna still survives in Corsica; in fact, it is perhaps
older and more numerous than any other noble family in the world, and
its branches have spread over the whole of Europe.

The next pieve—Olmeto—was entirely a fief of the powerful family of
the Istrias. The chief town, also called Olmeto, lies at the foot of
high mountains, while beyond stretches a magnificent valley, wooded
with olive-trees, and washed by the waters of the gulf of Valinco. On
Buttareto, one of the most rugged of these mountains, are still shown
the ruins of a castle, formerly the residence of Arrigo della Rocca.
The view from Olmeto, away over the valley, as far as the gulf, is
remarkably fine. There is a peculiar charm in the soft lines of the
landscape, and the silence of the dark-brown coast. The view extends
to the north as far as Cape Porto Pollo, and on the south to Cape
Campo Moro. The name of _Moorish camp_, which is given to the cape and
a small piece of land adjoining, on which now stands a watch-tower,
carries the mind back to the time of the Saracens, who so often landed
here in centuries long gone by. The Corsican arms—a Moor's head, with
a band across the brow—dates from the expedition of the Saracen king,
Lanza Ancisa, so celebrated in legendary romance. The whole coast is
here of a Moorish-brown colour, and over it broods an inconceivable
stillness—the deep peace of a summer's day. As I approached the little
port of Propriano on the gulf, the spirit of dead times—a spirit so
welcome in a desert island-country, again breathed upon me. There stood
before me, on the shore, a crowd of Corsicans, all of them strong,
healthy, dark-haired fellows; the double-barrelled gun slung upon their
shoulders, standing as if in readiness to resist the attack of the
Saracen. The sight of these dark and warlike forms, and the melancholy
wildness of the shore, transported me completely into the times of
the Middle Ages. I could not help remembering a Spanish ballad, which
celebrates the prowess of Dragut the Corsair—well known in the history
of the Corsican nation. It may well be sung on the shores of this wild
gulf, among this stern band of islanders:—


     In the offing of Tarifa,
     Nearly half a league from shore,
     Dragut, chief of all corsairs,
     Pirate both by sea and land,
     Of the Christian dogs descried—
     Come from Malta—vessels five.
     Cursing all the hated race,
     Thus he shouted loud and long—
       Al arma! al arma! al arma!
       Cierra! cierra! cierra!
       Que el enemigo viene a darnos guerra.

     Dragut, chief of all corsairs,
     Fired with haste a signal-gun—
     A signal to the pirate crew,
     Who were for wood and water gone.
     Then the Christians gave reply
     From the galleys and the shore,
     And in the haven every bell
     Quick took up the 'larum-cry—
       Al arma! al arma! al arma!
       Cierra! cierra! cierra!
       Que el enemigo viene a darnos guerra.

     And the Christian captive, who
     Despairing wailed his hapless lot,
     Felt a gleam of hope light up
     The darkness of his prison-gloom.
     For a moment Dragut took
     Counsel with his captains all:
     "Shall we wait, or shall we hoist
     Our sails, and put to sea?"
       Al arma! al arma! al arma!
       Cierra! cierra! cierra!
       Que el enemigo viene a darnos guerra.

     Then said they all with one accord—
     "Wait! wait! let them come on!
     What is the ocean but the field
     Of pirates' victory?"
     Then Dragut shouted loud and long—
     "Up, knaves! up to the fight!
     Every gunner to his gun!
     Load and fire, and load again—hurra!"
       Al arma! al arma! al arma!
       Cierra! cierra! cierra!
       Que el enemigo viene a darnos guerra.

The refrain of this spirited song—"To arms! to arms! to arms! Danger!
danger! danger! for the enemy is coming to attack us"—I have preserved
in the original Spanish; it would seem somewhat tame in a translated

On the 12th of June 1564, Sampiero landed on the shores of this
gulf—another note of more peculiar meaning among these warlike echoes
of past times.

The country rises gradually from the shore into a rugged mountainous
region, covered with huge boulders. Rocks, low brush-wood, the sand
upon the shore, and a dead marsh, combine to render this part of the
island peculiarly wild and bleak. The evergreen oak, however, and the
cork-tree, grow here in great numbers; and the rugged soil brings forth
corn and wine. At last Sartene met my view, stretching before me—a
wide-extended paese—in melancholy isolation, among melancholy rocks and



The town of Sartene contains only 3890 inhabitants. It is the capital
of the arrondissement, which is divided into eight pieves or cantons,
and has a population amounting to 29,300. Sartene appeared to me a
rude country place, with less of the appearance of a town than even
Calvi or the little town of Isola Rossa; it does not, indeed, seem
to differ in any respect from the other large paeses of the island.
The style of building is that in common use in the villages, with the
addition of a little ornament. All the houses, and even the tower of
the largest church in the town, are built of brown granite, with loam
instead of mortar. The church alone has a coating of yellow wash; all
the other buildings are of the usual dark-brown hue. Many of the houses
are merely wretched huts; and some of the streets, on the slope of the
mountain, are so narrow, that two men can with difficulty pass each
other. Steep stairs of stone conduct us to the vaulted gate which stands
in the middle of the outer wall. I rambled through the streets; they
seemed to be inhabited by veritable demons; and I felt as if at some
corner I should suddenly come upon old Dis, or were wandering through
Dante's city of Hell. In the quarter of Santa Anna, however, there are
some elegant houses, belonging to the richer classes; and some have a
very pleasant appearance, in spite of the black stone of which they
are built. All are quaint, original, and picturesque in the highest
degree—effects which they owe to the blunt-cornered, projecting Italian
roofs, and the odd Italian chimneys; some in the shape of pillars,
with the strangest-looking capitals, others in the form of towers or
obelisks. A house with an Italian roof looks remarkably well; and, if
its walls are only built of regularly hewn stone, the appearance of it
is undoubtedly pleasing. I found my old cabins of Monte Rotondo again
in the market-place. They were used for provision-stores. The pompous
names of some of the inns—Hôtel de l'Europe, Hôtel de Paris, Hôtel de
la France—were ridiculous enough beside these primitive specimens of
Corsican architecture.

The name _Sartene_ seems to have some connexion with Sardinia or
Saracen. No one could give me any information as to the origin of
the word. In ancient times, the town was called Sartino; and a local
tradition informs us that it was once famous for its mineral springs.
At that time strangers flocked to the place for the benefit of these
waters. The poor inhabitants of the barren spot died in consequence of
hunger—for the strangers seized upon all the produce of the soil. The
inhabitants, resolved no longer to endure such a state of things, choked
up the springs, abandoned their houses, and built a town higher up among
the mountains. If this tradition is a true one, it forms no testimony
in favour of anything but Corsican indolence.

Sartene suffered terribly from the Saracens. The Moors, after repeated
attacks, surprised the town in the year 1583, and in one day carried off
four hundred persons into captivity—the third part of the population at
that time. From that date, Sartene has been defended by a strong wall.

To-day, standing in this quiet town, whose inhabitants are talking
peacefully together under the large elm-tree, in the quaint, idyllic
market-place, one cannot believe that revenge and the fiercer passions
could find a lurking-place within its walls. And yet this town, after
the Revolution of July, was for many years the scene of a horrible
civil war. The citizens have been divided, since the year 1815, into
two parties—the adherents of the family of Rocca Serra, and those
of the family of Ortoli. The former party is composed of the richer
inhabitants, who live in the quarter of Santa Anna; the latter, of
the poorer classes occupying the Borgo. Both factions had intrenched
themselves, barred their houses, shut their windows, and proceeded to
make sorties upon each other, to shoot and to stab one another with the
most furious zeal. The Rocca Serrans were the Whites or Bourbonists, the
Ortoli the Reds or Liberals; the former had forbidden the opposite party
admission into their quarter of the town; and the Ortoli, in contempt of
this declaration, had formed a procession, and marched with flags flying
into Santa Anna. The Rocca Serrans immediately ran to their arms, and
shot at the procession from their windows, killed three men and wounded
several others. This was the signal for a bloody combat. The day after,
several hundred mountaineers came with their guns to the assistance of
the Ortoli, and besieged Santa Anna. The Government despatched a body
of soldiers, which had the effect of apparently restoring order. Both
parties, however, continued hostilities, and many lives were lost on
both sides. The hostile feeling continues to this day, although, after
thirty-three years of deadly feud, the Rocca Serrans and the Ortoli,
on the occasion of the election of Louis Napoleon as President, held a
meeting of reconciliation, where their children were allowed to dance

Corsica, with these inextinguishable family feuds, presents the same
picture as the Italian cities of Florence, Bologna, Verona, Padua, and
Milan, several centuries ago. The Italian Middle Ages still survive
in this island; and here still rage the same tumults described so
picturesquely by Dino Compagni in his chronicles of Florence—that war
of fellow-citizens, whom, as Dante complains, the same ditch surrounds
and the same wall defends. But in Corsica, these feuds are much more
remarkable and more terrible; raging, as they do, in districts of so
small an extent, in villages with a population of not above one thousand
souls, the inhabitants of which are indissolubly connected by the ties
of blood and hospitality.

To-day the people of the town are assembled in the marketplace, where
an odd sort of scaffolding is being erected, for the exhibition of
fireworks, against the 15th of August, the anniversary of Napoleon's
christening. It is not improbable that the festival may rekindle the
flame, and these black houses may in a few days be transformed into
little fortresses, from which shots of death will be scattered around.
Here it was political feeling that stirred up the angry passions of the
townspeople; in other districts strife has been kindled by a personal
offence, or some accidental circumstance of the most trivial nature. The
shooting of a goat has occasioned the death of sixteen men, and roused
a whole canton to arms. A young man throws a piece of bread to his dog,
another man's dog snatches it; and a feud arises between two parishes,
with death and murder upon both sides. Causes of quarrel are never
wanting at the communal elections, festivals, or dances; these are often
extremely ridiculous. At Mariana, in the year 1832, a dead ass became
the occasion of a bloody feud between two villages. A procession from
one of the villages was proceeding, during Easter-week, to a chapel, on
the road to which a dead ass was lying. Upon this, the sacristan began
to curse the people who had thrown the ass upon the road, and had thus
profaned the holy procession. Immediately there arose a quarrel between
the people of Lucciana and those of Borgo—the parish to which the ass
belonged; guns were unslung, and shots exchanged; the holy procession
was suddenly transformed into a confused mass of combatants. The one
parish threw the blame of the dead ass upon the other; the body was
dragged from Borgo to Lucciana, and from Lucciana to Borgo; and these
pilgrimages were on every occasion accompanied with fighting, shooting,
and the furious shouts of battle.

It resembled the combat of the Greeks and Trojans for the dead body of
Patroclus. The people of Borgo dragged the dead ass to the chapel of
Lucciana, and flung it down at the door of the church; the Luccianese
carried it off to Borgo, and after storming the village, fixed it on the
church-tower. At last the Podestà seized the _corpus delicti_, already
in a state of rapid decomposition, and none the better for its frequent
travels, and the dead ass found a quiet resting-place in the grave. The
poet Viale has written a comic Epopee on this occurrence, in the style
of the Stolen Bucket of Bologna.

A detachment of ten gendarmes is at present stationed in Sartene. The
same number is usually posted in the chief town of every canton, and in
those villages which are particularly troublesome. The officer of the
company was an Alsatian, who had lived twenty-two years in the island,
seemingly quite happily, and without any expectation of meeting a
countryman in Sartene. Whenever I meet an Alsatian or a Lothringian—the
latter always speak very inaccurate German—I feel deep sorrow for
these lost German brethren of mine. It always brings a pang to my
heart, to think of a branch of the noble old German oak in the hands
of the French. This officer had severe complaints to make regarding
the dangerous service in which he was employed, and the petty warfare
he had to carry on with the banditti. He pointed to a mountain in the
distance—the lofty Incudine. "Look," said he, "yonder sits a captain
of banditti, whom we have to hunt like a wild sheep. There are fifteen
hundred francs on his head, but they are not so easy to win. A few days
ago we apprehended twenty-nine men who had been carrying provisions to
the fellow. I have them here in the barracks."

"What will be their punishment?"

"A year's imprisonment, if they are convicted. They are herdsmen or
mountain-people, friends and relations of the bandit."

Poor Corsica! what, under circumstances like these, is to become of thy
industry and thy agriculture!

The view of the dark mountain of Incudine where the poor bandit is
sitting, and the recollection of the feuds of Sartene, recall to my
mind some stories from the inexhaustible stores of the Corsican romance
of revenge. Let us sit down together upon a rock, in sight of these
glorious mountains, and the waters of the Gulf of Valinco, and listen
to two stories about Corsican guns and their owners.




The people of the village of Monte d'Olmo were one day celebrating a
festival of the Church. The priests had taken their places before the
altar, and numbers of devout worshippers had already assembled within
the sacred edifice, while not a few still lingered over their gossip
outside. Among these latter were the Vincenti and Grimaldi—two families
between which a hereditary feud had existed from time immemorial. To-day
they ventured to look each other in the face, as the sacred festivity
compelled at least a temporary suspension of all animosities.

Somebody started the question, whether or not the priests should be made
to wear the capote or cowled cloak of their order during the procession.

"No," said Orso Paolo, of the Vincenti family, "they should be made to
do nothing of the kind, for it was never the custom in our forefathers'

"Yes," cried Ruggero, of the Grimaldi family, "they ought to wear their
capotes, for that is the regulation of our Holy Church."

And the strife for and against capotes waxed hot and noisy, and filled
the little square before the church with a din that could not have been
exceeded, had a declaration for or against Genoa been the question to
be decided. One took the word out of another's mouth; one after another
sprang upon the stone bench to defend his opinion in a speech, and the
by-standers hissed or applauded, shouted in derision or approbation,
according as a Grimaldi or a Vincenti had advocated or denounced the

Suddenly some one let fall an insulting expression. That moment
rose cries of rage and defiance, and every one drew his pistols from
his belt. The Grimaldi rushed upon Orso Paolo, who fired among his
assailants. Antonio, Ruggero's eldest son, fell mortally wounded.

The music of the holy mass ceased in the church. The people poured out
in a body—men, women, and children, the priests in their robes, crucifix
in hand.

The entire village of Olmo was one confused scene of flight and pursuit,
re-echoing with yells of fury, and the reports of fire-arms. The cries
of the Grimaldi were vows of death to Orso Paolo.

Orso had made for the woods with the speed of a hunted deer. But
his foes saw his aim; revenge gave them wings, and they succeeded in
interposing themselves between him and the hoped-for shelter.

He was surrounded. From every side he saw furious pursuers approaching;
already their balls whizzed about his head. It was vain to think of
reaching the wood; there was little time to ponder a new plan; he
was cut off from the open country; only a house stood near on the
mountain-side—the house of his deadly foe Ruggero.

Orso Paolo saw it, and in a moment he had crossed its threshold and
secured the door. He had his weapons with him, his carchera was full
of cartridges, there was a store of victuals in the house, and he might
hold out for days. It was empty too; all its usual inmates had hurried
into the village, and Ruggero's wife was occupied with the wounded
Antonio. Her second son, still a child, had alone remained in the house,
and lay asleep.

Scarce had Orso Paolo intrenched himself here, when Ruggero appeared
with all the Grimaldi at his back; but the barrel of Orso's gun appeared
at the window, and he was heard to promise its contents to the first
that approached the door. No one ran the risk.

In most ungentle mood, they stood before the house uncertain what to
do; Ruggero stamped with rage that his deadliest enemy should have found
refuge in his own house; the tiger is not more furious when it sees and
cannot reach its prey.

The crowd increased every minute, and filled the air with their
vociferations; presently the wail of women was heard to mingle with
their cries; it was a party carrying the wounded Antonio into the house
of a relation. The sight redoubled Ruggero's fury; he rushed into a
house, and snatched a firebrand from the hearth, to fling upon his own
roof, and consume it and Orso Paolo together. As he swung the brand
round his head, and cried to the others to follow his example, his
wife threw herself distractedly in his way. "Madman," she cried, "our
child is in the house! Would you burn your child? Antonio is at death's
door—Francesco lies sleeping within there—will you murder your last

"Let them burn to death together," cried Ruggero; "let the world be
burnt to ashes, if only Orso Paolo perish in the flames!"

The shrieking woman threw herself at her husband's feet, clasped her
arms round his knees, and refused to let him move from the spot. But
Ruggero thrust her from him, and hurled the firebrand into his house.

The fire caught. Soon the flame rose, and the dancing sparks flew about
upon the wind. The mother had sunk lifeless to the earth, and they
carried her to the house where her son Antonio lay.

But Ruggero stood before his burning house, which was now completely
surrounded by the Grimaldi, that Orso Paolo, if he should attempt to
escape, might find their bullets in his way; Ruggero stood before his
house and gazed into the flames, laughing horribly as they rose and
roared, shouting mad shouts of gratified revenge and wild pain, as the
beams cracked and fell in—for it seemed to him that every burning beam
fell upon his own heart.

Often he thought he descried a form among the flames, but perhaps it was
only a wreath of smoke, or a whirling column of fire—then, again, came
sounds as of a weeping child. Suddenly the roof fell in with a crash,
and smoke and tongues of flame shot up from the horrid ruin towards

Ruggero, who had been standing dumb and motionless, staring with glassy
eye, body bent forward, and arm outstretched toward the house, fell
with a groan to the earth. He was borne into the neighbouring house,
and laid beside his wounded son. When his consciousness returned, he
was unable at first to understand what had happened, but immediately the
truth dawned upon him—the glare of his burning home flashed conviction
and remorse into his soul, and shuddering, he recognised the dreadful
enormity of his deed.

For the space of a minute he stood in deep thought, as if the lightning
of heaven had scathed him to the marrow; then with a sudden start, he
tore the dagger from his belt, and would have buried it in his breast.
But his wife and friends arrested his arm, and deprived him of his

What had become of Orso Paolo? What of Francesco?

When Orso Paolo found the beams of the roof had taken fire, he began
to seek for some place of safety, some hole or vault where he would be
protected from the flames. As he wandered from chamber to chamber, he
heard the weeping and terrified screaming of a child. He sprang into
the room whence it issued. A child sat here upon its bed, and, bitterly
weeping, stretched its arms towards him, and called for its mother. It
seemed to Orso at that moment, as if the Evil One called to him from
out the flames to murder the innocent child, and so punish his foe's
vengeful barbarity. "Hast thou not a right of vengeance over the very
children of thine enemy? Thy knife, Orso! Extinguish the last hope of
the house of Grimaldi!"

A horrid thirst for vengeance glared in Orso's eye as he bent over the
child. The glow from the flames bathed himself, the child, the room,
in a purple tinge as of blood. He bent over the weeping Francesco,
and—suddenly he snatched up the child, clasped it to his breast, and
kissed it with a wild fervour. Then, still bearing it in his arms, he
rushed out of the chamber, and groped his way through the burning house,
seeking some spot of safety.

The house had scarcely fallen in, when the horns of the Vincenti were
heard outside the village. The men of Castel d'Acqua, all of them
friends or relations of Orso Paolo, had heard of his danger, and were
assembled for his rescue. The Grimaldi fled from the scene of the
conflagration to the house in which Ruggero, his wife, and Antonio were.

A quarter of an hour of fearful suspense passed away.

Suddenly the market-place of Olmo resounded with a loud and exulting
shout, and from a hundred tongues was heard the cry: Evviva, Orso Paolo!
Antonio's mother flew to the window; then with a cry of joy she rushed
to the door, and after her Ruggero and the women.

Through the midst of the jubilant crowd came Orso Paolo, his face
beaming with joy, and the child Franceso clasped tenderly in his arms.
His clothes were singed, he was black with smoke, and covered with
ashes. He had rescued himself and the child in a vault beneath a flight
of stairs.

Ruggero's wife threw herself on Orso Paolo's breast, and flung her arms
round him and her little son, with a joy too deep for utterance.

But Ruggero fell upon his knees before his foe, and while he embraced
his feet with sobs, begged his forgiveness, and God's.

"Rise, my friend Grimaldi," said Orso Paolo; "may God so to-day forgive
us both, as we forgive each other; and here, before the people of Olmo,
swear eternal friendship."

The foes sank into each other's arms, and the people shouted exultingly:
Evviva, Orso Paolo!

Antonio soon recovered from his wound; and gay were the festivities
of that evening in the village of Monte d'Olmo, when the Grimaldi
and the Vincenti celebrated their solemn feast of reconciliation. The
olive-branch of peace decked the houses, and nothing was to be heard
but evvivas and musket-shots, and the music of tinkling wine-glasses,
violins, and mandolines.


When the Genoese were still lords of the island of Corsica, a furious
contest arose between the two villages of Serra and Serrale, in the
pieve of Moriani. Two houses were at bitter and bloody feud—the Dezii
in Serra, and the Venturini in Serrale.

At length they had grown weary of the long war of vengeance, and both
families had with solemn oath sworn peace before the Parolanti. Now
these Parolanti are worthy men, appointed as arbitrators by the two
parties in common; they act as witnesses of the oath of reconciliation;
in their hands is lodged the written deed by which amity is ratified,
and it is their duty to watch that for the future nothing be done to
break the peace. On that godless man who nevertheless does break the
peace, falls the scorn and contempt of all the good, and the wrath
and vengeance of the Parolanti overtake his house, his field, and his

The Dezii and the Venturini, then, had in this manner sworn peace, and
a happy tranquillity reigned in the Pieve di Moriani. But as the evil
spirit of contention cannot rest, but must ever be blowing upon the
ashes, to see if some spark of the old grudge may not yet be awakened,
it fell out one day in the market-place of Serrale, that such a spark
was kindled in the fierce heart of the old Venturini. Nicolao was a
grayhaired man, but in bodily vigour he was young as his sons. He had a
dark look, a venomous tongue, and the cramp in his dagger-hand. He met
young Dezio Dezii on the market-place—Dezio, the pride and flower of the
house of his enemies. He was a comely youth, and of pleasant manners;
but his temper was quick and fiery.

This old man with the dark look, addressed sneering and bitter words to
Dezio, nor was it known why he should have done so; for the youth had
given him no provocation. When the words fell on Dezio's ear, his heart
filled with shame and indignation; but he thought on the Parolanti, on
his oath of peace, and the gray hairs of Nicolao; and he quieted his
swelling heart, and passed silently out of the village of Serrale.

It so happened, however, that on the same evening the old man and
the youth met in the open field. When Dezio saw Nicolao approaching,
observing that he was unarmed, he left his gun leaning on a tree, that
the Evil Spirit might not provoke him to injure a man who carried no
weapon; then, going up to old Nicolao, he demanded haughtily the ground
of his insult.

The old man replied contemptuously; and after a few fiery words had
passed, he seized the youth by the breast, and gave him a blow in the
face. Dezio staggered back; the next moment he sprang to his musket,
and in another second Nicolao fell, shot to the heart.

The unhappy Dezio fled as if pursued by the avenging angel, and made
his way from crag to crag far into the heights of Monte Cinto, where he
threw himself, weeping, into a cave.

The Parolanti had hastened to the scene of this deed of blood. They
cried, "Wo over Dezio and all his race!" and assembled in a body before
his dwelling. His young wife was in the house. They told her that she
must leave her home, for it had fallen under the ban of justice; and
as soon as the sobbing woman had crossed the threshold, they set the
house on fire, and burned it to the ground. They then entered Dezio's
chestnut-grove and olive-orchard, and, with the hatchet, barked every
tree, in token that the owner had broken his oath and shed blood, and
that the curse of angry Heaven had fallen upon him and all that was his.
And this they did according to ancient and sacred custom.

The kinsmen of Dezio remained quiet, for they acknowledged that in all
this was nought but justice. But Luigione, son of the murdered Nicolao,
allowed his beard to grow, signifying thereby that he had resolved to
avenge his father's blood. He took his gun, and ranged the hills to find
Dezio; and, as he could not come upon his traces, though he lay night
and day among the rocks, he took service with the Genoese, who formed
the watch in the Tower of Padulella, thinking, that with their help, he
might perhaps surprise his foe.

Dezio, meanwhile, lived with the fox, the deer, and the wild sheep, and
roamed about in desert fastnesses, every night seeking a new shelter,
ever wandering, and ever bearing with him in his heart sadness and
alarm. One day he escaped in a ship with sailors, who were his friends,
to Genoa. He enlisted in the service of the Genoese, and in this
banishment long years went by.

At length there awoke in him a longing to see his native country and his
wife. He obtained his discharge, and took with him from Genoa a letter
of protection, which ordained that he was to live free and unharmed in
Corsica, and outlawed any one that should seek to injure him.

Perhaps, too, Dezio hoped that Luigione's thirst for vengeance had
in the course of time gone to sleep. He returned accordingly to his
village, found his wife again, and remained quietly within her house.
Nobody knew that he had come back; for he never showed himself, going
only into the woods, and to lonesome places, where he was certain that
no one would meet him. But the shadow of old Nicolao was always by his

Weeks and months passed thus, and nobody knew or spoke of Dezio. One
day, Luigione, who was famous in these mountains as a hunter, said to
his wife, "I dreamt last night that I shot a fox in the hills. I shall
go out to-day; perhaps I may have good luck." So he threw his gun upon
his shoulder, and went into the hills.

He started a fox. It took cover in a thicket, and Luigione hastened
after. The spot was wild and lonely. As soon as he got among the bushes,
he found a narrow shepherd's track, which wound about and about, and led
him always deeper and deeper into the savage country. Suddenly, Luigione
stopped. Below a clump of wild olives, he saw a man lying in deep sleep.
Beside him lay his double-barrelled gun and his zucca. A long and bushy
beard partly concealed his face. Luigione remained motionless as a
statue; but with a feverish eagerness his eyes devoured the sleeping
man. The blood shot seething hot to his cheeks, and then again they
became deadly pale; his heart was beating so loud that it might almost
have given the alarm to the sleeper.

He made a single step forwards—another; he gazed into the stranger's
face. Yes; it was Dezio—his father's murderer! A wild smile lit up
Luigione's face. He drew the dagger from his belt.

"God has given thee into my hands," he murmured, "that I may kill thee
this day. My father's blood be upon thee!" and he raised the two-edged
blade. But a swift thought sped like an angel between him and his
sleeping foe, and suspended the weapon in the air. The words of the
angel were, "Luigione, forbear to murder sleep!"

Luigione sprang suddenly backwards. Then, with a fearful shout, he cried—

"Dezio! Dezio! rise, and stand to thy weapon!"

The sleeper leapt to his feet, and caught up his gun.

"I could have murdered thee sleeping," said Luigione to him; "but
it would have been the deed of a villain. Now defend thyself, for my
father's blood cries for revenge!"

Dezio, shocked to death, gazed for one moment on the terrible man, then
he hurled his gun far into the bushes, tore pistol and dagger from his
belt, and flung them both away, and, baring his breast, cried—

"Luigione, shoot, and avenge thy father! Then I shall have rest in my
grave! Kill me!"

Luigione looked at his enemy in amazement, and for a while both were
silent. Luigione then laid down his gun, went up to Dezio, and offered
him his hand. "God," he said, "gave thee into my hand; but I forgive
thee. Peace be with the blood of my father! Now, come and be my guest."

The two men went down into the village side by side; and they remained
friends. And as Luigione had no children of his own, he stood godfather
to the child of Dezio, as a solemn token that they were reconciled
before God; and this he did according to ancient custom.

Dezio grew weary of the world, and became a monk. So pure and
God-fearing was his walk, that he was beloved by all till the day of his
death; and the blessing of his pious and peace-making spirit diffused
itself far and wide among the hills.

On his burial-day, the villages of all the region accompanied him to his
grave; and still in the pieve of Moriani they speak of Dezio the comely
youth, Dezio the murderer, Dezio the bandit, Dezio the monk, Dezio the
priest, Dezio the saint.



Sartene is encircled by a range of bleak mountains, to the north of
which stand the Incudine and Coscione. The Coscione is celebrated for
its rich pasture-grounds, which are watered by the beautiful streams
of the Bianca and the Viola. To these grounds the herdsmen of Quenza
bring their flocks in summer, spending the winter on the coast of
Porto Vecchio. One of the mountains in the neighbourhood of Sartene
is an immense rock of a very remarkable shape; its appearance from a
distance is that of a giant lifting his monstrous and misshapen head
into the clouds. The mountain goes by the name of the Man of Cogna. In
this part of the country are also to be found the remains of Menhirs
and Dolmens—those ancient mementos of the Sabian ritual, which are
not unfrequently met with in the islands of the Mediterranean, and in
countries inhabited by Celtic nations. They consist of stones—not very
unlike pillars—placed in a circle, and are here called Stazzone. Corsica
has preserved but few remains of these heathen temples; but they are
peculiarly abundant in Sardinia. I regretted exceedingly that I had no
time, when in Sartene, to pay a visit to these curious remains.

On the surrounding mountains stand ruins of many of the old castles of
the brave Renuccio, and the famous Giudice della Rocca. The estates of
these old seigniors lay in the neighbourhood of Sartene. The canton of
Santa Lucia de Tallano still preserves a memorial of Renuccio in the
ruins of the Franciscan convent which was founded by this brave hero,
with whom fell the power of the old Corsican barons. In the church is
shown the tomb of his daughter Serena, with a marble statue of her in
a recumbent posture, a chaplet in her hand, and attached to it a gold
purse, as a symbol of her great benevolence.

Among the mountains of Santa Lucia is found that remarkable species of
granite—peculiar to Corsica—which goes by the name of Orbicularis. The
ground-colour is a grayish blue, but interspersed with black points
with a white border, which appear in great numbers on the surface of
the stone when broken. I saw some beautiful specimens of this stone.
It has, when polished, a remarkably rich appearance, and is of peculiar
value in architectural ornamentation. Nature seems to have created this
stone in one of her sportive and most genial moods; it is a jewel in the
rich mineralogical cabinet of the island. The orbicular granite of Santa
Lucia de Tallano has been also deemed worthy of a place in the chapel
of the Medicis at Florence, in the decoration of which the rarest and
most beautiful stones have been employed.

North-east from Santa Lucia, in the valley of the Fiumiccioli, lies
the celebrated canton of Levie, which extends to the small gulf of
Ventilegne. The district is mountainous, and tolerably well wooded.
It was the abode of several old noble families, particularly that of
the Peretti, from whom was descended Napoleon, the friend of Sampiero,
and the first of this name mentioned in Corsican history. He was not,
however, a relation of Bonaparte. He was killed in a battle with the

In Levie stands the town of San Gavino de Corbini, a place well known
in Corsican history as the head-quarters of the strange sect of the
Giovannalists—those old communists of Corsica, whose theories made such
remarkable progress on the island, and who may be considered as the
forerunners of Saint-Simonism and Mormonism. Only in a country where the
inhabitants still lay in a state of the rudest and most uncultivated
nature, and where a belief in the natural equality of man was the
dominant trait in the national character—only in a time, moreover, of
social disorder, misery, and blood—could the sect of the Giovannalists
have found their origin. It is very much to be regretted that the
chronicles of the country have not preserved more particular accounts
of this remarkable sect. Its appearance seems to be a remarkable trait
in the physiognomy of the national history; and transitory as was the
phenomenon, I look upon it as forming a strongly-marked line in the
portrait of this extraordinary people.

Before taking leave of Sartene, my heartiest eulogies are due to the
hospitality of its inhabitants. It was my good fortune to meet with
the greatest kindness from these amiable people; their noble and honest
confidence cheered my heart, and I spent many a pleasant hour in their
society. I could with difficulty tear myself from their hospitality; I
accompanied them on their hunting expeditions among the mountains, and,
above all, enjoyed myself many a summer day in their beautiful orchards.
On leaving Sartene, early in the morning, I was accompanied by all
those excellent gentlemen with whose friendship I had been honoured; and
when bidding the company adieu, one of them—a cousin of the unfortunate
Vittoria Malaspina—placed a note in my hands.

Upon opening it, I found its contents to be as follows:—


"If you should ever happen to be in danger or in difficulty during your
stay in our island, do not forget that you have a friend in Sartene.

                                                 ALESSANDRO CASANOVA."

I preserve this note as a talisman, and at the same time as a testimony
to the noble hospitality of Corsica. It was not sufficient for my
Sartenese friend to assure me by hand and word that, as his guest, I was
under his protection for the rest of my life, but he must needs add to
his promise the additional guarantee of a written document.



About eight o'clock in the morning I set out from Sartene to Bonifazio,
the most southerly town and fortress in Corsica. The road lay along a
desolate coast, the hills sloping gradually towards the sea-shore. There
is not a village to be seen all the way; and I should have perished
from hunger and thirst, had not my travelling companions taken care to
furnish themselves with bread and wine before setting out. Who not his
bread with joy has eaten, by olive gray or vine-tree seated, He knows
you not, ye heavenly powers!

We passed through the vale of Ortoli—everywhere waste hill-country,
neither grain nor fruit-tree visible. The olive is no longer met with;
cork-tree clumps and arbutus alone occupy the soil. We approached the
south coast—still more desolate, if possible, than that which we had
left behind us. Not far from the mouth of the Ortoli lies a solitary
post-house, and opposite it a ridge of rock, on which stands the Tower
of Roccapina. Close beside it, on the sharp edge of the cliff, there
is a rugged and irregular rocky mass. It bears a striking resemblance
to a colossal crowned lion, and is called among the people, _Il leone
coronato_. This singular rock—so conspicuous an object along this line
of coast, the first bit of Corsican ground which fell into the hands of
Genoa when she wrested the island from the Pisans—stands there as if it
were the monument or the arms of the Republic.

From the height here I got my first view of the open sea not far from
me, and the coast and hills of Sardinia—a glorious spectacle. The sight
of a foreign land suddenly unfolded to the view, here only showing its
outline, and there revealing objects with forms characteristic of the
country, rouses feelings at once strange and pleasing—anticipation,
longing, and doubt. It resembles nothing so much as the fabulous
fancy-pictures of childhood. Wholly an island! I stood for long on
one of those bare masses of rock, in a violent wind, and in the full
glow of the mid-day sun; with a deep feeling of desire, I gazed across
the strait on the twin-sister of Corsica. It was entirely wrapt in an
ethereal veil of blue; and the sea, stirred by the maestrale, dashed in
foaming breakers round its shore.

We rested for a couple of hours, and then resumed our journey farther
along the coast. It is much broken up by arms of the sea, and wears a
gloomy aspect. Little streams creep sluggishly through morasses into the
sea; gray turrets surmount the cliffs which occur at intervals along
the coast, and hold solitary watch there. The air is unwholesome. I
perceived a couple of little villages on the slope of the hill. I was
informed that they were uninhabited; the people, it seems, do not leave
the mountains till the first of September.

The sea at this place forms two little gulfs—Figari and Ventilegne. They
resemble Fiords, and their coast-lines are often of the most irregular
form, rising like rows of ash-gray obelisks.

As we traverse the extreme point of Corsica towards the south-west, the
tongue of S. Trinita, terminating in the Capo di Feno, the chalky coast
of Bonifazio becomes visible. At the same time, the town itself comes
into view, the most southerly and most singular town in the island,
snow-white as the coast on which it stands, and perched high upon its
rock—an unexpected and surprising spectacle in the midst of the wide
and melancholy waste.

The shore all round is stony and shrubby; but for half a league
before reaching the town, the traveller passes through olive-groves
and orchards, and is astonished to see the blessings which man, when
compelled to exert all his industrial power, has been able to win
from the limy soil. The little land of Bonifazio gives a full supply
of olives which do not yield in quality to those of Balagna. Between
chalk-cliffs we drive down to the Marina of Bonifazio, lying on the
shore of the gulf. The town itself can now be reached only on foot or
on horseback, for we must clamber up the steep rock on a broad path of
steps. Cross two drawbridges, and pass through two old gates, and we are
in Bonifazio. The fortress and the tower, between which indeed there is
no distinction, lie on the flat summit of the rock.

A beautiful greeting does Bonifazio give to the wayfarer who enters
through the old gloomy gate; for on the front of one of the towers
stands boldly out the grand word _Libertas_. I used to read it often
on the towers and houses of Italian towns—a melancholy satire; on many
a banner has this word been blazoned. But here it stands proudly and
confidently out on those antique turrets, which can tell of so many
glorious deeds of arms. I entered the city with the joyful sensation
that I was going among valiant and free men. To the present hour the
Bonifazians have the character of being the most republican as well as
the most industrious and religious of the inhabitants of Corsica.

The site of Bonifazio is quite peculiar. Imagine a colossal white
pyramid of rock, formed of horizontal layers planted in the sea, with
its base pointing upwards, and supporting high in the air, fortress,
towers, and town, and you will have some idea of this Corsican
Gibraltar. The façade is deeply excavated; the whole mass seems to cling
to the mainland. On two sides the sea foams round it, a narrow inlet
shut in by precipitous, inaccessible hills washes it on a third, forming
at once, gulf, haven, and fosse. The power of the water has torn up
the coast all round, and has washed the rocks into the most grotesque
forms. From beneath, viewed from the sea, which in many places has no
beach, the coast rising sheer from the water, this gray rock stands out
boldly. I descended to look up at it; the waves dashed round its base,
the clouds above floated over it; I felt as if the rock were tottering
and it was about to fall upon me—an ocular delusion the more natural,
as a large mass is washed away from the bottom, and here and there huge
layers of chalk blackened by the weather project boldly into the air. As
soon as I saw Bonifazio, I at once comprehended how Alfonso of Arragon
failed to take it.

It numbers 3380 inhabitants, and, on account of its insular position,
contains no communes. Its buildings are of Pisan and Genoese origin.
Old, and long inhabited, they resemble ruins more than dwelling-houses.
They are built mostly of the material of the rock. They are all white;
and as the walls and short towers have the same hue, the spectator
has more than enough of the national colour of Corsica. It would be
difficult for me to convey a distinct idea of the town itself; for it
is impossible to describe this intricate confusion of narrow streets,
through which the draught or the sea-breeze is continually whirling
the dust, and through which, going down or up hill, one must skilfully
steer his course, wandering about in perpetual astonishment at the
novelty of the position, especially when the eye, finding an open space,
discovers the sea far beneath it as blue as the heavens above. Beams are
frequently thrown across from house to house, and dark passages often
lead from one narrow street to another.

The wind whistles, and the waves dash their foam round the rock. There
is something strangely uncomfortable in the sensation. The consciousness
of space—so agreeable to the mind—is here lost. The lonely sentinel
yonder paces up and down on the round tower in a whirlwind of lime-dust.
I wish to find a piazza—to be among men. But there is no such thing
here as a square. The necessary limitation admits of no open spaces;
yet, strange to say, the main street is fondly called the Piazza Doria.
The Bonifazians no doubt felt the need of a piazza or forum, without
which a town is like a house without a family room; they consequently
gave that gave that name to the main street. Want of room compelled
the Bonifazians to carry their houses to a great height. The stairs are
uncommonly steep, on account of the want of depth in the buildings. On
many houses I saw the arms of Genoa still carved—a crowned lion-rampant
holding a ring in its claw. The old emblem awakes proud memories, like
the name of Doria, which still exists in Bonifazio under the form of
D'Oria. For this is the proper name of those famous Genoese lords of
the great family of Oria. The Corsicans hated Genoa to the death, and,
when treating of the old Republic, it will be remembered that we found
the same inveterate hate on its part. Every calamity which has befallen
Corsica, its moral as well as its physical desolation, they ascribe to
Genoa. The Bonifazians, however, are much attached to the memory of the
Genoese connexion, and their history makes that quite intelligible.

There is a difference of opinion as to the ancient name of the spot
whereon Bonifazio now stands. Some consider it to have been the old
_Syracusanus portus_, others the old town of Palæ, the last of the
Corsican stations enumerated by Antoninus in the _Itinerary_. The
Bonifazio of the present day was founded by the Tuscan margrave whose
name it bears. We know that, after a naval victory obtained over the
Saracens in 833, he laid the foundations of this town, that it might
serve as a barrier against their piratical attacks, for they had been
in the habit of effecting descents on this side of the island, from
Africa, Spain, and Sardinia. Of the forts erected by that margrave,
one still stands—the large old tower, called Torrione; three more tower
above the rock. They are all represented on the arms of Bonifazio. At
a later period, the town passed into the hands of the Pisans, together
with the rest of the island; but the Genoese wrested Bonifazio from them
so early as the year 1193. They surprised and took the town during the
celebration of a festival. They treated it with great liberality, gave
it very free laws, and permitted it to exist as a Republic under their
protectorate. In the register of Bonifazio the contract is preserved,
which the Genoese procurator in Bonifazio, Brancaleone d'Oria, signed
and solemnly swore on the Bible to observe, on the 11th February
1321. According to the terms of this contract, complete freedom of
trade and exemption from imposts in Genoese harbours, was granted to
the Bonifazians; also, the right of self-government. In their popular
assembly they chose a Council composed of the more elderly citizens,
hence called _Anziani_; the Genoese podestà, who was annually sent to
the town as Syndic or Commissioner, had to conform his decisions to the
will of this body. The podestà could neither impose taxes nor introduce
any innovation without the consent of the Anziani; nor had he the power
of imprisoning any citizen of Bonifazio, whether murderer, thief, or
traitor, if he could procure bail. When a new podestà was sent from
Genoa, he was never put in possession of the town till he had solemnly
sworn an oath on the Sacrament, to preserve inviolable all treaties and
statutes of Bonifazio. This deed is signed—_Per Brancaleonem de Oria
et per Universitatem Bonifatii in publico Parlamento_—'by Brancaleo
d'Oria, and the whole community of Bonifazio, in public Parliament
assembled;'—high-sounding words for a little place, consisting at that
time of scarcely a thousand inhabitants.

Thus did this bold little people win for themselves freedom with all its
privileges, and were able to preserve it intact on their rock for many

The Genoese paid every possible respect to the Bonifazians. When one of
their vessels entered the port of Genoa, it was customary to ask—"Are
you from the district of Bonifazio, or from Bonifazio proper?" Hence
the popular saying: "He is a Bonifazian proper." Many Genoese nobles
and citizens, induced by these privileges and rights, emigrated to this
rock from their lordly Genoa; and, in this way, Bonifazio became in
language, manners, and leaning, a Genoese colony. Even now, the Genoese
character of the town is visible not only in the armorial ensigns, but
in the people themselves.

Calvi too, has, like Bonifazio, remained true to Genoa. Both towns have
occupied on this account quite a peculiar historical position, and it
is remarkable to find in this fearful sea of Corsican hate, two little
islands, as it were, which loved the tyrannical Genoa. Let us not grudge
this to the manly Genoese; their old sin-laden but always kingly and
great Republic has long since paid its debt to humanity in history, and
is no more.

A Bonifazian of the name of Murzolaccio, wrote a characteristic little
history of his town in 1625. It may be seen in Bologna, and is an
extremely rare book. I have not been able to procure a copy, much to my
disappointment, for I have a great affection for Bonifazio. But I will
here relate, following the chronicle of Petrus Cyrnæus, the memorable
siege of the town by Alfonso of Arragon; for indeed the heroic bravery
of the Bonifazians deserves to live in the memory of men together with
that of Numantia, Carthage, and, in modern times, Saragossa. I give
Peter's description of it, not following him through all his details;
I have shortened it also, as it is too long to give entire here.



Alfonso of Arragon, after he had examined the position of the town, took
possession of a high hill lying towards the north; and from it and the
sea he kept up a perpetual fire of stones from his bombs. The Spaniards
had come with eighty ships, and among them twenty-three triremes; they
had forced their way into the harbour after the fall of the two towers
which defended it. Now, when a great part of the defences and the walls
had been overthrown, and it seemed possible to force a passage into the
town, King Alfonso called his captains to a council of war. He was young
and fiery, and full of desire to do great deeds. "When Bonifazio has
fallen," he said, "all Corsica will be ours, and then we shall sail for
Italy." He promised rewards to the first man who should scale the wall
and plant his banner on it, and to the second, and the third, and so
on to the tenth. The Spaniards heard this with great joy, and prepared
themselves for the assault. The Bonifazians suffered much from the
missiles and arrows of the assailants; but with stones and long spears
they hurled the enemy back into the sea, and held their post bravely.
Suddenly the tower Scarincio fell with a fearful crash, and immediately
the ships laid themselves close to the breach; the Spaniards sprang
upon the wall and planted their standard. In the army of the king, the
shout was heard, "The city is stormed." Then the marines might be seen
quickly and nimbly clambering up the walls on the masts and yards; and
when they came within reach of the houses they cast torches on their
roofs. Now, there arose a terrible death-struggle of fugitives, brave
citizens who still held their ground, and the assailants all mingled
together. But Orlando Guaracchi, the heroic Margareta Bobia, and Chiaro
Ghigini rushed to drive back the advancing enemy, and from their posts
came Jacopo Cataccioli, Giovanni Cicanesi, and Filippo Campo, and cut
down every foe who had pressed into the town, even to the last man. They
then threw fire on the ships in the harbour, and the king was repulsed
with great loss.

For three days had the struggle lasted, with fire and slaughter without
end. Every age and sex laboured to fortify the walls anew, and to fill
up the breaches with cross-beams. But alas! the granaries had been
consumed. Alfonso, meanwhile, kept throwing arrows into the town with
letters attached to them, offering bribes to all who should pass over
to him. Two deserted, Galliotto Ristori, a Bonifazian, and Conrado, a
Genoese, and they stimulated the courage of the king by telling him that
within the town both bread and munitions were failing. Accordingly, the
king took possession of another hill near the town; and after drawing
a double chain across the mouth of the harbour, to exclude any succours
which might come from Genoa, he resolved to reduce the town by blockade.
The Doge, Thomas Fregoso, heard that, and equipped a fleet of seven
sail; in this way the month of September passed. But the sea was so
stormy during the whole of October, November, and December, that the
fleet could not leave the harbour of Genoa. The Bonifazians, meanwhile,
had been brought to such extremities, by the bombs and catapults, that
they were compelled to leave the town, and seek shelter in the grove
beside San Antonio, and in the Convent of St. Francis, as the most of
their houses were now in ruins; those only remained behind who had to
fill the posts of defence.

The king had been strengthened by reinforcements and ships from
Spain; but, notwithstanding, he preferred negotiation, and gave a
solemn promise to the besieged that, if they would yield to him, they
should have permission to live free, and according to their laws. The
Bonifazians purposely prolonged negotiations with the ambassadors,
and as they looked in wretched plight, pale and exhausted with hunger,
and as the Arragonese taunted them with their condition, saying that
they would be soon forced to submit, it is said that, in order to give
him the lie, they threw bread over the walls down among the enemy's
outposts, and sent a cheese made of woman's milk as a present to the
king. Alfonso next moved all his engines and ships close to the walls.
Two vessels lashed together bore towers. The assault began afresh
from the sea and the heights. To oppose the machines on board the
ships, the Bonifazians had likewise planted engines on various parts
of the ramparts; on the more distant vessels they propelled stones of
immense weight; on those more near they threw stones of smaller size
and missiles of all kinds, as thick as hail. Although they themselves
were almost overwhelmed by the storm of missiles, and many of them lay
mangled and dying, they yet persevered with astonishing valour. Those
who still retained their strength filled up the places of the fallen—the
son that of the wounded father, the brother of the brother; the women
brought projectiles, wine, and bread, and carried off the wounded.
Arming themselves with shields and lances, too, they took their place
upon the ramparts wherever there was a vacant spot. Many of them could
not carry off or succour their fallen relations, till they had hurled
back the enemy from the walls. The assailants also suffered dreadfully;
many were drowned, being dragged into the sea by the swords, hooks, and
curved lances, thrown by the besieged upon the floating towers. Very
many were dashed to pieces with beams and stones, as they were scaling
the walls with ladders. In other places, the besieged threw torches,
tow, and pitch upon the enemy, so that often they did not know whither
to run, or on what side to defend themselves first.

The Bonifazians were now exhausted by the ceaseless contest, which had
already raged without intermission for many days, and the king resolved
once more to collect all his strength in order to make a grand assault
on the following day. So the fight raged anew, and more terribly than
before, for the foe brought every engine, tower, and catapult to bear
upon the town, and almost buried it under a shower of stones, arrows,
and steel hooks.

Only at the tower of Scarincio the bombarding ceased, for the besiegers
feared to overwhelm the Spaniards—who had already at that point forced
their way into the town—in the same destruction with the citizens.
There, armed women fought untiringly beside the men, and threw harpoons
on the assailants. From the ship-towers and the cross-trees, the
Spaniards kept up a ceaseless shower of darts, and propelled leaden
acorns out of certain cast-metal hand-bombs, which were bored like a
reed, and went by the name of Sclopetus. (This is Peter of Corsica's
description of a musket, which in those days was a rare, but is now
too common a weapon in Corsica.) They threw also showers of sulphur,
followed by fire, on the houses and men, so that many were half burnt,
and others were precipitated headlong through the breach. In this way
the breach, which was near the tower of Preghera, stood open to the foe.
As soon as the sulphur-smoke, which had wrapt it in thick darkness, had
cleared off, matrons, the unarmed, and crowds of children, could be seen
carrying stones and missiles of every kind to the wall, to supply the
combatants; when they found the breach deserted, they raised loud cries
of lamentation. Then, with wailing and tears, the mother besought her
son, the daughter her father, the wife her husband, to return to the
breach. The priests and monks also took up arms, and hurled down flaming
bundles of tow and slacked lime. This had such great effect that very
many, stupified and almost blinded by the dust and the floating vapour,
were forced to shoot at random. As the flames subsided a little, the
besieged sallied from the gate.

This day had been the most severe which the citizens had yet endured;
but it had been a destructive one to the enemy.

As the besieged became from day to day more hardly pressed, the more
frequent became the letters despatched to the Doge and Senate of Genoa,
begging them to come to the help of Bonifazio. The king, meanwhile,
having been again reinforced, gave the signal to his men to renew the
assault. By land and sea a fierce onset was then made in seven places
at once; but into the city Alfonso could not get. For fresh wall was
erected almost as quickly as it was thrown down, and armed men even
placed themselves in the breaches, and formed a living rampart. Then the
king ordered a mole to be thrown up, eight feet high, running towards
the great gate. Thereon was erected a tower of ten stories, so high as
to overtop the walls. Under cover of a shower of missiles, the mole and
tower were gradually nearing the gate, when one day it was suddenly
flung open, and the people sallying out, flung torches and fire on
the mound, and fascines into the tower, and in that way destroyed this
laborious work, which had already occupied so long a time.

Neither night nor day did the assault slacken; and nothing was for a
moment intermitted by the Bonifazians which could retard the progress of
the besiegers, whether it was the erection of new walls, or perpetual
sallies on the enemy's works. The poor citizens had not a moment's
rest; and, quite exhausted by continual exertion, were wasting away with
hunger, wounds, and daily and nightly watching. No day passed without
burial of the dead; death stood before every eye, and day and night the
sound of lamentation was heard. Meanwhile the necessity had become so
great, that they were compelled to eat disgusting weeds; and how long
were they still to wait for aid from Genoa? The power of endurance which
the people of Bonifazio exhibited under hunger and privations the most
severe, almost exceeds human conception. Horse and ass-flesh were in
those days dainties. Some ate herbs of all kinds—herbs which even the
cattle refused to touch—roots and wild fruits, the bark of trees, and
animals never before eaten by man. Despairing now of relief, many would
have willingly ended their lives, weeping and bewailing, and many of
the wounded, too, would have died of starvation on the walls, had it not
been for the compassion of the women. For the pious wives of Bonifazio
freely gave of their milk to relations, brothers, children, connexions,
and godfathers. And there was no one in that beleaguered town who had
not sucked a woman's breast.

As up to that moment there had been no signs of any help in their sore
extremity, the Bonifazians entered into an agreement that if the Genoese
did not come to their relief within forty days, they would deliver
themselves up to the Spaniard. They gave two men and thirty children of
the noblest citizens as hostages. But it was a matter of great anxiety
to the Bonifazians that King Alfonso had not allowed them meantime to
send messengers to Genoa. Accordingly, they built a little ship in great
haste, and in the darkness of the night they let it down into the sea by
ropes, on that side of the rock which fronted Sardinia and was averted
from the enemy, and in a similar manner they let down the young men,
twenty-four in number, who were to be the messengers and crew. The chief
magistrate had given them letters for Genoa, and a great multitude of
citizens had accompanied them to the edge of the cliff, wishing them a
successful expedition. One after the other, the women gave them their
breasts to suck before setting out, for they had no food with them.
After many perils by sea, and being long retarded by contrary winds,
these bold messengers at last reached Genoa, and informed the Senate
that the city of Bonifazio was brought to the last extremity.

Meanwhile, in Bonifazio, they resolved in solemn procession to beseech
God for deliverance from the enemy, and for forgiveness of all their
sins. The procession walked from the Cathedral of the Holy Mary to St.
Jacob's, then to San Domenico, and all the churches in succession; and
although the winter cold was very severe, yet all walked barefoot; and
as they walked, they sang hymns with great fervour. From an early hour
till late at night, prayers were offered up in the churches, and every
mind was intently hoping for relief or for some news of the messengers.

At last, on the fifteenth day, the messengers returned to Bonifazio
in their little ship, in the darkness of the night, and having given
the signal, they were drawn up by ropes. Every one in the city seemed
beside himself with joy. As the messengers walked to the Church of the
Holy Mary, where the senate sat in council day and night, all the people
poured in a living stream after them to hear the news. They delivered
the letters of the Doge, which were read by the magistrates, and then
taken out to the assembled people. Picino Cataccioli, the chief of
the messengers, gave them a detailed account of the expedition, and
assured them that the Genoese fleet was all equipped, and only waited
for a favourable wind to set sail. The senate of Bonifazio now ordered
a public thanksgiving of three days; and the joy in the city was quite
uncontrollable when what little grain the messengers had brought back
with them was distributed among the people.

Meanwhile, the day of surrender was fast approaching, but the Genoese
fleet had not yet made its appearance, and the ambassadors of the king
were already pressing the senate to fulfil their agreement. "If, in the
following night," declared the Anziani, "the Genoese do not appear, we
shall then surrender." Then began a wailing and lamentation of women
and children, and great sorrow and dejection filled every mind. But
the senate called an assembly that they might learn the sense of the
people about the matter. Guglielmo Bobia earnestly maintained that
they should hold out, and he conjured the shade of the Count Bonifazio
(the founder of the city) to fill the Bonifazians with his spirit,
so that none should think of parting with his freedom. Accordingly,
they resolved to wait to the last moment. Suddenly a cry arose in the
night, that the Genoese were at hand. All the bells began to ring,
and fire-signals blazed on every turret; endless shouts of joy rose to
heaven. The Spaniards were astonished, and lid not know what to think,
as they could see no sign of the Genoese. Their ambassadors lost no
time in presenting themselves before the gate at dawn, and demanded the
surrender of the city, according to the agreement. The men of Bonifazio,
however, replied, that during the night they had received the Genoese
auxiliaries; and, behold! armed men displaying the Genoese standard
were seen to march thrice along the walls, bristling with lances and
sparkling weapons. For all the women had during the past night put on
armour, so that the number of the Bonifazians seemed to be trebled. When
Alfonso of Arragon saw this, he exclaimed: "Have then the Genoese wings,
that they can enter Bonifazio when we occupy every approach?" And again
he directed all his engines against the town.

At last, however, on the fourth day after the stipulated period had run
out, the Genoese came in reality, and cast anchor in the offing of the
strait. Angelo Bobia and a few other brave men swam during the night to
their ships, and horrified all with their wasted forms and hunger-pale
faces. But the Genoese captains declared that they dared not venture
to attack the Spaniards. Bobia laid his fore-finger on his mouth, as
if thunderstruck, and then said, "We have trusted in God alone, and
in you—you shall attempt it, and we will help you!" The Genoese were

Alfonso immediately turned a part of his ships towards the Genoese, and
directed his missiles upon the harbour, to cut off their entrance. The
Genoese ships, however, would not venture to attack the Spanish till the
young Giovanni Fregoso, Rafael Negro, and other leading men insisted
on their risking an engagement. But especially Jacopo Benesia, the
most valorous and daring of them all, decided for the battle. For seven
hours the struggle lasted at the entrance of the harbour and before the
rock—a fearful struggle—ship lying close to ship, as the confined space
rendered it quite impossible to move about; the Bonifazians, meanwhile,
hurled down missiles and torches on the Spaniards. At last the Genoese
burst through the chain, and forced a passage into the harbour; and
indescribable was the joy of the starving people, when seven ships full
of grain were moored in the harbour, and discharged their freight.

Then Alfonso of Arragon perceived that he could not reduce the town of
Bonifazio, and accordingly he raised the siege, taking the hostages with
him; and, deeply ashamed and vexed at heart, he set sail for Italy in
January 1421.



My locanda stood opposite an old and gloomy house, the marble
entablature of whose door attracted my attention. There were old
sculptures on it—the arms of Genoa, and Gothic initials. It gave me
great pleasure to learn that the Emperor Charles V. had spent two days
and a night in this house. It affected me as deeply as if I had suddenly
met a countryman and friend on this foreign rock. The house speaks
German to me; and when I look at the window where Charles V. stood,
there crowd upon my mind many epochs of German history, and many great
names rise before me—Luther, Worms, Augsburg, Wittenberg, Maurice of
Saxony, Philip of Hesse, Schiller and _Don Carlos_, Goethe and _Egmont_.
Charles V. was a striking phenomenon. He was the last Emperor in the
full sense of the word; for there arose against the Emperor, on whose
dominions the sun never set, a little man, in a gray capote and cowl,
and let fall a word which, like a bomb, shattered all the magnificence
of the empire of the Cæsars. Yet are those men foolish who abuse Charles
V. because he did not comprehend the Reformation, and put himself at the
head of that movement. He was Emperor, and nothing else. He grew weary;
and the man whose stormy life had been a perpetual struggle with powers
which ruined Germany—with France, and with the Reformation—gave his
kingdoms away, and, recognising the all-changing hand of time, became
an anchorite, and laid himself in a coffin. I am much pleased that I
have seen Titian's splendid portrait of Charles V. My neighbour at the
window there is now no image of my fancy, but a creature of flesh and

It was an accident which brought Charles to Bonifazio. My friend Lorenzo
gave me the following account of it. Charles was on his way home from
his unsuccessful expedition against Algiers; a storm forced him to
take refuge in the Gulf of Santa Manza, in the vicinity of Bonifazio.
He stepped ashore with his retinue, and, curious to learn what kind of
land this Corsica was, which, in those times as well as now, had the
character of being barbarous and warlike, he entered a vineyard. Filippo
Catacciolo, the proprietor, happened just at that moment to be there. He
offered grapes to the Emperor; and in the course of conversation awoke
in him a desire to see the wonderful town of Bonifazio, which Alfonso
of Arragon had been unable to take. The Corsican then offered to be his
guide, and put his house in the town at the Emperor's service, promising
at the same time to preserve his incognito. He gave him his horse,
the Emperor mounted, and the little procession set itself in motion.
Catacciolo in the meantime despatched a messenger to the magistrates
with this announcement—"Charles, King of Spain and Emperor of the Holy
Roman Empire, will this day be Bonifazio's guest." As Charles was
approaching the town, suddenly the cannon thundered, and the people
rushing out of the town shouted, _Evviva Carlo di Spagna!_ He turned
with surprise to Catacciolo, and said, "Friend, you have betrayed me!"
"No," replied the Corsican; "for this is the nature of the cannons of
Bonifazio—the sunbeams discharge them of their own accord when a prince
such as you approaches."

Charles then entered Catacciolo's house, and was well entertained there.
On his departure, he called his host, and said to him, "My friend,
since you have entertained your guest so well, you are at liberty to
ask three favours." Catacciolo begged three privileges for the town of
Bonifazio; and these being granted, the Emperor gave him permission to
ask still one favour for himself. After some reflection, the Corsican
at last said, "The boon I ask is that your Highness command that when I
am dead, my body be laid under the high altar of the Cathedral; for as
that privilege is never accorded to a layman, the honour and distinction
will be the greatest which has ever been conferred on a citizen of

The Emperor granted this also. Catacciolo then conducted him back to
the harbour, and, when his guest had embarked, took the horse on which
he had ridden, and killed it on the spot.

Catacciolo's house is incomplete. A few gaps are visible in the wall.
The reason of this is that the magistrates, out of consideration for
the fortress, prohibited his erecting a house on that spot. Catacciolo
then promised to construct a beacon for them at his own cost, if they
gave him permission to build. The chief magistrate thereupon consented;
but it was stipulated that Catacciolo should not be allowed to finish
his house until he had completed the beacon. Accordingly, he carried
on both buildings at the same time; but although he never did more than
lay the foundation of the beacon, he completed his house, only leaving
a few gaps in the wall to evade the contract.

Catacciolo was tall and handsome, and on that account went by the name
of Alto Bello. His family was one of the wealthiest and oldest in the
town, and is frequently mentioned in its history.

Looking past Charles V.'s house, the eye falls upon the island of Santa
Maddalena, on the Sardinian coast. I distinctly perceive the tower, and
see the young artillery officer, Napoleon, leap out of the ship to take
it. Napoleon dwelt eight months in Bonifazio, opposite Charles V.'s
house. The meeting of these two great imperial names on this spot is a
remarkable coincidence, for it was Napoleon who overturned the old and
far-famed imperial throne of Charles V.

Bonifazio, in the days of its prosperity, had some twenty churches
and cloisters. The cloisters were abolished, and only three churches
remain—the Cathedral of Santa Maria of the Fig-tree, San Domenico,
and San Francesco. Santa Maria is of Pisan architecture—a large, heavy
church, lost among narrow streets. Its spacious porch is the resort and
promenade of the citizens, who walk about there as the Venetians do in
the square of San Marco. In olden times, the Senate of Bonifazio used
to assemble in this cathedral, to deliberate on civic affairs.

Farther on, towards the edge of the rock, lies San Domenico—a beautiful
church of the Templars, whose emblematic triangle is still visible
on the walls. It is a graceful structure, of the purest Gothic
proportions, and only wants the overlaid façade to have a pleasing
effect outside as well as in the interior. Unquestionably it is the
finest church in Corsica, next to the ruins of the Canonica at Mariana.
Its snow-white octangular tower, which the Pisans began, resembles
an indented fortress-turret; it is incomplete. In the church, I found
many monumental tablets of Knights-Templar and of Genoese nobles—among
others, that of a Doria. Cardinal Fesch sent a few pictures to it,
but they are of little value. Far more interesting are the little _ex
votos_—the votive pictures on wood, which Bonifazian citizens who have
been delivered from some impending danger have dedicated to the Madonna
and St. Dominic. There are many pirate-scenes among them, right vividly
delineated. The third church—San Francesco—is small; but it possesses
great interest as containing the only spring in Bonifazio. Elsewhere,
the Bonifazians content themselves with the rain-water collected in
cisterns, drawing their main supply from the large, deep reservoirs into
which one may descend by stone steps—a meritorious work of the Genoese.

Most of the old cloisters in Corsica belonged to the monks of the
order of St. Francis. These gentlemen had settled in great numbers on
the island, and their saint himself, they say, was once in Corsica. He
visited Bonifazio; and as the citizens of this town are accounted the
most religious in the whole island, I shall relate the legend in the
words of my friend Lorenzo.

You may see, lying on the other side of the gulf, the deserted monastery
of San Giuliano; the holy Francis himself gave the following occasion
for its erection: One day, on what voyage I cannot tell, he put in to
the harbour of Bonifazio and stepped ashore. When night came, he knocked
at the door of a house, and begged admission and shelter. But he was
not so fortunate as Charles V., for they shut the door upon him—and
no wonder, for he looked wild and shaggy, like a Corsican bandit. The
holy Francis turned away with a troubled heart, and laid himself down
in a cave near the house; and, after commending himself to God, fell
asleep, In the meantime there came a maid-servant out of the house,
to throw foul water into the cave, as she had been wont to do. As she
entered, she saw therein something shining, and was so frightened, that
she had almost poured the unclean water over the holy Francis—for it
was the good man himself that shone. I am told that the holy Francis
thereupon raised himself from the ground, and with his gentle smile
said to the maid: "My friend, do as you have been wont to do; I lived
a whole year in a pig-stye, as all the world knows." The stupid maid,
notwithstanding, ran towards the house with loud cries of alarm, and
told how she had found a man in the cave, who had the strange property
of giving out light from some parts of his body. The news of this spread
like wildfire through Bonifazio; the Bonifazians hastened to the spot,
and when they had found the holy man, they raised him up in their arms,
made much of him, and besought him to leave behind a memorial of his
having been there. The holy Francis said: "My friends, let us then build
a little convent here, as a perpetual remembrance." On the instant, the
Bonifazians set about carrying stones to the spot, and Francis laid the
foundation-stone with his own hands; and after having done this, he took
leave of them, and again went on board his ship. Now the convent was
not named after his name, because he was not yet canonized, but after
the name of St. Julian. At a later period, the Bonifazians built the
Church of San Francesco in honour of the saint. Hard by, there stood
on the rock in olden times a grove of pines, myrtle, and box-wood—a
truly miraculous growth, as it rested on the bare limestone rock. It
was forbidden to fell a tree there on pain of losing the right hand.
Holy men of the bush, anchorites, sat there in a mountain hermitage,
worshipping God and singing pious hymns, high above the strait, near
to heaven. The wood and the hermitage are now both gone; and where
they once stood, the sentinel in his red hose now paces up and down,
whistling some merry soldier's air.

On the 15th of August, I was awoke by the thunder of cannon under
my window. In my sleep I thought it was the Spaniards and Alfonso of
Arragon, with their bombs, making a desperate assault on the rock; but
I soon remembered that the Bonifazians were celebrating the anniversary
of the birthday of the old Emperor Napoleon, and the Assumption of the
Virgin Mary. For it was on the holiday of the Assumption of the Mother
of God that Napoleon was born, and both these events have now the honour
of being commemorated throughout the whole of France on the same day.
The reports of the guns rolled and boomed over the strait, and awoke
Sardinia from its sleep. What a beautiful festal morning!—the sky and
the sea so blue, the air so calm and cool, rose-red banners waving

The people of Bonifazio literally revelled in a sea of rapture that
day. The streets were crowded in every part, and adorned with national
flags, whereon one might still read the proud inscriptions: _République
Française, liberté, égalité, fraternité_. "You may believe me when I
tell you," said a Bonifazian to me, "that we were genuine republicans
in those days." I saw many groups playing draughts in the street; and
beside the great gates, too, they sat at this old, knightly game. Others
walked about the piazza, dressed in their best clothes, and all were
very merry.

I love to look on a multitude keeping holiday. One feels on such
occasions that he lives on a good earth and fair; it was very pleasing
to see this little world-forgotten people resting a while on its
solitary rock, and out of its poverty preparing for itself a simple,
childlike festival. These poor people have so little of all that makes
life varied and agreeable—no drama, no society, no horses, carriages,
or music—not even a newspaper, except at wide intervals. Many here, are
born and step into their limy graves, without having seen even Ajaccio.
They live here perched high up in the air on their dry rock, and have
nothing but the air and the light, and that one grand view over the
strait to the Sardinian hills. One may guess, therefore, what a holiday
is likely to be in Bonifazio.

The people of the surrounding country added to the multitude; they
had come to see the great procession. It was strange to see so many
well-dressed people filling the usually desolate streets. The young
girls laughed sweetly from the windows of their houses, all clad in
white, with flowers in their hair: I believe that all the maidens of
Bonifazio were angels that day, in virtue of the procession.

The firing of cannon announced that the procession had begun. It issued
from the Church of Santa Maria of the Fig-tree, which was all ablaze
with lights, and marched towards that of San Domenico. The crucifix and
some old church banners, which seemed to be Genoese, led the way; then
came men, women, and maidens, with waxen tapers in their hands, and,
last of all, the heavenly Virgin herself. Four strong men bore her on a
bier; on each corner of which stood a motley-coloured little angel made
of wood, and carrying a nosegay in his hand. In the centre, a wooden
image of Mary floated on blue wooden clouds. There was a silver glory
above her head, and round her neck was hung a costly chain of coral,
found near Bonifazio and presented by the fishermen to the Virgin. Half
the inhabitants of Bonifazio walked in the procession, and many pretty
girls among them, with white dresses and pale faces, as if they had been
sculptured out of Bonifazian gypsum. All bore tapers, but the sea-breeze
insisted on walking in the procession too,—a huge long fellow made of
white lime, and all enveloped in a white cloak of lime-dust. He blew
out the wax-light of one pretty gypsum figure after the other, and ere
the procession had reached San Domenico, he had won the moccoli-game,
and extinguished them all. I also accompanied the procession. When one
asked me how I liked it, I saw from his eyes, which were beaming with
a heartfelt pleasure, what I ought to say; and I replied, "_Signore
mio, ella è maravigliosa_." The childlike simplicity and joy of this
festival-day were very touching. In the evening they illuminated the
streets with a large bonfire, which had been piled up in front of the
town-hall. When I inquired why they did so, I received for answer, "This
fire is kindled in honour of Napoleon." So did Bonifazio celebrate the
great festival, and was joyful and light-hearted; and when it was night,
I heard in the streets the cheerful sound of song, and the jingling of
the mandoline.



In the evening, a little before twilight, I love to go through the old
fortress-gate, and sit down on some point of the high coast. Here I
have around me no common picture,—Bonifazio on its beetling cliff hard
by, at a giddy height above the sea; the beautiful strait, and the near
Sardinia. There is an old book which reckons this rock of Bonifazio
as the seventy-second wonder of the world. My good friend Lorenzo has
read it. If I look down upon the sea-border from my little bench of
stone, I have a complete view of the path of steps which leads down to
the Marina. There I see people continually passing out and in through
the gate; and from below they ride up the declivity mounted on their
little asses, or drive them before them laden with melons, crossing
and recrossing the path to make the ascent easier. I do not remember
having seen such small donkeys as those of Bonifazio, and it was
incomprehensible to me how a man could ride on so diminutive a creature.
I saw no one with the fucile; fire-arms are here, comparatively
speaking, unknown.

When at any time I sat down on the bench by the little Chapel of San
Rocco, I was soon surrounded by the curious, who would frequently take
a place beside me with a kind of simple confidence, and ask me whence I
came, what I came for, and whether or not my fatherland was civilized.
This last question was very frequently addressed to me when I said that
I came from Prussia. A very gentlemanly person sat down beside me one
evening, and when we had fallen into a political conversation regarding
the present king of Prussia, he suddenly expressed his surprise that
Prussians should speak Italian. I have frequently, on other occasions,
and in all earnest, been asked whether Italian was spoken in Prussia.
My good friend then inquired whether I spoke Latin. When I replied
that I understood it, he said that he also was acquainted with it, and
immediately began: "_Multos annos jam ierunt, che io non habeo parlato
il latinum._" When on the point of replying to him in the same language,
I suddenly made the discovery that my Latin insisted on slipping into
Italian, and that I was just about to express myself with greater
elegance than even my Bonifazian friend. Two cognate languages are
very apt to be mingled on the tongue if we are in the habit of daily
expressing ourselves only in one of them.

This gentleman accurately quoted Rousseau's prediction on Corsica, which
it is impossible to escape hearing when in conversation with educated

The strait becomes more and more beautiful as the sun-set light begins
to fall upon it. Sailing-boats flit past, breasting the waves; they
pass into the distance with the golden gleam of the setting sun upon
them; isolated rocks tower darkly out of the water, and the mountains of
Sardinia are tinged with violet. Directly opposite stand the fair hills
of Tempio and Limbara; yonder the heights which conceal Sassari; on the
left, a magnificent mountain-cone, the name of which I cannot discover.
The evening sun falls brightly on the neighbouring coasts, but with
full effulgence on the nearest Sardinian town of Longo Sardo. A tower
is visible at its entrance. I clearly discern the houses, and would
willingly imagine those flickering lines of shadow to be Sardinians
promenading. In a calm night, they tell me that the beating of drums
in Longo Sardo may be heard. I counted six towers along the coast;
Castello Sando, and Porto Torres, the nearest towns in the direction
of Sassari, were invisible. My hospitable Lorenzo had studied three
years in Sassari, knew the Sardinian dialect, and could give me much
information about the people.

     Long silent sat we on the hill together,
     And gazed upon the foam-fringed coasts the while;
     And on the deep-blue of the narrow waters
     That part Sardinia from her sister isle.

     How passing beautiful art thou, Sardegna!
     Whom the luxuriant myrtles fondly crown,
     And sparkling zones of snowy shell engirdle,
     Corsica's sun-burnt sister, wild and brown.

     Red reefs and craggy islets round thee hanging,
     Rude capes that cleave the sea with zig-zag line,
     —Their crimson cliffs thou wearest in thy beauty,
     Like blood-red necklace of the coral fine.

     My friend Lorenzo, yonder purple mountains
     They beckon in their gracious calm to me—
     They stir my bosom with a fiery longing,
     And my heart leaps to cross that narrow sea.

     Whereto my good Lorenzo thus made answer,
     And spoke low to himself, with doubting air:
     "Ah! the fair mountains of Limbara yonder—
     The pictured lies—only afar are fair.

     "They seem like sapphires in the magic distance—
     Like wondrous crystal domes they kiss the sky;
     But when the weary, spell-drawn wanderer nears them,
     They throw the purple and the glitter by.

     "They offer you their gray sides, rude and naked,
     Save where the tangling briers harsh cov'ring lend;
     With tempests threaten you, and with abysses,
     —Like life—too like the cheats of life, my friend."

     —Yon leaden level stretching to the margin,
     Laughs to me, winsome in its hue of gold,
     How the Sardinian lives, my friend Lorenzo,
     In his fair island, fain would I be told.

     "Wooded the highlands as you travel inland,
     The little yellow towns in verdure hide,
     The Catalonian drives—their bells low tinkling—
     His train of mules along the mountain side.

     "O'er his swart face he slouches the sombrero,
     Pistols and dagger in his belt he wears;
     In his old Latin tongue he hums a ballad,
     And onwards to its time he slowly fares.

     "But if far southward to the strand you wander,
     Where Cagliari lies, 'mid rocky bays,
     There, in the hamlets, chants the darker Moro,
     To castanet and tambourine his lays.

     "From Algesiras comes the Moorish pagan,
     His falt'ring accent tells the distant land,
     He shakes his tabour, dances round the fan-palm,
     The brown Sardinian maiden in his hand."

How perceptible in Bonifazio is the vicinity of the third great Romanic
nation, Spain! My room is covered with pictures about Columbus,
which have long Spanish explanations, and now and then one meets a
Sardinian who speaks the Catalonian dialect. Both islands—in former
epochs connected, but now torn asunder—are conveniently situated for
the smuggling trade. The very favourable position of Bonifazio would
undoubtedly have raised it to early prosperity had trade been free. The
surveillance is extremely strict, as even the bandits of both islands
maintain communication with each other, although it seldom happens that
Sardinians seek an asylum in the little Corsica, as it does not afford
means of support. Many Corsican avengers, on the contrary, take refuge
among the Sardinian hills. The police in Bonifazio are very vigilant.
My pass was never asked throughout the whole of Corsica, except in the
southerly-lying Sartene, and in Bonifazio. A land-owner had been my
fellow-traveller from Cape Corso to Bonifazio; and as he very kindly
offered me his boat, which lay at Propriano, in which to return to
Bastia, and also put his house at Cape Corso at my service, I invited
him to share my spacious room, which was much superior to his own
miserable lodging. This man had now the honour to pass for a bandit,
who, under some good pretext, was desirous to pass over to Sardinia.

When the evening sets in, the lighthouse of Bonifazio shows its light.
The Sardinian coast is wrapt in darkness; but soon, from Longo Sardo, a
red light replies, and so these two sister islands, as well by night as
by day, maintain a friendly intercourse with their beacons. The warders
on either side lead a lonely life. Each is the first or last inhabitant
of his island. He of Bonifazio is the most southerly Corsican I have
ever met with; and he of the cape opposite the most northerly Sardinian.
They have never seen each other or conversed; but daily they interchange
a beautiful good-evening—_felicissima notte_, as they say in Italy when
the mistress brings in the light. The warder of Corsica is the first to
bring out his light into the darkening night, and to say _felicissima
notte_; then his brother warder of Sardinia comes to meet him, and also
says his _felicissima notte_; and so they go on night after night, and
will go on while life lasts, till some evening the beacon shall remain
for a time unlighted. Then will the warder on this side know that his
old friend on the other is dead; and with a tear perchance that night,
he will say _felicissima notte_!

I visited this most southerly of Corsicans in his turret. It lies a
league from Bonifazio, on the low Cape Pertusato. The south of Corsica
runs out here into an obtuse triangle, at whose western extremity Cape
Pertusato, and at whose eastern Cape Sprono lies—the latter a small
rocky point, standing nearer to Sardinia than any other part of Corsica.
With a favourable wind, one could be in Sardinia in half an hour. The
little lighthouse is surrounded by a white wall, and resembles a fort.
The keeper received me kindly, and set before me a glass of goat's milk.
He lives like Æolus, in the wind. There is something strange in the
thought, that the long years of a man's life all turn round an oil-lamp,
and that it is a human being's sole destiny to burn a lamp-wick
on a lonely cliff by night. There can be nothing apparently more
unsatisfactory, and nothing more unpretending than such an existence.

The warder led me to the parapet of the lighthouse, where the violence
of the wind compelled me to hold fast by the railing. From his roof-top
he pointed out all his island domain and sovereignty, which consisted
of thirty head of goats and a vineyard; and as I perceived that he was
contented and possessed sufficient of the goods of the earth, I at once
esteemed him happy, even before his death. He directed my attention
to the majestic beauty of Sardinia, the islands and islets which swarm
round it, Santa Maria and Santa Maddalena, the island Caprara, Reparata,
and many more. The western mouth of the strait is strewn with insular
rocks; the eastern is broader; and over against the Sardinian Cape
Falcone lies the island Asènara, a picturesque ridge of hill.

To Corsica belong a few little island-reefs of the most irregular form,
which lie scattered in the strait quite near, and are called San Bainzo,
Cavallo, and Lavezzi. They consist of granite. The Romans had worked
quarries on them, to procure pillars for their temples and palaces. The
positions occupied by their workshops are still easily discernible; even
the coals in the old Roman smithies have left their traces. Enormous,
half-hewn pillars still lie on these rocks—two of them on San Bainzo—and
other blocks of stone shaped by Roman chisels. It is impossible now to
say for what building in Rome they may have been destined; no one can
tell what terrible panic it was which suddenly drove the quarrymen and
masons from their solitary workshop on the sea, leaving the labour of
their hands unfinished. It may be that the sea overwhelmed them; it
may be that they were massacred by the wild Corsican, or the fierce
Sardinian. It surprises me that there is no legend current of a ghostly
Roman workshop; for I myself have seen in the moonlight the dead workmen
rise out of the sea, clad in Roman togas—grave men, broad-browed, with
aquiline noses, and deep-set eyes. Silently they applied themselves to
the two pillars, and after a ghostly fashion began to beat and chisel
them. One stood erect among them, and, with outstretched finger, gave
directions. I heard him say in Latin—"This pillar will be one of the
fairest in the golden palace of Nero. Quick, comrades, make haste; for
if you are not ready within forty days, we shall all be cast to the wild
beasts." Fain would I have called out to him, "O Artemion, and you other
dead men! the palace of Nero has long since vanished from the face of
the earth—why hew pillars for it still? Go, sleep in your graves!" But
just as I was about to utter this, the Latin words became Italian, and I
could not. And it is owing to this circumstance alone, that the spirits
of those old Romans still busy themselves unceasingly with the pillars
in that ghostly workshop; and night after night they rise up out of the
water, and strike and chisel with restless haste; but as soon as the
cocks crow in Bonifazio, the pale and shadowy forms spring back into
the sea.

I threw again one long last look on the wide-extended Sardinian coast,
on the land of Gallura, and thought of the beautiful Enzius, the
Emperor Frederick's son. He, too, once was, and was moreover a king. A
few months ago, I stood one evening in his prison at Bologna. A puppet
theatre was erected near it, and across the still, large square sounded
loudly the voice of Pulcinella.

The world is round, and history a circle like the individual life of men.



One beautiful morning, going out of the town by the old Genoese gate,
on whose wall are carved a lion-rampant and the sainted dragon-queller
George—the arms of the Bank of Genoa, I descended to the Marina and
called the boatman and his boat. The calmness of the day allowed me to
explore with safety the caverns of the coast, although the water was
still stirred by the maestrale and played rather roughly with our little

In the deep, narrow haven, however, the securest in the world, it
is a perfect calm, and there the few sailing boats, and the two
merchant-brigs of Bonifazio—the _Jesus-Maria_ and the _Fantasia_—rest
peacefully, as if in Abraham's bosom. Fantasia is the most charming name
a ship has ever borne; and this all will grant, whose fantasy-ship has
ever sailed upon the sea and come to port with its treasures, or been
stranded on some inhospitable shore. Jesus-Maria, too, is a beautiful
name on the sea.

The limestone rocks so entirely enclose the haven on either side, that
its opening long remains concealed to those approaching it from the sea.
The narrowness of the channel makes it possible to draw a chain barrier
across it, as in fact Alfonso of Arragon did. A strong iron ring was
pointed out to me, driven into the rock. To the right and the left, both
in this vicinity and farther along the coast, the water has formed large
and small caverns, which are in the highest degree worthy of a visit,
and which would be famous all the world over, did not Corsica, so to
speak, lie out of the world.

Close to Bonifazio there are three particularly beautiful grottos.
We reach first that of San Bartolomeo. A narrow excavated channel
just admits of the entrance of the boat. It resembles a cool Gothic
apartment. The sea forces its way almost quite to its farther
extremity—farther than the eye can penetrate, and covers its floor with
still, clear water. It is a rendezvous for the fishes, which frequent
it, being secure from sharks. I found in it a most amiable and happy
family of fishes, Muggini and Loazzi. They were not at all alarmed by
our entrance, but swam playfully round the boat. The cavern recedes far
under the rock of Bonifazio.

We steer out of this grotto, in a short time reach the open strait, and
have the wonderfully grand sea-view of the rock, rising majestically
with its broad, double breast to meet the advancing waves. This gigantic
façade is a glorious piece of Nature's architecture. On both sides
she has thrown up pillars—powerful buttresses of lime and sandstone,
deeply channelled by the waves. One of them is named Timone. A colossal
arch is thrown from one to the other, on which, high above, stand
the white walls of Bonifazio; and in the centre a magnificent grotto
forms a natural portal. I was astonished as I gazed on this huge and
unparalleled structure—the prototype of human handiwork, of the temple
and the palace. The tumultuous sea dashed its waves against the walls
of the grotto; but within, all was calm. It does not recede far into
the cliff. It is only a grand rock-niche—a rostrum, hung round in
semicircles with clustering garlands if stalactites—a niche in which one
might fitly erect a colossal statue of Poseidon. _Sotto al Francesco_
is its name.

If we steer eastwards to the right, we find a long extent of coast
undermined by curiously-shaped vaults into which he sea forces its
way. I entered one of these—the fisherman called them _camere_. Hard
by is one of the grandest grottos of Bonifazio—that of Sdragonato; I
lack words to describe this miraculous structure. I never saw anything
resembling it, and perhaps this cavern stands alone in Europe. The
entrance, like that of Francesco, is a gigantic stalactitic arch,
but it opens into the hill, and a little porch admits you into an
inner cave completely enclosed. It was at once a fine and somewhat
alarming sensation to steer through the little gorge; the water boiled
tumultuously against it, spraying its white foam on the stone walls,
then fell back into itself, and again threw up its seething tide.
To listen to such wild commotion of the waters is truly an elemental
pleasure; the Italian language alone furnishes a name which indicates
the sound—_rimbomba_. The boat having been safely washed through
the gorge, glided at once into a lordly, vaulted temple of immense
circumference, moving over a mirror of water, here green, there deep
black, here azure, and yonder again of a roseate hue. It is a wonderful
natural Pantheon. Above, the cupola parts, and the clear heaven
shines through; a tree bends, waving its long branches over the edge;
green bushes and herbs creep further down into the fissure, and wild
doves come fluttering in. The walls of this beautiful cave are almost
regularly vaulted, the water trickles down their sides, and hangs
them with stalactites, which, however, have not the strikingly bizarre
forms of those in the cavern of Brando at Cape Corso, or in the caves
of the Hartz. It either hangs round in masses, or has overspread the
stone, like a coating of _lapis lazuli_. One may ply about through the
grotto, or disembark at pleasure; for, all round, Nature has thrown up
seats and stone steps which are high and dry, except in stormy weather.
Hither come the sea-dogs of Proteus, and lie down in the magic hall.
Alas! I saw none of them, they had gone out on a water-excursion; I
alarmed nothing but wild doves and dippers. The bottom is deep and
clear; shells, fishes, and sea-weeds may be seen. It might be worth
one's while to erect a summer-house here occasionally, in which to read
the _Odyssey_, and keep silent watch as the creatures of the mysterious
ocean-depths come in. Man understands neither the plant nor the beast
which live on the dry land like himself, and are his daily companions,
still less those dumb, strangely-formed creatures of the great element.
They live and have their own laws and understanding, their own joys and
sorrows, their own love and hate. Unlike terrestrial animals, bound
to the clod, they rove through the boundless element, and dwell in
the ever clear, crystalline deeps; form mighty republics, have their
revolutions, their migrations, and piratical excursions, and the most
charming water-parties, too, when they will.

The coast from Cape Pertusato to Bonifazio is much broken by the sea,
and torn up into singular shapes. Many organic remains may be found
there; and, among other things, a remarkable species of architectural
spider. This spider constructs for itself, in the sand of the coast, a
complete little sand-house; and in the sand-house a little door, which
it can open or shut at pleasure. If it wishes to be alone, it shuts the
door; if it wishes to go abroad, it opens it and goes out, taking its
daughters with it, to enjoy a promenade by the beautiful strait, if only
they have been industrious and have spun enough of their marriage outfit
for one day. This excellent little building-spider is called the _Mygal
pionnière_, or the Araignée Maçonne of Corsica.

I saw likewise the _Scalina di Alfonso_, the steps of the King of
Arragon; hewn by him, says tradition, out of the rock, close under
the walls of the town. Because Alfonso, they say, was unable to reduce
the city, he fell on the bold plan of hewing a secret approach up the
perpendicular cliff. Accordingly, by night the Spanish were in the
habit of landing at a spot, invisible from the walls, where a grotto
is formed in the side of the hill, containing fresh water, and capable
of concealing three hundred men. There the Spanish cut out the steps,
and, in fact, had succeeded in reaching the fortress-walls, when a
woman perceived them, gave the alarm, and the citizens, hastening to
the spot, hurled them back. Such is the legend; so we must call it, for
it seems to me incredible that the Spanish should have hewn out these
obliquely-ascending small steps without being seen by the Bonifazians.
The monks of San Francesco cut out for themselves a stair of a similar
kind, by which to descend to bathe; but it too is for the most part worn

I am unlucky—the tunny is not caught at this season, and the
coral-fishers are not on the water, on account of the maestrale. The
strait is rich in corals, but the Corsicans leave the fishing to the
Genoese, the Tuscans, and the Neapolitans. These come in April, and
remain till September. I saw beautiful red corals in the shop of a
Genoese. They are sold by the weight, at three francs per ounce. The
greater part of the corals, which are worked in the manufactories of
Leghorn, comes from the Strait of Bonifazio. But ever since the French
discovered richer and better corals on the coast of Africa, the fishery
in the strait has declined. At the present day it is chiefly confined
to the shores of Propriano, Figari, and Ventilegne, where the tunny also
is particularly abundant.

After I had made myself well acquainted with the country and coasts
of Bonifazio, I prepared for my departure from this remarkable spot.
I had found the people of Bonifazio as Lorenzo had told me I should.
They are, properly speaking, no longer Corsicans. "We are poor," said
Lorenzo to me, "but we are industrious, and possess sufficient to supply
our wants. The olive grows in abundance on our limestone soil, the vine
yields enough for family use, and the air is salubrious. We are merry
and contented, and receive with grateful hearts the days God gives us
on our rock. When the poor man returns at sunset to his home, he always
finds wine to mix with his water, and oil with his fish, perhaps even
a bit of meat, and in summer always his melon."

I shall remember the hospitality of the Bonifazians with as much
gratitude as that of the Sartenese. In the morning before sunrise, when
I was about to start for Aleria, I found Lorenzo at the Gate, waiting
to wish me once more a good journey, and accompany me to the Marina.
Descending the rock in the light of the rising sun, I took leave of
this singular town with one of those scenes which, trifling though they
appear, are for ever imprinted on the memory. Under the gate, on the
edge of the rocky coast, there lies the little, unobtrusive chapel of
San Rocco, erected on the spot where the last victim of the plague of
1528 died. Descending the cliff, I looked right down upon this chapel.
The doors stood wide open, the priest officiated at the altar, on which
the waxen tapers were burning: before him, two rows of women were on
their knees worshipping; and before the door kneeled men and women on
the rock. The view from above, down into this calm, pious assemblage,
raised high above the strait, kneeling with the ruddy light of the
rising sun upon them, impressed me deeply; it seemed to me that I beheld
a picture of true devotion.




The localities from Bonifazio upwards, along the east coast, are lonely
and desolate. The road runs past the beautiful Gulf of San Manza to
Porto Vecchio, a distance of three leagues. By the way-side, at the
little village of Sotta, there lie the ruins of the old baronial castle
Campara, which tell a singular tale. In olden times dwelt here one
who was known as Orso Alemanno, or the German Bear. He had compelled
his vassals to yield him the horrible _jus primæ noctis_. When any
one married a wife, he had to lead his bride to the castle, and leave
her with the German Bear for a night; and, besides, he had to take to
the Bear the finest horse in his stable for him to ride upon. As the
years came and went, the chamber of the Baron was never empty, and his
stable was always full. A young man, by name Probetta, wished to marry
a beautiful maiden. Probetta was a daring horseman, and could skilfully
throw the lasso. He concealed the sling under his coat, and, mounting a
fine horse, rode in front of the Baron's castle—for he wished, he said,
to ride the beast up and down before Orso, to show him what a splendid
animal it was. The German Bear came out of his gate, and laughed with
joy, because he was to kiss the fairest of maidens and ride the best of
horses. As he stood there laughing and looking at Probetta, the youth
suddenly dashed past, threw the lasso round Orso, and rushed like a
storm down the hill, dragging Orso over the stones. And they pulled
down the baronial castle, and buried the German Bear in a dark spot.
But after a fear had passed away, some one thought to himself, What has
become of the dead Orso? and the people ran in haste to the spot where
they had buried him, and dug him up. And there flew out from the grave
a fly. And the fly flew into all the houses, and stung all the women;
and it became always bigger and bigger, and in the end became as big as
an ox, and stung everything in the whole country-side. Then no one knew
how they were to get rid of the ox-fly. But some one said that in Pisa
were miracle-doctors, who could cure all sorts of things. Then went they
to Pisa and fetched a miracle-doctor who could cure all sorts of things.

As soon as the doctor saw the great fly, he began to spread a plaster,
and spread 6000 Spanish fly-plasters, and rolled 100,000 pills. And the
6000 fly-plasters he laid on the fly, and the 100,000 pills he gave it
to swallow. Thereupon the fly became always smaller and smaller, and
when it had become as small as a right fly, it died. Then took they
a great bier and covered it with a snow-white cloth, and on the cloth
they laid the corpse of the fly. And all the women came together and
tore their hair and wept bitterly, because so proper a fly was dead; and
twelve men carried the fly on the bier to the churchyard, and gave it
a Christian burial. Thereafter they were delivered from the evil.—This
fine legend I have related in the words of the Corsican chronicler, up
to the appearance of the miracle-doctor on the scene, who is brought
from Pisa, and who simply kills the fly. The rest I have added.

Porto Vecchio is a little unwalled town, of about two thousand
inhabitants, lying on a gulf of the same name, the last which occurs on
the east coast. It is large and beautiful, and, as it lies opposite the
mainland of Italy, might be made of the highest importance. The Genoese
founded Porto Vecchio in order to ward off the piratical attacks of the
Saracens. They granted many privileges to colonists, to induce people to
settle there; but as the numerous marshes made the locality unhealthy,
fever began to rage, and Porto Vecchio was three times forsaken and left
desolate. Even at the present day, the whole of this large district is
one of the most uncultivated and most thinly peopled in all Corsica, and
is chiefly inhabited by deer and wild swine. Yet the soil is uncommonly
fertile. The surrounding country is rich in olives and vines. Porto
Vecchio itself is built on porphyritic rocks, which are visible on the
surface. I found it almost deserted, as it was August and half of the
inhabitants had fled to the hills.

Northward from this beautiful gulf, the coast runs in straight lines;
the mountain-chain is still visible on the left, till it recedes into
the interior in the district of Salenzara, and leaves behind it those
extensive plains which give to the east coast of Corsica an aspect so
different from that of the west. The whole west of the island is an
uninterrupted series of parallel valleys; the mountain-chains run into
the sea, terminating in promontories and enclosing splendid gulfs. The
east has none of this protending valley-structure; the land loses itself
in flats. The west of Corsica is romantic, picturesque, grand; the east
smooth, monotonous, melancholy. The eye here sweeps over leagues of
level country, seeking for villages, men, life, and discovers nothing
but heaths, dotted here and there with clumps of wild bushes, and
covered with morasses and ponds, extending far along the shore and the
land with gloom.

The good and always level road leads us next from Porto Vecchio to
the ancient Aleria—a day's journey. The grass grows on it a foot high.
In summer, the people fear to travel over it. Along the whole road I
met not a living soul. No village is to be met with along this dreary
route, only here and there a hamlet may be descried in the distance, far
among the hills. On the sea-coast, in such places as possess a little
harbour, a cala or landing-place, a few isolated and deserted houses may
be seen—as Porto Favone, to which the old Roman road ran, Fautea, Cala
di Tarco, Cala de Canelle, Cala de Coro, which also goes by the name
of Cala Moro or Moorish landing-place. Here, too, stand a few isolated
Genoese watch-towers.

All those houses were forsaken, and their windows and doors shut, for
the air is pestilential along the whole coast. The poor Lucchese perform
the little field-work there is to do. The Corsicans do not venture
down from the mountains. I am happy to say that I did not suffer from
the unwholesome atmosphere, but perhaps I may ascribe my escape to my
prudently following the example of my travelling companion, who snuffed
camphor—said to be a good antidote.

Furnished with a very meagre travelling-wallet, we soon ran short,
and hunger caused us considerable annoyance during this and half the
following day. Neither open house nor hostelry was anywhere to be found.
The pedestrian would here inevitably die of want, or be compelled to
take refuge in the hills, and wander about there for hours till the
fortunate discovery of some footpath led him to a herd's cabin. It is
a _strada morta_.

We cross the Taravo. From that point the series of ponds begins with
the long narrow Stagno di Palo. Then come the Stagno di Graduggine, the
ponds of Urbino and Siglione, the Stagno del Sale, and the beautiful
pond of Diana, which has retained its name since the time of the Romans.
Tongues of land separate these fish-abounding ponds from the sea, but
the most of them have an inlet. The fish found in them are famous—large
fat eels and huge ragnole. The fishermen catch them with rush nets.

From Taravo stretches far to the north a magnificent plain—the Fiumorbo
or the Canton Prunelli. Watered by rivers and bordered by numerous ponds
and by the sea, it resembles, when beheld from a distance, a boundless,
luxuriant garden lying by the sea-shore. But scarcely a rood of arable
land is visible; the fern covers an immeasurable extent of flat country.
It is very depressing to travel through so beautiful a plain, and see no
sign of life or cultivation. One cannot understand how the French should
have overlooked the colonization of these parts. Here the prosperity
of colonies would be more certain than in the life and money devouring
sands of Africa. There is room here for two populous towns of at least
50,000 inhabitants each. Colonies of industrious peasants and citizens
would soon convert the whole plain into a garden. Good drainage would
soon cause the morasses to disappear, and make the air wholesome.
There is not a finer strip of land in all Corsica, and none whose soil
would be more productive. The climate is milder and sunnier than that
of southern Tuscany; it might grow the sugar-cane, and grain would
certainly yield a hundred-fold. Only through colonization and industry,
which create demand and increase competition, could those Corsican
mountaineers be induced to leave their black mountain villages for the
plains, and cultivate the soil. Nature here, with the most lavish hand,
offers everything which can give birth to a great industrial life; the
hills are literally treasure-chambers of precious stones; the forests
yield pine, larch, and oak; there is no lack of medicinal springs also,
which might be conveyed to any part of the country. There is abundant
pasture for the most populous herds; and the unbroken succession of
mountain, plain, and the Italian sea, which swarms with fish, leaves
nothing to be desired.

To the coast, as it appears at the present day, the description which
Homer gives of the Cyclops Isle is strikingly appropriate; its soil is
represented by him as in the highest degree adapted for the cultivation
which it does not receive:—

     "For stretch'd beside the hoary ocean lie
     Green meadows moist, where vines would never fail;
     Light is the land, and they might yearly reap
     The tallest crops, so unctuous is the glebe;
     Safe is its haven also, where no need
     Of cable is, or anchor, or to lash
     The halser fast ashore: but, pushing in
     His bark, the mariner might there abide,
     Till rising gales should tempt him forth again."

As I gaze on these glorious plains, I cannot but admire the discernment
of the old Romans who planted the only colonies they had in Corsica just
on this spot.



As the traveller approaches the Fiumorbo river, he sees isolated
palatial mansions; some of them are the seats of French capitalists who
began imprudently, and became bankrupt. Others are mansions belonging
to rich domains, true earldoms in extent, as Migliacciaro in the Canton
Prunelli, which belongs to a French company, and was formerly a source
of revenue to the Genoese family of Fiesco.

The Fiumorbo, which takes its rise in the highest mountain range of
Corsica, disembogues above the Stagno di Graduggine. It takes the
name of "Blind River" from its course, for it moves like a blind man
circuitously through the plain, feeling out its way to the sea. The
country between it and the Tavignano is said to be the most fertile in

As the evening approached, the temperature changed with striking
rapidity, from the most sultry heat to a moist and foggy chillness.
In many parts the atmosphere was laden with miasma. I stumbled on
a gravestone by the roadside. It seemed erected in this solitude to
indicate a memorable spot. It was the monument of a road-contractor whom
a paesane shot, because he had an amour with a maiden whose suitor the
latter was. Nothing enchains the interest of men so powerfully as the
romance of the heart. A simple love-tragedy exercises the same power
over the fancy of the many, as a heroic deed, and its memory is often
preserved for centuries. It is a beautiful thing that the heart too
has its chronicle. The Corsicans are perfect devils of jealousy; they
avenge insulted love as they do blood. My fellow-traveller related to me
the following incidents:—"A young man had forsaken his betrothed, and
attached himself to another girl. One day he was sitting in the open
square of his village at a game of draughts. His rejected sweet-heart
approached, and after overwhelming him with a torrent of imprecations,
drew a pistol from her bosom and blew his brains out. Another forsaken
maiden had, on one occasion, said to her lover, 'If you ever desert me
for another, she will never be yours.' Two years passed away. The young
man led another maiden to the altar. As he left the church-door with
her, the girl whom he had forsaken shot him; and the people exclaimed,
'Evviva, may your countenance live!' The judge sentenced the maiden
to three months' imprisonment. Many youths sued for her hand, but none
desired the young widow of the murdered bridegroom."

The Corsican women, who sing such bloody songs of revenge, are capable
of carrying pistol and fucile, and fighting with them too, when there
is need. How often have they fought in the battles of their country,
spite of their husbands! They say that the victory of the Corsicans over
the French at Borgo, was, in a very great measure, owing to the heroic
daring of the women. They fought also in the battle of Ponte Nuovo;
and the bold wife of Giulio Francesco di Pastoreccia, who fought by
her husband's side during the battle, still lives in every mouth. She
had a hand-to-hand encounter with a French officer, conquered him, and
took him prisoner; but when she saw that the Corsicans were scattered
in flight, she gave him his freedom, saying, "Remember that a Corsican
woman overcame you, and restored to you your sword and your freedom."
These Corsican women are the heroines of Ariosto and Tasso realized.

Behind the Fiumorbo begins the river district of the Tavignano, which
disembogues at Aleria, under the pond of Diana. I was going to leave
the Vettura there, as I had a letter of introduction from a citizen
of Sartene, for _Casajanda_, a rich manor near Aleria, the property of
Captain Franceschetti, the son of the general who became so famous in
Murat's last days. Alas, Signor Franceschetti had gone to the mainland,
and I lost the pleasure of making the acquaintance of this energetic
man, and gaining information from him on many points. Meanwhile night
had set in, and we were near Aleria—Sulla's colony. From the road we
distinguished the dark rows of houses, and the fort on the hill by the
wayside; and in the hope of finding a locanda in the little town, but
with many misgivings, we ordered the vettura to wait, and walked towards
the entrance.

The scenery all round seemed to me to be truly _Sullanian_; a night
as still as the grave, a desolate plain under our feet reeking with
pestilential vapours, night-wrapt hills behind the fort, and the horizon
red as if with the firelight of burning towns, for the copsewoods all
round were blazing;—the little town itself dead and dark. At last a dog
began to bark and gave us hope, and soon the whole population of Aleria
came to meet us—two _doganieri_ namely, who were the only inhabitants of
the town. The people had fled to the hills to escape the malaria, and
every door was shut except that of the fort, in which the coast-guard
lay. We begged hospitality for the night, as the horses were unable
to proceed farther and there was no place in the vicinity which could
receive us. But these brave Sullanians refused our request, afraid
of incurring their captain's displeasure, and having to begin their
night-watch in an hour. We conjured them by the heavenly Virgin not to
drive us away and expose us to the night miasma, but to grant us shelter
in the fort. They were inexorable, however; and we turned back, at our
wit's end what to do—my companion very much annoyed, and I far from
pleased to think that I had been thus turned out of the first Roman
colony which my feet had trodden, and this spite of the two Cæsars[O]
who are my most particular friends. At length, the Sullanians were
visited by a touch of human pity, and came running after us, calling
out, _Entrate pure!_ With great satisfaction we entered the little fort,
a square building undefended by battery, rampart, or fosse, and groped
up the stone steps into the guardroom.

Not long after we had established ourselves here, the poor
coast-guardsmen flung their fuciles over their shoulders, and took
their way, accompanied by their dogs, to the pond of Diana, to lie in
wait for smugglers. Their service is a dangerous one; were they not
relieved every fifteen days, they would fall victims to the fever. I lay
down on the floor of the room and attempted to sleep, but the stifling
sultriness of the atmosphere was intolerable. I preferred returning to
the vettura and breathing the noxious air of the plains—it was at least
cooling. I spent a truly Sullanian night in this Aleria, in front of
the church in which Father Cyrnæus had been deacon, meditating on the
greatness of the Romans and their fall, and on those splendid Sullanian
banquets, at which there were pasties of fish-livers, and fountains of
costly sauces. It was a diabolical night, and more than once I sighed,
"_Aleria, Aleria, chi non ammazza vituperia_"—Aleria, Aleria, who
but a murderer would not curse thee!—for this is the verse with which
the Corsicans have stigmatized the place; and it seems to me highly
appropriate to a colony of Sulla.

The morning dawned. I jumped out of the vettura, and set about making
myself acquainted with the position of Aleria. The site is well
selected. The plain is commanded by a hill, from which there is a
splendid view of Diana's pond, the Stagno del Sale, the sea, and the
neighbouring islands. Fine mountain-cones enclose the panorama on
the land side. The morning was deliciously refreshing, the air full
of the transitory radiance of the early dawn, the view unlimited and
comprehensive, and the ground on which I stood, Roman—nay, more still,

The Aleria of the present day consists of only two houses, which lie
close to the Genoese fort. The ancient Aleria included several hills,
and extended down towards the bed of the Tavignano, as far as the plain;
at Diana's pond old iron rings still indicate the position of the town
harbour. I stroll towards the ruins hard by. All round, the hills are
strewn with stones—the ruins of walls and houses, but I find no remains
of ornamental architecture, neither capital nor frieze, nothing but
rude materials of a small size. Here and there may be seen remains
of arches, also a few steps belonging to what was once a circus, and
a ruin which the people call _casa reale_, and which is said to have
been the Prætor's house; but I do not know on what grounds, for the
remains tell nothing—there is nothing to indicate even the epoch. If one
might infer from the extent of ground which it seems to have covered,
Aleria must have been a town of about 20,000 inhabitants. Vases and
Roman coins have been found on the soil; some goat-herds informed me,
that three days before, some one had picked up a gold coin. One of the
coast-guard, returning to the fort, roused my curiosity to the utmost
by telling me that he had found two marble tablets, with inscriptions
on them which nobody could decypher. The tablets, he said, were shut
up in a house, but he had taken a copy of the inscription. He then drew
out his pocket-book; the inscriptions were in Latin, and copied by this
excellent archæologist in a style so truly Phœnician, that it was with
difficulty I could make out that the one was a votive-writing of the
time of Augustus, the other a monumental inscription.

That was all I found of the ancient Aleria.



     "Abenamar, Abenamar,
     Moro de la Moreria,
     El dia que tu naciste,
     Grandes senales avia."—_Moorish Romance._

It was at Aleria that, on the 12th of March 1736, Theodore von Neuhoff
disembarked, who was the first of a succession of Corsican _parvenus_,
who give a mediæval and romantic character to modern European history.

That morning in Aleria, I had a vision of that strange
knight-adventurer, as I had seen him represented in a still
unedited Genoese manuscript of the year 1739: "Accinelli,
Historico-geographico-political Memorials of the Kingdom of Corsica."
This MS. is in the possession of Mr. Santelli of Bastia, who willingly
permitted me to examine it, but refused to let me copy some original
letters, which, however, I procured elsewhere at a later period. The
spirit in which the Genoese has written his history may be gathered
from its motto, which describes the Corsicans thus: _Generatio prava
et exorbitans: Bestiae et universa pecora_—a wicked and depraved
generation—beasts and cattle all. The Genoese has stolen his motto from
the Bible. In his MS. he has painted Theodore in water-colours after
life, in Moorish dress, peruke, and small hat, heavy sabre and cane. He
stands gravely on the sea, and out of it an island is seen to project.

The portrait of Theodore of Corsica may also be found exquisitely drawn
in an old German book of the year 1736, which was published in Frankfort
under the following title: "An Account of the Life and Deeds of Baron
Theodore von Neuhoff, and of the Republic of Genoa so injured by him,
edited by Giovanni di S. Fiorenzo."

The vignette gives a full-length portrait of Theodore in Spanish
costume, with a very white beard. In the background may be seen an un
walled town, probably Bastia, before which are represented in the most
satisfactory style three men, one of whom hangs on a gallows, another
is impaled, and a third is in the act of being quartered.

The appearance of Theodore in Corsica, and his romantic election to
the sovereignty of the island, attracted the attention of all Europe at
the time. This may be gathered from the German book which I have just
referred to, and which made its appearance in the very year in which
that singular event occurred, 1736. As this volume is the only German
book which I have made use of in my Corsican studies, I shall transfer
some of it to these pages.

The following is the description it gives of the island of Corsica:
"Corsica is one of the largest islands of the Mediterranean sea, lying
above Sardinia. It is about twenty-five German miles long, and twelve
broad. On account of its atmosphere, it is not considered very healthy;
yet the land is pretty fertile, although varied by much hill-country,
and having many barren places. The inhabitants are famed for their
bravery and hardihood in war; but they are at the same time said to be
wicked, revengeful, cruel, and rapacious. Moreover, they go by the name
of coarse Corsicans—a character whose fitness I shall not here dispute."

The news of the landing of Theodore was, according to this little book,
communicated in letters from a correspondent in Bastia, dated the 5th
April. We shall quote from these letters.

"In the harbour of Aleria an English ship lately arrived, which is
said to belong to the consul of that nation at Tunis; and in it there
came a person, in outward appearance of high distinction, whom some
took to be a royal prince, others an English nobleman, and whom a few
supposed to be the Prince Ragotzy. This much is known, that he professes
the Romish religion and bears the name of Theodore. His dress is in
the fashion of the Christians who travel in Turkey, and consists of
a long scarlet furred coat, peruke and hat, with a cane and sword. He
has a retinue consisting of two officers, a secretary, a chaplain, a
lord high steward, a steward, cook, three slaves, and four lackeys:
in addition, he has brought with him out of Barbary ten cannons, above
7000 muskets, 2000 pairs of shoes, and a great quantity of provisions
of all kinds—among them 7000 sacks of grain, as well as several chests
full of gold and silver coins—among them a strong plate-chest with
silver handles, and full of whole and half zechins. The whole treasure
is reckoned to amount to two million pieces of eight. The leading
men among the Corsicans received him with great marks of honour, and
addressed him as Your Excellency, and gave him the titles of a viceroy.
He immediately made four of the Corsicans colonels, and assigned to
each a hundred pieces of eight per month; then he raised and equipped
four companies, and presented a musket, a pair of shoes, and a zechin
to every common soldier: a captain receives eleven pieces of eight per
month, but, when the companies shall be in a state of full efficiency,
he is to receive twenty-five. He has taken up his residence in the
episcopal palace at Campo Loro, before which four hundred men with two
cannons keep guard. It is rumoured that he means to go to Casinca, not
far from St. Pelegrino, and that he only waits for some large war-ships,
which, it is said, will arrive about the 15th of this month, in order
to attack the Genoese with all his forces by land and sea, and for this
purpose he means to raise many additional companies. It is confidently
affirmed that he has been sent by a Catholic potentate in Europe, who
means to support him in every way in all his undertakings; consequently,
at Genoa, they are in the greatest alarm, and look upon the supremacy of
the Genoese in this island to be as good as lost. We have just received
here some later intelligence, to the effect that the afore-mentioned
stranger regulates his household in a more and more regal style, and
is always accompanied to church by a body-guard; that he has appointed
one Hyacinth Paoli his treasurer, and has raised one of the most
distinguished men of Aleria to the rank of knight."

People were now naturally very eager to learn something about the
life and family of Theodore. His adventures and his connexions pointed
chiefly to romantic Spain and to Paris. The following letter, written to
a friend in Holland by a Westphalian nobleman, and quoted in the little
German book which we have referred to, will give us some information on
this point.



"SIR,—I have too great a pleasure in giving you satisfaction, as far as
it is in my power, not to be willing to impart to you all that is known
to me of the life of a man who now begins to make an appearance in the

"You have no doubt read in the newspapers that Theodore von Neuhoff,
on whom the Corsicans have conferred the crown, was born in Westphalia,
in a district belonging to the King of Prussia. This is true; and I can
the more easily confirm it, because he and I studied together, and for
some years lived in intimate friendship. The memory of those instances
which antiquity affords us of persons of moderate rank who have mounted
a throne has been almost entirely lost; but Kuli Cham in Persia, and
Neuhoff in Corsica revive such things in our own times. The latter was
born in Altena, a little town in Westphalia, whither his mother had gone
to pay a friendly visit to a nobleman, after she had prematurely lost
her husband, who died, leaving her a widow and pregnant with Theodore.

"His father was captain of the Bishop of Münster's body-guard; and his
grandfather, who had grown gray in arms, had commanded a regiment under
the great Bernhard von Galen. At the death of the father, the affairs of
the family were in great confusion; and had it not been for the activity
of a cousin, on whom their management devolved, they would have been in
a lamentable condition. When ten years old, he was put to the Jesuits'
College at Münster to prosecute his studies, and there he in a short
time made good progress. I entered the same college a year afterwards.
His father's estate bordered on ours, and we had from our earliest
childhood formed a friendship which became closer and stronger as we
grew older. He was of a size beyond his years, and his lively and fiery
eyes already indicated spirit and courage. He was very industrious, and
our teachers continually held him up to us as an example. This, which
in the other scholars gave rise to envy, gave me, on the contrary,
pleasure, and awoke in me a desire to emulate his industry. We remained
together six years at Münster. When my father heard of our intimacy,
he proposed not to separate us, but to make him my travelling companion
and give him the means of maintaining himself respectably.

"We were sent to Cologne to continue our studies. We seemed to have
been transported to a new world, for we were now freed from the limited
existence to which school tyranny had confined us, and began to taste
the sweetness of freedom. Perhaps, indeed, I should have misused it,
had not the good sense of my companion withheld me from every kind of
dissipation. We were boarded in the house of a professor, whose wife,
though somewhat in years, was of a cheerful disposition, and whose two
daughters, as lively as they were beautiful, united these two qualities
with a very prudent demeanour. After the evening meal, we generally
amused ourselves with games or walked in a garden which belonged to the
family, and which lay near the city gate.

This agreeable mode of life had lasted for about two years, when it
was disturbed by the arrival of the Count von M——, whom his father had
placed in the same house in which we lodged. He had a tutor, who was
a native of Cologne, a man who had for many years had private haunts
of his own, not perhaps of the most reputable kind, to which he was so
addicted that he neglected his pupil. As we saw that the young Count's
time frequently hung heavy on his hands, we were the first to make a
proposal to him to join our little society—an offer which he accepted
with pleasure.

"Theodore had always occupied a seat between the two sisters, and I one
between the younger and her mother. It was now necessary to make another
arrangement, and out of respect for the Count's rank, we yielded to
him the place hitherto occupied by the Baron von Neuhoff. I had often
observed that my companion looked with favour on the elder sister, and
that when their eyes chanced to meet, the fair one would change colour.
She was a noble-looking girl, with black eyes and an uncommonly fair
complexion. The count soon fell desperately in love with her, and as the
eyes of a lover are much keener than those of anybody else, Theodore
soon became conscious that he was doing all he could to ingratiate
himself with Mariana—such was the attractive maiden's name—and thereupon
he fell into deep and anxious reflection.

"'What is the matter with you, my dear friend?' I asked one evening
when we had retired. 'I have found you for some days quite wrapt up
in your own thoughts; you have no longer that vivacity which made your
conversation so agreeable; you must surely be the victim of some great
anxiety.' 'Ah, my dearest friend!' he replied, 'I was born under an
unlucky star; I have never known my father, and there is no one but you
to lighten the burden of my life, which, without you, would be still
more miserable than it is.'

"'But why these melancholy thoughts now more than at any other time?'
I rejoined. 'My father will care for your happiness, and you yourself
are able to win by your own talents whatever fortune has denied you.
Confess it, Theodore, it is something else which so disquiets you, and,
unless I am much mistaken, I fear that the beautiful eyes of Mariana
have already too deeply imprinted their image on your heart.'

"'I cannot deny it,' was his reply; 'and I have resolved to make a full
confession to you of all my weakness. You know how pleasantly we have
spent the last two years in the society of these amiable girls. From
the first day, I was conscious of Mariana's power over me; and while
I imagined that I entertained towards her nothing more than a tender
respect—I certainly intended nothing more—I now find that she has
inspired me with feelings of the warmest kind. The arrival of the young
Count has opened my eyes; I am too painfully aware of the attention
which he pays her, and the superiority of his birth over mine makes
me fear that he may find preference in the affections of the beautiful
Mariana. In the jealousy which I feel, I perceive how deeply I love her;
I forget to eat and drink; I spend the night sleeplessly; and this, in
addition to the passion which consumes me, is more than I can bear.'

"'But, my dear Theodore,' I said, 'how can you, so prudent in everything
else, let yourself be mastered by a feeling which can have no other than
melancholy consequences for you? Mariana is not of a rank to admit of
your marrying her, and she has too much virtue to be yours in any other
way. Let us change our residence; at a distance from the object which
inflames you, you will gradually lose the memory of it.' 'What you say
may be all very rational,' replied Theodore; 'but have you ever heard
that love reasons? And do you not know that in love, as in honour,
one takes nothing but his heart to counsel? It is as impossible that
I should tear myself from Mariana, as that I should forget myself; the
wound is already so deep that it can never be healed.' 'But what will
your friends say,' I continued, 'if you form so intimate a connexion
with this girl that no way is left to break it? Your fortunes depend
on them; they will not fail to withdraw their protection from you, and
deprive you of that inheritance which you may one day expect from them.'

"'They may do,' he said, 'what they please with me; I will never cease
to love the adorable Mariana!'

"We then wished each other good-night; I slept, but Theodore did not
spend the night so calmly. I found him in the morning so altered in
appearance by the sufferings of the past night, that I did not venture
to resume our conversation of the preceding evening. We turned to our
studies and exercises; and in the evening we found ourselves as usual
in the midst of our little society. He was bantered a little on account
of his wandering thoughts; he pleaded headache, and begged that they
would be so good as to excuse his not taking a part in the amusements.
During the evening, he watched the eyes of Mariana and the Count; he
imagined that he discovered a certain love-understanding between them,
and this drove him to utter despair. We retired; and as we entered our
room, he said, 'Well, do you still doubt the love which Mariana and the
Count cherish for each other? They have interchanged a hundred loving
looks; he whispered in her ear, too, as we came away; my misery is
too certain.' 'I have not observed all this,' I replied; 'jealousy has
perhaps exaggerated and distorted the most trivial occurrences.'

"Two or three days passed, during which our conversation frequently
turned to the same subject. Our professor gave us and some others a
party in his garden on the anniversary of Mariana's christening-day. The
Count, having been informed of the occasion of the party, had presented
Mariana in the morning with a bouquet and a costly diamond pin. It
needed nothing more to put Theodore beside himself; he fell into a
melancholy silence, and ate hardly anything; the headache had again to
come to his help; we rose from the table, and, after some promenading,
the ball began. The Count opened it with Mariana, who of course was the
queen of the ball. Theodore would not dance, but walked about the garden
the whole night. The ball lasted till morning, when we returned home.

"I went straight to my room; my comrade had remained in the court
below, and when he met his rival had compelled him to draw. I heard
the clash of swords, and ran down with all speed, but came too late;
he had already given his adversary a mortal wound, and escaped through
the back-door. You may conceive the grief and confusion which this deed
occasioned in the whole house. The poor Count was carried to his bed,
where he expired two hours after. Neither I nor any of his friends could
learn whither Theodore had gone; and we should never have discovered it
but for the letter which he wrote us from Corsica a few months ago."

What has come to our ears regarding the life of Theodore previously to
his arrival in Corsica, which, as we might expect from the nature of
the man, is uncertain and contradictory, shows him to have been one
of the most prominent and fortunate of the succession of adventurers
who figured in the eighteenth century. The appearance of such men
as Cagliostro, Saint Germain, Law, Theodore, Casanova, Königsmark is
a counterpoise to these genuinely great contemporaries, Washington,
Franklin, Paoli, Pitt, Frederick the Great, highly characteristic of
the epoch. While these are busy laying the foundations of a new order
of government and society, those, like fluttering storm-birds, give
indications of the mighty elemental commotions which were secretly
agitating the minds of that period.

It is said that Theodore von Neuhoff became a page in the family of the
famous Duchess of Orleans, and there formed himself to the complete
and adroit courtier. His Proteus-nature hurried him into the most
opposite extremes. In Paris, the Marquis of Courcillon procured him
an officer's commission. He became a passionate gambler; he then fled
from his creditors to Sweden, where he resided under the protection of
Baron von Görtz, and formed connexions successively with the intriguing
and adventurously ingenious ministers of that period—with Ripperda,
Alberoni, and, finally, with Law;—men who, more or less, transferred
into politics the same character of adventurer which distinguished our
hero in private life. Theodore became Alberoni's confidant, and gained
such great influence in Spain that he accumulated considerable property,
till Alberoni was overthrown, when he again came to the ground. He now
attached himself to Ripperda, and married one of the maids of honour in
the Spanish court. Elizabeth Farnese of Spain, an accomplished mistress
of every intrigue, had played a high game with a view to procure for
her son, Don Carlos, an Italian kingdom; all this was gone about in a
speculative and adventurous way. The world was then a great field for
adventurers, and full of _parvenus_, aspiring pretenders, visionaries,
and fortune-hunters. One may string together a whole list of them,
and this in the field of politics alone. Don Carlos of Spain, Charles
Stuart, Rakotzy, Stanislaus Leszcinski the creature of the great
adventurer Charles XII. of Sweden; and, in addition to the statesmen
already named, the _parvenus_ of Russia—a Menezikof, a Münnich, a Biron;
Mazeppa and Patkul, too, stand at the head of the long line. It was also
the epoch of female supremacy in Europe. We thus see on what ground our
Theodore von Neuhoff stood.

His wife was a Spaniard, but of Irish or English extraction, and a
relation of the Duke of Ormond. She does not seem to have been a paragon
of beauty. Theodore forsook her, and, one may suppose, not without
carrying off her jewels and other articles of value.

He went to Paris, where he had the skill to ingratiate himself with
Law; and, aided by the Mississippi bond-swindle, he managed to get
hold of a good deal of money. A _lettre de cachet_ again helped him to
recommence his wanderings; and so he dashed about every country in the
world, attempting everything; he made his appearance in England and
Holland among other places. In the last-mentioned place, he got up a
'speculation,' swindled, and ran into debt. How he came to Genoa, has
been related in the history of the Corsicans; perhaps his immense debts
made a crown very desirable. And so we have the exciting drama of a man
being suddenly elevated to a throne, who, a short time before, counted
his very tailor among his creditors. Such things are possible at a
period in which the foundations of political and social order are deeply
shaken; in such times romantic breezes are continually blowing through
the world, and the apparently impossible may any day become the real.

We know that Theodore came to Genoa, formed connexions with the exiled
Corsicans there and in Leghorn, conceived the idea of becoming King of
Corsica, and went to Tunis. In Barbary he was imprisoned; and in memory
of this, he at a later period assumed a chain in his royal arms. His
inventive genius not only freed him from his prison, but helped him
to procure all the necessaries requisite for the descent upon Corsica.
Scarcely out of a prison he became a king.

From Corsica, he wrote the following letter to his Westphalian cousin,
Herr von Drost. This letter I found printed as an authentic state-paper
in the third volume of Cambiaggi, and read it, as well as all the other
documents I give here, in the MS. of the Genoese Accinelli. The little
German book, to which I have more than once referred, likewise quotes
it; and I will repeat it here, following the German text instead of
translating it from the Italian, as it may possibly be the composition
of Theodore himself.

"MY RESPECTED COUSIN,—The regard and kindness which you continually
showed me, from my tenderest youth up, make me hope that you still
honour me with a place in your memory and heart. Although I—on account
of the confusion and derangement of my affairs caused by certain
enemies, and perhaps, too, on account of my own natural inclination
and desire to travel about without maintaining any communication with
my former friends, with the view, as I hoped, of being one day useful
to my fellow-men—have let slip so many years without informing you
of my condition; yet I pray you to believe that you have been always
present in my memory, and that I have had no other ambition but to
return to my fatherland, as soon as I could do so in a position to
show my gratitude towards my benefactors and friends, and to crush
the unjust calumnies which have been spread abroad regarding me. Now,
however, I cannot, as a sincere friend and good relation, omit this
opportunity of letting you know that it has been my fortune, after many
persecutions and adversities, to come personally to this kingdom of
Corsica, and to accept the offer of the faithful inhabitants here, who
have elected and proclaimed me their captain and king. For, inasmuch as
I, after having for two years been at great expense on their account
and having suffered imprisonment and persecution, was no longer in a
position to prosecute further travels, with the view of freeing them
from the tyrannous rule of the Genoese; I at last betook myself hither
in accordance with their desire, and became recognised and proclaimed
as their king: and I hope, by God's help, to maintain myself as such.
I would consider myself happy, my worthy cousin, if you would do me the
pleasure and consolation of sending to me some of my friends, in order
that I might give them such employment as they might desire, and share
my good fortune with them—which good fortune I, through the advantages
which I have obtained in my travels and through God's help, hope to use
still more triumphantly than hitherto to the honour of God and the great
good of my fellow-men. It will not be known to you, that a year ago I
had the misfortune to be captured on the sea, and taken to Algiers as
a slave. I was able, however, to deliver myself from bondage, having
suffered nevertheless great loss, &c. I must postpone to another time
informing you of what I have, by the grace of God, accomplished; and for
the present only beg that you will count upon me as confidently as upon
yourself, and be assured that I retain deeply engraven on my heart the
sincere tokens of friendship shown to me by you in such large measure
from my youth up; and that I will exert myself in every way to give you
substantial marks of the grateful attachment wherewith I shall be always
devoted to you—whilst I remain yours, with my whole heart, and a true
friend and cousin,

                                                  "THE BARON VON NEUHOFF,
             "King of Corsica by election, under the title of Theodore I.

     "_March 18, 1736._"

"_P.S._—I beg you will give me information of your condition, and greet
all worthy families and friends from me; and inasmuch as my exaltation
tends to their honour, I hope they will all together help to advance my
interests, and come hither to aid me with their counsel and their deeds.
Whereas, too, no letters have for many years been received by my friends
of Brandenburg, allow me to send to you the accompanying letter, with
the request that you will forward it to Bungelschild; and send me word
whether my uncle is still alive, and what my cousins at Rauschenberg
are about."



Scarcely had Theodore set foot in Corsica, and become famous in the
world, than the Republic of Genoa issued a manifesto, wherein they
animadverted on him very severely; "and the Genoese," says the little
German book, "in an edict, describe Theodore very severely."

They describe him very severely indeed, as witness what follows:—

"We, the Doge, the Governors, and Procurators of the Republic of Genoa—

"Whereas we have been informed that a small merchantman, belonging
to the English Captain Dick, has disembarked in the port of Aleria
in our kingdom of Corsica munitions of war, and a certain notorious,
orientally-clad person, who, in an inconceivable manner, was successful
in making himself acceptable to the chiefs and the people; whereas this
stranger distributed among them arms, powder, and some gold pieces, as
well as other things; and whereas also, he, with the promise of more
than adequate help, gives them various counsels that disturb the peace,
which we are anxious to restore for the sake of the well-being of our
subjects in the said kingdom: we have taken means to gain information
from trustworthy sources regarding the real character and life of this
man. Accordingly, it has become known to us that he is from the province
of Westphalia; that he gives himself out as the Baron von Neuhoff; that
he pretends to a knowledge of alchymy, of the Kabbala, and of astrology,
by whose help he has discovered, he says, many important secrets;
further, that he has become notorious as a wandering and vagabond person
of little fortune.

"In Corsica he goes by the name of Theodore. In 1729 he went under this
name to Paris, where he deserted his child and wife, a lady of Irish
extraction whom he married in Spain.

"While travelling through various parts of the world, he has assumed
a false name, and denied his birthplace. In London he gave himself out
for a German, in Leghorn for an Englishman, in Genoa for a Swede, and
he has assumed successively the names of Baron von Naxaer, von Smihmer,
von Nissen, and von Smitberg, as appears, along with much beside, from
his passes and other authentic writings, dated from various cities and
still preserved.

"By so changing his name and residence, he succeeded, by his fraudulent
practices, in living at the cost of others; and it is well known that in
Spain, about the year 1727, he embezzled the money advanced to him for
the purpose of levying a German regiment, and then absconded; and that
he also in other ways and in many places has cheated English, French,
Germans, and men of other nations.

"Wherever he has practised such tricks, he has laboured to remain
concealed. But after his departure he has become notorious on account of
his various impositions, as is more especially shown by a letter written
by a German cavalier on the 20th day of February of this year.

"That such has been his habitual mode of life, is apparent from the
fact that some years ago he borrowed five hundred and fifteen gold
pieces from the banker Jaback in Leghorn, with a promise to repay them
in Cologne. After the latter saw that he had been deceived, he had him
arrested. In order to regain his liberty, he made use of the captain
of a vessel whom he entrapped into being surety for him; and after his
liberation through the deed drawn up at Leghorn by the notary Gumano,
dated Sept. 6. 1735, had become known, he was received into the hospital
of the aforesaid town to receive medical aid as a pauper, as he had been
very ill during the period of his imprisonment.

"About three months ago he left Leghorn and betook himself to Tunis
with letters of introduction, and there he acted the physician and held
several secret conferences with the leading men of that infidel land.
There, too, he afterwards procured arms and munitions of war with which
he next went to Corsica, in company with Christophorus the brother of
Bonngiorno a physician of Tunis, three Turks among whom was one Mahomet
who had been a slave in the Tuscan galleys, two runaway Livornese—Johann
Attimann and Giovanni Bondelli by name, and a Portuguese priest who, at
the instance of the mission-fathers in Tunis, and on good grounds, had
been compelled to quit that town.

"In such circumstances, and with such indubitable testimonies,
and whereas this man has usurped the sovereignty of Corsica, and
consequently attempts wickedly to turn aside our subjects from the
obedience due to their natural princes; and whereas likewise it is to
be feared that a person of such infamous designs is likely to contrive
still more confusions and disturbances amongst our people, we have
resolved to make everything open and public, and to proclaim, as we now
do in the present edict, that this so-called Baron Theodore von Neuhoff,
as being an undoubted originator of insurrections, a seducer of the
people, and a disturber of the common peace, is guilty of the crime of
high treason, and has consequently incurred all the penalties ordained
by our laws for that offence.

"Therefore, we forbid all to maintain intercourse or communication with
the said person, and we declare all those who give him assistance or in
any other way join the party of this man in order still more to disturb
our people and incite them to revolt, to be in like manner guilty of
high treason, and disturbers of the public peace, and to have incurred
the same penalties.

"Given at our Royal Palace on the 9th May 1736.

                                    (Signed)           "JOSEPH MARIA."

This manifesto of the Genoese Republic had no effect. Even in their
own town of Bastia the people wrote under it—_Evviva Teodoro I. Re
di Corsica_; and Theodore, so far from being ashamed of his _parvenu_
character, said with manly humour: "Since the Genoese stigmatize me as
an adventurer and charlatan, I shall lose no time in erecting my theatre
in Bastia."

He meanwhile issued a manifesto in reply to the Genoese, a very charming

"THEODORUS, KING OF CORSICA,—To the Doge and Senate at Genoa his
greeting and much patience.

"It has not till now occurred to me that I have committed a sin of
omission in not having made known to your Highnesses my intention of
removing to Corsica: to speak the truth, I considered such formality
unnecessary, thinking that rumour would quickly inform you thereof. I
indeed considered it quite superfluous to acquaint you with a trifle
like this, as I felt persuaded that your Corsican Commissioner had
already told you all about it in a pompous enough narrative.

"Since, however, I now discover that you have been complaining that
I kept silence about my intentions, I feel myself constrained, as a
dutiful citizen, to announce to you, as one friendly neighbour is in
the habit of doing to another, that I have changed my residence. I
must therefore take the liberty to observe that I—disgusted with the
long and many wanderings which, as you are aware, have occupied my past
life—have at last come to the conclusion to select for myself a little
place in Corsica; and since this place happens to lie in your vicinity,
I take the liberty now to pay you in writing my first visit of ceremony.
Your present delegate at Bastia, if he does not deceive you like his
predecessor, will be able to assure you of my particular exertions to
send to the said town an adequate number of troops in order to pay my
respects to you in a way which may give the fullest publicity to our
new neighbourhood.

"Inasmuch as, however, the departure of one neighbour from another
often gives rise to criticism, or it may be even disputes, on account of
the difficulty of settling boundary lines, I will refrain from further
compliments and immediately talk with you about our concerns; and I do
so all the more willingly that I have heard from various quarters that
our new neighbourhood is very disagreeable to you, that you bitterly
inveigh against it, and, indeed, in defiance of every law of etiquette,
entirely repudiate it. The declaration made by you that your neighbour
is a disturber of the common peace, and a seducer of the people, is
a most barefaced lie, promulgated as the truth not only in one or two
places, but in the face of the whole world, although everybody knows
that peace and quiet have been these seven years entirely banished out
of Corsica, and that you yourselves were the first to disturb them by
your tyrannous and unjust rule, and then by your cruelty to extinguish
them entirely. The state-maxims according to which you have acted have,
under the pretence of promoting peace, bathed the poor Corsicans in a
sea of blood.

"This has been your conduct, and in this way have you chased peace
and quiet out of Corsica after it had been with such great difficulty
restored by the Emperor. Your wicked and stubborn Pinelli misled the
people, and such is the condition in which I find it after having
lived here for only a few days. Why is the guilt of your crimes rolled
over upon me? In what law is it written that so simple and innocent
a neighbour as I am can be guilty of high treason? Treason supposes a
friendship broken by the lowest crimes, and those crimes perpetrated
under the pretext of friendship. Grant that you were by me grievously
injured, what friendship has ever existed between us two? when was I
your friend? Heaven prevent me from sinking so low as to be the friend
of a nation which has so few friends!

"Further, you would fain with all your might demonstrate that I have
committed the crime of high treason against royalty! The very thought of
so horrible an offence at first made me tremble. But after having made
earnest inquiries regarding the place from which your Majesty comes,
I have at last regained my peace of mind, as I could nowhere discover
what I was in search of. Tell me, have you inherited this Majesty from
your Doges, or pirated it upon the high seas at the time you gave up
your city as a place of resort for the Mahometans, and through greed of
gain, drew so many Turks to your country that they almost threatened to
overwhelm the whole of Christendom? Perhaps you brought this Majesty
out of Spain on your back, or it may be that it found its way to your
country in a ship from England, which was consigned by an English
merchant to one of your countrymen who had just been elected Doge, and
which, as you remember, brought a letter the address of which ran thus:
'To Monsieur N.N., Doge of Genoa, and Dealer in General Wares.'

"Tell me, in Heaven's name, whence you have obtained the dignity of a
monarchy and the title of royalty, when the fact is that your Republic
has, in bygone times, been nothing but a corporation of gain-greedy
pirates? For these many centuries have any had a seat in your councils
save such as held civic offices? Is it from them that you have got 'your
Majesty?' Is not even the name of Duke, which you give to your Doge,
an improper title? I am assured that the laws and fundamental articles
of your Republic are so constructed that no one can be prince save the
law itself, and you consequently, as the organs and administrators of
it, improperly assume to yourselves the name of 'sovereign;' and the
people are with as little propriety called subjects, since they must
rule conjointly with you, as is in fact the case. Although you still
remain in peaceful possession of your country, which is much more than
you deserve, yet I am not able to see that it must therefore go equally
well with you in Corsica, where the people, having their eyes open,
stand by their just demands, and feel themselves constrained to throw
the yoke from their neck. I, for my part, am firmly resolved to act as
reason and love of justice prompt. And because you have proclaimed me
through the whole world as a deceiver of all and every nation, I have
now proposed to myself to demonstrate the contrary by deed in the case
of one nation at least, and that, the oppressed Corsicans. As often as
I can deceive you, by undeceiving you as to the estimate you put on my
character, I shall do so with more than ordinary pleasure, and give you
permission to do the like to me—when you can.

"Meanwhile, rest assured that my creditors will get your property;
because those effects of yours, which the Corsicans have legally
presented to me, more than suffice for the payment of my debts. Yet
it would grieve me much if I should be unable to give a sufficient
equivalent to your Republic, for the severity it has exercised towards
this kingdom; because no payment seems to be great enough as a requital
for this.

"Let me not forget likewise herewith to inform you—what, however, you
will I daresay have heard—that my progress has been so triumphant, that
I have now as many troops in pay as will suffice to show that I am not
only able to live at the expense of others, but clever enough to support
a thousand men at my own cost. Whether these get their full pay and
rations let those heroic soldiers testify, who keep themselves shut up
within the walls of Bastia, because they have not the courage to come
out into the open field, in order that one may look at them a little

"As to other matters, I assure you that, however much you exert
yourselves to asperse my good name in the eyes of the world, I do not
fear its having the impression which you imagine on the people here; and
I do not doubt but that the ducats which they have got will have a much
more powerful effect than all the calumnies which you are perpetually
inventing against my person. Still, I must beg you to do me a favour,
namely, that in the battles likely to take place between my troops and
yours, some of your countrymen may show who it is that commands them,
because the heroism which true-hearted citizens must cherish for their
fatherland cannot fail to be met with in men such as they are. But I
believe that I am not likely to obtain the fulfilment of my request;
because, what with their bills of exchange, commercial transactions, and
trades, they have so much to do that the spirit of valour can find no
place among them. On this account I do not at all expect that you will
ever acquire honour with your soldiers; because those who should be at
their head possess neither time nor bravery enough to lead them into
the field, as the men of other high-souled nations do.

"Given in the camp before Bastia, July 10, 1736.

                                                       "SEBASTIANO CORSA,
                 "Secretary of State and High Chancellor of the Kingdom."

This savagely-satirical document must certainly have deeply wounded the
Genoese Republic. But such is the course of events; the proud mistress
of the seas was now sunk low—a little nation not far from her gates made
her tremble—a foreign adventurer mocked her with impunity.

The conditions of coronation were finally drawn up and signed at
Alesani, on the 15th April 1736; Theodore was elected king of Corsica
for the period of his natural life; after him the crown was to descend
to his male issue, in the order of birth, and, failing male heirs of his
body, his daughters were declared capable of succession. If he had no
direct heirs, then his nearest relation was to succeed to the throne.
But the Corsicans, after all, gave only the title to their king; they
preserved their constitution entire.

I have not heard that the new ruler thought of giving the country
a queen; perhaps there was no time. He took up his quarters in the
Episcopal house at Cervione, and conducted everything in quite a regal
style, so far as all outward ceremonies were concerned; surrounded
himself with guards and all princely ceremonial, and played the king as
well as if he had been born in the purple. We know that he introduced a
magnificently sounding court-state, and, as befits a noble king, created
counts, marquises, barons, and court officers of the most ostentatious
kind. Men and their passions are everywhere the same. One may feel
himself a king in the dirty room of a village house, just as well as in
the state-rooms of the Louvre, and a Duke of Marmalade or Chocolade,
in the court of a negro king, will wear his title with scarcely less
pride than a Duke of Alba. In Cervione, as elsewhere, men might be
seen pressing eagerly forward to warm themselves in the beams of the
new sun, craving title, and desirous of the royal favour. In a dirty
mountain-hamlet, in a black and storm-battered house, which was now a
royal palace, because so it was called, ambition and intrigue played
their part quite as well as in any other court in the world.

One of the acts of Theodore's sovereign prerogative was the institution
of a knightly Order—for a king must dispense orders. As I have related
elsewhere, it was called the Order of Liberation. The knights looked
very magnificent. They wore an azure-blue gown and a cross; in the
middle of the cross was a star of enamel and gold, and therein the
figure of Justice with a balance in her hand. Under the balance a
triangle might be seen, in the middle of which was a T; in the other
hand Justice held a sword, under which one could perceive a ball
surmounted by a cross. In addition to all this, the arms of the royal
family were forced into the corner of the decoration. Every knight
of the Order of Liberation had to swear obedience to the king by land
and water. Daily, moreover, he had to sing two psalms, the fortieth,
"The Lord is our refuge;" and the seventieth, "In thee, O Lord, have I

The now very rare coins of gold, silver, and copper, issued by Theodore,
show on one side his bust with the circumscription: _Theodorus D. G.
unanimi consensu electus Rex et Princeps regni Corsici_—on the other
side the words: _Prudentia et Industria vincitur Tyrannis_. On other
coins a crown upborne by three palm-trees may be seen on one side
with the letters T. R., and on the reverse the words _Pro bono publico

Theodore gave the necessary amount of court business to the executioner,
and had many a man executed because he seemed to him dangerous. He gave
particular offence to his subjects by ordering Luccioni de Casacciolo,
a distinguished Corsican, to be put to death; and at another time, too,
he was reproached with having made an attempt on the virtue of a young
Corsican girl, a licence which was not to be found in the conditions of
coronation. But for a couple of years the Corsicans clung to him with
great fidelity. These poor people had, like the Jews of old, in their
despair longed for a king, who should deliver them from the Philistines.
On the first occasion of his leaving them, their fidelity continued
unshaken; and as a mark of confidence, they issued the following

"We, Don Luis Marchese Giafferi, and Don Giacinto Marchese Paoli,
the Prime Minister and the General of his Majesty King Theodore our

"Scarcely had we received the letter of King Theodore I., our Sovereign,
when we, in obedience to his commands, summoned to Parliament all the
people of the provinces, towns, villages, and forts in the kingdom,
in order to hold a General Assembly respecting the regulations and
commands of our aforesaid Sovereign. The assembly was general; they
came from one side of the hills as well as from the other. All received
with satisfaction and submission the commands of his Majesty, towards
whom they unanimously renewed the oath of fidelity and obedience, as
towards their legitimate and supreme Lord. They have in like manner
confirmed his election to be king of Corsica, and have ratified the law
which secured it to him and his descendants for ever, as already in the
convention of Alesano it was unalterably decreed.

"To the end that all whom it may concern, and, in fine, the world, may
know that we will continually preserve an inviolable fidelity to the
royal person of Theodore the First, and that we are resolved, as his
subjects, to live and die for him, and never to recognise any other Lord
except him and his legitimate descendants: we do now again swear on the
Holy Evangel to keep the oath of fidelity in every part, in the name of
the people here assembled.

"And in order that the present act may have all power and requisite
authenticity, we have ordered it to be registered in the Chancery of the
kingdom, and have signed it with our own hands, and confirmed it with
the seal of the kingdom.—Given in Parliament, Dec. 27, 1737."

Similar declarations were repeated also in the year 1739, when Theodore
again landed in Corsica in the midst of great popular rejoicings. On
his way back to the island, he narrowly escaped being burnt alive. A
German, Captain Wigmanshausen, who commanded his ship, had been bribed
by the Genoese to blow it up during the night. Theodore awoke several
times with a sensation as if he were being burnt alive. His suspicions
were at last roused, and going into the captain's cabin, accompanied by
three of his attendants, he found him busy making preparations to set
fire to the powder-magazine. King Theodore sentenced him on the spot to
be burnt, but afterwards changed the punishment to hanging on the ship's
mast; and the sentence was immediately executed. Thus it happened, that
Theodore, in his short royal career, among other kingly experiences,
nearly fell a victim to an attempt upon his life.

Theodore's further fortunes in Corsica are already known to us. After
attempting in vain to regain his island-crown, he returned to England.
He left behind him a wonderful life-dream, in which he had once beheld
himself on a semi-barbarous island, with a crown upon his head, and a
sceptre in his hand—marquises, counts, barons, cavaliers, chancellors,
and keepers of the Great Seal, around him:—now, he sat melancholy
and a beggar in the London debtor's prison, and, as he thought on
the king-romance of his changeful wandering life, complained no less
bitterly and with no less suffering, that it should now be his fate to
pine away a captive in the hands of English shopkeepers, than Napoleon
did at a later period in the English prison of St. Helena. Theodore,
too, had been a king; he, too, was fallen greatness, a tragic personage.
The Minister Walpole opened a subscription to aid the poor king of the
Corsicans, and in this way he was freed from confinement. As a mark of
gratitude, Theodore sent him the Great Seal of his kingdom. Like Paoli
and Napoleon, he died on the soil of England in the year 1756. He lies
buried in Westminster churchyard.

He was a man of wonderful daring, of a singular ingenuity, inexhaustible
in plans, more persevering than his singular fortune was steady; and of
all bold adventurers we may call him the most praiseworthy, because he
employed his head and hand in defence of the freedom of a brave people.
The greatest extremes in human life—royalty, and a debtor's prison in
which he had scarcely bread to eat, were among his bitter experiences.
We Germans will willingly give the poor man a place among the braves of
our nation; and I raise this little memorial to my bold countryman, to
revive his memory among us.



     Era già l'ora che volge 'l disio,
     A' naviganti, e 'ntenerisce il cuore
     Lo dì  ch' han detto a' dolci amici a Dio.—DANTE.

The paese of Cervione lies northward from Aleria, on the slope of
the hill. I wish that I had visited it, and this desire is now my
punishment for neglecting the opportunity of doing so when it was in my
power; for although it contains nothing worth seeing, it was the royal
residence of Theodore. It happens at times that one is afflicted with
the travelling-sickness to such an extent, that with a sleepy eye he
passes heedlessly over many interesting objects. I just got a glimpse
of Cervione on the height, and gave it up for the ruins of Mariana.

Northward from Cervione, the Colo River disembogues—the largest stream
in the island, watering numerous valleys in its course. The heat of
summer had almost dried it up. All around, the stream has at various
times overflowed on the extensive flats of Mariana, or Marana as the
Corsicans now call it. Here, on the left bank of the river, stood the
second Roman colony: Marius founded it. It is remarkable that in this
bloody land of the Corsicans the two great avengers and deadly foes,
Marius and Sulla, must needs have planted colonies. Their terrible
names, which perpetuate the memory of the most horrible cruelties of
civil war and intestine revolution, cast a deeper shade of gloom over
the already gloomy and oppressive air of Corsica.

I sought for the ruins of Mariana. They lie towards the sea-shore,
a league from the highway. As at Aleria, I found here a wide extent
of level ground everywhere covered with the debris of walls. It is
melancholy to wander over such ground—one cannot but reflect that these
stones once constituted a city, in which the life of many centuries
dwelt. Fain would one take Amphion's lyre and try, by the magic power
of melody, to reconstruct the fragments, and have one peep at the town
and the citizens as they were. What kind of people? to what epoch did
they belong? The ruins of Mariana tell even less than those of Aleria:
they do not afford materials even for fixing the date of the town's
existence. It flatters the Corsican if the stranger finds in those
stones the remains of Roman buildings; and in pleasing self-delusion,
the traveller may sit down on one of these ruinous heaps and think of
Marius sitting on the ruins of Carthage, and mourning the fall of that
mighty city. The remains of two churches are the only objects which
attract attention. They are the most remarkable mediæval remains in
Corsica. The first and smaller must have been a handsome chapel—its
long nave is still in good preservation. It has a pulpit ornamented
on the outside by six semicircular pillars of the Corinthian order.
There are sculptures of very simple workmanship on the entablature of
the side entrance. A mile farther on, lie the beautiful remains of a
larger church, the nave of which is also still standing. It is called
the Canonica, a cathedral church, consisting of three naves, with rows
of ornamental pillars of the Doric order, and on each side a pulpit of
the Gothic chapel-architecture. The central nave is 110 feet long and
fifty broad. The façade is very much injured, and of the Pisan style.
There are sculptures on the arch of the portal—griffins, dogs hunting a
stag, and a lamb—of such wretched execution that it might belong to the
eighteenth century. It is said that this Canonica was a Roman temple,
which the Mahometans converted into a mosque, and the Christians in
their turn into a church, after Hugo Colonna had won Mariana from the
Moors. It is easy to see that the building has been at some past time
restored, but it does not follow that it was originally Roman. On the
contrary, it bears throughout the appearance of a cathedral church
erected by the Pisans. Its forms are exquisitely pure, noble and simple,
and of the finest symmetry; and this, along with the perfect purity of
the Corsican marble with which the church is covered, certainly gives
it all the appearance of a piece of ancient architecture.

When I entered the interior of the church, the community of worshippers
whom I found there on their knees took me by surprise. They were
thriving wild-trees, which stood in rows behind one another across
the nave, and quietly flourished in this retired spot. A he-goat with
a venerable beard stood right before the altar, and seemed to have
forgotten his food and to be lost in religious contemplation. The
herds were in the habit of pasturing their goats in the vicinity of the
Canonica. I inquired about coins, but without success, although here,
as well as in other parts of Corsica, a great many imperial ones have
been found—with which, indeed, half the world is blessed. From this old
Marian colony, which was planted at an earlier period than Aleria—and
which must have been a colony of citizens, and not of soldiers like
Sulla's—the only Roman road in Corsica ran by Aleria to Præsidium, and
thence to Portus Favoni, terminating in Palæ situated on the strait now
called Bonifazio. The island in those times was even more pathless than
in the present day, and the Romans never penetrated into the interior
of the hill-country.

Bastia is again visible in the distance, and the circle of my wanderings
is completed. To the left lie the blood-drenched hills of Borgo, where
many a battle has been fought, and where the Corsicans won their last
victory over their French oppressors. In the distance shimmers the
still, picturesque Stagno di Biguglia, and above stands Biguglia itself,
once the head-quarters of the Genoese governors. The old castle now
lies level with the ground. The last village before reaching Bastia is
Furiani. Its gray keep is in ruins; the ivy and the white wood-vine
cover its black walls with the most luxuriant green. Once more the
eye turns from this spot to gaze on the lovely Goloebne, and far away
towards the misty blue hills, which from out the interior of the island
send a farewell greeting from their cloud-capt summits. A beautiful and
healthy pilgrimage is now completed. And here the traveller stands still
in pleasing retrospect, and thanks the good Powers who have been with
him by the way. Yet it is difficult for the heart to tear itself away
from this wonderful island. It has now become like a friend to me. The
calm valleys, with their olive-groves; the enchanting gulfs; the fresh,
breezy hills, with their fountains and their pine-covered summits;
towns and villages, and their hospitable inhabitants,—much have they
contributed to the mind and heart of the stranger, much that will not
soon be forgotten.

Still once more, that Corsican reclining under the old olive-tree
yonder, calls up before me the land and its people.


     Wild mountaineer of Corsica, why laid
     In idle dreams beneath the olive shade?
     With gun in hand, supinely outstretch'd there,
     Gazing half-conscious on the glitt'ring air?
     Thy hungry child, in gloomy dwelling pent,
     Weeps with his mother o'er her spinning bent;
     They weep, their toil unceasing and untold,
     Their chamber empty and their hearth-stone cold.
       Yet thou can'st falcon-like perch idly there,
       And scorn to cultivate that valley fair,
       To sow the golden seed in fertile ground,
       And train the clust'ring vine thy walls around.
       Look, look below thee, where the sunny plain,
       Stretches away to yon blue mountain-chain,
       And slopes down smiling to the very main:
       A Paradise where living streams abound;—
       Yet there the rude Albatro chokes the ground,
       The myrtle revels in its empire wide,
       Tall ferns and heather flourish side by side,
       And black-hair'd goats the summer-crop divide.
       The Golo creeps along its swampy bed,
       Whose tainted vapour thro' the air is spread,
       Sapping the fisher's life from day to day,
       While amply furnishing his finny prey.
       The lonely wand'rer at each onward tread,
       Sees heath-birds rise and wheel about his head;
       Finds ruin'd fragments of a nobler past—
       Traces of Rome, to dust decaying fast.
       Up, then, thou Corsican, from dull repose,
       Arise and seize thine axe, and deal thy blows;
       Take spade and mattock, till the ground, and see
       A golden-fruited garden smile on thee!


     Stranger, whose fathers I have taught to yield,—
     Witness the graves on Calenzana's field—
     Why break my rest? Two thousand years of fight
     Have seen me struggle for my free-born right:
     Have watch'd my desperate, unyielding stand,
     'Gainst each invader of my native land.
     Those Roman bands, whose traces still you see,
     At Col di Tenda were compell'd to flee;
     Hasdrubal's force I roll'd back to the strand,
     Etruria's army scatter'd as the sand.
     The Moor in quest of booty sought my bay,
     He seized my children, bore my wife away,
     Pillaged my fields, and wrapt my house in flame—
     We met, we wrestled, and I overcame!
     Again the battle-summons strikes my ear,
     Hordes of fresh foes upon our isle appear
     Lombards and Turks and Arragon's proud sons,—
     Again my hand is raised—my life-blood runs!
     Again I see my roof-tree overthrown;
     I weep not—Liberty is still my own!
     Then Genoa came—be curse on curse up-piled!
     'Twas Italy herself that chain'd her child!
     Mourn'st thou my country's aspect—waste tho' fair—
     Harbours deserted, meadow-lands left bare,
     Ivy-clothed buildings falling to decay?
     Be sure that Genoa has there held sway!
     Hear'st thou the mandoline by yonder sea,
     Blend with the solemn Dirge's melody?
     Seem the chords struck by sorrow and by pain?
     Be sure that Genoa awoke the strain!
     Echo the mountains to the rifle's crack,
     Lies bathed in blood the victim in thy track;
     Dost shudd'ring view the deed by vengeance wrought?
     Be sure that Genoa the lesson taught!
     Part of our wrongs thou'st heard—now hear with glee,
     The grave of Genoa has been dug by me!
     Ay, should'st thou e'er behold her, thou may'st boast,
     "I've seen thy grave on Corsica's steep coast."
     Fierce was the conflict—war unto the knife!
     They sold to France our country and our life,
     Like some mean chattel gold had power to buy,
     And the world look'd on with an unmoved eye!
     Hear me, thou Stranger! Ponte Nuovo's height
     Frown'd on me wounded in inglorious fight
     With French officials trampling on my right.
     Weeping, I shrunk off like a wounded deer,
     Far from the slaughter-field to hide me here;
     Weary at length—by _such_ strife weary made—
     Grudge not my rest beneath the olive-shade.


     No bitter word from me hast thou to bear:
     I mourn thy doom—thy sense of wrong I share.
     Thou ancient warrior, blood-stain'd, weary, wild,
     Death and the furies claim thee for their child.
     Take now thy rest, since thou alone hast kept
     Watch through the slow night-hours when Europe slept;
     For freedom striving, when the very word
     'Midst other nations had been long unheard.
     My heart has thrill'd at thy forefathers' fame—
     Leap'd at the mention of Paoli's name—
     Felt that such hero-memories could give
     A life through which e'en words of mine might live.
     What though the shadow of the tomb still broods,
     While wand'ring here, o'er all my spirit's moods,
     What though grief sadden, or though crime appal?
     A hero-spirit breathes throughout it all!
     Deep in my heart of hearts I bear away
     A sad, sweet echo of thy mourning lay;
     And as I sat beneath thy mountain's frown,
     And saw thy torrents from the clouds leap down,
     New senses woke within, new powers were rife,
     Nature baptized me into fuller life!
       Thy land of death has own'd me for her guest,
     I bear her olive-branch upon my breast;
     I turn me homeward with the symbol dear,
     Gift of good spirits while I linger'd here.
     Thou Corsican, farewell! in yonder bay
     Swell my white sails, and summon me away.
     May God reward thee for thy roof-tree's shade,
     Thy fruits, thy wine, before the stranger laid.
     Still may thine olives with their tribute shine,
     No subtle blight invade thy clust'ring vine;
     O'er golden fields the graceful maize wave high,
     Only thy fierce Vendetta droop and die!
     Ay, let at last thy sunbeam's burning flood
     Dry on thy hero-soil thy hero-blood!
     Brave be thy sons, as still thy fathers were—
     Pure as thy mountain-streams, thy daughters fair,
     High rise thy granite-rocks—a strong defence,
     'Twixt foreign manners and their innocence!
     Farewell, thou Isle! long live thy ancient fame;
     Thy latest sons prove worthy of their name;
     That ne'er a future guest have cause to say—
     "Sampiero's life and death are but an idle tale to-day."


I shall mention here, at the close of my book, the more important of the
works which have been of service to me in its composition. The common
experience, that every subject, however isolated its nature, drags a
whole continent of literature after it, is in this case confirmed. I
have already named all the historians—as Filippini, Peter of Corsica,
Cambiaggi, Jacobi, Limperani, Renucci, Gregori, &c. I shall add to them,
Robiquet's _Recherches Historiques et Statistiques sur la Corse_: Paris,
1835—a book rich in material, and to which I am indebted for valuable
information. I have also used Niccolo Tommasco's _Lettere di Pasquale
de Paoli_: Firenze, 1846; and the same author's _Canti Popolari Corsi_,
in the collection of Corsican, Tuscan, and Greek popular songs. The
dirges I have given are extracted from the _Saggio di Versi Italiani
e di Canti Popolari Corsi_: Bastia, 1843. I owe the material of the
Corsican stories—which are in no case fictitious—to a collection of such
narratives by Renucci: Bastia, 1838; the treatment of the material is
my own. The English Boswell's book—"Journal of a Tour in Corsica, with
Memorabilia of Pasquale Paoli"—is worth reading, because the author
was personally acquainted with the great Corsican, and noted down his
conversations with him. I am, further, considerably indebted to Valery's
_Voyages en Corse, à l'Ile d'Elbe et en Sardaigne_: Bruxelles, 1838. It
is unnecessary to mention other works not specially relating to Corsica.


     [O] The author probably here refers to two personal friends.—_Tr._




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