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and Roman slave-hunters, two thousand years ago, regarded as the least profitable part of their stock; because, like the Eboes and some other African tribes, they turned sullen in servitude, and were always meditating suicide or revenge. They appear more like some new and half-reclaimed race, than one with so many centuries of gloomy history. That history records a perpetual struggle against foreign oppression ; ever renewed, ever approaching to success, and yet never attaining it. Carthaginians, Romans, Saracens, Pisans, Genoese, all occupied the island by turns, and none ever subdued it, or subjected it to regular government.

The Genoese Republic first became nominally mistress of Corsica in 1347, by the overthrow of the Pisans; but sixty years later she transferred its disturbed and much contested dominion to a company of merchants — the Bank of St. George; the first instance, as far as we are aware, of the exercise of sovereign, or quasi-sovereign, rights by a mercantile body. In 1460, the Company, having conquered or bought over the Signori, or feudal lords of the soil, assumed and exercised for nearly a century, though with much interruption, the form of absolute sovereignty. In 1553, Henry II. of France, being engaged in war with Charles V., bethought himself of the possible importance of Corsica as a point d'appui for his Mediterranean expeditions. The Marshal de Thermes was dispatched there at the head of an invading squadron and army, but the soul of the enterprise was Sampiero, a Corsican, of a peasant family, of the village of Bastelica, who had achieved great military reputation in the French service, and had sworn eternal hatred to Genoa. They met at first with general success, for the name of France was, and long remained, popular with the Corsicans; but the Genoese of those days, under an Andrew Doria and a Spinola, were capable of defending with tenacity their ancient possession, even against France herself, and Corsica ultimately fell back under the company of St. George. The fortunes of the brave Sampiero, the greatest military character whom the island has produced; his murder of his beautiful wife Vaunina, detected in political intrigues with the Genoese; his adventurous descent, and singlehanded, but temporary, recovery of his island, and his final ignoble fall in a private vendetta, are among the traditions which the memory of the Corsicans preserves with the greatest fondness.

The wars of the last half of the sixteenth century exhausted the island: the chronicler Filippini gives a dreary list of places which had become uninhabited in his time; and the population appears never to have fully recovered itself. For the whole of the seventeenth it remained passively annexed to the dominions of the Republic, though never really incorporated with them. Arrighi gives a list of the successive decrees by which, in the course of that century, native Corsicans were rendered ineligible, even to the lowest civil offices. Continued misgovernment was accompanied by a yet greater evil from without the constant incursions of the Barbary pirates, from which the Genoese were wholly unable to protect the disarmed and miserable population. Of all the social calamities of modern historical times this was perhaps one of the greatest, as it is one of the most forgotten. It is now scarcely realised in remembrance, that within little more than a hundred years, and for two centuries previously, the northern and western coasts of the Mediterranean were kept in constant alarm by an active, indefatigable enemy, half warrior and half robber, with whom there was no truce or compact possible; that for years together families went to rest in exposed places almost as unsafe as American villages on the Indian border; that in many towns there was hardly a household of repute which had not to mourn the disappearance and presumed captivity of sons in the galleys, or daughters in the harems, of the dreaded Barbaresques. Yet the fact is known to us still better from the popular fictions than the histories of those times - the romance writers, from Cervantes and Lesage down to Madame Gomez and Mrs. Radcliffe, found in these corsair incursions a ready machinery for effecting the disappearance of inconvenient personages, a storehouse of wonderful recognitions and unexpected returns; and no part of their inventions was more greedily devoured in their own times, though none perhaps appears now more insipid and unnatural. In Corsica the traveller can even now trace the results of that longcontinued plague. Population has been driven even from the healthy parts of the coasts, and the hamlets, closely packed for self-defence, stand high and conspicuous on the slopes of the mountains, in sight of the little watch towers on the shore, from which the sentinel might easily notify the first approach of the sails of the infidel.

It was not until about 1730 that the Corsicans recovered heart and energy enough to resume their ancient attitude of hostility to the Genoese. Then began their last and most famous rebellion of forty years, which ended only by the transfer of the rights of the Republic to France, and the ultimate suppression of Corsican independence by the latter power. It was a struggle carried on by the Genoese with a disregard of all that is ordinarily deemed sacred or binding, even in the bitterest strife, which would seem incredible, were it not that the repeated and circumstantial charges brought against them on this score have never, so far as we know, been refuted, or even answered. Their successes were signalised by bloody military executions, and more deliberate punishments with every refinement of torture; their failures repaired by an unlimited recourse to treachery, bribery, and assassination. The resistance of the Corsicans was no doubt ferocious as well as obstinate; but its worse characteristics are almost forgotten in the singular display which they made of unflinching courage and patriotism. They showed themselves unconquerable in reverses; but it cannot be said that the determination never to be conquered was seconded by an equally obstinate determination to conquer. On the contrary, in reading their history, we are continually struck with the fact, that while constantly on the point of victory, they never thoroughly achieved it; that their union or their perseverance seems to have failed them over and over again, unexpectedly and at the critical moment; that partisanship, treachery, and Genoese gold continually interfered at last to turn the current of the most successful enterprise. This is a phenomenon equally remarkable in similar passages of history elsewhere; the obstinate and yet never complete resistance of the Highlanders, for instance, and of the Irish, to Saxon supremacy. It was seized on with characteristic acuteness by Dr. Johnson, when bent on plaguing Boswell in the height of his Paoli mania. • Sir,' said he, 'what is all this rout about the Corsicans? They • have been at war with the Genoese for upwards of twenty years, * and have never yet taken their fortified towns. They might

have battered down their walls, and reduced them to powder in 'twenty years. They might have pulled the walls in pieces, and 6 cracked the stones with their teeth in twenty years.' in vain to argue with him, adds poor Boswell

, upon the want of artillery; he was not to be resisted for the moment.' Probably the Doctor was in the right. Had the Corsicans been as determined to conquer as they were not to submit, a few illconstructed fortifications, manned by cowardly mercenaries, would not have formed, as they always did, a bar to the union and independence of the country.

It is easy to trace the influence of this melancholy, yet not ignoble, national history in the strongly marked character of the little people with whom we are now concerned. Constant warfare made them essentially warlike — as thoroughly so as the Highland clans or the Austrian • Borderers.' Every village contributed its battalion to the national force, and every man knew his post and his duty. Absence of all real government from without made them essentially a self

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governing people; the necessity for mutual combination, a people of strong family ties. The spirit of clanship overpowered almost all other social sentiments, because only by close adhesion and mutual protection could men preserve themselves from daily aggression. But it was not, as elsewhere, a spirit of feudal dependence. The old signori' of Corsica, never very prominent in its affairs, seem to have been nearly extirpated in the earlier Genoese wars. The numerous inferior nobility, or so-called caporali,' whom the Genoese are said to have encouraged to the detriment of the former, were but little distinguished from the commonalty. Families of distinguished descent may still be found, chiefly in the western region, • beyond the mountains;' but few of large possessions, or occupying the position of the modern landed nobles of the neighbouring continent. Men were linked together, therefore, not by the common tie of subjection to a superior, but by the mutual tie of family or locality-as in those parts of Ireland whence the old families have been expelled, and where the Saxon influence has never acquired strength. To this day, the Corsican peasant, in marriage, pays more regard to the name and lineage of his wife, and the number and strength of her connexions, than either to her person or her fortune; and to this day the landed families elude the disposition of the French law by agreements that only one brother of a family shall marry, and the others restore their portions at their death to the common stock. Hence the bloody vendetta,' transmitted from one age to another; and the scarcely less destructive lawsuits, which eat into the wealth and peace of generations of litigants. Hence, too, in great measure, the want of population in many parts; for so ingrained is the habit of living close together for mutual support, that peasant families can scarcely be induced to move down from their crowded eyry on the cliffs to the spacious plains beneath them.

The social ideas of the Corsican stray but little therefore beyond his family and village ; but when they do, it will easily be conceived that they are still essentially republican. The nobility, such as it is, has always been far less distinguished from the plebeians than in other Italian communities. The peasant-born Sampiero married into the high-descended house of Ornano: Paoli's father was roturier, his mother noble: and there are, we believe, many well-known families, of which it is doubtful whether they belong to the one class or the other. In rural society they mingle habitually on terms of equality. The head of one of the oldest and richest noble houses in Corsica may sometimes be seen forming one of a regular circle of



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gossips, seated in his shoemaker's shop, - his custom, it appears, always of an afternoon. Simplicity of manners was carried in the last century to a point of affectation, of which there remain some relics still. It is recorded of Paoli, that when he returned to Corsica, in 1755, he found the windows of his paternal house glazed,-a point of civilisation achieved in his absence, - upon which he broke all the panes with his stick, declaring himself determined not to adopt luxuries unknown to his father: ' and the wooden blinds are there,' says Gregorovius, to testify to the tradition to this day.' On another occasion, however, the old Giacinto is reported to have read his son a lesson of the same kind. The general, when at the head of affairs, wrote to his father to send him some plate for his table. Is old Soliman dead then, who used to . make wooden spoons and forks ?' answered the elder patriot.

Many other military virtues have taken root in Corsica. The peasantry are sober, temperate, and continent in their habits: little addicted to the indulgence of any passions, except those of the violent order; an earnest and rather silent race, with little of the cheerfulness of continental Italians, and none of their epicureanism and buffoonery. Their imagination seems excited only by the terrible and the mournful. The national poetry consists almost exclusively of their · Voceri' or 'Lamenti, dirges, chanted by the females on the decease of a member of the family ; and three-fourths of these are wails over the bloody grave of some one slain in vendetta, with promises of revenge. Their women are degraded by labour and hard usage, yet pass for models of family self-devotion; and the warlike annals of the country are full of their Spartan spirit; in the last struggle with the French they fought, not single but in whole troops, by the side of their husbands and brothers. The great and favourite vice of the Corsican, his revengefulness, is based, we are told, on a perverted notion of natural justice. But it is connected also with a fearful tendency to overmastering fits of anger and hate. These are common to all southern Italians; the rage of the Roman, says Dr. Newman, in an apologetic way, is a kind of falling sickness, which seizes on him without the action of his will; but the passion of the continental is but light straw on fire' compared with the intense fury which calcines the stronger nature of the Corsican. Proud, content with little, and indolent as a savage in his intervals of fierce action, he will submit, in most parts of the island, only to the lightest agricultural labour. That of the roads and public works, as well as the cultivation of the plain country on the eastern coast, is annually performed by a few

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