« PreviousContinue »
the question. Paoli's early admiration for British institutions had lost nothing of its strength from twenty years of residence under their protection. He willingly acceded to the proposal of the Consulta that he should enter into negotiations for the purpose of placing the island under British protection ; and its sovereignty was provisionally accepted by George III. in April, 1794.
Bastia held out a month longer; and capitulated after a gallant resistance, well known to English readers from its con-nexion with the life of Nelson. That of Calvi was still more protracted. Hundreds of island refugees assembled at Marseilles, Toulon, and the neighbourhood, to add to the fierceness of the Republican party in those quarters, and to wait their own time of vengeance.
Among the families expelled from Bastia on this occasion were the Viterbi, to whose history a peculiar tragic interest attaches, though belonging to a later period than we are now concerned with. The Viterbi were blood enemies of the Frediani, who had embraced the English side. Many bloody deeds on both parts signalised their enmity, and each used the political success of its party for the oppression of the other. After the restoration of 1814, Luc' Antonio Viterbi, a man of education and talent, but fierce and determined character, who had been at one time accusateur public at Bastia, was sentenced to death for complicity in one of these murders. The evidence was doubtful, but pressed against him with hereditary malignity; the Cour Royale of Bastia, after a trial of fifteen days, sentenced him to the guillotine. He appealed to the Court of Cassation, but resolved to starve himself to death in the interval, to avoid the ignominy of a public execution. He kept a journal of his sufferings for more than twenty days: one of the strangest records in existence of the power of the human mind under such circumstances. Its authenticity has been doubted, but it is credited in the island. He could not resist the agony of thirst, and relieved himself on several occasions by swallowing great quantities of water from the pitcher left purposely in his prison: this prolonged his existence and his sufferings. Mr. Benson, who published the journal in the appendix to his work on Corsica, represents him as having ultimately succeeded in his determination, but the belief in the island is that he was finally despatched by poison obtained from his relations. He left behind him some poetical remains, chiefly written in prison, of no mean power in their kind. The following exhortation to his infant son to revenge him on the First President of the Cour Royale, may serve as a specimen, and indicate also the slight difficulties which impede justice in Corsica :
• Scanna l'iniquo capo, e fa man bassa
Sull'infame progenie, e i sanguinosi
Corpi tutti in un cumulo rammassa.
Ma sien di pasto, pei spietati esempio,
Ai crocidanti augei nero-piumosi.' Corsica was thought, in 1794, a valuable acquisition by the English, and obtained from Mr. Pitt, in order to satisfy the inhabitants, a constitution of extreme and almost democratic liberalism. The sovereign was to be represented by a viceroy. Foreign writers regard it as a great fault on the part of the English Government that this post was not immediately conferred on Paoli, and attribute it to the sinister intrigues of Pozzo-di-borgo, the principal agent in effecting the union. There was, no doubt, a good deal to be said on the other side, in favour of appointing an impartial and eminent foreigner, in lieu of a native who, though adored by part of his fellow citizens, was detested by the remainder: and Sir Gilbert Elliot, afterwards the first Lord Minto, was made viceroy. But, after all, this was not the bold or magnanimous line of policy: and it failed. Pozzo-di-borgo became President of the Council. When Paoli presented to Elliot the wild-looking, bright-eyed, lanky, gipsylike youth, Elliot, it is said, could not refrain from asking, • Is that your President of the Council ?' “Yes,' replied Paoli, • and I answer for him as a man equally fit to conduct a ‘government and to keep goats in the mountains, or to dislodge
an enemy à coups de carabine. We can less readily believe though the anecdote does savour of the General's vein - that Elliot said to him some time later (when pressed to discharge his president, as he finally did), 'I hear nothing but complaints
of Pozzo-di-borgo: remember that I took him on your recommendation as a capable nran.' • Yes,' said Paoli, I gave him
· ' you as one gives a razor, with which a barber shaves a beard, and a monkey cuts a throat.'
But such a man as Paoli, if too powerful for vice-royalty, was still more dangerous in retreat. He could not conceal his deep dissatisfaction at the turn things were taking under the new government, and the evils wrought among his countrymen, as he believed, by English guineas and Pozzo-di-borgo’s intrigues. « Cette idée,' he says in a letter, me poursuit comme un re
mords. Les républicains sément la terreur sous leurs pas, les • Anglais la corruption.' His name became once more - and with no co-operation of his own — a rallying point for the - various factions discontented with the government, the Jacobins uniting for the nonce with his own Royalists' against the
British. This state of things could not last long. On the advice of Elliot, Paoli was invited to England once more by a complimentary letter from the king. He hesitated long before obeying, and called a meeting of his friends at Morosaglia to counsel and support him. Arrighi describes him standing at a window with a spyglass in his hand, and calling to the veteran captain of his guard, Jean-Charles Saliceti, ' Are they coming ? • How are they dressed? What have they on their heads ?' • They wear foreign hats and foreign-cut coats.! So much • the worse
so much the worse,' murmured the old man. These were not his faithful mountaineers, the men of the cowl and capote. He had no taste for recommencing the construction of a party, at seventy, with such materials. He bade a last lingering adieu to the chestnut-covered mountains that surround his paternal village, and on the 11th of October, 1795, left for the last time the shores of Corsica.
The cause of England certainly gained no advantage by his retirement. The only name which commanded respect being removed, things went from bad to worse. The English complained of Corsican deceit, the Corsicans seemed to have no motive but that of making the most in a pecuniary way of a connexion obviously so precarious. A year after Paoli's retirement, Buonaparte, having conquered Lombardy, sent Antonio Gentili with a small force against Corsica. The precipitation with which the Anglo-Corsican Government broke up was unexampled. It was an universal sauve-qui-peut. The French power was reestablished in a few days. Gentili proclaimed a forinal amnesty, but popular fury made, as usual, its exceptions, and the family of Paoli was one. Clement was dead; he had lived to see his brother's return, and to rejoin him; and now lay interred in his own convent of Morosaglia. An aged sister was left; she was summoned before the authorities at Bastia. She refused to go: • If the French would depute some one to kill her in the house of her ancestors,' she said, she would meet her fate be• comingly.' She was left to die in peace.
Pozzo-di-borgo had already gone to London, and had commenced that career of diplomatic activity which afterwards led him so far. In the service of England, Austria, Russia, in exile, disgrace, and power alike, he made the downfall of Napoleon the one constant aim of his existence, meddled in every intrigue of every coalition, patiently took up the threads of one negotiation after another, as they were cut by the sword, and carried into the great struggle of European politics the untiring inveteracy of his native vendetta. Napoleon once demanded his extradition, and Alexander assented; but the
diplomatist remembered the fate of Patkul, and escaped to London. He stood opposed to his great enemy at Waterloo, and witnessed that unequalled rout with all the satisfaction of gratified hatred. • It was not I who killed him,' he said, after Napoleon's embarcation for Saint Helena, but I have thrown * the last shovelful of earth on his head. Yet he, too, full of years and outward honours, was doomed to feel the Nemesis of a life which has outlasted its single object. He died, in much weariness of soul and comparative disgrace, in 1842. One of his nephews, of the same name, who inherited much of his great property, was murdered near Ajaccio a few years back, by private enemies.*
Of Paoli himself little remains to be said. He survived more than ten years the period of his last retirement, enjoyed even to the last the full possession of his faculties, and continued to take a deep interest in the political events which were passing around him. His pension had been raised by the English Government to 20001. a year. There are those living who yet remember his house in the Edgware Road, and the cheerful society of the venerable man. We have before us the memorandum of one who visited him in 1803, and speaks of his vivacity of gesture and the variety of expression of his countenance, his frank address and polished manners, and his eloquent communicativeness respecting his own career, in terms recalling the description of Boswell forty years before. He died on the 5th of February, 1807, and was buried in Old Saint Pancras Churchyard, then the ordinary place of sepulture of distinguished Roman Catholics : his friends raised him a monument in Westminster Abbey, among the memorials of the great men
* · He was the dispenser of the charities given by the count, his uncle, and had made himself hated on account of injustice in the distribution. I was told, also, that he had seduced a girl, and hesitated about paying the high rate of compensation demanded by the family. The injured parties resolved on his death. As he was driving in his carriage one day from his villa to Ajaccio, they surrounded it, and cried to him, Nephew of Carl' Andrea Pozzo-di-borgo, step out!' He came out and confronted them boldly. They effected their purpose in cold blood, in full day and on the highroad, as if it had been an act of justice against a malefactor. Their shots did not kill him on
The murderers placed him in the carriage, and told the coachman to drive back, that the nephew of Carl Andrea might die in his bed. Then they fled into the macchie,' where, after some time, they were killed in a conflict with gendarmes.' (Gregorovius, ii. 164.)
of the island which adopted him, and which he loved next to his own.
If our slight sketch of him contains little but panegyric, it is not for want of authority for depreciation; he was the object of hostile criticism enough from writers of the French party, both in his life and since; but we must adopt Herr Klose's defence :
Scarcely anything is said of Paoli in my present publication which is not to his honour: but this arises simply from the circumstance, that I have found in him and his actions scarcely anything which was not praiseworthy : and even his weaknesses — and weaknesses he must have had — have escaped my careful inquiries, unless we are to regard as his weak side the ease with which he allowed himself to be led away, more than once, by an active imagination and zealous patriotism, into deceitful hopes, and through those hopes into some inconsistencies of conduct.'
And so his country has judged of him :-
• The remembrance of Paoli,' says Gregorovius, ‘is sacred among the people. Napoleon fills the heart of the Corsican with pride, for he was his brother; but if you mention Paoli to him, his eye lights up like that of a son to whom one names an honourable departed father. It is impossible that any man can be more thoroughly reverenced and loved after his death than Pasquale Paoli: and if posthumous fame is a second life, then does this greatest man of Corsica and of Italy in the eighteenth century live a thousandfold in the heart of every Corsican, from the aged man who knew him to the child on whose soul his great example is impressed. There is no greater name than that of Father of his country. Flattery has often abused it and made it ridiculous : in the land of the Corsicans I felt that it might be a truth.'
There remains but little personal memorial of him except his letters, of which many have been preserved, and one or two indifferent pictures. Monuments to their great men were little appreciated among the Corsicans of the old time; they preferred that their deeds should be preserved by the singularly tenacious memory of the people. Paoli himself largely shared in this feeling. When the Legislature under the British Government applied for his bust to place in their hall of meeting, he consented, not only with reluctance, but with a sort of haughtiness, reminding them of his own fixed principle, that such honours, if they must needs be paid at all, should be paid after death only ; - a principle which received full illustration when the same bust was dragged round the hall in contumely by Gentili's republicans. But the French fashion has prevailed in recent times, and the people of his native canton of Rostino