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niences of life, and a knowledge of the ordinary processes of agriculture. The state of Corsican commerce strikingly illustrates the rudeness of the condition of society. Money is almost unknown in the interior; the simple exchange of one article for another constitutes the internal traffic of the natives. The foreign trade of the island is inconsiderable. Boswell, who was desirous to swell every circumstance relating to the island into as much importance as it would bear, could find no articles of exportation worth speaking of, except the chestnuts which the women picked up in the forests, and the oil squeezed by them from the olives they gathered, the value of all which amounted to about 500,000 French crowns.
In a country where the shepherds pass the night around fires in the open air, or sleep amid their flocks, and where the most agreeable shelter for the day is the shade of a tree, it could not be expected that great care or skill should be shown in the construction of their habitations. Benson thus describes them :
« The houses of the interior will not bear a comparison with the humblest cottages in England. They consist of four walls, covered by a rude roof, many having only one opening, which serves for door, chimney, and window; they have not usually a second story, and when they have, you ascend to it by a ladder, as into an English hayloft. The first that strikes the traveller, on entering one of the huts, is an immense heap of chestnuts lying in one corner. These form the chief support of the hardy Corsicans. They are not eaten raw, but reduced into flour; the bread of which is termed “pisticcine.” It is also formed into various dishes, called pulenta, brilloli, fritelle, frandoline, &c.
“The houses contain stools, benches, and tables, of the rudest kind; the wood fire, when any fire is wanted, crackles in the centre of the room, the smoke issuing where it can; the housewife, surrounded by her hardy offspring, attends to the humble domestic arrangements, while her lord and master traverses the mountains with his gun in search of game for his family. At night, a small stick of the pinus lariccio often serves as a lamp.
"This,' said a Corsican to me, as he pointed to a twig that was lying on the ground in the forest of Vizzavona, 'is one of our candles.' Such is the simple mode of living that generally pervades the vhole interior of the island."-pp. 37, 38.
Even the houses of their nobility are by no means palaces. That in which Paoli was born, at Rostino, and of which a plate is given in this work, seems to be of the same order of architecture with those described in the above extract, and to differ from them only in being more than commonly capacious. It is without a chimney, and has a few small holes just under the rafters, which serve for windows. The house at Ajaccio, in which Bonaparte was born, is the best in that city; and Benson does not speak highly of its appearance. Notwithstanding their extreme disposition to indolence, this race of men is ex
ceedingly active in war. Nations who subsist by hunting are always warlike and courageous. The diversions of the Corsicans are of a martial nature—the morescas, or mock fights, attract the inhabitants from all parts of the island. They delight in hunting the wild boar, and in the dangerous amusement of baiting cattle with the large and fierce mountain dogs. Sometimes a Corsican, in the very fury and heat of the baiting, will rush in, seize the frantic animal by the horns, and lead it away. Boswell once witnessed a Corsican dance, performed by four soldiers, to the sound of one of the ancient airs of the island. " It was," says he, “truly savage. They thumped with their heels, sprung upon their toes, brandished their arms, wheeled and leaped with the most violent gesticulations. It gave me the idea of an admirable war-dance." The eloquence of the Corsicans is not inferior to their bravery; their language, even on ordinary occasions, is highly figurative, and delivered with a passionate vehemence of manner.
It is an old saying, that every man of the country seems born for the forum.
The obligation of revenging injuries, is as deeply impressed upon the mind of the Corsican as upon that of the North American Indian. The father teaches his sons, from their earliest age, to believe in God and the holy church, and never to forgive their enemies. “ The sons,” says Benson, "no sooner arrive at the age of puberty, than their parents buy them arms, or lend them their own; telling them that being men, and strong as other men, they ought to see their rights respected. These words, engraven on the heart of the young Corsican, are always recurring to his thoughts, and frequently lead to the most frightful consequences.' What those rights are, does not depend with him upon any dry definitions, it is enough that he feels insulted; and thus in his own person he often unites the different characters of legislator, of judge, and of executioner.”
“Every Corsican peasant has a set of fixed principles of action, and determinate notions of honour, from which he seldoni swerves. Each man carries in his breast his code of practical laws, and in his hand the instrument to put those laws into execution. He feels intensely, and is unaccustomed to draw distinctions, and refine upon his rude system of natural legislation. The French laws in force in the island take notice of these violent outrages on public tranquillity; but the inaccessible nature of the country affords, in most instances, a sase asylum to those who have been guilty of them. The courts of Bastia pass sentences of death on the parties, whilst the latter are living on the mountains, scarcely worse off than in the humble dwellings I have before described."--pp. 51, 52.
To protect his personal rights, and to execute the law which
he has thus taken into his own hands, the Corsican of the interior always goes armed. He carries a loaded musket on his shoulder, and a pistol fastened to his belt. In this belt he formerly stuck his stiletto, but since the French have prohibited the wearing of that weapon, he only conceals it in the folds of his dress. Assassinations are, of course, frequent, and at almost every step along the paths of the interior, the traveller meets with crosses, which mark the spot where blood has been shed, or sees the ruins of huts, whose inhabitants, from the old man to the infant, have been slain in some family feud. The vendetta transversa, or collateral revenge, was a horrible refinement of this system of retaliation. By that bloody custom, the person who had received an injury, if he could not revenge himself on his enemy personally, revenged himself on one of his enemy's relations. Paoli made a law, by which it was provided, not only that collateral revenge should be punished with death like an ordinary case of murder, but that a column of infamy should be erected, to perpetuate the disgrace of the offender; but it seems that the practice is not quite at an end, for these columns are still erected. The following custom, says Mr. Benson, is not quite out of date, though not so common as formerly :
“ Mothers of families, whose husbands have been assassinated, preserve the dress of the deceased, until their children grow up to manhood, and then show them the clothes tinged with the blood of their fathers, and exhort them to vengeance; and in dispute with others, the latter taunt them if they have not revenged themselves. Thus,” adds M. Agostini,
these unhappy children have no other alternative, than to live dishovoured, or to destroy the murderers of their parents, and they rush headjong into crime.'"--p. 40.
This dislike to all regular occupation, this love of the chase and of war, and this defiance of the laws, have nourished in the mind of the Corsican a pride and independence of character which is seen in his whole demeanour. He scorns to abate aught of his bold and blunt bearing for the rank of the person to whom he speaks. With his musket and his stiletto, with the free sky above him, and the mountains to flee to, and the forests to afford him sustenance, he looks upon himself as the natural equal of the best in the land, will neither submit to insults, nor stoop to degrading services. When the island was under the protection of the English, the Corsican soldiers thought themselves disgraced by being obliged to labour at the fortifications; and the hangmen of the island have always been Genoese or Sicilians. A Corsican would sooner suffer death than embrace an occupation in his estimation so infamous.
With this lofty spirit, the Corsicans, though often overcome by their enemies, have never been thoroughly subdued. Their island is a country of mountains, ravines, precipices, torrents, and forests; and such countries, independently of the strong holds and places of concealment they offer to those who refuse the yoke of arbitrary power, are perhaps indebted for the
patriotism and love of freedom which are said to characterize their inhabitants, to the idea of savage and untameable liberty which the aspect of their scenery impresses upon the mind. The French authority in Corsica is badly obeyed, but the government are beginning to understand the character of the natives, and to endeavour to conciliate them by kindness.
The Corsican character is not without its virtues; it has, at least, those of which pride is the nurse; and the social affections, which are but another name for our best virtues, are cherished by the very dangers attending their unsettled and lawless state of society. They are frank, just, humane, and as faithful in their friendships as they are implacable in their enmities. The crime of theft, and other degrading offences, allied to treachery and fraud, are rare among them. The following anecdote attests the existence of filial piety among them superior even to the love of life, and, what is a still stronger feeling with the Corsican, the dread of dishonour :
“A very affecting sight lately occurred at Bastia, in consequence of the execution of a young man, who was generally believed to be innocent of the crime for which he suffered; but who preferred death to sacrificing his mother to the punishment which she alone merited.
“This woman had engaged in a violent quarrel with one of her relations; and feeling her pride wounded by some remark made in the contest, determined upon revenge, and entreated her son to be the instrument. He refused, and at the same time recommended an abandonment of her dreadful purpose; but his advice was slighted, and it seems she put her purpose in execution herself; such was the general opinion.
“The son, alarmed, as it was believed, at the probable consequences of the assassination, determined to bury the corpse ; and left his home, accordingly, for that purpose. Whilst engaged in this operation, he was observed, and shortly afterward arrested, with his mother. At the trial, the charges against him accumulated on his head, because he chose to make no defence. He contented himself with looking at his mother, in a sorrow ful cast of countenance, and saying to her, with a low voice, “My mother, tell how all this took place. You well know that it is not me; but on the contrary He here paused, and added nothing more.
“The mother, acquitted, wished to approach her son ; but he repulsed her, adding, 'Go, I pardon you; but it is you who assassinate me.
“He did not choose to appeal against the sentence ; but demanded execution as soon as possible Arrived on the scaffold, he signified with his hand that he wished to speak; and then pronounced, with a firm voice, the following little speech :
« • Ready to appear before God, and knowing that a few minutes hence I shall cease to live, I swear that I am innocent of the crime for which I have been condemned. Justice has committed an error; but it is not her fault, and I forgive it. I entreat all those who hear me to pray for the salvation of my soul. From the instant of his condemnation to that of his death he never spoke of his mother; and even refused to see her. The youth, a mere peasant, was scarcely nineteen years of age."--pp. 70–72.
The ignorance of the Corsicans is not voluntary; it has been the necessary effect of the unfortunate circumstances in which they were placed; of the selfish policy of the Genoese, who discouraged every thing like instruction among them; of the unsettled state of their country for a long period ; and, lastly, of their poverty. The spirit of the Corsicans is exceedingly inquisitive, and eager of knowledge.
“The traveller in Corsica never meets with a beggar. If he is accosted in his road, it is generally with the question of, What news do you bring with you?' and others relating to his journey, his business, &c. Often these inquiries extend beyond the trifles that generally engross conversation even in more civilized countries. The Secretary in Chief of the Prefect, related to us the following anecdote: I was travelling in the interior quite incognito; a peasant came up to me, and asked, as usual, for news; I told him immediately of the marriages, deaths, &c. that had then lately occurred at Ajaccio. The peasant replied, 'I don't want to know those matters. I wish to be informed what the Allied Sovereigns are now doing at Laybach ?! The peasantry never feel the least abashed; and whatever may be the appearance of the traveller, they come towards him, rest on their muskets, and begin a conversation as familiarly as if the parties were intimate acquaintances. Each man seems to consider it a duty to bring home as much news as he can learn in his rambles, and to communicate it to his countrymen; and thus, in the absence of public facilities of communication, knowledge is transmitted from one end of the island to the other."-pp. 38, 39.
Delightful and affecting customs subsist among them, such as make us think of the times of the patriarchs.
“ It is not uncommon to see two families dining at the same table, and warming themselves at the same fire. Cousins are frequently brought up together, loving each other with the affection of brothers and sisters; and the grandfather, the chief of the whole lamily, is sometimes seen surrounded by twenty or thirty descendants, possessing, with the neeessaries of life, that love towards each other, which springs from a similarity of habits, and from a community of interest."-p. 42.
This rude people have also their beautiful religious ceremonies :
« One of the most imposing religious fêtes that takes place in the island, occurs in rogation week, when the vegetation is in its most vigorous state.
this time, Corsicans go in procession from the parish