Gambar halaman

difficulties, before it could have completed the conquest of that island. The determined resolution (hewn by the natives, the violent aversion they bore to a foreign yoke, together with the natural defences of a mountainous impracticable country, aud the peculiar unhealthiness of the climate, seemed in some degree to counterbalance the great superiority of power in the invader.

This spirit and disposition in the people, could not however be kept inaction by any other means, than the hope of foreign support and assistance. While this continued, they forgot the superiority of their enemies, and gave repeated proofs that they were not unworthy of protection. The supposed prospect pf a distant security made their present sufferings light, and the War was sustained in such a manner, as to give sufficient opportunity to any design that might have been formed in their favour, to have operated to its full extent.

But when a hard fought campaign, and a long winter had elapsed, and that the brave struggle they maintained had not produced the most remote appearance of support or protection, it is no wonder they should then reflect on the fruitlelsness of the efforts they were making, and the danger as well as absurdity of attempting singly to resist the force of one of the most powerful nations in the world. The landed chiefs naturally regretted the loss of their rents and the destruction brought "pon their estates by an unavailing contest, in a cause which they now saw was totally desperate; and the peasant lamented,' that tho' rocks and mountains .could occasionally

afford a temporary security to his persons, they were by no mean, sufficient for the protection of hi* property. This despondency could not be unknown to the French, nor were they likely to neglect making the proper use of a temper so much in their favour. It is probable that money was not spared upon this occasion, and there is but little doubt of its having its usual effect. The new employments consequent of a change of government, and the honours and emoluments to be acquired under a great monarchy, were no doubt held out to others of the chiefs, and had their weight with them. However this was, the affairs of the Corficans continually declined, and the fame vigour and spirit no longer appeared in their actions.

These effects did not however immediately take place. In the beginning of the year the r Corficans made an attempt » to surprize San Fiorenzo, and to cover . their design sent detachments to make false attacks on Biguglia, and Oletta. These detachments, as it was expected, were repulsed; but having produced the desired effect, and drawn the attention of the French that way, the main body quitted their camp, and marched under cover of the night to St. Fiorenzo, where they immediately attempted to scale the walls. Unfortunately their ladders proved too short, which frustrated this, otherwise, well* conducted design; the garrison, were alarmed before this mistake could be remedied, and they were obliged to retire with considerable loss.

They soon afterwards j made an attempt upon' ' ** Biguglia, which miscarried; but

they they defeated a party of French that endeavoured to cut off their retreat. They also attempted to surprize Oletta, where they were repulsed, and obliged to retire to Mariana with considerable loss. At Barbaggio they were more successful, but the consequences were fatal. This pjape was garrisoned by

Feb l A. ^V^ comPal"es °f French t "*' foot, who being attacked in the night by a body of Corsicans, were obliged to surrender; two companies were made prisoners of war, and the other three were allowed to retire to St. Fiorenzo, on condition of not acting hostilely against the Corsicans for a year. The Corsicans imprudently loitered in this place, though it was not tenable, and was in the vicinity of the French princmal force. Count de Marbeuf being informed of this error, dispatched troops from different quarters to seize upon all the defiles, and cut off the possibility of a retreat. The Corsicans fought desperately, but having lost above half their men, the remainder were obliged to surrender, without their being able to gain any other stipulation in their favour, than that thf y should not be sent into France. Mr. Colonna, a noted Corsican chief, with above two hundred men, were taken prisoners upon this occasion. Mr. de Marbeuf being pleased with the gallant defence they had made, politely told the Corsican chief that general Paoli would sustain a great loss by his being taken; to which the other with great nfegnanimity replied, "That every village in his country produced men of superior abilities and courage to himself, which he hoped Mr. Marbeuf would soon be sensible.of."

Such was the spirit which *t this time actuated the Corsicans, and which appeared upon anothaf occasion in a very extraordinary degree. At an assembly of the regency held at Cort», it was ar'-rr-d, that the ecclesiastics of the country should be required to unite and take up arms in .the common cause, as a measure that would greatly encourage the people, and promote their ardour in it. The priests, far from hesitating at this extraordinary requisition, immediately declared their readiness to hazard, or even lose their lives jn the defence of their native country, and five hundred of them accordingly enlisted in its service.

The affair of Barbaggio seems however to have thrown a damp upon the enterprizing spirit of the Corsicans. The French had a little before surprized the town of Orminio, in which they took iz large field pieces, 800 musquets,. 700 barrels of powder, besides great quantities of grain, and a large sum of money. This was a loss not easily retrieved by the Corsicans, if at all to be supplied, and which must have had a considerable effect upon their operations, independant of the dejection that attends ill fortune. The effect of the French negociations, and the influence which they had acquired among the chiefs, began in some degree to appear, and added to that languor and backwardness, which before was only the effect of despondency. To remove these impressions, and revive the spirit of the people, general Paoli, at a meeting of the chiefs, informed them, that as he had foreseen that no harvest was to be hoped for ia the present year, hs had taken


care to provide against that misfortune; that grain and biscuit were already arrived to answer that purpose, and that he could assure them from the promises he had received, that they should want neither arms, ammunition, or money.

In the mean time Count de Vaux arrived in Corsica, and took upon him the command in chief of the French forces; fifteen new battalions were also embarked at Toulon, and landed in the island in the beginning of April. As the court of France had now reason to be certain of its success in this efsterprize, the new commander in chief had directions to treat the Corsicans in • general, but more particularly the prisoners that should fall into his hands, with the greatest lenity, thereby to give a favourable idea of the French government, as well as of the humanity of the nation in general.

The French forces now amounted to above thirty thousand men; and in the beginning of May the whole island seemed to be in motion.' Count de Vaux, at the, head of the army, advanced towards the centre of the island, and penetrated as far as Rostino; at the fame time the French detachments at Calvi and Ajaccio took the field, and intersecting the country, carried on their operations in such a manner, as finally to effect a junction with Count de Vaux. Several engagements, of which we have very imperfect accounts, happened in the neighbourhood of Rostino, within three or four successive days, between the French and Corsicans. In the first of these the Corsicans were said to have greatly the ad

vantage, and that the French suffered a very considerable loss. In the third they were however totally dispersed and defeated, and a very great slaughter made. It is said that one of the chiefs, in the height of the action, went over witk eight hundred men to the French, and that they immediately turned their arms upon their countrymen, who were struck with fuck a panic at this treachery, that they threw away their arms, and that a general massacre and rout succeeded.

Every hope was now over, and the French over-run the country without opposition. The capital city of Corte, notwithstanding the strength of its situation, approachable only by defiles, which a small number of men might have defended against an army, whether by treachery, or from the terror with which the people M were seized, was fur-' rendered without the least defence. As it was imagined that this place could not have been taken without the loss of a great number of men, the French general threatened to burn the city, and put the garrison to the sword if they made any resistance; by this threat affording a plausible pretence for intimidation, if not produced in reality. Isola Rosa, and every other place of any consequence in the island, were reduced in the same manner, and most of the principal chiefs submitted, and gave hostages for their fidelity.

In the mean time the unfortunate Paoli retired, with such followers as still continued faithful, to the pieve of Vivario, where they were continually harassed and pursued sued by the French. At length being reduced to 537 men, they were intirely surrounded by a body of four thousand of the enemy. In this desperate situation he assembled his followers, and told them, "That they were now reduced to that dreadful extremity, that nothing remained by continuing in their native country, but the fad alternative of death or slavery: that they were unhappily witnesses to that deplorable event, •which neither a ft ar of thirty yeais, the rancorous nulice of the Genoese, nor the forces of several great powers, were tble to bring about, at last effcled by the power of gold alone. That their unfortunate countrymen, deceived and led away by th^ir corrupted chiefs, were going therr.ieives to embrace the chains that were forging for them. That their once happy constitution was now totally overthrown, most of their friends either killed or made prisoners, and themselves reserved, only to have the misfortune ta see and weep over the ruin of their country." He asked, whether any of them would, to kngthen out a short remnant of wretched life, become slaves to injustice and oppression? and cried out in an exclamation, ■" My dear friend? let us reject with scorn so shamefel a thought." He declared, '' That neither the gold, nor the splendid offets of France, had power-to tempt him to dishonour; and he trusted, that the success of their arms had not made .him contemptible. That after the imputation of being conquered, there was nothing so estimable as a glorious death. He then told them that there was no time to be

lost, and called upon them with great energy, either to force their way sword in hand through the ranks of their enemies, and wait in a distant land, in the hope of happier times, for an opportunity to avenge the wrongs of their country, or else to terminate their honourable career, the short remains of life, by dying gloriously a1, they had lived.

The chief then tenderly embraced the brave associates of his fortune, and having made the necessary preparations to cut their way through the French troops the fame night, they1 happily effected their purpose with equal success and resolution. Paoli then lar concealed for two days in the ruins of a convent by the sea side, from, with several of his friends , and companions, he got on .board

an English ship at Porto , <■

■\7.„~ p J 1 1 lune 10.

Veccaio, and was land- J

ed safely two days after at Leghorn.

The reception which the Corsican ciiief met with m Leghorn, carried more the appearance of; a triumph, than the marks of a slight; all the English ships in the harbour displayed their colours, and discharged their artillery, and though it rained exceiiivcly, im* menie crowds of people of all ranks ran down'to the water side to behold his landing, and received him with the loudest acclamations, i he general went directly to toe house of t>ir John Dick the English consul, where some gentlemen of the same nation, who had before visited him in CorJica, attended to receive him. His brother, Clement I-'agli, .with about three hundred other-fugitives, among whom were several


of the most noted chiefs, were landed a few days after from, another English (hip:

Notwithstanding every method used by the French to prevent it, and to conciliate the minds of the people, there has been a great and continual emigration from the island ever since the conquest. The Italian princes have received the fugitives with great hospitality. The grand duke of Tuscany assigned lands to such- of them as chose to settle in his dominions. Great numbers of them have entered into the king of Sardinia's service, who gives them particular encouragement, and a great many families are gone to Minorca. Wherever they appeared, they were beheld with pity, admiration, and regard; »nd the brave struggle they made; in defence of their liberty, procured them respect in governments, where the term is scarcely known.

Though the French over-run the island upon the departure of Paoli, several of the chiefs who refused to accept the amnesty they offered, retired to the most inaccessible places with their parties, where they continued to be very troublesome to them. Among others, the celebrated Carlo Sallicetti did them so much mischief, that Count de Vaux was not ashamed lo set a price by proclamation, of five hundred Louis d'ors upon his head. An assembly of the principal inhabi» „ tants of the island was ■" 'however held at Corte,

where they ratified the oaths and submissions which most of them had already made, and received the orders that were given in re

gard to the new form of government.

In the mean time the French king took every measure to annex Corsica irrevocably to his kingdom. To this purpose the sovereign council of that island was totally suppressed, and a new one created, which is to consist of magistrates to be presented to, and approved of, by the parliament of Provence. The king also decreed, that the island of Corsica should for the future be considered as included in, and a member of the Gallicart church, and the pope, in pursuance of this resolution, granted an indulto to the king for the nomination of seven churches in that island, which was declared a part of the king's domains, and a'director-generalaccordingly appointed for that office.

To gratify the people, and attach them to the French interest, the king ordered a new' body of troops to be formed, and to be called the Corsican leg-ion, which was to be composed intirely of natives of that island. Nothing could be more, alluring to a poor and military people, long;' inured to arms, and used to the liberty that attends such a life, and destitute of trade, manufactures, and other means of employment, than such an institution. The commissions would have provided for the younger brothers and. poorer part of the nobility, and even the French pay of the common soldiers would be no trivial consideration, in a very poor and a very cheap country. Nothing can however shew the general ab^ horrence and detestation' with which the, Corlicans regard the French govern*

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »