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Sloane, William Milligan / The Life of Napoleon Bonaparte Vol. I. (of IV.)
Produced by Thierry Alberto, Henry Craig, Christine P.
Travers and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at

[Transcriber's note: Obvious printer's errors have been corrected, all
other inconsistencies are as in the original. The author's spelling
has been maintained.]

[Illustration: Napoleon Bonaparte in 1785, aged sixteen. From sketch
made by a comrade; formerly in the Musée des Souverains, now in the



PH.D., L.H.D., LL.D.
_Professor of History in Columbia University_

Revised and Enlarged
With Portraits


[Illustration: Editor's arm.]


Copyright, 1894, 1895, 1896, 1910

_Published, October, 1910_


This life of Napoleon was first published in 1896 as a book: for the
years 1895-96 it ran as a serial in the pages of the Century Magazine.
Judging from the sales, it has been read by many tens if not hundreds
of thousands of readers; and it has been extensively noticed in the
critical journals of both worlds. Throughout these fourteen years the
demand has been very large and steady, considering the size and cost
of the volumes. Both publishers and author have determined therefore
that a library edition was desired by the public, and in that
confidence the book has been partly rewritten and entirely remade.

In the main it is the same book as that which has passed through so
many editions. But in some respects it has been amplified. The portion
relating to the period of youth has been somewhat expanded, the
personalities of those nearest to Napoleon have been in some cases
more broadly sketched, new chapters have been added to the treatment
of the Continental system, the Louisiana Purchase, and the St. Helena
epoch. In all the text has been lengthened about one-tenth.

Under the compulsion of physical dimensions the author has minimized
the number of authorities and foot-notes. There is really very little
controversial matter regarding Napoleon which is not a matter of
opinion: the evidence has been so carefully sifted that substantial
agreement as to fact has been reached. Accordingly there have been
introduced at the opening of chapters or divisions short lists of good
references for those who desire to extend their reading: experts know
their own way. It is an interesting fact which throws great light on
the slight value of foot-notes that while I have had extensive
correspondence with my fellow workers, there has come to me in all
these years but a single request for the source of two statements, and
one demand for the evidence upon which certain opinions were based.

The former editions were duplicate books, a text by me and a
commentary of exquisite illustrations by other hands. The divergence
was very confusing to serious minds; in this edition there can be no
similar perplexity since the illustrations have been confined to

In putting these volumes through the press, in the preparation of the
reference lists for volumes three and four, and in the rearrangement
of the bibliography I have had the assistance of Dr. G. A. Hubbell to
whom my obligation is hereby acknowledged.

William M. SLOANE.

New York, _September 1, 1910_.


In the closing years of the eighteenth century European society began
its effort to get rid of benevolent despotism, so called, and to
secure its liberties under forms of constitutional government. The
struggle began in France, and spread over the more important lands of
continental Europe; its influence was strongly felt in England, and
even in the United States. Passing through the phases of
constitutional reform, of anarchy, and of military despotism, the
movement seemed for a time to have failed, and to outward appearances
absolutism was stronger after Waterloo than it had been half a century

But the force of the revolution was only checked, not spent; and to
the awakening of general intelligence, the strengthening of national
feeling, and the upbuilding of a sense of common brotherhood among
men, produced by the revolutionary struggles of this epoch, Europe
owes whatever liberty and free government its peoples now enjoy. At
the close of this period national power was no longer in the hands of
the aristocracy, nor in those of kings; it had passed into the third
social stratum, variously designated as the middle class, the burghers
or bourgeoisie, and the third estate, a body of men as little willing
to share it with the masses as the kings had been. Nevertheless, the
transition once begun could not be stopped, and the advance of manhood
suffrage has ever since been proportionate to the capacity of the
laboring classes to receive and use it, until now, at last, whatever
may be the nominal form of government in any civilized land, its
stability depends entirely upon the support of the people as a whole.
That which is the basis of all government--the power of the purse--has
passed into their hands.

This momentous change was of course a turbulent one--the most
turbulent in the history of civilization, as it has proved to be the
most comprehensive. Consequently its epoch is most interesting, being
dramatic in the highest degree, having brought into prominence men and
characters who rank among the great of all time, and having exhibited
to succeeding generations the most important lessons in the most vivid
light. By common consent the eminent man of the time was Napoleon
Bonaparte, the revolution queller, the burgher sovereign, the imperial
democrat, the supreme captain, the civil reformer, the victim of
circumstances which his soaring ambition used but which his unrivaled
prowess could not control. Gigantic in his proportions, and satanic in
his fate, his was the most tragic figure on the stage of modern
history. While the men of his own and the following generation were
still alive, it was almost impossible that the truth should be known
concerning his actions or his motives; and to fix his place in general
history was even less feasible. What he wrote and said about himself
was of course animated by a determination to appear in the best light;
what others wrote and said has been biased by either devotion or

Until within a very recent period it seemed that no man could discuss
him or his time without manifesting such strong personal feeling as to
vitiate his judgment and conclusions. This was partly due to the lack
of perspective, but in the main to ignorance of the facts essential to
a sober treatment of the theme. In this respect the last quarter of a
century has seen a gradual but radical change, for a band of
dispassionate scientific scholars have during that time been occupied
in the preparation of material for his life without reference to the
advocacy of one theory or another concerning his character. European
archives, long carefully guarded, have been thrown open; the
diplomatic correspondence of the most important periods has been
published; family papers have been examined, and numbers of valuable
memoirs have been printed. It has therefore been possible to check one
account by another, to cancel misrepresentations, to eliminate
passion--in short, to establish something like correct outline and
accurate detail, at least in regard to what the man actually did.
Those hidden secrets of any human mind which we call motives must ever
remain to other minds largely a matter of opinion, but a very fair
indication of them can be found when once the actual conduct of the
actor has been determined.

This investigation has mainly been the work of specialists, and its
results have been published in monographs and technical journals; most
of these workers, moreover, were continental scholars writing each in
his own language. Its results, as a whole, have therefore not been
accessible to the general reader in either America or England. It
seems highly desirable that they should be made so, and this has been
the effort of the writer. At the same time he claims to be an
independent investigator in some of the most important portions of the
field he covers. His researches have extended over many years, and it
has been his privilege to use original materials which, as far as he
knows, have not been used by others. At the close of the book will be
found a short account of the papers of Bonaparte's boyhood and youth
which the author has read, and of the portions of the French and
English archives which were generously put at his disposal, together
with a short though reasonably complete bibliography of the published
books and papers which really have scientific value. The number of
volumes concerned with Napoleon and his epoch is enormous; outside of
those mentioned very few have any value except as curiosities of



I. Introduction............................................ 1

II. The Bonapartes in Corsica.............................. 20

III. Napoleon's Birth and Childhood......................... 35

IV. Napoleon's School-days................................. 48

V. In Paris and Valence................................... 60

VI. Private Study and Garrison Life........................ 73

VII. Further Attempts at Authorship......................... 83

VIII. The Revolution in France.............................. 100

IX. Buonaparte and Revolution in Corsica.................. 111

X. First Lessons in Revolution........................... 123

XI. Traits of Character................................... 135

XII. The Revolution in the Rhone Valley.................... 148

XIII. Buonaparte the Corsican Jacobin....................... 160

XIV. Buonaparte the French Jacobin......................... 180

XV. A Jacobin Hegira...................................... 199

XVI. "The Supper of Beaucaire"............................. 212

XVII. Toulon................................................ 222

XVIII. A Jacobin General..................................... 236

XIX. Vicissitudes in War and Diplomacy..................... 247

XX. The End of Apprenticeship............................. 260

XXI. The Antechamber To Success............................ 272

XXII. Bonaparte the General of the Convention............... 287

XXIII. The Day of the Paris Sections......................... 302

XXIV. A Marriage of Inclination and Interest................ 313

XXV. Europe and the Directory.............................. 324

XXVI. Bonaparte on a Great Stage............................ 339

XXVII. The Conquest of Piedmont and the Milanese............. 352

XXVIII. An Insubordinate Conqueror and Diplomatist............ 363

XXIX. Bassano and Arcola.................................... 378

XXX. Bonaparte's Imperious Spirit.......................... 393

XXXI. Rivoli and the Capitulation of Mantua................. 406

XXXII. Humiliation of the Papacy and of Venice............... 419

XXXIII. The Preliminaries of Peace--Leoben.................... 430

XXXIV. The Fall of Venice.................................... 444


Napoleon Bonaparte in 1785, aged sixteen. _Frontispiece_

Marie-Lætitia Ramolino Bonaparte "Madame Mère"--Mother of
Napoleon I..................................................... 50

Charles Bonaparte, Father of the Emperor Napoleon, 1785.......... 96

Bonaparte, General in Chief of the Army of Italy................ 176

Josephine....................................................... 226

Marie-Josephine-Rose Tascher de la Pagerie, called Josephine,
Empress of the French......................................... 276

Bonaparte....................................................... 326

Map of Northern Italy, illustrating the Campaigns of 1796 and
1797.......................................................... 354

Josephine, Empress of the French................................ 374

Map illustrating the Campaign preceding the Treaty of
Campo-Formio, 1797............................................ 414






The Revolutionary Epoch in Europe -- Its Dominant
Personage -- The State System of Europe -- The Power of
Great Britain -- Feebleness of Democracy -- The Expectant
Attitude of the Continent -- Survival of Antiquated
Institutions -- The American Revolution -- Philosophical
Sophistries -- Rousseau -- His Fallacies -- Corsica as a
Center of Interest -- Its Geography -- Its Rulers -- The
People -- Sampiero -- Revolutions -- Spanish Alliance --
King Theodore -- French Intervention -- Supremacy of Genoa
-- Paoli -- His Success as a Liberator -- His Plan for
Alliance with France -- The Policy of Choiseul -- Paoli's
Reputation -- Napoleon's Account of Corsica and of Paoli --
Rousseau and Corsica.

Napoleon Bonaparte was the representative man of the epoch which
ushered in the nineteenth century. Though an aristocrat by descent, he
was in life, in training, and in quality neither that nor a plebeian;
he was the typical plain man of his time, exhibiting the common sense
of a generation which thought in terms made current by the philosophy
of the eighteenth century. His period was the most tumultuous and yet
the most fruitful in the world's history. But the progress made in it
was not altogether direct; rather was it like the advance of a
traveler whirled through the spiral tunnels of the St. Gotthard.
Flying from the inclemency of the north, he is carried by the
ponderous train due southward into the opening. After a time of
darkness he emerges into the open air. But at first sight the goal is
no nearer; the direction is perhaps reversed, the skies are more
forbidding, the chill is more intense. Only after successive ventures
of the same kind is the climax reached, the summit passed, and the
vision of sunny plains opened to view. Such experiences are more
common to the race than to the individual; the muse of history must
note and record them with equanimity, with a buoyancy and hopefulness
born of larger knowledge. The movement of civilization in Europe
during the latter portion of the eighteenth century was onward and
upward, but it was at times not only devious, slow and laborious, but
fruitless in immediate results.

We must study the age and the people of any great man if we sincerely
desire the truth regarding his strength and weakness, his inborn
tendencies and purposes, his failures and successes, the temporary
incidents and the lasting, constructive, meritorious achievements of
his career. This is certainly far more true of Napoleon than of any
other heroic personage; an affectionate awe has sometimes lifted him
to heaven, a spiteful hate has often hurled him down to hell. Every
nation, every party, faction, and cabal among his own and other
peoples, has judged him from its own standpoint of self-interest and
self-justification. Whatever chance there may be of reading the
secrets of his life lies rather in a just consideration of the man in
relation to his times, about which much is known, than in an attempt
at the psychological dissection of an enigmatical nature, about which
little is known, in spite of the fullness of our information. The
abundant facts of his career are not facts at all unless considered in
the light not only of a great national life, but of a continental
movement which embraced in its day all civilization, not excepting
that of Great Britain and America.

The states of Europe are sisters, children of the Holy Roman Empire.
In the formation of strong nationalities with differences in language,
religion, and institutions the relationship was almost forgotten, and
in the intensity of later rivalry is not always even now remembered.
It is, however, so close that at any epoch there is traceable a common
movement which occupies them all. By the end of the fourteenth century
they had secured their modern form in territorial and race unity with
a government by monarchy more or less absolute. The fifteenth century
saw with the strengthening of the monarchy the renascence of the fine
arts, the great inventions, the awakening of enterprise in discovery,
the mental quickening which began to call all authority to account.
The sixteenth was the age of the Reformation, an event too often
belittled by ecclesiastics who discern only its schismatic character,
and not sufficiently emphasized by historians as the most pregnant
political fact of any age with respect to the rise and growth of free

The seventeenth century saw in England the triumph of political ideas
adapted to the new state of society which had arisen, but subversive
of the tyrannical system which had done its work, a work great and
good in the creation of peoples and the production of social order out
of chaos. For a time it seemed as if the island state were to become
the overshadowing influence in all the rest of Europe. By the middle
of the century her example had fired the whole continent with notions
of political reform. The long campaign which she and her allies waged
with varying fortune against Louis XIV, commanding the conservative
forces of the Latin blood, and the Roman religion ended unfavorably to
the latter. At the close of the Seven Years' War there was not an
Englishman in Europe or America or in the colonies at the antipodes
whose pulse did not beat high as he saw his motherland triumphant in
every quarter of the globe.

But these very successes, intensifying the bitterness of defeat and
everything connected with it, prevented among numerous other causes
the triumph of constitutional government anywhere in continental
Europe. Switzerland was remote and inaccessible; her beacon of
democracy burned bright, but its rays scarcely shone beyond the
mountain valleys. The Dutch republic, enervated by commercial success
and under a constitution which by its intricate system of checks was a
satire on organized liberty, had become a warning rather than a model
to other nations.

The other members of the great European state family presented a
curious spectacle. On every hand there was a cheerful trust in the
future. The present was as bad as possible, but belonged to the
passing and not to the coming hour. Truth was abroad, felt the
philosophers, and must prevail. Feudal privilege, oppression, vice and
venality in government, the misery of the poor--all would slowly fade
away. The human mind was never keener than in the eighteenth century;
reasonableness, hope, and thoroughness characterized its activity.
Natural science, metaphysics and historical studies made giant
strides, while political theories of a dazzling splendor never equaled
before nor since were rife on every side. Such was their power in a
buoyant society, awaiting the millennium, that they supplanted
entirely the results of observation and experience in the sphere of

But neither lever nor fulcrum was strong enough as yet to stir the
inert mass of traditional forms. Monarchs still flattered themselves
with notions of paternal government and divine right; the nobility
still claimed and exercised baseless privileges which had descended
from an age when their ancestors held not merely these but the land on
which they rested; the burgesses still hugged, as something which had
come from above, their dearly bought charter rights, now revealed as
inborn liberties. They were thus hardened into a gross contentment
dangerous for themselves, and into an indifference which was a menace
to others. The great agricultural populations living in various
degrees of serfdom still groaned under the artificial oppressions of a
society which had passed away. Nominally the peasant might own certain
portions of the soil, but he could not enjoy unmolested the airs which
blew over it nor the streams which ran through it nor the wild things
which trespassed or dwelt on it, while on every side some exasperating
demand for the contribution of labor or goods or money confronted him.

In short, the civilized world was in one of those transitional epochs
when institutions persist, after the beliefs and conditions which
molded them have utterly disappeared. The inertia of such a
rock-ribbed shell is terrible, and while sometimes the erosive power
of agitation and discussion suffices to weaken and destroy it, more
often the volcanic fires of social convulsion are alone strong enough.
The first such shock came from within the English-speaking world
itself, but not in Europe. The American colonies, appreciating and
applying to their own conditions the principles of the English
Revolution, began, and with French assistance completed, the movement
which erected in another hemisphere the American republic. Weak and
tottering in its infancy, but growing ever stronger and therefore
milder, its example began at once to suggest the great and peaceful
reforms of the English constitution which have since followed.
Threatening absolutism in the strong contrasts its citizens presented
to the subjects of other lands, it has been ever since the moral
support of liberal movements the world around. England herself,
instead of being weakened, was strengthened by the child grown to
independent maturity, and a double example of prosperity under
constitutional administration was now held up to the continent of

But it is the greatest proof of human weakness that there is no
movement however beneficent, no doctrine however sound, no truth
however absolute, but that it can be speciously so extended, so
expanded, so emphasized as to lose its identity. Coincident with the
political speculation of the eighteenth century appeared the storm and
stress of romanticism and sentimentalism. The extremes of morbid
personal emotion were thought serviceable for daily life, while the
middle course of applying ideals to experience was utterly abandoned.
The latest nihilism differs little from the conception of the perfect
regeneration of mankind by discarding the old merely because it was
old which triumphed in the latter half of the eighteenth century among
philosophers and wits. To be sure, they had a substitute for whatever
was abolished and a supplement for whatever was left incomplete.

Even the stable sense of the Americans was infected by the virus of
mere theories. In obedience to the spirit of the age they introduced
into their written constitution, which was in the main but a statement
of their deep-seated political habits, a scheme like that of the
electoral college founded on some high-sounding doctrine, or omitted
from it in obedience to a prevalent and temporary extravagance of
protest some fundamental truth like that of the Christian character of
their government and laws. If there be anywhere a Christian
Protestant state it is the United States; if any futile invention were
ever incorporated in a written charter it was that of the electoral
college. The addition of a vague theory or the omission of essential
national qualities in the document of the constitution has affected
our subsequent history little or not at all.

But such was not the case in a society still under feudal oppression.
Fictions like the contract theory of government, exploded by the sound
sense of Burke; political generalizations like certain paragraphs of
the French Declaration of Rights, every item of which now and here
reads like a platitude but was then and there a vivid revolutionary
novelty; emotional yearnings for some vague Utopia--all fell into
fruitful soil and produced a rank harvest, mostly of straw and stalks,
although there was some sound grain. The thought of the time was a
powerful factor in determining the course and the quality of events
throughout all Europe. No nation was altogether unmoved. The center of
agitation was in France, although the little Calvinistic state of
Geneva brought forth the prophet and writer of the times.

Rousseau was a man of small learning but great insight. Originating
almost nothing, he set forth the ideas of others with incisive
distinctness, often modifying them to their hurt, but giving to the
form in which he wrote them an air of seductive practicability and
reality which alone threw them into the sphere of action. Examining
Europe at large, he found its social and political institutions so
hardened and so unresponsive that he declared it incapable of movement
without an antecedent general crash and breaking up. No laws, he
reasoned, could be made because there were no means by which the
general will could express itself, such was the rigidity of
absolutism and feudalism. The splendid studies of Montesquieu, which
revealed to the French the eternal truths underlying the
constitutional changes in England, had enlightened and captivated the
best minds of his country, but they were too serious, too cold, too
dry to move the quick, bright temperament of the people at large. This
was the work of Rousseau. Consummate in his literary power, he laid
the ax at the root of the tree in his fierce attack on the prevailing
education, sought a new basis for government in his peculiar
modification of the contract theory, and constructed a substitute
system of sentimental morals to supplant the old authoritative one
which was believed to underlie all the prevalent iniquities in
religion, politics, and society.

His entire structure lacked a foundation either in history or in
reason. But the popular fancy was fascinated. The whole flimsy
furniture in the chambers of the general mind vanished. New emotions,
new purposes, new sanctions appeared in its stead. There was a sad
lack of ethical definitions, an over-zealous iconoclasm as to
religion, but there were many high conceptions of regenerating
society, of liberty, of brotherhood, of equality. The influence of
this movement was literally ubiquitous; it was felt wherever men read
or thought or talked, and were connected, however remotely, with the
great central movement of civilization.

No land and no family could to all outward appearance be further aside
from the main channel of European history in the eighteenth century
than the island of Corsica and an obscure family by the name of
Buonaparte which had dwelt there since the beginning of the eighteenth
century. Yet that isolated land and that unknown family were not
merely to be drawn into the movement, they were to illustrate its most
characteristic phases. Rousseau, though mistakenly, forecast a great
destiny for Corsica, declaring in his letters on Poland that it was
the only European land capable of movement, of law-making, of peaceful
renovation. It was small and remote, but it came near to being an
actual exemplification of his favorite and fundamental dogma
concerning man in a state of nature, of order as arising from
conflict, of government as resting on general consent and mutual
agreement among the governed. Toward Corsica, therefore, the eyes of
all Europe had long been directed. There, more than elsewhere, the
setting of the world-drama seemed complete in miniature, and, in the
closing quarter of the eighteenth century, the action was rapidly
unfolding a plot of universal interest.

A lofty mountain-ridge divides the island into eastern and western
districts. The former is gentler in its slopes, and more fertile.
Looking, as it does, toward Italy, it was during the middle ages
closely bound in intercourse with that peninsula; richer in its
resources than the other part, it was more open to outside influences,
and for this reason freer in its institutions. The rugged western
division had come more completely under the yoke of feudalism, having
close affinity in sympathy, and some relation in blood, with the
Greek, Roman, Saracenic, and Teutonic race-elements in France and
Spain. The communal administration of the eastern slope, however,
prevailed eventually in the western as well, and the differences of
origin, wealth, and occupation, though at times the occasion of
intestine discord, were as nothing compared with the common
characteristics which knit the population of the entire island into
one national organization, as much a unit as their insular territory.

The people of this small commonwealth were in the main of Italian
blood. Some slight connection with the motherland they still
maintained in the relations of commerce, and by the education of their
professional men at Italian schools. While a small minority supported
themselves as tradesmen or seafarers, the mass of the population was
dependent for a livelihood upon agriculture. As a nation they had long
ceased to follow the course of general European development. They had
been successively the subjects of Greece, Rome, and the Califate, of
the German-Roman emperors, and of the republic of Pisa. Their latest
ruler was Genoa, which had now degenerated into an untrustworthy
oligarchy. United to that state originally by terms which gave the
island a "speaker" or advocate in the Genoese senate, and recognized
the most cherished habits of a hardy, natural-minded, and primitive
people, they had little by little been left a prey to their own faults
in order that their unworthy mistress might plead their disorders as
an excuse for her tyranny. Agriculture languished, and the minute
subdivision of arable land finally rendered its tillage almost

Among a people who are isolated not only as islanders, but also as
mountaineers, old institutions are particularly tenacious of life:
that of the vendetta, or blood revenge, with the clanship it
accompanies, never disappeared from Corsica. In the centuries of
Genoese rule the carrying of arms was winked at, quarrels became rife,
and often family confederations, embracing a considerable part of the
country, were arrayed one against the other in lawless violence. The
feudal nobility, few in number, were unrecognized, and failed to
cultivate the industrial arts in the security of costly strongholds as
their class did elsewhere, while the fairest portions of land not held
by them were gradually absorbed by the monasteries, a process favored
by Genoa as likely to render easier the government of a turbulent
people. The human animal, however, throve. Rudely clad in homespun,
men and women alike cultivated a simplicity of dress surpassed only by
their plain living. There was no wealth except that of fields and
flocks, their money consequently was debased and almost worthless. The
social distinctions of noble and peasant survived only in tradition,
and all classes intermingled without any sense of superiority or
inferiority. Elegance of manner, polish, grace, were unsought and
existed only by natural refinement, which was rare among a people who
were on the whole simple to boorishness. Physically they were,
however, admirable. All visitors were struck by the repose and
self-reliance of their countenances. The women were neither beautiful,
stylish, nor neat. Yet they were considered modest and attractive. The
men were more striking in appearance and character. Of medium stature
and powerful mold, with black hair, fine teeth, and piercing eyes;
with well-formed, agile, and sinewy limbs; sober, brave, trustworthy,
and endowed with many other primitive virtues as well, the Corsican
was everywhere sought as a soldier, and could be found in all the
armies of the southern continental states.

In their periodic struggles against Genoese encroachments and tyranny,
the Corsicans had produced a line of national heroes. Sampiero, one of
these, had in the sixteenth century incorporated Corsica for a brief
hour with the dominions of the French crown, and was regarded as the
typical Corsican. Dark, warlike, and revengeful, he had displayed a
keen intellect and a fine judgment. Simple in his dress and habits,
untainted by the luxury then prevalent in the courts of Florence and
Paris, at both of which he resided for considerable periods, he could
kill his wife without a shudder when she put herself and child into
the hands of his enemies to betray him. Hospitable and generous, but
untamed and terrible; brusque, dictatorial, and without consideration
or compassion; the offspring of his times and his people, he stands
the embodiment of primeval energy, physical and mental.

The submission of a people like this to a superior force was sullen,
and in the long century which followed, the energies generally
displayed in a well-ordered life seemed among them to be not quenched
but directed into the channels of their passions and their bodily
powers, which were ready on occasion to break forth in devastating
violence. In 1729 began a succession of revolutionary outbursts, and
at last in 1730 the communal assemblies united in a national
convention, choosing two chiefs, Colonna-Ceccaldi and Giafferi, to
lead in the attempt to rouse the nation to action and throw off the
unendurable yoke. English philanthropists furnished the munitions of
war. The Genoese were beaten in successive battles, even after they
brought into the field eight thousand German mercenaries purchased
from the Emperor Charles VI. The Corsican adventurers in foreign
lands, pleading for their liberties with artless eloquence at every
court, filled Europe with enthusiasm for their cause and streamed back
to fight for their homes. A temporary peace on terms which granted all
they asked was finally arranged through the Emperor's intervention.

But the two elected chiefs, and a third patriot, Raffaelli, having
been taken prisoners by the Genoese, were ungenerously kept in
confinement, and released only at the command of Charles. Under the
same leaders, now further exasperated by their ill usage, began and
continued another agitation, this time for separation and complete
emancipation. Giafferi's chosen adjutant was a youth of good family
and excellent parts, Hyacinth Paoli. In the then existing
complications of European politics the only available helper was the
King of Spain, and to him the Corsicans now applied, but his
undertakings compelled him to refuse. Left without allies or any
earthly support, the pious Corsicans naïvely threw themselves on the
protection of the Virgin and determined more firmly than ever to
secure their independence.

In this crisis appeared at the head of a considerable following, some
hundreds in number, the notorious and curious German adventurer,
Theodore von Neuhof, who, declaring that he represented the sympathy
of the great powers for Corsica, made ready to proclaim himself as
king. As any shelter is welcome in a storm, the people accepted him,
and he was crowned on April fifteenth, 1736. But although he spoke
truthfully when he claimed to represent the sympathy of the powers, he
did not represent their strength, and was defeated again and again in
encounters with the forces of Genoa. The oligarchy had now secured an
alliance with France, which feared lest the island might fall into
more hostile and stronger hands; and before the close of the year the
short-lived monarchy ended in the disappearance of Theodore I of
Corsica from his kingdom and soon after, in spite of his heroic
exertions, from history.

The truth was that some of the nationalist leaders had not forgotten
the old patriotic leaning towards France which had existed since the
days of Sampiero, and were themselves in communication with the French
court and Cardinal Fleury. A French army landed in February, 1738, and
was defeated. An overwhelming force was then despatched and the
insurrection subsided. In the end France, though strongly tempted to
hold what she had conquered, kept her promise to Genoa and disarmed
the Corsicans; on the other hand, however, she consulted her own
interest and attempted to soothe the islanders by guaranteeing to them
national rights. Such, however, was the prevalent bitterness that many
patriots fled into exile; some, like Hyacinth Paoli, choosing the pay
of Naples for themselves and followers, others accepting the offer of
France and forming according to time-honored custom a Corsican
regiment of mercenaries which took service in the armies of the King.
Among the latter were two of some eminence, Buttafuoco and Salicetti.
The half measures of Fleury left Corsica, as he intended, ready to
fall into his hands when opportunity should be ripe. Even the
patriotic leaders were now no longer in harmony. Those in Italy were
of the old disinterested line and suspicious of their western
neighbor; the others were charged with being the more ambitious for
themselves and careless of their country's liberty. Both classes,
however, claimed to be true patriots.

During the War of the Austrian Succession it seemed for a moment as if
Corsica were to be freed by the attempt of Maria Theresa to overthrow
Genoa, then an ally of the Bourbon powers. The national party rose
again under Gaffori, the regiments of Piedmont came to their help, and
the English fleet delivered St. Florent and Bastia into their hands.
But the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748) left things substantially as
they were before the war, and in 1752 a new arrangement unsatisfactory
to both parties was made with Genoa. It was virtually dictated by
Spain and France, England having been alienated by the quarrels and
petty jealousies of the Corsican leaders, and lasted only as long as
the French occupation continued. Under the leadership of the same
dauntless Gaffori who in 1740 had been chosen along with Matra to be a
chief commander, the Genoese were once more driven from the highlands
into the coast towns. At the height of his success the bold guerrilla
fell a victim to family rivalries and personal spite. Through the
influence of his despairing foes a successful conspiracy was formed
and in the autumn of 1753 he was foully murdered.

But the greatest of these national heroes was also the last--Pascal
Paoli. Fitted for his task by birth, by capacity, by superior
training, this youth was in 1755 made captain-general of the island, a
virtual dictator in his twenty-ninth year. His success was as
remarkable as his measures were wise. Elections were regulated so that
strong organization was introduced into the loose democratic
institutions which had hitherto prevented sufficient unity of action
in troubled times. An army was created from the straggling bands of
volunteers, and brigandage was suppressed. Wise laws were enacted and
enforced--among them one which made the blood-avenger a murderer,
instead of a hero as he had been. Moreover, the foundations of a
university were laid in the town of Corte, which was the hearthstone
of the liberals because it was the natural capital of the west slope,
connected by difficult and defensible paths with every cape and bay
and intervale of the rocky and broken coast. The Genoese were
gradually driven from the interior, and finally they occupied but
three harbor towns.

Through skilful diplomacy Paoli created a temporary breach between his
oppressors and the Vatican, which, though soon healed, nevertheless
enabled him to recover important domains for the state, and prevented
the Roman hierarchy from using its enormous influence over the
superstitious people utterly to crush the movement for their
emancipation. His extreme and enlightened liberalism is admirably
shown by his invitation to the Jews, with their industry and steady
habits, to settle in Corsica, and to live there in the fullest
enjoyment of civil rights, according to the traditions of their faith
and the precepts of their law.

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Main -> Sloane, William Milligan -> The Life of Napoleon Bonaparte Vol. I. (of IV.)