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TOUR TO CORSICA.
HAVING resolved to pass some years * abroad, for my instruction and entertainment, I conceived a design of visiting the island of Corsica. I wished for something more than just the common course of what is called the
* Boswell had left England, on August 6th, 1763, for the University of Utrecht, whither his father had sent him to study civil law. On his return to Scotland, he was to put on the gown as a member of the Faculty of Advocates. "Honest man!" he writes of his father to his friend Temple, "he is now very happy; it is amazing to think how much he has had at heart my pursuing the road of civil life." Boswell had once hoped to enter the Guards. A few days later on he wrote: "My father has allowed me £60 a quarter; that is not a great allowance, but with economy I may live very well upon it, for Holland is a cheap country. However I am determined not to be straightened, nor to encourage the least narrowness of disposition as to saving money, but will draw upon my father for any sums I find necessary." He did not give many months to his legal studies at Utrecht. In the following year he set out on his travels. He went through Germany and Switzerland to Italy. It was in the autumn of 1765 that he visited Corsica. He returned to England through France, and arrived in London in February, 1766.
tour of Europe; and Corsica occurred to me as a place which no body else had seen, and where I should find what was to be seen no where else, a people actually fighting for liberty, and forming themselves from a poor inconsiderable oppressed nation, into a flourishing and independent state.
When I got into Switzerland, I went to see M. Rousseau. He was then living in romantick retirement, from whence, perhaps, it had been better for him never to have descended. While he was at a distance, his singular eloquence filled our minds with high ideas of the wild philosopher. When he came into the walks of men, we know alas! how much these ideas suffered. *
He entertained me very courteously; for I was recommended to him by my honoured friend the Earl Marischal, † with whom I had the happiness of travelling through a part of Germany. I had heard that M. Rousseau had some correspondence with the Corsicans, and had been desired to assist them in forming their laws. ‡ I told him my scheme of going to visit them, after I had
* Rousseau came to England in January, 1766. He had not been here long before he quarrelled with Hume, who had been to him so true a friend.-ED.
George, tenth Earl Marischal. He had taken part in the Jacobite rising of 1715. Later on he held high office in the Prussian service. In 1759 his attainder was reversed, but he continued to live abroad. In one of his letters to Madame de Boufflers he says, in speaking of Rousseau, "Je lui avais fait un projet ; mais en le disant un château en Espagne, d'aller habiter une maison toute meublée que j'ai en Ecosse; d'engager le bon David Hume de vivre avec nous. "Hume's Private Correspondence," page 43.-ED.
See page 222.
compleated my tour of Italy; and I insisted that he should give me a letter of introduction. He immediately agreed to do so, whenever I should acquaint him of my time of going thither; for he saw that my enthusiasm for the brave islanders was as warm as his own.
I accordingly wrote to him from Rome, in April 1765, that I had fixed the month of September for my Corsican expedition, and therefore begged of him to send me the letter of introduction, which if he refused, I should certainly go without it, and probably be hanged as a spy. So let him answer for the consequences.
The wild philosopher was a man of his word; and on my arrival at Florence in August I received the following letter.
"A MONSIEUR, MONSIEUR BOSWELL, &c.
"A MOTIERS le 30 May, 1765. "La crise orageuse ou je me trouve, Monsieur, depuis votre depart d'ici, m'a oté le tems de repondre à votre premiére lettre, et me laisse à peine celui de repondre en peu de mots à la seconde. Pour m'en tenir à ce qui presse pour le moment, savoir la recommendation que vous desirez en Corse; puisque vous avez le desir de visiter ces braves insulaires, vous pourrez vous informer à Bastia, de M. Buttafoco capitaine au Regiment Royal Italien; il a il a sa maison à Vescovado, ou il se tient assez souvent. C'est un très galant homme, qui a des connoissances et de l'esprit; il suffira de lui montrer cette lettre, et je suis sur qu'il vous recevra bien, et contribuera
à vous faire voir l'isle et ses habitans avec satisfaction. Si vous ne trouvez pas M. Buttafoco, et que vous vouliez aller tout droit à M. Pascal de Paoli general de la nation, vous pouvez egalement lui montrer cette lettre, et je suis sur, connoissant la noblesse de son caractére, que vous serez très-content de son accueil: vous pourrez lui dire même que vous étes aimé de Mylord Mareschal d'Ecosse, et que Mylord Mareschal est un des plus zelés partizans de la nation Corse. Au reste vouz n'avez besoin d'autre recommendation près de ces Messieurs que votre propre mérite, la nation Corse etant naturellement si accueillante et si hospitaliére, que tous les etrangers y sont bien venus et caressés.
"Bons et heureux voyages, santé, gaieté et promt retour. Je vous embrasse, Monsieur, de tout mon coeur."
"J. J. ROUSSEAU."
"TO MR. BOSWELL, &c.
"MOTIERS, the 30 May 1765.
"The stormy crisis in which I have found myself since your departure from this, has not allowed me any leisure to answer your first letter, and hardly allows me leisure to reply in a few words to your second. Το confine myself to what is immediately pressing, the recommendation which you ask for Corsica; since you have a desire to visit those brave islanders, you may