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Under the head of learning I must observe that there is a printinghouse at Corte, and a bookseller's shop, both kept by a Luccese, a man of some capacity in his business. He has very good types; but he prints nothing more than the publick manifestoes, calendars of feast days, and little practical devotional pieces, as also the "Corsican Gazette," which is published by authority, from time to time, just as news are collected; for it contains nothing but the news of the island. It admits no foreign intelligence, nor private anecdotes; so that there will sometimes be an interval of three months during which no news-papers are published.
It will be long before the Corsicans arrive at the refinement in conducting a news-paper, of which London affords an unparalleled perfection; for I do believe an English news-paper is the most various and extraordinary composition that mankind ever produced. An English news-paper, while it informs the judicious of what is really doing in Europe, can keep pace with the wildest fancy in feigned adventures, and amuse the most desultory taste with essays on all subjects, and in every stile.-Boswell's "Account of Corsica," page 197.
There are some extraordinary customs which still subsist in Corsica. In particular they have several strange ceremonies at the death of their relations. When a man dies, especially if he has been assassinated, his widow with all the married women in the village accompany the corpse to the grave, where, after various howlings, and other expressions of sorrow, the women fall upon the widow, and beat and tear her in a most miserable manner. Having thus satisfied their grief and passion, they lead her back again, covered with blood and bruises, to her own habitation. This I had no opportunity of seeing while I was in the island; but I have it from undoubted authority.-Boswell's "Account of Corsica," page 221.
Having said so much of the genius and character of the Corsicans, I must beg leave to present my readers with a very distinguished Corsican character, that of Signor Clemente de' Paoli, brother of the General.
This gentleman is the eldest son of the old General Giacinto Paoli. He is about fifty years of age, of a middle size and dark complexion, his eyes are quick and piercing, and he has something in the form of his mouth which renders his appearance very particular. His understanding is of the first rate; and he has by no means suffered it to lie neglected. He was married, and has an only daughter, the wife of Signor Barbaggi one of the first men in the island.
For these many years past, Signor Clementi, being in a state of widowhood, has resided at Rostino, from whence the family of Paoli comes. He lives there in a very retired manner. He is of a Saturnine disposition, and his notions of religion are rather gloomy and severe. He spends his whole time in study, except what he passes at his devotions. These generally take up six or eight hours every day; during all which time he is in church, and before the altar, in a fixed posture, with his hands and eyes lifted up to heaven, with solemn fervour.
He prescribes to himself, an abstemious, rigid course of life; as if he had taken the vows of some of the religious orders. He is much with the Franciscans, who have a convent at Rostino. He wears the common coarse dress of the country, and it is difficult to distinguish him from one of the lowest of the people.
When he is in company he seldom speaks, and except upon important occasions, never goes into publick, or even to visit his brother at Corte. When danger calls, however, he is the first to appear in the defence of his country. He is then foremost in the
ranks, and exposes himself to the hottest action; for religious fear is perfectly consistent with the greatest bravery; according to the famous line of the pious Racine,
"Je crains DIEU, cher Abner; et n'ai point d'autre crainte." "I fear my GOD; and Him alone I fear."
In the beginning of an engagement he is generally calm; and will frequently offer up a prayer to heaven, for the person at whom he is going to fire; saying he is sorry to be under the necessity of depriving him of life; but that he is an enemy to Corsica, and Providence has sent him in his way, in order that he may be prevented from doing any farther mischief; that he hopes GOD will pardon his crimes, and take him to himself. After he has seen two or three of his countrymen fall at his side, the case alters. His eyes flame with grief and indignation, and he becomes like one furious, dealing vengeance every where around him.
His authority in the council is not less than his valour in the field. His strength of judgement and extent of knowledge, joined to the singular sanctity of his character, give him great weight in all the publick consultations; and his influence is of considerable service to his brother the General.-Boswell's "Account of Corsica," page 222.