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Truth will not afford sufficient food to their vanity; so they have betaken themselves to error. Truth, Sir, is a cow which will yield such people no more milk, and so they are gone to milk the bull."
I felt an elation of mind to see Paoli delighted with the sayings of Mr. Johnson, and to hear him translate them with Italian energy to the Corsican heroes. I repeated Mr. Johnson's sayings, as nearly as I could, in his own peculiar forcible language, for which, prejudiced or little critics have taken upon them to find fault with him. He is above making any answer to them, but I have found a sufficient answer in a general remark in one of his excellent papers: "Difference of thoughts will produce difference of language. He that thinks with more extent than another, will want words of larger meaning."
Last Day with Paoli.
The last day which I spent with Paoli appeared of inestimable value. I thought him more than usually great and amiable when I was upon the eve of parting from him. The night before my departure a little incident happened which showed him in a most agreeable light. When the servants were bringing in the dessert after supper, one of them chanced to let fall a plate of walnuts. Instead of flying into a passion at what the man could not help, Paoli said, with a smile, "No matter." And turning to me, "It is a good sign for you, Sir; tempus est spargere nuces, It is time to scatter walnuts. It is a matrimonial omen: you must go home to your own country, and marry some fine woman whom you really like. I shall rejoice to hear of it. This was a pretty allusion to the Roman ceremony at weddings, of scattering walnuts. So Virgil's Damon
"Mopse novas incide faces: tibi ducitur uxor.
Sparge marite nuces: tibi deserit Hesperus Oetam."
"Thy bride comes forth! begin the festal rites!
When I again asked Paoli if it were possible for me in any way to show him my great respect and attachment, he replied, "Ricordatevi che io vi sia amico, e scrivetemi. Remember that I am your friend, and write to I said I hoped that when he honoured me with a letter, he would write not only as a commander, but as a philosopher and a man of letters. He took me by the hand, and said, "As a friend." I took leave of him with regret and agitation, not without some hopes of seeing him again. Even having known intimately so exalted a character, my sentiments of human nature were raised, while, by a sort of contagion, I felt an honest ardour to distinguish myself, and be useful, as far as my situation and abilities would allow; and I was, for the rest of my life, set free from a slavish timidity in the presence of great men - for where shall I find a man greater than Paoli ?
Return to Corte.
When I set out from Sollacarò, I felt myself a good deal indisposed. The old house of Colonna, like the family of its master, was much decayed; so that both wind and rain found their way into my bed-chamber. From this I contracted a severe cold, which ended in a tertian ague. There was no help for it. I might well submit to some inconveniences, where I had enjoyed so much happiness. I was accompanied a part of the road by a great swarthy priest, who had never been out of Corsica. He was a very Hercules for strength and resolution. He and two other Corsicans took a castle garrisoned by no less than fifteen Genoese: indeed the
I have heard them say, 66 Basterebbero le donne contra i Genovesi! Our women would be enough against the Genoese!" This priest was a bluff, hearty, roaring fellow, troubled neither with knowledge nor care. He was ever and anon showing me how stoutly his nag could caper. He always rode some paces before me, and sat in an attitude half turned round, with his hand clapped upon the crupper. Then he would burst out with comical songs about the devil and the Genoese, and I don't know what all. In short, notwithstanding my feverishness, he kept me laughing whether I would
At Cauro I had a fine view of Ajaccio and its environs. My ague was some time of forming, so I had frequent intervals of ease, which I employed in observing whatever occurred. I was lodged at Cauro, in the house of Signor Peraldi of Ajaccio, who received me with great politeness. I found here another provincial magistracy. Before supper, Signor Peraldi and a young Abbé of Ajaccio entertained me with some airs on the violin. After they had shown me their taste in fine improved music, they gave me some original Corsican airs; and, at my desire, they brought up four of the guards of the magistracy, and made them show me a Corsican dance. It was 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.
At Bogognano I came upon the same road I had formerly travelled from Corte, where I arrived safe after all my fatigues. My good fathers of the Franciscan convent received me like an old acquaintance, and showed a kind of concern at my illness. My ague distressed me so much, that I was confined to the convent for several days. I did not however weary. I was visited by the Great Chancellor, and several
others of the civil magistrates, and by Padre Mariani, rector of the university, a man of learning and abilities; as a proof of which, he had been three years at Madrid, in the character of secretary to the General of the Franciscans. I remember a very eloquent expression of his on the state of his country. "Corsica," said he, "has for many years past been bleeding at all her veins. They are now closed. But after being so severely exhausted, it will take some time before she can recover perfect strength." I was also visited by Padre Leonardo, of whose animating discourse I have made mention in a former part of this book.
Indeed I should not have been at a loss, though my very reverend fathers had been all my society. I was not in the least looked upon as a heretic. Difference of faith was forgotten in hospitality. I went about the convent as if I had been in my own house; and the fathers, without any impropriety of mirth, were yet as cheerful as I could desire. I had two surgeons to attend me at Corte, a Corsican and a Piedmontese ; and I got a little Jesuit's bark from the spiceria, or apothecary's shop, of the Capuchin convent. I did not, however, expect to be effectually cured till I should get to
Letter to Dr. Johnson.
On one of the days that my ague disturbed me least, I walked from the Franciscan convent to Corte, purposely to write a letter to Mr. Samuel Johnson. I told my revered friend, that from a kind of superstition agreeable in a certain degree to him, as well as to myself, I had, during my travels, written to him from loca solennia, places in some measure sacred. That as I had written to him from the tomb of Melancthon (1), sacred to learning and piety, I now wrote
to him from the palace of Pascal Paoli, sacred to wisdom and liberty; knowing that, however his political principles may have been represented, he had always a generous zeal for the common rights of humanity. gave him a sketch of the great things I had seen in Corsica, and promised him a more ample relation. Mr. Johnson was pleased with what I wrote here; for I received at Paris an answer from him, which I keep as a valuable charter:-" When you return, you will return to an unaltered, and, I hope, an unalterable friend. All that you have to fear from me is the vexation of disappointing me. Come home, however, and take your chance. I long to see you, and to hear you; and hope that we shall not be so long separated again. Come home, and expect such a welcome as is due to him, whom a wise and noble curiosity has led where, perhaps, no native of this country ever was before."