Paoli, Pascal De

, a very distinguished character in modern times, born at Rostino, in the island of Corsica, in 1726, was the son of Hiacente Paoli, a Corsican patriot, who, despairing of the freedom of his country, had retired with his family to Naples. Pascal was educated among the Jesuits, and at their college he made a rapid progress in | his studies, and displayed an understanding equally solid and capacious. He appeared in so favourable a light to his countrymen, that he was unanimously chosen generalissimo, in a full assembly of the people, when he had attained but to the 29th year of his age. He began with new-modelling the laws of Corsica, and established the appearance, if not the reality, of subordination: he also instituted schools, and laid the foundation of a maritime power. In 1761 the government of Genoa, perceiving the change lately effected among the natives, sent a deputation to a general council, convoked at Vescovato, for the express purpose of proposing terms of accommodation; but it was unanimously resolved never to make peace with them, unless upon the express condition of Corsica being guaranteed in the full enjoyment of its independence. A memorial to the same effect was also addressed, at tfie same time, to all the sovereigns of Europe. But nothing was gained by this step; and in 1768, the Genoese, despairing of rendering the Corsicans subservient to their will, transferred the sovereignty of their island to France, on condition of receiving in lieu of it 40,000,000 of livres. Notwithstanding this, Paoli remained firm to his cause: and a vigorous war commenced, in which, for some time, the French were beaten, and in one instance their general was obliged to capitulate, with all his infantry, artillery, and ammunition; but an immense force bing now sent from France, overwhelmed the Corsican patriots; they were defeated with great slaughter, and Paoli, left with only about 500 men, was surrounded by the French, who were anxious to get possession of his 'person: he, however, cut his way through the enemy, and escaped to England with his friends, where they were received with every degree of sympathy and respect. Paoli was introduced at court, and the duke of Grafton, then prime minister, obtained for him a pension of 1200l. a-year, which he liberally shared with his companions in exile. From this time he lived a retired life, devoting himself chiefly to the cultivation of literature. During his retirement, which lasted more than twenty years, he was introduced to Dr. Johnson by Mr. Boswell, and lived in habits of intimacy with that eminent scholar. Much of their conversation is recorded by Mr. Boswell.

When the French revolution took place, the national convention passed a decree by which Corsica was | numbered among the departments of France, and entitled to all the privileges of the new constitution, and Paoli was induced, by the promising appearance of affairs, and the solicitations of the French assembly, to return to the island. Accordingly he resigned his pension from the English court, took a grateful leave of the country in which he had been so hospitably entertained, and in the month of April 1790, presented himself at the bar of the national assembly at Paris, together with the Corsican deputies. Soon after this he embarked for Corsica, where he was received with an extraordinary degree of attachment and respect. He was elected mayor of Bastia, commander-in-chief of the national guard, and president of the department; and, in short, he at once acquired more authority in the island, than before its subjugation by the French. He was, however, not quite contented; he was ambitious of seeing Corsica wholly independent, which, upon the execution of Louis XVI. was the prevailing wish of the Corsicans. The French convention, however, meant nothing less, and at length declared Paoli a traitor. On this he resolved upon an expedient which, though it was a renunciation of independence, promised to secure all the advantages of real liberty. This was an union of Corsica with the crown of Great Britain; after effecting which, he returned to England, having unfortunately lost all his property, by the failure of a mercantile house at Leghorn, and passed the remainder of his life in great privacy. He died in London, February. 5, 1807, in the eighty-first year of his age. Few foreigners, however distinguished, have been so much caressed in England as general Paoli. By living in habits of familiarity with men of letters, his name and exploits acquired high celebrity: and Goldsmith, Johnson, and many others, equally eminent in the literary world, although differing in almost every thing else, cordially united in his praise. On the continent his reputation was greatly respected: it was usual to compare Paoli to Timoleon and Epaminondas. He was unquestionably a great man; but it is the opinion of those who have enjoyed the opportunity of studying his character, that he was a politician rather than a soldier: that he shone more in council than inarms; and that the leading feature of his public conduct was a certain degree of Italian policy, which taught him to refine and speculate on every event. 1


Boswell’s Account of Corsica, Athenasuai, vol. I. Rees’s Cyclopædia,