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Glimpse Of Corsica

Glimpse Of Corsica image
Parent Issue
Day
3
Month
November
Year
1899
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

[Special Correspondence.] Corte, Corsica, Sept. 15.- This ancieiit and sleepy city, about which there clings a flavor of romance and poetry, of heroism and brigaudage, was awakened froin its lethargy by tlie information from Paris that Captain Dreyfus, wlio has just been adjudged guilty of treaeon, was to be imprisoned here, probably in the old citadel which, in the days of Pasquale Paoli, was the seat of the Corsican government duriug the brief period of its independenee. There is very much to interest and attract one here on this historie island, brought again into prominence by the proposition to send hither Captain Dreyfus for imprisonuient. This city, witli a population of about 5,000, is in the center of the island, imposingly perched upon an abrupt bluff. The frowning mountains whieh surround the city, covered at this season of the year with a somber coat of deep brown, and the massive fortress placed on steep and well nigh inaccessible rocks give the city a deeidedly stern appearance. Through the deep and rugged gorges between the mountain sldes rush two rivers, the Rostonica and the Tavignano. At the point of their confluonce lies Corte. The citadel, where it is here understood Dreyfus is to be confined. was foi-merly a prison for captive Arabs. It stands on a precipitous rock overhanging the river Tavignano anti in earlier days was regarded as an impregnable fortress. Associated with it Is much of the history of the island, going back as far as the sixteenth century, when its foundations were laid by Vincentello d'Istria, who was the viceroy of Corsica, representing King Martin of Aragón. The city and the citadel of Corte, however, derive their greatest interest from the association with them of Pasquale Paoli, the last and greatest of the Corsican leaders in their wars against the Genoese and the French, and here he held hls court during the 14 years of his dictatorship, from 1755 to 1709. His statue stands in the rnarket place, and his house can be visited. It is now useO for a college, but the study and bedroom of Paoli are still kept as they were in his lifetime, the shutters of the Windows lined wlth cork as a protection against firearms. It is a large, ld mansion, looking like a fortress. While brigandage in Corsica is practically at an end, one cannot help recalling the days of the picturesque brigands and the vendetta. The brigands of Corsica were attracüve, at least from a romantic point of view. They were not common highwaymen and freebooters, urged by greed and idleness to live upon their men, nor were they refugeos from a despotic governmeut. Like Robin Hood and the Saxon outlaws, thcir existenee was. niainly the result of the teiTible custom of la vendetta-the private vengeance and hereditary fends of the island families. From one generation to another this custom has come down, and the result has been bloodshed and devastation to an Lucredible degree. No matter how the fer.d bogan- it might be by som? sllghtius word, a trifling quarrel- but out would come tlie too ready weapon, and a numler was the result. Th is death must be avenged by the nearest relative of the deceased or indeed by any relative. If the murderer had escaped, some member of his family was slaiu. The connoctious took up the quarrel. Henceforth, to use the espressive phrase of the country, there was blood between the families. Many romances have been written founded on this eustom, as "The Gorsican Brothers" and a tale of great interest by Professor Merimee. ealk'd "Coloraba," the heroïne of which was drawn from life. for even the women feit themselves bound to avenge the husband or sou by their owu hand or by their urgency or exhortations brought down the longed for retaliation. The dreadful results went beyond even the bounds of romance and were frequently the cause of civil war. In Corte is still pointed out the house where once lived Charles Bonaparte, the father of Napoleon, whose birth at Ajaecio, some 80 kilometers "southwest from here, gives the island of Corsicn its greatest fame.