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Boswell's Correspondence with the Honourable Andrew Erskine, and His Journal of a Tour to Corsica
written by "Boswell, James, 1740-1795"
...alpole wrote this letter but two months before the birth of Buonaparte. Had England, who has joined in many a worthless quarrel, struck in for the Corsicans, what a change might have been made in the history of the world! If Buonaparte had never been a citizen of France the name of Napoleon might be unknown. Paoli escaped in an English ship, and settled in England. Walpole met him one day at Court. "I could not believe it," he wrote, "when I was told who he was.... Nobody sure ever had an air so little foreign!... The simplicity of his whole appearance had not given me the slightest suspicion of anything remarkable in him." Paoli remained in England, an honoured guest, for thirty years. In 1789 Mirabeau moved, in the National Assembly, the recall of all the Corsican patriots. Paoli went to Paris, where "he was received with enthusiastic veneration. The Assembly and the Royal Family contended which should show him most distinction." The king made him lieutenant-general and military commandant[Pg 118] in Corsica. "He used the powers entrusted to him with great wisdom and moderation." The rapid changes that swept over France did not leave him untouched. He was denounced in the Convention and "was summoned to attend for the purpose of standing on his defence. He declined the journey on account of his age." A large part of his countrymen stood by him, and in an assembly appointed him general-in-chief, and president of the council of government. The Convention sent an expedition to arrest him. Buonaparte happened at the time to be in Corsica, on leave of absence from his regiment. He and Paoli had been on friendly terms, indeed they were distantly related, but Buonaparte did not hesitate for a moment which side to take. He commanded the French troops in an attack on his native town. Paoli's party proved the stronger, and Napoleon Buonaparte and his brother Lucien were banished. The Corsicans s...

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