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SKETCHES of CORSICA, in 1823. [From Benson's Sketches of Corsica.]

THE men of Corsica are in general stout and well-formed, rather under the middle size, their complexion is swarthy, their hair black, eyes sparkling; their countenances are more often expressive of ferocity than of those qualities that excite our immediate confidence. The women partake much of the character of their husbands. The traveller occasionally meets with handsome females, of very regular features, but they cannot be generally called so. They have, however, eyes of singular brightness; and long, black, glossy hair hanging over a form little encumbered by artificial decorations. Their physiognomy is bold, dignified, and even warlike; much more expressive of command than of submission. As if the human face adapted itself to the state of society, Corsican Beauty harmonises well with the moral and physical condition of the island.

The dress of the Corsicans is very simple, and in the interior, so uniform, that it affords scarcely any criterion by which to distinguish the rich from the poor. The men wear a short jacket, breeches, and long gaiters, made of a coarse chocolate-coloured cloth; their heads are covered, in general, by a very neat-pointed black velvet cap, or by a common coarse woven one of the same colour as the rest of the dress. Some of the peasantry have a sort of cowl, called a pelone, which they throw over their heads, or suffer to hang at the back of their necks. The men, with few exceptions, go armed; and you scarcely meet one in the interior,

who has not a loaded musket across his shoulders; the shot and ammunition are contained in a leathern pouch, called "carchera," which - goes round his waist. A stiletto also is generally concealed about the person of a Corsican ; although the French have interdicted the wearing of that weapon. There are few peculiarities to be remarked in the dress of the Corsican women. In the neighbourhood of Ajaccio, I frequently noticed them with large, round, straw hats, whilst their clothes consisted of little more than a shift, reaching hardly below the knees. women of the Bastia side of the island, as I found afterwards, scarcely wear any covering for the head, but content themselves with throwing over it a sort of veil, like the Italian peasantry.


The houses of the interior will not bear a comparison with the humblest cottages in England. They consist of four walls, covered by a rude roof, many having only one opening, which serves for door, chimney, and window; they have not usually a second story, and when they have, you ascend to it by a ladder, as into an English hayloft. The first thing that strikes the traveller, on entering one of the huts, is an immense heap of chesnuts lying in one corner. These form the chief support of the hardy Corsicans. They are not eaten raw, but reduced into flour; the bread of which is termed "pisticcine." It is also formed into various dishes called pulenta, brilloli, fritelle, frandoline, &c.

The houses contain stools, benches, and tables of the rudest kind; the wood fire, when any fire is wanted, crackles in the centre of the room, the smoke issuing where it can; the huswife, surrounded by her hardy offspring, attends to the humble domestic arrangements, while her lord and master traverses the mountains with his gun in search of game for his family. At night, a small stick of the pinus lariccio often serves as a lamp. lamp. "This," said a Corsican to me, as he pointed to a twig that was lying on the ground in the forest of Vizzavona, "is one of our candles." Such is the simple mode of living that generally pervades the whole interior of the island.

The traveller in Corsica never meets with a beggar. If he is accosted in his road, it is generally with the question of "What news do you bring with you?" and others relating to his journey, his business, &c. Often these inquiries extend beyond the trifles that generally engross conversation, even in more civilized countries.

The secretary in chief of the prefect related to us the following anecdote:-I was travelling in the interior quite incognito; a peasant came up to me and asked as usual for news; I told him immediately of the marriages, deaths, &c. that had then lately occurred at Ajaccio. The peasant replied, "I don't want to know those matters. I wish to be informed what the allied sovereigns are now doing at Laybach?" The peasantry never feel the least abashed; and whatever may be the appearance of the traveller, they come towards him, rest on their muskets, and begin a conversation as familiarly as if the parties were intimate ac

quaintances. Each man seems to consider it a duty to bring home as much news as he can learn in his rambles, and to communicate it to his countrymen.

Mothers of families, whose husbands have been assassinated, preserve the dress of the deceased, until their children grow up to manhood, and then show them the clothes tinged with the blood of their fathers, and exhort them to vengeance; and in dispute with others, the latter taunt them if they have "not revenged themselves. "Thus," adds M. Agostini, "these unhappy children have no other alternative, than to live dishonoured, or to destroy the murderers of their parents, and they rush headlong into crime."

The moresca, a sort of mock fight, is a very favourite spectacle of the Corsicans, and attracts the inhabitants from all parts of the island. In this exhibition, there are challenges, single combats, and a general battle, which ends with the defeat of the party representing the enemy of the nation.

The long courtships, that generally precede the marriages of a more civilised people, are here unknown; neither is the bridegroom the first proposer of the union.

The day of marriage of young persons is one of great festivity. In the evening the bride is conducted to the house of her husband, amidst the music of violins and cetre, whilst the attendants sing a sort of gratulatory epithalamium. The husband comes out of his house at the sound of the music, and amidst the discharge of muskets, receives the company with cordiality; offering honey, fruits, wine, and other things, for their refreshment. When the married couple are advanced in years, so

that the union is not likely to be fruitful, the Corsicans conduct themselves in a totally different manner. Instead of approaching the bridegroom's house with instruments of music, they come then with spades, horns, discordant bells, and make a frightful "charivari." Thus denoting their disapprobation of a marriage which cannot fulfil one of the chief ends for which it was destined.

The bridegroom so circumstanced bears this affront with good grace, since the custom is very ancient.

The Corsican wife is little more than the slave and drudge of her haughty master. He rides on his mule, whilst she paces along at his side. To the cultivation of the plot of ground that surrounds his hut the wife has to attend, whilst he smokes his pipe beneath the shady chesnut, or roams about the mountains with his gun and dog. But with this dreadful disparity of condition between the husband and wife, the latter is seldom cruelly treated, and infidelity to the marriage contract is very rare. Children do not meet with equal attention from their parents; the sons engrossing nearly all the little property possessed by the family, whilst a daughter has nothing to look forward to in leaving the home of her father, but to become the slave of her husband.

It is not uncommon to see two families dining at the same table, and warming themselves at the same fire.

Cousins are frequently brought up together, loving each other with the affection of brothers and sisters; and the grandfather, the chief of the whole family, is sometimes seen surrounded by twenty or thirty descendants, possessing,

with the necessaries of life, that love towards each other, which springs from a similarity of habits, and from a community of interest.

The education of their children, is as rude as their mode of life. A few maxims are all the parents inculcate into their offspring; they instruct them to believe in God and their religion, but omit the Christian precept of the forgiveness of injuries; on the contrary, they teach them to revenge insults. The sons no sooner arrive at the age of puberty, than their parents buy them arms, or lend them their own; telling them that being men and strong as other men, they ought to see their rights respected. These words, engraven on the heart of the young Corsican, are always recurring to his thoughts, and frequently lead to the most frightful consequences. What those rights are, does not depend with him upon any dry definitions, it is enough that he feels insulted; and thus in his own person he often unites the different characters of legislator, of judge, and of executioner.

One of the most imposing religious fêtes that take place in the island, occurs in Rogation week, when the vegetation is in its most vigorous state. At this time, the Corsicans go in procession from the parish church of their villages; whilst the smiling appearance of their country, the brilliancy of the sun, and the freshness of the atmosphere invite them to sing the praises of the Author of all things. They march at a slow pace; the men separate from the women; the priest in the middle; the children follow behind the priesthood. When the procession is arrived at a point of land which commands the prospect below, the

Curé gives his benediction to the country around, prays the Almighty to chain the tempests and torrents, the winds and all other natural causes inimical to the fruits of the earth, intended for man's subsistence. The congregation, on their knees, listen with profound attention. As soon as the prayers are finished, the procession returns in the same order to the parish church, where the people obtain bundles of little wooden crosses, which they fix separately on their lands.

The fête-days, in honour of the patron saint of each village, are

consecrated to prayer, and the effusion of the tenderest feelings. On these days, relatives generally assemble together; and this union of the different members of a family is considered as a sacred obligation imposed on all. A refusal to attend on such occasions is considered as a denial of their family; and produces much injury to a man's reputation. At these festive meetings, the Corsicans arrange, in general, the marriage of their daughters, and other family matters; and talk over the politics of the island, or of the village in which they are assembled.

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THE Living Skeleton. The following is an account of this strange lusus naturæ, who has been lately imported for the gratification of the curiosity of the London public.

The name of the Living Skeleton is Claude Ambroise Seurat; he is a native of Troyes, in Champagne, was born on the 10th of April, 1798, and is consequently 27 years of age. The result of an inquiry as to whether any object had presented itself during his mother's pregnancy, to create a fright, was, an assurance to the contrary. The mother was very short-sighted.

The child, on coming into the world, presented the customary baby form, its features being handsome; but in proportion as the infant grew, the frame gradually

wasted away, and so continued to decrease until the attainment of its full stature, which occurred at the usual term of life. At that period Claude Ambroise Seurat had attained his present height of five feet seven inches and a half, when his frame had dwindled to the livingskeleton form it now personifies. Having been shaved for the purpose of displaying the formation of the skull, in order to prevent the effect of cold, he wears a wig the colour of his eye-brows, which are a dark chesnut brown. The pupils of his eyes are large, full, and penetrating; the whites very clear, and his sight strong; but the upper lids appear rather to weigh downwards, from a laxity of the muscles, added to which there is a glaziness in the sight, that conveys a some

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