Pasquale Paoli

Corsican politician

Filippo Antonio Pasquale de' Paoli (6 April 1725 – 5 February 1807) was a Corsican patriot, statesman and military leader who was at the forefront of resistance movements against the Genoese and later French rule over the island. He became the president of the Executive Council of the General Diet of the People of Corsica and wrote the Constitution of the state.

Quotes edit

  • Make an effort to overcome the fears of old age. Tell me, would you wish to see me at your death-bed knowing in your last moments that your son was a coward and a coward through your advice? Look back over your life. Was not the day of your departure from Corsica the last day of your glory? ... Before you press me on religious sentiments, read and reread the Roman histories and recall to your mind those models you once sought to emulate. With these in your mind you will give me much better counsel.
    • Letter to his father, Giacinto Paoli (c. 1745), quoted in Peter Adam Thrasher, Pasquale Paoli: An Enlightened Hero, 1725–1807 (1970), p. 52
  • I am determined that the "other side of the mountains" must form part of the Corsican State, all Corsica must be free.
    • Letter to his father shortly before his return to Corsica (c. 1755), quoted in Peter Adam Thrasher, Pasquale Paoli: An Enlightened Hero, 1725–1807 (1970), p. 53
  • The island will only know efficient government if the vendetta can be stamped out.
    • Statement shortly after he had been proclaimed General (c. July 1755), quoted in Peter Adam Thrasher, Pasquale Paoli: An Enlightened Hero, 1725–1807 (1970), p. 59
  • The vendetta is finished. The old, happy, carefree festivals of the villages which have been abandoned for so long can now be resumed.
    • Statement (February 1756), quoted in Peter Adam Thrasher, Pasquale Paoli: An Enlightened Hero, 1725–1807 (1970), p. 63
  • Though the Altar should nourish its ministers, the tithes of those who fail to serve that Altar are the property of the poor.
    • Statement after the Pope deprived Corsican bishops of their sees and left them vacant (c. 1760), quoted in Peter Adam Thrasher, Pasquale Paoli: An Enlightened Hero, 1725–1807 (1970), p. 71
  • My countrymen, Liberty does not go to confession: we leave distinctions of that kind to the Inquisitors of the Holy Office; we have a law here which says that any honest man who lives on the soil of our country is able to take part in the nomination of his magistrates and his representatives: you should obey that law.
    • Reply to a deputation from Isola Rossa before the elections to the Cosulta, who had asked Paoli whether a Jew who had settled in Isola Rossa should be allowed to vote (1762), quoted in Peter Adam Thrasher, Pasquale Paoli: An Enlightened Hero, 1725–1807 (1970), p. 80
  • Your fellow citizens in electing you to represent them at this Consulta have placed their dearest interests in your hands. You know their needs, you share their sympathies, and their customs: so examine your consciences, enlighten each other by frank discussion, and be convinced that the resolutions you will take together will become the law of the land, because what they represent will be the sincere expression of the will of the country. Gentleman, let us search our our good together, and work hard to assure the well-being of our community; let us strive calmly and intelligently to undo our enemies' plans which, as you have already seen, count on our divisions to destroy us. We have never yet been defeated and now victory has once more alighted on our standard; but recent events reveal the need of all true patriots to be ever vigilant and ready to oppose the enemies of our State. Let each one of us remember what he owes to his country and resolve that he will seek his own good only in the good of all.
    • Opening address to the Cosulta in Corte (23 May 1762), quoted in Peter Adam Thrasher, Pasquale Paoli: An Enlightened Hero, 1725–1807 (1970), pp. 78-79
 
  • Already our nation has shown how little claim the Genoese had to our island. All the powers of Europe, especially France, have recognised us in practice as a free and independent people. So France has treated us, until the last few years. Even if Genoa had possessed the sovereignty she falsely claimed would she now be able to transfer it to another nation without the consent of those she professed to govern? She has no right to do so, for the basis of sovereignty is the people.
  • Let each take up his appointed position. We will show them that we are not to be treated like a flock of old sheep bought in a market place, for that is what they are trying to do. Always there have been strangers between ourselves and the Genoese, preventing us from a decision by negotiating or by the force of our arms, and always, as a result, Justice and Honour have been trampled in the mud. Now we are face to face with our last enemy. Citizens, I know the danger is great but I know, too, we are not accustomed to count the number of our foes.
    • Proclamation (1768), quoted in Peter Adam Thrasher, Pasquale Paoli: An Enlightened Hero, 1725–1807 (1970), pp. 125-126
  • The countryside of France is cultivated but the masses there have no return from their labours. There are more cooking pots and kitchen spits in England, Switzerland and Holland than in all the rest of Europe. In those places you do not see a ragged man or an emaciated countenance. The miracles of Liberty are more frequent, more grand and more useful than those of Saint Anthony of Padua.
    • Letter (1 August 1787), quoted in Peter Adam Thrasher, Pasquale Paoli: An Enlightened Hero, 1725–1807 (1970), p. 172
  • This nomination belongs to you, gentlemen. Are you eager so soon to give up your privileges? If I do not abuse the confidence with which you honour me today, someone else will abuse it tomorrow. Nature has provided you with abundant reason and good sense and you would be wise always to use them and look with a certain suspicion on power vested in a single individual.
    • Remarks at the Congress of Orezza opposing the resolution that proposed that Paoli should designate two Commissioners who would carry to Paris the thanks of the National Assembly for the freedom and the institutions that the French had granted them (9 September 1790), quoted in Peter Adam Thrasher, Pasquale Paoli: An Enlightened Hero, 1725–1807 (1970), p. 216
  • It's not because I am proud, gentlemen, that I refuse your generous offer. But the state of our public finances forbids you to be so free with your money. The public good always comes before private interest.
    • Remarks at the Congress of Orezza opposing the National Assembly's proposal to provide Paoli with an annual pension of 50,000 francs (9 September 1790), quoted in Peter Adam Thrasher, Pasquale Paoli: An Enlightened Hero, 1725–1807 (1970), pp. 216-217
  • Some have called me a tyrant. Well, if they come here they will find that, far from Corsica being a despotism, we have a government here which would serve as a model for any Department in France. Those who call me despot are those who fear me as an obstacle to their partisan and privy projects.
    • Statement (c. February 1793), quoted in Peter Adam Thrasher, Pasquale Paoli: An Enlightened Hero, 1725–1807 (1970), p. 261
  • But what is [Bartolomeo] Arena but a four-day patriot? I drank in liberty with my mother's milk, but they and their connections whirl about with every wind. My patriotism is of long standing. I have been a patriot for 65 years. I am hardly likely to submit to the censure of slaves who have known liberty for only three.
    • Reply to the report of Étienne Clavière, which stated that of all the Departments of France, Corsica contributed least to the national good (c. February 1793), quoted in Peter Adam Thrasher, Pasquale Paoli: An Enlightened Hero, 1725–1807 (1970), p. 262
  • We are brothers and not subjects. If our loyalty is proved the Commissioners ought not to arraign themselves against us. Certainly our people will not suffer arbitrary power and he abuse of authority under a Republican constitution. The Corsican people cannot be reconciled to despotism.
    • Letter to Antoine Christophe Saliceti (c. March 1793), quoted in Peter Adam Thrasher, Pasquale Paoli: An Enlightened Hero, 1725–1807 (1970), pp. 264-265
  • French enthusiasm is a vapour. If someone writes an article, if someone speaks in a club, if a few hot heads present an address to the Convention, then down goes the altar set up to today's idol and the string is ripped from the garlands to form a noose for his neck. The lanterne is not far from the Pantheon. If Franklin with his buckleless shoes and leather-stripped breeches arrived in France today, his sober dress would not save him from being hanged as an aristocrat. He would be a diversion, not to the elegant ladies of Versailles, but to the murderous shrews at the foot of the guillotine.
    • Remarks to Antoine Christophe Saliceti (c. April 1793), quoted in Peter Adam Thrasher, Pasquale Paoli: An Enlightened Hero, 1725–1807 (1970), pp. 267-268

Undated edit

  • Religion is an essential part of public order. Without a belief in God we would soon loose our confidence in victory.
    • Statement, quoted in Peter Adam Thrasher, Pasquale Paoli: An Enlightened Hero, 1725–1807 (1970), p. 58
  • Every Corsican should be a soldier enlisted in the Militia, ready to defend his country: but outside these duties he ought to cultivate the land.
    • Statement, quoted in Peter Adam Thrasher, Pasquale Paoli: An Enlightened Hero, 1725–1807 (1970), p. 65
  • In a country which wishes to remain free, every citizen must be a soldier, and hold himself always ready to arm himself for the defence of his rights. Disciplined troops act more in the interest of despotism than of freedom. Rome ceased to be free on the day on which she had paid soldiers, and the invincible phalanxes of Sparta were formed from a levy en masse. Lastly, as soon as there is a standing army, an esprit de corps is formed; people speak of the valour of this or that regiment, of this or that company. These are more serious evils than is commonly supposed; and it is good to avoid them as much as possible. We ought to speak of the firm resolve manifested by this or that commune, of the self-sacrifice of the members of this or that family, of the valour of the citizens of so-and-so; in this manner is the emulation of a free nation roused. When our manners shall be as refined as they ought to be, our whole nation will be disciplined, and our militia invincible.
    • Statement, quoted in Ferdinand Gregorovius, Corsica in Its Picturesque, Social, and Historical Aspects: The Record of a Tour in the Summer of 1852, translated by Russell Martineau (1855), p. 84

Quotes about Pasquale Paoli edit

  • You would have been much pleased, I am sure, by meeting with General Paoli, who spent the day there, and was extremely communicative and agreeable. I had seen him in large companies, but was never made known to him before; nevertheless, he conversed with me as if well acquainted not only with myself, but my connexions,—inquiring of me when I had last seen Mrs. Montagu? and calling Sir Joshua Reynolds, when he spoke of him, my friend. He is a very pleasing man, tall and genteel in his person, remarkably well bred, and very mild and soft in his manners.
    • Frances Burney to Mr. Crisp (15 October 1782), quoted in Frances Burney, Diary and Letters of Madame d'Arblay, Vol. II. 1781—1786 (1842), p. 155

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