The source for much of the information in the poem comes from James Boswell's An Account of Corsica, the Journal of a Tour to that Island, and Memoirs of Pascal Paoli (1768). The island attempted to win freedom from Genoa and the resistance was led by General Pasquale Paoli (1725-1807). The island was given to France in 1768 and Corsica became a cause of British liberals. William McCarthy and Elizabeth Kraft in The Poems of Anna Letitia Barbauld. Athens and London: U. of Georgia P, 1994, 233n (hereafter cited as McCarthy and Kraft) see the poem as much a response to the issue of liberty in general as to the specifics of the struggle in Corsica.
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