A revival of Irredentism in connection with the execution of an Austrian deserter named Oberdank, who after escaping into Italy endeavoured to return to Austria with explosive bombs in his possession, and the cordial references to France made by Depretis at Stradella (8th October 1882), prevented the French government from suspecting the existence of the alliance, or from ceasing to strive after a Franco-Italian understanding.
During his long service as a lieutenant he took part in the bombardment of Tripoli, and on a subsequent occasion showed great firmness in resisting the seizure of a seaman as an alleged deserter from the British navy, his ship at the time lying under the guns of Gibraltar.
A deserter announced his arrival to Vespasian, who rejoiced (Josephus says) that the cleverest of his enemies had thus voluntarily imprisoned himself.
The beginnings of this rupture, as well as a sharp affray between his volunteers and the townsfolk of Ajaccio, may have quickened Bonaparte's resolve to return to France in May 1792, but there were also personal and family reasons for this step. Having again exceeded his time of furlough, he was liable to the severe penalties attaching to a deserter and an émigré but he saw that the circumstances of the time would help to enforce the appeal for reinstatement which he resolved to make at Paris.
But Frenchmen, always touchy on such a point, regarded Voltaire as something of a deserter; and it was not long before he bitterly repented his desertion, though his residence in Prussia lasted nearly three years.