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These defects, in the constitution of 1795, appeared in the very moment of its birth; and became more and more glaring during the short period of its existence. The History of France has, for too many years, been a severe illustration of the maxim, that Nations, in order to be free and happy, must be just and moderate. To describe and record whatever may impress on the mind this solitary lesson, is a task attended with a mixture of pain and pleasure ; pain, in contemplating the miserable effects of vice and folly ; pleasure, in the reflection, that such warnings may prevent misery to the present and future ages.
In making these selections, out of that vast variety of materials which is presented to the Annalist, at a period of such extended intercourse among men and nations, our Readers will perceive and acknowledge, that we are guided, not by any prejudices in favour of particular subjects, but, by a regard to the general views and conduct of the human understanding, and the common sentiments of the human heart. In the present volume there is an extraordinary occasion for the exercise and gratification of both : in the fall, and final dismemberment and dissolution, of the Commonwealth of Poland; a very affecting, as well as instructive, Episode in the History of Europe.
CHAP. I. Effects of the new Constitution estallished in Poland.--External and in
ternal.- Notice to all the European Pourers of the New Changes in Poland.-Schemes of the courts of Petersburgh, Berlin, and Vienna, for the complete Subjugation and Dismemberment of Poland. ---Patriotic dssociations in thai Kingdom, in support of the New Constitution.--Difficulties and Perplexities of the Poles.-Plan of Defence against an expected Attack ly Russia.- Opposed by the Nobles.- Interference of Russia, and Declaration of the Russian Ambassador to the King and Polish Diet.—The Nobles'desist from their Opposition to the Plan for National Defence.- cordial Union between all Individuals and parties. The King of Poland invested with the Command of the Polish Armies.--The Russian drmy enters the Frontiers of Poland. - Various Actions between the Russian and Polish Troops.-Application of the Poles for the stipulated Succours to the King of Prussia.—These refused.- Siynal Victory oltained by the Poles over the Russians.-Inefficacy of this for the great End for which they had taken up Arms.--Prevalence of the Russian Power.- Submission of the Polish Nation.- Protest in the Diet against this Submission.- Popular Dissatisfaction and Indignation at the Pro
ceedings of the Diet. THE 'HE establishment of the new various neighbours. Sweden and
constitution in Poland excited Denmark, whose dread of Russia very different sensations among its inclined them to wish for a diminuVOL. XXXVII,
tion of that influence which she ex. home. This was visibly the case its ercised with so much despotism, every country bordering upon could not fail to behold with saris, France. In Spain, ever since the faction a people eminent for their meeting of the States-General at long attachment to liberty, and Paris, and their converting that de. orice of the first consequence in the nomination into another more ap. north of Europe, in a way of re. posite to their wishes and designs, covering their former importance ; the celebrated name of National and setting bounds to the ambition Assembly, the public had assumed of the court of Petersburgh. The
The a liberty of speaking that greatly Turks, lately humbled by the alarmed the court. The example Russian arms, and whose preserva- set before the subjects of all absolute tion was entirely due to a fortunate governments was of a nature to fill concurrence of accidents, were well them with the most serious apprepleased to see that rapacious power hensions, and to engage them to unite checked in her restless progress to together for the suppression of all aggrandize ment. The powers at a attempts similar to those that had distance from the scene of action, succeeded in so sudden and unexcould not be altogether dissatisfied peeted a manner in France, and that the balance of Europe should changed it from the most absolute promise, by this great event, to to the most limited of monarchies. regain that poise it had lost for Hence it happened, that those pow. some years in those northern parts. ers excepted, of which the immeThe only consideration that could diate safety required the depression possibly obstruct this sentiment, of Russia upon any terms, all the was the apprehension that Poland, others concurred unanimously in in order to resist that combination, hoping tlat no power would start up of which she had been the victim, of which the interest should lead it would have recourse to the assiste to espouse the cause of the French; ance of France: and, rather than whom, in the cabinets of the Eu. submit to the tyranny which she ropean potentates, deep schemes had so long experienced, enter into were laid to crush with all speed. the strictest bands of union with Little more than two months af. that power; now become odious ro ter the revolution in Poland, was all crowned hcads, and aiming at held the famous convention of Pil. a dissemination of its prirciples, niiz, in which it is said to have wherever it could procure them ac. been strictly stipulated or underceprance.
stood bythe contracting powers, that This, indeed, was the sole rea- Russia should be a fullliberty to pur. son that could be alleged for the sue her schemes in Poland, while they surprising inactivity and indif- were occupied in the pursuit of ference that prevailed in se ma- their own. This satisfactorily acny courts; which, as in times counts for the inactivity of the past, would have felt theinseives croined heads in Europe, during deeply interested in the transac- the transactionschat followed, incon. rions relating to Poland, had not sequence of the alterations intro. events of a more possing import, duced into the Polish forms of goanco confind their ricws nealer vernment, by the new constitution.
In the mean time, that country system, after being carried so tri. was filled wiih universalexultation umphantly through the diet, was at the late changes; these were received by the people ; when they eridently so beneficial to all con. considered the limits within which ditions of society, ihat ihev all un. the power of the crown was circum. feignedly agreed in testifying their scribed, and that the sovereignty of cordial acquiescence. The principal the nation was maintained in the opposers of the revolution soon diet, they thought it their duty to were convinced that it was 100 desist froin opposing what appeared popular and desirable a measure to manifestly the will of the nation. be resisted. Count Braniki, grand They frankly, therefore, declared. general of the kingdom, and vala. their concurrence in the revolu. chowski, great chancellor, both of ticnary measures adopted, and their them sincere patriots, had however determination to adhere with fide. been the leaders in that opposition; lity to a constitution established possibly from an apprehension that by such a plurality of votes, as the measure proposed was amounted to an almost unanimous hazardous. Reflecting, however, assent of the legislative body of on its justice aud propriety, they the nation. acceded to it, and were followed All parties being thus happily by all their adherents. The he. agreed, a day of public thanksgiving reditary succession to the crown was appointed throughout the kingwas the chief, and indeed the only dom, ard an annual commemoration motive assigned for their non. on the third of May. And it was compliance. An attachment to also decreed, that a magnificent usages, confirmed by the practice of church should be constructed at the centuries, could not easily be eradi. public expence, with an inscription cated; and the dread of those abuses purporting that it was erected in of power, so prevalent in monar. gratitude to Divine Providence, in chies ruled by successors of the order to eternize the remembrance same family, operated on the Poles of a revolution effected almost una. too forcibly to permit the idea of nimously, and without the loss of a inheritance in the crown. It was drop of blood. This was accom. not therefore until they were com. panied by a solemn declaration of pletely convinced that the liberises the states, by which they bound of the nation would not suffer themselves to defend the constituby hereditary royalty, that they tion to the utmost of their power, were prevailed on to unite their and enjoined the magistrates and assent to that of the vast majority military at Warsaw to take an oath against which they had a&ted. to the same intent immediately, and
The fa&t was, that they had been all civil officers and individuals bea particularly instructed by their con. longing to the army, in every part stituents, to resist this dangerous in. of the kingdom to do the saine. novation, as it was termed, by that In order at the same time to im portion of the Polish nation which press the public and all Europe with disapproved of it; but when they due sense of the resolution they saw with what applause the new had taking to maintain their new
system at all hazards, and against Berlin seemingly entered into their all opponents, they formally de. views. Nevertheless, the more clared, that whoever opposed it, by doubtful and wary politicians proforming confederacies or planning nounced its conduct to be influenced insurrections for that purpose, or by only by the circumstances of the exciting mistrust either openly or moment : duplicity was requisite secretly, should be reputed enemies to cover the ineasures it was at that and traitors to their country, and instant forming in concert with the punished with the utmost rigour of courts of Petersburgh and Vienna. the law. The more effectally to The Russian court, accustomed intimidate persons disposed to cf. for a length of years to a humble fend, a tribunal was erected, with deference to its mandates, from the orders to sit constantly at Warsaw, Polish government, considered these and to try all persons accused before transactious in Poland in hardly any it, by any citizen of repute and other light than open rebellion. It property
was at this hour busily occupied in The next step taken by the go- putting a final termination to the vernment, was to dispatch a notifi. Turkish war, and the manner in cation to every European power, of which this was concluded, evidently the alterations in the constitutional proved that other motives than system of Poland, and of the mo. those of moderation accelerated the tives which had prompted them. decision of that business. Of all the sovereigns and states, to not till the middle of August, 1791, whom intelligence of this great that a treaty of peace was con. event was regularly communicated, cluded between the Porte and the none replied to this communication court of Petersburgh : and the re. with a stronger appearance of satis. mainder of the year was consumed in faction than the king of Prussia. the necessary operations subsequent He expressed himself in terms of the to a pacification. It was not for this highest approbation and applause at reason, till the return of the Russian every thing they had done upon this armies from the theatre of war, and occasion. If they had not been after they had rested in their wintertaught by experience to place little quarters, that a resolution was reliance on thai prince, his protesta. formed to employ them in the prose. tions of friendship and atiachment cution of the designs against to Poland were so strong and fer. Poland. vent, that the most cautious states. In the mean time, the threc par. man might have easily been de. titioning courts, as they have been ceived. But the grounds on which justly styled since the first dismem. the Polish government relied, with berment of Poland, in 1773, were some reason, were, that the in. conjointly devising in what mariner terests of Prussia were, if rightly to accomplish the ultimate object understood and pursued, intimately they had long proposed: the utter connected with those of Poland. subjugation of the Poles, and the This chiefly induced them to place division of their country. These a degree of confidence in the three ambitious powers had seen warmth with which the court of enough of the reviving spirit of