« PreviousContinue »
professors, Jacobins, our relatives, factious people; the very blood that circulated in our veins, the milk that we sucked from our mothers' breasts, were infected with a poison, that prevented us from ever being loyal subjects, friends of order, citizens worthy of enjoying all the blessings of the civilization and liberty of a representative government. It was by means of such accusations that he aimed at the overthrow of the constitutional edifice, at the transformation of the kingdom into a Russian province, in order to reap exclusively the fruit of such a change and to gratify his shameful rapacity. The extensive national domains had still an irresistible attraction for him; and when Lubecki solicited from the Autocrat the authority requisite for their sale, it was not in the charter which guaranteed the inviolability of the public property, it was not in the chambers, but in Novosiltzoff that he encountered the strongest opposition to such a measure. With what zeal and with what anxiety did he not inquire into the arrangements of the law which seemed to condemn this design! With what energy did he not appeal to the respect due to the attributes of the national representation, to the liberties guaranteed by the charter! Lastly, with what skill did he not paint the despair of the peasantry, and the dangers which would result to the throne from a just indignation of the people! And yet the sole motive of so obstinate a resistance was but the fear of letting slip the object of a good salary for the projected immolation of our name and our liberties. It must be confessed that if the emperor Alexander, towards the conclusion of his reign, paid Novosiltzoff by evident marks of his coldness, Nicholas wholly deprived him of his confidence. What most contributed to this effect was the rapid and the more and more frequent triumphs of Lubecki, as well as the unexpected result of the great trial instituted against the patriots, which only served to compromise the sovereign.
The aversion of Nicholas for Novosiltzoff was carried to such a pitch, that, though he allowed him to retain his post of imperial commissioner in Poland, and guardian of the privileges of the tnrone, after his accession, he never once summoned him to St.
Petersburg, or granted him a single confidential audience--conduct which, towards a person charged with so important a mission, did not fail to astonish the public. And it was merely out of a remnant of respect for the grand duke, that he endured his presence in receptions of ceremony. * Novosiltzoff was not only the sworn enemy of the order of things in the kingdom, but likewise the executioner, the commissioner, of the wretched] Lithuanian provinces, where, after the disgrace of Prince Adam Czartoryski, he seized the supreme direction of the department of public instruction, and where a vicious administration opened a wider field for his abuses. It is to Novosiltzoff that the Poles must attribute the most baneful obstructions to the progress of knowledge; the introduction of an odious police authority into the schools; the most arbitrary censorship; the organization of the most infamous espionage; the prevotal courts; the demoralization and degradation of the high public functionaries; the numberless insults offered to the national honour; the distrust kept up between the government and the governed; the tears of innumerable victims, the curses of mothers, and the despair of citizens. Such are his claims to their affection!
In other countries the welfare of the nation depends, in a great measure, on the more or less happy composition of the administration: with us, as we have already remarked, the Ministers were but the organs of a foreign and secret power, of which, in
• During the coronation, the whole imperial family was assembled at Warsaw. A ball was one day given, at which the empress, after dancing the Polonaise with all the chief dignitaries of state, designedly forgot Novosiltzoff. This circumstance did not escape Constantine, who feeling himself hurt, and trembling with rage at the mere idea of the gratification which this slight humiliation would afford to the Polish public, abruptly grasped Novosiltzoff by the hand, led him to the empress, and thus addressed her: "Madam, I bring you my best friend; be pleased to honour him with your favour." The empress could not refuse the invitation of so powerful and so importunate a patron; and the supple diplomatist obtained permission to present his hand to her-a favour for which he would at the moment have sacrificed half his life.
process of time, Constantine and Novosiltzoff became the leaders. Without confidence, without energy, and without authority, the Ministers had accomplished much if they could but lay the storm, and prevail upon the mighty conquerors to slacken the pace of a profoundly meditated system. The nation, aware of their impotence, felt thankful for their very imperfections; for it soon perceived, that, with a hostile master supported by a million of bayonets, ministerial responsibility was to the people a safeguard equally vain and ridiculous; and if there was a time when it sought to have recourse to that safeguard, it was to complete the rupture between the affections of the people and those of the Sovereign, by that constitutional formality.
From the very outset of his mission, Novosiltzoff never ceased to cry his "Delenda est Carthago," war against the prosperity, war against the constitutional liberties granted to Poland. He was thoroughly aware of the danger which would arise for Russia, from the patriotism and love of independence of a nation so formidable as the Polish- a patriotism which he was pleased insidiously to denominate a fondness for agitation and innovation. At the present day, Nicholas, convinced of the correctness of Novosiltzoff's system, acts accordingly, and makes war upon the prosperity and the liberties of Poland. The struggle is at least open. There are but two chances for Poland-extermination and independence. The question, therefore, is, whether Europe, sufficiently enlightened by the avowal of the Autocrat himself, will suffer the horrid spectacle of massacres and cruelties exercised upon a nation of twelve millions of souls to be exhibited to the world, or will unite its efforts for restoring to that nation those rights which divine and human justice have so long claimed.
DESPATCH OF PRINCE LUBECKI TO THE EMPEROR OF RUSSIA.
Defence of Prince Lubecki against the misrepresentations of M. Novosiltzoff, Commissioner of the Emperor of Russia in the kingdom of Poland, now Chancellor of the Empire, and on a Visit to England; * addressed to the Emperor Nicholas.
Dec. 28, 1828.
Authorised by your Imperial and Royal Majesty to address myself directly to you, whenever I should consider it expedient for the public service to do so, I felt the necessity of pursuing this course, both in my character of minister and of subject, as well when I had only conjectures to rely upon, as when positive facts placed me in a situation to express myself in a more formal manner. I embrace then with ardour this occasion, to express to your Majesty all that my conscience would reproach me for concealing. By a natural impulse of the noble disinterestedness of his character, his Imperial Highness the Grand Duke Czarewitch (Constantine) has just charged the General Rozniecki to intimate to me how much he disapproved of my conduct in the affair of " the High Court;" + conduct which he attributed principally to the necessity in which I felt myself to
* M. Novosiltzoff and Admiral Mordwinoff arrived in London in the present month of July, on an extraordinary and unexplained mission.
By the Constitution of Poland, of 1815, parties accused of high treason were tried by the Senate. This body had recently acquitted eight Poles, charged by the Moscovite government with being parties to a Russian plot against the life of the Emperor Alexander. Nicholas, dissatisfied with the sentence, called for the opinions of his Polish Ministers upon it, with a view to set it aside. Prince Lubecki incurred the Imperial displeasure by defending, in this instance, the constitutional privileges of the Senate.
conciliate that public opinion which my fiscal measures had excited against me, at a moment when (as it was alleged) the finances had fallen into a complete state of disorganization, if not into a bankrupt condition, under my management.
In addition to this, his Imperial Highness caused to be expressed to me the opinion he entertained, that a favourable opportunity was alone wanting to your Majesty's Polish subjects, to declare themselves your Majesty's enemies; but that all these designs, as well as my conduct, would not remain concealed from the Sovereign.
Discovering in this communication a flattering proof that his Imperial Highness intended to offer me a means to soften, if possible, the unfavourable impressions which he had received, I began by manifesting to the General the gratitude which I felt for so much kindness. Then, grappling with the subject matter itself, I declared that the written and oral communications of the Imperial Commissioner always made me dread lest he should take advantage of the better feelings of his Imperial Highness: and that I beheld these painful forebodings realized with greater regret, because nothing could be more easy than to demonstrate the falsehood of every statement that he had advanced. In fact, the question seemed to me to separate itself into two principal divisions.
1. That which concerns the management of the finances, and my individual opinion of the affair of the High Court.
2. That which has reference to the little reliance which can be placed on the loyalty of the Polish nation.
First. Monseigneur thinks that I have disorganized the finances. But, as up to the present time neither the civil service nor the army has experienced any delay in receiving their pay, and as these administrative details are not brought under the cognizance of his Imperial Highness by the Council, this notion of disorganization must have been suggested