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The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 31


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Petersburg, inviting her to assist them in restoring the old constitution. Catherine gave them a ready promise, and, on the 14th of May, Felix Potocki, Branicki, Rzewinski, and eleven other nobles, met at Targowica, and entered into a confederacy for this purpose. This confederacy was followed, only four days after its signing, by a protest issued by Bulgakoff, the Russian minister, at Warsaw, against the whole of the new institutions and decrees. In this lengthy document, the minister claimed, in the name of the empress, the right conferred on her by former treaties and benefactions to watch over the rights and liberties of the Polish nation; she expressed the most magnanimous anxiety for the preservation of these rights and liberties; and she complained that they had, by their new constitution, overthrown the whole ancient and salutary fabric of the laws; that the new decrees left not a shadow of freedom to the Poles! She complained of their making the throne hereditary - a singular complaint for a despotic sovereign; that they had put down the legitimate constitution by treachery and armed force; that they had made encroachments on the Greek religion, the church of Russia; and had treated her own character with offensive rudeness. The democratic Poles had indeed made very free with the stories of her scandalous amours. She then announced that she was not only called on, by her sense of what was due from her to Polish liberty and national integrity, but by the voice of the most distinguished Poles themselves; and that she had ordered her troops to march into the country to restore its former "liberty and independence." She promised, however, to pass over all this list of offences, if the Poles consented to revoke the new constitution and faithfully restore the old.

Never, perhaps, were the most nefarious designs covered by more shockingly hypocritical language. On the 18th of May, the same day that this proclamation was issued at Warsaw, a hundred thousand Russian troops marched over the Polish frontiers, attended by some of the Polish confederates of Targowica, and others of that party.

The diet issued a counter-proclamation rebutting Catherine's long catalogue of charges seriatim, and denying the right of any nation, under any pretence whatever, to interfere with the internal changes of another nation executed by the proper authorities and representatives of the people. Stanislaus Augustus issued an address to the Polish army, calling upon it to defend the national rights from the domination of Russia, and bidding them call to mind the curses which the pretended protection of Russia had already brought upon the nation; the forcible seizure of men of all classes, from the prince to the peasant, who dared to resist Russian insolence; whole tribes of peasants having been carried off to found new Russian colonies. He bade them remember that Poland had already suffered one dismemberment at the hands of Russia; and he warned them that, if they did not now unite as one man to resist the Russian arms, notwithstanding the fine sentiments put forth by the empress, she would not only again dismember the country, but would utterly extinguish the Polish name!

No one could better understand the sinister policy of Catherine than the king who had formerly been her favourite and confidant, and who had been placed on the throne of Poland by her power. But, unfortunately, Poland was in no condition to cope with the might of Russia. No pains had been taken to organise the army in years past on any scale capable of defending the nation; the new rights conferred on the people were too new to have given them yet any interest in them. Poland, therefore, in all haste, made solicitations for help to Prussia, Austria, England, Sweden, and Denmark; but all in vain. Sweden and Denmark had, now that Gustavus was dead, determined to have no concern in wars resulting in any way from the French revolution. Frederick William of Prussia, who had so warmly congratulated the Poles on their new constitution, now made it a direct ground of complaint. He pretended to have predicted all this offence to Russia, by the alarming measures of the diet, and protested that had it not been for these, Russia would never have taken the decided step which she had now done. He, however, coldly professed himself ready to unite with Russia and Austria to restore the former state of things in Poland. As for Austria, she lay cold and neutral in appearance; but, though Poland was not aware of it, both Prussia and Austria were in the secret league for the dismemberment of this unfortunate country.

England was anxiously sought for aid; but Pitt, who had raised so powerful an armament to check the attacks of Russia on Turkey, showed no disposition even to denounce the attempts of Russia on Poland. If England, and if Pitt, in particular, both before and after this time, had maintained a proper non-intervention system, as it regarded continental nations, little blame could have attached to him for his apathy regarding the fate of Poland. He might be blamed for refraining from exerting the moral power of England in condemnation of the unprincipled aggression of Russia, but he could not be expected to take arms in defence of Poland, so far removed from the influence of a maritime nation. But Pitt showed the utmost indifference to the destruction of Poland, though he afterwards involved this country in one of the most gigantic wars which the world had ever seen, merely to reinstate a fallen dynasty on a throne, in opposition to the wishes of the nation concerned. Colonel Gardiner, our minister at Warsaw, was instructed by our secretary for foreign affairs, lord Grenville, Pitt's cousin, to express a friendly interest towards Poland, but to take care to avoid giving any expectations of assistance. The Poles, repelled by Prussia and Austria, and finding no warmth of sympathy in the agent of England, dispatched count Bukaty, in June, to London, to make a zealous pleading for aid. But Pitt was cold and immovable, as if the absorption of this large country, in the centre of Europe, would not formidably increase that preponderance of Russia, which he had lately professed so greatly to dread, when there was a question of the absorption of Turkey. No aid, not even of money, was promised. No motion, condemnatory of Russia's grasping schemes, was made in parliament; it seemed to England a matter of no moment that one of the chief nations of Europe should be torn in pieces by rapacious powers, contrary to all moral and all international law. The whigs, those great advocates of revolution and of popular freedom, were dumb. In fact, what could they say? for Fox and his admirers had all along been lauding the Russian empress as one of the greatest, ablest, and most innocent of monarchs, simply in opposition to Pitt and his endeavours to repress her schemes of aggrandisement. Fox had even sent Mr. Adair as his emissary to St. Petersburg, to congratulate Catherine on her successes, and to assure her of the admiration of Englishmen. Such are the fatal perversities into which men are driven by party spirit! At this very moment Fox and the whigs were flattering and patting Catherine on the back, when her bandit armies had already their feet on the doomed soil of Poland, and they were still applauding the revolutionists of France, when they were already beyond the Rhine, on that crusade of conquest which plunged all Europe into more than twenty years of the most horrible bloodshed. They saw all this when too late. For the present, all that was done for Poland was to call a meeting at the Mansion House, and. open a subscription for the suffering Poles.

Poland, abandoned to her own resources, made a brave but ineffectual resistance. She had neither an army, nor money, nor mountains into which her patriots might retreat, and thus cope, in some degree, with the heavy legions 01 Muscovy. Her troops did not exceed ten thousand men; her bankers had lent their money to the very powers that were now combined to crush them, and they had to contend, on wide, defenceless plains, with the overwhelming hordes of Russia. They conferred, however, on the king unlimited powers for conducting the war; they voted thirty millions of crowns and one hundred thousand men, but the money could not be raised, nor, consequently, the army. They were in want of both artillery and ammunition, and, before these could be obtained from distant countries, their fate was decided. Stanislaus Augustus was in earnest, for he was sick of the yoke of Russia, but he was never a man. of extraordinary powers, and he was now growing old and inactive. He made his nephew, prince Joseph Poniatowski, commander-in-chief, but he controlled his actions through a council of war which he had formed, and which was as timid and hesitating as himself. Joseph Poniatowski had mustered fifty-six thousand men by great exertions; the bulk of them were ill disciplined and ill armed - serfs called from their fields to withstand the well-drilled and seasoned soldiers of Catherine. But they were full of spirit, and, on all occasions, when they came in contact with the enemy, acted with great bravery, and gained many advantages over the invaders. But, instead of leaving prince Joseph to fight, step by step, with the foe, and to lay waste the country as he advanced, thus cutting off the provisions of the Russians, Augustus ordered the prince to fall back behind the river Bug, so as to concentrate the troops for the defence of Warsaw. In was in vain that prince Joseph represented the disastrous consequences of such a retreat; that it would discourage his raw levies; that it would enable the Russians to advance unmolested into the very heart of the country; and that the line of the Bug was perfectly indefensible. Joseph was compelled to retreat, and everything fell out as he foretold. Notwithstanding, the Russians received several severe checks in their advance. At Zielence, at. Palorma, and, finally, at Dulienska, the Poles fought them gallantly. At the latter battle, on the 17th of July, the gallant patriot, Kosciusko* made a terrible havoc of the Russian lines, and was only prevented utterly routing them by his flank being turned by another arrival of Russians, whom the emperor Francis, of Austria, had allowed to march through Gallicia.

This was a most discouraging fact, for it showed that Francis, who pretended neutrality, was also in league with Catherine. The Russians, thus pouring in from all sides, well supplied with everything, whilst the brave Poles were destitute of everything, continued to advance, in spite of all resistance. The timid and the calculating began to flock to the confederacy of Taragowica, and the numerous Jews, who monopolised nearly all the trade of Poland, contrived to conceal their supplies from the Poles, who had no money, and passed them to the Russians, who paid liberally. The division of the army in Lithuania, originally commanded by prince Louis of Wurtemberg, but afterwards successively by Judycki and Michel Zabiello, was also in retreat before the heavy masses of the Russian Kreczetnikoff. In that province another confederacy had arisen on the same principle as that of Taragowica, who acted in union with the Russians, and called on all Poles to join them for the support of liberty, which they boldly asserted the diet had destroyed.

Stanislaus Augustus, totally disheartened, had, so early as the 22nd of June, written to Catherine, offering to have her grandson, Constantine, nominated as successor to the throne of Poland, on condition of her withdrawing her troops; but she only replied by upbraiding him with the violation of the Compacta Conventa, and demanding that he should at once accede to the Confederacy of Taragowica, and hasten to restore the constitution to its ancient condition, as it existed down to the 3rd of May, 1791. Stanislaus was compelled to comply, and to publish a humiliating declaration of his sincere approval of the old constitution and of the court, the most despotic and most degrading to the people at large that the world had ever seen. He was compelled to congratulate his unfortunate country on the generous and disinterested protection of the empress of Russia, who, he declared, had restored tranquillity to the republic, guaranteed its sacred rights, and promised to open up new sources of happiness and prosperity to the people. This declaration was published in the beginning of August throughout Poland. Those who could escape from the promised happiness did, by expatriating themselves; those who could not leave their estates without utter ruin, hastened to join the confederacies of Taragowica and Lithuania, as insuring them protection from Russian vengeance.

The Russians advanced to Warsaw, took regular possession of it, and of all the towns and military forts through the whole country. They dismissed the patriot officers of the army, and dispersed the army itself in small divisions into widely-separated places. They abolished the new constitution, thrust the burgher class again out of their newly- acquired privileges, and put the press under more ignominious restrictions than before. They confiscated the estates of those nobles who had advocated the new reforms, and even the hurried attempt to shield themselves by joining the confederations of Taragowica and Lithuania did not Bave others. Count Oginski, who had been one of the leading reformers, and who had been complimented by the king of Prussia on his discretion and moderation, found himself stripped of his estates for what he had thus been applauded. He therefore had the boldness to hasten to Petersburg and to solicit the restoration of his property from the empress herself. He was received with courtesy, so far as words went, and Catherine assured him that she was the best friend of Poland, and was only protecting the Poles from being swallowed up by Austria and Prussia. Both she and her ministers treated the idea of any partition of Poland as the most groundless and ridiculous of notions. They pointed to the invasion of Germany already by Custine, the French revolutionary general, and justified the temporary occupation of Poland as necessary to the security of both Poland and the neighbouring states.

We must leave the three robber-powers, Russia, Prussia, and Austria, therefore, gloating over their prey, and ready to rend it asunder, in order to continue the narrative of the wild explosion of France. The Girondists were, at the opening of the year 1792, vehemently urging on war against the emigrants and the emperor of Germany. On the very 1st of January, Gensonns, a leading orator of that party, declared that war was inevitable, and he moved that Monsieur, the king's brother, the prince of Conde, count d'Artois, Calonne, Mirabeau the younger, and some others, should be accused of conspiracy and high treason, for being in arms against France, and that they be put upon their trial. As the decree of accusation, which was passed, was not submitted to the king, no veto could be apprehended. Another decree pronounced them condemned, and their revenues appropriated to the state. To this the king offered no opposition. The assembly took possession as an indemnity for the war, and Monsieur was deprived of the regency.

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Pictures for The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 31

Russian sledge driver
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Montreal
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St. Jons
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Taking the civic Oath
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Death of Mirabeau
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Porte St. Denis
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View of Notre Dame
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Arrest of the Royal family
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Royal family of France
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St. Jacques De La Boucherie
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Forest of the Gironde
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Danton
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National Assembly
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Lighthouse of Cordovan
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Madame Roland
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La Vendee
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Plan of Seringapatam
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Marriage of Duke of York
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William Wilberforce
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Assassination of Gustavus III
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Sans Culottes
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