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tions, prevented the diet from cognizance, and to give immediate yielding to the incessant solicita- notice of all they were able to distions of the court of Berlin to part cover, to the public ministers and with a place which appeared of agents of those powers in whose such importance.
service they acted. But, notwithThe patriotic party was busily standing their vigilance and activioccupied in the mean time in pre- ty, they could not penetrate into paring and digesting the several re. the designs that were forming; so gulations that had been proposed in inviolable was the secrecy of those favour of the people at large, whose to whom they were intrusted. attachment and real in the com- It was not without reason that
cause they prudently took the patriotic party acted with so every method to secure. In the much caution. It was rumoured month of April divers decrees and universally believed, that the were passed, extending to the com- three partitioning powers had come mons many of those rights that had to a secret determination to conheretofore been appropriated solely clude all their differences by a final to the nobles. This order of men division of Poland. Had the Poles was no longer viewed with that been accurately and certainly injealousy and secret dislike which formed of all the particulars of this their undue privileges had created. transaction, it was generally supAs they now admitted the other posed that they would immediately classes to a participation of those have protested jointly against them, franchises on which both public and possibly have taken more active and private liberty are founded, methods to prevent the accomthey justly obtained the respect and plishment of the great business that esteem of all men, and became in was intended.
The intelligence fact possessed of more influence and received from time to time from power than ever. The harmony the Polish ministers and agents at resulting from these arrangements foreign courts, was, that no reliance was visible through the whole king- ought to be placed on the assurances dom, and proved an additional mo- of good-will from any of the
, tive of encouragement to those powers with whom they resided; a who were employed in framing the general combination being formed, constitution that intended either actively to concur in the deshortly to be brought forwards for struction of the Polish monarchy, the acceptance of the nation. or passively to remain spectators of Though not only the Poles, but ils subversion, without interposing their neighbours entertained an
to prevent it. idea that something of this nature Intelligence of this nature newas in agitation, the business itself, cessarily quickened the operations and those immediately concerned of the patriotic party :-convinced in it, remained in profound conceal- that every obstruction would be ment. This was the more neces- thrown in their way that artifice sary, that Warsaw contained at this as well as force could devise, they time a multitude of spies, who were had done their utmost to provide commmissioned to pry into every against both. No time had been transaction that came within their lost in adding strength to the army,
by increasing its' numbers, and Polish character, they fell much bringing
it under the strictest disci- short of their expectations; and at pline. - But a measure no less effec- a considerable cost obtained but cual at the present juncture, was a very few partizans. This was a precaution taken at the calling of circumstance of which the public the diet now sitting. Foreseeing in every part of Europe took much that if the long used privilege of notice at the time. It proved, unbreaking up its sessions by a single answerably, that to the liberum veto dissentient voice were still allowed, all the calamities that had so long all their designs might in one mo- afflicted Poland were to be imputed, ment be defeated, they had pre- and that the only prevention to viously taken care to change this their return, was to abolish it for meeting of the states into a diet of ever. But it also admonished the confederation, and to agree at the partitioning powers, that nothing same time to decide all questions by was now left them to execute their a majority. This alone was so ma- projects on Poland, but a speedy terial an alteration in the form of and united exertion of their force, the Polish government, and so A pacification was 'settled beclearly evinced a resolution to make tween the Porte and Austria : and further changes, that the alarm was the near prospect of the reduction instantly taken by the three parti- of the Netherlands to their former tioning courts. They fully com- obedience to this family, had enaprehended the meaning of this bled it to resume its ambitious spimeasure, which was obviously cal- rit. Russia too was on the point culated to defeat all their intrigues. of terminating its prosperous war Actuated by that resentment which against the Turks, with the addi. arises from offended pride and dis« tional splendor of having successappointed ambition, they imme- fully resisted the mediation in their diately suspended their reciprocal behalf, of the greatest maritime animosities, and employed them- power in the universe. Prussia, selves in concerting measures for with finances improved by a long opposing the designs obviously in duration of peace, and an army contemplation. But the patriotic formed under the discipline of the party had so well guarded against great Frederick, was, after his extheir machinations, that they found ample, meditating new acquisitions. themselves arrested at once in the This was certainly a perilous season career formerly so successful, and for a people diminished in numbers leading so directly to the object at and extent of territory, to enter on which they aimed; a few, and often so bold an attempt as that of casting a single individual, had sufficed to off the yoke of that interfering indefeat the best and most national fluence over them, which, though purposes, and even to put a stop to manifestly an usurpation, still had all proceedings of the diet: but been established by treaties; and they were now constrained to adopt these, however compelled by the a new plan, and to extend their sword, would always be pleaded bribes and promises wherever they by those who had thus enforced hoped to procure their acceptance. them. But, to the great honour of the It required, therefore, very uncommon fortitude to venture on ther to augment their dominions. resistance against three such powers Were sentiments of this sort to suc. combined, every one of which was ceed to that ignominious apathy, sufficiently formidable to require with which Europe had so the whole strength of Poland to countably beheld the iniquitous encounter it. But, as desperate proceedings of the three particases authorize desperate remedies, tioning powers, it was more than the Poles were so thoroughly con- probable that a stop would be put vinced that resolute measures, how to their encroachments, and that ever hazardous, were the only re- Poland would be preserved from source remaining to them in their their projected depredations. Conpresent situation, that it was the siderations of this nature gave aduniversal wish of the nation to ditional spirit to the resolution they commit their fortunes to a trial, had now taken to enter immediately whenever their leaders might be of upon the execution of the plan; opinion that an auspicious oppor- which, after assiduous deliberation, tunity was offered. The heads of they had at length brought to mathe patriotic party, though men of lurity. the most daring disposition, united Among those who were chiefly nevertheless so much coolness to the concerned in framing it, it has been impatience and indignation with said, none acquitted himself with which they perceived the certain more diligence and capacity than though disguised preparations in- the King himself, who, in the course tended against them, that they of his travels into various parts of kept in the deepest silence the pro- Europe, had acquired an intimate ject they were forming, until they knowledge of their different syswere convinced that the moment tems of government.
What is had arrived when it ought to be more certain, there was not any brought forward, without any tur- one who had a greater share in the ther delay.
formation of this system than AbThe people, they were conscious, batte Piatotti, formerly his Mawere unanimously with them. This, jesty's private secretary. in so bold and venturous an under- When the King and his associates taking, was an indispensable en- in this great work had completed couragement. They knew also, the scheme of government that was that in the cause for which they to be presented to the public, they were going to contend, soldiership reciprocally agreed to stand by each and discipline were on the side of other to the last, in procuring its their enemies: but these they acceptance on the very day of its doubted not speedily to acquire'; presentation. Cogent motives of nor were they without hopes that every kind induced them to form causes of discord might produce this resolution. The capital such effects as to embroil their swarmed with the emissaries of neighbours with each other, and so those powers that were inimical to retard their operations, as to give the undertaking. Were the diet, time to other powers to reflect on once met, to be prevailed upon to the impolicy of permitting three postpone the matter to another such overgrown potentates still fur- sitting, the patriotic party well
knew that every effort would in of the nation. He observed, that the interval be made to obstruct it. notwithstanding the friendly assurBribes, promises, threats, entreaties, ances of foreign powers, he was in short, every endeavour, friendly well informed that a resolution had or hostile, would be used, in order been taken to make a final partition to dissuade or to deter the members of Poland. The only way to preof the diet from giving their con- vent such a calamity and disgrace to currence. Though the majority the nation, and to secure it from might remain inflexible, yet some future attempts of this kind, was might be intimidated, or yield from without delay to establish such a other motives. This, by diminish. form of government as should proing the majority, would detract duce an union of the whole strength from the weight of the decision. and energy of the Polish nation, The only method, therefore, to ob- and thereby enable it to resist the viate this difficulty, was evidently interference of foreigners in its doto bring the business to a conclusion mestic affairs, and preserve its natuin a single sitting. The third of ral independence and dignity. In May was fixed upon for this pur- order to effect this salutary purpose, pose. Early in the morning, a he had consulted the English and large company of those members, the American constitutions; and whose courage
and determination avoiding what he thought erroin the cause were well known, as- neous, extracted from these such sembled in the king's palace, where, parts as he judged best adapted to in his presence, they solemnly the present circumstances of Poswore to carry the business through land. The plan being read, a spion that very day; and pledged rited and long debate ensued: but, themselves to each other not to se- through the king's prudent maparate till it should be completely nagement, was conducted without effected.
violence or restraint of the fullest The meeting of such numbers in liberty of speech. One member the royal palace at three o'clock in in particular, whether excited by the morning, naturally excited uni- foreign influence, or moved by his versal curiosity. The public had own propensities, seemed by his been some time in expectation of a behaviour determined to provoke great event, which they now looked harsh treatment. On his rising to upon as at hand. Without being speak, many voices endeavoured to able to ascertain precisely what that drown him; but he was protected event would be, they rightly con- by the king, and permitted to dejectured it to be of the highest im- clare his sentiments with the utportance to the nation. The in. most freedom and safety to his habitants of Warsaw crowded, in person. consequence, to the hall where After many hours deliberation, a the diet was held. Instead of the great number of the members supusual ceremony of the marshals plicated the King to accept and opening the session, the king on swear to the constitution proposed. this great occasion thought proper But he judiciously reminded them to open
it in person. He laid be- of the oath he had taken at his acfore the assembly the critical state cession to the crown, to maintain
the Polish coristitution on its actual equal obstinacy, that they would footing, and that he could not le not depart till it was abandoned. gally comply with their request, This was the critical moment. unless he was previously absolved Both parties appeared ready to proby-the formal consent of the diet, ceed to immediate violence." In of the obligation then imposed the mean time, the King sat in upon him. A majority of the diet silent suspense how to act, and in immediately arose, and after dis- anxious expectation how this sudcharging him, in a regular and so- den contest would terminate ; when lemn manner, from the observance the deputy from Livonia, Mr. Zaof that article in his coronation biello, suggested, that a decree to contract, which made the crown decide all questions by a plurality elective, they also bound them- of votes, having passed at the openselves not to adjourn till the pro- ing of the present diet, the most posal before them was finally proper method to settle the dispute adopted.
between both parties, would be by The marshal of the diet was, in referring to their respective numconsequence, ordered by the King bers. Those who approved of the to collect individually the opinion plan proposed, being more than ten of all the members, that the sense to one comparatively to those that and will of the nation, assembled in opposed it, the King, he said, its representatives, might thus be ought not to hesitate in giving his made a matter of indisputable no- sanction to the constitution. Anitoriety. But that part of the new mated by this deputy's words and constitution which® rendered the example, the majority rose incrown hereditary, met with a vio- stantly from their seats, and sur- lent opposition, even from those rounding the throne, requested the
who approved of all the others. king formally to accept and to Mr. Sucherzewski, one of the most swear to the observance of the zealous promoters of all the popular constitution, so willingly and zeaplans, earnestly besought the King lously received by an incomparable to recede from this point; asserting majority. The King readily seized with great warmth, that hereditary this auspicious opportunity. He succession was the tomb of public called to him the bishop of Cracow, liberty. The deputies from Vol- officially to witness what he swore, hinia and Podolia, objected altoge. and mounting on the throne, the ther to the new constitution, and better to be heard and seen, he others pleaded the instructions of pronounced with a loud voice the their constituents for referring the oath requested of him; and the decision to a future day, and a majority holding up their hands longer deliberation. But the ma
did the same.
This ceremony perjority insisted that the system pro- formed, he exclaimed that those posed should be forthwith adopted; who loved their country should nor was the minority less positive in follow him to the cathedral, and refusing its consent. On the for- renew their oath at the altar. He mer declaring they would not quit was accordingly accompanied to the hall until they had accomplished church by the diet, only thirty or their object, the latter replied with forty of the members, to which the