TO THE EDITOR OP TIIE SPECTATOR.
Tuesday, 2Ist .Tqne 1831.
SIR—It is with extreme satisfaction that I read your article " Poland." in the SPECTATOR of last Sunday, in which the cachidirig words
that "public opinion, and its organ, the press, are evidently tending towards something beyond mere professions of sympathy for the Poles." The knowledge, on the Continent, of this tendency of the public opinion in this country, will be of great utility to the sacred cause which is now being fought on the part of brave men against their oppressors. I have a short time ago witnessed, in Germany, the greatest sympathy towards the Poles ; in France this sympathy is universal ; but in both of those countries people complain that England has not demonstrated its feelings in the same unequivocal mariner. The Germans, in particular, say that England, possessing a free press, and exercising great moral in- fluence in such matters on the public opinion of Europe, ought to have taken the lead in promoting—demanding the independence of Poland, which was lost partly through the apathy of England, and which the Poles have now recovered, de facto, in such a brilliant and noble man- ner. " We are precluded " (thus reason the Germans) " from freely stating our opinions; we are prohibited from expressing our admiration of the patriotic Poles—our disgust at seeing the armies of the Northern Despot led by Germans ; those modern Condottieri,' ready to fight in any ranks and in any cause; and our disapproval of the shameful par- tiality with which Austria, and particularly Prussia, break all the rules of neutrality which they nevertheless profess, and which they are hound to observe. We cannot do all that ; but we could at least reecho the
powerful voice tree England,' if that voice had been adequately ex- pressed." No*, Sir, as the expression of public opinion begins to be ex- pressed here as it ought to be, and as the people in Germany wish it should be expressed, 1 have not the least doubt that this more real sym- pathy of the English towards the Poles will enable the public opinion in Germany to manifest itself more loudly in the cause of justice and free- dom, and check the partial propensities of the Prussian Government.
You mention the proposal entertained by some persons, that, 1. France and England should immediately acknowledge the independence of Poland. 2. That they should jointly remonstrate with the one man who rules Russia, on the ground of eternal justice, and the de facto in- dependence of Poland—supporting the remonstrance by two fleets. Allow me here to observe, that it is hardly necessary for France and England to support their remonstrances with any armed force, or even to remonstrate at all. The mere acknowledgment of the independence orPoland will be quite sufficient. And this is the conviction entertained by many intelligent people in Germany, who are better acquainted with the real power of Russia, as well as with the personal character of the Em- peror NICHOLAS. Indeed, the events of the last war between Russia and Turkey strongly corroborate that opinion. What prevented Gene- ral DIEBITSCH from taking Constantinople ? The possibility or proba- bility of the thing was obvious after the taking of Adrianople ; and no- body doubted this. The Russian army, as well as the people, were very sanguine in wishing for it. In fact it appears that in modern warfare nothing is won if the capital of the enemy's country is not occupied. The only possible advantageous result of the war for the Russians was glory (of profit there could have been no question, since the Emperor declared that he would make no acquisition of territory): this result was obviously not obtained by stopping at Adrianople, and not occupying, even for a fortnight, the celebrated capital of the Turkish empire. In this case, the Emperor acted contrary to the wishes of his army and people, con- trary to the representations of his triumphant General. And why, I ask, again—why, but in consequence of " remonstrances "from France and England ! This fact is very well known now.
If, then, amidst triumphs, and having for him more or less the opi- nion of the civilized world (you will recollect that the opinion of France was very clearly expressed in favour of the Russians and against the Turks), the Emperor consented to abandon the only advantage of a war painful and expensive in men and money, in consequence of remon- strances from France and England, is it unreasonable to suppose that he would yield to similar remonstrances in his present circumstances, when his armies are far from being triumphant—when some of the most important provinces of his empire are in open rebellion—when his no longer victorious General is execrated as much by his own soldiers as by the enemy—when the empire is exhausted by continual and unexam- pled recruiting, and the finances by the difficulties of contracting new loans in Europe ? Is it unreasonable to suppose that the same conduct which the French Minister, CHATEAUBRIAND, proposed to be pursued towards the Turks (before the battle of Navarino took place), namely, "merely to acknowledge the independence of Greece," would be as effi- cient in the vase of Poland as it wdtild have been in that of Greece ?
Let us for a moment consider the moral influence of such a recogni- tion by the two leading Powers in Europe. Let us recollect that now- a-days the world is moved more by moral than by physical force.
I cannot but repeat here your very sensible and very just observation, that "with a rational prospect of a protracted war, it is not wise to leave the issue to the chapter of accidents." The last battle of Oetrolenka, which was undoubtedly, as far as the battle itself goes, lost by the Poles, proves, better than any thing else, that the war will necessarily be a "protracted war." The Poles certainly retreated after this battle,— but did the Russians advance? The fact is, that if in this battle the Poles fought for their political, the Russians did so for their physical existence. The object of SCRHYNECKI was to send a detached corps to Lithuania, and to cut off the communications of DIEBITSCH with Prus- sia, whence he received every thing necessary for the subsistence of his army. SCRZYNECKI succeeded in the first and failed in the second of these objects. DIEBITSCU, by a bloody victory, gained only the conti- nuance of being able to get bread from the neutral (i !) Prussia for his soldiers ! Why did he net advance ? Obviously—because he could not. Is it reasonable to suppose that he will be able to assume the offensive now, when 15,000 Poles joined their Lithuanian brothers, who did not wait the arrival of these troops to rise in arms against the Russian Go- vernment? Unless the King of Prussia shall supply Daestrscet with soldiers as well as with bread, the Emperor of Russia must send from the interior of his empire fresh troops to reinforce the army under DIEBITSCH; but then, those fresh troops must pass through those very provinces which are now in insurrection against the Russian Go- vernment. Before the new army shall join DIEBITSCH, they must subdue Lithuania, which is all in arms ; Podolia and Volhynia, which will
shortly be all in arms, with the aid of their brethren of the kingdom of Poland. The putting down of the insurrection in those provinces will be as difficult, at least, as the subduing of the kingdom of Poland, because the population of those provinces is nearly double compared with the population of the kingdom. Moreover, some of those pro- vinces—namely, Lithuania—by immense forests, present some means of defence, not existing in the kingdom ; and almost all of them, particularly Volhynia and Podolia, are very fertile, and will afford all the necessaries. for the maintenance of armies.
This general insurrection of Lithuania, and the partial insurrection (which, with the aid of Polish detached corps, will likewise become general) of Volliynia and Podolia, has given a more decisive turn to this struggle between Poland and Russia than any other event since the beginningof the war. You have seen how the Emperor NICHOLAS and his Generals and Governors treat the insurgent Lithuanians : if taken prisoners, although covered with wounds, they are hanged ! property confiscated—children put in military asylums, with the prospect of becom- ing soldiers in the Russian armies ! Will, then, not such a war he " a protracted war ?" and " is it wise to leave the issue to the chapter of accidents ?"
If the Great Powers interfered between Turkey and Greece -ort grounds of humanity, is it not right to interfere between Russia and Poland, not only on the same grounds of humanity; but likewise on the grounds of justice, which was much inure disregarded with respect to the Poles than with respect to the Greeks ? Politicians like, perhaps, much better the ground of " expediency." Then let them consider : is it expedient that England and France should witness the extermi- nating warfare now raging in the North of Europe ? It is clear, that peace, durable peace, can only be got by rendering Poland an independent country. Suppose Russia will conquer—what will be the conse- quence ? With all the paternal dispositions of Emperor NICHOLAS, he cannot exterminate all the Poles. He may occupy their cities and subdue their villages ; he may shoot and hang thousands of them ; but the Poles, the Polish people, Polish language, Polish spirit, will still re- main, and animosity and hatred will fill but the more the breasts of re- luctant slaves. The first opportunity, the first misunderstanding of Russia with some one of the European powers, or even with Turkey, will be the signal fin- another insurrection of the Poles against Russia. You see that even Italians will not remain quiet under the rule of Aus- tria—who can expect that Poles would under Russia ? So that by not interfering, England and France prepare for the future times not only a protracted, but, in some respects, an endless war. By interfering, on the contrary, those powers, besides making amends for their former guilty apathy, rescue Europe from the baneful influence of a barbarous and despotic power. It is certainly extremely expedient to secure Europe for ever from the infliction of a new "Holy Alliance."
It cannot be denied that England has not so strong motives for inter- ference as France. But putting aside the guarantees of the Congress of Vienna, to which England was a party—putting aside even those highet grounds of "eternal justice," the "rights of nations" (grounds to which I trust in God this country never will be a stranger),—is not England authorized to act on the ground of "precedent," namely, the precedent of the interference between Turkey and Greece ? Why should the Northern Don AIIGUEL be treated with more favour than was MAMHOUD ? With many politicians the only question will be—can England and France interfere successfully without endangering the peace of Europe? And here the past teaches us to expect and to be- lieve that they can. Let them, we shall repeat, acknowledge the inde- pendence of Poland, and leave safely the rest to the power of public opi- nion of all Europe, and to the patriotism and manly enthusiasm of the Poles, whose spirit will undoubtedly rise still higher when they will see their right acknowledged by the two most free people of Europe. As for France in particular, I cannot abstain from noticing here the wise rule propounded (if I am not mistaken) by ADAM Smell, who, in speaking of the prohibitive systems in trade, says, that people will seldom make a mistake, if they regulate the conduct of states according to the conduct that individuals would adopt for themselves. No*, suppose a person who was threatened by his enemy with an assault—an old friend of this person slays the enemy and fights the battle himself; where is the man who, in such a case, would leave his friend in the lurch ?
The papers of to-day speak of the death of General DIEBITSCH. If the report will be confirmed, it will be seen that anger and disappoint. ment were the chief causes of the death of this person. Men should be very cautious how they ascribe events to the interference of Providence. The almost incredible successes of the Poles in their holy cause will in- duce the most cautious in that respect to turn his mind to Heaven and there seek for explanation of the miracles that astonished the world. And now we see the principal tool of despotism and oppression, in the bloom of manhood and health, fallen !s-the victim of his own rage and despair I Let his employer take warning from this example. To despotism and tyranny the Emperor NICHOLAS added blasphemy, in calling upon God to bless his abominable cause ! As for the conse- quences of DIEBITSCH'S death to the Poles, I do not think that it will prove advantageous for them. The events have shown that the Poles could not wish for a better commander of their enemies. DIEBITSCEI was unsuccessful as a general, and stupid as a politician. In a war, the character of which prescribed conciliation as the best means of success, he, in his slavish zeal to please his master, did every thing to rouse the indignation and hatred of the Poles. It is proverbial that despots and their satellites never know the minds of the people, and particularly nester appreciate the power that real patriotism, love of freedom, virtue, add to the material strength of men. The proclamations published by DIEBITSCH at the opening of the campaign, proved to demonstration that he had not the least idea of what he was going to do. Another advantage for the Poles,—and this undoubtedly contributed not a little to their successes,—was the extremeunpopularity of DIEBITSCH among his own army, he not being a Russian by birth. The generals who were the nearest to the Field-Marshal, seem to have been not more devoted to him. The papers of this day give an article, stating that his Quarter- master-general reported to the Emperor of his inability to exercise the chief command of the armies. If R proves nothing else, it shows, at least, that the army of s despot 1.51101 more free from intrigues than is his court ; and that such intriguing, in paralyzing the unity of action so indispensable in the command of an army, must certainly have been very advantageous to the united Poles, in facilitating the fulfilment of the skilful combinations of their noble commander.
[The foreign idioms of this letter remain unaltered.—En.]