« السابقةمتابعة »
alone like Lord John Russell, that has committed political suicide, but all of them; nor our leaders alone, but the entire nation.
Our rulers seem to have laid it down as an axiom of their policy, that, as the result of the present war, there shall be no limitation of Russian territory. This, we suppose, is the price, of the Austrian alliance !-an alliance which has hitherto brought us only uncertainty and disappointment, and may yet bring us terrible disaster.
The spoliation of Poland, was the joint act of Russia, Austria, and Prussia. Lithuania, Volhynia, and Podolia, which fell to Russia, contained no fewer than nine millions of inhabitants ; while the grand-duchy of Warsaw, which she got by the treaty of 1815, brought her four mil. lions more, and gave her a dangerous ascendancy over the neighbouring niation's, by bringing her within one hundred' and eighty miles of Berlin and Vienna. From that day she became not merely a great Asiatic, but a great European power. The high breakwater between her and Constantinople was swept away, and her ascendancy over Europe became only a matti
of time. The same hand that crushed the revolution in Poland in 1830, in 1853 aimed a blow at Turkey, by which he hoped effectually to attain his great object. His apologists, who have faith in his word, as an
English gentleman,' will do well to refresh their memories with the facts of his subjugation of Poland.
The Poles had tasted freedom and longed for more. Their material prosperity had greatly increased from the year 1815. The army; thirty thousand strong, was in the very highest state of discipline. The resources of the country had been developed with amazing rapidity:
Still many grievances were complained off. Constantine, the viceroy, was capricious and passionate. From 1825 to 1830, the sittings of the Chambers had been discontinued ; and independent thought was sought to be stifled by a rigid censorship of the press. The general prosperity of the country and the sight of so many Polish uniforms in Warsaw, increased the passion for independance. The greatest unity of spirit and purpose pervaded the minds of the nobles, the students, and the common people. Their cause appeared righteous and their strength almost irresistible. Ever since the year 1825, when by a bold but cruel 'stroke, Nicholas, had crushed the rising spirit of freedom in the capital of his empire, an immense secret society had'existed in Poland, whose principal object was, the restoration of the national independence. Never was an object more purely patriotic, never was a secret better kept. Excited to enthusiasm by the news of the French Revolution, on the 29th of Nov. 1830, the Poles rose to demand their rights, when one of their leaders announced on the evening of that day at the gate of the barrack military school, that the hour of liberty had struck. The Polish troops were unanimous. They returned to Warsaw from their respective camps, and were received in the capital with the highest joy. An adminstrative council was instantly formed, and steps were immediately taken to raise a powerful national army. A masterspirit being required to give direction to the movement, Chloprickí assumed a provisional dictatorship till the Diet should meet. With ability, energy, and disinterested patriotism, he ruled. He first sought to accomplish the liberation of his country by negotiations with the Czar, but decisively prepared for the worst. The union of the provinces of Lithuania,
Volhynia, and Podolia, with the kingdom of Poland, were the principal points which they claimed at the court of Nicholas. He received their envoys with the utmost coldness, and warned them that the first cannonshot tired would be the signal of the ruin of Poland.
The course pursued by Austria and. Prussia was all that the Czar could desire, and as inimical as it could be to the cause of freedom without actually attempting to crush it with the sword. Each of them collected an army of observation upon the frontiers, allowed no correspondence to pass from Poland through their dominions, and kept the harbours of Dantzic and Künigsberg, closed against all convoys of ammunition and provisions, even though they should come from France or England. Poland was thus isolated and surrounded with bayonets, preparatory to her being crushed. Austria, true to the policy to which to this hour she clings, opened up secret negotiations with Poland, consenting to the restoration of her nationality, provided a prince of the house of Austria were accepted as King, and that the arrangements were made with the concurrence of France and England France was favourable. England dismissed the envoy with every expression of regret that it could not interfere. Belgium was then on its hands, a Coburg had to be cared for, and Poland, by the present prime minister of England, then her foreign minister, was left to its fate. He too, has been true to his policy, and Poland is still forgotten. Our moral influence was not exerted to secure the independence of Poland in 1830, and in 1855, we have to contend for the independence of Turkey with the sword.
The Poles, single-handed, had to contend for tbeir liberties, and in the
Thé contest showed themselves worthier of a better fate than awaited them. The citizens of Warsaw, scarcely numbering a hundred and forty thousand persons, in one day, contributed 800,000 Horins to the service of the state, and Chlopicki devoted his salary of 200,000 forins to the same cause. Meanwhile, Nicholas issued an animated proclamation to rouse the animosity of his people, branded the Poles as traitors, collected an army of 110,000 men on the frontier, and placed Diebitch, the Passer of the Balkan, at their head. Thus menaced, the Polish Diet, before throwing away tho scabbard, addressed a manifesto to the nations of Europe, which is to this day a noble and solemn witness against the cowardice of those who feared to say that theị cause was just, or the apathy of those who admitted it just, but allowed it to be sacrificed to the ambition of the Czar: Let England read that document, and at the present crisis remember its sin of omission, in allowing so noble a nation to be crushed by the despot's y'oké.
The world knows too well the infamous machinations, thie vile calhinnies, the open violence, and secret treasons, which have accompanied the three dismemberments of ancient Poland. History, of which they have become the property, has stigmatized them as pólitical crimes, of the deepest dye. The solemn grief which that violence 'has spread through the whole country, has 'caused the feelings of nationality to be preserved without interruption.
That country has risen from its ashes, and, though restrained within narrow limits, Poland has received from the hero of the last age, its language, its rights, its liberties, -gifts in themselves precious, bat rendered doubly so by the hopes with which they were accompanied. From that 'mioment his cause has become ours, our blood became his inheritance; and when our allies and Heaven itself seemed to have abandoned him, the Poles shared the disasters of the hero and
the fall together of a great man and an unfortunate nation exhorted the involuntary esteem of the conquerers themselves. That sentiment produced a deep impression; the sovereign of Europe in a moment of danger, promised to the world a durable peace; and the Congress of Vienna, in some sort, softened the evils of our unhappy country. A nationality and entire freedom of internal commerce were guaranteed to all parts of ancient Poland, and that portion of it which the strife of Europe had left independent, though matilated on three sides, received the name of a kingdom, and was put under the guardianship of the Emperor Alexander, with a constitutional charter and the hope of future extension. In performance of these stipulations, he gave a liberal constitution to the kingdom, and held out to the Poles, under his immediate government, the hope of being, ere long, reunited to their severed brethren.
But the hopes inspired by these circumstances proved as short-lived as they were fallacious. The Poles, saw that under cover of the sacred names of liberty and independence, he was resolved to reduce the nation to the lowest point of degradation and servitude. The measures pursued in regard to the army first revealed this infamous design. The liberty of the press, the publication of debates, was tolerated only so long as they resounded with strains of adulation; but the moment that the real discussion of affairs commenced, the most rigid censorship of the press was introduced, and after the sittings of the Diet closed, they prosecuted the members of it for the opinions they had expressed in it.
The union, on one head, of the crown of the Autocrat and of the constitutional King of Poland, is one of those political monstrosities which could not by possibility long endure. Every one foresaw that the kingdom of Poland must be to Russia the germ of liberal institutions, or itself perish under the iron hand of its despot. That question was soon resolved. If Alexander ever entertained the idea of reconciling the extent of his despotic power with the popularity of liberal institutions amongst us, it was but for a moment. He soon showed by his acts that the moment he discovered that liberty would not become the blind instrument of slavery, he was to be its most violent prosecutor. That system was soon put in execution. Public instruction was first corrupted; it was made the mere instrument of despotism. An entire palatinate was next deprived of its representatives in the council,—the chambers of the power of voting on the budget; new taxes were imposed without their authority; monopolies destructive of industry were created; and the treasury became a mere fountain of corruption, from whence, in lieu of the retrenchment, which the nation had so often solicited, pensions and gratuities were distributed with the most scandalous profusion amongst the supporters of government. Calumny and espionage soon invaded the privacy and destroyed the happiness of domestic life; the ancient hospitality of the Poles was converted into a snare for innocence. Individual liberty, so solemnly guaranteed, was every day violated; the prisons were filled, and courts-martial, proceeding to take cognisance of civil offences, inflicted infamous and degrading punishments on citizens, whose only fault was, to have endeavoured to stem the torrent of corruption which overspread the country.
In the ancient provinces of Poland, incorporated with Russia, matters have been still worse. Since the accession of the Emperor Nicholas, all these evils have rapidly increased, and intolerance coming to the aid of despotism, has left nothing undone to extirpate the Catholic worship, and force the Greek ritual in its stead.' The Russians demanded absolute surrender. The Poles insisted
the justice of their claims. The Autocrat was unbending. On the 19th of January, 1831, the Diet met to decide the question of peace or war. Poles,' said Prince Czar-toryski, the president, our cause is sacred, our fate depends upon the Most High, but we owe it to
ourselves to transmit intact to posterity the honour of this nation, enshrined in our hearts: “concord, courage, perseverance,
” such is the sacred motto which can alone insure the glory of our country. Let us put forth all our strength to found for ever our liberty and our national independence. On the 21st the command of the army was conferred upon Prince Radziwil, who received the solemn trust in these words : 'I only accept the command in order to hold it till the war has raised one of those great men who save nations. My sole wish is for the independence and happiness of our beloved country. Such I have been,-such I ever shall be.
(To be continued.)
ADVOCATES OF ATHEISM.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE DEFENDER.
Of all the mad concerts that the heart of man has ever conceived, atheism is the wildest and most unreasonable. In comparison with it a sick man's dreams seem sober and waking realities. In short, atheism offers such contradiction to the very principles of reason and common sense, that it seems to me incompre. hensible how any man in his senses should seriously embrace it. Indeed, it has been questioned and I think with reason- - whether, in spite of the pretensions of some to be so, such an animal as an atheist has really ever existed, since the very notion involves the denial of the most common principles of our nature.
But how great, sir, must be our astonishment when we see this monstrous doctrine taught by men who pretend to be in advance of the age, and the lights and ornaments of the world ? But such is the specious guise under which the insidious folly insinuates itself, viz., a pretended regard for the rights of man, and his emanipation from the bonds of priestcraft and religion.
Among these little sages who distinguish themselves foremost by their violent declamations against Christianity stand prominent the names of Holyoake and Barker--names unknown to fame for anything save this. I am willing to give these gentlemen all the credit due to them for their spite against religion, but I am not so sure of their claims to originality of genius. All their objections and arguments against Christianity, so far as I can see, are collected out of the works of Ti del, Toland, Paine, Hume, and others of that generic class who dignify themselves with the title of free-thinkers, and who have infested this country for the last two centuries, only adapted to the circumstances of the age, and applied to the growing importance of the working classes. I really cannot sufficiently express my unaffected pity for those men, who, simply to gratify a paltry vanity of becoming superior te the rest of their fellows, can find no other better way of distinguishing themselves than by indulging in empty declamations against a religion which has done more good to mankind than has any • philosophy, or sect, or law, or discipline. But in spite of their invectives and declamations against Christianity, there is some reason to doubt whether they are really sincere in their efforts for its destruction-for where then would be their importance ? Who then would take Mr. Holyoake for a philosopher, or Mr. Barker for a wit? But when such writers as these, who have no spirit but that of malice, pretend to inform the age, Molochs and cut-throats may well set up for wits and men of pleasure.'
But, sir, I am willing to give these men every credit for their good intentions, to believe that they are actuated in all their actions by a regard for the good of
their fellow men, and that they themselves believe that thie most beneficial results would follow the destruction of Christianity. Still I must confess myself unable to see what those good results would be. They laud virtue and declaim against vice. Would virtue be elevated or vice depressed by such a catastrophie? . I do not believe that even Mr. Holyoake would have the assurance to say this. But if these men think that by levelling virtue and vice --by removing all distinction between man and the brutes, they are doing mankind a service, I must confess myself unable to appreciate the obligation. But I suppose that these sages do not confess to any distinction between virtue and vice, or hold that the distinction is but artificial, in which case their position is much more reasonable. For my own part, were I'not deterred from vice by the fear of future punishment, and encouraged in the pursuit of virtue by the hope of immortal reward, I should consider following the one vain, and a course of vice reasonable. I should say, 'Eat, drink, and be merry, for to-morrow we die.' Let the old Heathen poet shame thèse modern Heathens---
Quis enim virtutem amplectitur
(For who would embrace virtue for her own sake if you take away her rewards?)
In what remains of these remarks I shall endeavour to point out the respective effects of Christianity and infidelity. But I venture to assert that if infidelity were to become universal (as some learned men have thought that it will before the renovation of all things) instead of the social happiness which these visionaries dream would be the effect of secularism, the bonds of society would be loosed—even the sacred ties of kindred disregarded --no right acknowledged but that of force-that only thought just which is practicable--and men, who were joined together for mutual defence and support, league together only to kill and devour one another.
Áll the effects of Christianity, on the other hand, are beneficial. It has a direct tendency to ameliorate the condition of man both for time and eternity, Its blessed effects are seen in the lives of those who practise it in those couptries where it prevails. It streugthens the hands of the law-mitigates the tyramy of despotism-blunts the edge of the sword-arrests the robber and murderer in their downwar 1 career and influences the conduct of those even who pretend not to come under its dictates. But atheism is a baleful disease, which vitiates whatever it touches,—which turns into a mass of corruption that which before was lovely and precious,—which degrades our noble image—turns man into a brute--destroys the peace and happiness of society, and spreads it deadly contagion all around. But let not the friends of truth be dismayed. Atheism cannot long prevail
. In a few corrupted circles it may, but with the miserable, the poor, and the oppressed it will never be popular. If there were not a God, it would be necessary to invent one. In the last century, infidelity, patronised by most of the literati of Europe, backed by the example of two powerful princes, and encouraged by the profligacy of the Christian clergy, prevailed for a time to unchristianise France. But there again, as in its palmiest days, religion rears hér head. Christians know who hath said that their religion is founded on a rock against which the gates of hell cannot prevail.
A STUDENT GLASGOW UNIVERSITY.
UNBELIEF.— I would rather dwell in the dim fog of superstition, than in air rạrified to nothing by the air-pump of unbelief, in which the panting breast expires, vainly and convulsively gasping for breath.