The Age of the Democratic Revolution: A Political History of Europe and America, 1760-1800: The Challenge

By R. R. Palmer | Go to book overview

XIII
THE LESSONS OF POLAND

IT HAS been the fate of Poland, more than of most countries, that outsiders have been mainly concerned to see in it a spectacular object lesson, hurrying on from interest in the Poles themselves to find evidence for general truths of wider application. Very much this same treatment will be accorded to Poland in this chapter, which is a compressed account of the Four Years' Diet of 1788-1792 and its background; but it may be said, as an apology to the Poles, that in this book the affairs of all other countries are presented in the same way, so as to fit them into a story of political disturbance in the Western World as a whole. Poland will first be exhibited as a land of aristocracy triumphant. The question will then be asked, as it was asked of the American Revolution in Chapter VII, whether the Polish Revolution of 1791 was a revolution at all, and if so in what sense; and what observers in other countries -- such as Burke in England, the revolutionaries in France, and the rulers of Prussia and Russia -- thought that they learned from it.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau drew lessons from Poland in 1771. With the country dissolving in civil war, subverted by Russia, and sinking into the First Partition, the author of the Social Contract, at the request of certain Polish patriots, offered his diagnosis of their situation. The conservatism of his advice has often been pointed out. "Don't shake the machine too abruptly," he said; don't multiply enemies within the state by sudden changes; don't in your attempts at reform lose the liberties that you have.1 His diagnosis nevertheless went to the root of the matter. The trouble with Poland, he thought, was that it had no consistance, no staying power to resist pressure and infiltration from outside. What it needed was character, a character of its own, resting on the collective consciousness or will of its people -- "national institutions which form the genius, the character, the tastes, and the customs of the people, which make them what they are and not something

____________________
1
Considérations sur le gouvernement de la Pologne, in Oeuvres ( Paris, 1827), X, 146, 15.

-411-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Age of the Democratic Revolution: A Political History of Europe and America, 1760-1800: The Challenge
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 534

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.