AFTER THE PARTITIONS: CLASSICISM AND PRE-ROMANTICISM
The tragic feature of the partitions of Poland was the fact that the state ceased to exist at a moment when Polish society was beginning to undergo a rapid spiritual and moral regeneration. Thirty years of intensive work during the Stanislavian Period had accomplished a great deal. If Poland had been given the opportunity of continuing that work undisturbed for a few more decades, she would certainly have gained a sound basis for a complete political and social renaissance. Unfortunately, internal weakness as well as external aggression made this impossible. We emphasize 'external aggression,' for this was at least as much a cause of the downfall as was internal anarchy. It would not have been easy for even a strong and economically well organized state to resist the joint aggression of three such mighty, imperialistic, and unscrupulous powers as were allied against Poland.
It was a fortunate fact in this tragedy, however, that the catastrophe of the partitions occurred during the Stanislavian Period, after an era of broadly conceived reforms, the awakening of the national and social consciousness, and after the Constitution of the Third of May. It was only then that the value and significance of the Stanislavian Period, not only for the last years of the Republic but also for the entire further course of Polish history, was realized fully.
This epoch had awakened in the nation a moral and spiritual force which provided the basis and outline for a program of action. This program consisted of a few basic points: the regaining of political independence, the organization of the state along the lines indicated by the Constitution of the Third of May (with, of course, the necessary supplements that the creators of the Constitution could not introduce), alliance with all peoples struggling for freedom, and the maintenance of the patriotic idea on a universal level rather than within the frame of