FOR SEVERAL YEARS THE DISSIDENT QUESTION CANNOT BE GOT SETTLED; CONFEDERATION OF RADOM (23d June, 1767-5th March, 1768) PUSHES IT INTO SETTLEMENT.
For several years after this feat of the false scalp, through long volumes, wearisome even in RULHIERE, there turns up nothing which can now be called memorable. The settling of the Dissident Question proves extremely tedious to an impatient Czarina; as to curing of the other curable Anarchies, there is absolutely nothing but a knitting up by A, with a ravelling-out again by B, and no progress discernible whatever. Impatient Czarina ardently pushes on some Dissident settlement,--seconded by King Friedrich and the chief Protestant Courts, London included, and by the European leading spirits everywhere,--through endless difficulties: finds native Orthodoxy an unexpectedly stiff matter; Bishops generally having a fanaticism which is wonderful to think of, and which keeps mounting higher and higher. Till at length there will Images of the Virgin take to weeping,--as they generally do in such cases, when in the vicinity of brew-houses and conveniences; [Nicolai, in his TRAVELS OVER GERMANY, doggedly undertook to overhaul one of those weeping Virgins (somewhere in Austria, I think); and found her, he says, to depend on subterranean percolation of steam from a Brewery not far off.]--a Carmelite Monk go about the country working miracles; and, in short, an extremely ugly phasis of religious human nature disclose itself to the afflicted reader. King Friedrich thinks, had it not been for this Dissident Question, things would have taken their old Saxon complexion, and Poland might have rotted on as heretofore, perhaps a good while longer.
As to the knitting-up and ravelling-out again, which is called curing of the other anarchies, no reader can or need say anything: it seems to be a most painful knitting-up, by the Czartoryskis chiefly, then an instant ravelling out by malign Opposition parties of various indistinct complexion; the knitting, the ravelling, and the malign Opposition parties, alike indistinct and without interest to mankind. A certain drunken, rather brutal Phantasm of a Prince Radzivil, who hates the Czartoryskis, and is dreadfully given to drink, to wasteful ambitions and debaucheries, figures much in these businesses; is got banished and confiscated, by some Confederation formed; then, by new Confederations, is recalled and reinstated,--worse if possible than ever. The thing is reality; but it reads like a Phantasmagory produced by Lapland Witches, under presidency of Diabolus (very certainly the Devil presiding, as you see at all turns),--and is not worth understanding, were it even easy.
Much semi-intelligible, wholly forgettable stuff about King Stanislaus and his difficulties, and his duplicities and treacherous imbecilities, [Hermann, v. 400, &c.; Rulhiere PASSIM.] now of interest to no mortal. Stanislaus is at one time out with the uncles Czartoryski, at another in with these worthy gentlemen: a man not likely to cure Anarchies, unless wishing would do it. On the Dissident Question itself he needs spurring: a King of liberal ideas, yes; but with such flames of fanaticism under the nose of him. In regard to the Dissident and all other curative processes he is languid, evasive, for moments recalcitrant to Russian suggestions; a lost imbecile,--forget him, with or without a tear. He has still a good deal of so-called gallantry on his hands; flies to his harem when outside things go contradictory. [Hermann, v. 402, &c.] Think of malign Journalists printing this bit of Letter at one time, to do him ill in a certain quarter: "Oh, come to me, my Princess! Dearer than all Empresses:--imperial charms, what were they to thine for a heart that has--" with more of the like stuff, for a Czarina's behoof.
WINTER OF 1766, Imperial Majesty, whether after or before that miraculous Carmelite Monk, I do not remember, became impatient of these tedious languors and tortuosities about the Dissident Question, and gave express order, "Settle it straightway!" To which end, Confederations and the other machinery were set agoing: Confederations among the Protestants and Dissidents themselves, about Thorn and such places (got up by Russian engineering), and much more extensively in the Lithuanian parts; Confederations of great extent, imperative, minatory; ostensibly for reinstating these poor people in their rights (which, by old Polish Law, they quite expressly were, if that were any matter), but in reality for bringing back drunken Radzivil, who has covenanted to carry that measure. And so,
JUNE 23d, 1767, These multiplex Polish-Lithuanian Confederations, twenty-four of them in all, with their sublime marshals and officials, and above 80,000 noblemen in them, meet by deputies at Radom, a convenient little Town within wind of Warsaw (lies 60 miles to south of Warsaw); and there coalesce into one general "Confederation of Radom," [Hermann, v. 420.] with drunken Radzivil atop, who, glad to be reinstated in his ample Domains and Wine- cellars, and willing at any rate to spite the Czartoryskis and others, has pledged himself to carry that great measure in Diet, and quash any NIE POZWALAMS and difficulties there may be. This is the once world-famous, now dimly discoverable, CONFEDERATION OF RADOM, which--by preparatory declaring, under its hand and seal, That the Law of the Land must again become valid, and "Free Polacks of Dissident opinions concerning Religion (NOS DISSIDENTES DE RELIGIONE)," as the old Law phrases it, "shall have equal rights of citizenship"--was beautifully instrumental in achieving that bit of Human Progress, and pushing it through the Diet, and its difficulties shortly ensuing.
Not that the Diet did not need other vigorous treatment as well, the flame of fanaticism being frightfully ardent; many of the poor Bishops having run nearly frantic at this open spoliation of Mother Church, and snatching of the sword from Peter. So that Imperial Majesty had to decide on picking out a dozen, or baker's dozen, of the hottest Bishops; and carrying them quietly into Russia under lock and key, till the thing were done. Done it was, surely to the infinite relief of mankind;--I cannot say precisely on what day: October 13th-14th (locking up of the dozen Bishops), was one vital epoch of it; November 19th, 1767 (report of Committee on it, under Radzivil's and Russia's coercion), was another: first and last it took about five months baking in Diet. Diet met Oct. 4th, 1767, Radzivil controlling as Grand-Marshal, and Russia as minatory Phantom controlling Radzivil; Diet, after adjournments, after one long adjournment, disappeared 5th March, 1768; and of work mentionable it had done this of the Dissidents only. That of contributing to "the sovereign contempt with which King Stanislaus is regarded by all ranks of men," is hardly to be called peculiar work or peculiarly mentionable.
At this point, to relieve the reader's mind, and, at any rate, as the date is fully come, we will introduce a small NEWSPAPER ARTICLE from a very high hand, little guessed till long afterwards as the writer,--namely, from King Friedrich's own. It does not touch on the Dissident Question, or the Polish troubles; but does, in a back-handed way, on Prussian Rumors rising about them; and may obliquely show more of the King's feeling on that subject than we quite suppose. It seems the King had heard that the Berlin people were talking and rumoring of "a War being just at hand;" whereupon--"MARCH 5th, 1767, IN THE VOSSISCHE ZEITUNG (Voss's Chronicle), No. 28," an inquisitive Berlin public read as follows:--
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