PRO-POLISH AGITATION IN GREAT BRIITAIN 1832-1867
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Poland's political fate and the plight of her exiles during the nineteenth century evoked a mixed response from various sectors of the British population. Five separate aspects of pro-Polish sympathy have been analyzed. The Literary Association's efforts to raise money for the relief of refugees resident in Great Britain were severly hampered and finally crippled by public opinion hostile to charity for foreigners in the midst of domestic distress. Agitation designed to place pressure on the Government to intervene by force in order to re-establish the independence of Poland was never sufficiently strong between 1832 and 1867 to deflect the Government from pursuing a course dictated by national interests. This has been illustrated by a study of public opinion and official policy towards the restoration of Poland during the Crimean War. The attitude of several of the more important religious denominations to the Polish question was not uniform. Roman Catholics feared the destruction of Papal possessions in the event of Polish revolutionary fervour reaching Italy; Anglo-Jewry tended to be absorbed in the problem of its own disabilities while it was difficult for the Poles as a predominantly Catholic nation to avoid giving offence to the Established Church and dissenting sects. Anglo-Polish masonic contacts produced a new form of passive Polonophilism quite distinct from the conventional pattern of demonstrative sympathy for Poland but equally futile from the political point of view. Polish experience of foreign oppression was far more relevant for Irish nationalists than for the English. A backward agrarian economy and the Roman Catholic religion also drew the two nations together. Ireland, however, could offer nothing more substantial to the Poles than moral support and in return was able to profit from sophisticated Polish theories of insurrection.
AuthorsCopson-Niecko, Maria Jane Eithne
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