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Czy polski szlachcic powinien zostać Rosjaninem? Rozważania Henryka Rzewuskiego o cywilizacji i religii

Adam Sowiński

Should a Polish Nobleman Become a Russian? Henryk Rzewuski’s Discussions on Civilisation and Religion

Henryk Rzewuski was an esteemed author of Sarmatian novels and a controversial conservative political commentator. In 1851, he published the article titled Cywilizacja i religia [Civilisation and religion] in “Dziennik Warszawski”. He presented there his social and political views in a concise and orderly manner. Rzewuski’s concept was one of numerous nineteenth-century theories of civilisation. Rzewuski evaluated the transformations occurring in Europe from the angle of his own concept. According to Rzewuski, the European civilisation was in the state of a deep crisis. It was only the return to the authentic Christian religiousness that was able to save Europe from its collapse and barbarian conquest. Rzewuski did not touch upon the Polish issues directly in the article, but the reader living in the Russian state, where all magazines had to be approved by the tsarist censorship, was able to read between the lines, find multiple references to the Polish problems, and look at the Polish issue through the prism of the social and political concepts presented in the article. When analysing Cywilizacja i religia, the author instantly noticed that Rzewuski had postulated the abandonment of not only the aspiration for independence but also the attempts to create the nation with complete social structure. The Poles should become a part of the Slavic Russian nation. In return, the Polish nobility would be able to maintain its social position, cultivate the old noble culture as part of the multi-thread Russian culture and would have the right to profess Catholicism. This was not a programme of agreement with the tsarism but a programme of national apostasy. And this was unacceptable even for the most conciliatory supporters of the agreement with Russia. The article sparked general outrage and in protest against it, many readers of “Dziennik Warszawski” resigned from its subscription and the paper faced grave financial trouble. Keywords: Henryk Rzewuski, Polish conservatism, conservatism, traditionalism, programme of agreement, theory of civilisation, “Dziennik Warszawski”.