Articles by Frederick Engels for The Northern Star

Fate of a Traitor

Source: MECW Volume 3, p. 519;
Written: in the first half of May 1844;
First published: in The Northern Star No. 340, May 18, 1844, with an editorial note: “From our own Correspondent”

Count Adam Gurowski, who took an active part in the revolution of 1830, afterwards deserted his party, was allowed to return to his country, and became notorious in a very unenviable manner by some publications, [227] in which he advised his countrymen to consider the annihilation of their independence as a judgment of God, to which they must humbly submit, and seek shelter at the throne of the mighty Czar, in whose hands God had laid their fates. He told them that Poland could not have met with a better luck than it had done by being subdued under the Russian yoke; that it was their duty to abandon all hopes of independence; and that, in fine, the Czar’s government was the very best that could be found on the face of the earth. He expected, of course, to be rewarded by Nicholas, but the autocrat was too prudent to trust a traitor. He used him and abandoned him; he gave him a subordinate office, which Gurowski resigned, when he saw that he had no hope of being promoted; he could not even get the rights of a nation which, by his participation in the insurrection, were forfeited; and at last he has chosen to leave Poland again to take shelter in Prussia, and to go to Breslau, where he has requested the authorities to be treated as a military deserter. Despised by his countrymen, whose cause he deserted, scorned by all parties in Europe, abandoned by the Czar, he intends going to America, hoping, perhaps, that his reputation will not follow him across the ocean.

The iron sway with which Russian despotism rules Poland, is at present as unrelenting as ever. Every thing is done to remind the unfortunate Pole at every step that he is a slave. Even the fingerposts on the road sides must have inscriptions in Russian language and characters; not a word of Polish is allowed. The Polish language is banished from all courts of law. A German song, “the gipsy-boy in the North”, containing not the slightest allusion to either Russia or Poland, but expressing only a strong desire to return to their native country, was translated into Polish, but suppressed by the Russian censor, as a patriotic, and therefore, of course, criminal song. No wonder, then, that Nicholas should wish to have the German press silenced, the only channel through which the world becomes acquainted with such facts as those. I must, however, not forget one fact: six Poles, soldiers of a Russian regiment at the frontier, deserted, but were caught before they reached Prussia. They were condemned to fifteen hundred lashes each; the punishment was inflicted; their relations were forced to assist at it; three only of the six survived the flogging.