A letter from Władysław Zamoyski to Daniel O’Connell (November 1837) – Source Analysis, IV/2023

A letter from Władysław Zamoyski to Daniel O’Connell (November 1837) – Source Analysis, IV/2023

Władysław Zamoyski, oil painting by Leon Kapliński.
Władysław Zamoyski, oil painting by Leon Kapliński. Source: Wikimedia Commons

The letter from Count Władysław Zamoyski (1803-1868) to Daniel O’Connell (1775-1847) was prepared two days before the commemoration of the outbreak of the November Uprising (1830-1831). The anniversary was celebrated at London’s Crown and Anchor Tavern on 29 November 1837 and it was presided over by the Irish representative of the city of Dublin in the House of Commons, Daniel O’Connell.

The extant material is a rough draft of the letter – its final version has most likely been lost. However, this does not change the fact that it reached the addressee before the start of the ceremony, which is discussed below. The particular significance of this letter relates to several aspects, the most important of which undoubtedly concern: (a) the influence of the Polish “diplomacy” of the camp of Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski (1770-1861) on the leading figures of that period; (b) evidence of Władysław Zamoyski’s close relationship with O’Connell, which can be interpreted as a personal success of Zamoyski’s activity in the light of this letter;[1] and (c) confirmation of the hypothesis that the Irish Liberator was in favour of this political wing of the Great Emigration.[2] It is worth noting that the use of the term “diplomacy” in relation to the activity of Prince Adam (here in the sense of “a foreign policy instrument of the non-existent Polish state”)[3] is the subject of discussion in Polish historiography. While older literature uses the term unreservedly, more recent studies have questioned the validity of its use (hence, quotation marks are used here), by pointing, for example, to the very definition of the term whereby foreign policy refers to activities concerning relations between member states.[4]

General Władysław Zamoyski was the closest associate of Prince Adam J. Czartoryski – a politician and one of the most active advocates of the Great Emigration. Both were “the main representatives of Polish emigration diplomacy”.[5] Zamoyski was a monarchist and saw a constitutional monarch at the head of the future independent Poland. At the same time, he believed that Prince Adam was predestined for this role. This contrasted with another representative of the Great Emigration, who also had direct contact with O’Connell, Antoni Ostrowski (see Copy of Antoni Ostrowski’s letter to Daniel O’Connell), as Zamoyski was against the creation of a parliament in exile. In his view, the creation of a government in exile – deprived of real power – would be a major mistake. Therefore, Zamoyski believed that the role and involvement of Prince Adam should be based “solely on moral influence”.[6] This was one of the key areas that connected Prince Czartoryski and Daniel O’Connell, which was quickly reflected in advancing O’Connell’s model of leadership among the supporters of Prince Czartoryski’s camp.[7]

Zamoyski and Czartoryski also had strong family relations – Władysław’s mother, Zofia née Czartoryska, had a strong bond with her brother Adam. Although Czartoryski was Władysław’s uncle, the latter treated him almost as his father – he was a figure of authority and a moral role model for him. Indeed, Czartoryski had a decisive influence on him, especially after the fall of the November Uprising, in which Władysław took an active part: first as a “negotiator” between the authorities of the Kingdom of Poland and the revolutionary forces, and later as a soldier confronting the Russian army, achieving significant successes on the battlefield.[8] After the Uprising, he decided to emigrate and continue his efforts for the Polish cause (anti-Russian and towards independence), becoming even more closely associated with Czartoryski – a well-known and influential person in European diplomacy, whose extensive political and social contacts were established while he was Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia (1804-1806). Prince Czartoryski’s extensive network was also concerned with British relations, including government relations; for example, with the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, who from 1835 was William Fox Strangways (1795-1865), a friend of the Czartoryski family: “It was through him that notes and memorandums were delivered to ministers, he provided Czartoryski with various valuable information, he made it possible to use the English diplomatic mail [system] for the correspondence of Prince Czartoryski’s agents”. Furthermore, family ties with the Stuarts, including the greatest Polonophile of the period, Lord Dudley Coutts Stuart (1803-1854), in turn facilitated relations with the English aristocracy and members of both houses of the British Parliament.[9]

Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski, photo by Gaspard-Félix Tournachon, Nadar.
Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski, photo by Gaspard-Félix Tournachon, Nadar. Source: Wikimedia Commons

In this context, it was not without significance that Count Władysław Zamoyski was born in Paris, which benefitted his later activity in exile. This involved the acquired rights of citizenship and thus the protection of the French government. In Paris, during the absence of his parents for several months, he was looked after by the Comtesse de Hohault. It was also her family who took care of him in his first years in exile. In particular, he was warmly received by the comtesse’s son, who was first aide-de-camp to the Duke of Orléans and heir to the throne, with whom he made an acquaintance. As Zamoyski himself was to admit, this relationship with the young Duke of Orléans was of great benefit to him in his first years in exile.[10]

England was the most important country of Władysław’s activities – as part of Prince Czartoryski’s camp – in the years 1832-1847. His duties included “constantly” reminding governments and society about Poland, about liquidating the remnants of the institutions and national rights of Poles, influencing anti-Russian sentiments, about striving to include the Polish Question in the “international diplomatic game”, and about soliciting subsidies for Polish emigrants.[11] Zamoyski’s correspondence with Daniel O’Connell should also be read within the framework of Zamoyski’s above-mentioned activity, although in the presented draft version of the letter he goes slightly beyond the this framework and tries to influence – through this outstanding representative of the Irish political elite – the divisions and conflicts that are disturbing the Polish émigrés. Initiating such activities (outside the framework) on his own was a relatively frequent ploy of Zamoyski, which is often emphasised by his biographers.              

As mentioned above, the letter reached O’Connell just before the London celebration of the November Uprising. This is evident from O’Connell’s speech on 29 November 1837 (see Daniel O’Connell’s speech given at the meeting to celebrate the anniversary of the November Uprising). As the Irish Liberator emphasised: “I cannot avoid giving a brief outline of the object of this meeting. The first is to animate the Poles to continue exertion – to induce them to avoid all dissensions among themselves, to unite in the great cause of their country – laying aside all these minor details which may involve them in heats and animosities, and which ought to be reserved for that period when their country, being restored, they can legitimately discuss provisions for their future government.”[12] His observation that “All anger and irritation ought to be directed against the common enemy, and not expanded upon the victims of the common cause” was received with thunderous applause.[13] This tone of the Polish meeting was a direct realisation of Zamoyski’s goal. He pointed out in his letter to O’Connell that in the past similar meetings had given the impression to the public that “the Poles were divided amongst themselves by hostile feelings & opinions”, which was used by the enemies of the Polish cause. Furthermore, the impression of discord and conflict between the Poles – according to Zamoyski – was to directly affect the sense of doubt as to whether they were capable of profiting “by circumstances which might enable them to reconquer their independence”. Hence, O’Connell emphasised another purpose of the meeting over which he presided, and that was to bear “a proof of British sympathy in the [Polish] cause”: “Oh! I delight to behold this assembly so crowded in so noble a cause (loud cheers). It will be heard at Warsaw – it will resound through the streets of Petersburg – the miscreant autocrat will hear the shout (loud cheers) – and even on his blood-stained throne he will tremble at it (continued cheering).”[14] This letter is an example of the complexity of the relations between the representatives of the Polish and Irish political elites of the first half of the nineteenth century. They went much further than the analogies about the fate of two nations, which were commonly expressed at the time; and, while no official cooperation could be established between the representatives of the O’Connellites and Prince Czartoryski’s camp, such cooperation existed throughout the 1830s and 1840s.

Adam A. Kucharski and Robert T. Tomczak

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[1] Władysław Zamoyski’s political efforts in exile were often – wrongly – emphasised in older Polish historiography as unfruitful.

[2] On Zamoyski’s close relations with O’Connell and the latter’s favour towards Prince Czartoryski’s camp see Adam A. Kucharski, Placing Poland at the heart of Irishness: Irish political elites in relation to Poland and the Poles in the first half of the nineteenth century (Berlin, 2020). 

[3] Sławomir Kalembka, ‘Polskie zabiegi dyplomatyczne między powstaniem listopadowym a styczniowym (koniec 1831-1860 r.)’, in Ludwik Bazylow (ed.), Historia dyplomacji polskiej, vol. III (Warszawa, 1982), p. 236.

[4] Radosław P. Żurawski vel Grajewski, Wielka Brytania w „dyplomacji” księcia Adama Jerzego Czartoryskiego wobec kryzysu wschodniego (1832-1841) (Warszawa, 1999), pp. 11-14. Older literature on the subject includes Marceli Handelsman, Adam Czartoryski, vols. I-III (Warszawa, 1948-1950); German historian Hans Henning Hahn, Dyplomacja bez listów uwierzytelniających. Polityka zagraniczna Adama Jerzego Czartoryskiego 1830-1840 (Warszawa, 1987) (German edition: Aussenpolitik in der Emigration. Die Exildiplomatie Adam Jerzy Czartoryski 1830-1840, München 1978). Jerzy Skowronek was opposed to the use of such terminology in the issue at hand – referring to the meaning of the definition. See Jerzy Skowronek, ‘Dyplomacja czy polityka? Spory o charakter działalności Hotelu Lambert’, in Z dziejów polityki i dyplomacji polskiej. Studia poświęcone pamięci Edwarda hr. Raczyńskiego Prezydenta Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej na wychodźstwie (Warszawa, 1994), p. 125; quoted after Żurawski vel Grajewski, Wielka Brytania w „dyplomacji” księcia Adama, p. 12.    

[5] Hahn, Dyplomacja bez listów uwierzytelniających, p. 213.

[6] Joanna Nowak, Władysław Zamoyski. O sprawę polską w Europie (1848-1868) (Poznań, 2002), p. 32; see also ‘Emigration – Attempts to Convene the Sejm’ (in Antoni Ostrowski and Polish-Irish Historical Contexts).

[7] See Robert T. Tomczak, Adam A. Kucharski, East Central Europe and Ireland: Political, Economic, and Social Interconnections, 1000-1850 (Brepols, 2024; in press).

[8] Nowak, Władysław Zamoyski, p. 34.

[9] Barbara Konarska, W kręgu Hotelu Lambert. Władysław Zamoyski w latach 1832-1847 (Wrocław-Gdańsk, 1971), p. 84. Marian Kukiel, Czartoryski and European Unity 1770-1861 (Westport, Connecticut, 1981), p. 230, Hahn, Dyplomacja bez listów uwierzytelniających, p. 213; Krzysztof Marchlewicz, Polonofil doskonały: propolska działalność charytatywna i polityczna lorda Dudleya Couttsa Stuarta (1803-1854) (Poznań, 2001).

[10] Fragment wspomnień W. Zamoyskiego z okresu dzieciństwa spisany ręką J. Zamoyskiej, Rzym 16 VII 1867, Biblioteka Kórnicka PAN w Poznaniu, call number 2434, p. 4; quoted after Nowak, Władysław Zamoyski, p. 18.

[11] Nowak, Władysław Zamoyski, p. 35.

[12] Freeman’s Journal, 2 December 1837.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

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