From the preface:"To that numerous, to that all indeed but universal, class of politicians, who at present praise every thing that is Polish, and decry every thing that is Muscovite, who with one voice predict the inevitable if not speedy triumph of the Poles, his wish to do justice to the Russians may be construed into approbation of their cause. He protests against such an interpretation of his feelings. If he has a prejudice for either party it is for the weaker. While he expresses his impression that, unless some extraordinary circumstance intervene, the Poles, almost superhuman as is their valour, must eventually fall, he deeply and sincerely laments the probability of that catastrophe. He cannot, however, shut his eyes to the force of facts: he cannot be made to believe that the contest is to be conducted on equal terms: he cannot but see that great physical superiority and immense resources are on the side of Russia: he cannot therefore join in the general anticipation as to the result. Popular opinion is as contagious as it is veering: though inconstant as the wind, its empire is not the less secure. Whoever recollects how its current ran during the late war between Russia and Turkey, now in favour of the former, now as strongly directed towards the latter, and how it reverted to its original channel, will pardon those who hesitate to sail with it.But, whether victors or vanquished, the Poles must have the respect of humanity. During the present struggle they have exhibited, not only a heroism far surpassing any thing to be found in modern history, but a forbearance and a liberality even, towards their prisoners, which covers them with a glory immeasurably above it. Though their cause has been sullied by some excesses, they have, at length, abandoned their ferocious habit of refusing quarter; and towards "disarmed guests," now so numerous, in Warsaw especially, they use, not only all the courtesy of the most polished, but all the generosity of the most warm-hearted nation. Not less to be admired is their unbending constancy in resisting their giant antagonist, a constancy worthy the best age of Rome. In this there is something infinitely more valuable than the brute courage which defies, or the mechanical discipline which coolly faces, danger: there is all the moral elevation of a great and holy purpose, acting alike on the understandings and hearts of the most high-minded people in Europe. The present struggle, indeed, exhibits throughout a moral picture of greatness and interest, perhaps unparalleled in the historical annals of Europe."
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