Rzeczpospolita na łamach „Annual Register” w latach 1758–1776
From the early 18th century the British press went through a process of rapid expansion. In 1759 there appeared a new magazine, The Annual Register. Despite its elitist character, high price – 11 shillings per issue – and strong competition, the magazine became popular among members of the public. Until 1764 the first editor and the author of the major lead articles on recent events was Edmund Burke, but even after this date he wrote articles about the issues he found particularly interesting. One of these issues was the internal and external condition of Poland-Lithuania. Burke presented Poland-Lithuania as a weak and anarchic state, with no serious influence on the international stage. In the first few years he saw the main reason for that in the politics of the Polish nobility, who interested mainly in limiting royal power. From 1768 Burke saw the main reason to be in the foreign policies of neighbouring powers, Russia, and then, from 1772, Prussia. This change was due to two factors. In the case of Russia, Burke was afraid of its fast growing importance in European politics and of what he saw as Russian plans to build a ‘universal monarchy’. In the case of Prussia, he was disappointed with the aggressive policies of his former hero, Frederick II, that led to the first partition of Poland. Burke regarded this partition as not only a disaster for Poland, but also as a disaster for the entire European system. From a wider perspective, Burke’s articles about Poland-Lithuania are a valuable source of knowledge about his main political and social ideas in a period just before he began his parliamentary career and during its first few years.
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