1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Potocki, Ignaty

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

POTOCKI, IGNATY (1741-1809), Polish statesman and writer, son of Eustachy Potocki, general of artillery of the army of Lithuania, was born at Podhajce. He was educated first at Warsaw beneath the eye of the pedagogic reformer Stanislaw Konarski (1700-1773), and subsequently in Italy, where he proposed to take orders. On returning home, however, he abandoned this idea, and as a member of the newly instituted commission of education rendered invaluable services to his country for the next sixteen years. He earnestly desired a reform of the constitution also, and was thus attracted to the party of the Czartoryscy. Elected deputy to every diet since 1778, he was a conspicuous member of the patriotic opposition. In matters of importance nothing was done without his advice, and he was esteemed as much for his character as for his talents. His influence was at its height during the Four Years' Diet, 1788-1792. He was appointed a member of the committee for the reform of the constitution, defended eloquently the right of the towns to the franchise, and was an advocate of an alliance with Prussia. Thus he was one of the creators of the constitution of the 3rd of May 1791, although his aristocratic antecedents prevented him from going the lengths of the more radical reformers. On the formation of the confederation of Targowica, Potocki emigrated to Dresden; but on the outbreak of the revolution of 1794 returned to Poland, was appointed a member of the national government, and entrusted with the conduct of foreign affairs. On the fall of Warsaw he surrendered to Suvarov and was sent to Russia, where he remained till 1796. On his return to Poland he retired to the village of Klimuntowo, where for the next thirteen years he devoted himself to literature. At the end of the war of 1809 he was commissioned to go to Vienna to present to Napoleon the petitions of the Galicians for the incorporation of their province with the grand duchy of Warsaw. He died at Vienna the same year. The most notable of Potocki's works is: Vom Entstehen und Untergange der polnischen Konstitutionen vom 3ten May 1791 (Lemberg, 1793).

See August Sokolowski, Illustrated History of Poland (Pol.), vol. iv. (Vienna, 1901).

(R. N. B.)