Mr. Schuyler to Mr. Fish.
St. Petersburg , January 30, 1875. (Received February 20.)
Sir: Referring to Mr. Jewell’s dispatch No. 45, of the 23d of February last, on disturbances in Poland among the Uniates, or United Greeks, I have the honor to inform you that quiet has been again in part restored by the conversion of some 50,000 persons to the orthodox Russian church. The unfortunate state of things consequent upon the acts which were spoken of in that dispatch continued during nearly the whole of last year. Many of the villages were occupied by troops, arrests were frequently made, and the peasants, finding themselves unable to cultivate their fields, fled, in many cases to the woods, where they lived in holes and dens. The excitement was only increased by a papal bull of the 23d of May, omnem solicitudinem, by which the decrees of the consistory of Chelian, restoring the ancient rights of the church, were declared to be innovations, and all the changes which had been made in the course of the years, without the express protest of the popes, were sanctioned. Two expelled priests disguised as peasants, who brought numerous copies of this bull, translated into Polish, with other incendiary appeals, aided much in stirring up the people.
As the Emperor passed through Warsaw last summer on his return from England, the peasantry of these provinces endeavored to present to him a petition asking for the re-establishment of the church services to which they had been accustomed. The Emperor refused to receive the deputation or to grant their request As no method of reconciliation seemed then possible, the administration of the United Greeks was some three months ago taken away from the minister of public instruction and given to the minister of the interior. The methods employed by this minister and by the adroit governor of the province of Siedlce, were much more skillful and effective, and in a short time addresses began to come in from the peasantry of the different parishes, asking that they might be received into the orthodox church and be of the same faith as the Emperor. Endeavors were made to give to these propositions every appearance of spontaneity, and it is probable that in the end the more sensible of the peasantry were not unwilling to make peace, as they knew very well they could no longer resist, being reduced to the utmost poverty by the exactions of the soldiery. Finally, formal votes were taken, and 45 parishes with about 50,000 inhabitants, presented petitions for union with the orthodox church. These were referred to the Emperor, who gave his consent, and on last [Page 1038] Sunday, the 24th, the act of re-union was celebrated with great solemnity in the parish church of Biela by the archbishop of Warsaw. This leaves some 200,000 individuals still belonging to the United Greek communion, the rite of which has, by the decrees of the consistory of Chelin, been assimilated as far as possible to that of the Russian church.
I have, &c.,