This article focuses on the attitude of the Polish legal elite regarding the adaptation of French civil law introduced on the Polish territories in the Duchy of Warsaw, established by Napoleon in 1807. While addressing the Polish example, it underscores the universal nature of problems engendered by legal transfer and by the social reactions to foreign solutions. It sheds light on the state of mind of Polish enlightened elites, on their approach toward new legal instruments and on the challenges of adapting them to the socioeconomic conditions of a semi-peripheral country. The Polish situation in the early 19th century provides evidence that some representatives of the late-Enlightenment generation remained attached to the universalist, all human vision of civilizational progress and... shared natural law instruments for its accomplishment. On the other hand, in reaction to this attitude, the opposite view had already started to crystallize. It pointed to the uniqueness of conditions of development in any given country and nation. According to this view, civil law should account for this specificity and be adjusted to the national character.