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ingly went with him. The Emperor received them
in a sa/on, where many persons were present. He
expressed in a low voice hfs sympathies with Poland,


then, elevating his tone so as to be heard by the
officers of his household, he added, " I can do nothing
for her." This duplicity made a bad impression on
Prince Adam and the poet. The latter, however,
made no remark at the time. But at night, when he
related the occurrence to his private friends, he said,
" That man has a vulgar soul," and added, speaking
of the conduct of Prince Czartoryski : " The Pole
was the most princely of the two."

The result might have been expected. When the
Powers made one of their periodical temporary
settlements of the Eastern Question at the treaty
of Paris in 1856, the Poles found themselves wholly
excluded from consideration. In this condition the
Russian part of Poland continued to the year i860;
the Prussian had given no signs of turbulence. In
1846 had broken out in Galicia a terrible revolt of
the peasants, who are said to have been excited
against their landlords by the Austrian Government.
In consequence of these disturbances, the Republic
of Cracow, the last remaining fragment of free
Poland, was annexed to Austria.

In i860 broke out the last great Polish insurrec-
tion, in all respects a very ill-advised attempt. On
the 29th of November of that year, on the occasion
of the thirtieth anniversary of the revolution of
1830, national manifestations, taking a religious form,
took place in the Warsaw churches, and the cele-
brated Polish hymn, Bose, cos Polsk^ (" O God, who
hast protected Poland ") was frequently heard in the
streets. On the 25th of February, 1861, on the
anniversary of the battle of Grochow, the Agri-


cultural Society of that city, presided over by Count
Zamojski, held a meeting for the purpose of pre-
senting a petition to the Emperor to grant a constitu-
tion. Although the Tsar did not concede this
demand, he decreed by an ukase of the 26th of
March a council of state for the kingdom, elective
councils in each government, and municipal councils
in Warsaw and the chief cities. Moreover, the
Polish language was to be adopted in all the schools
of the kingdom. The Marquis Wielopolski was
appointed Director of Public Instruction and Worship.
Alexander in a previous speech at Warsaw had
appeared conciliatory, but had warned the Poles
against indulging in " dreams."

On the 8th of April the people appeared in crowds
in front of the castle of the Viceroy, and when they
refused to disperse, were fired upon by the soldiers.
About two hundred persons were killed in this
unfortunate affair, and many more wounded. The
viceroyalty of Count Lambert was not successful in
conciliating the people ; he was succeeded by Count
Liiders, who was reactionary in his policy. An
attempt was made in June, 1862, on the life of the
Count in the Saxon Garden (Saksonski Sad), and he
was soon afterwards recalled ; his place being taken
by the Grand Duke Constantine, who was chiefly
guided by the Marquis Wielopolski, an unpopular
but able man. Two attempts were made upon the
life of the Grand Duke, the latter of which was
nearly successful ; the life of Wielopolski was also
several times in danger. An address was presented
to the Grand Duke, in which he was told that in


order to conciliate Polish feelings, all those provinces
which had previously belonged to Poland, and had
been acquired by Russia in earlier periods of her
history during her wars with that country must be
surrendered. But certainly no power in Europe
would allow of such a readjustment of her territories
as this. In consequence of Count Zamojski being
considered the instigator of this address, he was
requested by the Government to leave the country
for a time. On the night of June 15, 1863, a
secret conscription was held, and the persons con-
sidered to be most hostile to the Government were
taken in their beds and forcibly enlisted. Out of a
population of 180,000 the number thus seized at
Warsaw was 2,000 ; soon after this the insurrection
broke out. Its proceedings were directed by a
secret committee, styled R^^d (Government), and
were as mysterious as the movements of the cele-
brated FehmgericJite. The Poles fought under enor-
mous difficulties. Most of the bands consisted of
undisciplined men, unfamiliar with military tactics,
and they had to contend with well-organised troops.
Few of them had muskets ; the generality were
armed only with pikes, scythes, and sticks. The
Russians had every advantage — rifles, hospitals for
the wounded, and a good commissariat. The bands
of the insurgents were chiefly composed of priests,
the smaller landowners, lower officials, and peasants
who had no land, but those peasants who possessed
any land refused to join. Many showed but a
languid patriotism on account of the oppressive laws
relating to the poorer classes, formerly in vigour in


Poland, of which the tradition was still strong. The
war was only guerilla fighting, in which the dense
forests surrounding the towns were of great assist-
ance to the insurgents. The secret emissaries of the
revolutionary Government were called stiletcziki,
from the daggers which they carried. They succeeded
in killing many persons who had made themselves
obnoxious to the national party. Especially note-
worthy was the fate of the Jew, Hermani, who was
stabbed on the staircase of the Hotel de I'Europe
by four stiletcziki, when just about to quit the city.
He had acted as a spy against the patriotic party.
His treason, long suspected, had been discovered by
the most daring conduct of the members of the
Rzg,d. One of them disguised himself as a cJiinovnik,
entered the house of the governor during his absence,
and by means of false keys, obtained access to his
papers. Then the treason of Hermani became
patent, and he was sentenced to death. Marian
Langiewicz, who was for some time dictator, was
obliged to fly across the Austrian frontier.

No quarter was given to the chiefs of the insur-
gents ; when captured they were shot or hanged.
One of the saddest cases was that of Sierakowski, an
ex-colonel of the Russian army, who was taken
prisoner when desperately wounded, after an action
in the forests of Lithuania. The Russians accused
him of more than ordinary treachery in his desertion.
He was hanged, although so desperately wounded
that there was no hope of his life being saved. Other
leaders of note were the priest Mackiewicz, and
Narbutt, the son of the historian.


General Muraviev was appointed governor of the
western provinces, and established his head-quarters
at Wilno ; his rule was an iron one, but not all the
stories told of him are true. So much must be said
in common fairness.

When the Grand Duke Constantine resigned the
viceroyalty at Warsaw he was succeeded by Count
Berg. The latter was fired upon from the windows
of the Zamojski palace, in consequence of which the
vast building was confiscated by the Government, and
the furniture which it contained destroyed. In the
damage which ensued the favourite pianoforte of the
eminent Polish musician Chopin was dashed to pieces
and some valuable Polish and Oriental manuscripts

By May, 1864, the insurrection was suppressed, but
it had cost Poland dear. All its old privileges were
now taken away ; henceforth all teaching, both in the
universities and schools, must be in the Russian lan-
guage. Russia was triumphant, and paid no attention
to the demands of the three Great Powers, England,
France, and Austria. Prussia had long been silently
and successfully carrying on her plan for the German -
isation of Posen, and on the 8th of February, 1863, she
had concluded a convention with Russia with a view of
putting a stop to the insurrection. Her method
throughout has been more drastic ; she has slowly
eliminated or weakened the Polish element, carefully
avoiding any of those reprisals which would cause a
European scandal. The Russian has alternately
caressed and punished his Polish brother ; he feels
however the sympathy of blood. He is proud of the




productions of Polish literature, as coming from a
member of the great Slavonic family, and never
assumes the real or affected contempt of the-German.
It only remains to add that Prince Adam Czartor-
yski, the most prominent figure in recent Polish politics,
died at Montfermeil, near Meaux, in 1861. The head
of the family is now Prince Ladislaus.



We do not find any early legendary poetry among
the Poles ; not only are no national heroes celebrated
in any productions of the kind, but no trace can be
found in Poland of any translation of popular
mediaeval poems, treating of knightly adventures of
Arthur or Charlemagne, of Hector or Alexander.
Bohemian literature has its Alexandreid, its Floris
and Blancheflor, but Poland nothing of the kind. But
that compositions of the sort existed would seem to
be rightly inferred from many passages in the old
Latin chroniclers, Gallus, Kadlubek, Boguchwal, and
Dlugosz. The first of these says that on the death of
Boleslas the Brave there was universal grief — Nulla
cantilena pnellaris, nullus cytharce somis andiebatiir
in tahernis. Bielski, the chronicler of the sixteenth
century, who wrote in Polish, tells us that Casimir I.,
on his return to Poland, was greeted with the song ;
A witazey zvitaj niily gospodynie (^^^oXcovaQy welcome,
dear lord"). We also find mention in documents
of iocnlatores, Jdstriones, goliardi, and others. In
Wojcicki's Library of Ancient Writers a few old Polish

songs are included, but it would be difficult to assign



their date. The most ancient Polish hymn, used also
as a war-song, was an address to the Virgin. The
oldest manuscript of this poem is dated 1408, and is
preserved at Cracow ; it was popularly attributed to
St. Adalbert, but seems to be based upon a Bohemian

No account of Polish literature would be com-
plete which omitted all mention of the writers who
used Latin, and therefore we shall include in our
sketch the most prominent of these authors. We
must remember that also in England, with the
exception of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the early
historical literature is in Latin. Vernacular history
begins in Poland as soon as it did with us, viz., the
sixteenth century. The most ancient of the Latinists
is a certain Martin Callus, who is supposed to have
died about 1 1 13. He is said by some to have been a
Frenchman, and we observe that Professor Bruckner,
of Berlin, styles him without hesitation — der Franzose.
Other interpretations of his name have been sug-
gested, but it is certain that he was a foreigner. His
chronicle is written in a very poetical style ; probably
had he used a vernacular, he would have written in
some sort of verse. He was clearly a man of exten-
sive reading, as appears by his quotations from
classical authors.

Callus was followed by Matthew Cholewa and
Vincent Kadlubek, both bishops of Cracow, and
Bogufal or Boguchwal, Bishop of Posen. Vincent
Kadlubek was for a long time one of the most popular
writers on Polish history, and, like Wenceslaus Hajek
in Boheinia, had the f.iculty of making his myths and

QUEEN Margaret's psalter. 271

monstrous stories so pleasant to his countrymen that
he was long looked upon as an infallible authority.
But his legends have in many cases vanished before
the searching criticism of modern scholars. His
chronicle in our own days has been translated into
Polish by two anonymous authors, who have added
their version to the edition of Count Przezdziecki.
Kadlubeck was first Provost of Sandomir, then Bishop
of Cracow, and died a Cistercian monk in 1223. After
his death he was canonised. However uncritical, the
matter of his book is valuable, but the Latin which he
employs is detestable.

Till the fourteenth century no specimens of the
Polish language have been preserved, with the excep-
tion of a few glosses, names of persons and places
which have been collected with great care by
Professor Baudoin de Courtenay in his work O
Drevne-polskom jazike do XIV. stoletiya ("The Old
Polish Language till the P'ourteenth Century"). In
this century some more chroniclers appeared, Martinus
Polonus and John of Czarnikow. They wrote in
Latin. We have already spoken of the foundation of
the University of Cracow. We know that a version
of the Psalms in Polish existed in the thirteenth
century, for we are told in a life of St. Kunigunde of
Sandecz, near Cracow, who died in 1292, that, before
she left the church, she was in the habit of saying ten
psalms in vulgari.

The oldest specimen of the Polish language of any
length which has come down to us is the so-called
Psalter of Queen Margaret, discovered in 1826 at the
convent of St. Florian at Linz in Austria. The date


of the manuscript appears to be about the middle of
the fourteenth century. It has been carefully edited
by Professor Nehring of Breslau (Posen, 1883). He
thinks that it is a copy of an older work. The
Psalter was by a mere conjecture called after Mar-
garet, the first wife of King Louis, who died in 1349 ;
Caro the historian is inclined to think that the book
belonged to Mary his daughter. The next important
monument of the Polish language is the Bible of Queen
Sophia, originally called the Bible of Szarospatak,
the place in Hungary at which it was^preserved. The
manuscript in its present state is imperfect, containing
only the Pentateuch, Joshua, Ruth, and Kings ; there
are fragments, however, of three other books, and
quite recently a leaf containing a portion of the prophet
Jeremiah has been found in the University Library at
Breslau. This Bible is said to have been written for
Sophia, the fourth wife of Ladislaus Jagiello, about
1455. It has been edited with great care by Professor
Malecki, author of an excellent Polish grammar.

Among the terrible vicissitudes to which the unfor-
tunate kingdom of Poland has been subjected the loss
of many valuable manuscripts must be counted. Thus
a fine Bible on vellum in seven folio volumes, even
so late as the previous century was to be found in the
library of Cz^stochowa, as Professor Nehring proves by
a citation from Janocki's letters. There was a printing
press in Cracow as early as the year 1474, but the
first book m the Polish language was printed in 1521,
at the press of Hieronymus Wietor. It was entitled
" Speeches of the wise King Solomon." Other works
soon made their appearance.


In a recent number of the Prace Filologiczne, Pro-
fessor Bruckner has printed some valuable fragments
of sermons {Kazania Swi^tokrzyskie) preserved at
Gnesen, to which he assigns the date 1400. And while
speaking of these fragments we may mention, although
belonging to a later period, the Life of Saint Eufraxia
{Zyivot S. Eufraksyi)^ which has been published by
M. Krynski, of Warsaw, in the above-mentioned lite-
rary journal. It is preserved in the library of Count
Krasinski at Warsaw, and is assigned to the date
1524. It is very gratifying to find these discoveries
of forgotten fragments of the noble old Polish lan-
guage, which must always have great attractions for
the scholar. Prof Bruckner thinks that much
remains undiscovered.

But leaving the vernacular for awhile, we must say
a few words about the thrice famous Jan Dlugosz or
Longinus, as he was sometimes called, owing to the
prevailing fashion of Latinising names. He has left
us a most important chronicle written in Latin
Dlugosz (141 5-1486) was Canon of Cracow. His
work extends from the earliest periods of his country's
history to his own time. The part which treats of the
years from 1386 till just before his death is the most
valuable. The work exists in many manuscripts, and
a supplementary part remained for a long time
unprinted. About 1 500 were written the " Memoirs
of a Polish Janissary " (yPami^tniki Janczara Polaka)^
which have been already cited.

To this time also belongs the world-renowned
Copernicus (1473-1543). We will add a short
life of this great man as the main facts of it



are but little known. His father was a native of
Cracow, who had settled as a wholesale trader at
Thorn, where his illustrious son first saw the light
The regular form of his name was Coppernick. His
mother, Barbel Watzelrode, was the daughter of a
prosperous merchant. The education of the future
astronomer was undertaken by his uncle, Lukas
Watzelrode, subsequently Bishop of Ermeland or
Warmia. Copernicus was first sent to a school in
his native city, and afterwards studied at the Univer-
sity of Cracow. He next visited Bologna and Padua,
at the latter of these he also applied himself to
medicine. In 1500 he was at Rome, where he
lectured on mathematics. At one time we hear
of his being a deputy to the Polish diet at Grodno.
His great work in which he completely upset the
Ptolemaic system appeared in the last year of his

Copernicus had delayed its publication, being fully
persuaded of the hostility to which he would be
exposed from the defenders of the old doctrines. In
order to shield himself he dedicated the work to
Pope Paul III The title of it is : De Orbium
Ccelestium Revolutionitus Libri XVI., and he was
engaged on its composition from 1507 to 1530. Before
it had issued from the press the great astronomer
who, up to that time had enjoyed good health, was
stricken with paralysis, which was accompanied
by loss of memory and the obscuration of his
intellectual powers. He now lay on his death-bed,
and in this sad condition the work was brought to
him by one of his pupils. He had just consciousness


enough to recognise it as the work of his life, and
then fell into a stupor and shortly afterwards passed
away. His house at Altenstcin is still to be seen.
A statue of him by Thorwaldsen ornaments one of
the public squares of Warsaw. Copernicus lies buried
at Thorn with the following inscription upon his
tomb : —












ANNO 1543, DIE 4 (stc), ^TATIS LXX.

The Poles call the period between 1541 and 1606
their golden age. We have already alluded to the
wide spread of Protestantism in the land : the two
Socini came to reside in Poland, and their Catechism
was issued at Rakow in 1605.

With Nicholas Rej of Naglowice (i 505-1569) begins
the list of Polish poets. We shall see among them
the complete influence of the Renaissance. Up to
this time as far as the Polish language had been
cultivated it had been under the influence of Chekh
literature. Rej's best work was Zwierciadlo albo


zywot poczchvego czloivieka (" The Mirror, or the Life of
an Honourable Man") : this was written in prose. He
has left us many apothegms, which remind us somewhat
of the epigrams of John Heywood. He was also the
author of a kind of play entitled "Joseph in Egypt,"
which abounds with strange anachronisms. Jan Kocha-
nowski (i 503-1 584), called the prince of Polish poets,
cameof a poetical famih-, having a brother, a cousin, and
a nephew, who were all authors of some kind. Kocha-
nowski studied at the University of Padua, and after-
wards visited Paris, where he made the acquaintance
of Ronsard. Among his best productions may be
mentioned his imitation of Vida's " Game of Chess,"
which is a free adaptation of the original, and Propor-
zec albo Hold Pruski (" The Standard, or Investiture of
Prussia "), in which he describes the oath of fealty taken
to the Polish king by Albert of Brandenburg. He'
wrote a play in one act with twelve scenes called " The
Despatch of the Greek Ambassador," which is com-
posed in the five-foot iambic metre, and reminds us
of some of the plays of George Buchanan. It has
rhymed choruses such as we see in some of the French
plays of the sixteenth century. His most popular
work, however, is his Treny, or " Lamentations written
on the Death of his Daughter Ursula": they prove
him to have been much more than an artificial poet.
Besides his Polish compositions he also wrote some
Latin elegies, one of which has already been quoted
in the chapter relating to Henri de Valois and his
flight from Poland.

In a short summary like the present we can only
hope to give some of the leading names in Polish


literature. Szymonowicz (15 57-1629), called in Latin
Simonides, wrote some good pastorals, which are
valuable on account of the introduction of scenes of
rustic life of a genuine Polish character ; the con-
dition, howev^er, of the peasants was too wretched to
admit of their being made the subject of bucolic poems.
But we shall perhaps be more inclined to believe the
attempt possible if we remember the French pas-
torals of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Other writers of bucolics are the brothers Zimorowicz
and Gawinski. Something may be said about them
here collectively, although they extend into the Jesuitic
period about which we shall shortly speak. The
youngest of the brothers died early (1604- 1629), ^nd
has only left us some pretty little songs which are as
graceful as any by Herrick or Suckling, entitled Roxo-
lanki. The elder, Joseph ( 1 597-1628), composed seven-
teen very remarkable idyls. His sketches are from
nature ; he writes picturesquely, and introduces many
provincial words of Malo-Russian origin, which come
into his poems, like the Scotticisms of Burns. Two of
the idyls {Kozaczyna and Burdcr Riiska) diVQ almost, as
Spasovich says, like pages from history, because an
eye-witness describes in them the expedition of
Khmelnitski with the Tatars against Red Russia
and the sacking of Lemberg. Joseph published his
idyls together with those of his brother, and to the
latter many of Joseph's have been erroneously
assigned. Their relation to each other as authors
was first clearly pointed out by the critic Bielowski.
These interesting writers were of ArVnenian origin.
Altogether Szymonowicz, the brothers Zimorowicz


and Gawinski, form an interesting group : the Polish
idyl is somewhat artificial, it is true ; but it is never
without local colouring, and we are glad of the folklore
in those of Szymonowicz and the historical pictures of
those of Zimorowicz.

A celebrated Latin poet appeared in the person of
Casimir Sarbiewski, whose name has been Latinised
into Sarbievius (1646). His contemporaries con-
sidered him the greatest rival of Horace that had
appeared, and he received a gold medal from the
Pope, who made him his laureate. His works
appear to have had a certain popularity in England ;
many of them were translated by Dr. Watts. A
valuable history of Poland was composed in Latin
by Martin Kromer (15 12- 1589). He has been called
the prince of Polish historians ; he certainly had a
great command of the Latin language, and a very
picturesque style. He was born in 15 12, at Biecz,
a little town of Galicia, son of a citizen there, and
was educated first at the University of Cracow, and
afterwards in Bologna and Rome, where he studied
theology. When he returned he was chosen secre-
tary to Sigismund Augustus, and so popular was he
with this prince, that after his coming to the throne
Sigismund entrusted him with many public functions,
and in order to open the path for him to the highest
state offices, ennobled him in 1552. At the sugges-
tion of this monarch, and with assistance from the
national archives, he commenced his great historical
work, De origine et rebus gestis Polonorum, which
describes Polish afifairs from the earliest period till
the year 1 506, that of the death of King Alexander.


It first appeared in 1555, at Basle, and has since
been frequently reprinted. Kromer was a great
advance upon his predecessors ; he has a most
elegant and flowing style ; his Latin is classical,
and he understands the pohtical systems of
the neighbouring peoples. Thus he has some-
thing of the critical historian. He freely made
use of his predecessors, Gallus, Kadlubek, and
Dlugosz, and improved upon them. This was the
age of the compilation of large historical works ; we

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Online LibraryWilliam Richard MorfillPoland → online text (page 16 of 23)