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cimska of Potocki, written towards the close of the
seventeenth century, found about fifty years ago in
manuscript, and for a long time attributed to another
author ; and thirdly an epic by the artificial poet,
Krasicki, of last century. Two of these works will
be more fully discussed in our chapter on Polish
literature. Legnich in h\?> Jus Publicum Regni Poloni
tells us that in 1632 the Cossacks petitioned to be
allowed to take part in the diet, but their request was
refused with indignation. For this conduct we shall
see that the Poles were shortly to pay very dear.
The Queen Constance died on the 12th of July, 1631,
and the king on the 30th of April of the following
year. The reign of Sigismund was a long one, and
full of disasters to his country, with here and there a
fruitless victory. The Dissidents were estranged by
religious persecutions, the Cossacks were on the eve
of their great rebellion, and the anarchy of the nobles
was at its height. In the early part of his reign we
see Sigismund attempting to obtain the crown of
Sweden, and he seems never to have completely
abandoned his hope of succeeding. Instigated by
his Austrian wife, he was foolish enough to mix him-
self up in the Thirty Years' War, and thought that,


supported by the German Emperor and the King of
Spain, there might be some chance of his getting the
Swedish throne. He allowed the Emperor to enrol
troops in Poland, and got ready some ships in the
Baltic. By the treaty, however, of Marienburg (Mal-
borg) in 1629, Sweden gained the rest of Livonia,
Elbing, and a part of Prussia.

The Jesuits were very active during his reign, and
many Socinians and other Dissidents met with cruel
deaths. The Greek Church suffered much persecu-
tion, and the condition of its members is graphically
described in the celebrated work, the " Lament of the
Oriental Church," by Meletius Smotrycki, who was
also the author of the first Slavonic grammar. The
continued persecutions instigated by Koncewicz, the
Bishop of Polock, led to a deplorable event, the
murder of that prelate on the 12th of July, 1623.
No revolt against the civil authorities followed on
this tumult, but severe punishment was inflicted on
the town by a commission presided over by the chan-
cellor, Leo Sapieha, who had tried in vain to prevent
the occurrence by representing to Koncewicz the
danger of his proceedings. The two magistrates of
the town, and eighteen of the principal citizens were
punished, and its franchises were abolished. It is in
the reign of Sigismund IIL that we have one of the
few instances of relations between Poland and Eng-
land. An ambassador, Paul Dzialinski, or Jalinus,
as he was called in Latin, was sent in 1597 to the
Court of Queen Elizabeth. He was a man of stately
presence, and appeared in a splendid suit of black
velvet. On being brought before the queen he made




a long oiation in Latin, complaining of the wars
between the Engh'sh and Spaniards, whereby he
asserted that the commerce of Poland was seriously
injured. In reply Elizabeth broke out into an angry
speech in excellent Latin, in which, as the old
chronicler Speed says, " lion-like rising, she daunted
the malapert orator, no less with her stately port and
majestical deporture than with the tartness of her
princely checks." We will take this opportunity of
mentioning another Pole, who was for some time in
England in the sixteenth century. This was Jan
Laski, or John a Lasco, as he is frequently called,
born at Lask in the palatinate of Sieradz ; one of the
most noble workers among those who propagated the
reformed doctrines. After many journeys in Ger-
many, Holland, and other parts of the continent,
where he associated with the leading Protestants,
Laski reached PLngland in September, 1548, when
Edward VI. was on the throne, and the reformed
doctrines were under royal protection. The Pole
remained for about eight months the guest of Cran-
mer, then primate, and an intimate friendship sprang
up between them. In his miscellaneous writings
Cranmer says : ^' Johannes a Lasco, vir optimus niecuin
hosce aliquot menses conjnnctissime et amantissime vixit!'
In the middle of March in the following year he left
England, but returned in 1550, and again stayed
with Cranmer. This excellent man, who seems to
have made many friends in England, died on the
8th of January, 1560. Another Pole who lived in
England belongs to a later period — Samuel Hartlib,
the friend of Milton, to whom the poet dedicated one


of his prose works. Hartlib sprang from Polish
Protestants, and permanently took up his abode in
this country, where he died soon after the Restora-

During the whole reign of Sigismund TIL Poland
was in a continual state of decadence. He was
succeeded by his eldest son, Ladislaus IV., who was
elected by the diet ; at the same time war was
declared against the Russians, but it was soon
brought to a close by a peace with Michael Romanov,
who had been elected Tsar. This peace was signed
at Polanow, between Wiazma and Dorogobuzh.
Smolensk remained in the hands of the Poles, but
Ladislaus gave up his claims to the title of Tsar, and
thus all his attempts to gain the throne of Muscovy
resulted in failure. In 1655 peace was also concluded
with the Swedes at Stumdorf The king's reign was
disturbed by constant quarrels between Roman
Catholics and Protestants ; among other enactments
prejudicial to the latter, the municipality of Cracow
deprived the Protestants of the privileges of burghers.
But we must remember that toleration was little
understood in the other European countries.

Ladislaus had wished to marry Elizabeth, daughter
of Frederick, the palatine of the Rhine, and Eliza-
beth, daughter of James L of England, but the
opposition to the king's union with a Protestant was
so great, that he looked to the ever-ready house of
Austria, and in 1637 he married Cecilia Renata,
sister of the Emperor Ferdinand III., and on her
death, which took place in 1644, a Mantuan princess,
Marie Louise.


In a previous chapter we have seen with what
magnificent ceremonies the embassy was accompanied
which carried to Henri de Valois, in 1573, the decree
of his election to the throne of Poland. But that
which was sent to France in 1645 to solicit the hand
of Marie Louise was even more splendid, and a short
description of it will enable our readers to reah'se the
luxury of old Poland in its days of grandeur. The
king, now no longer young, had fallen in love with


Marie Louise of Gonzaga, a princess of Mantua,
on merely seeing her portrait, and immediately sent
messengers to Paris where she was living, to ask her
hand. These advances having been received, a
second embassy much more numerous than the first
was formed, at the head of which were the bishop of
Warmia, Wenceslaus Leszczynski, and Christopher
Opalinski, the palatine of Posen. The French Court
had been for some time staying at Fontainebleau,
but hastened to return as soon as it was ascertained


that the ambassadors had arrived at the gates of the
capital. While awaiting the day of their solemn
entry, which was fixed for Sunday, Oct. 29, 1645,
they remained at Reuilly in a country house belong-
ing to M. de Rambouillet. On the appointed da\^ M.
de Belize, who introduced the ambassadors, brought
to their place of residence the Due d'Elboeuf anJ his
son, the Comte d'Harcourt, who were chosen by the
king and queen regent to accompany thj Polish
ambassadors. They were joined by several of the
nobility, but matters of etiquette, some of which had
to be settled, injured the effect of the ceremony, as
the day was already far advanced when the ambas-
sadors appeared at the Porte Saint Antoine.

In spite of all this their arrival caused an agreeable
surprise, and the Parisians, who came to meet them
with the intention of exercising their wits at their
expense, were soon obliged to admire instead of
criticise unfavourably. At the head of the procession
came Girault, who assisted De Belize, and carried
out all directions for the maintenance of Be-
hind him came Chlapowski, captain of the heyduks
or guards of the palatine of Posen ; he was dressed
in a tight-fitting coat of yellow satin, and a long
scarlet cloak, trimmed with sable. His cap was of
cloth of gold, with cranes' feathers on the top, fastened
with precious stones. In his hands he had a silver-
guilt mace. On one side he wore a scimitar, mounted
with silver, and on the other side a sword. They
were both set with precious stones. The housings of
his magnificent charger were of cloth of gold, the
stirrups of solid silver. Parts of the harness consisted


of delicately worked silver chains. Thirty footmen
followed him, dressed in jackets of red cloth. They
carried carbines and battle-axes. All had their heads
shaved in the Polish fashion ; that is, with only a tuft
of hair at the top. They had long moustaches.
Four guards dressed in the same way preceded

Then appeared Pieczowski, the captain of the
guards of the Bishop of Warmia. His costume was
like that of Chlapowski. He had the same company
of men to attend him, but dressed in different colours.
Trzeciecki, the first gentleman of the chamber of
the palatine, who followed next, was clothed in a
pelisse of violet satin, and a Kontusz, or long mantle
without a collar — the favourite national dress of the
Poles to this day, and one in which they frequently
make their appearance in the diet at Cracow.
Trzeciecki held a great hammer, with a handle of
silver-gilt. Precious stones sparkled on his sword
and his scimitar. He was followed by twenty-four
gentlemen on horseback. Gowarzewski came next,
squire to the Bishop of Warmia, and first gentleman
of his chamber. He also was gorgeousl)^ apparelled
in white satin with a crimson velvet mantle, and he
carried a golden mace. Six trumpeters followed ;
there were also mounted soldiers who played military
music. The rest of the Polish nobles who followed
were all dressed in the same gorgeous style. Several
Polish gentlemen, who were residing in Paris, joined
the procession of their countrymen. The French
Court witnessed the brilliant cortege, and thousands of
people swarmed in the streets as the cavalcade went


slowly past. It was terminated by many splendid
carriages, filled with confessors, secretaries, medical
men, and other persons attached to the suite of tlic
ambassadors. But of all the members of the proces-
sion none was more gorgeous than the Bishop of
Warmia, who blazed with diamonds. The cortege at
length descended at the Hotel de Vendome. On the
31st of the same month the Polish ambassadors had
an audience of the King, Louis XIV., then a mere
boy and Anne of Austria, the Queen- Regent, in the
Palais Royal in the great gallery. After this cere-
mony was over, they proceeded to the Hotel de
Nevers, to offer their salutations to their future queen.
The Bishop of Warmia made a speech to her in Latin,
in the name of the two ambassadors, who then .pre-
sented to her, together with the letter of the King of
Poland, a cross made of six diamonds. The Bishop
of Orleans answered on her behalf in another Latin
speech. Fresh compliments were exchanged, and
the ambassadors retired. The marriage was cele-
brated on the 5th of November following. At mid-day
the palatine set out from the Hotel de Vendome,
accompanied by the gentlemen of his suite, on horse-
back, even more richly dressed than on the day when
they arrived.

The princess, Marie Louis, was married in the
chapel of the Palais Royal to the palatine, who
represented the King of Poland. In the name of his
royal master he offered to the bride a magnificent
ring. After the blessing, they placed on the head
of the princess a crown, made in imitation of that
of Poland, and enriched with pearls and diamonds.


Anne of Austria commissioned a certain Madame
de Guebriant to accompany the young queen to the
strange country which thenceforward was to become
her home. This lady was widow of a French marshal.
On the 27th of November, 1645, after many other
banquets and festivities, the ambassadors departed for
Poland with their new sovereign. An old English
traveller, Peter Mundy, has left a manuscript account
of his adventures, still preserved in the Bodleian
Library, containing some curious details about Poland,
which he had visited among other countries. He
was present when the new queen entered Poland,
and has described some of the festivities which took
place ; among other cities the reception given by
Danzig was very magnificent. He tells us that
neither bridegroom nor bride were young ; " Hee then
aboute 50, and shee 37 yeares of age."

But we have more copious information from
another source. The secretary of Madame de
Guebriant was named Le Laboureur, and has left
an interesting account of the journey of the new
Queen. Ladislaus did not survive his wedding more
than eighteen months. The Frenchmen of the time
of our secretary shewed the same contempt for a
foreign cuisine as their descendants do now, to judge
by the account he gives of the Polish dishes :

" The preparation of the viands was very fine, and so
well arranged that the officers did not boast without
reason of having taken a great deal of trouble ; the
order in which the things were arranged, and their
appearance pleased the eyes extremely, and truly
gave an appetite. But those who first tasted the


sauces did not return to them, and in a short time
one saw a marvellous temperance diffused generally
among all the French. It was only the Poles who
exulted over them, praising loudly the goodly
number of spices, the saffron and the salt, which
the cooks had lavished so prodigally. They might
well pledge the health of our people, who did not so
freely or so heartily reply to them. I had the
curiosity to come to these repasts several times ; and
I may truly say that never did the picture of the
marriage of Cana appear to me better represented for
the dishes and the meats were always in the same
state. On the pates, the greater part of which were
gilded, there were figures painted with the feathers
or hair of the animals which they contained, and also
on the dishes. These objects amused the sight, while
the music, which was at the other end of the hall,
delighted the mind and ear. The dessert consisted of
several candied fruits, sugared delicacies and con-
fectionary, and also of certain frozen dainties, of
which little was eaten. This is the reason why who-
ever could escape from these feasts ran to our inn,
where we ate in the French style all the meats which
the Poles had supplied to our purveyors."

In one of our concluding chapters another descrip-
tion will be given from contemporary accounts of the
Polish banquets. The cogiplaints of the Frenchman
will remind us of those of Desportes, already quoted.
As regards the frozen dish which seems to have
scandalised Le Laboureur so much, it may possibly
have been the cholodziec, a favourite Lithuanian pre-
paration, often mentioned approvingly by Mickicwicz


in Pan Tadetisz. Its ingredients are said to have
been beetroot leaves, cream and fruit congealed.

But to return to Ladislaus, the king. The most
important event of his reign was the rebellion of the
Cossacks under Bogdan Khmelnitski. A few words
may here be said in explanation of the term Cossack,
which is said, with considerable probability, to be
derived from the Turkish word Kazak, meaning a
robber. The origin of these bold soldiers can be
traced to the fugitives of many nations, Poles,
Russians, Malo-Russians, Tatars, and others who
occupied the vast steppes stretching between the
confines of Poland and Turkey. They had es-
tabh'shed a kind of military republic on some islands
in the Dnieper, called the Sech, and into this no
woman was allowed to penetrate. Traces of earth-
works thrown up on the banks of the river are to be
found even in the present day.

These Cossacks elected their own hetman or
governor, a word in all probability derived from the
German haiiptman, as is shown by its analogous use
in Lithuania and Bohemia. He carried a mace as a
badge of his authority. Like the consuls of ancient
Rome, he could only claim this authority over them
when he led them forth to battle. They ate their
meals at public tables ; and appear to have passed
most of their time in drunken orgies. They set out
for their naval expeditions in chaiki (a word which
is probably connected with the Turkish caique), and
carried on their depredations under the very walls of
Constantinople. But to read of their achievements
we must make ourselves acquainted with the work


of Messrs. Dragomanov and Antonovich, containing
their songs, which, unfortunately, has never been

The prudent policy of Stephen Batory had con-
verted these brave marauders into regiments of
frontiersmen, who could restrain the constant ir-
ruptions of Turk, Tatar, and Wallachian, from
whom the Poles so grievously suffered. They were,
however, staunch adherents of the Greek Church,
and, as such, were not likely to be left alone by the
J jsuit emissaries of Sigismund III. We have already
seen with what insolence their request was met to
have a seat in the diet. In the transactions between
them and the Poles we constantly find that faith was
not kept with them. Pawluk, one of their hetmans,
was induced to go to Warsaw on a promise of safe
conduct, and was there decapitated. Bogdan Khmel-
nitski defeated the Poles at the battle of Yellow
Springs (Zholtia Vodi) ; but just about this time
King Ladislaus died at Merecz in Lithuania, be-
tween Grodno and Wilno, May 20, 1648, leaving his
kingdom in a great state of confusion.

In 1641, at a diet, the Elector of Brandenburg re-
nounced his homage to the Polish republic. We can
see this small country, which was blessed with such
able rulers, slowly increasing at the expense of its
turbulent and imprudent neighbour. The school of
the Socinians at Rakow was abolished in 1638; this
was the place at which the famous catechism was
issued by the brothers Socini. On the 28th of
August, 1645, met at Thorn the Colloquium Charita-
tivum, as it was called, the object of which was to


reconcile the various religious sects by which the
Republic was agitated. This had been convened
by the express wish of the king. But, to begin with,
the Socinians were excluded. Those who attended
the congress held thirty-six meetings, but their con-
ferences bore no fruit. The Colloquium was closed on
the 2 1st of November with very little ceremony. Its
transactions were published at Warsaw in 1646 under
the title, ''Acta conventus Thoruniensis celebrati anno
164s, pro ineunda ratione coinponendoriini Dissidiorum
in Religione per Regnum PoloniceT

Ladislaus left no children, and was succeeded by
his brother John Casimir (Jan Kazimierz), who
ascended the throne in 1649, and abdicated in 1668.
John was elected by the diet on November 20, 1648,
and crowned on the 17th of January in the following
year. The other candidates for the throne were
Alexis of Russia, the father of Peter the Great, and
Ragoczy, Prince of Transylvania, a celebrated Hun-
garian hero. The glorious reign of Stephen Batory
had made such a candidate still possible. The idea
of a union of the two great Slavonic powers under
the Tsar frequently came up, but the Poles did not
favour it.

One of the first acts of the new king was an attempt
to come to terms with Bogdan ; but the negotiations
were brought to an end by the treachery of the Polish
general, Wisniowiecki, who fell upon the Cossacks
while they were deliberating about the terms of
the proposed convention, and defeated them with
great slaughter. Bogdan, however, rallied and col-
lected another army, which was defeated on June 28,

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165 1, at the battle of Beresteczko in Galicia. The
struggle partook to a large extent of the nature of a
holy war, as the Cossacks and Malo-Russians generally
were of the Greek faith, and the objects of their special
hatred were the Roman Catholics and Jews. Through-
out the contest the massacres committed on both
sides were appalling, and give one a curious idea of
the state of the country. Bogdan, finding at last that
single-handed he stood no chance of resisting the
Polish king, sent an emissary to Moscow in 1652,
offering to transfer himself and his Cossack de-
pendents to the allegiance of the Tsar. Nego-
tiations were finally concluded at Pereiaslavl, when
Khmelnitski and seventeen Malo-Russian regiments
took the oath to Buturlin, the Tsar'^s commissioner.

At a diet in 165 1 the first instance occurred of a
single nuntius bringing the proceedings to a close,
by using the libenivi veto, or, as it was called in
Polish, niepozivalam, I forbid. This was done by
Sicinski, a deputy from Upita, in Lithuania. We
have previously said that the germ of this custom
can be traced as far back as the time of King
Alexander, and, indeed, it has been shown that
unanimity of vote was an idea deeply rooted
in the Slavonic mind. It can be found in the
early Sobori or assemblies of Russia ; but it carried
with it many disadvantages : it was easy to hire a
venal nuntius. " The lord high treasurer," says Lind
in his " Letters concerning the Present State of
Poland," London, 1773, p. 32, "had a complete con-
trol of public finance ; he was appointed by the
king, but not liable to be removed by him even in


case of mal-administration. His accounts were to be
delivered to the diet ; but it was easy for a treasurer,
who had embezzled the public money, to evade
givhifj them : either they were brought in too late
to be examined — for the sessions of each diet were
limited to six weeks — or during the course of the
examination some venal nuntius was hired (and
enough were to be found), who pronounced the fatal
velOy and the diet was dissolved." An instance is re-
corded by Bernard Connor, the physician of John
Sobieski, who has left us an interesting book on
Poland, that Count Morsztyn, great treasurer of the
country, sent a considerable quantity of plunder out
of Poland, and bought an estate in France, contriving
to avoid the inquiries of the diet. In this way, not
only the treasurer, but the other great officers of the
realm, the commander-in-chief and marshal among
others, got free from the control of the diet. It was
only before the diet that a noble accused of capital
crimes could be brought to trial, and it would be very
convenient for him to stay the proceedings of the only
tribunal by which he could be convicted. It was also
an admirable way of opposing the levying of taxes,
which could only be raised by the consent of the diet.
The Dissidents were not likely to fare well under the
rule of John Casimir, who had been ordained priest
before coming to the throne, and even held the rank
of Cardinal in the Romish Church. They were cruelly
persecuted in Great Poland, and subscriptions were
raised for them in England and Holland. By an
enactment of the diet of 1658 the Socinians were
expelled the country. But the misfortunes of the


reign of John Casimir were not limited to internal
disturbances ; the foreign wars of the Republic were
especially disastrous.

In consequence of the Polish monarch asserting
his claim to the throne of Sweden as a member of
the house of Vasa, Charles Gustavus, who had suc-
ceeded on the abdication of Christina, took advantage
of the weakness of the country and invaded Poland
with sixty thousand men. Both Warsaw and Cracow
submitted to him, and he advanced as far as Lem-
berg in Galicia. John Casimir fled into Silesia, but
his subjects rallied round him, and he succeeded
eventually in driving out Charles Gustavus, who had
been assisted in many places by the Polish king's
own rebellious subjects. No treachery is more
remarkable than that of Opalinski, the voievode of
Posen, who betrayed that province to the Swedes,

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