CHAPTER II. HISTORY OF THE POLISH LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE.
The regions of the Baltic and Lower Vistula, after the Goths and Vandals had finally left them, were occupied, towards the fourth century, by the Lettonians and Lithuanians, who are according to some historians Slavic, and according to others Finnic-Scythic tribes. It appears, that the various nations which inhabited this country were by the ancients comprised under the name of Sarmatae. In the sixth, or according to others, in the seventh century, the Lekhes, a people kindred to the Czekhes, and coming like them from the Carpathian regions, whence they were urged forwards by the Bulgarians, settled on the banks of the Vistula and Varta. Lekh (Ljakh) signified in old Bohemian a free and noble man, and had this meaning still in the fourteenth century. The Lekhes were divided into several tribes, of which, according to Nestor, at first only those who settled on the vast plains, polie, of the Ukraine, were called Polyane, Poles, i.e. inhabitants of the plain. The tribes which occupied Masovia were calledMasovshane; the Lekhes who went to Pomerania, Pomoriane, etc. The specific name of Poles, as applied to all the Lekhish tribes together, does not appear until the close of the tenth century, when the generic appellation of Lekhes or Ljakhes had perished. In the year 840, the chiefs of the different tribes united themselves under one common head; at that time they are said to have chosen a husbandman by the name of Pjast for their duke, and the male descendants of this, their first prince, lived and reigned not less than six hundred and thirty years. From Germany and Bohemia Christianity was carried to Poland by Romish priests, probably as early as the ninth century. In the beginning of the tenth, some attempts were made to introduce the Slavic liturgy into Poland. Both species of worship existed for some time peacefully side by side; and even when, through the exertions of the Latin priesthood, the Slavic liturgy was gradually superseded by the occidental rites, the former was at least tolerated; and after the invention of printing, the Polish city of Cracow was the first place where books in the Old Slavic dialect, and portions of the Old Slavic Bible, were printed.
In the year 965, the duke Miecislav married the Bohemian princess Dombrovka, and caused himself to be baptized. From that time onward, all the Polish princes and the greatest part of the nation became Christians. There is however not one among the Slavic nations, in which the influence Christianity must necessarily have exerted on its mental cultivation, is so little visible; while upon its language it exerted none at all. It has ever been and is still a favourite opinion of some Slavic philologists, that several of the Slavic nations must have possessed the art of writing long before their acquaintance with the Latin alphabet, or the invention of the Cyrillic system; and among the arguments by which they maintain this view, there are indeed some too striking to be wholly set aside. But neither from those early times, nor from the four or five centuries after the introduction of Christianity, does there remain any monument whatever of the Polish language; nay, with the exception of a few fragments without value, the most ancient document of that language extant is not older than the sixteenth century. Until that time the Latin idiom reigned exclusively in Poland. The teachers of Christianity in this country were for nearly five centuries foreigners, viz. Germans and Italians. Hence arose that unnatural neglect of the vernacular tongue, of which these were ignorant; the private influence of the German, still visible in the Polish language; and the unlimited dominion of the Latin. Slavic, Polish, and heathenish, were to them synonymous words. Thus, while the light of Christianity everywhere carried the first dawn of life into the night of Slavic antiquity, the early history of Poland affords more than any other part of the Christian world a melancholy proof, how the passions and blindness of men operated to counterbalance that holy influence. But although so unfavourably disposed towards the language, it cannot be said that the influence of the foreign clergy was in other respects injurious to the literary cultivation of the country. Benedictine monks founded in the beginning of the eleventh century the first Polish schools; and numerous convents of their own and other orders presented to the scholar an asylum, both when in the year 1241 the Mongols broke into the country, and also during the civil wars which were caused by the family dissensions of Pjast's successors. Several chronicles in Latin were written by Poles long before the history of the Polish literature begins; and Polish noblemen went to Paris, Bologna, and Prague, to study sciences, for the very elements of which their own language afforded them no means.
Polish writers are in the habit of dividing the history of their language into five periods.
The first period extends from the introduction of Christianity to Cassimir the Great, A.D. 1333.
The second period extends from A.D. 1333 to A.D. 1506, or the reign of Sigismund I.
The third period is the golden age of the Polish literature, and closes with the foundation of the schools of the Jesuits, A.D. 1622.
The fourth period comprises the time of the preponderance of the Jesuits, and ends with the revival of literature by Konarski, A.D. 1760.
The fifth period comprehends the interval from A.D. 1760 to the revolution in 1830.
As the Polish literature of our own day bears a different stamp from that of former times, we may add a sixth period, extending from 1830 to the present time.
Before we enter upon a regular historical account of these different periods, we will devote a few words to the history and character of the language itself.
The extent of country, in which the Polish language is predominant, is much smaller than would naturally be concluded from the great circuit of territory, which, at the time of its power and independence, was comprised under the kingdom of Poland. We do not allude to the sixteenth century, when Poland by the success of its arms became for a short time the most powerful state in the north; when the Teutonic knights, the conquerors of Prussia, were compelled to acknowledge its protection; and when not only were Livonia and Courland, the one a component part of the Polish kingdom, and the other a Polish fief, but even the ancient Smolensk and the venerable Kief, the royal seat of Vladimir, and the Russian provinces adjacent to Galicia, all were subjugated by Poland. We speak of this kingdom as it was at the time of its first partition between Russia, Austria, and Prussia. Of the four or five millions of inhabitants in the provinces united with Russia at the three successive partitions of 1772, 1793, and 1795, only one and a half million are strictly Poles, that is, Lekhes, who speak dialects of that language; in White and Black Russia, the Russniaks are by far more numerous; and in Lithuania the Lithuanians. Besides the independent language of these latter, the Malo-Russian and White Russian dialects are spoken in these provinces; and all documents of the grand-duchy of Lithuania before it was united with Poland in A.D. 1569, were written in the latter.
The Polish language is farther spoken: 1) By the inhabitants of the kingdom of Poland formed in 1815, three and a half millions in number, or reckoned together with the Poles of the Polish-Russian provinces, five millions; 2) By the inhabitants of the cities and the nobility of Galicia, belonging to Austria, and the Poles in the Austrian part of Silesia, about three millions; 3) By the inhabitants of the small republic of Cracow, about one hundred thousand; 4) By the inhabitants of the Prussian grand-duchy of Posen, and a part of the province called Western Prussia, together with the Poles in Silesia and the Kassubes in Pomerania; In all less than two millions.
Thus the Polish language is spoken by a population of about ten millions. Like all living languages, it has different dialects, and is in one place spoken with greater purity than in another. As these varieties, however, are neither very striking nor have ever had an influence on literature, they do not concern us here.
The ancient Polish language seems to have been very nearly related to the dialects of the Czekhes and the Sorabian Vendes. Although very little is known in respect to the circumstances and progress of the formation of the language into its present state, it is sufficiently obvious, that it has been developed from the conflict of its natural elements with the Latin and German idioms. Of the other Slavic dialects, the Bohemian is the only one which has exerted any influence upon the Polish tongue. The Italian and Turkish words introduced during the dominion of an Italian priesthood, and through the political relations of the Poles and the Turks, never entered deeply into the body of the language; and might be easily exchanged for better Polish forms of expression.
Of all the Slavic dialects, the Polish presents to the foreigner the most difficulties; partly on account of the great variety and nicety of shades in the pronunciation of the vowels, and from the combination of consonants in such a way that only a Slavic tongue can conquer them, and cause the apparent harshness in some measure to disappear; partly on account of its refined and artificial grammatical structure. In this latter respect it differs materially from the Russian language; which, although equally rich, is remarkable for its simplicity and perspicuity. The Polish and Bohemian idioms, in the opinion of the best judges, are above all others capable of faithfully imitating the refinements of the classical languages; and the Polish prose is modelled after the Latin with a perfection, which, in the golden age of Polish literature, was one of its characteristic features. It is therefore surprising, that the Polish language in poetry, although in other respects highly cultivated, does not admit the introduction of the classical prosody. We mean, the Polish language in its present state; for it is very probable, that in its original character it possessed, in common with all the other Slavic languages, the elements of a regular system of long and short syllables. So long, however, as there have existed Polish poets, they have not measured, but, in imitation of the French, have counted the syllables. With the exception of a few recent poets, who have written in blank verse, and a few weak attempts to adapt the Greek principles of accent to the Polish language, all Polish poetry is, like the French, in rhyme; and the French Alexandrine is the favourite form of the Polish poets.
From the introduction of Christianity to Casimir the Great, A.D. 1333.
In dividing the early part of the history of the Polish literature into two periods, we follow the example and authority of Bentkowski; although it seems to be singular to pretend to give an account of a literature which did not yet exist. The history of the Polish literature does not indeed properly begin before the close of the second period; yet that of the literary cultivation of the nation commences with the beginning of that period; and a few slight traces of it are to be found even in the middle of the first. Of the language itself, nothing is left but the names of places and persons, and some Polish words scattered through the Latin documents of the time, written without orthographic rules, and therefore often hardly intelligible. There exists an ancient Polish war-song, the author of which is said to have been St. Adalbert, a Bohemian by birth, who was bishop of Prague at the end of the tenth century; but even according to Rakowiecki, a philologist who is more disposed than any other to find traces of an early cultivation of the Slavic nations, and especially of the Poles, this song, or rather hymn, is, in its present form, not older than the fourteenth century. All that is extant from this period is written in Latin. Besides some unimportant documents and an anonymous biography of Adalbert, there remain several historical works of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.
Martin Gallus, a Frenchman, who lived in Poland between 1110 and 1135, is considered as the oldest Polish historian. Other chronicles of Poland were written by the bishops of Cracow, Matthew Cholewa, and Vincent, son of Kadlubec, who died in 1223; by Bogufal, bishop of Posen, some twenty years later; and by Godzislav Baszko, about thirty years later still. Strzembski wrote towards the middle of the thirteenth century a history of the popes and Roman emperors. In 1008 duke Boleslav, the son of Miecislav, invited Benedictine monks to Poland, who founded convents at Sieciechov and Lysagora, with schools attached to them. This example was followed at a later period by other orders: and in Poland, longer than in any other country, education was entirely in the hands of the ecclesiastics. For several hundred years the natives were excluded from all clerical dignities and privileges, and the numerous monasteries were filled only with foreign monks. Even as late as the fifteenth century, foreigners had decidedly the preference. In the year 1237 Pelka, archbishop of Gnesen, directed the institution of schools by the priests; but added the recommendation to the bishops, that they should employ as teachers only Germans who understood Polish. In A.D. 1285 at the synod of Leczyc, they went a step further in excluding all foreigners, who were ignorant of the Polish language, from the places of ecclesiastical teachers and instructors. But more than eighty years later, it was found necessary at the synod of Kalish in 1357 to repeat the same decree; and even a century after this time, in A.D. 1460, John Ostrorog complained that all the rich convents were occupied by foreign monks. These ignorant men were wont to throw into the fire the few writings in the barbarian language, which they could discover; and, as instructors of the youth, were able to fill the heads of the young nobility with the most unnatural prejudices against the vernacular tongue of their own country. Besides the clergy, many other foreigners also settled in Poland, as mechanics and traders, especially Germans. But as they all lived merely in the cities of Poland, they and their language had far less influence on the people, than was the case in Bohemia, where they mingled with all classes.
From Casimir the Great to Sigismund I. A.D. 1333 to A.D. 1506.
Casimir is one of the few princes, who acquired the name of the Great not by victories and conquests, but through the real benefits of laws, national courts of justice, and means of education, which he procured for his subjects. His father, Vladislaus Lokietek, had resumed the royal title, which hitherto had been alternately taken and dropped; and was the first who permanently united Great and Little Poland. Under Casimir, the present Austrian kingdom of Galicia, which, together with Lodomeria, the present Russian government Vladimir, was then called Red Russia, was added by inheritance. Lithuania became connected with Poland as a Polish fief in the year 1386. when queen Hedevig, heiress of the crown of Poland, married Jagello, duke of Lithuania; but was first completely incorporated as a component part of the kingdom of Poland only so late as the year 1569. Masovia had been thus united some forty years earlier. At the time of the marriage of Hedevig and Jagello, the latter caused himself to be baptized, and introduced Christianity into Lithuania, where he himself in many cases acted as an apostle.
As to the influence of Casimir the Great upon the literary cultivation of his subjects, it was more mediate than immediate. Whilst his cotemporary and neighbour, Charles IV of Bohemia, loved and patronized the language of that kindred nation. Casimir paid no attention whatever to the vernacular tongue of his country; nor was any thing done under his administration for the development of that rich dialect. This king indeed, as early as A.D. 1347, laid the foundation of the high school of Cracow; but the regular organization and influence of this institution dates only from half a century later. But by introducing a better order of things, by providing his subjects with their earliest code of laws, by instituting the first constitutional diets, by fortifying the cities and protecting the tillers of the soil against a wild and oppressive nobility, he established a better tone of moral feeling throughout the nation. A seed, sown in such ground, necessarily springs up slowly, but surely.
With Casimir the race of the Pjasts expired. His nephew, Louis of Hungary, a prince of the house of Anjou, was elected king; but his reign was spent in constant war, and left no trace of care for the internal cultivation of the country. The limitation of the power of the sovereign, and the exorbitant privileges of the Polish nobility, date from the reign of this prince; he resided mostly in Hungary, and granted to the Poles all their demands, in order to prevent the alienation of their crown from his house. After his death his second daughter, Hedevig, was preferred to the emperor Sigismund, who was married to the eldest, Mary; because this prince refused to subscribe the conditions demanded by the Polish Estates. Hedevig married Jagello of Lithuania; and under their descendants the Jagellons, who reigned nearly two centuries, Poland rose to the summit of its power and glory. With Siegmund I, the grandson of Jagello, but the fifth king after him, a new period of the Polish literature begins.
The history of the Polish language, as we have already said, properly commences only with the close, or at the utmost with the middle of the present period, when in the year 1488 the first printing office was erected at Cracow. Of the more ancient times, with a few exceptions, only weak and scattered traces are left. There was said to have existed a Polish translation of the Bible, made by order of queen Hedevig before the year 1390; but no copy had ever been seen; and there was reason to doubt whether it ever existed. There was extant however, an old manuscript of a Psalter, which the antiquarian Thadd. Czacki took to be a fragment of it; and other ancient manuscripts of portions of a Psalter were found at Saros Patak in Hungary, and seemed to belong to it. But no one of these codices bore any incontestable mark of its age. The Psalter of St. Florian, a convent near Linz in Austria, discovered in 1826 by the librarian Chmel, proved at last to be in reality the lost treasure. This important document, the origin of which could be philologically and historically traced back to the fourteenth century, after having given occasion to a passionate conflict in the Slavic literary world, was finally published by Kopitar in a complete and erudite edition, as the most ancient monument of the Polish language.
All other Polish manuscripts of those times are fragments; documents relating to suits of law, translations of statutes issued in Latin, the ten commandments in verse, a translation of one of Wickliffe's hymns, etc.
The orthography of the language, and especially the adoption of the Latin alphabet, seems to have troubled the few writers of this period exceedingly. They appear to have founded their principles alternately on the Latin, the Bohemian, and the German methods of combining letters; an inconsistency, which adds greatly to the difficulties of modern Slavic etymology. In 1828 a remarkable manuscript was published under the title, Pamientniki Janozara, or Memoirs of a Janissary. It was the journal of a Polish nobleman, who had been induced by circumstances to enter the Turkish army during the siege and conquest of Constantinople, an event which took place A.D. 1453. This interesting document of a language, that is so remarkably poor in ancient monuments, was no longer intelligible to the common Polish reader. It was necessary to add a version in modern Polish in order to make it understood.
Annalists of Polish history, who wrote in Latin, were not wanting in this period. Sig. Rositzius, Dzierzva, and more especially John Dlugosz, bishop of Lemberg, wrote histories and chronicles of Poland; and the work of the latter is still considered as highly valuable.
From Sigismund I, to the establishment of the schools of the Jesuits in Cracow. A.D.. 1505 to A.D. 1622.
In northern climates, the bright and glowing days of summer follow in almost immediate succession a long and gloomy winter, without allowing to the attentive mind of the lover of nature the enjoyment of observing, during a transient interval of spring, the gradual development of the beauty of the earth. Thus the flowers of Polish literature burst out from their buds with a rapidity unequalled in literary history, and were ripened into fruit with the same prodigious celerity.
The university of Cracow had been reinstituted under Jagello in A.D. 1400, and organized after the model of that of Prague. Although the most flourishing period of this institution was the sixteenth century, yet it presented during the fifteenth to the Polish nobility a good opportunity of studying the classics; and it is doubtless through this preparatory familiarity with the ancient writers, that the phenomenon to which we have alluded must be principally accounted for. It was moreover now the epoch, when the genius of Christian Europe made the most decided efforts to shake off the chains which had fettered the freedom of thought. The doctrines of the German Reformers, although the number of their professed disciples was in proportion smaller than in Bohemia, had nevertheless a decided influence upon the general direction of the public mind. The wild flame of false religious zeal, which in Poland also under the sons and immediate successors of Jagello, had kindled the faggots in which the disciples of the new doctrines were called to seal the truth of their conviction with their blood, was extinguished before the milder wisdom of Sigismund I; although the early part of his reign was not free from religious persecution. The activity of the inquisition was restrained. But the new doctrines found a more decided support in Sigismund Augustus. Poland became, under his administration, the seat of a toleration then unequalled in the world. Communities of the most different religious principles formed themselves, at first under the indulgence of the king and the government, and finally under the protection of the law. Even the boldest theological skeptics of the age, the two Socini, found in Poland an asylum.
The Bohemian language, which already possessed so extensive a literature, acquired during this period a great influence upon the Polish. The number of clerical writers, however, which in Bohemia was so great, was comparatively only small in Poland. Indeed it is worthy of remark, that while in other countries the diffusion of information and general illumination proceeded from the clergy, not indeed as a body, but from individuals among the clergy, in Poland it was always the highest nobility who were at the head of literary enterprises or institutions for mental cultivation. There are many princely names among the writers of this period; and there are still so among those of the present day. This may however be one of the causes, why education in Poland was entirely confined to the higher classes; while, even during this brilliant period, the peasantry remained in the lowest state of degradation, and nothing was done to elevate their minds or to better their condition. For it is to the clergy, that the common people have always to look as their natural and bounden teachers; it is to the clergy, that a low state of cultivation among the poorer classes is the most dishonourable. During this period, however, the opportunity was presented to the people of becoming better acquainted with the Scriptures, through several translations of them into the Polish language, not only by the different Protestant denominations, but also by the Romanists themselves. Indeed, with the exceptions above mentioned, all the translations of the Bible extant in the Polish language are from the sixteenth or the beginning of the seventeenth century.
We meet also, among the productions of the literature of this period, a few catechisms and postillac, written expressly for the instruction of the common people by some eminent Lutheran and reformed Polish ministers. But the want of means for acquiring even the most elementary information, was so great, that only a very few among the lower classes were able to read them. The doctrines of the Reformers, which every where else were favoured principally by the middle and lower classes, in Poland found their chief support among the nobility. Comparatively few of the people adhered to them. There was a time, between 1550 and 1650, when half the senate, and even more than half of the nobility, consisted of Lutherans and Calvinists. In the year 1570, these two denominations, together with the Bohemian Brethren, formed a union of their churches by the treaty of Sendomir for external or political purposes. In 1573, by another treaty known under the name of pax dissidentium, they were acknowledged by the state and the king, and all the rights of the Catholics were granted to the members of these three denominations, and also to the Greeks and Armenians. The want, however, of an accurate determination of their mutual relation to each other, occasioned repeatedly in the course of the following century bloody dissensions. The Protestants succeeded, nevertheless, in maintaining their rights, until the years 1717 and 1718, when their number having gradually yet considerably diminished, they were deprived of their suffrages in the diet. Their adversaries went still further; and, after struggling against oppression of all sorts, the dissidents had at length, in 1736, to be contented with being acknowledged as tolerated sects. After the accession of Stanislaus Poniatowsky to the throne in 1766, the dissidents attempted to regain their former rights. In this they were supported by several Protestant powers; but more especially by Russia, who thus improved the opportunity of increasing its influence in Polish affairs. In consequence of this powerful support, the laws directed against the dissidents were repealed; and in 1775 all their old privileges were restored to them, except the right of being eligible to the stations of ministers of state and senators. In more recent times the Protestants have been admitted to all the rights of the Catholics; although the Roman Catholic is still the predominant religion of the kingdom of Poland.
We have permitted ourselves this digression, and anticipation of time; although we shall have an opportunity of again returning to this subject. The influence of Protestantism on the literature of Poland cannot be denied; although its doctrines and their immediate consequence, the private examination and interpretation of the Scriptures, have occupied the minds and pens of the Poles less than those of any other nation among whom they have been received. We now return to the sixteenth century.
The Polish language acquired during this period such a degree of refinement, that even on the revival of literature and taste in modern times, it was necessary to add nothing for its improvement; although the course of time naturally had occasioned some changes. Several able men occupied themselves with its systematic culture by means of grammars and dictionaries. Zaborowski, Statorius, and Januscowski wrote grammars; Macynski compiled the first dictionary. The first part of Knapski's Thesaurus, an esteemed work even at the present day, was first published in 1621, and may therefore be considered as a production of this period. But the practical use, which so many gifted writers made of the language for a variety of subjects, contributed still more to its cultivation. The point in which it acquired less perfection, and which appeared the most difficult to subject to fixed rules, was that of orthography. That the Latin alphabet is not fully adapted to express Slavic sounds, is evident in the Polish language. Indeed the reputed harshness of this language rests partly on the manner in which they were obliged to combine several consonants, which to the eye of the occidental European can only be united by intermediate vowels. On the other hand, it is just this system of letters which forms a connecting link between the Polish language and those of western Europe; and although most Slavic philologists regret that the Latin alphabet ever should have been adopted for any Slavic language in preference to the Cyrillic, yet Grimm (with whom we fully agree) thinks that “the adoption of the former, with appropriate additions corresponding to the peculiar sounds of each language and dialect, would have been beneficial to all European languages.”
Although the art of printing was introduced into Poland as early as 1488, when the first printing office was established at Cracow, yet printed books first became generally diffused between the years 1530 and 1540. The first work printed in Poland was a calendar for the year 1490; the first book printed in the Polish language was Bonaventura's life of Jesus, translated for the queen of Hungary, and published in 1522. In the second half of the sixteenth century nearly every city, which had a considerable school, had also its printing office. The schools were unfortunately confined to the cities; nothing was done for the peasantry, who have remained even to the most recent times in a state of physical and moral degradation, with which that of the common people of no other country except Russia can be compared. A peasant who could read or write, would have been considered as a prodigy. So much the more, however, was done for the national education of the nobility. In the year 1579 the university of Wilna was instituted; in 1594, another university was created at Zamosc in Little Poland, by a private nobleman, the great chancellor Zamoyski; which however survived only a few years, and perished in the beginning of the seventeenth century. Numerous other schools of a less elevated character were founded at Thorn, Dantzic, Lissa, etc. most of them for Protestants.
So early as under Casimir, the son of Jagello, the Polish language began to be employed as the language of the court. Under his grandson Sigismund Augustus, the public laws and decrees were promulgated in the vernacular tongue of the country. But a language which thus issued from the court, was necessarily also dependent on the changes of the court. The influence of the French prince, Henry of Valois, successor of Sigismund Augustus, could not be considerable, as he occupied the throne only two months. But Stephen Bathory, prince of Transylvania, the brother-in-law of Sigismund Augustus, who was elected after Henry of Valois had deserted the country, was as a foreigner in the habit of interspersing his conversation and writings with Latin words, when the proper Polish words, of which language he had only an imperfect knowledge, did not occur to him. It is hardly credible that such a habit, or rather the imitation of it among his courtiers, could have had any influence on a language already so well established and cultivated, as the Polish idiom was at the close of the sixteenth century. The Polish literary historians, however, ascribe to Bathory's influence the fashion, which began at this time to prevail, of debasing the purity of the Polish language by an intermixture of Latin words and phrases.
Although the Polish literature acquired during this period a kind of universality, and there were few departments of science, familiar to that age, which were not to some extent cultivated in it, yet it owes its principal lustre to the contributions made in it to history, poetry and rhetoric. The didactic style did not reach the perfection of the historical; nor did Polish literature acquire any wide domain in purely scientific productions. In accordance with the national tendency, the mass of distinguished talents was devoted to those interests, which yield an immediate profit in life, or which are themselves rather the results of empirical knowledge, than of abstract contemplation, viz. to politics, to eloquence, and to poetry, in so far as this latter is considered not as a creative power, but as the most appropriate means for expressing and describing the emotions, passions, and actions of man. There have however always been not a few gifted Poles, who have cultivated the field of science for its own sake, without reference to the practical importance of their labours; and there are more especially at the present time many distinguished names among the Polish mathematicians, natural philosophers, and chemists. In Copernicus himself, born indeed of parents of German extraction, and in a city (Thorn) mostly inhabited by German colonists, but also born a Polish subject and educated in a Polish university, Poland and Germany seem to have equal rights.
The principal reason why didactic prose did not acquire the same degree of cultivation as the historical style, is, that all scientific works during this period, which was that of the formation of the language, were written by preference in Latin. Indeed, the authority of the classical languages did not suffer at all from the rising of the national literature. It is on the contrary a remarkable fact, that the cultivation of the vernacular tongue of the country, and the study of the Latin language in Poland, have ever proceeded with equal steps. The most eminent writers and orators of this period, who employed the Polish language, managed also the Latin with the greatest skill and dexterity. Even for common conversation, Latin and Polish were used alternately. Sigismund I, when separated from his first queen, Barbara Zapolska, maintained with her a correspondence in Latin; his second queen, Bona Sforza, used to employ that language in their most familiar intercourse. Choisnin, in his Memoirs of the election of Henry of Valois, observes, that among a hundred Polish noblemen, there were hardly to be found two, who did not understand Latin, German, and Italian; and Martin Kromer goes so far as to state, that perhaps in Latium itself fewer persons had spoken Latin fluently than in Poland. The reputation of the Latin poet Casimir Sarbiewski, in Latin Sarbievus, spread through all Europe. Most Polish poets were equally successful both in Polish and Latin verse. As the former language first developed itself in poetry, we therefore, in our enumeration of the principal writers of this time, begin with the poets.
Here the influence of the classics, and, above all, that of the Italian literature, is very distinctly perceived. Rey of Naglowic, ob. 1569, is called the father of Polish poetry. Most of his productions are of the religious kind, chiefly in verse, but also orations and postillae. His chief work was a translation of the Psalms.
His principal followers were the Kochanowskis, a name of threefold lustre. John Kochanowski, ob. 1584, by far the most distinguished of them, published likewise a translation of David's Psalms, which is still considered as a classical work; in his other poems, Pindar, Anacreon, and Horace, were alternately his models, without diminishing the original value of his pieces. Adam Mickiewicz compares him, in respect to the brevity, conciseness, and terseness of his expression, with the last named Roman poet; in reference to his treatment of the classic elements, to Goethe. His brother Andrew translated Virgil's AEneid; his nephew Peter, with more talent and success, the great epics of Tasso and Ariosto.
Rybinski maintains, as a lyric poet, in the opinion of several critics, the same rank with John Kochanowski; like him he wrote Polish and Latin verses, and was created poet laureate. Simon Szymonowicz, called Simonides, ob. 1629, obtained likewise the poetical crown from the pope Clement VIII; indeed his Latin odes secured him a lasting fame throughout all Europe, and procured him the appellation of the Latin Pindar. In Polish he wrote mostly idylls, after the model of Theocritus, Bion, and Moschus; but these, as their chief merit consists in the sweetness and delicacy of the language, only natives are able fully to appreciate. The productions of his friend and contemporary Zimorowicz have the same general character, but are of less value in respect to diction. Other lyrical poets of merit may be named; e.g. the archbishop of Lemberg, Grochowski, a very productive writer; Czahrowski, Klonowicz, called also Acernus, and others. As poets of a religious character we name here together, without reference to the denomination to which they belonged,—since most of the Polish poetical productions of this age were of a higher character than to suffer the intrusion of polemics,—Dambrowski, Bartoszewski, Miaskowski, whoso hymns are considered as the finest of that period, Sudrovius, Turnowski, and others. The age was also rich in satires and epigrams, Polish as well as Latin. Productions of this class by the two Zbylitowskis, Pudlowski, Kraiewski, and a great many others, are still extant.
The facility of rhyme in a language so rich in rhymes as the Polish, seduced several writers to use verse as a vehicle for the most trivial thoughts, or for subjects the very nature of which is opposed to poetry. Thus Paprocki of Glogol, who is esteemed as a diligent historian and accurate investigator of the past, wrote his numerous works on genealogy and heraldry mostly in rhyme. Other historical poems were also written, which perhaps would not have been utterly deficient in merit, had they been transferred into prose.
Eloquence, so nearly related to poetry, and which, nevertheless, perhaps on that very account, should be distinguished from it by the most definite limits, is a gift, the cultivation of which may be expected above all in a republic. The Poles possess indeed all the necessary qualities for public orators; and eminent talents not only for poetical eloquence, but also for the pulpit, are not uncommon among them. Gornicki, ob. after 1591, Czarnkowski, Odachowski, and others, but especially the first named, were considered as the most distinguished orators of the age. The eloquence of the pulpit was exhibited in its highest eminence by Peter Skarga, court preacher of Sigismund III, whom his cotemporaries used to call the Polish Chrysostom; and by the learned Jesuit Wuiek, who also translated the Bible into Polish. The sermons and orations of both of them, besides numerous other theological productions, were published at the time. Other theological writers of some distinction were, among the Catholics, Stanislaus Karnkowski, archbishop of Gnesen, Bierkowski, who was Skarga's successor, Bialobrzeski, Kuczborski, the Jesuit Rosciszewski, and others; among the Protestants, Seklucyan, the translator of the Polish Bible for Protestants; Koszutski of Zarnowec, Radomski, Gilowski, and Budny, one of the leaders of the Unitarians, who also translated the Bible into Polish from the original languages. We must remark, that the Polish theological literature of this period evinced much less of a polemical spirit than might have been expected, in an age when that of the neighbouring countries, Bohemia and Germany, abounded in controversial books and pamphlets, replete with unchristian bitterness and doctrinal rigidity. For productions of this character we have to look in Poland to the following period. The wise moderation of the two Sigismunds, and of Stephen Bathory, seems to have had a prodigious influence on the minds of the nation, to pacify them and keep them within appropriate limits.
History, especially national history, was justly considered as one of the subjects most worthy of human attention. History is the great school, in which nations appear as the pupils, experience as the teacher; and the fate of mankind depends on a wise application of the great moral lessons which they daily receive. Most of the Polish historians of this ago preferred however the Latin language; but their productions are too intimately connected with Poland to be separated from its literature, and may, therefore, be named here. The Polish chronicle written by Matthew of Miechow, body physician to Sigismund I, and published in 1521, was the first historical work printed in Poland. Martin Kromer, bishop of Ermeland or Warmia, called the Livy of Poland, Wapowski, Guagnini, an Italian, but naturalized and ennobled in Poland, and Piasecki, a Protestant, distinguished for his frankness, wrote works on Polish history; Koialowicz, on that of Lithuania. They all wrote in Latin. The first who published an historical work in Polish was Martin Bielski, ob. 1576. His chronicle of Poland, which is of value in every respect, is written in a style so beautiful, that it was called le style d'or. His son Joachim continued this work as far as to the reign of Sigismund III. Another Polish chronicle, compiled with more erudition than taste, was written by Stryikowski, the author of numerous works on various subjects.
Other writers of merit, some of whom published original works on portions of history, while some translated the Latin volumes of their countrymen, or those of classic historical authors, were Wargocki, the Polish translator of Julius Caesar, and other Roman writers; Orzechowski, also lauded as an orator; Januszowski, Blazowski, Paszkowski, Cyprian Bazylik, and others. Works on tactics were published by John Tarnowski, a general celebrated in his time; by Strubicz, and Cielecki. Collections of statutes and laws were made by Herbart, Sapieha, Groicki, Sarnicki, and others.
Several memoirs referring to this period, and written during it, have been first published in our days; since the value of cotemporary historical documents has begun to be sufficiently appreciated. One of these publications (Wilna, 1844) is a chronicle referring to the first half of the sixteenth century; and was written by John Tarnowski, the general mentioned above. The manuscript had been long considered as lost.
It still remains to note the progress made in the philosophical sciences. We remarked above, that scientific works in Poland were mostly written in Latin; and since the case with them is different from that of historical works,—because, as the results of scientific examination and discovery, they are independent of the country where they are written, and belong to the world,—we therefore mention here only those works which were published in the Polish language. Falimierz, in Latin Phalimirus, first ventured to use the vernacular tongue of the country for a scientific book. He published as early as 1534 a work on natural history, and especially Materia medica. The first medical work in the Polish language was written in 1541 by Peter of Kobylin; the first mathematical work by Grzebski. Their example was followed by Latosz, Rosciszewski, Andrew of Kobylin, Umiastowski, Spiczynski, Siennik, Oczko, Grutinius, Syrenski, in Latin Sirenius, and others, all physicians, astronomers, botanists, etc.
From the erection of the Cracovian Jesuit Schools in A.D. 1622, to the revival of science in A.D. 1760.
The noble race of the Jagellons had become extinct on the death of Sigismund Augustus, in 1572. Poland had become formally an elective monarchy. Henry of Valois was the first to subscribe the pacta conventa, the fundamental law of the national liberty; the nation being understood to consist legally only of the nobility. Stephen Bathory's strength kept the discordant elements together; and while at home he took care to improve the administration of justice, and erected the high tribunals of Petricau, Lublin, and Wilna, his victorious arms in his contest with Russia raised Poland for a short time to the summit of its glory. But under his successor Sigismund III, a Swedish prince, and nephew of Sigismund Augustus and of Stephen, began that anarchy which is to be considered as the principal cause of Poland's final calamitous fate. For about fifty years the Poles still maintained with equal valour, though with alternate good and ill success, their warlike character abroad; even while internal dissensions and bloody party strife raged in their own unhappy country. But to such fundamental evils, combined with the rising power of Russia, with the revolt of the Kozaks in 1654, occasioned principally by religious oppression, and with the gradual but sure advancement of a new rival in the elector of Brandenburg, hitherto considered as a weak neighbour—to all these influences, the building thus sapped in its foundation could make no resistance, and its walls could not but give way, when they were suddenly shaken by the hands of avaricious and powerful enemies from without.
The perversion of taste, which at the beginning of the seventeenth century reigned in Italy, and thence spread over all Europe, with much more rapidity indeed than the true poetry and pure style of the fifteenth century had done, created also in the literature of Poland a new period; which, through the political circumstances above referred to, was protracted to a greater length than would have been expected in a literature already so rich in national models. To the remarkable activity of mind in the preceding period, there followed a literary lethargy. A very pernicious influence is also ascribed, by the literary historians of Poland, to the Jesuits; although this order is in general disposed to favour the cultivation of science. Under Sigismund III, they were shrewd enough to make themselves gradually masters of nearly all the colleges; and after a long and obstinate struggle, even the university of Cracow had to submit. According to Bentkowski, it was principally by their influence, that the tone of panegyric and of bombast was introduced, which for nearly a hundred and fifty years disgraced the Polish literature. The tastelessness of this style reached its highest point under John Sobieski; when the panegyrics with which this victorious captain was hailed by his courtiers, became the model for all similar productions. The fashion, first introduced at the close of the preceding period, of interspersing the Polish language with Latin words and phrases, became during the present more and more predominant; and was at length carried so far as to give even to Polish words a false Latin sound, by means of a Latin termination. French, German, and Italian forms of expression soon obtained the same right. But what was still worse, and what indeed affected the language most of all, was the fact, that even the natural structure and well established syntax of the Polish language had to give place to an injudicious imitation of foreign idioms. Thus the very circumstance of its great pliancy, one of its principal excellencies, became a source of its corruption.
Poland, moreover, at a time when the minds of the rest of Europe were tolerably pacified in a religious respect, became the scene of theological controversies full of sophistry and bitterness, the natural consequence of the incipient oppression of the dissidents. The literature was overwhelmed with pamphlets, stuffed with a shallow scholastic erudition, and written in a style both bombastic and vulgar. But the influence of the Jesuits was not limited to literature and science; it had a still more unhappy result in its active consequences. Poland became also during this century the theatre of a religious persecution, less authorized by even the semblance of law than any which had before, or has since, occurred in other countries. The Arians or Unitarians, after having been for more than sixty years tacitly included in the general appellation of dissidents, had to sustain between the years 1638 and 1658 the utmost rigour of oppression, and were finally banished from the country; and all this without having done any thing to forfeit their rights as dissidents, from which body they had to be formally expelled by the united hatred of the other Protestants and Catholics, before even a pretext could be devised of proceeding lawfully against them. Nor had the Lutherans, Calvinists, Greeks, and Armenians, who, after the exclusion of the Unitarians, Quakers, and Anabaptists, were alone comprised under the name of dissidents, given any occasion for that gradual deprivation which they had to encounter of their lawful rights, in the possession of which they had been a hundred and fifty years undisturbed. The storm which threatened them, first manifested itself publicly in the diets of 1717 and 1718, and degenerated at last into open and shameless persecution. In the year 1724, a quarrel arose at Thorn, on occasion of a procession of the Jesuits, between the students of one of their schools and those of the Lutheran gymnasium. A Lutheran mob intermeddled and committed some excesses; in consequence of which the Jesuit Wolanski, in the name of his order, instituted a lawsuit against the Lutheran magistracy of the city. The result of this lawsuit was a tragedy, such as only the bloody pages of the books of the inquisition can exhibit, and unequalled as to its motives in the annals of the eighteenth century. All the perpetrators were punished with the utmost rigour; while Roesner, the president of the city, together with eleven other citizens, was publicly beheaded, and their property confiscated for the benefit of the order.
A body which acted in such a spirit, placed at the head of public education, could exert but a very injurious influence in a moral and religious respect; its influence on the literature and language has been described above. The general mental paralysis and lethargy, which reigned in Poland during this period, can indeed hardly be ascribed solely to their influence; but the latter served greatly to increase it. For more than twenty years all the schools in the whole country were in the hands of the Jesuits; and when in the year 1642 the congregation of the Piarists erected their first school in Warsaw, which soon was followed by several others founded by the same order, these seminaries had to struggle for nearly a century, watched and oppressed by the jealousy and despotism of the Jesuits, before they could acquire any influence consistent with the spirit in which they were founded. To the talents and firmness of Stanislaus Konarski, himself a Piarist, the Polish literary historians ascribe the principal merits of the final victory of his order. His endeavours indeed were favoured by a combination of fortunate circumstances. Literature and the fine arts found a friend and protector in a gifted and accomplished king, and in several high-minded noblemen of even more than regal authority. But the period of pedantry, perversion of taste, and deficiency of true criticism, had already lasted more than a hundred and thirty years. There was much to be done to cleanse the beds in the garden of literature from all the weeds which had luxuriated there, and to fertilize a soil which had so long lain fallow. The details of these endeavours belong however to the following period.
To the character of the theological literature of this age, we have above alluded. Among the Protestant writers were Andrew and Adalbert Wengierski. The works of the latter gave occasion to the polemical discussions of the Jesuit Poszakowski, himself the author of a history of the Lutheran and of the Calvinistic creed, and of several other books. Other works on subjects of theology and education, or collections of sermons and devotional exercises, were published by the Jesuits Szczaniecki, Koialowicz, Sapecki, Poninski, Zulkicwski, and others; and the Piarists Gutowski, Wysocki, Rosolecki, and others. The Jesuit Niesiecki wrote a comprehensive biblio-biographical work of great merit, which is considered as one of the best sources for the inquirer in Polish history and literature. Another Jesuit, Wiiuk Koialowicz, translated Tacitus' Annals into Polish, and wrote in Latin a history of Lithuania. Knapski, also a Jesuit, published a large dictionary or “Thesaurus,” which is still highly esteemed. Luhienski, archbishop of Gnesen, wrote in 1740 the first detailed geography in the Polish language. One of the most productive writers on various subjects of theology, history, and politics, was Starowolski, who died in 1656. Fourteen of his forty-seven works are written in Polish, the rest in Latin. We mention further, as geographical and historical writers of some merit, the Piarist Kola, professor Saltszewicz, Chodkicwicz, Niemir and Chwalkowski; and as a distinguished mathematician and scholar of general information, Broscius.
We conclude this period with the poets of that age; who, although perhaps they exhibited more talent than the cotemporary prose writers, must necessarily, from the nature of poetry, have suffered more from the predominant tastelessness of the time. Sam. Twardowski, ob. 1660, must be named first; a poet of fine gifts, but of an impure, bombastic, rhetorical style, the author of numerous lyrical and epic poems of very unequal value. After him came Vespasian Kochowski, the best lyric poet of the age; Gawinski, a very productive author, whose pastorals have been collected by Mostowski, together with those of Kochanowski, Simonides, and other classical poets; and Wenceslaus Potocki, the author of novels, poetry, and more especially epigrams, not without merit, but frequently licentious and indelicate. Among the poets of this age, who are in some measure distinguished by Polish critics, we find also a lady. Elizabeth Druzbacka, a poetess of high rank, but without a literary education or a knowledge of foreign languages, though not without natural gifts. Satires were written by Dzwonowski and Opalinski; historical and didactic poems by Bialabocki, prince Jablonowski, and by Leszczynski, father of king Stanislaus Leszczynski. Ovid was translated by Zebrowski and Otfinowski; Lucan's Pharsalia by Chroscinski, who versified also portions of the Bible; and again with more fidelity and skill by the Dominican monk Bardzinski.
Other poets of this age were, prince Lubomirski, who on account of his wealth and wise sayings is styled the Polish Solomon; prince Wisniowiocki, who published whole poems without the letter r, because he could not pronounce that letter; Bratkowski, the author of a series of happy epigrams; Falibogowski, Szymonowski, the Jesuits Ignes and Poniatowski, and others.
From Stephen Konarski, A.D. 1760, to the Revolution in 1830.
The Polish language, at the beginning of this period, was in a melancholy state; it was, to use Schaffarik's expression, stripped of its natural gifts of perspicuity, simplicity, and strength, deformed by tastelessness, and grown childish and obsolete at the same time. An able work, Memoirs, referring to the period between 1750 and 1760, written by K.H. Kallontaj, and published a few years since by count E. Raczynski, gives a graphic picture of the miserable and illiterate state of society in Poland at that time; and shows clearly how the seeds of decay and destruction were already scattered with full hands on a susceptible soil. It was a fortunate circumstance, that, just at the time when several of the most powerful Polish noblemen began to feel an intense and patriotic interest in their neglected language,—the king Stanislaus Augustus and his uncle prince Czartoryski at their head,—there awoke a number of gifted minds, who began to plant with so much activity on the long deserted though still fertile soil, that the field of Polish literature soon flourished and bore fruit again. These fruits, however artificial and un_national in their character, could only be compared to green-house productions. Various effective measures were taken for the revival of literature, and also for the promotion of science and art. But the new patrons could not afford to wait. The French literature of the day, with all its levity, shallowness, and splendour, seemed to be a material nearer at hand and more in harmony with the spirit of the court—the only school of revival for Polish literature—than their own national productions of former ages. In this way we may explain in part the frivolous tone, the shallow-mindedness, which prevail in all the Polish works of this age; during a period when vehement passions and furious contests already tore the country in pieces, and deep sorrow and grief reigned among all classes of society.
The establishment of the Monitor, a periodical work, to which the best and ablest men of Poland contributed, first exerted a superficial happy influence on the language. Of still more importance in this respect was the establishment of a national stage, at the head of which were distinguished and well qualified men. But the measure which produced more effect than any other, was the appointment of a department of Education, resolved upon by the diet of 1775. Public instruction was thus made one of the great concerns of the government itself; and the power of the Jesuits, which had been for some time on the decline, was finally annihilated. The rich income of this order was henceforth entirely set apart for the benefit of learned institutions, to which free access was given. The provincial or departmental schools throughout the whole kingdom received a new organization on a different plan; and the university of Cracow resumed again its former rights. In respect to the instruction and melioration of the situation of the common people, we find as yet no attention whatever paid to these important subjects. It was not until 1807, or the foundation of the duchy of Warsaw under the administration of the king of Saxony, that the lower classes obtained their rights as men; and unfortunately even then without the power of availing themselves of these rights. Stanislaus Augustus, however, and some of his advisers and counsellors, acted in this respect with an honest will and noble intention; and by promoting the general interests of mankind in literature and science, did much for the social improvement of their own country.
Meanwhile, this unhappy country was the scene of the most violent party struggles; during which the heads of the parties conducted themselves with the most revolting selfishness, and an entire forgetfulness of all political consequences and of their own moral responsibility. The fanaticism of the bishops of Cracow and Warsaw refused to the dissidents the restoration of their rights; and Russia thus acquired the first pretext for intermeddling with Polish affairs. In the course of a few years, Poland was reduced to that torn and broken state, which induced Catharine II to consider it as a country “where one needed only to stoop, in order to pick up something.” For a short time this course of things even seemed to be favourable to literature. The minds of men were in a state of excitement, which gave them power to produce the greatest and most extraordinary things. But a reaction very naturally followed. After twenty years of mental and political struggles and combats, to sustain which claimed the whole united powers of mind and soul,—twenty years numerically productive in every department,—there followed a mental calm, an intellectual blank, of more than twelve years.
It was, as if with the political dissolution of the kingdom, with the annihilation of the unity of the nation, this latter had sunk back into a state of intellectual paralysis. The interval from A.D. 1795 to A.D. 1807, in comparison with the years which preceded and have followed, was remarkably poor in productions of value. The literature of translations rose in an undue proportion, and the purity of the language suffered considerably. The government of the duchy of Warsaw acted on wise and truly humane principles; and during the short period between 1807 and 1812, all was done for the improvement of the country, which the unfortunate circumstances of the case permitted. Under this administration the number of schools rose from 140 to 634; a commission was instituted for procuring the publication of appropriate books of instruction in the Polish language; and several similar measures were taken for advancing the best interests of the country. The constitution of the new kingdom of Poland, in 1815, entered essentially into the same views; and was in every respect favourable to the development of the mental faculties of the nation. The modern kingdom of Poland embraced, indeed, not much more than the sixth part of the vast territory, which under the Jagellons had constituted the kingdom of that name. Before the cessions at Andrussov in the year 1667, the ancient kingdom contained sixteen millions of inhabitants; the census of the modern kingdom in 1818, counted only 2,734,000. But that the population of this exhausted country increased during the Russian administration,—especially in consequence of the encouragement given to foreign colonists, the establishment of manufactures which furnished means of support for the lower classes, and other similar measures,—is apparent from the results of the census of 1827; according to which the kingdom then contained 3,705,000 inhabitants.
In the field of science and literature, the nobility had at length found rivals among the free citizens; and the courts of these temples were now, through the erection of village schools, made accessible even to the peasant, who was, in name at least, no longer a degraded slave. If the Russian government in Poland had been exercised in practice, according to the same principles on which it was founded; if Alexander's first intentions had been practically executed in the same spirit in which the happiness of his Polish subjects had been theoretically planned; perhaps it would have been less difficult to reconcile the minds of the Poles to the loss of their independence as a nation, which they justly consider as an inestimable good. We have here no concern with politics, except so far as they have a necessary influence on the state of general cultivation; or so far as they give birth to important occasional appearances in the republic of letters. Considered in the first point of view, it is not to be denied, that the Polish nation, since the foundation of the constitutional Russian kingdom of Poland in 1815, has made more progress towards social improvement, and has advanced more towards a state of equality in a mental and intellectual respect with the countries of middle Europe, viz. Germany, France and England, than during the whole vast period of their previous existence.
For most of these improvements, however, the preparation had already been made, in the last ten years before the dissolution of the republic. The emancipation of the serfs, who comprised the whole peasantry, one of the fundamental laws of the duchy of Warsaw in 1807, was confirmed at the creation of the kingdom of Poland in 1815. In the diet of the kingdom, not only the nobility and the government, but also the cities and smaller communities, had their own representatives; and all Christian denominations acquired equal political rights. To the universities of Cracow, Wilna, and Lemberg, there was added in 1818 a fourth at Warsaw. The kingdom of Poland contained in 1827, in each of its eight woiwodships, a palatine school, and besides this three other institutions for the higher branches of education; fourteen principal department schools, and nine for sub-departments; several professional seminaries for miners, teachers, agriculturists, and others; a military academy, a school for cadets, and a number of elementary schools, both private and public. The Russian-Polish provinces, i.e. the part of Poland united with Russia in the three successive dismemberments of Poland, participate in all the means of education which the Russian empire affords; the province of West Prussia and the grand duchy of Posen, in those of the kingdom of Prussia, where an enlightened government has made, as is generally acknowledged, the mental improvement of the lower classes one of its principal objects. The Austrian kingdom of Galicia had in the year 1819 two lyceums, twelve gymnasiums, several other institutions for education of different names and for specific purposes, and also numerous elementary schools. The Catholic religion is here the only reigning one; although the Protestants, who here are still comprised under the name of dissidents, are tolerated.
The literary activity of the Polish nation occupied in 1827 not less than sixty printing offices and twenty booksellers. Of the latter, fifteen were in Warsaw, the rest scattered over all the province formerly belonging to Poland. At Warsaw alone five daily political papers and one weekly were published in the Polish language; besides these there existed only five, viz. one in each of the four larger cities, Cracow, Lemberg, Wilna, and Posen, and a fifth at St. Petersburg. There are other periodicals for scientific objects published at Warsaw; while in the other cities the German publications of that character are chiefly read. The periodical published by the national institution, called after count Ossolinski, at Lemberg, is however considered as the most important in the Polish language.
The high spirit of the Polish nation, and that glowing patriotism for which they are so distinguished, has induced them during the period of their unnatural partition and amalgamation with foreign nations, to devote more zeal than ever to the sole national tie which still binds together the subjects of so many different powers—their language. There have been numerous learned societies founded; among them, above all, the society of the friends of science at Warsaw, to which the most eminent men of the nation belong, must be distinguished. Academies of arts and sciences have been established, and associations formed for various scientific purposes. The influence of all these institutions, more especially that of the above-mentioned society at Warsaw, has been very favourably employed in limiting that of the French and German languages, naturally induced by political circumstances.
The French language indeed, independently of the political events of modern times, had already acted powerfully on the Polish at the close of the preceding period. In poetry, the affected bombastic school of the Gongorists and Marinists had been supplanted throughout all Europe by the better taste of the cold, stiff, and formal French poets, whose defects it was much easier to imitate than their merits. For more than half a century the French language reigned with an uncontrolled and unlimited sovereignty over all the literary world. But its most absolute dominion was in Poland. In the manners of the nobility of this country, French gracefulness and ease were, in a peculiar and interesting manner, blended with the daring heroism of the knight and the luxuriousness of the Asiatic despot. French refinement and French witticism covered the rudeness and revelry characteristic of the middle ages. French teachers and governesses had inundated the whole country, and a journey to France was among the requisite conditions of an accomplished education. The Polish writers—all of them belonging to the nobility—to whom, from their youth, the French language was equally familiar with their own, unconsciously disfigured the latter by Gallicisms; since French forms of expression seemed to be the best adapted for the expression of French thoughts and French philosophy. A modern Polish author calls the Polish literature of this period a second edition of the French with inferior types and on worse paper. Long after the rest of literary Europe had shaken off the yoke, the Polish poets, although the genius of their rich, creative, and pliant language was decidedly opposed to such a slavery, continued to submit to French rules and laws, and do so partly still.
We begin the enumeration of the distinguished writers of this period, with its principal founder, Stephen Konarski, mentioned above, who was born A.D. 1700, and died in 1773. In his seventeenth year he entered the order of Piarists, and became later a professor in the college of this congregation at Warsaw. After a long stay in Italy and France, he returned to Poland; accompanied king Stanislaus Leszczynski to Lorrain; but again returned to his country and founded several institutions for education in Warsaw, Wilna, and Lemberg, on principles different from those of the Jesuits. In the year 1747 he went a third time to France, but returned after three years; and from that time devoted himself entirely to the literary and mental reform of his own country. Of his printed works, twenty-eight in number, fourteen are written in Polish. They embrace different topics in poetry, and a tragedy; but his principal merits lie in his writings on the subject of politics and education.
After him we name the illustrious philosopher Stanislaus Leszczynski. Most of his works, on politics and ethics, were written in French; in the Polish language he wrote, besides one or two other works, a history of the Old and New Testaments in verse. Zaluski, known more especially by the foundation of a large and celebrated library, in which he spent an immense fortune, and which he finally made over to his country, was the friend of king Stanislaus and of Konarski. In possession of an uncommon amount of knowledge, and a very extensive erudition, which however he owed more to his remarkable memory than to any distinguished capacity, he wrote a large number of Latin and Polish books on literary and biographical subjects, and on poetry; in all which the genius of the preceding period still reigns.
Another nobleman of high rank, who distinguished himself by his patriotism and erudition, was Wenceslaus Rzewuski, woiwode of Podolia, and cotemporary with Zaluski, whom he surpassed however in critical taste and productive powers. His translation of the Psalms is highly esteemed. A still higher name as a patron of literature and the arts, is the uncle of king Stanislaus Augustus, prince Adam Czartoryski. He was marshal of the diet in 1764, when the ill-famed liberum veto was abolished, which gave to every deputy, singly, the right of overthrowing the otherwise unanimous resolutions of the diet, and thus was the principal cause of the lawless disorder which disgraced the sessions of that body. His merits as a statesman and a Mecaenas are equal. Several historical works, designed to advance the honour of Poland, were published under his care and at his instigation. Amid all his numerous avocations, he found time to write several pieces for the national stage; which, as a promoter of the purity of the language, was a subject of his particular care and attention.
By the side of the name of Czartoryski, shines that of Potocki. More than one member of this illustrious family had in former times acquired the right of citizens in the republic of letters. Count Paul Potocki and his grandson Anthony, in the seventeenth and beginning of the eighteenth century, were both equally celebrated for their talents. The works of the former were published by count Zaluski, under the title ofGenealogia Potockiana; the speeches and addresses of the latter are partly printed in Daneykowicz' Suada Polona, and were in their time considered as models. But the most elevated rank in this family is occupied by the two brothers Ignatius and Stanislaus Kostka Potocki, whether as patriots and statesmen, or as writers and patrons of science. Ignatius, besides promoting several literary undertakings, and bearing the expenses of more than one journey for the purposes of science and learning, was himself a distinguished writer. He translated Condillac's work on logic, and introduced it into the Polish schools as a class book. His merits in respect to public education were great; he was one of the most urgent promoters of the emancipation of the serfs; and at his death in the year 1809, he left behind the reputation of a true friend of the people. His brother Stanislaus Kostka, although entertaining the same political principles, did not take the same active part during the struggles of the Poles for their expiring independence; he retired to Austria after the king had joined the confederation of Targowicz, and there devoted himself entirely to his studies. In 1807 he returned to his country; and there, as president of the department for schools and education, he found means to carry out his enlightened views and benevolent intentions for the good of his country. At the foundation of the kingdom of Poland in 1815, he was made minister of public instruction, and was always found at the head of every noble and patriotic undertaking. From his oratorical powers, he was called princeps eloquentiae. In respect to genius he was above his brother; although the latter seems to have surpassed him in energy of character. His principal work, “on Style and Eloquence,” was published in 1815; another work of value is his translation of Winkelmann's book on ancient art, which he accompanied by illustrations and remarks, but did not finish. His influence on Polish literature was decided. Another nobleman, distinguished as an orator and political writer, was Hugo Kollantay, count Sztumberg, who published, together with Ignatius Potocki, a history of the constitution.
At the head of the historical writers of this period stands Adam Naruszewicz, the faithful translator of Tacitus, whose style he adopted also in his original works. His history of the Polish nation is considered as a standard work; as a production, which in respect to erudition, philosophical conception, and style, is the chef d'oeuvre of Polish literature. The six volumes published by himself comprise only the period between A.D. 965 and 1386, beginning with the second volume; as for the first, which was to have contained the earliest history of Poland, he intended to have executed it afterwards, and had indeed collected all the necessary materials, but was prevented by death. The Warsaw Society of Friends of Science published it thirty years after his death, and endeavoured to engage the principal talents of Poland in the continuation of his work. This was done in such a way, that each writer was to undertake the history of the administration of a single king; and at last, after each part had appeared separately, the society was to make a collection of the whole, and, if necessary, cause it to be rewritten. Several able men have devoted themselves to this work. The plan of the society, which by its very nature excluded all unity of character, seems to have met with more approbation than, according to our opinion, it deserved. The Polish public is however indebted to it for more than one valuable work on history, to which it gave birth. Naruszewicz had collected for his undertaking a library of materials, in 360 folio volumes. He wrote also a history of the Tartars, a biography of the Lithuanian captain Chodkiewicz, and was admired as a poet. He died in 1796, it is said of grief at the fate of his unhappy country.
Naruszewicz was educated by the Jesuits, and was himself of that order until its dissolution. He died as bishop of Luck. In respect to time he stands as the first eminent writer of a new period, just on the verge of the past; and even his warmest admirers do not deny that he participated, in some slight degree, in the character of that past, by a certain inclination to panegyric and a flowery style. But in energy and richness of thought, he far surpasses all his predecessors, and has not yet been reached by any who have written after him.
Another historical work of value on Poland, was edited by Joachim Lelewel. The history of Poland by Waga, in the want of any thing more suitable, had been in use as a class book in the Polish schools for more than fifty years. Lelewel, in order to improve its popularity, took this book as a foundation, but completely recast it, divided the history of Poland according to a plan perfectly new, completed the work, and published it under Waga's name. His rich additions regard chiefly the legislature, statistics, and the cultivation of the country. His very division of the history of Poland, into Poland conquering, Poland divided, Poland flourishing, and Poland on the decline, seems to indicate the political tendency of his work, and his desire to impress upon the Polish youth the great moral lessons which history presents.
Another history of Poland of more extent was published by G.S. Bantkie. Lelewel said of the second edition of this book, which appeared in 1820, that “a more perfect work in this department did not exist.”
One of the most remarkable writers of his time, on history and bibliography, was the Jesuit Albertrandy; who, besides being the author of several historical works and treatises, was indefatigable in collecting materials for the history of his country. He went to Italy, and here gathered during a stay of three years a hundred and ten folio volumes of extracts, entirely written with his own hand. He then went to Stockholm and Upsal, where the most important manuscripts relative to Poland are deposited. The Swedish government was narrow-minded enough, to allow him access to their libraries only on condition of his not taking any written notes. But Albertrandy had so remarkable a memory, that he was able to make up for this disadvantage, by writing down every evening all that he had read during the day, and added in this way not less than ninety folio volumes to his library of manuscripts.
Portions of Polish history, or subjects belonging to it, were treated with success by the poet Niemcewicz; by Bentkowski, Kwiatkowski, Soltykowicz, Surowiecki, Lelewel, Onacewicz, the counts Ossolinski and Czacki, the former distinguished by learning and critical discernment, the latter the author of an esteemed history of the Polish and Lithuanian laws; by Maiewski, Siarczynski, and others. The princess Isabella Czartoryski intended her “Pilgrim of Dobromil,” to be a book of historical instruction for the common people. Abridgments of Polish history were given by Miklaszcwski and Falenski. The historical songs written by Niemcewicz, at the instigation of the Warsaw Society of Friends of Science, are also to be considered as belonging to history, as well as to poetry, since they are accompanied by valuable historical illustrations. The same author wrote Memoirs on ancient Poland. Turski translated the memoirs of Choisain on the administration of Henry of Valois; and the memoirs of Michael Oginski, Sur la Pologne et les Polonais depuis 1788 jusqu'en 1815, are a valuable contribution to the history of our time. Memoirs of J. Kilinski, a shoemaker by trade, but like the butcher Sierakowski, a successful revolutionary leader in 1795, were published in 1830. The modern periodicals likewise contain many well written historical essays, some of them of decided importance. This is especially true of the Memoirsof Warsaw, and also of Lemberg, the Scientific Memoirs, the Wilna and Warsaw Journals, the Bee of Cracow, the Ant of Poznania, and others.
We have remarked above, as a characteristic of the Polish literature, that although Poland was never poor in talents of various kinds, yet its literary contributions have aimed less at the advancement of science in general, than to exalt the glory of the Polish name, and thus have an immediate reflexive influence on the nation. In the same spirit, the history of other countries has received little attention, not excepting even ancient history. Poland indeed does not possess a single distinguished work on foreign history; and their Gibbons and Robertsons seem ever to have been absorbed in their own patriotic interests. As writers of merit on universal history and its auxiliary branches, we may mention Cajetan and Vincent Skrzetuski, count John Potocki, Bohusz, Jodlowski, Sowinski. prince Sapieha, count Berkowski, and above all Lelewel. Several of his works have been translated into French and German. The German version of his History of the discoveries of the Carthaginians and Greeks (Berlin 1832), was accompanied by an introduction from the celebrated Ritter.
The Polish language, the purity of which at the beginning of the present period was an object of particular attention, has in our own century been the subject of numerous learned inquiries; some of which have added considerably to the light thrown in modern times by Slavic-German scholars upon the Slavic languages and Slavic history in general. Linde, besides several other philological and historical writings, has enriched Slavic literature with a comparative critical dictionary in six volumes, which is considered as one of the standard works of the language. G.S. Bantkie, the author of several historical and bibliographical works of great merit in the Polish, Latin, and German languages, has written a Polish grammar and Polish-German dictionary. Rakowiecki prepared a new edition of the Jus Russorum, introduced by a critical preface, and accompanied with many explanatory notes. We must, however, take this occasion to remark, that the Polish critics in general; even if in every other respect qualified as sagacious and impartial judges, are by no means infallible on subjects which have any relation to their own country. The glory and honour of their own nation are always with them the principal objects, to which not seldom the impartiality of a scientific inquirer, and even historical truth, is unscrupulously sacrificed. Maiewski wrote a book rich in ideas on the Slavi; bibliographical works, and books on the literary history of Poland have been published by Chrominski, Sowinski, Juszynski, count Ossolinski, Szumski, and more especially by Bentkowski. Count Stan. Potocki's works contain likewise a number of articles on Polish literature. In the previous periods, all bibliographical works were written in Latin.
The brilliant talent of the Poles for eloquence enjoyed, during the early part of this period and before the dissolution of the republic, the best possible opportunity for development, among the intellectual struggles and combats occasioned by the political circumstances of the country and the discussion of new political theories. The constitutional diet of 1788-1791 exhibited a rich store of oratorical talent. The names of the Potockis, Sapieha, Czartoryski, Kollantay, Matuszewicz, Niemcewicz, Soltyk, Kicinski, and others, were mentioned with distinction. The eloquence of the pulpit was of course much less cultivated in a nation which lives chiefly in politics. Lachowski, a Jesuit and court preacher of the last king, is by the Poles considered as an eminent preacher; although according to German judges he was shallow and voluble, and was surpassed by his cotemporary Wyrwicz, and above all by Karpowicz. Prazmowski, Jakubowski, Woronicz bishop of Warsaw, Szismawski, Szweykowski, Zacharyaszewicz, and others, were esteemed as powerful preachers.
Besides the oratorical powers and the historical productions of the Poles, the reputation of their modern literature rests chiefly on poetry. Although the Polish poets adhered longer to the strict rules of Boileau than the rest of Europe, and have only in the most recent times chosen better models in the Germans and English,—without however having been able to free themselves entirely from their French chains,—yet the national genius of their language has sometimes conquered the artificial restraints of narrow rules and arbitrary laws. Naruscewicz, the celebrated historian, occupies also a distinguished rank as a poet. He translated Anacreon and some of Horace's odes; but wrote still more original pieces, odes, pastorals, epigrams, satires, and a tragedy entitled 'Guido.'
The most distinguished poet under Stanislaus Augustus was count Ignatius Krasicki, bishop of Ermeland or Warmla, and later of Gnesen, the Polish Voltaire. His principal works are an epic under the title ofWoyna, Chocimska or 'War of Chocim,' and three comic epics, one of which, Monachomachia, ridicules the monkish system and exhibits its absurdity in strong colours. He wrote this poem at the suggestion of Frederic the Great, to whose coterie of literary friends he belonged. His great heroic epic is considered by his countrymen as a standard work; while foreigners look at it as a valuable historical poem indeed, but as utterly deficient in true epic power and original invention. His smaller poems and prose writings are replete with wit and spirit; to see a bishop writing erotic songs and satirical epigrams was nothing extraordinary in his time. As a prose writer be appears as one of the few who were not blind to the defects and follies of their countrymen. Of his translations we mention Macpherson's Ossian and Plutarch. He belongs so decidedly to his age, i.e. to the age of the freezing, unpoetical, French influence, that our time, with its higher standard for a true poet, can no longer set a great value on his works.
Trembecki, ob. 1812, as a lyric poet takes equal rank, according to some Polish critics, with Krasicki. His chief poem, Zofiowka, which has been translated into French by La Garde, is of that descriptive, contemplative kind, which was fashionable in his day. He had more imagination than other cotemporary Polish poets. Szymanowski, ob. 1801, a writer of pastorals, is distinguished for delicacy and sweetness. As to the beauty of his diction his countrymen are the best judges; but as for the character and real poetical value of his productions, we doubt whether the sounder taste of our day would relish the whole species so highly as was done at a time, when the forms of society had reached the very summit of artificial perversion. A certain longing after nature and its purity was the necessary result of such a state of things; but even nature itself they were unable to see, except in an artificial light. All the Polish productions of this species, in the present period, savour strongly of the French school; whilst the pastorals of the sixteenth century hover in the midst between the bucolics of the ancients and the Italian and Spanish eclogues.
There was the same decided influence of the French literature on Wengierski, who died in 1787; although less in respect to taste than to morals. Karpinski, also a writer of pastorals, approaches nearest the Greeks, and is on the whole a poet of uncommon talent. His original writings bear much more of a national stamp than those of other poets of this period. His translation of Racine's Athalia is considered as a masterpiece, and his version of the Psalms has not been surpassed in any language. Another distinguished poet is Dionysius Kniaznin, remarkable for a certain external freshness, which imparts life to all his productions. He was educated in the college of the Jesuits at Witebsk; and it was during his whole life a matter of regret to him, that he “had lost the golden season of his youth, and wasted the labour of sleepless nights on irksome trifles.” Notwithstanding this learned education, the author of the Letters on Poland finds between him and Burns a kind of analogy. Kniaznin's principal fame rests on a ludicrous heroic called the 'Balloon.' He spent a part of his life at Pulawy, the estate of prince Czartoryski, under the patronage of this nobleman; and is said to have become, like Tasso, the victim of a passion for one of his lady patronesses.
The following are further regarded among their countrymen as poets of the first rank, viz. Niemcewicz, Brodzinski, bishop Woronicz, and Mickiewicz. Julius Niemcewicz is also known by his political fortunes and influence, and is equally esteemed as an historian and for his poetical talents. The eloquence which he exhibited in the diet of 1788-92, as the nuntius or deputy of Lithuania, laid the foundation of his fame. When his country was lost, after having fought at the side of Kosciuszko and shared his fate as a prisoner, he accompanied this great man to America, where he associated with Washington, whose life he has since described. His eulogy on Kosciuszko is considered as a masterpiece. His principal works are his historical songs, his dramas, and his “Reign of Sigismund III.” Whatever he writes evinces more than common talents; as to which his friends only deplore that he has scattered them so much, or, according to the expression of the author of the Letters on Poland, that “his genius was too eager in embracing at once so much within its potent grasp; and thus, instead of concentrating his powers, lessened their brilliant beams, by diffusing them over too wide a horizon.” 
John Woronicz, bishop of Cracow, and afterwards of Warsaw, whom we have named above as one of the most eloquent preachers, is equally celebrated as a poet. His productions all have a character of dignity and loftiness; and, with the exception of some religious hymns, are devoted to the historical fame of his country. His “Sybil,” in which he conjures up in succession the ancient Polish kings from their graves to behold the cruel state of their once triumphant country, and the “Lechiade,” an epic, which Schaffarik considers as the best Polish production of this species, are his principal works. The inclination of the Polish poets to celebrate and exalt their own country and the heroic deeds of their ancestors, without even admitting the possibility of rivalship on the part of any other nation, can easily be accounted for; while to foreign critics the same poems, which inspire Polish readers with patriotic enthusiasm, often appear pompous and void of that simplicity, which is the true source of the sublime.
Casimir Brodzinski, ob. 1835, was an eminent original poet, and an excellent translator. His poetry is pervaded by a character of strong and decided nationality, and Bowring says of him: “If any man can be considered the representative of Polish feelings, and as having transfused them into his productions, Brodzinski is certainly the man.” He translated Macpherson's Ossian; and first introduced Scott's masterpieces into the literature of Poland. He may be considered as one of the founders of the modern romantic school in Polish literature.
Adam Mickiewicz, born in 1798, whose name belongs, perhaps, more appropriately to the next period, owed his first reputation, as a poet of eminent talent, to three small volumes of miscellaneous poetry, first published in 1822-1828. A poetic tale, Conrad Wallenrod, a scene from the wars of the Poles with the Teutonic knights, was published shortly after.
The series of Polish poets towards the end of this period, who have manifested some talent, is too long to permit us to enumerate them all; and even a complete catalogue of their names must not be expected in these pages, which are devoted merely to an historical review of the whole literature, and to individuals only so far as they go to form characteristic features of the physiognomy of the former. The “Dictionary of Polish poets,” published in 1820 by Juszynski, describes the lives of not less than 1400 individuals, independently of course of their poetical worth. We confine ourselves to presenting some of the most distinguished names in addition to those above-mentioned, viz. Gurski, a very productive and popular writer; L. Osinski, still more esteemed as a critic: Molski, Tanski, Boncza Tomaszewski, Okraszewski, Tymowski, Szydlowski, and Kozmian, the author of a popular didactic poem.
The Polish literature of this time was particularly rich in translations, which are approved by their countrymen, although they perhaps will not satisfy the higher standard of German or English criticism. This is due partly to the richness and pliability of the language itself. Dmochowski, Przybylski, and Staszyc, translated Homer; and the first also Virgil. Dmochowski's translations are in rhymed verse; those of Przybylski, who also enriched Polish literature with translations of the Paradise Lost, the Lusiad, and of many other poems, are in the measures of the originals, and manifest both a profound knowledge of the foreign languages, and great dexterity in using his own. Staszyc has written valuable works on various subjects, and enjoys a high esteem as a literary man and patriot. Felinski, the translator of Delille and Racine, is considered as the most harmonious Polish versifier. Hodani, Osinski, Kicinski, Kruszynski, have likewise transplanted the productions of the French Parnassus into the Polish soil; Sienkiewicz, Odyniec, and others, devoted their talents to the English. Okrascewski translated the Greek tragic poets. Minasowicz, the author of fifty-three various works, and Nagurczewski, translated also several of the ancient authors; but according to the best critics, with more knowledge of the classic languages, than skill in the management of their own. Among all the distinguished poets mentioned above, there is hardly one, who, besides his original productions, did not likewise devote his talents to poetical translations; in which Karpinski, Naruscewicz, and Krasicki, were considered as eminently successful.
In the whole domain of poetry, there is no branch in which the Poles manifested a greater want of original power, than the dramatic. Here the influence of the French school was most decided, and indeed exclusive. We have seen above what pains were taken by the most distinguished men of the nation, to establish a national stage; to which they looked, not in the light of a frivolous amusement, but as a school for purifying and elevating the national language and literary taste, and also as a means of correcting vice by ridiculing it. In this view several clergymen wrote for the theatre. The Jesuit Bohomolec wrote the first original comedies in 1757; other comedies, valuable as pictures of the time, were written by bishop Kossakowski. Prince Czartoryski we have mentioned above as a writer of dramas. Zablocki, Lipinski, Osinski, Kowalski, and others, transplanted the French masterpieces to the Polish stage, or imitated them. The actors, Boguslawski, Bielawski, and Zolkowski, wrote original pieces. Tragedies, mostly on subjects of Polish history, were written by Niemcewicz, Felinski, Dembowski, Slowacki, Kropinski. Hofmann, and F. Wenzyk, whose “Glinski” is considered as the best Polish production of this kind. The most popular comedies in recent times are by count Fredro, who is called the Polish Moliere. The Polish stage is still richer in melo-dramas, especially rural pictures in a dramatic form; of which Niemcewicz's piece, “John Kochanowski,” is a fine specimen.
As it respects novels, tales in prose, and similar productions, the literature of Poland has been much less overwhelmed with this species of writing, in which mediocrity is so easy and perfection so rare, than that of their neighbours the Russians. We think this can easily be accounted for. They possess few, for the same reason that the English are so rich in them. Domestic life, the true basis of the modern novel, has no charms in Poland. The whole tendency of the nation is towards public life, splendour, military fame; theirs are not the modest virtues of private retirement, but the heroic deeds of public renown. The beauty, the spirit, the influence of their women, is generally acknowledged; but that female reserve and delicacy which draws the thread of an English novel through three volumes, would be looked for in vain in Poland. Niemcewicz, however, published in 1827 an historical novel, “John of Trenczyn,” which is considered as a happy imitation of Scott. Others were written by count Skarbeck. Among the novels, which present a psychological development of character, and a description of fashionable life, “The Intimations of the Heart” is regarded as the principal work. It was written by the princess of Wirtemberg, daughter of Adam and Isabella Czartoryski. Another esteemed female writer is Clementina Hofmann, formerly Tanska.
The Poles, although from a feeling of pride and patriotism naturally disposed to overrate the productions of their own literature, are far from being deficient in critical judgment or in exalted ideas on the theory of the beautiful. The count Stanislaus Potocki and Ossolinski, L. Osinski, Golanski, and others, maintain a high rank in this department.
Philosophy, as an abstract science, independently of its immediate application to subjects of real life, has never found more than a few votaries among the Poles. In the beginning of the seventeenth century, Aristotle was translated into Polish by Petryci. For nearly two hundred years, the teachers of philosophy in the Polish universities stopped at Aristotle; and a few commentaries on his Ethics and Politics composed the whole philosophical literature of Poland. In the first years of our own century, Jaronski and Szianiawski made an attempt to introduce the philosophy of Kant; but although the cause appeared to be in the best hands, they met with little success. Galuchowski, a German philosophical writer of merit, is a Pole by birth; as also Trentovski and Cieszkowski, followers of Hegel, who prefer the German for their organ.
For the study of polite literature and the Slavic languages during this period, Warsaw was the principal seat; for philology and the exact sciences, the university of Wilna. This learned institution had taken special pains in respect to the necessary elementary books for the study of the classical languages; and was distinguished by its able professors Groddek, Bobrowski, and Zukowski. The former, a scholar of high reputation, in addition to several philological works, translated Buttman's Greek Grammar into Polish; the latter published also a Greek and a Hebrew Grammar. In the oriental languages Senkowski at St. Petersburgh is distinguished; and count Rzewuski at Vienna had great desert in connection with the periodical work, Fundgruben des Orients.
In consequence of the grand-duke Constantine's predilection for mathematics, an undue share of attention, after the erection of a kingdom of Poland under his administration, was paid in schools to the exact or empirical sciences; undue we call it, because on account of its excess, the moral and literary pursuits of the pupils were necessarily neglected. Mathematics, during this whole period, were taught by several eminent men; by John Sniadecki, who is at the same time considered as a model in respect to style and language; by Poezobut, Zaborowski, Czech, Rogalinski, and others. In the same departments the names of Twardowski, Polinski, and Konkowski, must be honourably mentioned. Count Sierakowski wrote a classical work on architecture; and the learned Polish Jew Stern is celebrated over all Europe as the inventor of arithmetical and agricultural machines. Count Chodkiewicz and Andrew Sniadecki are distinguished chemists. Natural philosophy, although less studied, had able professors in H. Osinski and Bystrzycki; natural history, more particularly botany and zoology, in Kluk and Jundzill. Medicine, until the middle of the last century, was in Poland exclusively in the hands of foreigners, especially Germans and French  since then several gifted Poles have devoted themselves to this science, although they have not yet formed a national school. Lafontaine, body physician of the last king, Dziarkowski, Perzyna, Malcz, and others, must be mentioned here. The university of Wilna was the most celebrated school for medical science.
Among the reflecting statesmen of Poland, in the second decennium of our century, there began to be a great deal of attention bestowed on national economy and its various branches; more especially on studies connected with agriculture, as being the science most applicable to the present wants of the country. Poland being the most extensive plain in Europe, and for the most part of a very rich and fertile soil, the Poles would seem destined by nature to be an agricultural people. We cannot but observe here, that from this very circumstance, the wretched state of the labouring classes is placed in a still more striking light. The interests of agricultural science have been promoted by different societies, and several able treatises on those subjects have been published; although it does not appear that any new theory or principles have been started. Of all the branches of moral science, political economy has met in Poland with the most disciples. Valuable statistical works on Poland in the Polish language have been written by Staszyc, honourably mentioned above; by Slawiarski, and others. Swiencki in his 'Geography of ancient Poland,' Surowiecki in his 'History of the Polish towns and peasantry,' give very valuable statistical notices; and the 'Journey to Constantinople and Troy' by count Raczynski, contains an exact statistical account of Podolia and the Ukraine.
The science of law must ever have been in a melancholy state in a country like Poland. Poland proper has always been governed by statutes and constitutions, sanctioned by the diet.
These were either founded on ancient usages, consuetudines, or occasioned by particular circumstances. The towns were governed according to the code of Magdeburg. In Lithuania the ancient Lithuanian statutes, collected in 1529, prevailed and still prevail, if not in collision with any intervening ukase. In the other provinces, the laws of the respective monarchies to which they are annexed, are in force. Thus the different portions of Poland are governed in accordance with seven different systems of law. Under the administration of the last king of Poland, which was so rich in improvements; a general code of laws was also planned, and projects were prepared by able statesmen and lawyers; but they were all rejected by the diet of 1777. Under the Russian administration, preparation was made from the very beginning for the introduction of a new code; but the first project of a criminal code presented by the council of state, was likewise rejected by the diet of 1820. A portion of the civil code was accepted in A.D. 1825; but the complete code, which was ready for publication in the year 1830, had not, so far as we are informed, been introduced before the outbreak of the revolution. The administration of justice in Poland is about as bad as in Russia; being nothing but one great system of bribery and corruption. Of the judges of the lower courts, two thirds are elected; one third of these, and all the officers of the higher tribunals, are appointed by the government. In former times the profession of a lawyer, as well as that of a physician, was considered in Poland as degrading and unworthy of a nobleman. These two professions were not indeed prohibited by law, like that of traders,—for a nobleman who retailed “by yards or by pints,” legally lost his rank,—but custom had made all those occupations which were the source of pecuniary profit, equally the objects of contempt. There was even a time, “when it was reckoned a matter of indifference for a nobleman to understand arithmetic.” In modern times the ideas on this subject have of course changed; the study of law is no longer despised, especially in its necessary connection with the administration of justice. Slotwinski in Cracow, Bantkie and Maciejowski in Warsaw, were esteemed as teachers of law. We shall hereafter have occasion to mention the valuable work of the latter on this subject. The Roman law, both civil and criminal, was studied in the universities, as well as the law of nature and nations; which latter, in the case of this unhappy country, has been for more than seventy years so cruelly violated.
It is a singular fact, that although, down to the year 1818 when the Russian government interfered to prevent it, foreign travel was one of the favourite means of education among the Polish nobility, their literature exhibits hardly any books of travels. A few were formerly written in Latin or French; among the latter we mention John Potocki's 'Travels for the purpose of discovering Slavic antiquities,' Hamb. 1795. In more modern times count Raczynski has published the 'Journal of his travels to Constantinople and the plain of Troy,' richly embellished with illustrations, mentioned above. A view of Great Britain was given in 1828 by Ljach Szyrma, under the title Anglia i Szkocya.
From the Polish Revolution in 1830 to the present time.
We have thus brought down the history of Polish literature to the year 1830; an epoch of glorious, although most melancholy moment in the history of Poland. If the literature of a country could ever be regarded completely in abstracto; if it was not in intimate connection with the political fate and position of its country; we would have commenced this period with the first combats of the Romantic and Classical schools, that is, about fifteen years earlier. But while these fifteen years may be considered in some measure as the time of the fermentation of that spirit, which broke out in 1830; this latter year—with its melancholy attempts on the part of Russia to crush all Polish nationality, by the annihilation of their higher seats of learning and the spoliation of all their libraries, as the principal means of cultivating it—forms only too distinctly an epoch, not only in Polish history in general, but specially in Polish literature.
The state of the country on the whole in the beginning of 1830 was not unprosperous. The cruel wrongs inflicted on the Poles since 1815 were all in express violation of a constitution, which met with the approbation of Kosciuszko and the best of the nation. A noble individual, or a high-spirited people, can more easily submit even to unjust laws, than to arbitrary despotism. Legally the Grand Duke had no right to keep a single Russian soldier in Poland; by the terms of the constitution they could be there only as foreign guests. Legally the press was free. Legally Poland could have defended herself by her charter against any arbitrary act of her sovereign or his viceroy. It would seem, however, that even the repeated infringements of the constitution, and the direct violation of the laws by the government, did not contribute so much to induce the Poles to insurrection, as the fierce and brutal behaviour of the Russian generalissimo, and of the Russian civil and military officers high and low, whose profligacy had long made them the objects of deep contempt. The annals of Warsaw indeed present, during the Russian administration, one of the most revolting pictures which history exhibits. And the idea, that it owes its darkest shades principally to the reckless despotism of one individual, serves only to make them appear still darker.
The war, which called into exercise all the mental faculties of the nation, put a stop of course to all literary activity; but even during the more quiet period which immediately succeeded it—the quietness of a cemetery—the dejected spirits of the nation, whose noblest sons an interval of two years had rendered prisoners, exiles, or corpses, are easily to be perceived in the results of their intellectual pursuits. A small volume, containing three poems by Niemcewiecz and Mickiewicz was printed in 1833 at Leipzig. It is the swan-like melody of the aged poet; whilst the younger celebrates the exploits of his valiant brethren. To the poems of the latter, (three volumes, Paris 1828.) a fourth volume was added, containing the riper productions of his manhood. The late vice president of Warsaw, Xavier Bronikowski, published at the same time Polnische Miscellen in the German language at Nuremberg. A number of Polish literati were gathered at Paris. A work, intended to contain about twelve volumes, with the title Souvenirs de la Pologne, historique, statistique, et literaire, was announced in that city; for the printing offices at home were of course closed against the expression of all patriotic feelings. The fifteen printing establishments at Warsaw issued in the year 1832, from March to December, only sixty-three works.
The universities of Warsaw and Wilna were broken up; and the rich libraries of these institutions were carried to St. Petersburgh. The emperor declared openly, that it should be his aim to annihilate all traces of Polish nationality, and to metamorphose it into a Russian people. Even the lower schools were in great part deprived of their funds, and changed to Russian government schools. After some years of utter privation as to all means of higher instruction, a new university for the Poles was founded at Kief; of course on a Russian model and in a Russian spirit. In a most consistent and energetic manner the language and the national peculiarities of the country were every where checked and persecuted; and attempts of every kind were made to replace them by Russian customs and the Russian language. The union of the Greek and Catholic churches was dissolved; and in that way thousands were compelled to join the Russian church. In the higher schools prizes were set forth for the best essays in the Russian language; and in 1833 a law was made, that after 1834 no Pole could hope for employment in the Russian service, without a complete knowledge of the Russian language. In the White Russian provinces, so called, that is in Lithuania, Podolia, and Volhynia,—countries which formerly had been under Russian dominion, and are still inhabited by a Lithuanian and Russian peasantry, while the nobility is Polish,—these severe and arbitrary measures were surprisingly successful in respect to the youth then in training; and the minister of the School department, Ouwarof, in his report of 1839, expressed his satisfaction in the strongest terms.
But Poland as a whole was far from giving satisfaction to the government. There was indeed a certain stoppage of mental life, which seemed to favour its views. Literary productions were few in proportion to the former productiveness. In the year 1837, not more than 118 books were published in the whole kingdom; and of these only 75 were Polish; the rest in Hebrew. The press and all other organs of public feeling were under the strictest control. Yet the very topics, which were chosen by the literati for their researches and commentaries, proved best of all that the love of their country was not extinguished. The history of Poland became more than ever a chosen study. Private libraries and archives were searched for materials; and detached parts of the past, and single branches of history, were made the subjects of a closer examination and research, than had ever before been devoted to such topics among this active and restless people. One of the most important works, issued immediately after the revolution, was Prof. Maciejowski's History of the Slavic Legislatures. It was well received by the numerous German and Slavic scholars, who devote themselves to similar pursuits; but they soon found that it did not fully satisfy the claims of the deeper criticism of our days. It has come finally to be considered rather as a preparatory work, which was shortly afterwards partially completed by another production of the same author: “Contributions to the History of Slavic events, literature, and legislation.”  A work by J. Hobe, “On the Slavic rights of inheritance,” appeared about the same time; also, a publication of the oldest Slavic documents relating to law by Prof. Kucharski.
As valuable monographs must be mentioned, the history of queen Barbara Radzivil, from sources hitherto unknown, by M. Balinski, who wrote also a history of Wilna; the biographies of the Hetmans, by Zegota Pauli; a history of Posen, by Lukaszewicz; of Lithuania, by Th. Narbutt: of Poland in the first half of the sixteenth century, by Maraczewski; historical and topographical descriptions, relating also to language and manners, by Przezdziecki and by Kraszewski. We may also notice here the History of the Latin Language in Poland, by Dr. Macherzynski; a book considered as a mine of erudition and useful knowledge. To it is annexed a list of all the different editions of the Classics published in Poland. We learn from it that Cicero's works have been edited there, either complete or in particular portions, not less than forty-five times; first as early as A.D. 1500, at Cracow. Horace also has appeared eight times, first in 1521; Ovid four times, first in 1529; Virgil six times, first in 1642.
The publication of early chronicles, for the purpose of rendering them more accessible to the public, was continued. That of Lemberg was edited by D. Zubrzycki in 1844; that of Cracow, by Macynski in 1845. Archaeological researches have continued to excite an interest. The dust of centuries has been shaken from many a valuable document; and there have been published in succession, A. Grabowski's Historical Antiquities of Poland, the Antiquities of Galicia by Zegota Pauli, and a work on Polish Archaeology by count Eustace T. Here belongs also the Collection of important historical Documents, edited in 1847; and a series of numismatic publications, by Lelewel, who wrote in exile, by Poplinski, by Ig. Zagorski and E. Rastawiecki, and above all by count E. Raczynski. The patriotic exertions of this nobleman, who has caused many a valuable old manuscript to be printed; and who has never seemed to be afraid of any sacrifice, when the promotion of science and literature is concerned; deserve the highest praise, and ought to serve as a model to others of noble name.
Church history also, a department hitherto entirely neglected, in Poland, has begun to receive some small degree of attention in the present period. Joseph Lukascewicz wrote a history of the Bohemian Congregations in Poland, in 1835; and in 1846 a history of the Helvetian (Calvinistic) Confession in Lithuania. Count Valerian Krasinski, who found a home in England, has likewise published a history of the Reformation in Poland, in the English language.
The history of recent times cannot be expected to be written in Poland; where the pen is chained, even if the mind keeps itself unfettered. The republic of Cracow, until about ten years ago, enjoyed a certain degree of liberty. It could have become the asylum of Polish literature and science; but it became only too soon the battlefield of political passions and combats. Some of her scholars however kept themselves entirely aloof from the strife. Macherzinski's and Muczkowski's learned works, already mentioned above; a history of Polish Literature by Wisznewski; and a new Polish Dictionary, by Trajanski; were the immediate results.
New works of travels have been written by Kraszewski and Holawinski; the former describing the South of Russia, and the latter his pilgrimage to the Holy Land; both were published in 1845. A book of travels on Siberia, a land so seldom chosen for a tour of pleasure, had preceded them.
Modern history, we have said, cannot be expected to be written in Poland. This remark leads us at once to the literature of Polish Emigrants, as it is generally called, which has sprung up in Paris. Since the revolution of 1830, this capital has been the principal seat of Polish literary activity. One of the first works of importance published there was Maurice Mochnacki's History of the Polish insurrection; which excited among his own countrymen a new and passionate feud. Mochnacki's name had been favourably known as the author of a work on the Polish literature of the nineteenth century; and as the able editor of several periodicals. His political misfortunes, however, and especially the circumstance that he had been compelled to appear alternately as the tool of the grand duke Constantine, and as the victim of his hatred, made him a subject of distrust to his countrymen, although he had fought with bravery in the revolution. He died in France when not yet thirty years old. His scattered writings were published in 1836 by A. Jelowicki, one of the patriotic family of that name; who had been deeply implicated in the revolution, and lived as fugitives in Paris. A printing office, which they have founded there, serves for the publication of Polish works.
Another work on the recent events was written by Wratnowski, who published a history of the insurrection in Volhynia, Paris. 1837. An animated picture of the time, which appeared three years ago under the title, “Representation of the national spirit in Poland.” by Ojczyczniak, exhibits strong passions in the author; a glowing and certainly not unnatural hatred against the great powers; but a still more violent one against his democratic countrymen, to whom he imputes the perdition of the good cause. A history of the Polish insurrection, published by S.B. Gnorowski in the English language. Lond. 1839, is written in the same violent and prejudiced spirit.
The Slavic press in Paris has been especially productive in periodicals; all of them replete with passion and hatred against their oppressors; some of them conducted not without talent. The Revue Slave, theMlada Polska, (young Poland), the Cronika, Emigracyi Polskiej (Polish Emigrant's Chronicle), and the Polish Vademecum edited by N.U. Hoffmann, may be named here. From the latter we learn, that, from 1831 to 1837 among the Polish emigrants in France, nine died in duels and fourteen by suicide.
Joachim Lelewel, whose literary activity belongs rather to the preceding period, while that now under consideration was partly the result of his political career, lives still at Brussels, where he has recently published (1849) a work on the civil rights of the Polish peasantry. He attempts to demonstrate, that the oppression and the debased condition of this class came upon them along with the introduction of Christianity; and represents the Romish clergy, whose advantage it was to keep up this state of things, as the principal enemies of the peasantry. Lelewel's writings have wielded a more decided influence in Poland than those of any other modern author. The tendency of all his historical investigations, even when apparently without any such design, has been since the very beginning of the Russian dominion to undermine their power; and the great ability with which he contrived to veil hints, to disguise remarks, and to follow out under a harmless mask a certain and fixed purpose, had earned him twenty or thirty years ago the name of the “Jesuit of history.”
It remains now to give a general survey of the progress of Polish belles-lettres during the last twenty years; and also of those mixed publications which excite a general interest. Here we must not omit to mention Witwicki's the “Evening Hours of a Pilgrim,”  a book which, in a sprightly style and a peculiarly interesting way, gives a good deal of information as to the literary and mental condition of Poland, and the much-lauded revival of letters during the reign of Stanislaus Poniatowski.
But perhaps the most interesting production of this period is Adam Mickiewicz's course of Lectures on Slavic literature and the condition of the Slavic nations, delivered in French at Paris, where he had found employment as a professor in the College de France. The deep enthusiasm which pervades these lectures, the mental excitement by which they would seem to have been dictated from beginning to end, forbid us to consider them in the ordinary light of a mere course of instruction on the subject to which they relate. But there is no other work more full of ideas, or richer in thought; it is the reasoning of a poet, and a poet's way of viewing the world. The one great principle of these lectures again is Panslavism,—Panslavism spiritualized and idealized; and therefore in a shape which can inspire little fear to others in respect to their own nationality, although it can never excite their sympathies. Mickiewicz still idolizes Napoleon, and prophesies a revolution of the world; a new revolution, a torch to illumine the world; he himself is “a spark, fallen from that torch;" his mission is to prophesy to the world the coming events “as a living witness of the new revelation,” Although these prophecies are not strictly political, we can see plainly, that in the expectation of the prophet this new revolution will consist in “the union of the force of Slavic genius, with the knowledge of the West” (France); by which of course the intermediate Teutonic principle must be crushed.
In purely poetical creations, this great poet shows his full power. In a beautiful tale, Pan Tadeusz, “Sir Thaddeus,” (Paris 1834,) which, though in verse, may be considered as a novel, he very graphically described the civil and domestic life existing in Lithuania immediately before the war of 1812; and gave also further evidence of his genius by several smaller poems. He is, however, not very productive; a striking peculiarity of Slavic poets.
The principal poets of the modern romantic school in Poland, of which Mickiewicz must be considered the founder, are the following:
A.E. Odyniec and Julian Korssak, both chiefly known by happy translations from the English; but also not without creative power of their own. Anton Malczeski is the author of a poetical tale, Maria, perhaps the most popular production of the Polish literature. It is a touching family legend, traditional in the noble house of Potocki in Volhynia; but transposed by Malczeski to the Ukraine, and connected in that way with graphic descriptions of this latter country. Malczeski lived a life of wild adventures; and died young, not yet 34 years old, in 1826.
The Ukraine appears to be, on the whole, one of the favourite theatres for the romantic school of Polish poets. Zaleski, Gosczynski, Grabowski, all of them poets of more than ordinary talents, give us pictures of this country, alternately sweet and rough, wild and romantic. There must necessarily be some mixture of attractive and repulsive elements here even for native poets; for the common people are Russians, and hate the Polish nobility as their oppressors. Nevertheless Thomas Padura, another of the young Polish school, chose even the dialect of the Ruthenian peasantry for his songs. Another Polish poet, who has selected the Ukraine for the theatre of most of his tales, is Michael Czaykowski; he too is considered as standing at the head of the novel writers of his country. His legends of the Kozaks, his tales,Wernyhora, Kirdzali, the Hetman of the Ukraine, etc. manifest a more than common talent.
To the poetical literature of the Polish emigrants belong further the works of A. Gorecki, Garczinski, J. Slawacki, but, above all, of count Ignatius Krasinski; not the same individual who wrote a history of the Reformation in Poland in the English language. He is by many of his countrymen considered as their greatest living poet. Most of his productions are enveloped in a certain mystical atmosphere, which renders a commentary necessary in order to understand them. Two dramatic poems, one called, in contrast to Dante, “The Undivine Comedy;” the other, “Irydion,” an illustration of Schiller's stern apothegm, that “the history of the world is the judgment of the world;"  are regarded as his most powerful productions.
Meanwhile this department of literature, in Poland itself, has taken, in some of its branches, the same strictly national direction which characterizes the Russian and Bohemian tendencies of modern times. Many of the publications, which are reckoned under belles-lettres, are nothing better than drawing-room productions, so called, meant to satisfy the immediate wants of the reading world. Count Skarbek, J. Krascewski, F. Barnatowicz (ob. 1838), K. Korwell, Szabranski, and others, are popular novel writers. Among the poets we mention the same Szabranski, Nowasielski, Zialinski, Alex. Groza, Burski, and, above all, Lucian Siemienski and A. Bielowski. The latter, along with Kamienski, is the translator of Schiller. Count Vinzent Kicinski translated Victor Hugo; and Holawinski, Shakspeare. As successful dramatic writers are named, the counts Fredro, Korzeniowski, St. Jaozowski, etc.
Of an entirely national character are all the productions of Wladislas Woicicki, who devoted his life principally to the study of the antiquities of his country and its language. In 1838 he published an interesting collection of old Polish proverbs; several historical tales, scattered in Annuals; a greater work, entitled “Domestic Sketches:” and another on Polish Woman; all of them illustrations of Polish life and manners at certain times, and resting on an historical foundation. A rich collection of traditions and popular legends was published by the same scholar in 1839. This important national feature has at last excited some attention among the Polish scholars. In 1838 a collection of the songs of the people in the country adjacent to the Bug was published. Another appeared in the same year, prepared by the poets Siemienski and Bielowski (Prague 1838), with the title Dumki, i.e. Elegies, being Polish translations of Malo-Russian popular songs. The great and simple beauty of this poetry of the Kozaks surprised the literary world. But Woicicki and Zegota Pauli were the first who gave their attention to the really Polish Lekhian popular songs, i.e. songs of the peasantry in Masavia and Podlachia, the grand duchy of Posen, the territory of Cracow, etc. of which, until then, the existence was hardly known.
It would almost seem as if the Russian government, in placing all the evidences of the mental activity of its Polish subjects under its strictest guardianship, was ready to supply also the supposed want of popular poetry. There was recently published at Warsaw a collection of ballads, sixty-nine in number, devoted to the praise of all the sovereigns of Russia, from Rurik to Alexander. These ballads are in the popular tone, and were sold cheap. What degree of popularity they may have obtained, we are unable to say.
[Footnote 1: On the origin of these tribes, which seem to have been kindred nations with the ancient Livonians, Esthonians, and Borussians, many hypotheses have been started, but the truth has not yet been sufficiently ascertained. It seems evident to us, that they are not of Slavic origin; although this has been maintained by many historians, who were misled by local circumstances. Even Schaffarik in his Antiquities regards them as originally a Slavic race. See Parrot's Versuch einer Entwickelung der Sprache, Abstammung, etc. der Liven, Letten, etc. The Foreign Quarterly Review contains an interesting essay on Lettish popular poetry, Vol. VIII. p. 61.]
[Footnote 2: Kopitar, in his review of Schaffarik's Geschichte, declares this etymological derivation to be a mistake; without however giving any other explanation of the name Lekh. Wiener Jahrbuecher, Vol. XXXVII. 1827. According to Schaffarik in his Slav. Antiquities, Lekh, like Czekh, means a leader, a high officer.]
[Footnote 3: See pp. 36, 43.]
[Footnote 4: See Bentkowski's Hist. literatury Polsk. Warsaw 1814.]
[Footnote 5: The statistical information respecting the Russian-Polish provinces is very imperfect, and contains the most striking contradictions. Benken gives the number of inhabitants at four millions; Wichmann in 1813, at 6,380,000; Arsenjef at seven millions. According to Broemsen's Russland und das ruessische Reich, Berl. 1819, there are not more than 850,000 Poles among them, nearly all noblemen; the lower classes are Russniaks and Lithuanians. In our statement of the number of Poles in these provinces, we have followed Schaffarik.]
[Footnote 6: See above, p. 51; also, pp. 59, 60, n. 17.]
[Footnote 7: These statements seem to disagree with those of Hassel, which rest on the authority of the returns of 1820. He states that Austrian Poland has 4,226,969 inhabitants; Prussian Poland, 2,584,124. The population of the former consists however of a large proportion of Russniaks, and more especially of Jews; the latter has a similar proportion of German inhabitants.]
[Footnote 8: Other private estimates make them not more than seven millions.]
[Footnote 9: We doubt whether any but Slavic organs would be able to pronounce the name of the place, to which the college of Zamose was removed. It is written Szczebrzeszyn.]
[Footnote 10: Zaluski and Minasovrez wrote verses with counted not measured syllables, without rhyme; Przybylski's and Staszye's translations of Homer are in hexameters. That rhyme is not natural to the Polish language, is evident from the ancient popular poetry of the other Slavic nations; which are all without rhyme. The author of the work Volkslieder der Polen, assumes the absence of rhyme in some of them as a proof of their antiquity. Of Slavic popular songs only those of the Malo-Russians or Ruthenians are rhymed; and none of these lay claim to great antiquity.]
[Footnote 11: This song, called Boga Rodzica, can be named a war-song, only because the Poles used to sing it when advancing to battle. It is rather a prayer to the Virgin, ending with a sixfold Amen. In a poetical respect it has no value. It is printed in Bowring's Specimens of the Polish Poets, p. 12; together with the music, copied from a manuscript which is said to be from the twelfth century. No translation is added. It is remarkable that this hymn is still sung, or at least was so in the year 1812, in the churches of the places where St. Adalbert lived and died, viz. at Kola and Gnesen. Niemcewicz, who published it, states that he himself heard it at that time at the latter place.]
[Footnote 12: See Schaffarik's Geschichte der Slav. Sprache, p. 421.]
[Footnote 13: A History of the University of Cracow was recently published by Prof. Muczkowski, under the modest title: Mieszkania i postepowanie, etc. i.e. 'On the dwellings and the conduct of the Students of the University of Cracow in former centuries,' Cracow 1842. Vol. I. The work was planned for ten volumes.]
[Footnote 14: Aelteste Denkmaeler der Polnischen Sprache, Wien 1838.]
[Footnote 15: Dobrovsky's Slovanka, Vol. II. p. 237.]
[Footnote 16: His Chronicon Polonorum was reprinted at Warsaw in 1824; together with Vincent Kadlubeck's Res gestae principum ac regum Poloniae.]
[Footnote 17: Among these sects were the Unitarians, called also Anti-trinitarians, modern Arians, and afterwards Socinians. They called themselves Polish Brethren. Their principal school and printing office was at Racow; several of their teachers were distinguished for learning, their communities were wealthy and flourishing, and not a few of the highest families of Poland belonged to them. The doctrines of the two exiled Italians, Lelio and Fausto Socini, uncle and nephew, found among them only a conditional approbation; most of them were unwilling to receive Fausto, who developed his views more openly than his uncle, into their community. Internal dissensions were the result, and the establishment of new and smaller congregations. A disturbance among the Students at Racow in 1638, gave to the Catholics and to the other Protestants a welcome pretext for persecuting them; in 1658 their denomination was ultimately suppressed, and the choice left to them between the adoption of the Roman Catholic religion or exile within three years. A part of them emigrated to Germany, where they were soon merged in other Protestant denominations; others went to Transylvania, where the Unitarians, about fifty thousand in number, belonged and still belong to the denominations acknowledged by the state, and enjoy all civil rights. They have two high schools, at Klausenburg and at Thoarda; but are far from being distinguished for learning. See Meusel's Staatengeschicte, p. 555. Lubienieci Historia Reformationis Polanicae, etc. etc.]
[Footnote 18: An enumeration of the Polish versions of the Bible may be acceptable to the reader. The New Testament was first translated by the Lutheran Seklucyan, who was a Greek scholar, and printed at Koenigsberg 1551, three times reprinted before 1555. Afterwards for Catholics by Leonard, from the Vulgate, reviewed by Leopolita, Cracow 1556. Of the Old Testament, the Psalter alone was several times translated and repeatedly printed. The whole Bible was first translated for the Catholics by Leonard, from the Vulgate, and reviewed by Leopolita, Cracow 1561, reprinted in 1575 and 1577. Two years later by an anonymous translator from the original languages, for Calvinists, Brzesc 1563. Again from the original languages by Budny, an Unitarian clergyman, 1570, reprinted in 1572. From the Vulgate by the Jesuit Wuiek, Cracow 1599, reprinted at Breslau in 1740 in 8vo, and 1771 in 4to, with the Latin text. From the original languages by Paliurus, Wengiersciua, and Micolaievius, for Calvimsts, Dantzic 1632, the first Bible in 8vo, all the former being in fol. or 4to; reprinted at Amsterdam 1660, at Halle 1726, at Koenigsberg 1738, 1779, and at Berlin 1810, by the Bibie Society. See Ringeltaube's Nachricht von den polnischen Bibeln, Danz. 1744. Bentkowski's Hist, liter. Pol. Vol. II. p. 494. Slovanka Vol. I. p. 141. Vol. II. p. 228. Schaffarik's Geschichte der Slav. Spr. p. 424.]
[Footnote 19: The Polish senate was not a body, the members of which were elected for a certain term; as those not acquainted with the Polish constitution might be disposed to believe. It was composed of all the archbishops and bishops, the waiwodes and castellans, i.e. the titled nobility, and the principal ministers of the king. It was thus in some measure the organ of the government and of the clergy, in opposition to the national representatives or the mass of the nobility. This body was not established until towards the close of the fifteenth century. Before 1466-70, every nobleman who chose, made his personal appearance in the senate at the summons of the king; but Casimir, the son of Jagello, in his frequent want of money and men, repeated these summons so often, that the nobility found personal appearance inconvenient, and selected in their provincial conventions nuntii, to represent the nation, or rather the nobility; without however giving up the right of personal attendance. The nuntii, whose number was not fixed, were bound to appear, had the right to grant or to refuse duties, and to act as the advisers of the king. In 1505 the law was passed, that without their consent the constitution could not be changed. At the diet in A.D. 1652 it occurred for the first time, that a single nuntius opposed and annulled by his liberum veto the united resolutions of the whole convention. On this example a regular right was very soon founded and acknowledged. Deputies of cities were occasionally invited to the diet, but only in extraordinary cases.]
[Footnote 20: Preface to Vuk's Servian Grammar, p. xxiii.]
[Footnote 21: See Schaffarik, Geschichte, p. 414, Bautkie's Geschichte der Krakauer Buchdruckereyen.]
[Footnote 22: It was afterwards reinstated in the form of a large gymnasium by one of chancellor Zamoyski's descendants, and removed to Szczebrzeszyn. See Letter on Poland, Edinb. 1823, p. 95.]
[Footnote 23: See Schaffarik, Geschichte, p. 426.]
[Footnote 24: Whether Copernicus is to be called a Pole or a German has been and is still a matter of dispute, and has been managed on the side of the Poles with the utmost bitterness and passion. The Poles have recently given expression to their claim upon him by erecting to him a monument at Cracow, and celebrating the third centennial anniversary of the completion of his system of the world, which took place in A.D. 1530. Let the question respecting Copernicus be decided as it may, Poland may doubtless lay claim to many other eminent natural philosophers as her sons; e.g. Vitellio-Ciolek, who was the first in Europe to investigate the theory of light, in the beginning of the thirteenth century; Brudzewski, the teacher of Copernicus; Martinus of Olkusz, the proper author of the new or Gregorian calendar, which was introduced sixty-four years after him, etc.]
[Footnote 25: See Macherzynski's Geschichte der Luteinischen Sprache in Polen, Cracow 1833. Dr. Connor in his History of Poland, 1698, speaking of the following period, says, that even the common people in Poland spoke Latin, and that his servant used to speak with him in that language. See Letters on Poland, Edinb. 1823 p 108.]
[Footnote 26: De originibus et rebus gestis Polonorum, lib. XXX.]
[Footnote 27: Psalterz Dawidow s modlitwami, 1555.]
[Footnote 28: The Polish works of this poet, who is still considered as the chief ornament of the Polish Parnassus, were first collected in four volumes, Cracow 1584-90. After going through several editions, they have recently been printed at Breslau, 1894, in a stereotype edition. Bowring gives among his 'Specimens' some of the sweetest pieces of Kochanowski.]
[Footnote 29: The oldest edition extant of his Polish pastorals, was printed at Zamosc, 1614, under the title Sielanki. They were last printed, together with other eclogues, in the collection of Mostowski,Sielanki Polskie, Warsaw 1805. There are some specimens of his poetry in Bowring's work.]
[Footnote 30: This latter was honoured by his countrymen with the title of the Sarmatian Ovid; but his pieces, according to Bowring, are not only licentious, but also vulgar. See Specimen of the Polish Poets, p. 29.]
[Footnote 31: The same individual has been mentioned as a Bohemian writer; see above, p. 193.]
[Footnote 32, 33, 34: See above, p. 237, 238, n. 18.]
[Footnote 35: This work was first printed at Cracow in 1597, under the title Kronika Polska. The first part of it was republished at Warsaw in 1832, forming the sixth volume of the great collection of ancient Polish authors published by the bookseller Galezowski.]
[Footnote 36: For more complete information respecting the writers of this period, see Bentkowaki's Hist. lit. Pol Vol. I. Schaffarik's Gechichte, etc.]
[Footnote 37: We mean the direct male descendants of Jagello; for descendants by the female and collateral lines occupied the throne after Stephen Bathory. Poland had never been by law an hereditary kingdom; but in most cases one of the sons or brothers of the last king was elected.]
[Footnote 38: These pacta conventa, to which numerous articles were afterwards added, not only limiled the king in his quality as king, but even also as a private man, in a degree to which no freeman would willingly submit. For example, he was not allowed to marry except with the consent of the diet; and as each single nuntius had the right to oppose and render void the resolutions of the united estates by hisliberum veto, the king could not marry whenever it occurred to any one of them to withhold his consent. In 1669 it was resolved, that no king should be allowed to abdicate.]
[Footnote 39: Korona Polska, Lemberg 1728-1743.]
[Footnote 40: In 1764; it was the first periodical ever published in Poland.]
[Footnote 41: See page 227 above.]
[Footnote 42: The Polish serfs were indeed never regular slaves; but merely glebae adscripti, i.e. they could not be sold separately as mere things, but only with the soil they cultivated, which they had no right to leave. They were not reduced even to this state before the fifteenth or sixteenth century; for one of the statutes of Casimir the Great allows them the privilege of selling their property and leaving whenever they were ill treated. Of the present state of the Polish peasantry, the author of “Poland under the dominion of Russia,” (Bost. 1834,) says: “The Polish peasant might perhaps be about as free as my dog was in Warsaw; for I certainly should not have prevented the animal from learning, had he been so inclined, some tricks by which he could earn the reward of an extra bone. The freedom of the wretched Polish serfs is much the same as the freedom of their cattle; for they are brought up with as little of human cultivation,” etc. p. 165. And again: “The Polish serf is in every part of the country extremely poor, and of all the living creatures I have met with in this world, or seen described in books of natural history, he is the most wretched.” p. 176.]
[Footnote 43: Lemberg indeed can hardly be called a Polish university. All its professors are Germans, and the lectures are delivered in Latin or German. It has only three faculties, viz. the philosophical, theological, and juridical. For medicine it has only a preparatory school, the course being finished at Vienna. Among the 65 medical students of 1832, there were 41 Jews. The university had in that year, in all, 1291 students. For the theological and juridical courses, which, according to law, comprise each four years, a previous preparation of two years spent in philosophical studies is required by the government. Thus the regular course of an Austrian student lasts six years. The same measures were taken to Germanize Cracow during the Austrian administration; but when in 1815 Cracow became a free city, it parted with all its German professors, and became again a genuine Polish university.]
[Footnote 44: From the account given of the state of the Polish common people in note 42 above, we must conclude that this number is very small. Mr. Ljach Szyrma, the author of Letters on Poland, (Edinb. 1823,) says: “The lower classes, unfortunately, do not enjoy the advantage of being proportionally benefited by the learning requisite to their social condition. The parish schools are not sufficient to improve them in this respect; and the village schools, upon which their hopes chiefly rest, are not numerous.”]
[Footnote 45: Witwicki in Wieczory pielgrzyma, Paris 1837.]
[Footnote 46: P. 254.]
[Footnote 47: His works, which have never been collected, are enumerated in Bentkowski's History of Polish literature. Konarski was the first who ventured publicly to assail the liberum veto.]
[Footnote 48: Nancy 1733.]
[Footnote 49: This celebrated library was transferred to St. Petersburg at the dismemberment of Poland, and had not yet been restored.]
[Footnote 50: The Czartoryskis may justly be called the Polish Medici, from the liberal patronage which the accomplished members of this family have ever given to talent and literary merit. Their celebrated seat, Pulawi, the subject of many songs, and also of an episode in Delille's Jardins, was destroyed by the Russians in the late war, and its literary treasures are said to have been carried to St. Petersburg.]
[Footnote 51: The title of the former work is O wymowie i stylu, Warsaw 1815-16. Another work is Pochwaly, mowy i rozprowy, i.e. Eulogies, Speeches, and Essays, among which are nine on Polish literature, Warsaw 1816. Stanislaus Potocki was also the principal mover in the publication of the splendid work Monumenta regum Poloniae Cracoviensia, Warsaw 1822. Stanislaus Kostka P. must not be confounded with Stanislaus Felix P. his cousin, one of the most obstinate advocates of the ancient constitution and its corruptions, who sold his country to Russia.]
[Footnote 52: His complete works are to be found in the great collection of count Mostowski, Warsaw 1804-5, 12 volumes. They appeared in 1824 at Breslau in a stereotype edition, in six volumes. Poetical works, Warsaw 1778.]
[Footnote 53: Lelewel is the author of quite a number of historical productions of importance; and some others he published or translated. A catalogue of his works cannot be expected here. The most celebrated are his volume on the primitive Lithuanians (Wilna 1808); on the condition of Science and Arts in Poland before the invention of printing; on the Geography of the Ancients; on the Commerce of the Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Romans; on the history of the ancient Indians; on the discoveries of the Carthaginians and Greeks (Warsaw 1829), etc. Also a Polish Bibliography (Warsaw 1823-1826); Monuments of the language and constitution of Poland, Warsaw 1824, etc.]
[Footnote 54: See the preceding note.]
[Footnote 55: O Slawianach i ich pobratymcach, Warsaw 1816.]
[Footnote 56: Bentkowski's Historya literatury Polsk. Warsaw 1814, contains a catalogue of all works published on Polish literature, to 1814; sec Vol. I p. 1-73.]
[Footnote 57: Krasicki's complete works were published by Dmochowski, Warsaw 1803-4. A stereotype edition appeared at Breslau in 1824.]
[Footnote 58: P. 221 Niemcewicz'a works have not yet been collected. Of his Spiewy historyene, or 'Historical Songs,' Warsaw 1819, Bowring gives some specimens. These songs were set to music by distinguished Polish composers, especially ladies; and, on account of their deep patriotic interest, have reached a higher degree of popularity than any other Polish work. They were written at the instigation of the Warsaw Society of Friends of Science. Besides his two historical works, Dzicie panowania Zygmunta III, or Reign of Sigismund III, Warsaw 1819, and Zbior pamietnikow, etc. a collection of imprinted documents, Warsaw 1822; and his large historical novel Jan z Teczyna, Warsaw 1825; Niemcewicz published Leyba i Szora, or Letters of Polish Jews, Warsaw 1821, presenting an illustration of their situation. His most recent production, an elegiac poem, was published at Leipzig 1833. See below, p. 286.]
[Footnote 59: The fourth volume appeared at Paris; where also his earlier poetry was reprinted in 1828 under the title Poezye Adama Mickiewicza.]
[Footnote 60: Author of the work Die Philosophie in ihrem Verhaltnisse zum Leben ganzer Volker, Erlangen 1822.]
[Footnote 61: The first wrote Grundlage der universellen Philosophie, Karlsruh 1837; the second, Prolegomena zur Historiosophie, Berlin 1838.]
[Footnote 62: See Dr. Connor's History of Poland, 1698. Even as late as the close of the seventeenth century, the Poles were barbarians enough to look upon the profession of a physician with contempt. They had however in earlier times some very celebrated physicians, as Martin of Olkusc, Felix of Lowicz, and Struthius, who was called to Spain to save the life of Philip II, and even to the Turkish sultan Suliman II.]
[Footnote 63: Page 278.]
[Footnote 64: This code is frequently called the code of Leo Sapieha, the sub-chancellor of Lithuania, who in A.D. 1588 translated it from the White Russian into the Polish language.]
[Footnote 65: See Revue Encyclopedique, Oct. 1827, p. 219.]
[Footnote 66: See Letters on Poland, p. 103.]
[Footnote 67: Breslau 1821. The same author published John Sobieski's Letters, a work read throughout all Europe in its French translation by count Plater and Salvandy. A whole series of Memoirs, among which are some of great importance for Polish history, for instance those of Passek, of Wybicki, of Kolontaj, etc. owe their publication to the generous liberality of this true nobleman.]
[Footnote 68: We do not know exactly from what point the Polish literary historians after Bentkowski date the period of the present literature; as we have not been able to get a view of Wiszniewski'sHistorya literatury Polskiej, Cracow 1840. We are even not certain, whether the works on literary history, which J.B. Rakowiecki and Prof. Aloys Osinski were said to be preparing about the same time, have ever appeared.]
[Footnote 69: Historya prawodawstw Slowanskich, Warsaw 1832-1835.]
[Footnote 70: Pamietniki o djezach, pismiennictwie i prawodawstwie Slowian, Warsaw 1838. A German translation appeared in 1842, at St. Petersburg: Denkwuerdigkeiten ueber die Begebnisse, das Schriftwesen, und die Gesetzgebung der Slaven.—The same author published more recently a work on the ancient history of Poland and Lithuania: Pierwotne dzieje Polski i Litwy, etc. Warsaw 1846.]
[Footnote 71: Najdawniejsze pomniki praw Slowianskich, Warsaw 1838.]
[Footnote 72: Muczkowski's valuable History of the University of Cracow has been mentioned above, p. 232.]
[Footnote 73: Starozytnosci historyczne Polskie, Cracow 1840.]
[Footnote 74: Starozytnosci Gallicyiskie, Cracow 1841.]
[Footnote 75: Rzut okana zrodta Archaeologii Krajowej, Wilna 1842.]
[Footnote 76: Published at the same time in French: Meduilles de Pologne etc., Posen 1838; a splendid work.]
[Footnote 77: Kodex diplomatyczny Polski, Warsaw 1847.]
[Footnote 78: This is the appellation of the Lutherans in Poland.]
[Footnote 79: Historical Sketch of the rise, progress, and decline of the Reformation in Poland, and of the influence which the Scriptural doctrines have exercised on that country in literary, moral, and political respects. By Count Valerian Krasinski. Vol. I. Lond. 1838.]
[Footnote 80: Wiadamosci o Syberyi przcz J.K. 1838.]
[Footnote 81: O Literaturze Polskiey w wieku dziewietnastym, Warsaw 1830; published a few days before the outbreak of the Revolution.]
[Footnote 82: Wizerunki Duszy narodowej, Paris 1847.]
[Footnote 83: Wieczory pielgrzyma, Paris 1837.]
[Footnote 84: This work appeared at the same time in German, accompanied with a preface by the author, written expressly for the German edition. The German title is Vorlesungen ueber Slavische Literatur und Zustaende in den Jahren 1840-1844. 4 vols. Leipzig 1843-44.]
[Footnote 85: Marya, first published at Warsaw 1825; after wards in several different editions, among which may be mentioned here one prepared by Bielowski, Lemb. 1838; and one by Brockhaus and Avenarius, Leipz. and Paris 1844. A beautiful German translation appeared in the same year at Leipzig: Maria, aus dem Polnischen des A. Malczeski von K.R. Vogel.]
[Footnote 86: Powiesci Kosackie, Par. 1837. A German translation by Minsberg, Glogau 1838.]
[Footnote 87: Paris 1838; a German translation, Leipz. 1841.]
[Footnote 88: The two latter appeared at Paris in 1838 and 1841, and were translated into French and German.]
[Footnote 89: See above, p. 290.]
[Footnote 90: “Die Weltgeschichte ist das Weltgericht.”]
[Footnote 91: Nieboska Komedya, Paris 1835; ed. 2, 1837; Germ. Die ungoettliche Komoedie, aus dem Polnischen von K. Batornicki, Leipz. 1841.—Irydion, Par. 1836. This latter has been twice translated into German, Leipz. 1839, and Berlin 1846.]
[Footnote 92: Starozytney wiessci z XI go XVI go i XVII go wieko. The author had published a similar work before. Polish proverbs have also been collected by Knapski and Rysinski.]
[Footnote 93: Zarysy domowe, Warsaw 1841; and Niewasty Polskie, Wars. 1844.]
[Footnote 94: Klechdy, Starozytnye powviesci i podania ludu Polskigo i Rusi, Warsaw 1837.]
[Footnote 95: Piesni ludu bielachrobatow, Mazurow i Rusiz nad Buga, Lemb 1838.]
[Footnote 96: Duma, Dumka, means thought, and is the name of the elegaic, mostly historical, ballads of the Malo-Russian people.]
[Footnote 97: See more on this subject in Part IV.]
[Footnote 98: The title is Spiewy historyczne Cesarstwa Rossyiskiego, i.e. Historical songs of the Russian emperors.]
[Footnote 99: The English reader will find further information on Polish literature in Bowring's Introduction to his Polish Anthology, Lond. 1827; in Ljach Szyrma's Letters on Poland, published in London; and in an article on Polish Literature in the Foreign Quarterly Review, Vol. XXV. No. 49. These are the only sources in the English language with which we are acquainted.
In grammatical and lexical works the Polish language is very rich; but the interest which the English have recently shown for the fate of the Poles seems not to extend to their language. The following are the principal works.
GRAMMARS: in German, Krumholz Polnische Grammatik, Breslau 1797, 6th edit. Auszug aus Kopczynski's Grammatik, von Polsfuss, Breslau 1794, Mrongovius Poln. Sprachlehre, Koenigsb 1794, and in several altered editions, under different titles; last edition Danzig 1836. Szumski's Poln. Gramm. Posen 1830. Vater's Grammatik der Poln. Sprache, Halle 1807. Bantkie Poln. Grammatik attached to his Dictionary, Breslau 1808-1824. Szrzeniawa Wortforschungslehre der polnischen Sprache, Lemberg and Lemgo 1842-43. Poplinski Polnische Grammatik, Lissa 1836; last edition 1840. Stostakowskiego Polska Gramm. Trzemeszne 1846. Schieweck Grammatik der. Polnischen Sprache, Fraustadt and Neustadt 1847. In French, Kopczynski Essai d'une grammaire Polonaise, Wars. 1807. Trambczynski Grammatique raisonnee de la langue Polonaise, new edit. Warsaw 1793.
DICTIONARIES, in German and French. The most useful are, Mrongovius Handwoerterbuch der Poln. Sprachte, latest edit. Danz. 1823. Troc Franz-poln.-deutsches Woerterbuch in several editions from 1742 to 1821. J.V. Bantkie Taschenwoerterbuch der Poln. Sprache, (German and French,) Breslau and Wars. in several editions from 1805 to 1819. Slownik Francusko-Polski, Dictionaire Polonais Francais, Berlin and Leipzig 1839-45. Dict. Polonais-Francais, 2 vols. 18mo. Paris 1844. J.A.E. Schmidt, Nouveau Dictionaire portatif Francais et Polonais, Zerbst 1817. Polnisch-Deutsches Taschenwoerterbuch, von Jordan, Leipzig 1845.—Standard works for the language are the etymological dictionaries: G.S. Bantkie Slownik dokladny iez. pol. i. niem. Breslau 1806, and Linde'sSlownik iez. pol. Wars. 1807-14. For other philological works, see Schaflarik's Geschichte der Slav. Spr. p 410.]
* * * * *