Historical View of the Languages and Literature of the Slavic - Nations
by Therese Albertine Louise von Jacob Robinson
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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.[64] 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.[65] 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[66]." 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.[67] 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.[68] 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.[69] 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." [70] 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.[71]

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.[72] 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,[73] the Antiquities of Galicia by Zegota Pauli,[74] and a work on Polish Archaeology by count Eustace T.[75] Here belongs also the Collection of important historical Documents, edited in 1847;[76] 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.[77] 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,[78] 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.[79]

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.[80]

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;[81] 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,[82] 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, the Mlada 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," [83] 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.[84] 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,[85] 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[86], his tales, Wernyhora[87], Kirdzali, the Hetman of the Ukraine[88], 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[89]. 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;" [90] are regarded as his most powerful productions[91].

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[92]; several historical tales, scattered in Annuals; a greater work, entitled "Domestic Sketches:" and another on Polish Woman;[93] 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.[94] 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.[95] Another appeared in the same year, prepared by the poets Siemienski and Bielowski (Prague 1838), with the title Dumki, i.e. Elegies,[96] 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.[97]

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.[98] What degree of popularity they may have obtained, we are unable to say.[99]


[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 his liberum 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's Historya 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's Slownik iez. pol. Wars. 1807-14. For other philological works, see Schaflarik's Geschichte der Slav. Spr. p 410.]

* * * * *



The north-eastern part of Germany, as far west as the Elbe and Saale, was, from the fifth to the tenth century, almost exclusively inhabited by nations of the Slavic race. Various Teutonic tribes—among them the Burgundians, the Suevi, Heruli, and Hermunduri—had before this taken up their temporary residence along the Baltic, between the Vistula and the Elbe. In the great migration of the Asiatic-European nations, which for nearly two centuries kept in motion all Europe from the Icy Ocean to the Atlantic, and extended even to the north of Africa, the warlike German nations moved towards the south-west, and Slavic tribes traversing the Danube and Vistula, in immense multitudes, took possession of the countries which they left. Those who came over the northern Vistula, settled along the coasts of the Baltic as far west as to the Elbe and Saale, and as far south as to the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains) on the borders of Bohemia.

These Slavic tribes were called by the Germans, Wenden, Lat. Venedi, for which we prefer in English the form of Vendes, rather than that of Wends. It appears indeed that this name was formerly applied by the Germans indiscriminately to all the Slavic nations with which they came in contact; for the name Winden, Eng. Vindes, which is still, as we have seen, the German appellation for the Slovenzi, or the Slavic inhabitants of Southern Germany, is evidently the same in a slightly altered form. The name of Wenden, Vendes, became, however, in the course of time, a specific appellation for the northern German-Slavic tribes; of which, at the present day, only a few meagre remnants are left. They were nevertheless once a powerful nation. Five independent branches must be distinguished among them.

We first name the Obotrites, the former inhabitants of the present duchies of Mecklenburg, and the adjacent country, west, north, and south. They were divided into the Obotrites proper, the Wagrians in Holstein, and the Polabae and Linones on the banks of the Elbe and Leine; but were united under a common chief or king. They and their eastern neighbours the Wiltzi, (Germ. Wilzen, Lat. Veletabae,) with whom they lived in perpetual warfare, were the most warlike and powerful among the Vendish tribes. The Wiltzi or Pomeranians lived interspersed with the Kassubes, a Lekhish tribe, between the Oder and the Vistula, and were subjugated by the Obotrites in A.D. 782. It was however only by the utmost exertions, that these latter could maintain their own independence against their western and southern neighbours, the Germans. Conquered by Charlemagne, they regained their independence under his successors, and centuries passed away in constant and bloody conflicts and alternate fortunes. In the middle of the twelfth century, however, they were completely subjugated by Henry the Lion, duke of Saxony and Bavaria. He laid waste their whole country, destroyed most of the people, and compelled the few remaining inhabitants and their prince, to accept Christianity from his bloody hands. In A.D. 1167 he restored to this latter, whose name was Pribislaus, a part of his kingdom, and gave his daughter Matilda in marriage to the son of Pribislaus, who, a few years later, was made a prince of the empire, and was thus gained over to the German cause. His descendants are the present dukes of Mecklenburg; and it is a memorable fact, that these princes are at the present day the only sovereigns in Europe of the Slavic race. German priests and German colonists introduced the German language; although we find that Bruno, the chief missionary among the Obotrites, preached before them in their own language. The Slavic dialect spoken by them expired gradually; and probably without ever having been reduced to writing, except for the sake of curiosity when very near its extinction. The only documents of it, which have come down to us, are a few incomplete vocabularies, compiled among the Polabae and Linones, i.e. the inhabitants adjacent to the Elbe, in Slavic Labe, and to the Leine, in Slavic Linac.

Long after the whole region was perfectly Germanized, a few towns in the eastern corner of the present kingdom of Hanover, were still almost exclusively inhabited by a people of Slavic race, who in the seventeenth century, and even to the middle of the eighteenth, had preserved in some measure their language and habits. But, since the Germans were strongly prejudiced against the Vendish name,—the nations of this race, especially those in the western part of the German territories, being despised as subjugated tribes, and inferior in general knowledge and information,—they gradually renounced their national peculiarities. Towards the close of the seventeenth century, when Hennings, German pastor at Wustrow, took great pains to collect among them historical notices and a vocabulary of their language, he found the youth already ignorant of the latter, and the old people almost ashamed of knowing it, or at least afraid of being laughed at by their children. They took his inquiries, and those of other intelligent persons, in respect to their ancient language and usages, as intended to ridicule them, and denied at first any knowledge of those matters. We find, however, that preaching in the Vendish language of this region was still continued for some time later. Divine service was held in it for the last time at Wustrow, in the year 1751. According to the vocabularies which Hennings and a few others collected, their dialect, like that spoken in Lower Lusatia, was nearly related to the Polish language; partaking however in some peculiarities of the Bohemian, and not without some of its own.[1]

The second great Vendish tribe, the Wiltzi or Pomeranians (Germ. Wilzen), also called Veletabae, were, as we said above, subjugated in A.D. 782 by the Obotrites; and the country between the Oder and the Vistula formed for more than a hundred and fifty years a part of the great Vendish kingdom. They regained, however, even before the final dissolution of this latter in A.D. 1026, the partial independence of their own dukes; who attached themselves to Germany, and afterwards, under the name of the dukes of Pomerania, became princes of the empire. In the year 1124 the first Pomeranians were baptized by Otho, bishop of Bamberg; and the place where this act was performed, Ottosbrunnen (Otho's Well), which five hundred years ago was encircled by four lime-trees, is still shown to the traveller. As they received religion and instruction from Germany, the influence of the German language can easily be accounted for. German colonists aided in spreading it throughout the whole country. The last person who understood the old Pomeranian language, is said to have died in the year 1404. No trace of it remains, excepting only the names of places and persons, the Slavic origin of which can be recognized throughout all north-eastern Germany by the terminations in its, enz, ik, or ow. In A.D. 1637 the line of the old Pomeranian dukes expired, and the country fell to Brandenburg, with the exception of that part which Sweden usurped at the peace of Westphalia. The island of Ruegen, which till A.D. 1478 had its own native princes, belonged to this latter. It is the principal seat of German-Slavic antiquities. The ancient Rugians and their gods are mentioned by Tacitus, and described by Saxo Grammaticus. The old chronicles and legends, founded on still older traditions, speak of a large and flourishing city named Vineta on the small island Wollin, south-east of Ruegen, once the principal seat of the western Slavic commerce, and, as Herder calls it, the Slavic Amsterdam. This city is said by some to have been destroyed by the Danes; by others to have been ingulfed in the sea by the sinking of the ground beneath it. Modern inquirers, however, have doubted whether it ever existed; and, hard as it is to renounce the many poetical associations attached to such a subject,—so similar to those which fill the mind in thinking of Pompeii and Herculaneum,—their objections have not yet been satisfactorily refuted.

The third separate branch of the Vendish stem were the Ukrians, or Border-Vendes, Germ. Ukern, from Ukraina, border. They lived in the territory which afterwards became the margravate of Brandenburg, and were divided into several tribes, as the Hevelli on the banks of the Havel, the Retarians, etc. Their situation was such, that constant conflicts between them and the guardians or watch of the German frontiers, the Saxon margraves on the other side of the Elbe, were unavoidable. These served gradually to extend the German marches or frontiers further and further, until in the year 1134 Albert the Bear, count of Ascania, finally conquered the Vendes. The Slavic inhabitants of this region were cruelly and completely destroyed; the country was repeopled by German and Dutch colonists, and given as a fief by the emperor to Albert the Bear, the first margrave of Brandenburg. Brandenburg was the German form for Brannibor, the most considerable of the Vendish cities, after which the country was called. The names of places, many of them altered in a similar manner, are indeed the only weak traces of the Vendish language once spoken in this part of Germany. No tribe of the Vendes seems to have been so completely extinguished; the present inhabitants of Brandenburg being of as pure a German origin, as those of any other part of Germany.

The descendants of only two Vendish tribes have preserved their language; and even these, from powerful nations spread over the surface of at least 4800 geographical square miles, have shrunk into the comparatively small number of scarcely two hundred thousand individuals, now inhabitants of Upper and Lower Lusatia. Nearly all of them are peasants; for the higher classes, even if Slavic blood perhaps runs in their veins, are completely Germanized. These tribes are the Sorabians, Lat. Sorabae, Germ. Sorben, in Lusatia, divided into two different branches. They call themselves to this very day Servians, or rather (as also their brethren on the Danube) Serbs; their language, the Serbish language. Although in fact two distinct tribes, and speaking different dialects, yet their early history cannot well be separated. After the dissolution of the great kingdom of Thuringia by the Francs and Saxons in the year 1528, the Sorabians, or Sorbae, took possession of the countries left by the Hermunduri, viz. the territory between the Harz mountains, the Saale, and the Erzgebirge, and extended their dominion in a northern direction to the seats of their brethren, the Ukrians, and towards the east as far as to the region in which their near relations, the Lekhes. about the same time had settled. They made slaves of the few German inhabitants whom they found scattered through this country; and according to their industrious habits, began immediately after their arrival to cultivate the soil, to build cities, and to trade in the productions of the country. Although not strictly a warlike people, they were able for several centuries to defend their frontiers against the frequent attacks of their German neighbours on the other side of the Saale, and to give them trouble in return. But they yielded before the arms of Charlemagne; and after a short interval of renewed independence, they were completely subjugated and made tributary by Henry I. Their country, according to the German custom, was divided into marches, and populated with German settlers. These latter more especially occupied the towns, and built villages among the woods and mountains; whilst the Vendes, chiefly addicted to agriculture, continued to occupy the plains. But even on the plains, there soon arose the castles of German knights, their masters and oppressors; and the Vendish population was by degrees reduced to the miserable condition of serfs.

In the year 968, the first attempt was made to convert them to Christianity, partly by the sword of the conqueror, partly by the instruction of Christian missionaries. But more than one century passed away, before the Christian religion was fully introduced among them. Benno, bishop of Meissen, who died in A.D. 1106, at the age of ninety-six, acquired by his activity in the work of converting the Vendes, the name of the apostle of the Slavi. The obstinate resistance with which the Christian religion had been rejected by them, can easily be explained by the unjudicious, nay flagitious way, in which it was presented to them by the Germans; who came among them, the sword in one hand and the cross in the other; and exacted moreover from them the sacrifice of their language, their customs, their whole nationality in exchange. The naturally childlike and submissive disposition of the Slavi rendered them in all other regions, as we have seen, willing to receive the Christian doctrines, more especially when their superiors themselves acted as their apostles, as was in some measure the case with the Russian Vladimir, Jagello in Lithuania, etc.[2] But the mode described above, which was adopted by the German heroes, not only among the Vendes, but also some centuries later among the old Borussians, could not but rouse all their feelings of pride and nationality to a decided resistance. Even when the Germans refrained from force, their means of conversion were equally opposed to the spirit of Christianity. Bishop Otho of Bamberg, for instance, was accustomed, when on his missionary travels, to have fifty or more wagons in his train loaded with cloth, victuals, and other supplies, in order to reward on the spot those who submitted to baptism.[3]

But the holy light of Christianity, even after the Vendish tribes had embraced its doctrines, did not clear up the darkness of their fate. The whole humiliating relation between masters and serfs in Germany, which still degraded the last century, was unknown to the free ancient Germans, among whom only the prisoner of war was a slave; and is derived from the period of the submission of the Vendes. The Germans indeed seem to have considered them as an inferior race, and treated them accordingly. The contempt with which the old historians speak of them, is revolting to every liberal and unprejudiced mind, and can hardly be explained. For the Sorabians seem to have been at the time of their submission, superior on the whole to the Germans in respect to civilization; although in consequence of this contemptuous treatment, they in the course of time fell far behind them. Despised and oppressed, they were kept for centuries in a state of ignorance and neglect; from which, it seems, they could only escape by renouncing their Slavic peculiarities, and above all their language. The use of this latter before courts of justice was in the fourteenth century forbidden by law throughout most of the country. In the beginning of the same century, the Vendish language was still sometimes heard at Leipzig, but not afterwards. In the villages also it became wholly extinct fifty or a hundred years later; and only single words passed over into the German language. But this was not the case with their usages and other national peculiarities; there are still several tribes, nay the peasants of whole provinces in this part of Germany, in whom the Slavic origin can be distinctly traced.[4] Their language however was driven into the remotest eastern corner of their former extensive territory; and is there, and only there, still to be heard. We speak of the province called Lusatia, situated between Saxony, Bohemia, Silesia, and Brandenburg, of which the greatest part is at present under the Prussian dominion, and the smallest but richest portion under that of Saxony.

Lushitze, Lusatia, Germ. Lausitz, signifies in Slavic, a low marshland. This name was formerly applied only to the north-eastern part of this province, or Lower Lusatia, which is, or was at least at the time of the Vendish settlement, a country of that description. At a later period, the name was carried over very improperly to the south-western part, or Upper Lusatia, a beautiful and mountainous region. Lusatia was given by Henry I, as a fief, to the margrave of Meissen. In the course of the following centuries, its two parts were repeatedly separated and reunited, alternately under the dominion of the last named margrave, of Poland, or of Bohemia, without however belonging to the German empire. In the fourteenth century it was at length incorporated with Bohemia, and remained so for nearly three hundred years. To this circumstance alone the partial preservation of the Vendish language is to be ascribed. At the peace of Prague, A.D. 1636, it was allotted to Saxony. At the congress of Vienna in 1815, it was assigned, with the exception of the smaller half of Upper Lusatia, to Prussia, to which monarchy it still belongs.

1. Language of the Sorabians in Upper Lusatia.

The cities of Bautzen, Zittau, Kamenz, Loebau, and their districts, form the Saxon part of Upper Lusatia. Of its 195,000 inhabitants, about the fourth or fifth part still speak the Vendish language. In the north-eastern part of Upper Lusatia, which belongs to Prussia, there is about the same proportion of Vendish inhabitants. In both territories the whole number of Vendes is about 100,000. Their language is very nearly related to the Bohemian; where the Sorabians of Lower Lusatia and the Poles pronounce the letter h, the Upper Lusatians and Bohemians give the sound of g. Both Lusatian dialects have of course lost very many of their original peculiarities; thus both have adopted the article from the German language.

The Reformation exhibited here, as every where, its favourable influence on the vernacular language. The bishops of Meissen, to whose diocese Lusatia belonged, had indeed repeatedly admonished the priests and curates, to whose care the spiritual welfare of the poor Slavic Lusatians was intrusted, to learn the language of the people; but no particular pains was taken; and the Romish clergy, who spoke of the natives with the utmost contempt, were quite satisfied to hear the people say Amen and Kyrie Eleison after their own Latin prayers. As Lusatia lies near to the scene of Luther's earliest influence, the Gospel was preached early to the Slavic inhabitants by some of his followers; and it had the natural consequence, that the Romish clergy also began to give some attention to the vernacular language. In 1550, if not before, a Sorabian translation of the New Testament, the manuscript and perhaps the autograph of which is preserved in the library of Berlin, was completed; but it was never printed; probably because during the melancholy period of the "Interim" so called, which commenced about that time, the energies of the Protestants were in some measure paralyzed. Towards the end of the century Luther's smaller Catechism, and several other religious and doctrinal tracts, were translated from the German, mostly by clergymen, and introduced into the schools; chiefly the village schools; for the cities were steadily becoming more and more Germanized.

The neglect and decline of the Sorabian population was however always painfully felt by some patriotic individuals; and the very injudicious and tyrannic attempts of their German rulers, during the seventeenth century, to eradicate the language and supplant it by the German, found in all places only a reluctant and forced submission. But the effect of appointing every where German magistrates and German pastors was irresistible. The language was gradually forgotten by the rising generation; and hardly a Vendish book was printed during the first three quarters of the seventeenth century. Indeed hardly any one knew how to write in a language, the orthography and grammar of which had not yet been subjected to any rules or principles.

In 1679 the Jesuit Jacob Ticinus, a native of Lusatia, in a little Latin pamphlet, advised his countrymen to adopt the rules of orthography current in the Bohemian language, so nearly related to their own.[5] But the Protestants among them, who constituted the principal part in number and respectability, rejected his advice; and preferred to adopt the rules established shortly afterwards by a German clergyman, Z.J. Bierling.[6] This was a system between the Bohemian and the German, and is still observed. It was probably a sense of the approaching danger of an ultimate total extirpation of their language, that roused the slumbering Vendes again to some efforts. Parts of the Gospels were published towards the close of the same century by Michael Frenzel; and in 1706 the whole New Testament appeared in a Vendish translation, conformed to Luther's German one.

A translation of the whole Bible, made by several Protestant clergymen, was first published in 1729; and has been twice reprinted. A version for Catholics, by A. Swotlik, is extant in manuscript. A German hymn-book for the latter already existed in 1696; and in 1710 the Protestants were likewise supplied with one. In the former the orthography of Ticinus was followed; while the latter was printed according to the system of Bierling. Thus this handful of people, surrounded by German adversaries and underminers of their nationality, and who would have had hard work enough even if they had stood as one man in their own defence, were split into parties, even in things the most indifferent; and thus made their own weakness still weaker.

The Protestants succeeded at last in the establishment of a seminary for the education of Vendish ministers at Leipzig in 1716. Another was instituted at Wittenberg, A.D. 1749. Their literature continued to be almost exclusively of a religious kind; and consisted mostly of translations from the German. Another Wendische Grammatica was written by G. Matthei, one of the translators of the Vendish Bible. A dictionary was prepared by Frencel.[7] Both works can now only be considered as curiosities. The latter proceeds upon the firm conviction, that the Slavi were originally Hebrews; and contrives to point out in all the substantives or nouns of the Sorabian language a certain degree of analogy. The only philological works, which will be of use to those who may wish to study this Slavic dialect in our day, is a short grammar by Seiler,[8] and a more modern one by J.P. Jordan. The latter has adopted the system of orthography best adapted to the language, viz. that introduced by Dobrovsky for the Bohemian.[9]

The Upper Lusatian dialect has acquired in this way a degree of cultivation, which of course, since most of those who speak and read it are of the common people, comparatively few are able to appreciate. In religious hymns, there is no deficiency; and several cantos of Klopstock's Messiah have been translated into it by Moehn, in the measure of the original. In regard to the popular songs of the Sorabians, a kind of poetry in which most Slavic nations are so rich, no pains was taken until recently to discover whether they had any or not. But when on the publication of the remarkable Servian ballads, the interest of the German public in this species of poetry became strongly excited, the Saxon minister of state, baron Nostitz, himself an esteemed German poet, turned his attention particularly to this subject; and succeeded in collecting several little songs full of that sweet, half pensive, half roguish feeling, which characterizes Slavic popular poetry in general. They were translated by him and communicated in manuscript to his friends: but whether they have ever been printed we are not informed.

This subject, however, was not long suffered to rest. Two societies have been formed within the last twelve years, one at Breslau among the students of the university natives of Lusatia; the other at Bautzen among the scholars of the Gymnasium or High School; for the promotion of their native language and extending the knowledge of the antiquities of their country. Both these societies of the rising generation are favoured and assisted by gentlemen who take a general interest in Slavic affairs. Another learned society, called "The Scientific society of Upper Lusatia," a union of scholars, had been founded previously. In 1836, this society offered a premium for collecting a certain number of genuine songs with their melodies, still extant among the common people. The result has been a very valuable collection. The first numbers appeared in 1841; and the whole will form a standard work in the literature of popular poetry. It was an agreeable surprise to find, that even these isolated Slavic tribes, who have been so long separated from other nations related to them, were still in possession of a store of genuine Slavic ballads and ancient melodies; while, on the other hand, many other ballads were found among them, in which the influence of their German neighbours, or perhaps their own influence on the latter, could be distinctly traced. Ballads and ditties, known to have been sung centuries before in Hessia or on the Rhine, rose suddenly from the night of an unheeded existence: disguised, indeed, but easily recognized, in a Slavic dress, which bore indications of the same antiquity.[10]

2. Language of the Sorabians in Lower Lusatia.

Lower Lusatia, or the north-eastern part of the Lusatian territory, together with the adjacent circle of Cotbus in Brandenburg, has about the same number of Vendish inhabitants as the upper province. The dialect they speak has a strong affinity with the Polish; but is, like that of their brethren in Upper Lusatia, corrupted by German interpolations, and even in a still greater degree. It is obviously on the decline; and we can only expect, that after the lapse of a hundred years or less, no other vestige of it will be left than written or printed documents.

The first book known to have been printed in this dialect, which is written according to a peculiar combination of the German letters, is Moeller's Hymns, Catechism, and Liturgy, Bautzen 1574. Their present literature, like that of Upper Lusatia, is confined to works for religious instruction, grammars, and dictionaries. Of the former they possess no small number. They have also a complete version of the Bible. The New Testament was translated for them as early as 1709, by Fabricius, and printed together with the German text. It has been repeatedly reprinted; and in the year 1798 a translation of the Old Testament by Fritze was added.[11]


[Footnote 1: Herder, in his Volkslieder, communicated a popular ballad from this dialect. See Literatur und Kunst, Vol. VII. p. 126, edit. of 1827-30.]

[Footnote 2: "On a certain day all the inhabitants of Kief were assembled on the banks of the Dnieper, and on a signal from the monarch, all plunged into the river, some to the waist, others to the neck; parents held their children in their arms while the ceremony was performed by the priests in attendance. Thus a nation received baptism, not only without murmuring, but with cheerfulness; for all were convinced that a religion, embraced by the sovereign and boyards, must necessarily be the best in the world" Foreign Quart. Review, Art. on Karamsin's History of Russia, Vol. III. p. 160. Compare Henderson's Travels in Russia, p. 191.]

[Footnote 3: See Cramer's Pommersche Kirchen Historie, LI. c. 29.]

[Footnote 4: Among others the peasants of the duchy of Altenburg, who are highly respectable through a certain degree of cultivation rare among German peasants, and distinguished for their wealth and prosperous condition. Although long since perfectly Germanized, certain Vendish usages have been kept up among them, more especially at weddings and similar festivals, the details of which are very interesting.]

[Footnote 5: Principia linguae Vandalicae seu Wendica, Prague 1679-1682.]

[Footnote 6: Didascalia sive Orthographia Vandalica, Bautzen 1689.]

[Footnote 7: De Originibus linguae Sorabicae M. Abrah. Frencelij, Budiss. et Zwickau 1693-96.]

[Footnote 8: Kurzgefasste Grammatik der Sorben-Wendischen Sprache, Bautzen 1828.]

[Footnote 9: Grammatik der wendisch-sorbischen Sprache in der Ober Lausitz. Im Systeme Dubrovsky's abgefasst, von J.P. Jordan, Prague 1841. Here may be mentioned also, Maly Sserb, i.e. der kleine Serbe, wendische-deutsche Gesprache etc. mit einem wendisch-deutschen und deutsch-wendischen Wuerterbuch, etc. von J.E. Schmaler, Bautzen 1841.—There exists besides this only one Sorabian Dictionary, and this in Latin, Vocabularium latino-sorbicum, by G.A. Swotlik, Bautzen 1721.]

[Footnote 10: Volkslieder der Wenden in der Ober und Nieder Lausitz, und mit den Sangweisen, deutsher Uebersetzung, etc. herausgegeben von Leopold Haupt und J.E. Schmaler, Grimma 1841, 2 vols. The second volume contains the songs in the dialect of Lower Lusatia.]

[Footnote 11: Philological works on this dialect are the following: Hauptmann's Wendische Sprachlehre, Luebben 1761. Kurze Anleitung zur Wend. Sprache, 1746. Megiseri Thesaurus Polyglottus, Frankf. 1603; including the Lower Lusatian. Several vocabularies of this dialect are extant in manuscript; see Schaffarik's Geschichte, p. 486.]

* * * * *



In the preceding view of the literature of the Slavic nations, we have abstained from giving any specimens of their poetry. A few would not have satisfied the reader, and could not have done justice to poets, who each for himself has a literary character of his own; and many would have at least doubled the size of this volume. Shukovsky, Pushkin, Mickewicz, Brodzinski, Krasinski, Kollar—each, as we said, has an individual poetical character of his own, of which the reader could have gathered no just idea without a whole series of their productions; and these even then would have lost half their value in a translation. Yet they all have little of that peculiar Slavic character, which belongs still in some degree to all Slavic nations; and which is so strikingly expressed in their POPULAR POETRY.

Our remark respecting the loss of the principal charms which all poetical productions have to undergo, when clothed in a foreign dress, applies as well to popular poetry as to the works of literature, and even more. Indeed, if any kind of poetry must needs lose half its beauties in a translation, the truth of the Latin saying, Dulcius ex ipsa fonte bibuntur aguae, will never be more readily acknowledged, than in respect to the idiomatic peculiarities of popular ballads. This holds good principally of merely lyric productions, the only kind of songs which are left to some of the Slavic tribes. They are grown into the very bone and marrow of the language itself; and a congenial spirit can at the utmost imitate, but never satisfactorily translate them. And yet they are the most essential features in the physiognomy of a people; or, as Goerres expresses it, they are like pulse and breath, the signs and the measure of the internal life. "While the great epic streams," as this ingenious writer justly says, "reflect the character of a whole wide-spread river-district, in time and history, these lyric effusions are the sources and fountains, which, with their net-work of rills, water and drain the whole country; and, bringing to light the secrets of its inmost bowels, pour out into lays its warmest heart's blood." [1] We therefore give the specimens of Slavic popular poetry, which we here present to the reader, not merely as poems to be admired, but rather as characteristic features of the mental condition of the respective nations, and of their manner of thinking and feeling.

This is the age of utilitarianism. The Genius of poetry still lives indeed, for he is immortal; but the period of his living power is gone. His present dwelling is the study; the sphere of his operations the parlour; the scene, where his exhibitions are displayed in a dress of morocco and gold, is the centre table of the rich and the genteel. Popular poetry,—we do not mean that divine gift, the dowry of a few blessed individuals; we mean that general productiveness, which pervades the mass of men as it pervades Nature,—popular poetry, among all the nations of Europe, is only a dying plant. Here and there a lonely relic is discovered among the rocks, preserved by the invigorating powers of the mountain air; or a few sickly plants, half withered in their birth, grow up in some solitary valley, hidden from the intrusive genius of modern improvement and civilization, who makes his appearance with a brush in his hand, sweeping mercilessly away even the loveliest flowers which may be considered as impediments in his path. Twenty years hence, and a trace will not be left, except the dried specimens which the amateur lays between two sheets of paper, and the copies preserved in cabinets.

Among the nations of the Slavic race alone is the living flower still to be found, growing in its native luxuriance; but even here, only among the Servians and Dalmatians in its full blossom and beauty. For centuries these treasures have been buried from the literary world. Addison, when he endeavored to vindicate his admiration of the ballad of "Chevy-Chace," by the similarity of some of its passages with the epics of Virgil and Homer, had not the remotest idea, that the immortal blind bard had found his true and most worthy successors among the likewise blind poets of his next Hyperborean neighbours. The merit of having lifted at last the curtain from these scenes, belongs to Germany, chiefly to Herder. But only the few last years have allowed a more full and satisfactory view of them.

In laying before our readers a sketch of Slavic popular poetry, we must renounce at once any attempt at chronological order. Slavic popular poetry has yet no history. Not that a considerable portion of it is not very ancient. Many mysterious sounds, even from the gray ages of paganism, reach us, like the chimes of distant bells, unconnected and half lost in the air; while, of many other songs and legends, the colouring reminds us strongly of their Asiatic home. But the wonderful tales they convey, have mostly been only confined to tradition; especially there, where the fountain of poetry streamed; and streams still, in the richest profusion, namely, in Servia. Handed down from generation to generation, each has impressed its mark upon them. Tradition, that wonderful offspring of reality and imagination, affords no safer basis to the history of poetry, than to the history of nations themselves. To dig out of dust and rubbish a few fragments of manuscripts, which enable us to cast one glance into the night of the past, has been reserved only for recent times. Future years will furnish richer materials; and to the inquirer, who shall resume this subject fifty years after us, it may be permitted to reduce them to historical order; while we must be contented to appreciate those, which are before our eyes, in a moral and poetical respect.

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