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She was offered by the same Europe, as a bloody sacrifice, to three executioners, who have dismembered her, appropriated to themselves her limbs; and they now keep powerful armies in order to put down every noble movement, to stifle every spark of freedom, and to persecute and banish the patriotic sons of the once glorious though imperfect Polish Republic.
From that time, while the triumphant Goddess of Freedom, in her new home, on this side of the Atlantic, blesses her children with comforts and happiness, the spirit of the Polish Republic continues to fight against her oppressors with the power of truth, justice, and liberal ideas.
However, Poland did not perish when her numerous sons chose rather to endure exile and persecutions than to promote the retrograde tendencies of her enemies. The rich Polish literature, spreading its intellectual and moral influence over all the Slavonians, like that of the ancient Greeks, will be able to vanquish every external oppressor, and Poland will rise from her grave regenerated, embellished, and more glorious.
Although the literary life and energy of the Poles have shone with a distinguished splendor in the old Polish literature, its scattered rays could not sooner be concentrated into the warm and enlightening modern Polish-Slavonian philosophy and poetry.
Since the more elevated tendency and higher degree of development which the Polish literature has now attained are a consequence of its past history, it may not be without interest to cast a hasty glance at some of its phases.
The history of the Polish literature may be divided into three periods:
The first extends from the introduction of Christianity, at the end of the ninth century, in the reign of Miaryslas the First, who married a Christian princess of Bohemia, until Sigismund the Third, at the close of the sixteenth century;
The second occupies the space between Sigismund the Third and the last king Stanislas Poniatowski, when the unsuccessful battle of Poland, against her three powerful neighbors, under the celebrated patriot, Kosciusko, had awakened her inward national life;
The third represents contests, not only with the sword, but still more with the pen, and extends to the great leader of the Polish-Slavonian philosophy, Trentowski, who gave a new and great impulse to the literary movement, not only in Poland, but in all the Slavonian countries.
During the first dynasty of the Piasts, Polish-Slavonian literature was emerging slowly from under the foreign influence of the Latin language and Roman clergy. It appeared mostly in national songs, and poetry, flowing from a cheerful heart, which loved nature, freedom, and God. But, with the establishment of the University of Krakau, at the end of the 14th century, by the first of the Jagellons, who married Edwige, the queen of Poland, it took a bold, free, and national flight, and, under the paternal care of his dynasty, and liberal institutions, reached such a development as to merit the title of the Golden Age.
Among many genial and profound writers, historians, statesmen, and poets-like Gornicki, Rey of Naglowie, John Kochanowski, and others-it is enough to mention a pupil of the University of Krakau, Nicolas Kopernik, known to the scientific world by the solar system.
In the following period, however, there began an animated. quarrel between the University and the Jesuits, about the control of public education, which was to be divided equally between the struggling parties, as is now the case in France, with regard to the University of Paris and the Catholic clergy.
Although an able defence of the University of Krakau was made before the king, in the Council of State, by its highminded Rector, Neymanouwir, who, like the true mother in the judgment of Solomon, was willing to leave undivided possession of it to the Jesuits, and a complete triumph was obtained over the enemies of liberty, light, and progress, nevertheless, Sigismund the Third, who had been a pupil of the Jesuits, favored them, by every means, in undermining the influence of the University and in obtaining control over both public and private education. With the support of Rome and that of the high Catholic clergy, it was an easy task to succeed; the more so, as the great moral and intellectual power of the Polish Protestants was weakened by their divisions and their different sectarian tendencies.
Though a gloomy, yet it is a very instructive period in the Polish history, to the American people at large, because it is an historical fact that the lives, energy, and activity of the free Republic, imprisoned within unintelligible dogmas and scholastic formulas, under the controlling influence of Rome and that of the Jesuits, could not but have burst out into blind passions and anarchy. From this influence have resulted tyrannical decrees against the Unitarian Protestants and their celebrated
schools; libraries and printing offices were shut up and destroyed; but the memory of their virtues, science, and exertions lives until now among intelligent families. From this cause, also, proceeded the religious contests, supported by Sweden, the civil wars with the Cossacks, and, finally, there followed a rapid decline, which led to the downfall of the exhausted and distracted Republic.
Amidst so many misfortunes, the energy, devotedness, and sacrifice of the Poles continued to shine forth in deeds, if not in literature; and their exploits, under John Sobieski, at the close of the 17th century, bear evidence to this assertion; but their inward eye was clouded, and both intellectual and spiritual darkness spread over all the nation. There were, in this period, many eminent writers and authors, but they had little influence on the national life and progress, as they wrote mostly in Latin, a foreign language. Intellectual night covered Poland, and the nation continued lost, for a length of time, in the lethargy of ignorance and superstition. But there arose a great and noble patriot, Stanislas Konarski, who, seeing his country enslaved to Rome and the Jesuits, stood forward as a champion against the servants of internal slavery. He undertook boldly to reform the national education; and to this end travelled all over Europe, wrote many valuable books, and established a college at Warsaw, in order to form good, virtuous, and enlightened citizens, who might become patriots devoted to their country. Supported by many distinguished families, he triumphed over sophistry, ignorance, and supersti tion, but only to sound an alarm against danger threatening from abroad. Many writers took up their patriotic pen, and shed a lustre, both in prose and in verse, upon the Polish-Slavonian literature. They wrote in the Polish language, but still, in literature, did not throw off the yoke of foreign influence of the age of Louis the Fourteenth. Notwithstanding, there is a visible tendency towards the Polish-Slavonian originality and genius. The struggles for national independence under the celebrated patriots Pulaski, in 1770, and Kosciusko, in 1794, though unsuccessful, did not fail to awake and stir up the nation to new exertions of intellectual life; and this the more so, as the discussions at the National Diet resulted in the reformed and progressive constitution of 1791.
The last period was opened by those glorious exploits which reddened the battle-fields of Europe with Polish blood; but the literary movement, promoted by the three universities of War
saw, Nilnuo, and Krakau, soon enabled the Poles to develop their inward life, energy, and power. An enkindling spark was not wanting, and the internal fire burst into flames in the national insurrection against the tyrannical government of Russia, in 1830.
Though the war was disastrous, though Poland was prostrated, nevertheless, she gained an intimate conviction of her high moral and intellectual mission among the Slavonians, and the sympathy of all civilized nations. The flower of her youth and nobility, banished from their home, are wandering in different countries; and, while studying foreign institutions, are striving to prepare their countrymen, and the Slavonian people, for future regeneration.
This hasty survey of the history of Polish literature is intended to show its new tendency. A new spirit has already pervaded the entire people of Poland. However, it did not come to consciousness, and reveal itself in a complete system, until now, when Poland is attempting to defend her holy mission on philosophical and literary ground.
To give an idea of this new tendency, we introduce to the American public one of the best living Polish writers, and a leader of the literary movements, which will excite no less interest in the new world than in the old.
Bronislas Trentowski, born in Poland, in the beginning of our century, having completed his philological studies in the University of Warsaw, assumed the profession of public teacher when the revolution broke out in the year 1830. He served with honor the national cause, as a soldier, and afterwards, studying and teaching in Germany as an exile, was called to the chair of Philosophy at Freiberg, in the Duchy of Baden, where he triumphantly withstood repeated and violent attacks from all the batteries of sophistry directed against his system by the Jesuits of Freiberg, in Switzerland.
His principles of philosophy have been made known to the German public in the work named above," Principles of Universal Philosophy." His later works, written in the Polish language, on Logic and Pedagogy, and those about Nature, Politics, and God, contain the full development of his system.
We do not now intend to make a minute analysis of these works, interesting as it might be, but to present a general outline, embracing the fundamental principles of his philosophy, applied to the civilization of the whole Slavonian race.
If this article be acceptable to the free and enlightened
American public, we shall be encouraged to publish, subsequently, his analysis of man's faculties with regard to education, instruction, and enlightenment. But we now sketch what we have intended.
Professor Trentowski, in his Political Fragments, says to the Slavonian people as follows:
"Until now, only two worlds were generally known and investigated, the real and ideal; or materialism and spiritualism; historism and radicalism; hierology and libertinism; Roman catholicism and German protestantism; the dead confirming and the vain protesting; in a word, empiricism and speculation. To the first of these worlds, that is to empiricism, the Roman race in Europe has paid homage for centuries; to the other, that is to speculation, the German race has devoted itself. Both these worlds, looking into them attentively, present themselves partially, and constitute a dualism, the confirming and the protesting, which are everywhere and always a vain and worldly struggle of oppositions; they belong to the earth only, and do not pass beyond its limits. To the Slavonian race, which till now, as a large plant burdened with a future flower and fruit, grew peacefully, and did not work out its own spirit, was destined the third world,-that is divine, whose essence is eternal, unchangeable, medullary truth, being the unshaken foundation of the real as well as of the ideal world. This world is essentially actual, a true liberalism, a pure religion, engraved by God himself on the human heart, and revealed by his beloved Son Jesus Christ; not the Roman, nor the German, nor the Greek, but the Christian catholicism, the living Word of God, expressed by the lips of a true image of God, in a word, the God-man's philosophy.
As God is master of universal matter and universal spirit, so the human soul is a mistress of the body and its spirit. Body and spirit are servants of the divine force, or soul, aiding it to work out and manifest its divinity in time. The soul is a strong will, unshaken, enterprising, divine action, conscience, and character. Human destiny, with regard to the soul, is to work out itself as well generally as individually, and attain to the divine human
Let the Roman race pursue only industry, and drown itself in the depth of materialism; let the German race run after a pure and sterile thought, a speculation full of visions; — to the Slavonian race there smiles from heaven a divine action. To comprehend and to accomplish it is true wisdom. Let the Roman race found the kingdom of Satan on the earth, and the German race the kingdom of the Angels; - the Slavonian race has to establish the kingdom of God. The divine and moral power, whose forces are God in heaven and man on the earth, is the queen both of