Imatges de pàgina

and meditating watches the forests and streams, as these live and grow and roll by along the corridors of the skies.

Poland may be blotted from the maps; but, to this hour, she has a large and enviable place in the mirrors that Art hangs on the walls of Time, and the reflections are very, very beautiful.

Her children do not rend the air of peace with their cries of revenge, of plotting and of crime. They do not strive or cry, except it be for bread. Their women help the men. They do not starve. They help each other gladly in the hour of distress. They have all the finest conquered accomplishments of charity, kindness, gentleness; but their fatherland and their mother land belongs to the victors, the men of empire, of Water-Cures and of blood.—How long? O God! How Long?

Perhaps their greatest poet, Krasinski, saw all this in his matchless visions. Perhaps it is from those matchless visions, as recorded in his '' Undivine Comedy,'' that we have unconsciously derived the same ideas;—though it would be difficult for me to recall the time when I first drew from the sufferings of Jesus and the Christian story this truth—that as He had suffered for truth and goodness, and hence for the salvation of souls, so must every man in the measure of his likeness to Christ also suffer, first, for the higher refinement of his own spirit, and, through this, for truth and for goodness and justice,—and hence, again for the salvation of others. And that the same law of martyrdom, suffering and glory applied to nations as well as to men.

We do not believe in anything of the sort in these days. We have concluded that the shortest way to success is to lie and steal and deceive one another. The most successful statesman in our estimation is the most adroit and the most consummate liar.

The '' Undivine Comedy'' of Krasinski is just the reverse of our modern progress. It represents the soul of Poland yearning and standing for the ideals of suffering and of martyrdom; finds it in conflict with the world spirit or time spirit, which we call the ''commercialism" of modern times; finds it conquered by this world spirit, as Ireland has been conquered, as Poland has been conquered.—But truth, though crushed to earth, shall rise again. Christ crucified cannot die. The Christ spirit shall, must, forever rise again and eventually conquer all things, even death itself; till it, the grim monarch and monster that we all fear, is itself swallowed up in victory. This is the Undivine Comedy, but with a divine ending.


The "Undivine Comedy" of Krasinski, translated by Mary Walker and published a generation ago by J. B. Lippincott & Co., is in many respects superior to, deeper, more subtle and sublime than the Divine Comedy of Dante; but the world has not yet risen to this masterpiece of the Polish poet and is now only dawdling in the mysticism of Dante.

How did this all come about? The encyclopedias will give you the skeleton. We are not building of dry bones. Some of the bottom facts are these. The Poles, like the Irish, were all the while squabbling among themselves. The Mac's and the O's were too prominent. But it was not, either, so much a preference for persons as it was in Ireland;—it was rather a preference for this or that form of religion. The Irish were always well knit together in the matter of religion; but their religion never prevented them from cutting each others' throats, as it suited their own, or O'Neill's and McDonald's whims. With the Poles it was otherwise. They had inherited from the old Arian controversy, as it went sweeping back and forth in the South of Europe in the days of Constantine, a certain plethora of Arianism, melted and moulded later on into Socinianism; and yet the orthodox or Western Catholic movement, in its divine persistence, had invaded the region and there was much conflict of religion, of religious leaders, of sections and of creeds.

It was not exactly the same sort of controversy that sprung up between the Church and German, French and English Protestantism—that is, a matter of life or death—but a milder type, much such as exists this day between the Greek and the Roman communions, which Leo XIII has tried so earnestly to heal. It had much earnestness, much idealism, much zeal and beautiful Christianity in it on both sides;—but very little of organized or organizing Commercialism. It was not anxious to fight, as no true Christian ever can be anxious to fight. That is always the mark of Cain on the forehead, call it by what Christian name you will. —Out of all this came the facts, ready born. Out of all this came also the willingness to be conquered rather than to fight, and die to the last man rather than be conquered. And so it happened that the three great "Christian" nations of Europe—Russia, Prussia and AustroHungary—fell to piracy, to plunder, to murder, to victory and such oppressions as would make a good Catholic Irishman tear his hair and curse and swear and fill the universe with his groanings. But the world has accepted the fact of the partition of Poland.


No one of these three nations alone could have swallowed Poland, It would have choked to death over the infamy. Besides, neither one of the remaining two would have stood by and allowed the crime. But when this trinity of Christian nationalities undertook the work together, the rest of Europe and the rest of the world could say next to nothing. If Mr. Hay had been Secretary of State in Washington in those days he might have sent over a protest; but only to be laughed at.

Russia, representing the Greek Church, could accommodate the Poles with a fair to middling orthodoxy. Austro-Hungary could accommodate others with a stricter ruling of orthodoxy according to Athanasius; while the descendants of Frederick, the Great, could shoot Protestantism into their befuddled brains. Indeed, it is now said that his Majesty, Emperor William, has become or is becoming a Catholic; but I fancy and fear that his Catholocism will prove, like Hamlet's madness, "only north, north-east."

At all events, here is a once great and civilized and prosperous and cultured nation of Europe sprawling in these Christian years between the jaws of the Russian Bear, battered head and ears by the Prussian Eagles, shot at right and left by Krupp guns and fondled in the cat and tiger-like claws of orthodox Austria. Poland was as religious and cultured as any one of her captors. Judged by the quality of Polish art and literature, she was of deeper and finer genius than any other section of Europe in her day; and yet, in part for these very reasons, she became the prey of the pirate and the food which the bears and the vultures most eagerly craved.

Does any sane member of Old Poland to-day, living in the United States, think of plotting against Russia, or Prussia, or Austria, any more than he thinks of splitting the fine ears of Boston with his agonizing, traitorous and despicable cries? Written October 25, 1902. The United Irish League will please remember.

Some men accept the great accomplished national facts of history and try everywhere to behave themselves like Christian men. I do not approve any tyranny ever exercised by England toward Irelandi either under Henry VIII, Elizabeth, King James, Cromwell or the Georges. I hate all injustice everywhere by whomsoever instigated or executed. I know that two evils or wrongs do not make one right. I am well aware that though Poland was a greater and far more important part of the world than Ireland ever was and more generally cultured and civilized, and though her sufferings and oppressions have been greater than Ireland's everyway, that does not make Ireland's sufferings less; but I believe that these latter are being magnified in Out day far beyond their importance— and, moreover, that the men who are magnifying them are doing so for political gain and not from any noble or humane motive whatsoever. But these are not the only outraged nations of modern times. Here is a brief account of oppressed Finland—another pet of the Czar's—taken from a recent editorial in the Boston Herald:

The last reports received from St. Petersburg concerning the conditions of affairs in Finland are disheartening in the last degree. Three years ago the plan of what is called the Russification of Finland was entered upon. Before that time, for nearly a hundred years, the National Assembly had consisted of representatives of the four estates—nobles, clergy, burghers and peasants—who were accorded an exceedingly liberal degree of local authority, the assent of the four estates being necessary to any change in the constitution or for the laying of new taxes. But in 1899 the Czar ordered that all new laws affecting Finland should be submitted, after the Diet had passed them, to the imperial state council at St. Petersburg for settlement and promulgation, thus giving to the latter body a complete veto on the local legislature. It was further provided that the military service, which had hitherto been separate from the Russian, should be changed, the Finlanders having thereafter to serve under the system of obligatory military duty in the regular Russian regiments. These changes have been resisted by the parliament of Finland on the ground that they are unconstitutional, and the imperial officials engaged in the execution of the Czar's mandates have been arrested in Finland and tried for violation of the law. The new edict which is soon to be put in force provides that the governorgeneral of Finland, appointed by the Czar, is to be present, either in person or by representatives, at the sessions of the Finnish parliament, with power to veto any action taken by that legislative body. The judiciary of Finland, which has hitherto been an independent body, is to serve hereafter under the immediate direction of the imperial government, the judges to be removable by the Czar or his representative whenever it is thought expedient. It is further provided that no legal action can be brought against any of the Czar's officials in Finland unless permission to bring such action has been obtained from the governor-general of the province, and that hereafter the Russian language is to be the language used in all official proceedings and public institutions. In short, the people of Finland are to be reduced to precisely the same level as the other subjects of the Czar, and are to be ruled as the people of Poland or the Asiatic provinces of Russia are governed, by administrators appointed by the Czar.

When it is taken into account that Finland was annexed to Russia under a solemn treaty pledge that its local independence would be respected; that since 1809 it has been as a detached part of the Russian empire, the most prosperous and contented portion of all of the Czar's domain; fhat there has been, so far as one can discover, no good cause for this breach of faith on the part of the Russian autorat, one can readily understand the intense feeling of indignation which fills the minds of the Finnish people, and which is now showing itself in the great increase in the number of the people of that country who are abandoning forever the home of their fathers.

When, again, it is understood that the Finns for ages have been an intense, exclusive people, highly sensitive, simple in their habits of justice—adhering to the old ways of truth and honor—poetic, dreamers of beauty and the North winds, seers of visions and dreamers of dreams,—and that their captors and oppressors are supposed to represent concentrated and organized Christianity, one sees not only the heart-aches, but the heart-burning of hate and anger and revenge stored up by these stealthy approaches and cruelties of the Russian Bear.

And when one remembers that these four creeping, grovelling, grunting, growling, preying and howling and roaring oppressors of the weaker nations of our own centuries are posing as the peaceloving, Christ-loving and charitable representatives of the only divine religion in the world, do we wonder that thinking men are atheists, nihilists, anarchists and socialists of the avenging type?

If the typical nations of Christendom are wholesale murderers, liars and thieves, do we wonder that true men are inclined to take to the woods and become murderers also?

To the man whose father and mother have been shot dead by a Christian king, how can it seem wrong to shoot that king?

I tell you again and again, gentlemen, that you will have to tack and mend your course or find that you are sailing or steaming mankind into the jaws of Hell.

William Henry Thorne.

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