In Whitman's Hand

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Title: The Slavonians and Eastern Europe

Creators: Walt Whitman, Anonymous

Annotation Date: August 1849 or later

Base Document Citation: Anonymous, "The Slavonians and Eastern Europe" and "The Railway System of Great Britain," The North British Review (August 1849), 283, 284, 289, 290, 293, 295, 296, 305, 306.

Source: Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. Transcribed from digital images of the original item.

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00039

Contributors to digital file: Alejandro Omidsalar and Matt Cohen


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Whitman's Hand | Highlighting | Paste-on | Erasure | Overwrite



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Valuable resumé

1849.The Slavonians and Eastern Europe.283

and adds the interesting fact, that they were in a good state of preservation, though they appeared to have been for some time in the water. The water, he adds, seems to have the quality of preserving whatever is cast into it. Specimens of wood found there were in an excellent state of preservation.

We now quit with reluctance a subject in which we feel very much interest. Lieutenant Lynch's book must be pronounced of great value, not only for the additions which it makes to our knowledge, but as the authentic record of an enterprise in the highest degree honourable to all the parties concerned. Our only regret is, that the author's avowed anxiety to occupy the book-market has prevented him from digesting his materials so carefully as the importance of the subject demanded, and has left inexcusable marks of haste, which should in any future edition be removed. Mr. Bentley is not, in this matter, altogether free from blame; for there are numerous persons in this country whose services would have removed most of the grosser errors by which the work is disfigured. As for the other book, what we have already said, we say once more:—It is a bushel of chaff, from which those who think it worth their while, and who have sufficient patience and skill, may contrive to extract a few grains of wheat.

No one that has not worked much in the element of History can be aware of the immense importance of clearly keeping in view the differences of race that are discernible among the nations that inhabit different parts of the world. In practical politics it is certainly possible to push such ethnographical considerations too far, as, for example, in our own cant about Celt and Saxon, when Ireland is under discussion; but in speculative History, in questions relating to the past career and the future destinies of nations, it is only by a firm and efficient handling of this conception of our species as broken up into so many groups or masses, physiologically different to a certain extent, that any progress can be made, or any available conclusions accurately arrived at.

The NEGRO or African, with his black

Thee
great
Ethnologic
Types

skin, woolly hair, and compressed elongated skull; the MONGOLIAN of Eastern Asia and America, with his olive complexion, broad and all but beardless face, oblique eyes, and square skull; and the CAUCASIAN of Western Asia and Europe, with his fair skin, oval face, full brow, and rounded skull;—such, as every school-boy knows, are the three great types or varieties into which naturalists have divided the inhabitants of our planet. Accepting this rough initial conception of a world peopled everywhere more or less completely with these three varieties of human beings or their combinations, the historian is able, in virtue of it, to announce one important fact at the very outset,—to wit, that,

? yes, of late
centuries—
but how
about
those
5, or 10, or
twenty thousand
years ago?

up to the present moment, the destinies of the species appear to have been carried forward almost exclusively by its Caucasian variety. In the broad field and long duration of Ethiopic or Negro life, only one native and spontaneous civilisation appears to have presented itself—that of the ancient and almost mythical kingdom of Meröe on the sources of the Nile. Mongolian humanity, on the other hand, if we except the two abortive beginnings of the native Mexicans and Peruvians in America, has been able as yet to produce but one great civilisation—that of the Chinese and Japanese. With this Ethiopic retrogression, and this Mongolian uniformity, compare Caucasian progress, as exhibited in the splendid succession of distinct civilisations, from the ancient Egyptian to the recent Anglo-American, to which the Caucasian part of the species has given birth. Such, at least, is the Past; as to the Future let no man speak!

His attention thus specially directed to the Caucasian section of mankind, the historian finds it farther necessary to break it also up into parts. Studying the physiological and philological differences observable within its field, he is able, in the first place, to separate it into two great families of nations, essentially distinct—the Semitic family, consisting of men having the Arabic physiognomy, and speaking a class of languages, of which the Arabic is the type;


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284The Slavonians and Eastern Europe.Aug.

and the Indo-European family, consisting of men having a less determinable cast of physiognomy, and speaking a class of languages, of which the Sanscrit is the type. The special geographical seat of the former, or Semitic branch of the Caucasian stock, is that part of Western Asia which lies between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea on the west, and the Tigris and Persian Gulf on the east; these lands, together with adjacent portions of Africa, are occupied by Semitic peoples now, and have been occupied by them from time immemorial. The area over which the Indo-European branch of the Caucasian stock has extended itself is much larger, and the diversities of its several partitions or offshoots are much more marked and important. Schlosser, whose scheme on this subject is the best that we have seen, enumerates four leading subdivisions of the Indo-European family:— 1. The Armenian race, whose seat is in the vicinity of the Caspian, and whose part in history has hitherto been small; 2. The Scythian race, overspreading the vast regions of Eastern and North-Eastern Europe, and of Central Asia, to the confines of the Mongolian countries; 3. The Pelasgic race, diffused, in the remotest ages, through Asia Minor, the ægean Islands, Greece, Italy, and other parts of Southern Europe; and the mother-race of the great Greek and Roman peoples; and 4. The Indo-Persic race proper, stretching in Asia from the Caspian to the Bay of Bengal; and the parent, in the west, of the two great modern races, the Celts of Gaul, Britain, Spain, &c., and the Germans of central Europe and the Scandinavian peninsulas. All these races scattered as they are geographically, and differing, as they do from each other in many important respects, are yet bound together by certain similarities that distinguish them in the mass from the Semitic branch of nations.

Mastering such current ethnographical distinctions as these, the student of history ought to take care at the same time thoroughly to digest and appropriate the positive notion that is wrapped up in them,—to wit, that our species is not a huge collection of perfectly similar human beings, but an aggregation of a number of separate groups or masses, the men of which, though all agreeing in the grand characteristics of humanity, all the creatures of a common Father, and all the heirs of a common hope, have yet such subordinate differences of organization that, necessarily, they must understand nature differently, and employ in life very different modes of procedure. Assemble together a Negro, a Mongol, a Shemite, an Armenian, a Scythian, a Pelasgian, a Celt, and a German, and you will have before you not mere illustrations of an arbitrary classification, but positively distinct human beings, men whose relations to the outer world are by no means the same. In all, indeed, there will be found the same fundamental instincts and powers, the same obligation to recognised truth, the same feeling for the beautiful, the same abstract sense of justice, the same necessity of reverence; in all, the same liability to do wrong, knowing it to be wrong. These things excepted, however, what contrast, what variety! The representative of one race is haughty and eager to strike, that of another is meek and patient of injury; one has the gift of slow and continued perseverance, another can labour only at intervals and violently; one is full of mirth and humour, another walks as if life were a pain; one is so faithful and clear in perception, that what he sees to-day he will report accurately a year hence; through the head of another there perpetually sings such a buzz of fiction that, even as he looks, realities grow dim, and rocks, trees, and hills reel before his poetic gaze. Whether, with phrenologists, we call these differences craniological; or whether, in the spirit of a deeper physiology, we adjourn the question by refusing to connect them with aught less than the whole corporeal organism—bone, chest, limb, skin, muscle, and nerve; they are, at all events, real and substantial; and Englishmen will never conceive the world as it is, will never be intellectually its masters, until, realizing this as a fact, they shall remember that it is perfectly respectable to be an Assyrian, and that an Italian is not necessarily a rogue because he wears a moustache.

It is but a change of expression to say that races, whose individual specimens differ so much, must stand in very different relations to the general history of the world. While the Shemite, for example, whose mental characteristics are extreme spontaneity and ease, attained his highest perfection almost at once, and has since acted but fitfully on the general condition of the world, the Indo-European, on the other hand, with faculties more stubborn and more dependent on discipline, has advanced by successive steps, and has charged himself specifically with that part of the entire business of the species which consists in continuous intellectual evolution. Thus, in Europe, civilisation as it now exists has been the progressive work of three great Indo-European races. First of all there was the Pelasgic movement, including the whole of Greek and Roman activity; to this succeeded the


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[illegible] [Great?] Commencement of Russia
a.d. 850

1849.The Slavonians and Eastern Europe.289

the Lekhs and the Tchekhes. Living peaceably, and plying trading occupations, of which they were fond, the tribes of Novgorod, Kiew, and their adjacencies, still retained unchanged their native Slavonian habits and characteristics. Even they, however, were doomed at last to foreign invasion. Huns and Avars had spared them, despising the conquest of their sunless and wintry lands; but the Northern Scaninavians, less difficult to please, now began to pay them marauding visits. At length, in the year 850, one Danish or Swedish chief, named Rurik, crossed the Baltic with a fleet, and making himself master of all the Slavonian countries of the Baltic, established himself at Novgorod, and founded the dynasty of the Grand Dukes of Muscovy, or Great Russia.

The Muscovites or Great Russians, extending from the Baltic inland as far as the Kwina and the Volga, and ruled over by a Scandinavian dynasty; the Lekhs or Poles, forming the two independent nations of Lithuania and Poland proper, governed by native dynasties, and extending from the Oder to the Dnieper, and from the Baltic to the Carpathian mountains; the Tchekhes or Slavonians of the three independent states or kingdoms of Bohemia, Moravia, and Hungary; and the medley of Græco-Slavonian nations, Croats, Servians, Bulgarians, Slavonians proper, Dalmatians, &c., attached to the Greek Empire—such, in the ninth century, were the four leading divisions of the Slavonic family. A great change was produced in the condition of these four Slavonian masses individually, and in their mutual relations, by the introduction among them of Christianity. There were two quarters, it is evident, from which Christianity might reach the Slavonic nations— the Latin world on the west, spiritually subject to the Roman pontiffs; or the Greek world on the east, spiritually subject to the patriarchs of Constantinople. From both these quarters, Christianity did make its way. The Lekha of Poland, and the Tchekhes of Bohemia, Moravia, and Hungary, received their religious forms chiefly from the West, (a.d. 700-1000,) and consequently became, for the most part, adherents of the Latin or Roman Catholic Church; the Græco-Slavonians, and the Muscovites or Great Russians, on the other hand, were converted chiefly by Greek missionaries, (a.d. 640-1100,) and consequently adopted, in preference, the rites and doctrines of the Greek Church. This fact is of great importance in its bearing on Slavonian history. The Poles, the Lithuanians, and the Tchekhes, for example, converted into adherents of the Romish faith, became by that very fact members of the great confederacy of the Western nations; while the Russians, the Bulgarians, &c., fell back, as it were, into the arms of the East. This distinction was perpetuated by certain corresponding differences in the written characters used by the two groups of peoples. At first, the Cyrillic alphabet, so called because it was devised from the Greek by a Greek monk, Cyril (873), was used, with the vernacular form of service, even in Bohemia and Moravia, where, indeed, Cyril preceded the Latin missionaries: ultimately, however, by the strenuous exertions of the Romish Church, the Latin character and the Latin form of service triumphed among all the Slavonian Romanists, with the exception of some Romanist communities among the Græco-Slavonians of the Adriatic, for whom an expressly new character was invented, called the Glagolitic, and who were allowed, besides, to retain their vernacular service. The use of the Cyrillic character, therefore, became a characteristic of the Slavonians of the Greek Church.

The two great influences between which, as between two opposite pressures, we have seen the Slavonian populations struggling and gradually moulding themselves from the fourth to the tenth century—to wit, the encroachments of the German powers on the west, and the indefatigable irruptions of the Asiatic race from the east, did not yet cease to operate. Let us briefly indicate the results of their continued action from the tenth century forward.

The Roman Empire of the west, disintegrated and overrun by the various Teutonic races, had at length (800) been re-united under the sceptre of the Fraukish Charlemagne. But the purpose of this Germanic reconstruction of the western world having been fully served, a new subdivision was required; and, in the year 843, the grandsons of Charlemagne effected such a subdivision by sharing among themselves the vast dominions of their ancestor. Gaul and the dominion of the western Franks were assigned to Charles the Bald; Lothaire, the eldest of the brothers, retained Italy and other central territories, together with the Imperial dignity; while Louis became master of Germany, i.e., feudal chief of the confederate German States proper, beyond the Rhine.

The German Empire of Louis, in addition to some winegrowing districts on the left bank of the Rhine, comprehended on the right bank the German States or Duchies of Bavaria, Saxony, Franconia, and Swabia, together with some Slavonian dependencies, consisting chiefly of lands that had been


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290The Slavonians and Eastern Europe.Aug.

conquered by Charlemagne from the Lekhs of Lithuania, and the Tchekhes of Bohemia. Powerful from the first, and rendered still more powerful by being converted (887) from a hereditary possession of the Carlovingian kings into a confederacy of free States under an elective head, the German Empire was able generally to extend its Slavonian appendages. Under Henry the Fowler, for example, who was Emperor from 919 to 936, the districts of Brandenburg and Lusatia were conquered from the Lekhs and the Tchekhes; and by his successors of the Saxon dynasty (936-1024) not only were new conquests added to these, extending the German frontier as far as the Oder, but the Slavonian dukes of Bohemia and Poland were reduced to the condition of tributaries. The more thoroughly to Germanize the Slavonian parts of the empire, German colonies were planted and German bishoprics established in them; and, indeed, it was chiefly by the rough-handed efforts of their German conquerors that the Northwestern Slavonians were first reclaimed from Paganism. To provide for the efficient government of this quarter of the German Empire, several margravates or marquisates (literally earldoms of the marches) were erected; of which the two most important were the margravate of the North, otherwise called the margravate of Brandenburg, established on the frontier towards

etymology
of
"Austria"

the Lekhs of Poland, and the margravate of the East, otherwise called the margravate of Austria, (Oester-reich, literally Eastern march,) established on the frontier towards the Tchekhes of Bohemia and Hungary. This latter margravate, though but a creation and outpost of the Germanic Empire, soon swelled itself to the dimensions of a great power, by assuming the chief burden of the activity of the empire against the Slavonians. Elevated into a Duchy by the Emperor Frederic I. (1152) and still farther aggrandized when Rudolph of Hapsburg, having been elected to the empire in 1273, assigned it as fief to his eldest son Albert, it gradually acquired, by marriage, inheritance, or conquest, (1273-1560,) dominion over Bohemia, Moravia, Hungary, &c., thus absorbing into itself the whole of the Tchekh portion of the Slavonian family. It was in consequence of this "Very extension of its rule by the annexation of Slavonian territories that Austria attained that predominance in the Germanic Empire which enabled it to retain the imperial dignity, so long as that dignity existed, in the possession of the House of Hapsburg. Meanwhile, what the margravate of Austria had been to the Tchekhes or Southern Slavonians, the margravate of Brandenburg had proved to their north-western brethren the Lekhs. Converted into an Electorate of the empire by the Golden Bull of Charles IV. in 1356, and acquired by purchase in 1417 by the House of Hohen-Zollern, this margravate was gradually enlarged by the abilities of its holders till it assumed the dimensions of the original Prussian kingdom. That kingdom, the creation of the successive Fredericks and Frederick-Williams of the House of Hohen-Zollern, is. in reality, but a well Germanized section of the territories of the Lekhs or central Slavonians. The name Prussia itself was originally but the designation of a Polish fief, added to the Electorate in 1618; and it was not till 1701 that the electors of Brandenburg, wishing a title more descriptive of their possession as sovereigns of a joint population of Germans and Slavonians, assumed that of kings of Prussia.

While Germany was thus seizing the Slavonian races from the West by its two greedy arms, Prussia and Austria, a more violent and stormy influence was agitating them from the East. Since the days of the Huns and the Avars, there had been a general tendency of the Asiatic races to dash themselves against the populations of Eastern Europe. One such Asiatic race, calling themselves the Magyars, and belonging not to the Calmuck or Mongolian family, as some have supposed, but to the Turkish or Tatar subdivision of the great Caucasian family, detached themselves about the year 880 from their Asiatic connexions, whatever these were, and advancing into Europe, under a chief named Arpad, took possession of a large tract of land in the very heart of the Tchekhes, and subjecting the native inhabitants to serfdom, founded the present Tatar-Slavonic kingdom of Hungary. The name Hungary itself, though imagined by some to have been an ancient name given to that section of the Tchekh dominions, to denote its previous extensive colonization by the Huns or Kalmucks, is by others regarded as a native Magyar appellation, given to what had till then been known only as a part of Great Moravia. In any case, the Magyars were able almost instantly to naturalize themselves in the fine country which they had selected for their habitation. Under Geysa, the grandson of Arpad, they embraced Christianity, and thus entered within the pale of Catholic Europe. Stephen, the son of Geysa, assuming the title of King of Hungary, became known as a warlike potentate; and his successors following in his footsteps, added the Græco-Slavonian territories of Croatia (1100), Slavonia proper,


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original Slavonians

1849.The Slavonians and Eastern Europe.293

nal condition, when they were but a vast aggregation of barbaric tribes, adoring Sviantovid, drinking mead, and dancing to the sound of the gusla—might have been led to form of them. It had been from no want of real stamina in themselves, but rather from an accumulation of irresistible circumstances from without, that, instead of founding a united Slavonic empire in Eastern, and furnishing Slavonic dynasties to Western Europe, they had fallen asunder into fragments, some of which, like the German and Turkish Slavonians, were but appendages to foreign sovereignties, and others, like Russia and Poland, but the Slavonian patrimonies of foreign aristocratic houses. This singular tenor of their past history did not by any means demonstrate their incapacity to act a wholesale part in the general career of the human species, or the inferiority of the Slavonic to other races. On the contrary, as might more philosophically be argued, all this sifting and tearing apart of the Slavonian mass, and intermingling with it of foreign ingredients, German, Turkish, Mogul, and Magyar, had been but a necessary process of preparation, in order that, finally, the Slavonian genius might manifest itself with greater power and acceptance, just as some substances have their special and characteristic attributes not altered or extinguished by the limited interfusion of others, but only developed and made available. Various circumstances seem to indicate this, and to prove that, at the present moment, there lies underneath the uniform surface of Slavonian Europe a pent-up flood of future influences.

In the first place, the various Slavonic nations have all along taken a part in the general commerce and material ongoings of the world, such as only nations of good brain and faculty could have been equal to. They figure sufficiently well in McCulloch's Commercial Dictionary, and in the lists and figure-tables of Manchester manufacturers. Russia, for example, with its marvellous capital, St. Petersburg, containing nearly 500,000 inhabitants, exports wheat, flour, cattle, furs, flax, oil, tallow, and hides, in large quantities; imports foreign commodities in return; and is altogether an important member of the European confederacy of nations. The Muscovite, or Great Russian part of its population, are the fondest of trading, and of industrial occupations generally; the Cossacks, or Little Russians, are bolder, less thrifty, and make better soldiers. Nor are the Slavonian populations under German rule inferior, after their respective fashions, to the Russians. The Slavonians of Prussia contribute their full share to the general prosperity of that remarkable country. The kingdom of Bohemia, with its capital, Prague, a town of about 110,000 inhabitants, is well known to be one of the most important of the manufacturing apartments of the Austrian empire. Its glass has been celebrated since the thirteenth century; its northern districts are one continued manufactory of linens; and its calicoes, woollens, china-ware, cutlery, &c., employ thousands of hands. From the rich adjoining country of Moravia, the capital of which is Brünn, a town of about 35,000 inhabitants, there is a large export trade to various parts of Germany. Hungary, whose commercial capital is Pesth, with upwards of 62,000, and its political capital, Presburg, with about 38,000 inhabitants, is said to excel almost any country in Europe in the abundance, variety, and value of its natural productions. It has coal-mines, and mines of all the metals except tin; it grows more wheat, maize, and oats, than it can use; it has whole forests of fruit-trees; tobacco is cultivated in nearly every part of it; it contains millions of sheep and cattle of good breeds; and its wines, the best of which is the sweet strong aromatic Tokay, yield to none in the world. So richly favoured by nature, the Hungarians do not practise many branches of manufacture, but import the manufactured goods they require in exchange for their superfluous home-produce. Nor is the prosperity of Hungary, such as it is, the sole work of its ruling inhabitants, the Magyars. The Slovacks of its northern districts, a branch of the Tchekhes of Moravia, are industrious cultivators of their Carpathian valleys; besides which, (whatever the fact may indicate,) a detachment of them, after the manner of the Italian organ-boys, are perpetually perambulating Germany, with countenances and eyes the most magnificent in the world, selling mouse-traps. The kingdoms of Croatia and Slavonia proper, too, politically incorporated with that of Hungary, and enjoying similar advantages of soil and climate, are by no means nests of savages. Agram, the capital of Croatia, a town of some 17,000 inhabitants, is a great market for the sale of Hungarian wheat, tobacco, and pigs; and the Croats, though rough fighting fellows, dwelling in barns without windows, make their own carts and ploughs, and drink their own wine and plum juice. The Slavonians proper resemble the Croats; their chief town, Essek, is a handsome place, containing about 12,000 inhabitants, and, besides trading in grain, cattle, and hides, does a little silk-spinning. The capital of lllyria, which is the modern name of the patch of the Slavonian territory lying between the Venetians and the Croats, is the growing Austrian sea-


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Slavonic songs,—poetry

1849.The Slavonians and Eastern Europe.295

language and by their written literature to be one of the superior races of our species. As regards the first, no more highly organized language, we are told, was ever spoken on earth than the Slavonic: vying in grammatical devices as it is said to do with the ancient Greek; possessing, for example, numerous declensions, an ablative case, a dual number, a patronymic termination, diminutive and augmentative nouns, frequentative and inceptive verbs, various preterite and future tenses, inflexions of verbs rendering pronouns unnecessary, unlimited powers of compounding words, and a host of serviceable particles; besides all which it includes every articulate human sound known, except the English th. Again, as regards Slavonic literature; here, it is said, with a due amount of all that varied intellectual vigour that is exhibited in the literature of the Indo-European races in general, there is discernible a certain important differentia or originality, a certain peculiar something that is not Celtic, that is not Pelasgic, that is not Germanic, but solely and essentially Slavonic. This peculiarity of the Slavonic genius, this characteristic attitude, if we may so call it, of the Slavonian soul, naturally shows itself most clearly in the higher poetry of the Slaves, and above all, in their popular songs and ballads. There, besides an intense nationality, and a burning hatred, in particular, to the Germanic races, partly produced, no doubt, by historical causes, but arising to some extent also from the consciousness of a difference of character, there prevails a certain large and melancholy wildness, as we occidentals would call it—a wildness as of a sacred horseman in a great desert, urging his steed through the winds, with the far horizon in his eye. Nay, were we to allow the author of the Revelations of Russia to sum up for us in this place, we should have from him, in conclusion, a flat assertion of the general intellectual superiority of the Slavonic to the Teutonic races. Of this superiority, he says, the Slaves themselves are profoundly convinced. In the present state of our information, however, it will be wise to say as little as possible on that point.

There is still one other way in which the worth of a people may be estimated; by ascertaining, namely, whether they have, on any occasion, fought and resisted bravely, whether in their history there are any grand and heroic passages, whether they have ever stood forth before other men as the champions of a cause. Tried by this test, at least, the Slavonian peoples are safe. Of their primeval heroism, of their conflicts long and resolute with German, Turk, Mongol, and Magyar, we shall not speak; all that is but mist and song. Coming down, however, to a clearer day, what eye does not rest fondly on one hour at least in the European past, made memorable by Slavonian courage—the hour of Huss, of Jerome of Prague, and of Ziska, those three Bohemian patriots, who, seized at a distance by the spirit of the English Wycliffe, first spoke the bold truth in their native part of Europe, and scattered abroad, Slaves as they were, seeds that were but revived by the German Luther? Or, descending still later, to our own times, who has not heard of the brave struggle of the Servians against the Turks, a struggle continued during twenty-six years, (1804-30,) with a determination comparable to that of the Scotch under Wallace, and which resulted at last in a guarantee of virtual independence wrung by the subjects from their hard masters? Nay, and if further proof should be required, have we not one last argument at hand in the history of the Polish nation?

After remaining distinct for several centuries, the two nations that had formed themselves in the Tchekhish portion of the general Slavonian area, to wit, Poland and Lithuania, were united in 1385 by the marriage of Hedvige, the Queen of Poland, with Jagellon, the reigning prince of Lithuania. The throne of Poland being elective, however, while that of Lithuania was hereditary, the union was at first by no means complete; and it was only in consequence of a tacit suppression on the part of the Polish nobles of their right to elect the sovereigns of their country, that the princes of the Jagellon line continued to rule in both nations. To put an end to this anomalous state of things, a formal arrangement was made in 1569, by which the Lithuanian sovereignty, becoming also elective, was merged in that of Poland, the Lithuanian nobles becoming entitled to all the privileges enjoyed by their Polish brethren, that of sitting and voting, for example, in the general Diet; but the laws, the armies, and the finances of the two countries to remain still distinct. By this arrangement, Poland attained the dimensions of a great European state, extending from the Oder to and beyond the Dnieper in one direction, and to and beyond the Dwina in another. Unfortunately, however, hardly had the union taken place, when Sigismund Augustus, the last of the Jagellon princes, died, (1572,) and the throne, till then elective but in theory, became elective in practice. From that day dates the decline of Poland. Internal Polish history became thenceforward but a continued series of election-struggles


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296The Slavonians and Eastern Europe.Aug.

between different factions of the nobility, of intrigues on the part of foreign states interested in the success of different candidates, and of religious persecutions directed against the Protestant portion of the population. Occasionally, indeed, as for example, during the reign of the Hungarian Stephen Battori, (1575-1586,) or during that of John Sobieski, (1673-1690,) there was a flash of new splendour; but on the whole, the progress towards ruin was steady and uniform. The reconstruction and enlargement of the Muscovite kingdom under Ivan the Terrible, (1550,) and the subsequent accession to the Russian throne of the House of Romanof, (1613,) were disastrous events for Poland. Engaged in almost incessant wars with Russia, as well as with Sweden and Turkey, the Poles were reduced before the middle of the eighteenth century to a state of perfect helplessness. Even before the close of the seventeenth, they had lost part of their territories by ceding, on the west, the Lithuanian fief of Prussia to the Electorate of Brandenburg, to which it had till then belonged only dependency; and on the east, various Cossack districts on the Dnieper to Russia and Turkey. Their farther humiliation, however, if not their total annihilation as a nation, was the fixed scheme of the House of Romanof. Peter the Great, (1689-1725,) founding the Russian Empire by his genius, had chalked out for his successors a line of policy, leading, by implication, to the subjugation of Poland. It was reserved for Catherine the Great, (1762-1796,) to execute the project. The Polish throne becoming vacant in 1764, she sent a Russian army to compel the Diet to elect her former lover, Stanislaus Poniatowski. The Czartoryskis, then the heads of a zealous Reform party in Poland, supported the nominee of the Empress, hoping the best results from her avowed liberalism. No sooner was Poniatowski elected, however, than Russian influence was employed to crush the Reforms proposed by the Czartoryskis. A civil war followed; Russian armies occupied the country; and in 1772, took place, under Russian auspices, the first dismemberment of Poland. By this dismemberment, the Poles lost 3925 square German miles of their territories, or more than a fourth part of the whole. The confiscated lands were divided unequally between Prussia, Austria, and Russia; Prussia receiving the most valuable portions of Western Poland proper and Western Lithuania; Austria, the territories that now constitute the kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria; and Russia nearly the whole of her present provinces of Livonia, Witepsk, Mochilew, and Minsk. Thus diminished and degraded, Poland endeavoured to regenerate wbat was left of her. Again Russia remorselessly interfered, and by a second dismemberment, (1792,) the Poles were deprived of 5614 square German miles of their territories, 1061 of which were appropriated by Prussia, and 4553 by Russia. Then ensued the last struggle under Kosciusko; on the suppression of which, (1795,) the third dismemberment took place; and Poland was effaced from the map of Europe.

"And rightly served!" cry our stern judges of the worth of nations. "A wrangling pack of some 200,000 nobles, with millions of serfs under them, uneducated and ill-fed: such was the Polish nation—a nation that deserved to die, if ever nation did!" Quick reasoning; very summary justice! Was Poland, under the Jagellons, in a worse condition than other countries in Europe? Even in her worst days, were her serfs more degraded beings than those of Russia now? Did not Poland, even in her later days, accomplish some things that were great— produce a Copernicus; give birth to a Sobieski? Was her crime of a bad constitution one unparalleled in the history of nations that have turned out well? Has the change been for the better? Have her spoilers, Austria, Prussia, and Russia, been more conscientious stewards of the interests of the Polish millions than those whom they superseded? Was there no evidence that a change was in progress in Poland herself at the very hour when her life was trampled out? A Poland organized by Kosciusko and Niemcewicz, what had it been in Europe now! Those struggles, too, of the Poles to regain themselves, those services under Napoleon, and insurrections under Nicholas that have scattered the Slavonic physiognomy over the earth, and filled our cities with men the types of energy—are they of no account? Above all, was the punishment a doom, or only a probation? Is there no pardon? has there been no repentance? Has not Poland, territorially defunct, waxed morally stronger? Has not the sore trial of eighty years fulfilled its stated purpose; and if now, the chastened, united, Polish spirit were gathered as a thunderbolt, and let loose on Slavonic Europe, would it not split and nobly recreate it?

The following is a survey of the present arrangement of the Slavonic race, as quoted by Count Krasinski from the Slavonian Ethnography of Schaffarik:—


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1849.The Railway System of Great Britain.305

Perczel, Damianich, Guyon, men of all nations, Magyars, Slavonians, Englishmen. On Bem, the brave Pole, saved from the fate of Blum by a difficult escape from Vienna, was immediately conferred a high command. Such were the visible signs of preparation; of the invisible and unknown reality who shall speak—of the thoughts, prayers, and fears of ten millions of human beings, as fit for liberty as the people of England, and spread over a country twice as large? Worthless, indeed, the heart that, beating freely in this land of ours, franchised for us by the blood of our fathers, can think unmoved of those millions of our contemporaries striving to do the like for their children, albeit they do live in Eastern Europe, and call themselves Magyars!

In December, 1848, the war was begun. An Imperial army of 130,000 men under Windischgrätz as commander-in-chief, and Jellachich and other generals of note as his subordinates, entered Hungary. The movements of the various divisions of this army, and the countermovements of the Hungarians, during the four months that followed, will some day form a subject of study for such as shall be interested in military science. At present the details are hardly known. Suffice it to say that, during these four months, the Hungarians beat their enemies again and again ; beat them in slight engagements, and in pitched battles; beat them in bravery and in strategy; beat them at the very time when the Austrian journals were publishing lying reports of victories gained by the Imperialists, and when hardly a true account from beleaguered Hungary could reach the rest of Europe. All that title to freedom, therefore, that arises from lion-like courage, from fierce hard obstinacy, from perfect soundness of head joined to strength of heart, from unwearied and successful perseverance in a course once begun—a title more respected by the world in general, and by Englishmen in particular, than any arising from mere historic or metaphysic right—this the Hungarians showed themselves most unmistakably to possess. In one other respect, too, they proved the superior temper of their race. Fighting against generals the most pitiless and barbaric that ever took the field, men that, defeated in battle, would hang, shoot, burn, flog, and call it military firmness, the Hungarians carried all gently, heroically, like a people noble in misfortune. That such a people should win would be a boon to the world. Nor, had they been left, they and their natural enemies, to fight it out equally between them, could the result have been doubtful. One more trial, however, was to be heaped upon them. Already, in April, 1849, had the Austrians been driven from Hungary; already in the same month had the emancipated Hungarians proclaimed their freedom, and chosen Kossuth their first chief and President, with other ministers, both Magyar and Slavonian, to assist him, when the flood-gates of northern despotism were opened on Austrian solicitation, and the expected tide rushed in. In the end of April 50,000 Russians crossed the Hungarian frontier. Other armies have followed in their track. And now for three months has the war been waging between the Hungarians and the united Russian and Austrian armies. The efforts of the Hungarians have been unprecedented; like brave men, they have staked all on their last struggle. In their first battles they beat the Russians, as they had already beaten the Austrians; at the moment that we write, however, matters wear a more perplexed aspect, and all Europe waits with anxiety to know the issue. Should the Hungarians finally be victorious, the results will be most beneficial; in Eastern Europe there will be founded a free Magyar-Slavonic State, stronger and greater than Austria, a splendid commercial member of the European commonwealth, and a nucleus, round which the Slavonic races may gradually and conveniently form themselve according to their common Panslavic or their separate national tendencies : should the Russians, on the other hand, win the day, then there will be Panslavic Empire in right earnest; the Tsar, overruling decrepit Austria like a master, will place his foot upon Constantinople, and look scowlingly towards the European West, and this state of things will continue till the coming blow shall be struck that shall shiver Russia itself in pieces, and proclaim a new era for the enfranchised world.


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306The Railway System of Great Britain.Aug.

IT has been lately shown that there is poetry in science, and more recently it has been asserted that there is poetry even in railways. We cheerfully adopt both these propositions in all their truth and beauty, and are surprised only at the limitation with which the sentiment had been surrounded. Poetry acknowledges no boundary to its domains. Its strains are breathed throughout the physical as well as the moral world—its music is heard among the spheres—it chaunts its lays over the loves of the plants, and its sympathies are entwined even round the sufferings and enjoyments of irrational existence. What a noble epic is the universe itself! delineated in radiant hieroglyphics on the azure canvass of the firmament, as explored by the space-penetrating tube of the astronomer, and decyphered by the analysis of the mathematical sage. What a melodrame is exhibited on our own globe, while it speeds in ether its annual and its daily round;—on our earth-home—the stage upon which man has so long strutted his brief hour, emblazoning his vices and his crimes, and rioting in giddy frivolity above burning caverns and primeval tombs, and among the contemporary dead, over whom he has himself sighed and wept.

Beneath the lava crust on which he daily treads and slumbers, he witnesses the tragedy of the pre-Adamite age, in which all the characters have perished, without leaving a seed behind;—while on its surface is played the comedy of modern life, in which intellectual and immortal man eats, and drinks, and dies; and exhibited the farce, in which kings and conquerors are reproduced in clay, or embalmed by the apothecary, or thrust under ground by the sexton. Nor is the poetry of life thus limited to humanity with its conflicting interests and passions. It claims a right of song over the speechless denizens of the forest and the heath, of the ocean and the air. The Pierian spring has tributaries even in the haunts of ferocious natures; and with the blood-stained hearth of the tiger, and the roofless home which the jungle or the rock affords to the carnivorous pilgrim, there are associations of tenderness and love, of suffering and enjoyment, more noble and affecting than those which are linked with the lower and more savage grades of humanity. When animal and intellectual life are sheltered under the same roof, and when instinct and reason are auxiliaries in the house or on the heath, we learn to appreciate the virtues and the affections, if not the knowledge and the wisdom, of the brutes that perish.

The poetry of mechanism is one of the most interesting departments of the poetry of science, and that of railways cannot fail to be regarded as the Iliad of its productions— embracing the account of works the most expensive and gigantic—the description of engines the most ingenious and complex, and the history of social ameliorations which are now altering the very condition of man— virtually extending the very term of his existence, and opening new and extensive fields for the exercise of his holiest and noblest affections.

It is not our design in the following Article to amuse the reader with any account of those singularly curious and interesting arrangements* which have been rendered necessary by the great and rapid extension of the railway system, for the comfort and security of the millions whom it accommodates. Our object is to give the general reader some idea of the origin, progress, and extent of the railway system—of the ingenious inventions and stupendous works which it has called into existence—of the social triumphs which it has achieved—of the improvements of which it is susceptible, and which are necessary for the security of life and property—of its present state and prospects as a commercial speculation, and of the necessity of protecting it as a great national institution,—by the development of the whole traffic of the empire—by the grant of public aid—by placing all the railways in the kingdom under the management of Government, and by preventing in future that enormous expenditure of railway capital which has been so unnecessarily sunk in the preliminary stages of their existence, and which has led to the ruin of many of those enterprising capitalists to

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* This has been already beautifully done by the distinguished author of "Stokers and Pokers," a work well worthy of the reader's perusal and study.


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