Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Valerian Kalinka
|←Jan Stephanus van Kalcker||Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 8
Polish historian, born near Cracow in 1826; died at Jaroslaw in 1886. He fled from Poland in 1846 on account of political entanglements, worked on the "Czas" newspaper in 1848, but finally took refuge in Paris, where his first work was written — "Galicia und Cracoio", an historical and social picture of the country from 1772 to 1850. He afterwards thought of writing a history of the Polish emigration, but eventually chose to edit a weekly periodical entitled "Political Polish News", the principal contributors to which were himself and Klaczko. Though forbidden everywhere but in Posen, it existed for four years, and dealt with every aspect of Polish national life. Kalinka's articles show a very practical acquaintance with law, administration, history, and statistics, and had mostly to do with the inner life of Poland. After 1863, when searching for documents for a life of Prince Adam Czartoryski, he stumbled on important papers which he published in two volumes as "The Last Years of Stanislaus Augustus" (1787-95). This work placed him at once in the first rank of Polish writers. Poland had not yet had such an historian, especially in the province of diplomacy and foreign politics. While marking out a new line, it carefully pointed out the errors of the past, and showed how they might have been avoided. Szujski, though unknown to Kalinka, was at the same time working in the same direction. Both were accused of undermining patriotic self- respect, of lowering Poland in foreign eyes, and of destroying veneration for the past. In the preface to this work, Kalinka had already answered these charges. A Pole is not less a Pole when he learns from past errors how to serve his country better. About this time Kalinka entered the novitiate of the Resurrection Fathers in Rome, where, save for a few visits to Galicia, he subsequently resided until in 1877, after a visit to the Catholic missions in Bulgaria, he became chaplain of a convent in Jaroslaw. Here in 1880 appeared the first volume of his "Sejmczteroletni" (The Four Years Diet). Polish literature has no better book, and none whose perusal is more painful. It exhibits all the weaknesses in the leading men of Poland, and all their political blunders. To the many fierce reproaches it called forth Kalinka replied: "History calls first for truth; nor can truth harm patriotism." A grave style, artistic grouping, faithful narrative of facts, profound political insight, and splendid literary talent make this book the greatest historical lesson in the Polish language. The second volume, even surpassing the first, appeared in 1886, and with it came to an end the thirty years labour of Kalinka. He was not only a profound and far-seeing politician and one of Poland's best historians, but also one of her most zealous priests.