The last of the eighteenth century was an important period for Russia and Poland, not only politically, but in letters and art. It marked the birth of statesmen, patriots, poets and writers. It was into a Poland of great names and greater activities that Adam Mickiewicz was born in 1798, as son of an impoverished family of the old nobility. Three years before, the third and last partition of his native land had taken place, and the signed documents had been hastened to Petersburg to make more triumphant the birthday of the Great Catherine.
Just a few years before this (1792), Kosciusko had courageously led his forty-five thousand valiant Poles in their brave defiance of an overwhelming number of Cossacks and Russians. History had recorded the bloody Turkish wars, the Pugatshev rebellion, the uprising of the Zaporogian Cossacks and the Polish confederations. And with the nineteenth century came the Napoleonic wars with the dramatic entry of Napoleon into Russia, and a new and different mental life began to dawn over Europe.
Mickiewicz was born in Novogrodek in Lithuania. This