Page:Sonnetsfromcrime00mick.djvu/19

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ADAM MICKIEWICZ

was the birthplace of Count Henry Rzewuski, who wrote the delightful memories of the Polish eighteenth century, under the title of "The Memories of Pan Severin Soplica,"[1] and who declared he considered it an honor to be born a "schlazig" (noble) of Lithuania, and of Novogrodek. He went to a government school in Minsk, and later attended the University of Vilna, which city in his day was a place of Jesuit faith, gloomy convents and echoing bells. All about him epoch-making events for Slav lands were taking place. It was a resounding, inspired age for his race, and he grew up to take a fitting place in that age and to be called "the immortal hero of Polish poetry." Poland just then was the battle-ground not only for the armies of Europe, but for the diplomats. It was a place for statesmen to win their spurs. If accredited to Petersburg or Warsaw, and successful, they were believed to be equal to any diplomatic emergency. Eloquence, inspiration, and patriotic fervor must have cradled his childhood.

At the time of the birth of Mickiewicz, Russia was bringing to a close a prodigious period of development in almost every field of human activity. It was really the

  1. The full title of the book is: Memories of Pan Severin Soplica, Cupbearer of Parnau, by Count Henry Rzewuski.
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