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An Obscure Apostle A Dramatic Story   By: (1842-1910)

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An Obscure Apostle

A Dramatic Story

TRANSLATED BY C.S. DE SOISSONS FROM THE ORIGINAL POLISH OF

MME. ORZESZKO

LONDON

GREENING & CO., LTD.

20 CECIL COURT, CHARING CROSS ROAD

1899

Printed by Cowan & Co., Limited Perth.

PREFACE

ELIZA ORZESZKO

In Lord Palmerston's days, the English public naturally heard a great deal about Poland, for there were a goodly number of Poles, noblemen and others, residing in London, exiles after the unsuccessful revolution, who, believing that England would help them to recover their lost liberty, made every possible effort to that end through Count Vladislas Zamoyski, the prime minister's personal friend. But even in those times, when the English press was writing much about the political situation in Poland, little was said about that which constitutes the greatest glory of a nation, namely, its literature and art, which alone can be secure of immortality. Only lately, in fact, has any public attention been paid by English people to Polish literature. However, among the authors who have attracted considerable attention of late, is the writer of "By Fire and Sword," whose "Quo Vadis," has met with a phenomenal reception. Henryk Sienkiewicz has by his popularity proved that in unfortunate, almost forgotten, Poland, there is an abundance of literary talent and an important output of works of which few English readers have any conception. For instance, who has ever heard, in Great Britain, of Adam Michiewicz the great Polish poet, who, critics declare, can be placed in the same category with Homer, Virgil, Dante, Tasso, Klopstock, Camoens, and Milton? Joseph Kraszewski as a novel writer occupies in Poland as high a position as Maurice Jokai does in Hungarian literature, while Mme. Eliza Orzeszko is considered to be the Polish Georges Sand, even by the Germans, who are in many respects the rivals of Slavs in politics and literature.

Henryk Sienkiewicz, asked by an interviewer what he thought about the contemporary Polish literary talents, replied: "At the head of all stand Waclaw Sieroszewski and Stefan Zeromski; they are young, and very promising writers. But Eliza Orzeszko still holds the sceptre as a novelist."

When the "Revue des Deux Mondes" asked the authors of different nationalities to furnish an essay on women of their respective countries, Mme. Orzeszko was chosen among the Polish writers to write about the Polish women. It may be stated that translations of her novels appeared in the same magazine more than twenty years ago. She is not only a talented but also a prolific writer. She has suffered much in her life, and her sufferings have brought out those sterling qualities of soul and heart, which make her books so intensely human, and characterise all her works, and place her high above contemporary Polish writers. The present volume may stand as a proof of her all embracing talent.

C.S. DE SOISSONS.

AN OBSCURE APOSTLE

INTRODUCTION

On the summits of civilisation the various branches of the great tree of humanity are united and harmonised. Education is the best apostle of universal brotherhood. It polishes the roughness without and cuts the overgrowth within; it permits of the development, side by side and with mutual respect, of the natural characteristics of different individuals; it prunes even religious beliefs produced by the needs of the time, and reduces them to their simplest expression, the result being that people can live without antipathies.

Quite a different state of affairs exists in the social valley unlighted by the sun of knowledge. There people are the same to day as they were in the remote centuries. Time, while making tombs for the dead people, has not buried with them the forms which, being continually regenerated, create among amazed societies unintelligible anachronisms. Here exist distinctions which, with sharp edges, push back everything which belongs not to them; here are crawling moral and physical miseries which are unknown, even by name, to those who have reached the summits; here is a gathering of dark figures, standing out against the background of the world, resembling vague outlines of sphinxes keeping guard over the graveyards; here are widely spread petrifications of faiths, sentiment and customs, testifying by their presence that geniuses of many centuries can simultaneously rule the world... Continue reading book >>




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