In the university library of the Catholic University of Lublin you can find a copy of part II of “Forefathers’ Eve” by Adam Mickiewicz with corrections made by the author. The copy was copied by the bard’s friend – Jan Czeczot. It was supposed to be a gift for a lecturer at Vilnius University. Apart from minor corrections, Mickiewicz added at the beginning of the drama: “There are wonders in heaven and on earth that our philosophers have never dreamed of.”
For over 50 years, the Philomath Archive has been kept in the university library of the Catholic University of Lublin, containing, among others, poetry of the Philomath Society, documents from meetings (e.g. minutes, speeches, proclamations, statutes), correspondence between members of the association.
Among the 69 signatures there are also the so-called autographs, e.g. “Romantyność” written by Adam Mickiewicz himself and copies of the poet’s works. One of such copies is part II of Forefathers’ Eve, beginning with the well-known quote “It’s dark everywhere, deaf everywhere, what will it be, what will it be?”
Two notes at the beginning of the text
– The copy we have is transcribed by the author’s friend, Jan Czeczot. Importantly, the corrections were made by Mickiewicz himself. We are talking mainly about two notes at the beginning of the text – informs Dr. Dominik Maiński from the Special Collections Department of the Catholic University of Lublin University Library.
This is a preface explaining what forefathers’ Eve is about. Mickiewicz added: ‘Forefathers’ Eve, this is the name of the solemn rite in memory of the dead, commonly celebrated on All Saints’ Eve, in the Orthodox church at the cemetery; the whole idea is taken from village songs, and we even translated the incantation formulas and incantations from Lithuanian. The fraction we include here is a fragment of a larger “Poem” (original spelling).
The bard’s second note at the beginning of the play is a quote in English from William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, which he then gave in Polish: “There are wonders in heaven and on earth that our philosophers have never dreamed of.”
There are also minor corrections in the text
Urszula Jańczyk from the Institute of Literary Studies of the Catholic University of Lublin adds that Mickiewicz, after reviewing Czeczot’s copy, also made minor corrections.
– Let us remember that he also introduced fundamental textual changes, the naming of characters (e.g. Xiądz replaced by Guślarz), a change in the title (instead of “Forefathers’ Eve” – Fractions from the poem “Forefathers’ Eve”), and the added motto preceding the entire work – the researcher points out.
My friend wanted to show what talent was wasted in Kaunas
He reports that, according to Stanisław Pigoń, editor of Adam Mickiewicz’s works, a copy of “Forefathers’ Eve” part II was made by Czeczot in order to ask the university authorities to recall Mickiewicz from Kaunas to Vilnius.
– The poet wanted to free himself from his teaching duties and return to Vilnius, where his friends were currently staying. A copy of “Dziady” part II was supposed to be a gift for Professor Leon Borowski, a lecturer at Vilnius University, to make him realize what talent is wasted away from the university, in provincial Kaunas. That is why Stanisław Pigoń dates the preparation of this copy to 1820 – emphasizes Jańczyk.
The copy was part of the secret society’s archives
The Society of Philomaths, i.e. lovers of knowledge, was a secret association of students and graduates of the University of Vilnius operating between 1817 and 1823.
The aim of the group was primarily self-education, mutual assistance in learning, methodological preparation for creating literature, as well as shaping moral and patriotic attitudes. The investigation into secret unions of young people and students of the University of Vilnius, conducted by curator Nikolai Novosiltsov, contributed to the end of the activities of the Philomaths. After 1824, the group’s members were exiled to the interior Russia.
– The archivist of this association was Onufry Pietraszkiewicz, who hid very rich documentation of philomaths from the tsarist authorities. In 1908, the documents were deposited in the Polish Academy of Learning in Krakow. Then they returned to Vilnius, where they survived World War II, reports Maiński.
Part of the collection was purchased in 1959 by Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński
After the war, part of the archive was stolen in Vilnius. Another batch of the collection was sold to the university library in Vilnius, and the third part was to go to Poland – to a Catholic educational and cultural institution. In 1959, this part of the collection was purchased by the Primate of Poland, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński.
– The most difficult thing at that time was to transport the collections to Poland from Vilnius, which was in the Soviet Union. Therefore, document transports were secret. Between 1960 and 1980 there were eight of them. The one from 1964 turned out to be unlucky, when Russian customs officers at the border in Brest discovered documents and detained them – explains Dr. Dominik Maiński.
A part of the collection was donated to the Soviet Union
He adds that the lost part of the collection was ultimately transferred by the Ministry of Culture of the Soviet Union as “the Union’s gift to Poland”.
– This batch went to the Museum of Literature. Adam Mickiewicz in Warsaw. It is the second institution in Poland that has a fragment of the Philomath Archives – notes a library employee.
In 1970, they were transferred to the Catholic University of Lublin library
He organized subsequent transports after the war in secret, among others. philologist prof. Czesław Zgorzelski, who later kept them at his place. Sometimes, for security reasons, the collections were kept by persons designated by the rector of the Catholic University of Lublin. In 1970, the Primate of Poland, Stefan Wyszyński, officially donated the first parts of the Philomath Archives to the university library of the Catholic University of Lublin.
– Materials from the collection of the Philomath Archives returned to the country gradually and were not immediately transferred to the KUL library as they arrived. It is worth emphasizing that all transports were organized by Maria Rzeuska, who previously worked in the Department of Culture in the Office of the Chief Government Assistant for Evacuation in Vilnius. Thanks to her, the “Mickiewicziana” from the Philomath Archives were not destroyed – emphasizes Jańczyk.
Main photo source: University Library of the Catholic University of Lublin