10 July 1832
Having lived nearly four years in the family of a Polish nobleman of high distinction, I was enabled to acquire much information in regard to the hero Kobciuszko; for portions of this information I may hereafter take occasion to claim in sertion in your columns, but at present I shall confine myself to a record of the posthumous honors paid to his remains, for they shed as bright a lustre on their object as on their ministrants, and every way deserve to be held up to admiration in this land of freedom.
Kosciuszko was not one of those with whom patriotism was but a stepping ladder for self-aggrandizement to speak of him, indeed, is to speak, of one who commanded even the esteem of princes against whom his sword was raised; his name belongs to the whole civilized world, and his virtues are a bequest to all mankind.
Towards the close of life; unable to bear the spectacle of degradation which his conquered country exhibited, and baffled in the generous expectations which its artful conqueror had at one time bade him cherish, Kosciuszko, after emancipating the serfs on his estates in Poland, retired to Soleure, where the amiable society of long cherished friends cheered and softened the last hours of a life devoted to great and virtuous deeds.
Though absent from the land of his birth, the enthusiastic, attachment of his fellow-countrymen defied the chilling influeuce of separation; and there was not a college or corporation among them which did not continue to celebrate his natal day with banquets or other festivities.
The tidings of his decease (which took place on the 15th of October 1817) spread sorrow and desolation over the whole face of Poland, and the senate of the republic of Cracow immediately issued circulars to the public authorities, fixing the fourteenth of the November following as the day of national mourning, on which the last honors were to be rendered to his memory.
Warsaw and Cracow took the lead in displaying their grateful feeling on this solemn occasion; but Poland felt she had yet another sacred duty to perform; her hero's remains were mouldering under a stranger sky; she called upon the Emperor Alexander to obtain their removal from Soleure; with his sanction the young Prince Jablonowski was deputed on this noble mission, and the body at tended by the father and son, in whose society Kosciuszko had calmly spent the remnant of his virtuous days, was borne to the church of St. Florian, without the walls of Cracow, whither it had been accompanied for the last three miles by the great officers of state.
The solemn procession, which conveyed it thence on the ensuing morning, was finely characteristic of the occasion. Warriors of distinguished rank, who were grey in their country's service, bore the relics on their shoulders: next followed Kosciuszko's sable charger, caparisoned in black; two maidens, with wreaths of oak leaves and branches of cypress in their hands, walked by his side; then came the general staff, the senate, burgesses, clergy, and populace.
When this array reached the Wavel, a hill once honored by the residence of the magnificent Jagellon and other Polish monarchs, a funeral oration was delivered by Count Wodziki; he had scarcely closed his lips, when a Mascovian peasant came forward, and ad dressing General Grabowski, one of Kosciuszko's companions in arms, related the following occurrence in a tone of deep emotion.
"At the battle of Raclawice, when fighting by the side of three of my brothers, there were two guns which com mitted indescribable havoc on a column of Poles, and repeatedly drove them back.
On a sudden I saw two Cracovian countrymen, fired by the ex ample of their leader, rush upon the cannon and cover the mouths with their body.
No war-cry could have kindled such a glow amongst us as their heroic devotion: we flew to the rescue of our gallant comrades, and the enemy's artillery was instantly in our possession; we turned it upon him, and he took to flight."
The procession now moved toward the cathedral, in the centre of which a splendid catafalk had been erected, and beneath this shrine the coffin was deposited.
Its only adornments were Sobieski's sword and a branch of laurel. Paintings, executed by Stakowicz, were deposited around the sarcophagus; one represented Washington investing the hero with the order of Cincinnatus; another depicted the citizens of Cracow swearing fidelity to him; in a third, he was portrayed as calmly contemplating a tempestuous ocean; and a fourth recalled a fatal conflict of Maciciowice, where, covered with wounds, and falling from his horse, he was heard to exclaim,
"Finis Polonise!" Woronic, the bisbop, discharged the last offices over the body, and Lan ciouski, a preiate to high estimation for his political talents, addressed the assembly with a brief but heart-rending eloquence, which brought tears into every eye.
During the ceremony, the young Countesses, Angelica and Caroline Wodzicka, made a collection at the door in behalf of the house of Refuge at Cracow; thus calling in Charity herself to render homage to the departed great.
The ceremony was terminated by depositing the remains in the same vault which incloses our ancient kings, its majestic arches extend under the whole floor of the cathedral; but to the right, opposite to the principal entrance gate, is a subterraneous chapel, built by Stanislaus Augustus, in the year 1788, where he had fondly hoped to find his last resting-place.
It is divided into several compartments by pillars of the lonic order; and at present contain three sarcophagi; those of John Sobieski, Joseph Poniatowski, and Thaddeus Kosciuszko. In life, these three patriots sought their country's weal by devious paths in death, they still are severed, and slumber in threo dis tinct mausolea.
That of Kosciuszko bears no other symbol than his immortal name.
But his country has paid a yet more imperishable tribute to her favourite son.
The senate of Cracow decreed, that a lofty mound should be raised on the heights of Bronislaw, (i. e. "the Champion of Fame," an appellation which it has borne from the remotest times,) and this monument owes its existence to the willing zeal of every class and age; the magistrate and citizen, nobleman and peasant, young and old, rich and poor have been its artificers.
For three whole years (from the 16th Oct. 1820 to the 16th of the same month in 1833) did they toil with unabating ardour until the hill of Kosciuszko (the Mogila Kosciuszki) was reared three hundred feet above its base, and outshone the two adjoining monuments of St. Kracus and Queen Wanda.
A serpentine footpath leads the visitor to its summit from which he has a fine prospect of the beautiful banks of the Vistula, and the ancient city of the Polish kings.
The surplus of the subscriptions, which in every quarter betokened the fervour of national gratitude, has been employed in erecting dwellings for four pesants, who fought under Kosciuszko's standard, and devote their labors to the preservation of a memorial worthy of the leader whom they were called to obey and learned to adore.
United Service Journal.