The salutary counsel of Bartek known as 'Prussian' - The fighting words of Maciek 'the Baptist' - The politic words of Master Buchman - Jankiel attempts to bring about consensus, is thwarted by Penknife - Gerwazy's address, which demonstrates the effectiveness of parliamentary persuasion - Old Maciej's remonstrance - The sudden arrival of reinforcements breaks off the debate - Down with the
It was Bartek's turn now to state his point of view;
He made trips to Królewiec on rafts, not a few,
So was nick-named the 'Prussian' by people, in jest,
For all knew that the Prussians he loathed like a pest,
Though liked talking about them; in his sixtieth year,
Who had seen in his travels the world, far and near;
Of gazettes a great reader, knew matters of state:
So much light he could throw on the current debate.
Thus concluded he:
"This, good Pan Maciej, dear sir,
Brother dear, and our father, to whom all defer,
This is no trivial aid. On the French I'd depend
In a war as I would on four aces in hand:
A brave, warlike race, and from Pan Kosciuszko's days
The world not by another such chief was amazed,
By such genius at war as the great Bonaparte.
I recall when the French had crossed over the Warthe
-I was travelling abroad then-it was in the year
Of Our Lord Eighteen Hundred and Six; and I steered
On some business to Gdansk; and with relatives near
In Poznan, thought to pay them a visit, and went
With Grabowski, now colonel of our regiment,
Who then lived near a village, Obezierz by name.
We went hunting together there after small game.
There was peace in Great Poland; when suddenly rattled
All around us the tidings of some dreadful battle;
An envoy from Pan Todwen pulled up alongside,
Grabowski read the letter, and 'Jena!' he cried,
'The Kraut's beat neck and crop, he has fled like the breeze!'
I then, having dismounted, fell down on my knees,
Giving thanks to the Lord-and to town we then ride,
As on business, pretending to know naught beside;
And we see: all these landrats and other hofrats,
Herr Komissars and other such similar rats,
To the ground bow before us; they paled and they blanched
Like a fat Prussian cockroach with hot water drenched.
We all rub our hands laughing, and with great respect
Ask, if there is some news they from Jena expect?
When they hear this dire news, in their shock and dismay,
All those Germans start screaming: 'Her-got!' and 'O vey!'
Noses down, to their houses, rush out with huge loads,
Oh, this was a shemozzle! All Great Poland's roads
Full of refugees; Germans, like ants disturbed, crawled
Dragging vehicles that the folk thereabouts called
'Wagens', or else fornalkas; men, women, distressed,
With a pipe, and a kettle, with bedding, with chest,
Scamper off as they can, while we secretly meet:
Let's, to horse, make a mess of the German retreat;
What if we whip the landrats, strip off hofrats' trews,
And Herr Officers catch by their long plaited queues!'
And then General Dabrowski into Poznan flies
With the Emperor's order: 'All Poles are to rise!'
In one week did our folk have the Germans so beat
And chased off, that you could not find one in the street!
What if we, too, get busy, the right moment pick,
And in Litwa play Moscow the very same trick?
Heh? What do you think, Maciej? If with Bonaparte
Moscow picks a bone, joking with him is not smart!
World's greatest hero, soldiers unnumbered he gathered!
What do you think, hey, Maciej, our Bunny, our father?
He stopped. For Maciej's verdict they, anxious, stand by.
Maciej moved not his head, nor yet lifted his eye,
Several times, with his hand though, he struck at his side,
As if seeking his sabre (since liberty died
Wore it not; nonetheless from a habit ingrained,
At a mention of Moscow his hand reached again
For his left side, where once he his 'Switch' always found
And so named 'By-My-Side' in the country around).
He raised his hand, they listened in silence profound.
But Maciej disappointed the wish of his guests,
His brow clouded, again his head sank to his breast.
At last spoke, each word slowly, deliberately said,
Each word stressed, keeping rhythm with nodding of head:
"Silence! What is the source of this news just to hand?
How far are the French forces? Who is in command?
Is war on Moscow certain? And where, why, and when?
And what route have they taken? With how many men?
What infantry, what horse? Has this any here learned?"
They were silent and looked at each other in turn.
"I suggest", spoke up Prussian, "that for Worm we wait,
For from him the whole news seems to originate;
In the meantime send trusty spies over the border
And, in secret, put arms for us all in good order;
For with care we must meanwhile conduct the thing thus
That we do not betray our intent to the Russ."
"Wait? Prate? Debate?" another Maciek interrupted,
Named 'Baptist' for the massive great club he'd adopted,
And had baptised it 'Sprinkler', he brought it today,
Stood it upright in front, on its top his hands laid,
On the hands his chin resting, cried: "Wait, prate, delay!
Hold more meetings! Hem, trem, brem, and then run away?
I've not been there, the Prussians' brains may be germane
To their Prussia, but I have a gentleman's brain!
This I know, who would fight, takes a club in his fist,
Who would die; let the fellow call out for a priest!
Fight! Bite! Why the priest? Are we but schoolboys, to squirm?
What's this Worm to me! Why, it's our swarm will soon worm
Into Moscow's trunk! Trem, brem, spy, and reconnoitre,
You know what these mean?-That you're old beggars to loiter.
Heh, brothers! It's the hound's way to sniff out the prey,
And a monk's to beg alms, but my way is to spray,
Spray, sprinkle, that's all!"-Here his club gave a pat,
After him yelled the gentry: "Spray, sprinkle, that's that!"
Bartek 'Razor' now came to the Baptist's support,
For his sword named, and Maciek, called 'Bucket' for short,
For a blunderbuss he had, of such a wide bore,
From it, as from a can, could a dozen balls pour;
Both called out: "Hurrah, Baptist and Sprinkler, up boys!"
The Prussian wished to speak, but was drowned in the noise
And laughter: "Out", they shouted, "Prussian wimps, outside!
In a Bernardine cowl should all wimps go and hide!"
Then old Maciej again raised up slowly his head,
And, the hubbub about him subsiding, he said:
"Don't make fun of this Worm, men, I know him, he's shrewd,
That little worm has bigger than you walnuts chewed;
Only once have I met him, gave him but one glance,
And knew what bird we have here; he eyed me askance
Fearful that I might make him kneel down and confess;
But, this is not my business, I should not digress!
Call the Bernardine? Useless, he won't come, at least
If he's really the one who this news just released,
And who knows with what aim: it's one hell of a priest!
If except for this story you know nothing more,
Then what do you all want here? What did you come for?"
"War! War!" shouted they.-"What war?" he asked, and they cried:
"War with Muscovites! Thrash them! Tan Muscovites' hide!"
Prussian cried to be heard, raised his voice ever higher,
Till he, partly by bowing, now gained his desire,
And partly with his diction quite piercing and shrill:
"I would fight too", he cried, struck his breast with a will:
"Though I carry no Sprinkler, once with a barge pole
I had christened four Prussians and sure made them bawl,
They tried drowning me, drunk, in the Pregel one day".
"Well done, Bartek", said Baptist, "just sprinkle away!"
"In the name of sweet Jesus! At least we should know
War with whom? And, why war? And must tell the world so"
Cried the Prussian, "else, how will we lead other men,
When we don't know ourselves where we're going, and when?
Gentlemen! Brother gentry! We need reason, sense!
My good friends! In some order should this be commenced!
A confederacy should, if it's war, be decreed,
Let's consider in what place, and under whose lead,
Thus it was in Great Poland-we saw a retreat,
Germans flee, what's to do? So we secretly meet,
Armed the gentry and peasants a few, all discreet,
And all ready we wait for Dabrowski's command,
And at last, to horse, brothers! We rose as one man!"
The Kleck manager called out: "I now ask the floor!"
A man young, and good-looking, who German dress wore;
Name of Buchman, a Pole though, born on Polish earth,
No one knew for sure whether he was of good birth,
But none asked, and Pan Buchman, by general accord
Had respect as one serving an eminent lord,
A good patriot, his mind full of every book knowledge,
Who abroad learned the science of farming at college,
The estate he looked after with skill and with care;
Of political matters was also aware;
Wrote in beautiful script, spoke with good style and worth,
And so all became silent to hear him hold forth.
"The floor!" said he twice more, then he twice cleared his throat,
Bowed once, and, silver-tongued, he began on this note:
"My precursors, in their full and lofty orations
Touched upon the main issues and considerations,
And raised this debate onto a very high plane;
I should merely bring into sharp focus again
The divergent opinions here ably expressed;
Hoping thus views contrary, to reconcile best.
Two clear in the discussions divisions appear,
The division so made, let me follow it here:
Firstly: what reason have we for this insurrection?
What spirit? This the foremost, and vital, election;
The second: 'who's the leader?' should really come first;
The division is proper, but should be reversed.
The authority's foremost-when that is in place
The uprising's sense, spirit, and aims I shall trace.
Authority, then-when I examine, survey,
The long history of mankind, what does it portray?
A race human, but savage, dispersed in woods, glens,
Assembling, and uniting for common defence,
Giving this due reflection-first council debates!
Then each man a small part of his freedom donates
For the common good: and we have here the first law,
From which, as from a spring, will all other laws flow.
Government, from this follows, is founded on pact,
And not, as is thought, wrongly, on God's will and act.
On a sound social contract must order depend;
Delegation is only a means to that end."
"So now, contracts! Of Kiev, or Minsk? What a lemon!"
Said Maciej, "a republic is here, fit for women!
Pan Buchman, it was God's will that governed we are
By the Czar, or was Satan's? This won't take us far,
Pan Buchman, tell us how to get rid of this Czar!"
"There's the rub!" shouted Baptist; "If I could but bounce
To the throne and the Czar just splash! Sprinkle! But once,
Then he would not come back here, not by Kiev tracts,
Nor by Minsk, nor by any Buchmanish contracts;
Him no pope from his coffin with God's help would winkle,
Or Beelzebub's help-he's my man, who will sprinkle!
Pan Buchman, this your discourse has very much merit,
But all fine talk's but hum-drum: Sprinkle! That's the spirit".
"Yes, yes!" squeaked Razor, rubbing his hands, in fine fettle,
As from Baptist to Maciek he ran, like a shuttle
From one side of the warp sent across to the other,
"If you, with your Switch, Maciej, and you, Baptist brother,
But agree, we with God's help will pound the Russ band
To a pulp: submits Razor to Switch's command".
"Command", butted in Baptist, "is good on parade,
There was but one command in the Kowno brigade,
Short, and to the point: 'Frighten, and do not feel fright-
Hit, don't quit nor submit-and left, right, smite and smite;
Slash, bash!"-"That's", squeaked out Razor, "a good rule, I think!
All these clauses and by-laws? Waste paper and ink!
A confederacy's needed? That is a bit rich!
We have Maciej for Marshal, for baton his Switch".
"Vivat Maciej!" cried Baptist, "God health to him grant!"
And the gentry responded: "All Sprinklers, vivant!"
In the corners some murmurs rose, elsewhere subdued;
One could see that the meeting was splitting in two.
Buchman cried: "With agreements I never agree!
That's my system!"-One shouted: "No, this must not be!"
Some veto'ed from the corners, till drowned by the voice
Of late-comer Skoluba, subsided the noise.
"What's this, Masters Dobrzynski! What's cooking here! So,
Are we newcomers treated as outside the law?
When our clan was invited to come here as guests,
And came due to the Warden Rembailo's request,
We were told that great things were about to transpire,
Not just for the Dobrzynskis, but for the whole shire.
The whole gentry's concern; Worm this too kept on muttering,
Though he never quite finished and just kept on stuttering,
And but dimly explained-and, as you have just heard,
We rode here ourselves and to the neighbours sent word:
So, Dobrzynskis, you are not the only ones here!
There came from other ridings two hundred men, near;
So we all must consult. If we do need a marshal,
Let's all vote, each vote's equal, choice must be impartial.
Equality's the thing!"
Then two Terajewiczes,
Four Stypulkowskis, also a few Mickiewiczes,
For Skoluba: "Hear, hear!" all cried out with one breath,
"Equality", cried Buchman, "is equal to death!"
Baptist shouted: "We'll manage without you, long live
Our new marshal, our Maciej of Maciejs, let's give
Him the baton right now!"-The Dobrzynskis: "Yes, do!"
While the visiting gentry cry "Veto!" Noise grew.
The crowd split, then divided, in separate factions,
And stood shaking their heads in two different directions,
These call loudly: "You shall not!"-the others: "We will!"
Old Maciej in the midst of all this sat quite still,
His the only head there that did not move at all.
Before him stood the Baptist, who both hands let fall
On the end of his club, his head on these located,
Like a gourd impaled on to a stick it rotated,
Or, alternately backward and forward he swayed,
And non-stop: "Boys, just sprinkle and sprinkle!" he brayed.
Busy Razor from one side to opposite flitting,
From the Baptist's bench ran to where Maciek was sitting;
While Bucket from Dobrzynskis' side once in a while
Walked across, as if factions he would reconcile;
One cried: "Splash!" without stopping-the other cried: "Shave!"
Maciej silent, but signs of impatience now gave.
Some time lasted this hubbub, when over the crowd
Between the heads, a gleaming steel column rose, glowed:
A huge sword it was, fully a whole palm-breadth wide,
Each edge sharpened so that it could cut from each side,
A Teutonic steel weapon, in Nuremberg made;
All stood silent, eyes fixed on the great awesome blade.
But who raised it? Not obvious, but soon they'd all guessed:
"That's the Penknife!" they cried, "long live Penknife, the best!
Vivat Penknife! Rembailos' chief jewel and joy!
Vivat Notchy Rembailo, Half-goat, My-dear-Boy!"
Soon Gerwazy (for 'twas he) had through the crowd crashed
To room's centre, the Penknife spun overhead, flashed,
Then, dropping the blade low to acknowledge the meeting
With Maciek, said: "The Penknife to Switch bows in greeting.
Brothers, Dobrzynski gentry! I shan't interfere,
Give no counsel, just tell you why I called you here,
But what you do, and how, you yourselves will decide.
These old rumours you'd know through our gentry spread wide,
That great things in the world are about to occur;
Father Worm spoke about this, some of you were there?"
"Yes, we know!" they all cried-"Good. For one clever head
It's enough", he glanced keenly, "if two words are said,
Is this not so?"-"It sure is", they said-"If from far,
The French Emperor comes here, as does also the Czar,
Then it's war, Czar and Caesar; a king against king
Will squabble, a quite normal among monarchs thing;
And we, shall we sit quiet? When pike attacks pike
Let us throttle the minnows, so like fights with like.
From above, and below, great with great, small with small,
Once we start swinging, all these rapscallions will fall,
And then-Joy! Our Republic will flourish anew.
Not true?"-"True!", they said, "as if in books printed, true".
"True! True!" Baptist repeated, "true, every drip-drop".
"To shave I'm always ready", said Razor, "full stop!"
"But, let's all agree", Bucket politely then said,
"Baptist, Maciej, please tell us, by whom we'll be led".
But Buchman interrupted: "Let donkeys agree,
No harm to public issues in talk frank and free,
So be silent! Let's listen! The subject gains too,
For the Warden sees things from a new point of view".
"Not at all", cried the Warden, "my view, as of old,
It's for great men great matters to plan and unfold;
For this are emperors, diets, the senate, and kings,
Kraków is, my-dear-boy, the right place for such things,
Or Warsaw; but not Dobrzyn, our riding's not it;
Confederacy acts are not with chalk on walls writ,
It is parchment, not parget, for these matters fit.
Not for us to write Acts, that's what scribes are there for,
Both the Crown and Lithuanian, thus was it of yore;
Mine to whittle with Penknife"-"With Sprinkler to dab",
Added Baptist-"And with Awl to pierce and to stab",
Shouted Bartek the 'Awl' with his rapier half-drawn.
"All here", ended the Warden, "I ask you to own;
Did not Worm tell us this, that before you presume
To ask Bonaparte in, you must clean out your room?
You all heard, but are blind to what here needs the broom?
Who's the trash of the shire? Who the traitor who spilled
The best Polish blood here, who had robbed him; who killed?
And would grab now what's left from the hands of the heir?
Who? Must I tell you all?"-"That's Soplica, it's clear",
Cut in Bucket, "a villain!"-"Oy, what an exploiter!"
Squealed Razor-Baptist cried: "Duck his head under water!"
"If a traitor", said Buchman, "He should hang, of course!"
"Huzza!" shouted they all, "At Soplicas, to horse!"
Nonetheless, now the Prussian did stand up and dare
To defend the Judge, raising his arms in the air:
"Brothers gentry! Oh! Oh! On Our Lord's wounds and pain!
What's this nonsense, Pan Warden, are you, sir, insane?
Was the question here that if one brother is banished,
Is a madman, should for this his brother be punished?
Is this the Christian way? I can see the Count's touch
In all this-That on gentry the Judge leans too much,
Is not true! For, good heavens, it's you who him sue,
While he always endeavours to seek peace with you,
He gives way to you-when there are costs, he pays such,
Litigates with the Count? And so what? Both have much;
Let the master fight master, how does this us touch?
The Judge a tyrant! He 'twas who said that no more
Shall a peasant before him bow down to the floor,
That this is a sin. Often, I've seen him admit
Peasant guests to his table, and together sit;
He paid the village taxes-in Kleck not the fashion,
Though you rule there, Pan Buchman, with German compassion-
The Judge a traitor? We him from childhood well know:
A good-hearted child then, and now, too, it is so;
Poland loves he above all, her customs obeys,
He will never grant entry to Muscovite ways.
Each time I'm back from Prussia, its smell to erase,
I seek his house, the kernel of old Polish ways:
There man can breathe and drink in the Fatherland's praise!
By God, Dobrzynskis! I am your kin, but will not
Allow the Judge be wronged so, this must be forgot.
Such things, friends, never would in Great Poland befall:
What harmony! What spirit! It's good to recall!
None at meetings such nonsense would dare to bring up!"
"It's no nonsense", cried Warden, "such knaves to string up!"
The murmurs grew; then Jankiel next asked to be heard,
Onto a bench jumped, over their heads raised his beard;
That beard that like a thatch to his waist thickly grew;
With the right hand his fox-fur hat slowly withdrew,
With the left his yarmulke back into place stroked,
In his belt tucked his left hand, and thus to all spoke,
With hat paying obeisance first in order due:
"Nu, my masters Dobrzynski, I'm just a poor Jew;
Judge is no kith nor kin, I Soplicas hold dear
As my very good masters, and my landlords here;
I, too, Dobrzynski Macieks and Barteks hold high
As my old benefactors and neighbours for aye;
And I say this: if you, sirs, now get up and arm
Against the Judge, that's bad, and you may come to harm,
Get killed-and courts? Policemen? Tribunals? And prisons?
For in Soplica's village are soldiers in dozens,
All yaegers! The Assessor needs but wave his hat,
They will march up at once, are there as if for that.
And what will happen then? If you Frenchies await,
The Frenchman's far away still, the distance is great,
I'm a Jew, war's for others; but when I, for orders,
Met some Jews at Bielica, who came from the border;
The Frenchman, they said, stands by the Lososna River,
And war, if it does come, will in spring come, or never.
Nu, I say wait: Soplicas' big house, is no way
Some market stall; to fold up and trundle away
In a wagon: it is here, and will be, come spring;
And the Judge is no little Jew leasing an inn,
Will not run off, in springtime you'll find him again;
So let us all disperse now, such talking is vain,
About all this keep mum, let us not talk too free,
And you would honour me, sirs, if you follow me.
My Siora bore a little new Jankiel, today
I will stand drinks around, there'll be music, and play!
We'll have bagpipes, bass-viol, two fiddles will lead,
And my honoured friend Maciej likes old linden mead
And new mazurkas; of these I have eight or nine,
And I taught all my kiddies to sing extra fine."
This oration of Jankiel's, in high regard held,
Reached all hearts; there was shouting, the merriment swelled,
Now murmurs of approval beyond the house spread,
When Gervaze raised his Penknife above Jankiel's head.
The Jew leapt down and vanished; cried Warden: "Out, Jew!
Go! Do not stick your fingers in other folks' stew!
Just because Judge-Pan Prussian-lends you for your trade
Some piffling barges, your throat must come to his aid?
You've forgotten, my-dear-boy, how many a boat
Of Horeszkos' your father to Prussia did float!
Thus grew rich, and not just he, but family, as well;
Bah, as he helped all those who in Dobrzyn here dwell.
For the old still remember, the young have been told,
The Pantler was your father kind in days of old:
Who did he send to manage his vast Pinsk demesne?
A Dobrzynski. His books kept? Dobrzynski again!
Who his chamberlain? And who took care of his plate?
It's Dobrzynskis looked after his house and estate!
In courts he would assist you with his interventions,
From the king he himself would obtain for you pensions.
In droves in Piarist convents your children he would
Place, maintain at his cost; for their clothes paid, and food;
Grown up, he their careers would with gold help, and labour:
And why did this? Because he was aye your good neighbour!
Today Soplicas' boundary mounds touch everything!
And what did he do ever for you?"
"Not a thing!"
Interrupted him Bucket, "for he's one of those
Who rose, and now, phew, phew, phew, they turn up their nose!
You remember, I asked him to my daughter's wedding;
Hand him a glass, says he: "I'm to drink not as ready
As you gentry; you gentry all drink like a fish".
What a high-born we have here! What delicate dish!
Would not drink, so we forced him, he screamed and he fought!
Just wait till from my Bucket lead pours down his throat!"
"The sly knave", cried out Baptist, "I'll sprinkle his shnoz
For my own hurt. My son once a clever lad was;
Now he has grown so stupid, they call him the Chook,
And because of the Judge he had earned this rebuke.
I asked: 'Why to Soplicas you run and you crawl?
If I catch you again there, God help you, that's all!'
But, whoosh! He's off to Zofia, sneaks off through the hemp,
I caught him, grabbed his ears, and sprink-sprinkled him damp;
But he bellows and bleats, like a child full of woe:
'Kill me if you will, father', he sobs, 'I must go!'
'What's with you?' and he says, he this Zosia loves so!
Just would watch her! The dummy! Some pity I took,
And I say to the Judge, give your Zosia to Chook!
He says: 'she is too little, wait some three years, brother,
If she wants to'-The bastard! She's meant for another.
So I heard, and I'll manage to gate-crash that wedding
And will bless with my Sprinkler the pair's nuptial bedding."
"And shall such a great scoundrel", the Warden cried, "flourish
Over men of great name? Those more worthy impoverish?
Shall Horeszkos' name perish, their fame not endure?
The world's gratitude-dead now? In Dobrzyn, that's sure.
Brothers! You would cross swords with the Czar of all Russias,
But to fight with Soplicas, you're suddenly cautious?
Prisons fright you! But are you to robbery called?
God forbid! Brothers gentry! The law I uphold!
After all, the Count won, gained decrees by the ton;
They must but be enforced! Thus it used to be done:
The Court writes decrees, gentry will carry out same,
Especially Dobrzynskis, and that's why your name
Has grown in Lithuania! It's Dobrzynskis, they,
Gave the Russ such a fight at the Myski foray,
Who were led by their general, was named Wojnilowicz,
And his friend, the old scoundrel, Wolk of Logomowicz;
You recall how this Wolk we as prisoner took,
And intended to hang in the barn from a hook,
As a tyrant to peasants and Muscovite limb;
But those dim-witted peasants took pity on him!
(One fine day on my Penknife I'll bake him till tender).
I will not other forays recall, without number,
From which, as befits gentry, to us always came
Some profit, universal applause, and great fame!
But what's the point! Your neighbour the Count, will in vain
Go to courts, and decrees will in dozens obtain,
When this poor orphan none now will offer a hand!
And he heir of that Pantler, who fed all this land;
Except for me, the Warden, he has now no friend,
And this, my loyal Penknife, to guard and defend!"
"And the Sprinkler", said Baptist, "Gerwazy, where you
There go I; while my hand lasts, my splish-splash lasts too.
Two's better than one! By God, Gerwazy! Your sting
And my Sprinkler! By golly, I'll sprinkle, you'll swing,
So slish, slash, splish, splash; others can just talk and stay!"
"And Bartek", Razor said, "You would not keep away;
Or exclude; what you lather, this I will shave clean".
"And I too", added Bucket, "to move with you mean,
When they cannot agree on the choice of a marshal;
What's to me votes and ballots; to these balls I'm partial"
(Took a fistful of balls out, and made them ring all):
"Here are my ballots", cried he, "the Judge earned each ball!"
"We're with you", cried Skoluba, "with you, one, two, three!"
"Where you go", cried the gentry, "there also go we!"
Long live all the Horeszkos! Vivant the Half-Goats!
Vivat Warden Rembailo! Cut Soplicas' throats!"
Thus by smooth-tongued Gerwazy were all swept along:
For against the Judge each one remembered some wrong,
As neighbours will: some damage by stock, or a shoot,
Or about some wood-getting, or boundary dispute:
Anger stirs some; and others through envy irate
Of Judge's wealth-but all were united in hate.
Raising sabres and cudgels aloft press up close
To the Warden-
When Maciej, until now morose,
Motionless, from his bench rose, and with measured step
Came out into room's centre, put each hand on hip
And, looking straight before him and nodding his head,
Took the floor, slowly letting drop each word he said,
With frequent pause and accent: "So, stupid! And stupid!
Stupid fools you! Who has sown, it's you who will cop it!
When talk was to raise Poland again from this rubble,
And of common good, stupid, all you did was squabble,
No one could, stupid, either exchange proper views,
In some good order, stupid, nor properly choose
A chief over you, stupid! But should one by chance
Bring out your private hurts, fools, agreement at once!
Get out! For as I'm Maciej, you to umpteen millions
Umpteen thousand carts barrels drays wagons battalions
All stood still, as if struck by a bolt!
But great shoutings outside brought them to with a jolt:
"Long live the Count!" He cantered into Maciej's farm,
Armed, and after him, 'jockeys' ten, also well armed.
The Count astride a charger, besuited in sable,
Over all a coat nut-brown, of Italian label,
Wide and sleeveless, more shroud-like than like a full cape,
Pinned with buckle at neck, and down each shoulder draped;
His hat round and beplumed; he wheeled sharply toward
The group and then saluted them once with his sword.
"Long live the Count!" they shouted, "with him live and die!"
The gentry through the windows began then to try
And see what was afoot, with the Warden they rushed
For the doorway, behind him they shoved and they crushed,
Maciej drove out the remnant, door closed, both bolts pushed,
Looking out of the window, said "stupid!" once more.
And meanwhile all the gentry behind the Count pour
To the inn. There Gerwazy recalled days of old,
From three kontuszes Warden for three broad belts called,
On these up from the vaults three big barrels appear:
One of vodka, of mead one, the third full of beer.
Removed the spigots, three streams gushed, gurgled and sped,
One gold, one white like silver, and cornelian red
The third; with triple rainbow they sparkle and sing,
Into hundred mugs gush, in umpteen glasses ring.
The crowd seethes, one lot drinks, while another lot roars:
"Long live the Count", and all: "At Soplicas, to horse!"
Jankiel slipped off, bare-back; Pruss, too, tried to depart
Still not listened to, although he spoke with much art,
Cried the gentry: "a traitor!" and after him chased.
Mickiewicz stood to one side, his voice never raised,
From his face it was plain, though, he plots some deceit,
So, to sabres, and at him! He slowly retreats,
Is already cut, parries, backed into the fence,
When leapt Zan and three Czeczots out to his defence.
These were soon parted, although, before this would end
One was slashed in the ear, and two cut in the hand.
The rest mount.
With Gerwazy, the Count the mob calms,
Restores order, distributes commands, gear, and arms,
Down the settlement's main street they gallop pell-mell,
Shouting: "At the Soplicas! Let's send them to hell!"