Written in 1825, translated in 1837, unpublished for 175 years.
"The Journal of Countess Francoise Krasinksa" first appeared in Poland in 1825. Twelve years later, during the author's exile in Paris in 1837 it was translated into English and serialised in Ireland as "A Polish Chateau in the Last Century." This translation has never been published in book form, until now. The clearly gifted translator was not attributed. This is a pity because its elegant sparkling English so obviously timestamps the writing as contemporaneous with and, in parts, comparable to Jane Austen. Other inferior translations appeared in periodicals in the 1860's. In book form, a translation by Kasimir Dziekonska appeared in 1895, pruned of Georgian flourishes–pared down–more suitable in style perhaps, but content certainly to Victorian tastes.
The Onesuch edition combines text from earlier and later sources. The 1837 version omits some historical detail and digressions; these have been included from the 1895 version as are the simplified spelling of Polish places and names. From the 1837 text we have retained the mellifluous cadences of the young countess missing from all other versions. Occasional references to drunkenness and other moral shortcomings may not have been fit for Victorian audiences but they are reinstated here. Gone is the obsequious reverence for authority that pervades the later translations.
From the 1837 introduction...The following exquisitely naïf journal is literally translated from a Polish original. The youthful authoress (Francoise Krasinksa) was afterwards a very celebrated person in the history of the misfortunes of her country; and the evidence of deep patriotic feeling which the reader will find scattered through these girlish records were amply verified in the subsequent story of her life. We know not where to find so genuine a picture of that lofty and brilliant feudal society, of which Poland presented the latest and noblest specimen; and from the very simplicity of her pages, the stately splendour which surrounded the life of the very oldest aristocracy of Europe, comes to us more than ever coloured with the profound melancholy when contrasted with the terrible reverses that so soon succeeded.
Francoise was allied to nearly all the noblest families in Poland. Herself, eminently beautiful and witty, she was fated to pass through a series of adventures which created interest for her in every court in Europe. Of these we may give some account hereafter.
The castle of Maleszow (pronounced Maleshoff) was situated in the palatinate of Sandimir (now Krakow). This vast and magnificent domain had been the immemorial possession of her family. Here she began her simple chronicle, which she continued through almost every part of her eventful life. Though an idolater of her country, the reader will everywhere detect that keen and quiet sense of the ludicrous, so essential a qualification in a describer of manners; and the careful formality of her minute account of the familiar events of the day, (the very quality which makes them interesting to a student of the society she describes) was in herself, probably, a trait of the richest humour.
Probably there is not in existence a record equally authentic with this rare fragment, of a period of manners which even the melancholy catastrophe that closed it forever, is scarcely required to recommend to the heart and imagination of every lover of the poetry of human life. When the sun of chivalry had set in every country in Europe, its long twilight lingered in Poland; and we seem to be wandering among the pages of Froissart, or dreaming of the courtly knights of the Field of Gold, when we are but listening to the girlish journalist of the Poland "of the last century."