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Wednesday, May 15, 2019: With Fire and Sword
I am about halfway through Kuniczak's translation of Sienkiewicz's "With Fire and Sword":
Prince Yeremi Vishnovyetzki (Jeremi Wiśniowiecki) thinking to himself:
My God, he thought. My God…!
‘So Vishnovyietzki flouts the law today… so what magnate won’t feel free to do the same tomorrow? Who’ll stop some future Pototzki, Lubomirski, Firley or Zamoyski from tearing up the statutes any time he pleases once the precedent of defiance has been set? And when each of us does only what suits his own purpose, when he follows the dictates of his own ambition rather than of conscience and serves his own needs instead of the country, what kind of future can our poor Commonwealth expect?
'Jezu…Jezu… What have I almost done?'
Hmyelnitzki also justifies himself under the cover of a greater good, Prince Yeremi thought, tugging at his hair. He also sees himself as the only savior of his people while he turns on those in authority over him, challenges the dignity of the State, and defies the law.
……….. No, the Commonwealth didn’t need to fear foreign wars, he knew Germans, Russians, Hungarians, Turks and Tartars came time and time again and crumbled before the iron walls of the Commonwealth’s defenders. It wouldn’t be the clash of battle that would ring the death-knell of that nation.
‘The seeds of our destruction are rooted in ourselves,’ he cried out silently to himself.
And the most desperate and pernicious of those dangers, he knew with bitterness and pain, lay in the pride and overwhelming personal ambitions of magnates like himself, each of whom went his own way according to his fancy, choosing those laws and policies that he would obey and those that he’d flout whenever he wanted, and setting an example or quarrelsome disobedience to the lesser gentry.
‘The rule of chaos, argument and disputes over the private interests which greed and envy always elevated above the common good. Ineptitude and indifference in the seats of power.’
A tree rots from the core, he thought. Any windstorm can topple a hollow forest giant. But cursed be he who’d help in the process! Damned be the man who set such and example to his children’s children! An eternity of hellfire wouldn’t be enough for such a matricide.