Several memoirs referring to this period, and written during it, have been first published in our days; since the value of cotemporary historical documents has begun to be sufficiently appreciated. One of these publications (Wilna, 1844) is a chronicle referring to the first half of the sixteenth century; and was written by John Tarnowski, the general mentioned above. The manuscript had been long considered as lost.
It still remains to note the progress made in the philosophical sciences. We remarked above, that scientific works in Poland were mostly written in Latin; and since the case with them is different from that of historical works,—because, as the results of scientific examination and discovery, they are independent of the country where they are written, and belong to the world,—we therefore mention here only those works which were published in the Polish language. Falimierz, in Latin Phalimirus, first ventured to use the vernacular tongue of the country for a scientific book. He published as early as 1534 a work on natural history, and especially Materia medica. The first medical work in the Polish language was written in 1541 by Peter of Kobylin; the first mathematical work by Grzebski. Their example was followed by Latosz, Rosciszewski, Andrew of Kobylin, Umiastowski, Spiczynski, Siennik, Oczko, Grutinius, Syrenski, in Latin Sirenius, and others, all physicians, astronomers, botanists, etc.
From the erection of the Cracovian Jesuit Schools in A.D. 1622, to the revival of science in A.D. 1760.
The noble race of the Jagellons had become extinct on the death of Sigismund Augustus, in 1572. Poland had become formally an elective monarchy. Henry of Valois was the first to subscribe the pacta conventa, the fundamental law of the national liberty; the nation being understood to consist legally only of the nobility. Stephen Bathory’s strength kept the discordant elements together; and while at home he took care to improve the administration of justice, and erected the high tribunals of Petricau, Lublin, and Wilna, his victorious arms in his contest with Russia raised Poland for a short time to the summit of its glory. But under his successor Sigismund III, a Swedish prince, and nephew of Sigismund Augustus and of Stephen, began that anarchy which is to be considered as the principal cause of Poland’s final calamitous fate. For about fifty years the Poles still maintained with equal valour, though with alternate good and ill success, their warlike character abroad; even while internal dissensions and bloody party strife raged in their own unhappy country. But to such fundamental evils, combined with the rising power of Russia, with the revolt of the Kozaks in 1654, occasioned principally by religious oppression, and with the gradual but sure advancement of a new rival in the elector of Brandenburg, hitherto considered as a weak neighbour—to all these influences, the building thus sapped in its foundation could make no resistance, and its walls could not but give way, when they were suddenly shaken by the hands of avaricious and powerful enemies from without.