Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Julian Klaczko

Polish author, b. at Vilna, 6 November, 1825, of Jewish parents; d. at Cracow, 26 November, 1906. After taking the doctor's degree in 1847 at the University of Königsberg, he went to Heidelberg to continue his studies under Gervinus, who appointed him a collaborator on the "Deutsche Zeitung", a periodical for Russian and Polish affairs. In 1848 he spent some time in the Grand Duchy of Posen and published at Berlin his first political pamphlet, "Die deutschen Hegemonen", an open letter to Gervinus againt the incorporation of Posen in the German Confederation. About this time he resolved to become a Christian, but deferred his baptism for a time owing to parental opposition. His father having met with financial reverses, Klaczko was left without means, and in 1850 went to Paris, where he supported himself by his literary labours. His articles written in French and published chiefly in the "Revue de Paris", were so brilliant as to win speedy fame for the young author. The death of his father, meanwhile, left him free to enter the Church, and he was accordingly baptized. From 1857 to 1860, with the collaboration of Valerian Kalinka, he published a monthly, "Wiadomosci Polskie" (Polish News), the general tone of which was opposed to revolutionary impulses and sudden uprisings. Viewed from a political, as well as from a literary and aesthetic standpoint, Klaczko's articles were the most effective and most brilliant that had ever appeared in the Polish language. The periodical was put under the ban in Russian Poland and Galicia, and in 1860 also in Prussia, after which it had to be discontinued on account of a lack of subscribers.

In 1862 there appeared in the"Revue Des Deux Mondes" Klaczko's "Le poete anonyme", the first adequate appreciation of Sigmund Krasinski, and so excellently done that it became the basis of all later account of the poet. This paper assured Klaczko's literary reputation arnorg the French. Soon afterwards occurred the unfortunate uprising of 1863. While any Polish organization or activity outside of Poland itself was now impossible, Klaczko did not forget the cause of his country. From official diplomatic sources he compiled information on all the details of the Danish and Polish questions, and in 1866 published his "Etudes de diplomatie", a sharp but veiled criticism of the policy of the Powers, to the disadvantage of all save Russia and Prussia. The "Etudes" caused a great sensation, which was increased by the author's subsequent work "Les preliminaires de Sadowa", in which he shows how Austria was drawn into war with Prussia (1886).

Klaczko's writings bore such strong testimony to his political talents that he was appointed by Count Benst on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, holding in addition a seat in the Galician Diet at Lemberg, and in the Diet which was out of harmony with Austria's policy of neutrality during the war of 1870 he signed his public offices and returned to Paris penniless, to devote himself with renewed vigour to the artistic and literary pursuits of his youth. After several years of work he published "Causeries florentines", a study of Dante in the form of a dialogue, containing in one volume the substance of all that scholars and critics had said on the subject. Even before this he had produced, in 1875, his "Deux chanceliers", a brilliant portrayal of the characters and policies of Princes Bismarck and Gortschakoff. Finally, he planned an extensive work under the title of "La papaute et la renaissance", to show the effects produced on the papacy by the worldly spirit of some pontiffs, without in the least derogating from the greatness of any epoch. Of the three volumes "Julius II", "Leo X", and "Clement VII and the Sack of Rome", only the first was completed, and by the time of its publication Klaczko was already in the state of paralysis in which he spent the last eight years of his life. Mass was celebrated in his little drawing-room twice a week until his death. Klaczko was by far the most powerful intellect and the most brilliant writer of Poland during the latter half of the nineteenth century.

S. Tarnowski.