Maria Manteuffel letters from the period 1844–1859 offer invaluable insights into the life of Polish gentry in the former Polish Livonia (Infl anty Polskie), incorporated into the Vitebsk Governorate of the Russian Empire. These letters of mother to her son Gustaw Manteuffel, student at the University of Dorpat (now Tartu, Estonia) who was to become one of great Polish historiographers of late 19th century, are an important historical source. Although they deal mainly with family matters, the mundane is interspersed with notes and comments which throw light on the Russian tax burdens and the social life of the aristocracy and the local gentry. An eye-catching feature of that correspondence is a string of Latvian (Latgalian) words and phrases which are interspersed into Maria Manteuffel’s sentences. There is not much we know about her life. Born in Wielony in 1811, she was heiress to the Drycany estate. In 1828 she married baron Jakub Manteuffel. Of their children only four sons survived to adulthood. Born into a Polish-Livonian family, Maria Manteuffel became a Polish patriot, patroness and sponsor of various patriotic initiatives. When the Drycany estate was sequestrated by the Russian authorities after the 1863 January Uprising, she moved to Lesno and later to Riga where she died in 1874. She was buried at Drycany beside her husband; in 1916 her son was buried in the same family vault.
In this article Maurycy Mochnacki’s martyrological and messianic declarations in the Preface to the Uprising of the Polish Nation in 1830–1831 are examined in the context of the martyrological discourse in the literature of the Great Emigration. Such an affirmation may appear puzzling given Mochnacki’s rejection of martyrological interpretations of Poland’s history or messianic readings of his political philosophy, let alone his reputation of being radically opposed to Adam Mickiewicz’s idea of the sacrifi cial victimhood of the Polish nation. In this study the ideological and rhetorical aspects of their statements are compared and analysed. There can be little doubt that in the Preface Mochnacki’s phrasing is steeped in patriotic pathos which seems to be at odds with the tone of his other writings. This article claims that it was a tactical move on his part: he chose the familiar martyrological loci merely as a means to enlist the readers’ support for his own pragmatic programme of restoring Poland’s independence. A general conclusion to be drawn from this apparent inconsistency is that already at that stage (The Uprising was published in Paris in 1834) the logosphere of the Great Emigration had become so dominated by the martyrological discourse that Mochnacki could not afford to ignore it.