„The awards were named after the Polish explorer and mineralogist Sir Pawel Edmund de Strzelecki, who visited Australia in the 1830s and advocated the rational use of natural resources.”
Theo Theophanous - Minister for Energy and Resources - at the Strzelecki Awards ceremony
in the state parliament in Melbourne - 2006.
„Strzelecki is the best known of all Poles who have contributed to Australia's history. He archived fame and outstanding recognition not only in the Antipodes, but also in Great Britain, Ireland, the United States and Canada.
Polish people themselves contributed little to proclaiming his achievements and building his reputation. Occupied with the vertical problems of national survival, they gave little thought to one of the hundreds of their able men who went abroad.
In fact eighty-four years elapsed from the time of Strzelecki's death until the first serious biography about him was published in Poland, and that only because of the interest of a single writer.
Roland Sussex: Dept. of Demography, Institute of Advanced Studies
Australian National University 1985 - p. 223.
He left us, leaving behind our deep sorrow.
A dignified gentleman - son of the famous but fallen nation - which for a short time came to these islands…
his departure will never cease to be lamented and his praises resounded on the Oahu.
„The Sandwich Islands Gazette”, a newspaper published
in Honolulu (Hawaii), October 6. 1838.
„I have the satisfaction herewith to forward to Your Lordship a copy of the account furnished to me of this journey by the Count, and cannot do so without making Your Lordship aware of the feelings of respect and esteem, which have been excited towards him amongst the People of this Colony.”
Sir George Gipps to Lord Russell, on September 28, 1840.
„I observe also that Streliski in his recent able report remarks on the practice of burning the grass and Plants on the Land as destructive not only to the Herbage also of the power of reproduction. That practice should be checked, first by making the injurious effects generally known, and secondly by Legislative enactment imposing a Fine”.
Burning of grass on pasture lands to by prohibited.
Lord John Russell Sir George Gipps to Lord Russell, on June 20, 1841.
„Count Strzelecki has greatly facilitated and encouraged an extended system of irrigation in this colony by proving its practicability; and his table of calculations, giving the heights of different eminences in all part of the colony;
this document will prove extremely serviceable to the community.”
Launceston Advertiser of 14th October 1841.
„You will I know be enchanted by him, everybody is so without exception, he is so gentlemanlike, elegant, so very clever, so accomplished, so full of fire and vivacity and withal, so amiable only a little bit satirical, but not too much so. He will be the brightest star in your galaxy of worthies.”
Lady Jane Franklin to her sister, on September 5 1842.
„I congratulate you on having completed a work which must have cost you so much labour and I am astonished at the number of deep subjects which you discuss. I must be permitted to express my sorrow that there are not far more copious extracts from „M.S. Journal”. I hope some day to see it fully published.”
„ I heartily wish that one quarter of our English authors could think and write in language one half as spirited yet so simple.”
Charles Darwin to P. E. Strzelecki, after receiving a copy of his
Physical Description of New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land, 1845.
„The energy and perseverance required to produce such results proclaim a geographer of no ordinary merit, and from the ground on which has been awarded to you the medal of our Royal Founder which I have in the name of the Council to present to you”.
President Royal Geographical Society
at the Anniversary Meeting 25th May 1846.
The Dublin Evening Mail adverting to the conduct of the Count, says:
„that when the immense fund of the association was created. In conjunction with three or four young Englishmen, he undertook the arduous task of its distribution.
At the close of the relief operations the Count remained In Ireland to superintend its management, and was ten months constantly employed on the work, bearing his own charges, and not placing to the account of the fund ii single postage stamp.
During the ten months there was advanced to distressed unions £253,000, while the expense of agency upon the distribution of this large sum amounted only to £ 150.”
The Count left Ireland on the 10th, carrying with him the affectionate and grateful respect of every Irishman capable of entertaining the sentiments of greeted, and admiration for disinterested benevolence.
The Dublin Evening Mail 11 September, 1848.
„abundant proff that he possessed those high moral qualities which the British public always hold in the highest esteem”
Lord Overstone on November 21, 1848.
On the 7th September, the Temporary Poor-law Inspectors of those Unions in Ireland which had been assisted by the British Relief Association presented a very complimentary accompanied with a memorial of their esteem and regard, bearing the following inscription:
Presented to Count P. E. de Strzelecki, is a token of their private esteem and regard, by the Temporary Poor-law Inspectors of those Unions in Ireland assisted from the funds of the British Relief Association by grants, in part devoted to the support of destitute children attending schools. A.D. 1847 and 1848
The Courier Hobart, Tasmania, 6 January 1849.
„ a gentleman whom we know in London, whose name, curiously enough, I saw yesterday in Galignani - in a extract from Sir R. Murchison's statement of the geology of Sydney; Count Strzelecki was named as the first discover of the resemblance between the Australian and Russian gold districts”
Ruskin's letters from Venice 1851-1852
Bradley, J. L.
„de Strzelecki … who from the first announcement of the Irish famine, had thrown himself with conspicuous devotion and energy into the movement for its relief.”
Irish historian W. P. O'Brien The Great Famine in Ireland
p. 188 (London - 1896)
„Strzelecki’s amiable personality made him a particularly welcome guest in may Tasmanian homes.
Strzelecki belongs to that great band of men which made the Nineteenth Century so remarkable. With Humboldt, Franklin, Darwin, and Wallace, he must be regarded as one of leading scientific explorers of his time.”
Tasmanian journalist John Reynolds „A Polish Explorer”
„Illustrated Tasmanian Mail” in June 12.1929.
„Certainly remarkable physical strength and vigour, allied with great intellectual energy and a deep-seated sympathy for his fellows, raised him to a distinguished rank.
without the influence of family or wealth, he won for himself an honoured place in Victoria and England.”
Ward L. Havard: Sir Paul Edmund de Strzelecki, 1940.
„I am happy and honoured to offer the hospitality of our House to this commemoration of the name of Paul Edmund de Strzelecki, one of our most distinguished Gold Medalist. It is unnecessary to dwell on his brilliant and romantic career already ably described by the previous speaker.
The rumour is spreading that Strzelecki left his native country in connection width an unhappy live affair. We must bless this tragic circumstance…
Otherwise the world would not probably have had the benefit of his services…
„Looking more particularly to the live of Count Strzelecki, two things, apart from his courage and determination seem to me to stand out: one, his capacity for inspiring in great minds feelings of friendship for, and confidence in, him. His association with another of the great names of our Society, Sir John Franklin, is proof enough of that”.
„And the other feature of his character as I see it is his profound integrity. Count Strzelecki abandoned an opportunity to make a vast fortune because another friend Sir George Gipps, asked him not to reveal the gold-field he had discovered, for fear of the harm that a gold-rush might do to the colony”.
„Count Strzelecki, in short, was a man of whom both his native and his adopted country do well to by proud, and I see in him a symbol of the union between Poland and the British Empire which exists to-day, and those qualities of honour and perseverance and belief in truth and justice which are leading us slowly but surely to the defeat of our common enemy”.
Sir George Clark President of the Royal Geographical Society,
a special commemorative meeting October 20th 1942.
„achieved this worldly success and satisfaction entirely by the force of his own qualities and by his winning personality.”
„ he had a retentive memory and a capacity for absorbing facts, and he had an orderly and rational mind …
Today, if from some Olympian height the prophet could look down and survey the same, his eye would kindle as he beheld the fruition of what he had glimpsed and foretold more than a century before. Strzelecki, it is clear, was no dry-as-dust student of the rocks, but a profound and farsighted observer of the contemporary scene.”
Geoffrey Rawson: The Count, 1953.
„ Few men have led as full and varied life as Count Strzelecki. His niche in Australian annuals is secure for all time, for we are considerably in his debt.”
Bernard Cronin - english author and journalist., in April 1959.
„an unscrupulous adventurer, with little real talent and ability, an opportunist who used every occasion with little regard for truth to achieve his ambitions”
„a minor and colourless figure”
„Strzelecki created and lived a lie”
„a vain exhibitionist.”
Helen M. Heney: In a Dark Glass: The Story of Paul Edmond Strzelecki, 1961.
„what sort of an omnipotent magician was he, that he himself suggested that he be honoured and loved while being unworthy, and that eminent people of his epoch – ministers, politicians, scientists, administrators – even such a realist as was Charles Darwin – meekly accepted and obeyed Strzelecki’s will?”
Melbourne monthly Bohemia, June 01 1962.
„In 1937 Miss Heney was awarded the Degree of M.A. in the University of Sydney for a dissertation entitled: P.E. Strzelecki - Australian Explorer: 1797-1873. Nearly twenty-five years later she has published „In a Dark Glass”, the book which purports to be the definitive biography of a man who left Poland at the age of 28 and died in London half a century later as Sir Paul Edmund Strzelecki, K.C.M.G.; C.B.; F.R.S.; F.R.G.S.; D.C.L. (Oxon.).
The dissertation and the book under review are, of course, two very different pieces of writing. But the difference lies not only in the length and the scope of each work; there is a very striking difference in the writer's attitude to her subject.
Writing in 1937, fresh from a visit to Poland during which she had access to all the basic documents referring to Strzelecki, Miss Heney described him as a
(…)man who did not take for himself, one foot of the miles of unclaimed land over which he passed, one stone other than a specimen of all the territory he surveyed, and one who was content with the only payment he ever got, in the coin of renown.
If, a Pole of the Age of Captivity, he missed the two greatest titles in Mickiewicz's famous epitaph, and was neither a soldier nor poet, he was at least exile. To that absence from the place where he should have been, for happiness, he added the honourable rank of explorer, scientist and philanthropist, and was a man who without any advantage of birth or chance, with nothing to recommend but himself, in a strange country, created a niche in its social life, a place in its history, and wrote the names of his choosing across a continent.”
Elsewhere in her dissertation Miss Heney dwells on Strzelecki's contribution to the exploration of south-eastern Australia and particularly Gippsland and his part in the discovery and exploitation of gold and other minerals.
Twenty-five years later Miss Heney contradicts herself and tries to make us believe, as one of her reviewers put it, that „Strzelecki created and lived a lie”,
„did not perform any worthwhile work during his four years in Australia, that he played only a marginal part in the discovery of gold and other minerals, and that he fraudulently endeavourer to take unmerited credit for all his activities”.
Historical Studies of Australia and New Zealand
University of Melbourne
Vol.11, No.41, November 1963.
„Though remarkable words, the passionate defense of the „noble savage” by Strzelecki was isolated and ignored. Replaced by the „miserable wretch”, itself a product of intolerance and misunderstanding, the black of 1975 is still held to be lazy, dirty and a drunkard. Even for today, more than 130 years after he penned his words, Strzelecki is ahead of the times.”
Peter Gardner: Strzelecki and the Noble Savage in Gippsland, November 1976.
„To demonstrate that Strzelecki was not a commoner and that he acted honorably during his travels in Australia is necessary for the sake of historical truth. The truth concerning Strzelecki was seriously distorted by Miss Helen Heney in her book In a Dark Glass: The Story of Paul Edmond Strzelecki, Sydney, 1961 (Angus and Robertson).
That she succeeded in her effort can be seen in a series of publications that repeat exactly the same distortions and untruths.
That authors of the Hal Porter’s standing repeat Miss Heney unfounded charges against Strzelecki must be a matter of public concern at that time when multiculturalism is gaining general acceptance in the Australian society. Multiculturalism implies three things: the striving for national cohesion, the recognition of cultural identity and the development of intergroup understanding” …
Foundation Professor of Sociology
The Australian National University
Chairman, Australia Ethnic Affairs Council
Canberra, April, 1979.
„One sometimes finds in Australian newspapers, periodicals and books, remarks directed against Sir Paul Edmund de Strzelecki, which can only be described as character assassination. It seems rather strange as Sir Paul served Australia well for many years with his knowledge, money and physical strength. He spent £5000 from his own pocket in scientific exploration in Australia. In those days it was a huge sum, when the yearly salary of the curator of the Australian Museum amounted to only £150.
Many Australians are direct descendants of the British emigrants who came to this country, thanks to the help of the Family Colonization Loan Society, originated by Carolyne Chisholm. Strzelecki was for many years an active member of this society and in 1854 was its Chairman, fulfilling his duties with great zeal and without remuneration.”
Lech Paszkowski: Introduction
Social Background of Sir Paul Strzelecki and Joseph Conrad
Melbourne 1980, Australia Felix Literary Club.