Sir Paul Edmund Strzelecki - unnecessary myths 2

Affair with the Sapieha Family

About this affair Lech Paszkowski writes:

Zmichowska insinuated, that Strzelecki as a plenipotentiary of prince's property was an embezzler and robbed his employer. If Franciszek Sapieha dying in May 1829 endowing him with a big sum of 50 000 ducats, obviously he did not do this without consideration and reason. His son Eustachy, who came from England, just before the father’s death or after his demise, it is rumored that he questioned the testament.

It is almost certain, he would not pay off Strzelecki’s compensation of 12 000 ducats, if he had in hand some proofs of his dishonesty. This sum amounted to more or less one fourth of the bequest and equal to as much as 6 000 £.
Slabczynski has written that Strzelecki increased those sums in Petersburg and Moscow playing on the corn exchange. It is hard to imagine, that without such considerable sums of monies he could support himself in France and England for four years, travel throughout the world nearly ten years and after this, invest big money in England to buy himself a lifelong pension to the amount of 400 £ a year.

The rumors of Zmichowska that he sold four farms from the Bychowski Estate were denied by Slabczynski, because they were not in any agricultural register.

November Insurrection

In relation to smoother legend about Strzelecki’s participation in the November Insurrection, the article’s author explains as follows:
Slabczynski, who exaggeratedly admired Strzelecki, contributed to the birth of the legend of the November Insurrection.

… Strzelecki personally wrote on the naturalization application, that „Monsieur (that is not a count) de Strzelecki is nota political refugee, he left his native country voluntarily long before memorable events of year 1830”

There is no reason whatsoever to doubt, that he wrote the truth.

Myths of the Great Explorer and his real contributions

Lech Paszkowski considers that Strzelecki should be rated more of an investigator and a scientist than a great explorer. Indeed he walked 11 000 km in Australia, but only about 300 km were over areas not discovered earlier by white man.

Lech Paszkowski writes:

Strzelecki’s contributions in Australia consisted foremost of his scientific research; on making the first, huge geological map on eastern Australia and Tasmania; on elaborating and publishing a book, which for 45 years, was a true encyclopedia of knowledge about the geology of this continent; on sketching the first map of the Gippsland province (about which Australians often and readily forget); on the broadening of geographical knowledge with astoundingly accurate for the year 1842; and chemical analysis of coal, bitumen and asphalts.

…Discovery of gold in Australia by Strzelecki was only a curiosity, which absolutely did not make any difference in history, though it had the potential of changing the courses of this country’s history if Governor Gipps allowed for the publication of this discovery in the year 1839. This would have caused an influx of searchers, such as those who filled California in 1848, who gave the start of magnificent metropolis of San Francisco, may have switched to Australia, changing this continent history and also strengthening exceedingly the potential of earlier development.

Alleged Fortunes

There are rumours about Strzelecki‘s riches but they do not agree with the truth. The legends that he was the owner of gold mines in Australia, flotillas of ships, or married to a rich American women, who left him one million dollars legacy are totally baseless, mostly originating from Zmichowska.

Lech Paszkowski writes:

… however one should emphasize that Strzelecki was able to take the care of his material affairs very efficiently.
… from the year 1855 he rented a three-storey house in a prestigious quarter of London. In the stables he had carriages, team-horses and a saddle-horse and on the walls of the house the valuable paintings. Four servants looked after him.
Zmichowska has written, that he lived as though he were a lord, which was not far from true.
However, when the testament of Strzelecki was executed, the whole value of shares, bank bonds, stock and the whole chattels summed up to merely 10,000 pound.

…At the end of the article in the chapter titled The New Contributions to the Biography, Lech Paszkowski gives new documentary evidence from Mr Strzelecki’s life.

In the weekly magazine „Tygodnik Polski” (Polish Weekly), issue No 6 from the date 27.02.2008 in the article „Film about Strzelecki will come to Australia” Ernestyna Skurjat-Kozek, who propagates Strzelecki and Kosciuszko and is ‘the soul’ of „Mound and Mount Kosciuszko Festival” occurring in April, writes with enthusiasm:
… „Obviously there will be romantic and dramatic scenes, among others a scene of the unsuccessful abduction of Adyna, the beating off Strzelecki by Count Turno, working for Prince Sapieha, the departure of Strzelecki from home, a letter posted to Adyna from Mount Kosciuszko together with a flower, and meeting with Adyna years later”.

It should be rectified, that Adam Turno was not a count. However he was a notorious reveler. As arises from his own notes, between the 1st May and the end of December 1820, which Lech Paszkowski precisely summed up, Turno dwelled 14 times in Dobrzyca, 9 times in Poznan, 6 times in Sedziny, 3 times in Goraj and 3 times in Wyciazkowo, 2 times in Welna Property, in Czerwona Wies and Radajewo and also in four other places. He also visited Kalisz and Warsaw.

It appears that every few day he transferred from one manor to another. He feasted away his inherited properties in a very short time and lost money on lawsuits and finally was more moneyless, yet he reproached the young Strzelecki, for lack of wealth.

If the scenes listed by Ernestyna Skurjat-Kozek are indeed in a film about Strzelecki, they will ridicule the Polish explorer, whose true effigy Lech Paszkowski has been fighting for with his pen for decades against repairers and adorners of history.

Such a film is unnecessary in Australia

Melbourne, December 2008
Translated by Leslie Wyszynski