Teodor Korzeniowski h. Nałęcz
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About Teodor Korzeniowski h. Nałęcz
Another Napoleonic family connection is less direct. Conrad's paternal grandfather, Teodor Korzeniowski as a young man served as a lieutenant in the army of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw, in effect a Napoleonic puppet state, participating in the indecisive Battle of Raszyn (1809) against Austria. The Duchy provided concrete evidence of the Emperor's good intentions towards the Poles, but the nationalist dream faded as the Grande Armée reeled and then collapsed, leaving unfinished business for later generations. Until the end of the First World War, Polish independence remained a dream, and suffering, defeat, and martyrdom were integral to Poles' national self-image. But though 'crucified' and tormented, faithful daughter of the Roman Catholic Church and martyr amongst nations to nineteenth- century nationalists, Poland would in time not only redeem herself but by doing so save all Europe. A cult of nobility, fidelity, and loyalty, of decidedly nostalgic character, took hold of the Polish collective conscious. 'Polish Messianism', the idea that Poland's sufferings would redeem her, partly a product of late Romanticism, was to colour the nation's sense of herself for nearly a century. Theorised and celebrated by the great poet of Polish patriotism, Adam Mickiewicz, it was to bloom luxuriantly after the failed November 1830 Insurrection in Russian Poland.
Teodor Korzeniowski left the Polish army and sold his lands to live on his wife's estate in 1820, the same year that his son Apollo was born, but his family's well-being was to be sacrificed to the nationalist cause: for supporting the Insurrection, his property was confiscated. The loss involved him with the Bobrowskis. A land-owning couple, Józef Bobrowski and Teofila Biberstejn-Pilchowska, between 1827 and 1840 had eight children. Apollo Korzeniowski fell in love with the oldest girl, Ewa Bobrowska, born in 1832. Conrad observes that Józef Bobrowski disapproved of his parents' relationship, which began around 1847. But the love-match survived both Bobrowski's hostility and a lengthy engagement, the wedding eventually taking place at Oratów (the Bobrowski family estate) on 4 May 1856.
Bobrowski's opposition to Apollo Korzeniowski was, in part, simply economic. The Korzeniowskis' prospects were uncertain, and he seems simply to have wanted to hold out for a bigger and better (that is, better off) catch for his daughter, the dream of many a doting father. With the Korzeniowski lands now in other hands, from the age of eleven Apollo Korzeniowski's inheritance consisted mainly of a sense of life's instability, and the realisation that he would have to rely on his wits to make his way in the world. After completing secondary school in the market town of Zhitomir, Volyhnia District's provincial capital, he went to St Petersburg where he studied law, languages, and literature from 1840 to 1846 without, however, completing a degree. The latter subjects provided the basis for his brief life's work.
Bobrowski may also have objected to elements in his prospective son-in-law's personality, which, according to one observer, possessed elements of sarcasm, stubbornness, and impracticality. It has had both its contemporary and posthumous detractors and apologists. Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, and the only hard evidence that matters is that Ewa Bobrowska was sufficiently charmed. She remained so during the long years between love more or less at first sight and her eventual trip to the altar. Surviving photographs of Korzeniowski in early middle age suggest that the beauty she discerned was of the inner kind. Extravagantly bearded, with unruly shoulder-length hair, short of stature and slight of build, he confronts the camera with almost disconcerting austerity and self-assurance. Earnestness, that quintessentially nineteenth-century virtue, is deeply engraved upon his brow. He appears as if only partly tamed and, whether seated or in mid-stride, ready to spring from the enforced pose. A later photograph in which he sports a trimmed black beard and tightly clipped moustache suggests a fundamental sternness.