Walking through the Vilnius streets : Narbutt wrote in Polish language about Lithuania

Brama prowadząca do kościoła Wizytek jest dziełem Narbutta Fot. Justyna Giedrojć

He was an unusual historian and unusual is the street bearing his name: Teodoro Narbuto g. (Theodore Narbutt). There are no buildings next to it. It combines two roundabouts – at the mouth of the alley of the Constitution and the Laisvės alley. It  appeared in the 70s of the last century. Most of it runs through the hills, which are covered with pine trees. This is the territory of the nature reserve Karolinek, which surface area is over 100 acres. How the residents of nearby areas tell, once next to the present street was a narrow paved road that led to Zwierzyniec. They remind us that in  the20s of the last century this way from Smolnica and from the surrounding towns people were carrying  bricks from the local brickyard for the construction of the Zwierzyniec church of Immaculate Conception. Poles call him – Theodore Narbutt, Lithuanians – Teodoras Narbutas and add that he wrote about the history of Lithuania in Polish language. He was born in 1784 in Szawry in Lida district (presently Belarus). He died in 1864 in Vilnius but was buried in Nacza (Belarus). He studied military architecture at Vilnius University under the direction of Lorenzo Gucewicz and Michael Szulc. He had many interests: he was taking part in the archaeological excavations, he studied the history of Lithuania, he translated  into Polish language the works of Horace, Rousseau and Cervantes. In his family’s village Szawry he founded the distillery and sugar factory,  he cultivated flax and hemp (in Vilnius he even released the treatise on this subject). He initiated the construction of hydrotherapic factory in Druskienniki. As an architect and military engineer he designed and built the fortress in Bobrujsk. In the years 1847-1852  he designed the church of the Ascension in Ejszyszki in the former Lida district, today – solecznicki area. He wrote many series of books. The greatest fame brought him the nine-volume “History of the ancient Lithuanian nation.” However, even his contemporaries claimed that Narbutt was not really able to separate science from imagination.

The historian Michael Balinski wrote: “Who so many fairy tales as truth accepted and confused with actual accidents, who without any scruple changed the dates and who cited some texts of other authors  as he liked, who in many scraps of papers which did not have any intrinsic value saw the ancient documents and based on them gave rise to false conclusions and who at the end of it from many adjectives and proverbs created in his imagination so much pagan deities for Lithuania, which it had never known- that person built a house of cards that must crumble with light wind … “. However, Tomas Venclova in his book “Describe Vilnius” states: “The history by Narbutt today is read by many enthusiasts of Lithuanian ancient history and the revivers of paganism …” Since 1992 Narbutt’s works  are released in Lithuanian language, translated from Polish. Let us remind again that the son of Theodore Narbutt was Ludwik Narbutt. He had the life of a typical Vilnius insurgent. In high school he set a secret patriotic circle for which in the presence of friends and parents he received twenty-five lashes and was sent to the war in Chechnya. There, he learned the guerrilla tactics. In 1863 after the return, he joined to the insurgents. For a long time he fought in the forests near Vilnius, gaining the legendary reputation. He died at Dubicze and was buried there. It is worth to mention that his sister and brother Ludwik also fought in the January uprising. In Vilnius near Swietojanska Street 9 (Šv. Jono) the old Ladzikowska’s tenement  as it was called (named after the first owner – Matin Ladzika) in 1818 was hired by the editor of “Kuryer of Lithuania” Antoni Marcinkowski. There were flats, the editorial office (from the author:  also later in the period 1840-1859 of “Courier Vilnius”), the post room. In contrast, the printing house was  established in the backyard, in the former stables and coach house. It was in this annexe where nine volumes of the “History of the ancient Lithuanian nation” by Theodore Narbutt were printed. About this in his book,  titled  “The history of the streets of Vilnius : Swietojanska, Dominican, Trocka” writes A.R. Čaplinskas. Vladas Drema in the illustrated album, “Dinges Vilnius” (Vilnius, which had disappeared) writes that the great gate leading to the devastated church of Heart of Jesus, called the Church of the Visitation, near the cemetery at Ross is the work of Theodore Narbutt.

Source: http://kurierwilenski.lt/2014/09/22/wedrowki-ulicami-wilenskimi-narbutt-pisal-po-polsku-o-litwie/

Tłumaczenie by Katarzyna Ratajek w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Katarzyna Ratajek within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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