The Memoirs of Count Boruwlaski (1820)


Memoirs of Count Boruwlaski, containing a sketch of his travels, with an account of his reception at the different courts of Europe, Joseph Boruwlaski; 1820; Andrews, Durham

Józef Boruwłaski (1739–1837) was a Polish-born dwarf who toured in European and Turkish courts. Although not a nobleman by birth (the Count in his name did not refer to a real title), when Boruwlaski was fifteen and 64 cm (25 inches) tall he was adopted into the Eastern European aristocracy and taken into the care of Countess Humiecka. With the Countess he toured the homes of Europe’s elite including Empress Maria Theresa and the ex-King of Poland. In 1960 he travelled with the Countess to Paris where he frequented the court in various masked balls and pageants, reportedly impressing the ladies greatly, and entertaining crowds with his guitar playing. When Stanisław II acceded to the throne of Poland, he took Boruwlaski under his protection. When Boruwlaski fell in love with the Countess’ new companion, Isalina Barbutan, the countess threw him out but the King interceded on his behalf, gave him a small allowance and a coach to travel in, and with the royal backing he married Isalina. At first, Isalina, the child of a French couple who had settled in Poland, was reluctant to marry Joseph, but he bombarded her with love-letters and won her heart. At the age of 25, Boruwlaski stood 89 cm (35 inches tall), and five years later, measured 99 cm (39 inches), which was to be his final height. After further tours of Austria, Germany, and Turkey, he made his way to England with his wife, where he was presented to George IV and the rest of the royal family. He also met the Irish giant Patrick Cotter and the famously overweight Daniel Lambert. Although he was sometimes able to make a reasonable living from playing the guitar, the problems and expenses of touring sometimes wore Boruwlaski down. Money problems forced Joseph to display himself for money (which he found deeply humiliating) and to bring out three different editions of his autobiography, the last published at Durham in 1820. Eventually, in his advancing years, Boruwlaski accepted an offer to live in Durham, from Thomas Ebdon, organist of Durham cathedral. He died in Durham, on September 5, 1837, at the age of 97. (Wikipedia)

Housed at: Internet Archive | From: University of Toronto Libraries
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