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49 thoughts on “Witkiewicz’ Suicide

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  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Really be interesting if Daniel M’Naughton killed Sir Robert Peel’s private secretary, Edward Drummond, mistaking him for the PM, because of the brutal murder of likely relative Sir William M’Naughton, the British Consul back in Kabul in April 1842.

    Would really show how conditions in india and Afghanistan were intimately tied to those in London.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Lord Brougham persuaded the Law Lords to adopt the famous M’Naughton rules which led to Daniel being declared insane, as I recall, rather than doing through all the horrible details of a trial.

  • Evgueni

    «Не зная человека, которого участь моя занимала бы в каком-либо отношении, удовлетворительным нахожу объяснить, что лишаюсь жизни самопроизвольно. Как Азиатский департамент министерства иностранных дел есть присутственное место, от которого в настоящее время завишу, то покорнейше прошу сей департамент распорядиться приходящимся мне за два года жалованием от 1 Оренбургского полка следующим образом: 1. Удовлетворить купца Лихачева на Невском проспекте, против Гостиного двора, за взятые мною в магазине офицерские вещи, всего около 300 руб.асс. 2. Дать портному Маркевичу 500 руб.ассиг. в удовлетворение за платье, заказанное у него, но еще не полученное. 3. Находящему при мне человеку Дмитрию прошу позволить воспользоваться всеми вещами, какие при мне теперь находятся. Все бумаги, касающиеся моего последнего путешествия, сожжены мною, и потому всякое об них разыскание будет тщетно. Всякие расчеты с хозяином трактира «Париж» кончены мною по 7-е число сего мая, буде за 7 мая окажется какое требование, то покорнейше прошу декартамент приказать удовлетворить из означенных выше денег. 8 мая 1839 года в 3 часа утра. Виткевич»

    The Russian lady’s into 19th century history of the Russian empire.

    The word for “dress” is платье. In modern Russian this implies a woman’s dress but the original meaning included both men’s and women’s clothing worn over underwear.

  • Evgueni

    Forgot to add, a couple of references found by googling claim that the original of suicide note is missing. This Orenburg regional site of the Russian Foreign Ministry states in addition that none of the archives have any traces of an investigation into Witkiewicz’ suicide, nor point to a location for his grave.

    Not sure how authoritative this is. The note at the top seems to imply that the text was written by a 10th grader. However the essay is referenced in the Russian wiki entry for Witkiewicz.,_%D0%AF%D0%BD_%D0%92%D0%B8%D0%BA%D1%82%D0%BE%D1%80%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%B8%D1%87

  • John Goss

    Evgueni, thanks for that explanation regarding платье. It helped me.

    Could you have found it without reference to Возмездие ожидает в Джагдалаке?

  • John Goss

    Evgueni, more important than ‘dress’ for me, would be Джагдалак. I realise that there are people called Джагдалак but wondered what its meaning was in Russian. And what it means in N. A. Khalfin’s book. Also does the reference you use relate back to N. A. Khalfin.

  • John Goss

    I see Raisa D. Naiwen uses an earlier source than Возмездие ожидает в Джагдалаке but it is still Н.А.Халфин.

    “Я цитирую текст записки по старой советской статье, вот ее выходные данные.
    Н.А.Халфин. Драма в номерах “Париж” (рубрика “Загадки истории”)// Вопросы истории, 1966, N 10.”

  • craig Post author

    The Morrison explanation that it was a crisis of loyalty to Poland is a standard one given many times, but there is no evidence to support the theory – no note mentioning it, and it was a remarkably sudden change of mind after several meetings with Russian officials that day.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    The Bedchamber Crisis reached a crisis point on the same day, May 8, 1839, that Witkiewicz allegedly committed suicide, no mere coincidence as far as I can see, as it threatened the monarchy’s very existence if Lord Melbourne had not come to Victoria’s rescue over the political composition of her Ladies-in-Waiting over the Lady Flora Hastings scandal because of her falsely being accused of pregnancy.

    Former Lord Chancellor Brougham would have taken the lead against the Queen’s intransigency, and Lord Hasting would have been most eager to take advantage of anything which could injure Lady Flora’s libelers.

  • Evgueni

    my search terms were виткевич + ян + самоубийство. I am afraid I didn’t follow up on your references. Джагдалак in Халфин’s book is a place in Afganistan.

    Raisa’s full reply to my query was that Халфин did not reference a definitive source but admitted he was qouting from a “copy of a copy”, stating only that he had no grounds to suspect it was not genuine. As far as she is aware the text is generally not doubted, she is aware that Дьяков, who is recognised as an authority on Polish history, also quoted the same.


  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Palmerston made a surprising switch in British foreign policy shortly after Witkiewicz was murdered – what he apparently achieved with the help of his French pivot in Paris- Louis Philippe.

    No sooner did the Turkish Sultan died in July 1839 than Palmerston started changing sides- i. e., instead of going along with the French in supporting Egypt’s Pasha Ali, he started throwing the Great Powers into protecting Europe from the Turkish collapse, behind the back of the French.

    The London Convention in 1840 was agreed to without the French even being consulted.

    Seems like the Pasha’s growing assertivness in the Middle East had persuaded Palmerston that Egypt, not Russia, was the biggest threat to European security, and consequently, Witkiewicz’s murder had to forgotten about.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    The icing on the cover-up of the Witkiewicz murder was when Palmerston allowed Queen Victoria and her new Consort to go to France, the first time a British Monarch had done so since King Henry VIII, while getting the Russians, Prussians and Austrians to agree to the London Convention stopping Pasha’s Ali aggression in the Middle East, making Cabinet agreement to Britain changing sides a matter of government confidence in case the new Queen intervened again about Russia’s alleged role further on in Afghanistan.

    This is further proof that the Brits got the French to kill Witkiewicz in Paris, only for them to change their minds about having done so shortly thereafter.

  • Evgueni

    Trowbridge H. Ford
    What are you smoking 🙂 Witkiewicz was found dead in hotel “Paris” in St. Petersburg.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Not smoking anything – just trying to determine who killed Witkiewicz, where, and why.

    Took the reference to the Paris Inn as where the assassination happened.

    Still think that it was an incident relating to the covert cooperation between the English and French courts which could have happened anywhere.

    So it was in St. Petersburg, not Paris. Louis Philippe’s covert operators were known for killing his opponents anywhere, and Witkiewicz was an enemy of his too.

    Would make a lot of sense for the French to do it, as the involvement of the English in it would not be provable.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Louis Philippe had a long history of somehow escaping assassination attempts.

    Particularly liked the 1835 one where assassin Fieschi cut done 18 officials, and wounded another 22 with his “infernal machine”, a kind of primitive machine gun, though the King and his three sons escaped essentially unharmed.

    By 1839 the King’s covert operators had assassinations down to a fine art.

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