HotFreeBooks.com
Historical View of the Languages and Literature of the Slavic - Nations
by Therese Albertine Louise von Jacob Robinson
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

A whole century passed, and the Vindish language seemed to be entirely lost for literature and science. Towards the close of the seventeenth century, an academy was founded by some learned men of Carniola, on the plan of the Italian Academy; and some attention was again paid to the language of their forefathers. In A.D. 1715 a new edition of Bohorizh's work, with several alterations and without mentioning the true author, was printed by a capuchin, P. Hippolitus; who left also in manuscript a Vindish dictionary, the first in that language.

Fifty-three years later, another grammar was published by the monk Marcus Pochlin; a work in itself, according to the best authorities, utterly devoid of merit, but which from the necessity of the case, and for the want of a better, met with success, was reprinted in 1783, and remained in common use until the appearance of Kopitar's grammar. This last work,[37] written by one of the most eminent Slavists of the age, made a decided epoch; not only in the history of the Vindish language, but also, by its learned preface and comments, in the Slavic literature at large. Several grammatical works, not without merit, and for the most part founded on Kopitar's grammar, have since been published;[38] and since scholars like these are now occupied with the cultivation of the Vindish language, there exist for it and for its kindred dialects the happiest prospects.

That this Slavic branch, a mountain people, had its treasures of popular poetry, has always been supposed; and many single pieces, not without beauty, have been communicated to the public in German translations. A collection of these flowers, which fade rapidly away in this German neighbourhood, was ten years ago made by Achazel and Korytko.[39]

The literature of a people, among whom every individual of any education may call another highly cultivated language in the fullest sense his own,—as is the case with the Bohemians and Slovenzi in respect to the German,—cannot be very extensive. There have, however, in modern times, been published several works of poetry and prose in the Vindish language; among the writers of which we can mention only the most distinguished. Such are, V. Vodnik, author of some collections of poems; Kavnikar, author of a biblical history of the Old and New Testament, and several works for religious edification; Farnik, Kumerdcy, Popovich, etc.

But the most important work, both in a philological and moral point of view, is the translation of the whole Bible, set on foot by G. Japel, and executed by a society of learned men. This version being intended for Catholics, was made from the Vulgate, and was published at Laibach 1800, in five volumes; the New Testament appeared also separately, in two volumes, Laib. 1804. A Slavic pulpit, which was established ten years ago at the same place, has also been of great service to the language.

The inhabitants of the provincial counties Agram, Kreutz, Varasdin, and the neighbouring districts, called Provincial Croatia, who speak a somewhat different dialect of the Vindish language, but are able to read that version of the Bible, have nevertheless several translations in their own dialect, lying in manuscript, and only waiting for some Maecenas, or for some favourable conjuncture, in order to make their appearance.

The only portion of the Vindish race among whom the Protestant religion has been kept alive, are about 15,000 Slovenzi in Hungary. Their dialect approaches in a like measure to that of the Slovaks; and hence serves as the connecting link between the languages of the Eastern and Western Slavic stems. For them the New Testament exists in a translation by Stephen Kuznico; Halle 1771; reprinted at St. Petersburg, 1818.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 1: This portion of the Slavic race was formerly more commonly known under the general appellation of Illyrians. With the exception of the Bulgarians, who never have been comprehended under it, this name has alternately been applied to the Southern Slavic nations; sometimes only to the Dalmatians and Slavonians; sometimes to them together with the Croatians and Vindes; by others again to the Turkish Servians and Bosnians, etc. The old Illyrians, i.e. the inhabitants of the Roman province Illyricum, were not Slavi, but a people related to the old Thracians, the forefathers of the present Albanians; see Schaffarik Gesch. p. 33, n. 2. Illyricum Magnum comprised in the fourth century nearly all the Roman provinces of eastern Europe. Napoleon affected to renew the names and titles of the ancient Roman empire, and called the territory ceded to him by Austria in 1809, viz. Carniola and all the country between the Adriatic, the Save, and the Turkish empire, his Illyrian provinces, and their inhabitants Illyrians. In the year 1815 a new kingdom of Illyria was founded as an Austrian province, comprehending Carniola, Carinthia, and Trieste with its territory. It was partly on account of this indefiniteness, that the name of Illyrians had been entirely relinquished by modern philologists; until it was quite recently again token up by some Croatian and Dalmatian writers. In its stead the name of Servians, or more properly Serbians, Serbs, has been adopted as a general appellation by the best authorities. See below in sec. 1, on the Literature of the Servians of the Greek Church. The word Srb, Serb, Sorab, has been alternately derived from Srp, scythe; from Siberi, Sever, north; from Sarmat; from Serbulja, a kind of shoe or sock; from servus, servant, etc. The true derivation has not yet been settled. See Dobrovsky's History of the Bohemian Language, 1818; and also his Inst. Ling. Slav. 1822.]

[Footnote 2: See above, p. 9 sq. and the preceding note.]

[Footnote 3: The Servians, however, under the government of their own energetic countryman, Prince Milosh, for some years enjoyed a certain degree of freedom, which no doubt has had good results for the mental life of the nation. A good view of their country, constitution, and literature, is given in a modern German work: Reise nach Serbien im Spaetherbst 1829, by Otto von Pirch, Berlin 1830. See also Servia und Belgrade in 1843-44, by A.A. Paton, Lond. 1845.]

[Footnote 4: See Schaffarik Gesch. p. 217.]

[Footnote 5: These statutes were first printed by Raitch, in his great work on Slavic history (see Note 8); and translated by Engel in his History of Hungary and the adjacent Territories, Vol. 2, p. 293.]

[Footnote 6: See above, in the History of the Old Slavic Language, p. 44.]

[Footnote 7: There is however still another Cyrillic printing office attached to an Armenian convent in Vienna. Since the printing of Vuk's second edition of the Servian popular songs at Leipsic, several other Servian books have also been printed there. The Vladika of Montenegro has also established a printing office at his residence of Tzetinja. Vuk's "Proverbs" have been printed there.]

[Footnote 8: The complete title of this valuable work is: Istorja raznich Slavenskich narodov nairatchvedshe Chorvatov, Bolgarov, i Srbov, Vienna 1792-95, 4 vols.]

[Footnote 9: The writings of this very productive philologist and historian are however more remarkable for boldness and singularity of assertion, than for depth. In his Rimljani slavenstvovavshii, Buda 1818, he undertakes to derive the entire Latin language from the Slavic. In an earlier work, written 1809, he contends that the German language was a corruption of the Slavic dialects spoken on the Elbe.]

[Footnote 10: The reader will find a more complete catalogue of the Servian writers and their works, in O.v. Birch's Travels; see above, p. 107, n. 3.]

[Footnote 11: Narodne Serpske Poslovitze, Zetinya 1836.]

[Footnote 12: See below in sec. 2.b, Dalmatian Literature.]

[Footnote 13: See more on Servian popular poetry in Part IV. The title of Vuk's collection, a part of which appeared 1814-15 at Vienna, in two small volumes, is Narodm Srpske pjesme, Lpzg 1823-24, three volumes. A fourth volume was published at Vienna 1833, with a very instructive preface. Some of these remarkable songs have been made known to the English public in Bowring's Servian Popular Poetry, London 1827. This little collection contains also an able and spirited introduction, which serves to give a clear view not only of the state of the Servians in particular, but also of the relation of the Slavic nations to each other in general; with the exception of some mistakes in respect to classification.—In Germany a general interest for Servian national poetry was excited by Goethe; see his Kunst und Alterthum, Vol. V. Nos. I and II. German translations are: Volkslieder der Serben, by Talvj, 2 vols. Halle 1825-26; from which work Bowring seems chiefly to have translated. Die Wila, by Gerhardt, 2 vols. Lpzg. 1828. These two works contain nearly all the songs published by Vuk, in his first three volumes; but only half of those he has collected. Serbische Volkslieder, by v. Goetze, St. Pet. and Lpzg. 1827. Serbische Hochzeitlieder, by Eugen Wesely, 1826. A French translation of these songs does not yet exist, although they have excited a deep interest among the literati of France. The work la Guzla, published at Paris in 1827 and purporting to contain translations of Dalmatian national songs, is not genuine; it was written by the French poet Merimee, with much talent indeed, but without any knowledge of the Servian language.]

[Footnote 14: That is: Wolf, son of Stephan, belonging to the family of the Karadshians, inhabitants of a certain district or village. The Servians in Servia proper and Bosnia have not yet any family names. Those who emigrated in early years to other countries mostly adopted their fathers' names with the suffix of vitch as a family name; for instance Markovitch, Gregorovitch, i.q. Markson, Gregorson, etc. The Servian subjects of Turkey, who settle in other parts of the country, still mostly follow this rule. Vuk neglected this; and acquired therefore his literary fame under his Christian name of Vuk. But, as a father of a family and an Austrian citizen, he is called Karadshitch after his tribe; which for reasons we do not know he seems to have preferred to the name of Stephanovitch.]

[Footnote 15: We must correct here a mistake made by Dr. Henderson in his Biblical Researches, in respect to the Servian New Testament. He says, p. 263, "A version of the (Servian) New Testament was indeed executed some years ago, but its merits were not of such a description as to warrant the committee of the Russian Bible Society to carry it through the press; yet, as they were deeply convinced of the importance of the object, they were induced to engage a native Servian, of the name of Athanasius Stoikovitch to make a new translation, the printing of which was completed in the year 1825, but owing to the cessation of the Society's operations, the distribution of the copies has hitherto been retarded." Dr. Henderson probably received his information at St. Petersburg, and felt himself of course entitled to depend on it, being very likely not acquainted with the great schism in modern Servian literature above mentioned. If we may confide in our own recollections, the translation, the merits of which the committee of the Russian Bible Society was so little disposed to acknowledge, was made by Vuk Stephanovitch, who knew better than any one else the wants of the Servian people, and who presented in the above mentioned Gospel of St. Luke a specimen to the learned world, which received the approbation of all those Slavic scholars entitled to judge of the subject. The committee of St. Petersburg, however, was probably composed of gentlemen of the opposite party; as indeed the Russian Servians are, in general, advocates of the mixed Slavo-Servian language, in which for about fifty years all books for the Servians were written, and which we have described above in Schaffarik's words; see p. 108. According to their ideas of the Servian language, the mere use of the common dialect of the people was sufficient to inspire doubts of the competency of the translator; although it was for the people, the unlearned, that the translation was professedly made. They engaged in consequence Professor Stoikovitch, the author of several Russian and Slavo-Servian books (see above p. 112), and who had been for more than twenty years in the Russian service, to make a new translation. This person, who, to judge from our personal acquaintance with him, probably on this occasion read the Gospels for the first time in his life with any attention, took the rejected version for his basis; altered it, according to his views of the dignity of the Servian language, into the customary mixed Slavo-Servian Russian idiom; and received the reward from the Society. Whether this is the version afterwards printed at Leipsic and distributed in Servia by the English Bible Society, we are not informed. From private letters we know, that in the year 1827, that Society proposed to Vuk Stephanovitch to allow him L500, if after obtaining appropriate testimonies for the correctness of his version, he would print one thousand copies in Servia; and also authorized its correspondent in Constantinople, Mr. Leeves, to arrange the matter finally with Vuk. From M. Kopitar's remark however, that the translation for the Dalmatian Roman Catholics needed only to be transcribed with Cyrillic letters to come into use among the eastern Servians, we are entitled to conclude that the version now circulated, is not such as it ought to be; and a correct one, for that part of the nation, is still a desideratum. It would seem therefore that Vuk Stephanovitch cannot have accepted the offer in question. See Kopitar's Letter to the Editor of the Bibl. Repos. Vol. III. 1833, p. 186.]

[Footnote 16: The Serbianka of Milutinovitch was published at Leipsic, 1826; his History at the same place, 1837.]

[Footnote 17: Pjevanija Tzernogorska i Herzegovatshka etc. izdana Josifom Milowukom, Ofen 1833—Pjevanija Tzernogorska i Herzegovatshka sabrana i izdana Tshubrom Tshoikovitckom, etc. Leipz. 1839.]

[Footnote 16: Montenegro, properly Montenero, is the Italian translation of Tzernagora, Black Mountain, a name which is applied to these ranges on account of the dark colour of the rocks and woods.]

[Footnote 17: More on the Vladika and on Montenegro in general, see in the recent work of Sir J.G. Wilkinson, Dalmatia and Montenegro, 2 vols. Lond. 1848. Also an article in the British and Foreign Review, July 1840, by Count Krasinski. A full and very interesting account of the country and people, is found in the little work of Vuk Stephanovitch Karadshich, Montenegro und die Montenegriner, 8vo. Stuttg. u. Tueb. 1837; published in Cotta's "Reisen u. Landerbeschreibungen der aeltern u. neuern Zeit."]

[Footnote 18: See above, p. 37 sq.]

[Footnote 19: Kopitar, Glagolita Clozianus, Vindob. 1836.]

[Footnote 20: See above, p. 41.]

[Footnote 21: On the still earlier Glagolitie manuscript discovered at Trent, there was also found a note written by one of its former noble owners, that "dises puech hat Sant Jeronimuss mit aigner hant geschriben in krabatischer sprach."]

[Footnote 22: A fine copy of the above splendid work is now on sale by the publisher of this volume.]

[Footnote 23: Razgovor ugodni naroda slavinskoga, Venice 1759. A new edition appeared in the year 1811.]

[Footnote 24: Letter of Kopitar to the Editor, Bibl. Repos. 1833, p. 136.]

[Footnote 25: F. Verantii Dictionarium quinque nobiliss. Eur. Ling. Lat. Ital. Germ. Dalm. et Ung. Venice 1595. Micalia Thesaurus linguae Illyricae, etc. Ancona 1651. Delia Bella Dizionario It. Lat. Illyr. Venice 1728; later edit. Ragusa 1785. Voltiggi Riesosbronik illyriesiskoga, ital. i nimacsk, Vienna 1803. Stulli Lexicon Lat. Ital. Illyr. etc, Buda and Ragusa 1801-10, 6 vols. Prefixed to the four last works, are also grammars. Other Dalmatian grammars are: Cassii Institutiones linguae Illyricae, Rome, 1604. Appendini Grammatik der illyrischen Sprache, Ragusa 1608. Starchsevich Nuova Gramm. Illyrica, Trieste 1012. Babukich Illyrische Grammatik, Wien 1839.]

[Footnote 26: See above, p. 116, 117.]

[Footnote 27: See above in sec. 1. p. 108.]

[Footnote 28: See p. 128 above.]

[Footnote 29: See p. 131.—As dictionaries and grammars of this dialect are to be mentioned: Relcovich Deutsch illyrisches and illyr. deutsches Woerterb. Vienna 1796. By the same: Neue Slawonisch-deutche Grammatik, Agram 1767. Vienna 1774. Buda 1789. Lanossovich Einleitung zur Slav. Sprache, several editions from 1778-1795.]

[Footnote 30: See the second volume of Engel's History of Hungary etc. Katanesich Specimen phil. et geogr. Pannon. etc. 1795. Schaffarik's Geschichte, etc. p. 226-31, 235, 265.]

[Footnote 31: These two divisions of Military and Provincial Croatia constitute the modern Austrian kingdom of Croatia, which is united with that of Hungary. See For. Quart. Review, Vol. VII. p. 423 sq.]

[Footnote 32: See p. 128 above.]

[Footnote 33: Croatian philological works are: Einleitung zur croat. Spracklehre, Varasdin 1783. Kornig's Croat. Sprachlehre, Agram 1795. Gyurkovshky's Croat. Grammatik, 1825. Rukevina v. Liebstadt Kroatische Sprachformen, etc. Trieste 1843. Habdelich Dictionarium croat. lat. Graetz 1670. Belloszlenecz Gazophylacium s. Latino-Illyricor. etc. Agram 1740. Jambressich's Lex. Lat. interpr. illyrica, germ. etc. Agram 1742.]

[Footnote 34: See Engel, etc. III p. 469.]

[Footnote 35: See the Wiener Jahrbuecher, 1822, Vol. XVII. See too the Glagolita Clozianus, and the article "On the Pannonian Origin of the Slavic Liturgy." See above, pp. 28, 39.]

[Footnote 36: Schaffarik observes, Geschichte, p. 283, "The public library in the state-house was delivered to the Jesuits, who had just been introduced. The books which these did not commit to the flames on the spot, perished in the great conflagration in 1774, together with the edifice of their college. In all Carniola only two copies of Bohorizh's grammar are known to exist"]

[Footnote 37: Grammatik der Slavischen Sprache in Krain, Kaernthen, und Steyermark, Laibach 1808.]

[Footnote 38: These are: V. Vodnik's Pismenost ali gramm. saperve shole, Laib. 1811. Metelko's Lehrgelaude der Slovenischen Sprache, 1825. Schmigoz Theor. pract. wind. Sprachlehre, Gratz 1812. P. Dainko Lehrbuch der wind. Sprache, Gratz 1825. Mali Bezedniak Slovenskich, Laibach 1834.]

[Footnote 39: Slovenske pjesmi Krajnskiga Naroda, Laibach 1839.]



CHAPTER III.

LANGUAGE OF THE BULGARIANS.

According to the opinion of the Russian, and especially of the Bohemian philologians, Bulgaria and the adjacent regions of Macedonia, are the real home of the Old Slavic language; which was here, as they suppose, the language of the people in the time of Cyril, who was born in Thessalonica.[1] No other Slavic dialect however, as Kopitar remarks, has been so much affected as the Bulgarian by the course of time and foreign influence, both in its grammatical structure and its whole character.[2] It has an article, which, as if in order to show whence it was borrowed, is put after the word it qualifies, like that of the Walachians and Albanians. Of the seven Slavic cases, only the nominative and vocative remain to it; all the rest being supplied by means of prepositions. As Bulgaria has been for centuries the great thoroughfare of other nations, the Slavic natives have become mixed with Rumenians, Turco-Tartars, and perhaps Greeks, It is in this way, that the state of their language may be accounted for.

Up to 1392, when Bulgaria was an independent kingdom,—tributary to the Greek empire, until the decline of the latter encouraged them to break the weak tie of vassalage.—their writings were in the Old Slavic language; and many documents in it are still extant in monastic libraries. Venelin, a young Russian scholar, who by his researches on the Bulgarian, or, as he would fain call it, the Bolgarian language, had excited great hopes in the learned Slavic world, was sent in 1835 to Bulgaria, by the Russian Archaeographical Commission, to search, after historical documents and to examine the language. The publication of a "Bolgarian Grammar," and two volumes of a "History of the Bolgarians," were the result. While engaged in preparing a third volume, he died; less regretted by the literary world, it is said, than would have been anticipated some years before; since his productions had not justified the expectations raised by his zeal. He seems to have been one of those visionary etymologists, who found their conclusions on the analogy of sound and similar accidental features; a class of scholars, which, in our age of philosophical research, has no longer much chance of success.

The history of the Bulgarians is a series of continued warfare with the Servians, Greeks, and Hungarians, on the one hand; and on the other, with the Turks, who subdued them, and put an end to the existence of a Bulgarian kingdom in A.D. 1392. The people, first converted to Christianity by Cyril and Methodius, had hitherto adhered to the Greek church; except for a short interval in the last half of the twelfth century, when the Roman chair succeeded in bringing them under its dominion. Since the establishment of the Turkish government, apostasy to Muhammedanism has been more frequent in Bulgaria, than in any other of the Christian provinces of the Porte. Still, the bulk of the population has remained faithful to the Slavic Greek worship. The scanty germs of cultivation sown among them by two or three of their princes, who caused several Byzantine works to be translated into the Bulgarian dialect, perished during the Turkish invasion. The few books used by the priesthood in our days, are obtained from Russia. They have no trace of a literature, and the only point of view from which their language, uncultivated as it is, can excite a general interest, is in respect to their popular songs. In these this dialect likewise is said to be exceedingly rich.

The Russian Bible Society had prepared a Bulgarian translation of the New Testament, intended more especially for the benefit of the Bulgarian inhabitants of the Russian province of Bessarabia. But the specimen printed in 1823 excited some doubt as to the competency of the translator in respect to his knowledge of the Bulgarian language; and it was deemed advisable to put a stop to its further progress. Among the Albanian portion of its inhabitants, the New Testament has been distributed by the British and Foreign Bible Society.

In the dearth of all philological helps in respect to the Bulgarian language, it is matter of grateful acknowledgment to Slavic scholars, that an American missionary, the Kev. E. Biggs, stationed at Smyrna, should recently have taken up the subject, and furnished us with a brief sketch of the principal features of the Bulgarian grammar. It seems that the Bulgarians have availed themselves of the printing establishment founded by the American missionaries at Smyrna; and some books in this language have been there printed. Mr. Kiggs says of the language, that "its literature is very slender, consisting almost entirely of a few elementary books, printed in Bucharest, Belgrad, Buda, Cracow, Constantinople, and Smyrna." A Bulgarian translation of Gallaudet's "Child's Book on the Soul," was sent by the same gentleman to New York. From the same source we learn that a Bulgarian version of the New Testament was printed at Smyrna in 1840, for the British and Foreign Bible Society; and that in 1844 the first number of a monthly magazine, entitled "Philology," was issued from the same press.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 1: See above, pp. 27, 28.]

[Footnote 2: Wiener Jahrbucher der Literatur, 1822, Vol. XVII.]

* * * * *



PART III.



WESTERN SLAVI.



CHAPTER I.

CZEKHO-SLOVAKIAN BRANCH.

SECTION I

HISTORY OF THE CZEKHISH OR BOHEMIAN LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE.

Of all the Slavic languages, the Bohemian dialect with its literature is the only one, which, in the mind of the protestant reader, can escite a more than general interest. Not so much indeed by its own nature, in which it differs little from the other Slavic languages; but from those remarkable circumstances, which, in the night of a degenerate Romanism, made the Bohemian tongue, with the exception of the voice of Wickliffe, the first organ of truth. Wickliffe's influence, however great and decided it may have been, was nevertheless limited to the theologians and literati of the age; his voice did not find that responding echo among the common people, which alone is able to give life to abstract doctrines. It was in Bohemia, that the spark first blazed up into a lively flame, which a century later spread an enlightening fire over all Europe. The names of Huss and Jerome of Prague can never perish; although less success has made them less current than those of Luther and Melancthon. In no language of the world has the Bible been studied with more zeal and devotion; no nation has ever been more willing to seal their claims upon the Word of God with their blood. The long contests of the Bohemians for liberty of conscience, and their final destruction, present one of the most heart-rending tragedies to be found in human history. Not less ready to maintain their convictions with the pen than with the sword, the theological literature of the fifteenth, sixteenth, and the first twenty years of the seventeenth centuries, is of an extent with which that of no other Slavic language can be compared. It is true, however, that most of these productions bear decidedly the stamp of the period in which they were written. Dictated by the polemical spirit of the age, and for the most part directed by one protestant party against another, there is very little to be found in them to gratify the Christian, or from which the theological student of the present day could derive any other than historical instruction. On the other hand, while the theological literature of all the other Slavic nations is almost exclusively limited to sermons, catechisms, prayer-books, and other devotional exercises, among the Bohemians alone do we meet with cxegetical researches and interpretations, founded on a scientific examination of the original text of the Scriptures.

There are few branches of science or art in which the Bohemians have not to boast of some eminent name. But the talent for which this nation is the most distinguished is that of music A fondness for music and a natural gift to execute it is indeed common to all Slavic nations: but whilst their talent is mostly confined to a susceptible ear, and a skill in imitating,—for the Russians and Poles possess some celebrated musical performers though very few distinguished composers,—the talent of the Bohemian is of a far higher order. He unites the spirit of harmony which characterizes the Germans, with the sweet gift of melody belonging to the Italians, and thus seems to be the true ideal of a complete musician. A great part of the most eminent names among German composers are Bohemians by birth; and there is hardly any thing which strikes the American and English traveller in that beautiful region more, than the general prevalence of a gift so seldom met with in their own countries.

Bohemia, until the sixth century was inhabited by a Celtic race, the Boii. After them the country was called Boiohemnum, i.e., home of the Boii; in German still Boeheim.[1] The Boii were driven to the south-west by the Markomanns; the Markomanns were conquered by the Lombards. After the downfall of the great kingdom of Thuringia in the middle of the sixth century, Slavic nations pushed forward into Germany, and the Czekhes settled in Bohemia, where an almost deserted country offered them little or no resistance. The Czekhes, a Slavic race, came from Belo-Chrobatia, as the region north of the Carpathian range was then called.[2] Their name has been usually explained from that of their chief, Czekh; but Dobrovsky more satisfactorily derives it from czeti, czjti, to begin, to be the first; according to him Czekhes signifies much the same as Front-SIavi.[3] The person of Czekh has rather a mythological than an historical foundation. The whole history of that period, indeed, is so intimately interwoven with poetical legends and mythological traditions, that it seems impossible at the present time to distinguish real facts from poetical ornaments. The hero of the ancient chronicles Samo, the just Krok, Libussa the wise and beautiful, and the husband of her choice, the peasant Perzmislas, all move in a circle of poetical fiction. There is, however, no doubt that there is an historical foundation for all these persons; for tradition only expands and embellishes; but rarely, if ever, invents.

What we have said in our introduction, in regard to the vestiges of an early cultivation of the Slavic nations in general, must be applied to the Czekhes particularly.[4] The courts of justice in which the just Krok and his daughter presided, and which the chronicles describe to us, present indeed a wonderful mixture of the sacred forms of a well organized society, and of that patriarchal relation, which induced the dissenting parties to yield with childlike submission to the arbitrary decisions of the prince's wisdom. According to the chronicle, so early as A.D. 722, Libussa kept a pisak or clerk, literally, a, writer; and her prophecies were written down in Slavic characters. The same princess is said to have founded Prague. A considerable number of Bohemian poems, some of which have been only recently discovered, are evidently derived from the pagan period. Libussa's choice of the country yeoman Perzmislas for her husband, in preference to her noble suitors, indicates the early existence of a free and independent peasantry. All these scattered features are however insufficient to give us a distinct picture of this early period; and here, as among all other Slavic nations, history commences only with the introduction of Christianity. The small states originally founded by the Czekhes, were first united into one dukedom during the last years of Perzmislas; while under his son Nezamysl, in the year 752, they are said to have first distributed the lands in fee, and to have given to the whole community a constitutional form.

The name of Boii, Bohemians, was transferred to the Czekhes by the neighbouring nations. They continued to call themselves Czekhes, as they do even now. The Moravians, a nearly related Slavic race, who probably came to these regions at the same time with the Czekhes, called themselves Morawczik,[5] from Morawa, morass, a name frequently repeated in Slavic countries. Until A.D. 1029, they were as a people entirely separated from the Bohemians. They had formed different petty states; their chiefs were called Kniazi, like those of their eastern brethren. The ancient Moravia, however, spread far beyond the limits of the present country of this name, and extended deep into Hungary. Hence this portion of the Slavic race was also generally comprised under the name of the Pannonic Slavi. We have shown above, in the history of the Old Slavonic language, that Moravia, then for a short period a powerful kingdom, was the principal theatre of Methodius' exertions.[6] As at this time Christianity had been already introduced into these regions, and the kings Rostislav and Svatopluk, as well as most of their subjects, were already baptized, it is very probable that they were induced by motives of policy to send to Constantinople for a Christian teacher. Oppressed by the Germans, the usurpations of whose emperors were in a certain measure sanctioned by the chair of Rome, they desired to secure for themselves in the Byzantine court a powerful ally. After the dissolution of the Moravian kingdom in A.D. 1029, the present Moravia fell to Bohemia; was separated from it repeatedly in the course of the following centuries; and at length, in the beginning of the seventeenth century, became together with this kingdom an ingredient part of the Austrian states.

The Moravians were among the earliest Slavic tribes converted to Christianity. As early as the seventeenth century a considerable portion of them were baptized by German priests. It was however not before the first half of the ninth century, that the first Christian missionaries entered Bohemia. In the year 845, fourteen Bohemian princes were baptized at Ratisbon. In the year 894 the duke Borzivog, the head of the nation, received baptism; but his successors went back to idolatry, and with them the greatest part of the people. Christianity was not firmly established in these regions until the second half of the tenth century. At this time the Slavic liturgy introduced by Methodius into Moravia was already, in some measure, by the indefatigable exertions of the Romish German priesthood, superseded by the Latin worship. Thus it never was fully established in Bohemia with the exception of a few churches, attached to convents founded expressly in memory of the Slavic saints, Jerome, Cyril, and Methodius. Their inmates however were expelled in favour of German-Bohemian monks, or they died; and with them disappeared every vestige of the innovations of Cyril and Methodius. Hence the Old Slavic language, and the noble translation of the Bible extant in it, have exercised only an inconsiderable influence on the Bohemian idiom.[7]

Bohemia, under the sovereignty of her dukes, and from A.D. 1198, under that of kings, was independent of the German empire, or at least did not belong to its circles; it recognized however a kind of sovereignty in that powerful neighbour, and the kings of Bohemia deemed it an honour to belong to the seven Electors, who chose the worldly head of Christianity. In the year 1306, the last male descendant of Perzmislas was murdered. His house had reigned in Bohemia in uninterrupted succession; although the kingdom was properly not hereditary, but elective, like Germany, Hungary, and Poland. After a short interval, the crown of Bohemia fell by succession to the house of Luxemburg, and thus became several times united with the Roman imperial crown. Under the emperor Charles IV, Bohemia rose to the summit of its lustre. It was he who founded, A.D. 1348, the university of Prague, the first Slavic institution of that description.[8] Under his successor, Wenceslaus, the war of the Hussites began. In the year 1457. the Bohemians maintained their right of election by placing George Podiebrad, a Bohemian, on the throne. The wisdom and equity of this individual justified their choice. In A.D. 1527, Ferdinand I, archduke of Austria, was elected king; and from that time the Bohemians have never again been able to detach themselves from Austria; with the exception of a short interval, during which the unfortunate palatine Frederic, known in the history of the thirty years' war, was placed on their throne. During the fifteenth, sixteenth, and the first half of the seventeenth, centuries. Bohemia was almost without interruption the theatre of bloody wars and contests in behalf of their religious liberties. Then came the awful stillness of death, which reigned for more than a hundred years over this exhausted and agonized country. For its revival and its present comparatively flourishing condition, it is indebted to its own rich natural resources, and to the wiser policy and milder dispositions of the more recent Austrian sovereigns.

The Bohemian language is the common property not only of the Bohemians and the Moravians, constituting together about three and a half millions in number, but also of nearly two millions of Slovaks, those venerable remains of the ancient Slavic settlements between the Carpathian mountains and the rivers Theiss and Danube. This people, so nearly related to the Czekhes, occupy the whole north-western part of Hungary; and are, besides this, scattered over that whole kingdom. They speak indeed a dialect or rather several dialects essentially different from the language spoken in Bohemia and Moravia; but the circumstance of their having, since the Reformation, chosen the Bohemian for their literary language, amalgamates their contributions to literature with those of the Bohemians, and gives them an equal right to the productions of these latter.

Of all the modern Slavic languages, the Bohemian was the first cultivated. Two bishops of Merscburg, Boso towards the middle of the tenth century, and Werner at the close of the eleventh, as also fifty years later another German priest, Bruno, were above all active in promoting the holy cause of Christianity by religious instruction. The application of Latin characters to Slavic words had long been familiar to the German priesthood; inasmuch as very early attempts had been made to convert the subjugated Slavic tribes, scattered through the north of Germany.

They now were applied to the Bohemian, so far as writing was requisite for religious instruction. According to the old chronicles, there were even some regular schools erected in those early times, one at Budecz, near Prague, and another somewhat later in Prague itself, where Latin was taught. Be this as it may, the Latin and German languages had an early influence on the formation of the Bohemian. Many foreign words were adopted and amalgamated with the language; still more were formed from native roots, after the model of those two idioms. In later times this capacity of the Bohemian has been greatly improved; it being one of the few languages, which, in philosophy, theology, and jurisprudence, have not borrowed their terminology from the Latins and Greeks, but formed their own technical expressions for ideas received only in part from other nations. The extraordinary refinement of the Bohemian verb we have mentioned in our remarks upon the Slavic languages in general. In respect to free and independent construction, the Bohemian approaches the Latin; by its richness in conjunctions it differs essentially from the Russian, and is able to imitate the Greek in all its lighter shades. Thus it yields neither in copiousness nor in pliability, neither in clearness nor in precision,[9] to any other Slavic language; while in respect to lexical and grammatical cultivation it is superior to all of them. The Bohemian alone, of all the Slavic languages, has hitherto succeeded in imitating perfectly the classic metres; although the same degree of capacity for them is acknowledged in the Southern-Slavic dialects.

After so much well deserved praise, we must also mention, that in respect to sound, the reproach of harshness and want of euphony has been made with more justice against none of the Slavic tongues. It is true that all the reasons, by which we have above seen the Slavic languages in general defended,[10] apply with equal weight to the Bohemian in particular. It appears also, that this apparent harshness is more a production of modern times, than a necessary ingredient of the original language; for the ancient Bohemian of legends and popular songs sounds by far more melodious; and the dialects spoken by the Slovaks, which are kindred to the Old Bohemian, are full of vowels, and are even distinguished from the other Slavic tongues by diphthongs. On the other hand, it cannot be denied, that the accumulation of consonants, in which the Bohemian surpasses by far, not the Polish, but the southern and eastern languages, and its peculiar preference of the vowels e and i over the fuller sounding a, o, u, do not add to the euphony of the language; although it seems singular to bring forward such a reproach against a people so distinguished for their musical talent.

The history of the Bohemian literature may be divided into five periods.

The first comprises the whole interval from our first knowledge of the Czekhes to the influence of Huss; or from A.D. 550 to A.D. 1400.

The second period comprises a full century, from Huss to the general diffusion of the art of printing.

The third period, the golden age of the Bohemian literature, comprises about the same interval, and extends to the battle at the White Mountain, A.D. 1620.

The fourth period, extends from the battle at the White Mountain to the revival of literature in 1774-1780.

The fifth period, covers the interval from 1780 to the present time.

FIRST PERIOD.

From the first settlement of the Czekhes, A.D. 550, to John Huss, A.D. 1400.

Of the language of the Czekhes as it existed when they first settled in Bohemia, nothing is left, except the names they gave to the rivers, mountains, and towns, and those of their first chiefs. All these names entitle us to conclude, that their language was then essentially the same as at the present time, though more nearly approaching the Old Slavic. The first certain written documents of the language are not older than the introduction of Christianity. There were indeed discovered, about thirty years ago, some fragments of poetry, which appear to lie derived from the pagan period.[11] The manuscript has been deposited in the Museum of Prague, and the high beauties and evident antiquity of these poems have secured them warm advocates and admiring commentators. But the circumstance that Dobrovsky doubted their genuineness, induces us to regard this point at least as not incontestable in respect to the language; in respect to the manners they describe, and the institutions they allude to, they bear very strong evidence of a later origin.[12] Another highly valuable fragment is the celebrated manuscript of Koniginhof, discovered in the year 1817 by the librarian Hanka, half buried among rubbish and worthless papers.[13] This collection, the genuineness of which is subject to no doubt, contains likewise several poems, the original composition of which belongs evidently to the eighth or ninth century. But the manuscript itself is not older than the end of the thirteenth century, and cannot therefore be considered as a sure monument of the language in an earlier age. All these national songs have an historical foundation; they celebrate battles and victories; and their evident tendency is to exalt the national feelings. They have not that plastic and objective character which makes Homer and the Servian popular epics so remarkable; and from which it appears that the poet, during the time of his inspiration, is rather above his subject; but like the Russian tale of Igor's Expedition, the epic beauties are merged in the lyric effusions of the poet's own feelings, who thus never attempts to conceal that his whole soul is engaged in his subject.

The oldest monuments of the Christian age are the names of the days, which are of pure Slavic origin. Of the Lord's Prayer in Bohemian, on comparing the oldest copy he could find among the ancient manuscripts, Dobrovsky presumes that the form must have been about the same in the ninth or tenth century; although the manuscript itself is somewhat later. A translation of the Kyrie eleison, ascribed to Adalbert second bishop of Prague, dates from the same time. During the eleventh and twelfth centuries many convents were founded and schools attached to them; German artists and mechanics and even agriculturists settled in Bohemia. The influence of German customs and habits showed itself more and more, and the nobility began to use in preference the German language. In the course of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, this influence increased considerably, and exhibited itself most favourably in the lyric poetry of the time, an echo of the German Minnesingers; many of the poets belonging like them to the highest nobility. Of all the Slavic nations, the Bohemian is the only one in which the flower of chivalry has ever unfolded itself; and the cause of its development here is doubtless to be sought in their occidental feudal system, and in their constant intercourse with the Germans. The natural tendency of the Polish nobility to heroic deeds and chivalrous adventures was counterbalanced, partly by the oriental character of their relation to the peasantry, which impressed on them at least as much of the character of the Asiatic satrap, as of the occidental knight; and partly by the want of a free middle class in Poland, as also in Russia. True chivalry indeed does not require simply the contrast of a low, helpless, and submissive class; its lustre never appears brighter than when placed side by side with an independent yeomanry.

In calling the Bohemian lyric poetry of this age the echo of the German, we do not mean to say it was wanting in originality; but wish rather to convey the idea, that the same spirit inspired at the time the Bohemians and the Germans, proceeding however from the latter, who themselves received it from the more romantic Provence. Of these heroic love-songs very few are left. There are, however, several productions of this period, in which the German influence is not to be recognized at all, but which exhibit purely Slavic national features. We will here enumerate the monuments of the Bohemian language from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, which have been preserved, before we pass to the fourteenth, which was more productive and exhibited in some measure a new character.

The most remarkable is the above-mentioned manuscript of Koeniginhof. It contains, besides several epic songs partly complete and partly fragmentary, seven or eight charming lyric pieces. The near relationship of the Slavic nations among each other, is exhibited in no feature more strikingly than in their national popular poetry, especially in the little lyric songs, the immediate effusion of their feelings, wishes, and cares; whilst epic poetry, which draws her materials from the external world, must hence, in every nation, be in some measure modified by their different fortunes and situations. With the exception of this manuscript and a few scattered love-songs and tales, all we have from this early period is of a religious character, viz. a fragment of a history of Christ's passion in rhymes, another of a legend of the twelve apostles, and a hymn on the merits of the Bohemian patron saint, Wenceslaus. There is also a complete Psalter in Bohemian, with a whole series of hymns, or rather rhymed formularies, corresponding to those sung in the catholic church, viz a Te Deum,, an office for the dead, a prayer for the intercession of all saints, etc. A piece in prose, entitled "The complaint of a lover on the banks of the Moldau," a very rare appearance in those early times, was formerly considered as genuine, on the authority of Linde and Dobrovsky; but has since been proved to be spurious. The first historians of Bohemia, Cosmas and Vincentius, born towards the middle of the eleventh century, wrote both of them in Latin. The chronicle of the first is still extant.

During the fourteenth century the German influence increased so much, that the jealousy and impatience of a great part of the nation was powerfully excited. The king kept a German body guard; German fashions in dress and manners prevailed at the court; and even in the year 1341, when the privileges of the city of Prague were first solemnly committed to writing, it was done in the German language. Under the reign of Charles I, or the emperor Charles IV, for he united the two crowns on his head, Bohemia, as we have said, reached the highest point of its splendour. He wisely limited the privileges of the Germans in his own kingdom; and reconciled the minds of the Bohemians by granting to them similar privileges in the German empire. He honoured the Bohemian language so much as to recommend expressly, in the golden bull, to the sons of the Electors to learn it. His capital, Prague, was like the apple of his eye; and he did all he could to add to its embellishments and magnificence. Here he founded in the year 1348 the first Slavic university, on the plan of those of Paris and Bologna. The influence of this institution, not merely on Bohemia, but on Germany and indeed all Europe, was decided. From the time of its foundation until 1410, it was the general resort for students from among the Poles, Hungarians, Swedes, and Germans. It was doubtless the wish to give it this very kind of universality, which induced Charles IV, in the statutes of the institution, to allow to the Bohemians only one suffrage in the senate, and the three others to foreigners. We shall show in the sequel, with what jealousy this apparent preference was received by the natives, and what a violent reaction it caused in the Bohemian national feelings.

Experience every where teaches, that schools and academies never enkindle the spark of genuine poetry; nay, that the erection of formal scientific institutions is even not favourable to the free developement of that high gift. In Bohemia, too, the fourteenth century was indeed very productive in rhymed works; but most of them were utterly deficient in real poetry. On the other hand, as the natural result of a more strictly logical and clearer mode of thinking, by reason of a scientific education, the style of the prose writings became more cultivated, concise, and distinct; and the direction of mind more general and universal. We find in this period several historical works, viz. (1) A chronicle in Bohemian rhymes, extending as far as to 1313, and finished about the year 1318, written under king John the father of Charles IV, when the influence of the German had reached its highest point. A glowing hatred against that nation dictated this work, and made it for more than two hundred years the favourite book of the Bohemian people. The name of the author is not ascertained, although it has been usually ascribed to the canon Dalimil Mezericky.[14] (2) Another Bohemian chronicle, written by order of Charles IV in Latin, but translated into Bohemian by Przibik Pulkawa. It was first published by Prochazka in the year 1786; the Latin original in 1794. (3) Martimiani or the Roman chronicle, translated A.D. 1400 from the German, by Benesh of Horowic. (4) Another chronicle of the Roman emperors, translated from the Latin by Laurentius of Brezow, the writer of several other works, some of which were printed in the course of the following centuries.—There were also several collections of laws; among others the oldest Bohemian statutes, by A. of Duba, a valuable manuscript, preserved in the imperial library of Vienna; the common and the feudal law, translated from the Latin and kept in the library of Prague; the celebrated Sachsenspiegel or laws of Magdeburg, etc. The constant intercourse with foreigners directed the attention of the Bohemians early to the utility of acquiring other languages, and made the possession of their own valuable to foreigners. We find, consequently, not less than seven dictionaries, or vocabularies as they were called, compiled in the course of this century; one of which, the Bohemarius so called of A.D. 1309, is even written in hexameters. As all these vocabularies are incomplete, and better ones, founded partly upon them, have been since compiled, they have never, so far as we know, been printed; but are extant in several copies, and are preserved in the libraries of Prague, Bruenn, and several churches.

Poetry, during this century, took also in Bohemia the same course as in Germany, and degenerated into loose works of fiction between prose and verse, mostly allegorical compositions, and the basis of the modern novel. Such are Tristram, in 9000 verses, a translation from the German; the life of Alexander and the History of Troy from the Latin, both of them more novel than history; and a great number of similar works.[15] Some fragments of an heroic epic, entitled "The Bohemian Alexander," have been recently found in the archives of Budweis by Professor Kaubek, and published in the Journal of the Museum. All the other poetical productions of this century may be divided into fables, satires, and legends, or other allegorical pieces of an ecclesiastico-didactic tendency, as may be seen even from their titles; e.g. the Nine Joys of Mary, the Ten Commandments, the Five Sources of Sin, etc. All are equally deficient in poetical merit.

With what thoughts the minds of reflecting men and of the reading class were at this time chiefly occupied, and how well they were prepared to receive, in the beginning of the following century, the doctrines of Huss, Jerome, and Jacobellus, those teachers of a purer system of divinity, is manifested in some measure in the theological literature of the day. A treatise upon the great distress of the church, written by a clergyman called John Miliez, before 1370;[16] several others on the principal Christian virtues; a book of Christian instruction written by Shtitny, a Bohemian nobleman, for his own children; a translation of the Jewish Rabbi Samuel's book on the coming of the Messiah; and several similar works,—all these seem to indicate that the religious system of the day was no longer able to satisfy reflecting minds. We find also that a great part of the Bible was already extant in the Bohemian language in the second half of the fourteenth century;[17] although not yet collected together. Several translations of the Psalter from this period; also of the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Daniel; and the Sunday lessons from the Gospels; are preserved in manuscript in the libraries of Prague, Vienna, and Oels in Silesia. Many others have doubtless perished in the lapse of time.

SECOND PERIOD.

From John Huss, A.D. 1400, to the general diffusion of the art of printing, about A.D. 1500.

At the commencement of the fifteenth century, the university of Prague was in the zenith of its splendour. Several celebrated German scholars occupied the professors' chairs, and the average number of students was twenty thousand. No department of science was neglected; each faculty had its distinguished teachers; but it was theology which excited decidedly the warmest national interest among the Bohemians themselves; it was theology in which the Bohemians maintained the first rank as teachers. The interest in spiritual things was no longer confined, as in former times, to those who intended to devote themselves to the clerical profession; it pervaded all classes, high and low. Immediately after Wickliffe's death, an intercourse had been opened between England and Bohemia by the marriage of a Bohemian princess, Ann, sister of king Wenceslaus, to Richard II of England. A young Bohemian nobleman, who had finished his studies in Prague, repaired to Oxford, imbibed the sentiments and opinions of Wickliffe, and on his return put a copy of all Wickliffe's writings into the hands of John Huss, at that time one of the professors of theology at Prague; whose mind was probably already prepared for them, and who began to study them with great zeal and devotion. Indeed, the pretensions of the chair of Rome, and the corruption of the clergy, had been for some time since looked upon in Bohemia with private disgust and open disapprobation; and when the professors Huss, Jerome, and Jacobellus, began to declaim against monks, auricular confession, and the infallibility of the pope, they found a responding echo in the breasts of their hearers; and all that was novel in their doctrines, was the boldness with which they were pronounced, and the logical consistency with which they were justified.

Another difference of opinion, which tended greatly to augment the excitement then reigning at the university, was the contest between the two philosophical schools, viz. that of the Realists, who were defended by Huss, and the Nominalists, to which nearly all the Germans adhered. This contest became very soon a national affair; or, more probably, had its principal origin in the unjust privileges of the Germans and the jealousy of the Bohemians. The preference given to the former at the foundation of the university, viz. the possession of three out of the four suffrages in all matters determined by vote, became anew the subject of debate, and was more especially assailed by Huss, then rector of the university. After a whole year of resistance, the king at length yielded. A decree of A.D. 1409 ordained that in future the proportion should be reversed, so that the Germans should possess only one suffrage, and the Bohemians three. For this victory of their national pride, the university, the city, nay the whole country, had to suffer severely. Immediately after this decision, the famous literary emigration took place. All the German professors and students left Prague at once. The immediate consequences of this step were, the foundation of the universities of Leipzig, Rostock, and Ingolstadt; and the building up of those of Heidelberg, Erfurt, and Cracow. Prague never again became what it had been; although it obtained a transient lustre through the victory itself, and the eminence and martyrdom of some of its national teachers. Before we proceed, we must devote a few words to the personal merits and fortunes of these latter.

John Huss was born A.D. 1373, at Hussinecz, a village in the southern part of Bohemia; from which he sometimes took the name of Huss of Hussinecz, or John of Hussinecz. Although without property himself, he was enabled, at the age of sixteen years, by the pecuniary assistance of the proprietor of his native village and some other patrons, to prosecute his studies at the university of Prague, where he distinguished himself by his abilities and diligence. In the year 1396 he was made Master of Arts, and two years later began to lecture on philosophical and theological subjects. In A.D. 1402 he was appointed curate and preacher to the chapel of Bethlehem at Prague, the duties of which office he united with his professorship. In the same year the queen Sophia chose him for her confessor. He thus at once acquired an influence over the people, the students, and at court. It was about this time that he became acquainted with the writings of Wickliffe. In the year 1407 he began publicly to oppose and preach against the errors in doctrine and the corruption then reigning in the church. The archbishop of Prague, Zbyniek, an illiterate and violent man, whose ignorance had made him the laughing-stock of the students, by whom he was called the Alphabetarius, or ABC doctor, collected two hundred manuscripts of Wickliffc's writings; and, without any further authority from the pope than his previous condemnation of them, committed them to the flames in the archiepiscopal palace. Huss, both in his lectures and sermons, not only blamed this act in strong terms; but translated the Trilogus and several other of Wickliffc's works into Bohemian, distributed them among laymen and females, and caused new Latin copies to be made. When the archbishop interdicted his preaching in the Bohemian language, Huss not only refused to obey, but continued to spread, by all legal means, those doctrines of Wickliffe which he approved. At the same time the first translation of the whole Bible—whether a collection of the parts already extant, or a new version, we are not informed—appeared, and was distributed in multiplied copies among the public. It is not known whether this translation was prepared by Huss; but it is certain that he did what he could to promote its circulation. On such proceedings the Romish clergy could not look with tranquillity. Twice he was called to Rome; twice he disobeyed; and at length appealed to a general council. In consequence of his doctrines, and of some tumultuous scenes among his followers, the excess of which he himself highly disapproved, he was by a decree of pope John XXIII solemnly expelled from the communion of the church. Deeming himself no longer safe at Prague under the weak king, he retired to the territory of his friend and patron, Nicholas of Hussinecz, where he prepared new works, some of which are among his most powerful ones, and preached repeatedly in the open fields before an innumerable audience. Those of his works which caused the greatest sensation, were his treatise 'On the Church,' and a pamphlet entitled 'The Six Errors;' both of which he caused to be fixed on the walls and gates of the chapel of Bethlehem. Both were directed against indulgences, against the abuse of excommunication, simony, transubstantiation, and the like; and, above all, against the unlimited obedience required by the see of Rome; maintaining that the Scriptures presented the only rule of faith and conduct for the Christian.

In consequence of this conviction, the correction and distribution of the Bohemian Bible was his constant care. In all his Bohemian writings he paid an uncommon attention to the language, and exerted a decided and lasting influence on it. The old Bohemian alphabet, which consisted of forty-two letters, he arranged anew; and first settled the Bohemian orthography according to fixed principles.[18] In order to render it more interesting and impressive to learners, he imitated Cyril's ingenious mode of giving to each letter the name of some well-known Bohemian word, which had the same initial letter, e.g. H, hospodin, lord; K, kral, king, etc. Thus he devoted his whole life to the different means of enlightening his countrymen; and justly considered a general cultivation of the mind as the best preparation for receiving the truth.

Among the coadjutors of Huss, the most distinguished was Hieronymus von Faulfisch, more generally known under the name of Jerome of Prague; who was, like Huss, professor in the university. In erudition and eloquence he surpassed his friend; he accorded with him in his doctrinal views; but did not possess the mild disposition, the moderation of conduct, for which Huss was distinguished. His hatred against the abuses of the Romish church was so violent, that he used to trample under his feet the relics regarded as holy by that church. He is even said to have once ordered a monk who resisted him, to be thrown into the river. He was so great an admirer of Wickliffe, several of whose writings he translated into Bohemian, that even when preaching before the emperor at Buda, he could not but interweave that reformer's doctrines in his sermons; an imprudence which caused him to be arrested immediately afterwards at Vienna. He obtained his liberty in consequence of the solicitation of the university of Prague. He wrote several works in the Bohemian language, for the instruction of the people, hymns, pamphlets, etc. His reputation for erudition and extraordinary powers rests, however, more on the testimony of his cotemporaries, than on his works, of which very few remain.

Another active assistant of Huss, especially in his improvement and distribution of the Bohemian Bible, was Jacobellus of Mies, known under the name Jacobellus of the [sacramental] Cup, on account of his zeal for the general introduction of the communion in both forms. He wrote commentaries on some of the epistles, sermons, religious hymns, etc. He too was a professor in the university of Prague.

In the year 1414 Huss was summoned to appear before the Council of Constance, to exculpate himself before the united theologians of all the Christian nations of Europe. Without the least reluctance, and rather with rejoicing at the opportunity of justifying himself from the extravagant charges brought against him by his enemies, and of demonstrating publicly the truth of his doctrines, he obeyed this call. Provided with a safe conduct from the emperor Sigismund, and accompanied moreover by several Bohemian noblemen at the express order of king Wenceslaus, he undertook the journey without fear for his personal safety, and arrived on the fourth of November at Constance. Here, before he was permitted to appear in the presence of the general Council, he had to undergo several private audiences before a few cardinals; at one of which, about three weeks after his arrival, he was arrested, cast into prison, and without being tried or even heard, kept more than six months. When the news of this treachery reached Bohemia, it was felt by the whole people as a national insult. Three petitions, signed by nearly the whole body of the nobility, were in the course of time successively tendered to the Council; and as the two first were without avail, the third was accompanied by one to the emperor, in which he was reminded of his broken word, in terms so strong,—he having pledged his imperial honour for the safety of Huss,—that at length the 5th of June was fixed for a public hearing. Here however every attempt of Huss, not merely to justify himself, but even to speak, was frustrated by the most indecent and tumultuous clamour of the assembled clergy, who loaded him with invectives and reproaches. In the two following audiences he was indeed allowed a hearing, at the special demand of the emperor, who had been disgusted and offended by the indecent behaviour of the Council. Huss was now permitted to justify himself at large upon all the forty articles brought against him, most of them founded on his writings by the frequent aid of the most unfair deduction; but although he exculpated himself completely from some of the charges, yet he himself acknowledged so many others, that the Council could only be confirmed in its previous determination to condemn him as an obstinate heretic. A month was allowed him, to give in his final answer. During this time cardinals and bishops tried their eloquence to persuade him to recant; especially at the instigation of the emperor, who wished to save his life on account of his own pledged honour. But all these efforts could not move the faith nor firmness of this pious and heroic man; and on the 6th of July, A.D. 1415, he was unanimously condemned, ignominiously degraded from the office of a priest, and burned alive the same day. His ashes were thrown into the Rhine.[19]

His friend Jerome of Prague, on hearing of his dangerous situation, hurried to Constance, to assist and support him, without even waiting for a safe conduct from the emperor or Council. In the vicinity of Constance he stopped, and tried all possible means to obtain some assurance for his personal safety. Not succeeding in this, he felt himself compelled by prudence to return, although slowly and reluctantly, to Bohemia. But on the road, in consequence of a dispute in which he became engaged with some bigoted priests, he was arrested by the duke of Salzbach and sent to Constance, where the same scenes were repeated before the Council, as in the case of Huss. At his first appearance, a thousand voices exclaimed: Away with him! burn him, burn him! It is most melancholy to read in the reports of the time, that even this strong and pious man could have been terrified into temporary submission; not by the prospect of death, which he met gladly, but by the horrors of a lonely and protracted imprisonment in a noxious dungeon. But his fortitude did not long abandon him; tortured by his own conscience, he solemnly announced at the next audience his recantation; and declared, that of all the sins he had committed, he repented of none more than his apostasy from the doctrines he had maintained. In consequence of this he was subjected to the same condemnation as his illustrious friend; and met his painful death with the same magnanimity and resignation. He was burnt the 30th of May, 1416.

The behaviour of both these eminent men; the Christian mildness with which they bore the infamous treatment of their enemies; the generosity with which they forgave their persecutors; the patience, nay cheerfulness of Huss, when during his imprisonment severe bodily sufferings united with the persecutions of his adversaries to make his life a heavy burden; the magnanimity and fortitude with which both of them submitted to their final fate, and maintained the truth of their religious opinions until the very moment of an excruciating death, praising the Lord with soul and voice; all this presents one of the most affecting and at the same time elevating pictures which the history of martyrs has to exhibit. The eloquence of Jerome made a powerful impression on his enemies; and there were some moments during his trial, when even his judges wished to save his life. The celebrated Poggio Bracciolini, one of the revivers of Italian literature, happened to be present at the trial and execution of Jerome; and although not agreeing with him, or rather being indifferent in point of religion, the eloquence, magnanimity and amiable deportment of the unfortunate martyr, excited his sympathy and admiration in an uncommon degree. This is manifested in his letters to Leonardo Aretius; who in his reply found it advisable to warn his friend, not to show too much warmth in this matter.[20]

The instigators of these cruel acts, when they kindled the faggots by which these two martyrs died, did not anticipate that the fire they had lighted would spread over a whole country, and carry horror and devastation through the half of Germany. The war by which the disciples of Huss avenged him, was one of the most bloody and destructive known in history. The news of his death, when it reached Bohemia, touched the heart of every individual like an electric spark. But this is not our province. Keeping only our own object, the fate of the language and literature in view, we must refer the reader to the historical accounts of this distressing period, and limit ourselves to the mention of those events only, which had an immediate influence on these two topics.

Under the guidance of Nicholas of Hussineccz, the friend and patron of Huss, in whom even his enemies acknowledged more a defender of the Reformers, than a persecutor of the Catholics; of Zhizhka of Trocznow, a Bohemian knight of great valour, but disgraced by cruelty; and, after the death of these two, under Procopius, formerly a clergyman; the Hussites carried their victorious arms throughout all Bohemia, into Silesia, Franconia, Austria, and Saxony; and made these unhappy countries the theatre of the most cruel devastations. If, divided into several parties, as they were, they were thus powerful, they would have been twice as strong, had they been united in the true spirit of Huss. But even as early as A.D. 1421 dissensions arose among them; and they finally split into several sects and parties, who mutually hated each other even more than they did the Romanists. Among these the Calixtins or Utraquists, whose principal object was to obtain the sacrament in both forms; and the Taborites, who insisted on a complete reform of the church; were the two principal. The Calixtins comprehended the more moderate of the nobility and the wealthy citizens of Prague; between them and the Romanists a compact was concluded at Basle, in A.D. 1434, by which a conditional religious liberty was granted to them, and they acknowledged the emperor Sigismund as their sovereign; the weak king Wenceslaus having died in 1419. The Taborites were unable to resist any longer the united power of both parties. They partly dispersed; the rest united in the year 1457, in separate communities, and called themselves United Brethren. Under the severest trials of oppression and persecution, the number of these congregations, the form of which was modelled after the primitive apostolic churches, rose in less than fifty years to two hundred. In the middle of the sixteenth century, numerous emigrations to Prussia and Poland took place, where a free toleration was secured to them. In the beginning of the seventeenth century, their communities in Bohemia were finally dissolved. From the remnant of these persecuted Christians, who were called by the Germans, Bohemian or Moravian Brethren, has sprung the present community of United Brethren, often called in English, Moravians, which was founded at Hernhut in 1722, at first under the protection and ultimately under the patronage and direction of count Zinzendorf.

The consequences of the barbarous measures of the Council of Constance became immediately visible. Even the common people began to show an intense interest in the numberless theological pamphlets, which were published in Bohemia and Moravia for or against Huss. Among the former, one written by a female deserves to be distinguished. The copies of the Bohemian Bible became greatly multiplied; many of them were made by females: and AEneas Sylvius takes occasion to praise the biblical erudition of the women of the Taborites, whilst the abbot Stephen of Dolan in Moravia complains of their meddling in ecclesiastical affairs. In the revision of the text of the Bohemian Scriptures, the clergy were indefatigable. From 1410 to 1488, when the Bible was first printed, at least four recensions of the whole Bible can be distinguished, and several more of the New Testament. The different parties of the Hussites were united in a warm partiality for their own language; the Taborites began as early as 1423 to hold their service in Bohemian. After the compact of 1434, the Calixtins also attempted to introduce the mass in their own language, an innovation which caused new disturbances and contests. Meanwhile the language of the country assumed gradually even among the Romanists its natural rights; the privileges of the city of Prague, the laws of the painters' guild, the statutes of the miners, were translated into Bohemian. At the session of the Estates in Moravia in 1480, the Latin was exchanged for the Bohemian; in Bohemia itself not before 1495. The knowledge of the Bohemian language, which Albert duke of Bavaria had acquired at the court of king Wenceslaus, where he was educated, had a decided influence on the Bohemian Estates, when in 1441 they offered him their crown. Under George Podiebrad, diebrad, a Bohemian by birth, this language even became that of the court. After the death of George, one of the reasons which led to the election of Vladislaus, king of Poland, was, that the Bohemians "could hope to see elevated through him the glory of the Bohemian nation and of the Slavic language." [21] Under this king all ordinances and decrees were issued in the Bohemian language, which gained prodigiously in pliancy and extent by the application of it to different uses. The most favourable influence on its formation, however, was effected towards the close of the fifteenth century, by the custom which began to prevail of studying the classics, and of translating them with all the fidelity of which the idiom was capable. Thus fostered by judicious application and patriotic feeling, the Bohemian language approached, with rapid steps, the period of its golden age,—a time, indeed, in a political respect, of oppression, war, and devastation; but affording a gratifying proof, how powerfully moral means may counteract physical causes.

At the head of the theological literature of this period may be named the Life of Huss, written by P. Mladienowicz. Although, strictly speaking, not a theological book, yet this character was in some measure impressed upon it by the custom which prevailed for a time, of causing it to be read aloud in the churches, in order to communicate to the people all the circumstances of the martyr's death. Mladienowicz, acting as a notary at Constance, had been an eye-witness of the whole transaction. Among the Romish theological writers of the day, Hilarius Litomierzicky, ob. 1467, Rosenberg bishop of Breslau, Simon of Tishnow, and others, wrote against the practice of communion in both forms. But they were inferior to their adversaries in talent, and still more in productiveness. Rokycana, archbishop of the Calixtins, ob. 1471, Koranda, Mirosh, and others, defended their right to the sacramental cup; and exerted their pens in doctrinal controversies with the other sects. The Bohemian Brethren, Paleczek, Procopius, Simon, Mirzinsky, and others, wrote interpretations of portions of the Scriptures, polemical pamphlets, religious hymns, apologies, and the like, partly printed, and partly preserved in manuscript. In the contests of the different parties, the use of weapons of every description was regarded as lawful; and among them, satire and irony were employed with much skill and dexterity by the Hussites.[22] Uricz of Kalcnicz wrote a satirical letter from Lucifer to Lew of Rozhmital. Bohuslav of Czechticz partly wrote and partly compiled the work, "Mirror of all Christendom," with many remarkable illustrations.[23] The Bohemian brother, Chelcicky, ob. 1484, called also the Bohemian doctor, because he did not understand Latin, and of course neither Greek nor Hebrew, undertook, nevertheless, besides several other works, to write an interpretation of the Sunday Lessons of the Gospels. His most popular book, called Kopyta, i.e. "The Shoe-last," (being himself a shoemaker by trade,) which was much read by the common people, is no longer extant. A pamphlet of Martin Lupacz, ob. 1468, called "The Sprinkling-brush," was likewise in the hands of every body. This clergyman, however, acquired better claims on the gratitude of his cotemporaries, by a careful revision of the New Testament, which he undertook with the aid of several learned friends. Indeed, both among clergymen and laymen, there was an ardent desire for the right understanding of the Scriptures; which induced many individuals, who were not satisfied with the existing Bohemian translations, to undertake the task themselves anew.

Out of this period alone the manuscripts of thirty-three copies of the whole Bible, and twenty-two of the New Testament, are still extant; partly copied from each other, partly translated anew; all, however, having been made from the Vulgate.[24] The Bohemian versions made from the original languages belong to the following period.

Although religion filled the minds of the learned during this period more than in any other, it did not absorb their interest so entirely as to occupy them exclusively. It could not, however, be expected, that in the midst of such struggles, both political and religious, the minds of men could elevate themselves so far above their circumstances, as to look at any science or art in the light of its independent value. Poetry, at least, with a few exceptions, was only regarded as the handmaid of religion. We find many books of legends, biographies of the fathers and saints, both prose and rhyme, written partly by Romish, partly by Hussite writers. The doctrines of Huss did not, like those of Luther a century later, shake the belief in saints. Dobrovsky mentions a very ancient printed work of 1480, in which the letters of Huss, his life by Mladionowicz, and the letter of Poggio on the execution of Jerome, are annexed to a Passional, as such collections of the lives and sufferings of the saints are called. There is also an abundance of Taboritic war-songs; many of them replete with life and fire. These appear to have been partly founded on ancient Bohemian popular songs; for there are passages in them which are also to be found in the old chronicles. Altered to suit the existing circumstances, their effect must have been the more powerful by association. This period was also rich in religious hymns; most of them translated from the Bible as literally as the rhyme would permit. But no form of poetry was more used, and none operated more strongly on the minds of the people, than the satirical ballads, with which the streets and alleys every where resounded. All these productions are only remarkable, as characteristic memorials of the age. Hynck of Podiebrad, fourth son of king George, who was born A.D. 1452, a highly accomplished and amiable man, is named as one of the most distinguished among the Bohemian poets of the age.

Politics, too, united with religion. Stibor of Cimburg, a patriotic and distinguished nobleman, wrote in 1467 an ingenious work in the form of a novel, "On the goods of the Clergy;" Waleczowsky wrote on the vices and hypocrisy of the clergy; and Zidek, in 1471, instructions on government. All these books were dedicated to king George, and the latter work was even written at his instigation. Hagck of Hodielin, and Wlezek, between 1413 and 1457, wrote strategetical works. Marco Polo's description of the East, and Mandeville's Travels, were translated from the Latin. Kabatnik, J. Lobkowicz, and Bakalarz, wrote descriptions of Palestine between 1490 and 1500; the two first in books of travels. Mezyhor wrote a journal of the travels of Lew of Rozhmital, whom he accompanied as jester through Europe and a part of Asia. Collections of statutes, of the decrees of diets, of judicial decisions, and of other documents, were made by patriotic and sometimes eminent men; and those merely extant in Latin were carefully translated into Bohemian.[25] Thus they gathered materials for future historians, although in their own day the field of history was but poorly cultivated, or at least with no more than common ability; for, as to quantity, there is no want. Procopius, following out the example of Dalimil, wrote a new rhymed chronicle; Bartosh of Drahenicz wrote a chronicle extending from 1419 to 1443, in barbarous Latin, to which he added some notes in Bohemian. Several other chronicles, the authors of which are not known, serve as continuations of those of the preceding century, which were devoted to the affairs of their own country. The above-mentioned Zidck, on the other hand, undertook to write a universal history, after the division of time then customary, into six ages. This book forms the third part of his great work, "Instructions on Government," to which we have above alluded. In this work the author seizes every opportunity to lecture the king, to give him advice, and to rebuke him. According to Dobrovsky, his boldness not unfrequently degenerates into coarseness and insolence. It is an amusing reproach, which among others he brings against the king, that he had net one camel, whilst Job had six thousand. The same individual wrote also a large work in Latin, a kind of Cyclopaedia, the manuscript of which is in the library of the university of Cracow.

We finish the history of this period with a short account of the state of medicine and natural sciences in Bohemia. It is true, that the greater part of the learned men who wrote on these subjects, preferred the use of the Latin language. But many of them were in the habit of making at least Bohemian extracts or abridgments of their most popular works, or sometimes had the whole of them translated by their pupils. Among the medical writers of this time, Christian Prachatitzky a clergyman, John Czerny and Claudian Bohemian brethren, Albik, and Gallus, must be mentioned; the two latter wrote only in Latin.

This section of the Bohemian literature is particularly rich in herbals. Several works of instruction in botany were also written. A manuscript of 1447, "On the inoculation of Trees," may be mentioned here, although belonging rather to the department of agriculture.

The Bohemian language, although improving and evidently rising in esteem with every lustrum of the fifteenth century, had however not yet supplanted the Latin. Many of the most eminent among the learned of this period preferred still to write in Latin: as Hieronymus Balbus, Bohuslav, Hassenstein of Lobkowic, Shlechta, Olomucius, and a number of others; who all contributed nevertheless to elevate the glory of the Bohemian name, and could not but exert a powerful influence on the nation.

In respect to the date of the introduction of printing into Bohemia, the first regular printing establishment at Prague is not older than A.D. 1487. Several Bohemian books, however, were printed before this time by travelling workmen. In regard to the first work printed in the Bohemian language historians are not entirely agreed. According to Jungmann,[26] a letter from Huss to Jakaubek, of 1459. was the first specimen of Bohemian printing; the above-mentioned chronicle of Troy of 1468 the second; and the New Testament of 1475 the third. According to Dobrovsky, the New Testament of 1475 is the earliest printed work in Bohemian. From that year to 1488, only seven Bohemian works appear to have been issued from the press; among which was a Psalter and another New Testament. In 1488, after the foundation of a regular printing office, the whole Bohemian Bible was printed for the first time; in the same year the History of Troy again, and the Roman chronicle; and in the following year the first Bohemian almanac, and the Bible of Kuttenberg. The subsequent editions belong, as to time, to the following period; but are given in the note below.[27]

THIRD PERIOD.

Golden age of the Bohemian Literature. From the diffusion of printing, about A.D. 1500, to the battle at the White Mountain, A.D. 1620.

It is chiefly for the sake of clearness and convenience, that writers on the literary history of Bohemia separate this period from the former; in its character and its genius it was entirely the same. What the Bohemians had acquired in the one, they possessed in the other; what they had only aimed at in the former, they reached in the latter; what had been the property of a few, was now augmented by an abundant harvest in their diligent hands, and enriched a multitude. But the objects, the stamp, the character, of both centuries were essentially the same. Literary cultivation, which during the sixteenth century was every where else monopolized by the clergy and a few distinguished individuals, was now in Bohemia the common property of the people; who for the most part embraced the evangelical doctrines in their manifold, though but little differing shades. But although religion was to them the object of chief interest, it was yet far from occupying their minds exclusively. And this is the point, in which the history of the Bohemian Reformation materially differs from that of some other countries. Luther's elevated mind did not indeed give room to narrow prejudices against those flowers of life, with which a kind Creator has adorned this earth. But almost all the other Reformers were led, either by a one-sided zeal or by circumstances, to show themselves decidedly opposed to the cultivation of elegant literature and the fine arts; they destroyed or banished pictures, music, statuary, and every thing which they could in any way regard as worldly temptations to allure men from the only source of truth and knowledge; nay, they sometimes went so far as to look at science and art in themselves only in the light of handmaids to religion; and to deem a devotion to them without such reference, as sinful worldliness. Of such narrowness we do not find a trace in the fathers of the Bohemian Reformation, who were themselves men of high intellectual cultivation; and even their most zealous followers kept themselves nearly free from it. If, as we have seen in the preceding period, political, poetical, and religious subjects were merged in each other, it was only the necessary result of the confusion occasioned by the struggles of the time. Where one object is predominant, all others must naturally become subordinate; but wherever that which appears amiable only as the free tendency of the whole soul, is exacted as a duty, a spiritual despotism is to be feared; of which we find very little in the history of Bohemian literature. The classics never were studied with more attention and devotion, were never imitated with more taste. Italy, the cradle of fine arts, and then the seat of general cultivation, was never visited more frequently by the Bohemian nobility, than when three-fourths of the nation adhered to the Protestant Church. At the very time, too, when the Bohemian Protestants had to watch most closely their religious liberties, and to defend them against the encroachments of a treacherous court, they did not deem it a desertion of the cause of religion to unite with the same Romanists, whose theological doctrines they contested, in their labours in the fields of philology, astronomy, and natural philosophy.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9     Next Part
Home - Random Browse