Historical View of the Languages and Literature of the Slavic - Nations
by Therese Albertine Louise von Jacob Robinson
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Languages and Literature of the Slavic Nations


With a Sketch of Their Popular Poetry



With a Preface by Edward Robinson, D.D. Ll.D. Author of Biblical Researches In Palestine, etc.

New-York: George P. Putnam, 155 Broadway



The present work is founded on an essay, which appeared in the Biblical Repository for April and July, 1834, then conducted by the undersigned. The essay was received with favour by the public; and awakened an interest in many minds, as laying open a new field of information, hitherto almost inaccessible to the English reader. A few copies were printed separately for private distribution. Some of these were sent to literary men in Europe; and several scholars of high name among those acquainted with Slavic literature, expressed their approval of the work. Since that time, and even of late, inquiries have repeatedly been made, by scholars and by public libraries in Europe, for copies of that little treatise; which, of course, it was impossible to satisfy.

These circumstances, together with the fact, that in these years public attention has been more prominently directed to the character and prospects of the Slavic nations, have induced the author to recast the work; and to lay it anew before the public, corrected, enlarged, and continued to the present time; as a brief contribution to our knowledge of the intellectual character and condition of those nations, in the middle of the nineteenth century.

In its present shape, the work may be said to supply, in a certain degree, a deficiency in English literature. It is true, that the literature of the Russians, Poles, Bohemians, and some others, is treated of under the appropriate heads in the Encyclopaedia Americana, in articles translated from the German Conversations-Lexicon, though not in their latest form. The Foreign Quarterly Review also contains articles of value on the like topics, scattered throughout its volumes. Dr. Bowring, in the prefaces to some of his Specimens of Slavic Poetry, has given short notices of a similar kind. The Biblical literature of the Old Slavic and Russian has been well exhibited by Dr. Henderson[1]; while an outline of Russian literature in general is presented in the work of Otto[2]. Valuable information respecting the South-western Slavi is contained in the recent work of Sir J.G. Wilkinson.[3] But beyond this meagre enumeration, the English reader will find few sources of information at his command upon these topics. All these, too, are only sketches of separate parts of one great whole; of which in its full extent, both as a whole and in the intimate relation of its parts, no general view is known to exist in the English language.

Yet the subject in itself is not without a high interest and importance; relating, as it does, to the languages and literature of a population amounting to nearly or quite seventy millions, or more than three times as great as that of the United States. These topics embrace, of course, the history of mental cultivation among the Slavic nations from its earliest dawn; their intellectual development; the progress of man among them as a thinking, sentient, social being, acting and acted upon in his various relations to other minds. They relate, indeed, to the history of intellectual culture in one of its largest geographical and ethnological divisions.

In this connection it is a matter of no small interest, to mark the influence which Christianity has exercised upon the language and literature of these various nations. It is to the introduction and progress of Christianity, that they owe their written language; and to the versions of the Scriptures into their own dialects are they indebted, not only for their moral and religious culture, but also for the cultivation and, in a great degree, the existence of their national literature. The same influence Christianity is even now exerting upon the hitherto unwritten languages of the American forest, of the islands of the Pacific, of the burning coasts of Africa, of the mountains of Kurdistan; and with the prospect of results still wider and more propitious. Indeed, wherever we learn the fact, whether in earlier or more recent times, that a language, previously regarded as barbarous, and existing only as oral, has been reclaimed and reduced to writing, and made the vehicle of communicating fixed thought and permanent instruction, there it has ever been Christianity and Missionary Enterprise which have produced these results. It is greatly to the honour of Protestant Missions, that their efforts have always been directed to introduce the Scriptures and the worship of God to the masses of the people in their own native tongue. In this way they have every where contributed to awaken the intellectual, as well as the moral life of nations.

The present work has been prepared with great care; and with the aid of the latest and best sources of information, so far as they were accessible. The author, however, would be the last to desire, that any one should regard the volume as comprising a full or complete history of the literature of the seven or eight Slavic nations. Scholars familiar with the subject, and especially intelligent Russian, Polish, or Bohemian readers, will doubtless discover in it deficiencies and errors. Limited to the resources of a private library,—for the public libraries of the United States and of Great Britain have as yet accumulated little or nothing in the Slavic department,—and without the privilege of personal intercourse with others acquainted with Slavic literary matters, the author desires to be distinctly understood, as aiming only to present a sketch, an outline,—a work which may fill its appropriate place, until it shall be supplanted by something more perfect.

The preceding remarks have reference especially to the first three Parts of the volume. In the fourth Part, containing a Sketch of the Popular Poetry of the Slavic nations, the author is perhaps still more at home; and the reader, it may be hoped, will receive gratification from the views and specimens there presented. Similar views, and a few of the same specimens, were given in an article from the same pen, in the North American Review for July, 1836.

In conclusion, it may not be inappropriate to remark, that circumstances have combined to secure to the author some qualifications for the preparation of a work of this kind, which are not common to writers in the English language. A residence of several years in early life in Russia, first in the southern provinces, and afterwards at St. Petersburg, presented opportunity for a personal acquaintance with the language and literature of that country. At a later period, this gave occasion and afforded aid for an extensive study of the Servian dialect and its budding literature; the results of which were given to the public in a German translation of the very remarkable popular songs and ballads of that country[4]. The field was new: but certainly that can be regarded as no barren soil, nor that as a fruitless labour, which at once drew the attention, and secured to the translator the friendship and correspondence, of scholars like Goethe, von Humboldt; J. Grimm, Savigny, G. Ritter, Kopitar, and others. Similar researches were subsequently extended into the popular poetry of the Teutonic and other nations; a portion of the results of which have likewise been given to the public[5].

I may venture to commend this volume to the good will and kind forbearance of the reader, in view of the difficulties which must ever press upon the writer of such a work. The enterprising publisher has done his part well; and I would join him in the hope, that the book may prove an acceptable offering to the public.


NEW-YORK, April 10, 1850.


[Footnote 1: See infra, p. 45.]

[Footnote 2: Page 100.]

[Footnote 3: Page 121.]

[Footnote 4: Volsklieder der Serben, uebersetzt von Talvj, Halle 1825-26, 2 vols.]

[Footnote 5: Versach einer geschichtlichen Charakteristik der Volkslieder germanischer Nationen, etc. von Talvj, Leipzig 1840.]

* * * * *



Origin of the Slavi, 1.—Mythology, 4.—Early language and dialects, 6.—Classification, 7.—Eastern Stem, 8.—Western Stem, 11.—Slavic languages, 13.

Part first.


Home of the Old Slavic, 26.—Characteristics, 29.—Alphabet, 30.—Cyril and Methodius, 31.—Their translation of the Bible, 34.—Influence of the Old Slavic on the other dialects, 36.—Glagolitic alphabet, 37.—Dodrovsky's theory, 37.—THREE PERIODS, 34.—First Period, 39.—Second Period, 41.—Third Period, 42.—Present state, 45.

Part second.




Origin of the Russians, 47.—Periods, 49.—Language and dialects, 49.—Russian Proper, 49.—Malo-Russian, 50.—White Russian, 51.—FIRST PERIOD, 52.—SECOND PERIOD, 60.—Energy of Peter the Great, 60.—THIRD PERIOD, 65.—Lomonosof, 66.—FOURTH PERIOD, 72.—The emperor Alexander and his influence, 72.—Russian Bible Society, 74.—Karamzin, 76.—FIFTH PERIOD, 85.—The emperor Nicholas and his measures, 85—Panslavism, 86.—Pushkin, 95—Works on the Russian language, 101.




Language and Literature of the Illyrico-Servians Proper.

Language written with different alphabets, 103.—Characteristics, 104.—History, 105.

Servians of the Greek Church.

Their extent, 107.—Earlier literature, 108—Modern writers, 112—Vuk Stephanovitch, 113.—His collection of popular songs, 114.—His arrangement of the alphabet, 116.—- Recent poets, 118.—Montenegro, the Vladika, 119.

Servians of the Romish Church.

GLAGOLITIC LITERATURE, 123.—Manuscripts, Text du Sacre, 124.—Earliest works and writers, 126.

SECULAR LITERATURE, 127.—Dalmatia Proper, 128.—Ragusa and its literature, 128.—Orthography, 131.—Dr. Gaj, 133.—Catholic Slavonians, 133.


Language and Literature of the CROATIANS, 135.—Relation of the Croats to other Slavi, 135.—Orthography, etc. 136.


Language and Literature of the VENDES or SLOVENZI, 138.—Their home, 138.—Efforts of Truber, 139.—Orthography, etc. 140.—Literature, 142.



Corruptions, 144.—No trace of early literature, 145.—Present state, 146.

Part Third.





History of the Czekhish or Bohemian Language and Literature. Bohemian literature distinguished, 147.—Early history, 149.—Moravians, 151.—Note on pronunciation, 151.—Characteristics of the language, 154.—Periods, 156.—FIRST PERIOD, 157.—SECOND PERIOD, 163.—John Huss and Jerome of Prague, 167.—Their martyrdom, 170.—Consequences, 174.—THIRD PERIOD, 182.—Golden age of Bohemian literature, 183—Events, 184,—Literary activity, 188.—Desolations of the thirty years' war, 195.—FOURTH PERIOD, 196.—Paralysis of literature, 196.—Emigrants, Comenius, 197.—Slovak writers, 199.—FIFTH PERIOD, 200.—State of the language, 201.—Writers, 202.—Dobrovsky, 204—Kollar, 206.—Panslavism, 207—Schaffarik, 207.—Palacky, 209.—Works on the Bohemian language, 211.


Language and Literature of the Slovaks.

Home of the Slovaks, 212.—Their language, 214.—Earliest traces of a literature, 217.—Understand the Bohemian dialect, 218—- Writers in German, 220.—Grammars, etc. 221.



Origin of the Lekhes, or Poles, 222.—Periods, 225.—Extent of the Polish language, 225.—Its ancient character, 227.—FIRST PERIOD, 229.—SECOND PERIOD, 231.—THIRD PERIOD, 235.—Rapid progress of literature, 235.—Toleration, 236.—Dissidents, Unitarians, etc. 236.—Culture of the language, 240.—Printing offices and schools, 241.—Degradation of the peasantry, 241.—Copernicus, 243,—Writers, 244.—FOURTH PERIOD, 250.—Perversion of taste, 251.—Theological controversy and persecution, 252.—The Jesuits prevail, 253.—Poets, 255—FIFTH PERIOD, 256.—Revival, French influence, 257.—Political struggles, 258.—Schools and cultivation, 259.—The peasantry were serfs, etc. 260.—Literary activity, 262.—Effect of French influence, 263.—Writers, 264.—Czartoryski, 265.—The family Potocki, 266.—Lelewel, 268—Niemcewicz, 275.—SIXTH PERIOD, 285.—Causes of the revolution in 1830, 285.—Results upon literature, 286.—Russian efforts to destroy Polish nationality, 287.—Historical researches, 288.—Literature of Polish emigrants, 291.—Lelewel, 292.—Mickiewicz, 293.—Recent poetry, 297—Works on the Polish language, etc. 298.



History, 298.—Branches: The Obotrites, 300.—The Wiltzi, or Pomeranians, 302.—The Ukern in Brandenburg, 303.—The Sorabians or Vendes in Lusatia, 304.

1. Vendes in Upper Lusatia.

Language, 308.—Influence of the Reformation, 308.—Two systems of orthography, 310.—Literary efforts, 311.

2. Vendes in Lower Lusatia.

Language, 313.—Literature mostly religious, 313.—Philological works, 314.

Part Fourth.


SLAVIC POPULAR POETRY: Difficulties of the subject, 315.—Still flourishes only among Slavic nations, 317.—Its antiquity and prevalence, 318.—Nothing in it of romance, 319.—Different moral standard, 320.—Nothing dramatic, 322.—Sometimes allegorical, 323—Elegy, 323.—Antithesis, 324.—Standing epithets, 325.—Plastic, 325.—Personifications, 327.—Superstitions, 328.—Jelitza and her Brothers, 329.—Moral characteristics, 332.—Love and heroism, 334.—Hopeless love, 336.—The Farewell, 336.—A mother's and sister's love, 338.


RUSSIAN POPULAR POETRY, 339.—Character and antiquity, 339.—Tenderness, 342.—The Postilion, 343.—Diminutives, 344.—Melancholy, 344.—Hopeless love, 344.—Parting Scene, 346.—The Dove, 347—The Faithless Lover, 349.—Veneration for the Tzar, 350.—The Boyar's Execution, 350.—The storming of Azof, 353.—Malo-Russian songs, 354.—The Kozaks, 355.—Their history, 356.—Their ballads, 358—The murder of Yessaul Tshural, 359.—Lament for Yessaul Pushkar, 360—Song of the Haidamack, 362.—Sir Sava and the Leshes, 363.—The Love-sick Girl, 365.—The Dead Love, 366.

SERVIAN POPULAR POETRY, 366.—Only recently known, 367.—Characteristics, the Gusle, 369.—Cheerfulness, 369.—Roguery, 370.—Passion, 371.—Parting Lovers, 371.—Rendezvous, St. George's Day, 372.—United in Death, 373.—Household Matters, 374.—Heroic poems, 374.—Ravens ill boding, 376.—Subjects, 377.—Rite of brotherhood, 378.—Modern heroic poems, 379.—Vuk Stephanovitch as collector, 381.—Music, the Gusle, 382.—In what parts of the country prevalent, 383.—BULGARIAN Ballads, 383—The Slave Gangs, 384.



BOHEMIAN POPULAR POETRY, 386.—Ancient Bohemian songs compared with Servian and Russian ballads, 386.—German, influence, 388.—The Forsaken Maiden, 389.—Liberal Pay, 389.—Happy Death, The Lying Bird, 300.—The Dead Love, 391.

SLOVAKIAN Ballads, 392.—The Mother's Curse, 392—Sun and Moon, 394.

POLISH POPULAR POETRY, 394.—Formerly neglected, 395—Ancient hymn, 396.—Ballads, characteristics, 396.—Invasion of the Tartars, 397.—Orphan ballads, 399.—Poor Orphan Child, 399.

POPULAR POETRY OF THE VENDES, 400.—Characteristics, 401.—The Orphan's Lament, 401.—Good Advice for Lads, 402.—Dying out, 404.



* * * * *


On the Orthography and Pronunciation of Slavic proper names, see the note on p. 151; also the note under the letter V in the Index.

* * * * *



The earliest history of the Slavic nations is involved in a darkness, which all the investigations of diligent and sagacious modern historians and philologians have not been able to clear up. The analogy between their language and the Sanscrit, seems to indicate their origin from India; but to ascertain the time at which they first entered Europe, is now no longer possible. Probably this event took place seven or eight centuries before the Christian era, on account of the over-population of the regions on the Ganges.[1] Herodotus mentions a people which he called Krovyzi, who lived on the Ister. There is even now a tribe in Russia, whose name at least is almost the same.[2] Strabo, Pomponius Mela, Pliny, Tacitus, and several other classical and a few oriental writers, allude to the Slavic nations occasionally. But the first distinct intelligence we have of them, is not older than the middle of the sixth century.[3] At this period we see them traversing the Danube in large multitudes, and settling on both the banks of that river. From that time they appear frequently in the accounts of the Byzantine historians, under the different appellations of the Slavi, Sarmatae,[4] Antae, Vandales, Veneti, and Vendes, mostly as involved in the wars of the two Roman empires, sometimes as allies, sometimes as conquerors; oftener, notwithstanding their acknowledged valour and courage, as vassals; but chiefly as emigrants and colonists, thrust out of their own countries by the pressing forward of the more warlike German or Teutonic tribes. Only the first of the above mentioned names is decidedly of Slavic origin;[5] the second is ambiguous; and the last four are later and purely geographical, having been transferred to Slavic nations from those who had previously occupied the territory where the Romans first became acquainted with them.

It results from the very nature of this information, that we cannot expect to get from it any satisfactory knowledge of their political state or the degree of their civilization. In general, they appear as a peaceful, industrious, hospitable people, obedient to their chiefs, and religious in their habits. Wherever they established themselves, they began to cultivate the earth, and to trade in the productions of the country. There are also early traces of their fondness for music and poetry; and some circumstances, of which we shall speak in the sequel, seem to justify the supposition of a very early cultivation of the language.

All the knowledge we have respecting the ancient history of the Slavic race, as we have seen, is gathered from foreign authors; the earliest of their own historians did not write before the second half of the eleventh century.[6] At this time the Slavic nations were already in possession, partly as masters, partly as servants, of the whole vast extent of territory, which they now occupy; and if we assume that at the present time about seventy or eighty millions speak the Slavic language in its different dialects, we must calculate that at the above mentioned period, and in the course of the next following centuries, before the Slavic was by degrees supplanted in the German-Slavic provinces by the German idiom, the number of those who called that language their mother tongue was at least the fifth part greater. Schloezer observes, that, with the exception of the Arabians, no nation on the globe had extended themselves so far. In the South, the Adriatic, the range of the Balkan, and the Euxine, are their frontiers; the coasts of the Icy Ocean are their limits in the North; their still greater extent in an Eastern and Western direction reaches from Kamtschatka and the Russian islands of the Pacific, where many of their vestiges are to be found among scattered tribes, as far as to the Baltic and along the banks of the rivers Elbe, Muhr, and Raab, again to the Adriatic. It is this immense extent, which adds greatly to the difficulties of a general survey of the different relations and connections of nations, broken up into so many parts. The history of the language is our object, not the history of the people; we therefore give of statistic and political notices only so much, as seems to be requisite for the illustration of our subject.

The earliest data for the history of the civilization of the Slavic race, we find in their mythology; and here their oriental origin again appears. The antithesis of a good and evil principle is met with among most of their tribes; and as even at the present time in some Slavic dialects every thing good, beautiful, praiseworthy, is to them synonymous with the purity of the white colour, they call the good Spirit Bielo Bog, the white god; the evil Spirit Tcherno Bog, the black god. The Div of the old Russians seem to be likewise akin to the Dev of the Hindoo; the goddess of life, Shiva, of the Polabae, to the Indian Shiva; as the names of the Slavic personification of death, Morjana, Morena, Marzana, evidently stand in connection with the Indian word for death, Marana. Strabo describes some of the idols of the Rugians, in which we meet again the whole significant symbolization of the East. The custom prevalent among many Slavic nations, of females burning themselves with the corpses of their husbands, seems also to have been brought from India to Europe.

There are, however, other features of their mythology which belong to them exclusively, and which remind us rather of the sprightly and poetical imagination of the Greeks. We allude to their mode of attributing life to the inanimate objects of nature, rocks, brooks and trees; of peopling with supernatural beings the woods which surrounded them, the mountains between which they lived. The Rusalki of the Russians, the Vila of the southern Slavic nations, the Leshie of several other tribes, nymphs, naiads, and satyrs, are still to be found in many popular tales and songs. If, however, we have compared them to the poetical gods of the Greeks, we must not forget to add, that their character has less resemblance to these gods, (who indeed appear only as ordinary men with higher powers, more violent passions, and less limited lives.) than it has to the northern Elf; and the German Nix and mountain Spirit—without heart and soul themselves, but always intermeddling with intrusive curiosity in human affairs, however void of real interest in them; revengeful towards the most trifling offence or the least neglect; and beneficent only to favourites arbitrarily chosen.[7]

The earliest historians mention the Slavi as divided into several tribes and as speaking different dialects. There are no very ancient remains of their language, except those words or phrases, which we find scattered through the works of foreign writers; and these mostly perverted by their want of knowledge. Besides these we have the names of places, of festivals, partly still existing, and of some dignitaries, Knes, Zupan, etc. There are, indeed, among the popular songs of the Bohemians, Servians, Russians, and several other tribes, many which are evidently derived from the pagan period; but as they have been preserved only by tradition, we must of course assume, that their diction, has been changed almost in the same proportion as the language of common life. Hence, national songs, before they have been fixed by letters, are always to be considered as much safer proofs for the genius than for the language of a people.

It is, however, probable that at least one Slavic idiom was cultivated to a certain degree in very ancient times; for from the single circumstance, that Cyril's translation of the Bible, written in the middle of the ninth century, bears the stamp of uncommon perfection in its forms, and of great copiousness, it is sufficiently evident, that the language must have been the means of expression for thinking men several centuries before. There is, indeed, no doubt that the state of the language, as it appears in that translation, required no short interval of preparation.

The first attempts to convert portions of the Slavic race to Christianity were probably made before the seventh century; but it was only at the beginning of the ninth that their partial success became of importance to their language and literature. It is true, that by the last investigations of the late great Slavist, B. Kopitar, the fact has been ascertained, that a portion of the Slavic race was already in possession of an alphabet before Cyril;[8] but as this fact appears to have had no further result, we must still consider the ninth century and Cyril's translation of the Gospels as the beginning of their literary history, the dawn at least of a brighter day.

Before we enter upon our examination of the different branches, we must not neglect to direct the attention of the reader to the whole great trunk, which in the most ancient times appears to have ramified into two principal stems.

A boundless confusion indeed reigns in the classification of the Slavic nations among the earlier historians and philologists. It was the learned Dobrovsky of Prague, who first brought light into this chaos, and established a classification, founded on a deep and thorough examination of all the different dialects, and acknowledged by the equally great authority of Kopitar. Adelung, in his Mithridates,[9] has adopted it. The specific names, however, Antes and Slavi, which Adelung applies to the great divisions, and which were first used by Jornandes, are arbitrary, and less distinct than those adopted by Dobrovsky, Kopitar, and Schaffarik; who divide all Slavic nations, according to certain philological affinities and differences, into the North-Western and South-Eastern Stems.[10]

Far better would have been the terms 'Northern and Western,' 'Southern and Eastern,' divisions; which indeed can be the only proper meaning of those appellations. The Slovaks in Hungary, for instance, who belong to the first division, can in no way be called a North-Western people; and the Russians, who belong to the second, still less a South-Eastern nation. The origin from the South is common to all the Slavic tribes; hence the appellation of Northern and Southern can be applied to them only in a relative sense; and that portion of the Slavic race, which inhabits Russia, is not known to have ever lived in a more southern region than their Bohemian brethren. We adopt, therefore, the division of the Slavi into EASTERN and WESTERN Stems; which seems indeed to be the only strictly proper one.[11]

The following enumeration of the still existing distinct nations of the Slavic race, may serve to give a clearer view of them.



1. RUSSIANS. The Russians of Slavic origin form the bulk of the population of the European part of Russia. All the middle provinces of this vast empire are occupied almost exclusively by a people of purely Slavic extraction. The numerous Slavi who are scattered through Asiatic Russia, are of the same race. They belong to the Greek Church. To ascertain the exact numbers of the different races of one and the same nation, is exceedingly difficult. The statistical tables of the government afford little help; since it is the policy of the latter to annihilate as much as possible the difference of races. Schaffarik, in his Slavic Ethnography, gives the number of the Russians proper at 38,400,000. We follow him, as the most diligent and most consistent investigator of this matter; but we also feel bound to remark, that his statistical assertions have occasioned surprise, and met with contradiction.

2. RUSSNIAKS or RUTHENIANS, also called Russinians and Malo-Russians. These are found in Malo-Russia, the South of Poland, Galicia, Ludomeria or Red Russia, the Bukovina, also in the north-eastern part of Hungary, and scattered over Walachia and Moldavia. The Kozaks, especially the Zaporogueans, belong chiefly to this race; while the Kozaks of the Don are more mixed with pure Russians. Their number is given at more than thirteen millions. They all belong to the Oriental Church; though a portion of them are Greek-Catholics, or adherents of the United Church.


1. The ILLYRICO-SERVIANS proper, frequently called Rascians or Raitzi, comprising five subdivisions.

a) The SERVIANS in Servia, lying between the rivers Timock, Drina, Save, the Danube, and the Balkan mountains; and, as a Turkish province, called Serf Vilayeti. Their number is at least a million. In earlier times, and especially at the end of the seventeenth century, many of them emigrated to Hungary; where even now between three and four hundred thousand of them are settled; exclusive of their near relatives, the Slavonians, in the kingdom of Slavonia so called.

b) BOSNIANS, between Dalmatia, the Balkan mountains, and the rivers Drina, Verbas, and Save; from four to five hundred thousand in number. Most of them belong, like their brethren the Servians, to the Greek Church; about 100,000 are Roman Catholics. There are of late many Muhammedans among them, who still retain their language and most of their Slavic customs.

c) MONTENEGRINS (Czernogortzi). The national name of the Montenegrins, here given as Czernogortzi, is better written Tzernogortzi; see p. 119, n. 17. Their number is given by Sir J.G. Wilkinson at 80,000, or more. These are the Slavic inhabitants of the Turkish province Albania, among the mountains of Montenegro. They have spread themselves from Bosnia to the sea-coast as far as Antivari. This remarkable people the Turks never have been able to subjugate completely. They enjoy a sort of military-republican freedom: their head chief being a Bishop with very limited power. They amount to nearly 60,000 souls, belonging to the Eastern Church.

d) SLAVONIANS. These are the inhabitants of the Austrian kingdom of Slavonia and the duchy of Syrmia, between Hungary on the north and Bosnia in the south, about half a million in number. A small majority belongs to the Romish Church; the rest to the Greek Church.

e) DALMATIANS. The country along the Adriatic, between Croatia and Albania, together with the adjacent islands, is called the kingdom of Dalmatia, and belongs likewise to the Austrian empire. It has, together with the Istrian shore north of it, towards 600,000 inhabitants; of whom 500,000 belong to the Slavo-Servian race. They are all Roman Catholics; with the exception of about 80,000 who belong to the Greek Church.

2. The Austrian kingdom of CROATIA in our time, between Styria, Hungary, Slavonia, Bosnia, Dalmatia, and the Adriatic, is not the ancient Croatia of Constantine Porphyrogenitus. Together with the Croatian colonists in Hungary, and the inhabitants of the Turkish Sandshak Banialouka, it contains about 800,000 souls. Of these less than 200,000 belong to the Greek Church; the great majority are Catholics. We shall see further on that the Croats are divided in respect to their language into two parts: one of them having affinity with the Servians and Dalmatians, the other with the Slovenzi of Carniola and Carinthia.

3. SLOVENZI or VINDES. These names comprise the Slavic inhabitants of the duchies of Styria, Carinthia, and Carniola, (the two latter forming the kingdom of Illyria,) and also those of the banks of the rivers Raab and Muhr in Hungary. Their number is over one million. With the exception of a few Protestants, they are all Catholics. They call themselves Slovenzi; but are known by foreign writers under the name of Vindes.


The BULGARIANS occupy the Turkish province Sofia Vilayeti, between the Danube, the Euxine, the Balkan, and Servia; they are about three and a half millions in number, the remnant of a great nation. About 80,000 more are scattered through Bessarabia and the other provinces of South Russia. Schaffarik enumerates seven thousand as Austrian subjects, living in that great receptacle of nations, Hungary. Most of them belong to the Greek Church.



1. BOHEMIANS and MORAVIANS (Czekhes). These are the Slavic inhabitants of the kingdom of Bohemia and the Margravate of Moravia, both belonging to the Austrian empire. They are about four and a half millions in number; of whom 100,000 are Protestants, the rest Catholics. Schaffarik includes also 44,000 of the Slavic inhabitants of Prussian Silesia in this race.

2. SLOVAKS. Almost all the northern part of Hungary is inhabited by Slovaks: besides this they are scattered through the whole of that country, and speak different dialects. They are reckoned at between two and three millions.


This comprises the inhabitants of the present kingdom of Poland; of a part of what are called since 1772 the Russian-Polish provinces; of the duchy of Posen; and of Galicia and Ludomeria. The bulk of the people in this latter country are Russniaks or Ruthenians. In the Russian provinces, which were formerly called White Russia, Black Russia, and Red Russia, and were conquered by the Poles in former times, the peasantry are Russians and Russniaks; in Lithuania, they are Lithuanians or Lettones, a race of a different family of nations. In all these countries, only the nobility and inhabitants of the cities are really Poles, or Slavi of the Leckian race. To the same race belongs also the Polish population of Silesia, and an isolated tribe in the Prussian province of Pomerania, called the Kassubes. The Slavi of the Leckian race hardly amount to the number of ten millions; all Catholics, with the exception of about half a million of Protestants.


There are remnants of the old Sorabae; and several other Slavic races in Lusatia and some parts of Brandenburg. Their number is less than 2,000,000; divided between Protestants and Catholics.

There is no doubt, that besides the races here enumerated, there are Slavic tribes scattered through Germany, Transylvania, Moldavia, and Walachia, nay, through the whole of Turkey. Thus, for instance, the Tchaconic dialect, spoken in the eastern part of ancient Sparta and unintelligible to the other Greeks, has been proved by one of the most distinguished philologists to have been of Slavic origin.[12] But to ascertain their number, at any rate very small, would be a matter of impossibility, and in every respect of little consequence.

We thus distinguish among the nations of the Slavic race two great families, the connection of whose members among each other is entirely independent of their present geographical situation; and this division rests upon a marked distinction in the Slavic language. To specify the marks, by which the philologist recognizes to which of these families each nation belongs, seems to be here out of place. The reader, without knowing the language itself, would hardly be able to comprehend them sufficiently; and he who understands it, will find better sources of information in philological works. All that concerns us here, is the general character, the genius of the language. For this purpose we will try to give in a few words a general outline of its grammar; exhibiting principally those features, which, as being common to all or most of its different dialects, seem to be the best adapted to express its general character.

The analogy between the Slavic and the Sanscrit languages consists indeed only in the similar sound of a great many words; the construction of the former is purely European, and it has in this respect a nearer relation to the Greek, Latin, and German; with which idioms it has evidently been derived from the same source.[13] The Slavic has three genders. Like the Latin, it knows no article; at least not the genuine Slavic; for those dialects which have lost their national character, like the Bulgarian, or those which have been corrupted by the influence of the German,[14] employ the demonstrative pronoun as an article; and the Bulgarian has borrowed the Albanian mode of suffixing one to the noun. For this very reason the declensions are more perfect in Slavic than in German and Greek; for the different cases, as in Latin, are distinguished by suffixed syllables or endings. The Singular has seven cases; the Plural only six, the vocative having always the form of the nominative. As for the Dual, a form which the Slavic languages do not all possess, the nominative and accusative, the genitive and local; the dative and instrumental cases, are always alike.

For the declensions of adjectives the Slavic has two principal forms, according as they are definite or indefinite. The Old or Church Slavonic knows only two degrees of comparison, the positive and comparative; it has no superlative, or rather it has the same form for the comparative and superlative. This is regularly made by the suffix ii. mostly united with one of those numerous sibilants, for which the English language has hardly letters or signs, sh, tsh, sht, shtsh, etc. In the more modern dialects this deficiency has been supplied; in most of them a superlative form is made by prefixing the particle nai; e.g. in Servian, mudar, wise, mudrii wiser, naimudrii, the wisest. The Russian, besides this and several other superlative forms, has one that is more perfect, as proceeding from the adjective itself: doroghii dear, doroshe dearer, doroshaishii, dearest. Equally rich is this language in augmentative and diminutive forms not only of the substantive but also of the adjective, a perfection in which even the Italian can hardly be compared to it; of which however all the Slavic dialects possess more or less. Almost all the Russian substantives have two augmentatives and three diminutives; some have even more. We abstain with some difficulty from adducing examples; but we are afraid of going beyond our limits. It deserves to be mentioned as a peculiarity, that the Slavi consider only the first four ordinal numbers as adjectives, and all the following ones as substantives. For this reason, the governed word must stand in the genitive instead of the accusative: osm sot (nom. sto), eight hundred. In all negative phrases they employ likewise the genitive instead of the accusative. A double negation occurs in Slavic frequently, without indicating an affirmation; for even if another negation has already taken place, they are accustomed to prefix to the verb the negative particle ne or nje.

In respect to the verb, it is difficult to give a general idea of its character; for it is in the forms of this part of speech, that there reigns the greatest variety in the numerous dialects of the Slavic language. The same termination which in Old Slavonic and in Russian indicates invariably the first person of the present, u or gu, is in Servian that of the third person Plural of the present and imperfect; and the general termination of the Servian and the Polish for the first person of the present, am, em or im, is in Old Slavonic and Russian used for the Plural, em and im. There is however one fundamental form through all the Slavic dialects for the second person of the present, a termination in ash, esh or ish; and this is consequently the person, by which it is to be recognized to what conjugation a verb belongs.

The division of the verbs adopted in all other European languages into Active and Passive, seems to be useless in Slavic; for their being active or passive has no influence upon their flexion; and the forms of the Latin Passive and Deponent must in Slavic be expressed by a circumlocution. A division of more importance and springing from the peculiarity of the language itself, is that into verbs Perfect and Imperfect. Neither the Greek, nor the Latin, nor the German, nor any of the languages derived from them, admits of a similar distinction. It seems therefore difficult for persons not perfectly acquainted with any Slavic dialect, to form to themselves a clear idea of it. It is however one of their most striking features, which adds very considerably to their general richness and power. The relation in which the perfect and imperfect verbs stand to each other, is about the same as that of the perfect and imperfect tenses in the conjugation of the Latin verb. Perfect verbs express that an action takes place a single time, and therefore is entirely completed and past; from their very nature it results, that they have no imperfect tense, and their conjugation must be in general incomplete. Imperfect verbs express that the same action continues. Both have in most cases the same radical syllable, and may be formed with a certain degree of freedom; thus in Servian, viknuti, to cry once, vikati, to be crying; umriyeti, to die, umirati, to be dying. There are however others, which stand in the same relation to each other without issuing from the same verbal stock; e.g. in Servian, tchuti and sluskati, to hear; retji and govoriti, to speak, etc.

The Polish language, which is remarkably rich in every kind of flexion, has a still simpler and more regular way of forming also a frequentative out of almost every verb; e.g. czytam, I read, czytivam, I read often; biore, take, bieram, I take often, etc. In Bohemian, which in respect to grammar is by far the most cultivated of the Slavic languages, there is a refinement in the tenses, of which even the most perfect knowledge of the classical languages gives hardly any idea, and the right use of which is seldom, if ever, acquired by foreigners. Duration, decision, repetition, all the different shades of time and purpose, which other languages have to circumscribe in long phrases, the Bohemian expresses by a slight alteration of one or two syllables.

Not less rich in these variations of the verb is the Russian. Besides a vast treasure of original, genuine indefinite verbs, as they call all those, which have the general character of the verb of other languages, without any allusion to the duration or continuance of the action, they have verbs simple, frequentative and perfect. A single example will illustrate the fact:

Verb indefinite, dvigat',[15] to move.

Verb simple, dvinut', to move a single time.

Verb frequentative, dvigivat', to move repeatedly.[16]

Verb perfect, sdvigat', to move completely.

The reader may judge for himself, of what precision, compactness, and energy, a language is capable, which has so little need of circumlocution. It must be mentioned, however, that not all these verbs are complete; as indeed it is obvious from their very nature, that in many of them, various tenses must be wanting. It is probably for this reason, that some of the most distinguished grammarians do not acknowledge this division of the verb itself; but put all its variations under the conjugation of a single verb, as different tenses,—a proceeding which contributes much to make the Slavic grammar a horror to all foreigners.

If this short and meagre sketch is hardly sufficient to give the reader an idea of the richness, precision, and general perfectibility of the Slavic languages, it will be still more difficult to reconcile his mind to their sound; against which the most decided prejudices exist among all foreigners. The old Slavic alphabet has forty-six letters; and from this variety it can justly be concluded, that the language had originally at least nearly as many different sounds, although a great part of them are no longer to be found in the modern Slavic languages. It is true, that all the dialects are comparatively poor in vowels, and, like the oriental languages; utterly deficient in diphthongs.[17] They have neither the oe nor ue, which the Germans consider as the best sounds of their idiom: nor the Greek,[Greek: ei], [Greek: ui], [Greek: au], [Greek: eu], and the like; still less the variety of pronunciation of one and the same vowel, peculiar to the English. The Poles, Russians, and Bohemians, possess however a twofold i, [18] a finer and a coarser one; the latter of which is not to be found in any other European language, and is unpleasant to the ear of foreigners. The Poles, besides this, have nasal vowels, as other languages have nasal consonants.[19]

It is a striking peculiarity, that Slavic words very seldom begin with a pure a,[20] hardly ever with e.[21] There are in the whole Russian language, only two words of Slavic origin, which have an initial e, and about twenty foreign ones in which this letter has been preserved in its purity; in all the rest the e is introduced by y; e.g. Yelisaveta, Elizabeth; yest', Lat. est, it is; Yepiscop, episcopus, bishop; yeress, heresy, etc. The initial a is more frequent, and is especially preserved in most foreign proper names, e.g. Alexander, Anna; or in other foreign words, where they omit the H, as Ad, Hades, Hell, Alleluya, Hallelujah. But the natural tendency of the language is to introduce it likewise by y; thus they say yagnya, in preference to agnya, Lat. agnus, although this last also is to be found in the old church books: yasti, to eat, yakor anchor, yavor, maple, German ahorn.[22] The o in the beginning of words is pure in most Slavic dialects, i.e. without a preceding consonant. In Russian it sounds frequently more like an a than an o; e.g. adin, one, instead of odin; atiotz, father, instead of otetz. But the Vendes of Lusatia pronounce it vo; as also the Bohemians in the language of common life; although in higher style they have a pure initial o. The Croats, on the other hand, have no pure initial u; they say vuho ear, instead uho or ucho.

As to consonants, there is a great variety in the Slavic languages. There is however no f to be found in any genuine Slavic word; and even in words adopted from foreign languages, this letter has frequently changed its sound. So the Bohemian has made barwa from the German farbe, color. In respect to the connection of the Slavic with the Latin, it is interesting to compare bob with feba, bodu with fodio, vru with ferveo, peru with ferio, plamen, with flamma, pishozala with fistula, etc.

The greatest variety among the Slavic letters exists in the sibilants. Of these there are seven, perfectly distinct from each other; some of which it would be difficult to denote by English characters[23]. They are the favourite sounds of the language. Not only the guttural sounds, g, ch, and k, but also d and t, are changed in many cases into analogous sibilants, according to fixed and very simple rules. On the other hand, the Slavic nations have a way of softening the harshness of the consonants, peculiar in that extent to them alone. The Frenchman has his l mouille, the Spaniard his elle doblado and n. the Portuguese his lh and nh; the Slavic nations possess the same softening sound for almost all their consonants. Such is the usual termination of the Russian verb in at' or it', etc. where other Slavic nations say ati or iti or those of the western branch acz or ecz. In the same manner it occurs after initial consonants; thus mjaso, meat; bjel, white; ljbov, love, etc.

The letters l and r have in all Slavic languages the value of vowels; words like twrdy, wjtr, which judging from their appearance a foreigner would despair of ever being able to pronounce, are always in metre used as words of two syllables. Thus Wlk, Srp, are not harsher than Wolk and Serp. We feel however that these examples cannot serve to refute the existing prejudices against the euphony of the Slavic languages. Instead of ourselves, let one of their most eloquent and warmest advocates defend them against the reproach of roughness and harshness.[24] "Euphony and feminine softness of a language are two very different things. It is true that in most of the Slavic dialects, with the exception of the Servian, the consonants are predominant; but if we consider a language in a philosophical point of view, the consonants, as being the signs of ideas, and the vowels, as being mere bearers in the service of the consonants, appear in a quite different light. The more consonants, the richer is a language in ideas. Exempla sunt in promtu. The euphony of single syllables is only partial and relative; but the harmony of a whole language depends on the euphonic sound of periods, words, syllables, and single letters. What language possesses these four elements of harmony in equal measure? Too many vowels sound just as unpleasantly as too many consonants; a suitable number and interchange of both is requisite to produce true harmony. Even harsh syllables belong to the necessary qualities of a language; for nature herself has harsh sounds, which the poet would be unable to paint without harsh sounding tones. The roughness of the Slavic idioms, of which foreigners have complained so frequently, is therefore exclusively to be ascribed to the awkwardness of inexperienced or tasteless writers; or they are ridiculous mistakes of the reader, who, unacquainted with the language, receives the sounds with his eyes instead of his ears."—"The pure and distinct vocalization, which does not leave it to the arbitrary choice of the speaker to pronounce certain vowels or to pass them over, as is the case in German. French, and English, gives at the same time to the Slavic languages the advantage of a regular quantity of their syllables, as in Greek; which makes them better adapted than any other for imitating the old classic metres. We must confess, however, that this matter has been hitherto neglected in most of them, or has been treated with little intelligence. We mean to say: Each Slavic syllable is by its very nature either short or long; since each Slavic vowel has a twofold duration, both short and long. This natural shortening and lengthening of a syllable is, as with the Greeks, entirely independent of the grammatical stress or falling of the voice upon them, or in other words, of the prosodic tone; the quantity being founded on the nature of the pronunciation, on the longer or shorter duration of the vowel itself, and not on the grammatical accent. This latter may lie just as well on syllables prosodically short, as on those which are long."

From these introductory remarks, we turn again to the historical part of our essay, referring the reader back to our division of the whole Slavic race into Eastern and Western Stems. We have, first of all, that most remarkable Old or Church Slavonic, the language of their Bible, now no longer a living tongue, but still the inexhaustible source of the sublimest and holiest expressions for its younger sisters. Then follow the four languages, perfectly distinct from each other, spoken by the Eastern Slavic nations, viz. the Russian, Illyrico-Servian, Vindish, and Bulgarian. Three of them possess a literature of their own; and one of them, the Illyrico-Servian, even a double literature; for political circumstances and the influence of the early division of the oriental and occidental churches, having unfortunately split the nation into two parts, caused them also to adopt two different methods of writing one and the same language, as we shall show in the sequel. And lastly, among the Slavic nations of the Western stem, we find either three or four different languages, according as we regard the Czekhish and Slovakian idioms as essentially the same or distinct, viz. the Bohemian, [Slovakian,] Polish, and Sorabic in Lusatia. Of these, the first and third have each an extensive literature of its own.[25]


[Footnote 1: See Schlegel's Sprache und Weisheit der Indier, Heidelb. 1808. Von Hammer's Fundgruben des Orients, Vol. II. p. 459 sq. Murray's History of the European Languages, Edinb. 1823. F.G. Eichhoff, Histoire de la Langue et de la Literature des Slaves etc. considerees dans leur origins Indienne, etc. Paris, 1839.—Frenzel, who wrote at the close of the seventeenth century, took the Slavi for a Hebrew tribe and their language for Hebrew. Some modern German and Italian historians derive the Slavic language from the Thracian, and the Slavi immediately from Japhet; some consider the ancient Scythians as Slavi. See Dobrovsky's Slovanka, VII. p. 94,]

[Footnote 2: Krivitshi. The Greek is Krobuzoi, Herodot 4. 49. Comp. Strabo VII. p. 318, 319. Plin. H.N. IV. 12.]

[Footnote 3: The first writers, who mention the Slavi expressly, are Jordan or Jornandes, after A.D. 552; Procopias A.D. 562; Menander A.D. 594; and the Abbot John of Biclar before A.D. 620. See Schaffarik's Geschichte der Slavischen Sprache und Literatur, Buda, 1826. Dobrovsky's Slovanka, V.p. 76-84.—Schaflarik, in his more recent work on Slavic Antiquities, 1838, and in his Slavic Ethnography, 1842, supposes he has found the first Slavi already three centuries B.C. in the Veneti or Wendi on the Baltic. But as every connecting link between them and the historical Slavi is wanting, the fact seems of little importance.]

[Footnote 4: Schaffarik in his work on Slavic Antiquities attempts to prove that the Sarmatae were no Slavi, but a Perso-Median nation; remnants of which, he thinks, he has discovered in the Alanes and Osetenzes in the Caucasus.]

[Footnote 5: The name of the Slavi has generally been derived from slava, glory, and their national feelings have of course been gratified by this derivation. But the more immediate origin of the appellation, is to be sought in the word slovo word, speech. The change of o into a occurs frequently in the Slavic languages, (thus slava comes from slovo) but is in this case probably to be ascribed to foreigners, viz. Byzantines, Romans, and Germans. In the language of the latter, the o in names and words of Slavic origin inmany instances becomes a. The radical syllable slov is still to be found in the appellations which the majority of the Slavic nations apply to themselves or kindred nations, e.g. Slovenzi, Slovaci, Slovane, Sloveni, etc. The Russians and Servians did not exchange the o for a before the seventh century. See Schaffarik's Geschichte, p. 5. n. 6. The same writer observes, p. 287. n. 8, "It is remarkable that, while all the other Slavic nations relinquished their original national names, and adopted specific names, as Russians, Poles, Silesians, Czekhes, Moravians, Sorabians, Servians, Morlachians, Czernogortzi, Bulgarians; nay, when most of them imitating foreigners altered the general name Slovene into Slavene, only those two Slavic branches, which touch each other on the banks of the Danube, the Slovaks and the Slovenzi, have retained in its purity their original national name."—According to Schaffarik's later opinion, as expressed in his Antiquities, the appellation Slavi, Slaveni, or Slovenians, is derived from one of their seats, that is, the country on the Upper Niemen, where the Stloveni or Sueveni of Ptolemy lived. It is said to be called by the Finns Sallo (like every woodland); by the Lithuanians, Sallawa, Slawa; in old Prussian, Salava; by the neighbouring Germans, Schalauen; in Latin, Scalavia. But it seems a more natural conclusion, that vice versa the name of the district was rather derived from Slavic settlers living in the midst of a German, Russian, and Finnish population—For the derivation from slovo, word, speech, the circumstance seems to speak, that in most Slavic languages the appellation for a German (and formerly for all foreigners) is Njemetz, i.e. one dumb, an impotent, nameless, speechless person. What more natural, in a primitive stage of culture, than to consider only those as speaking, who are understood; and those who seem to utter unmeaning sounds, as dumb, impotent beings?]

[Footnote 6: The earliest Slavic historian is the Russian monk Nestor, born in the year 1056. See below, in the History of the Old Slavic and of the Russian languages. The reader will there see, that even the authority and age of this writer has been in our days attacked by the hypercritical spirit of the modern Russian Historical school.]

[Footnote 7: See Goerres' Mythengeschichte der Asiatischen Welt, Heidelb. 1810. Kayssarov's Versuch einer Slavischen Mythologie, Goetting. 1804. Dobrovsky's Slavia, new edit. by W. Hanka, Prague 1834, p. 263-275. Durich Bibliotheca Slavica, Buda 1795. J. Potocki's Voyages dans quelques parties de la Basse Saxe pour la recherche des antiquites Slaves, Hamb. 1795. J.J. Hanusch, Wissenschaft des Slavischen Mythus. Lemberg, 1842.]

[Footnote 8: Glagolita Clozianus, Vindob. 1836.]

[Footnote 9: Vol. II. p. 1610 sq.]

[Footnote 10: Schaffarik in his Slavic Ethnography, published nearly twenty years after his "History of the Slavic Language and Literature," omits the word "North," and divides the Slavi into the "Western," and "South-Eastern" nations. He must mean the Western, and the Southern AND Eastern.].

[Footnote 11: We acknowledge, however, that even this latter appellation admits of some restriction in respect to the Slovenzi or Windes of Carniola and Carinthia; who, notwithstanding their rather Western situation, belong to the Eastern race.]

[Footnote 12: By Kopitar; see the Wiener Jahrbuecher, 1822, Vol. XVII. Kastanica, Sitina, Gorica, and Prasto, are Slavic names. There is even a place called [Greek: Sklabochori], Slavic village. Leake in his Researches observes that Slavic names of places occur throughout all Greece.]

[Footnote 13: The affinity of the Slavic and Greek languages it has recently been attempted to prove in several works. Dankovsky in his work, Die Griechen als Sprachverwandte der Slaven, Presburg 1828, contends that a knowledge of the Slavic language is of the highest importance for the Greek scholar, as the only means by which he may be enabled to clear up obscure passages and to ascertain the signification of doubtful words. Among the historical proofs, he furnishes a vocabulary containing 306 Slavic and Greek words of striking analogy. "Of three sisters," he observes, "one kept faithful to her mother tongue—the Slavic language; the second gave to that common heritage the highest cultivation—the Greek language; and the third mixed the mother tongue with a foreign idiom—the Latin language." A work of the same tendency has been published in the Greek language, by the Greek priest Constantine, Vienna 1828. It contains a vocabulary of 800 pages of Russian and Greek words, corresponding in sound and meaning.—That these views are not new, is generally known; although they hardly ever have been carried so far, except perhaps by the author of the History of Russia, Levesque, who considers the Latins as a Slavic colony; or by Solarich, who derived all modern languages from the Slavic. Gelenius in his Lexicon Symphonum, 1557, made the first etymological attempt in respect to the Slavic languages. In modern times, great attention has been paid to Slavic etymology by Dobrovsky, Linde, Adelung, Bantkje, Fritsch, and others. An Etymologicon Universale was published in 1811, at Cambridge in England, by W. Whiter.—Galiffec, in his Italy and its Inhabitants, 1816 and 1817, started the opinion, that the Russian was the original language, and that the Old Slavonic and all the rest were only dialects.]

[Footnote 14: Or rather some writers in Lusatia and the Austrian provinces comprised in the kingdom of Illyria.]

[Footnote 15: The t' signifies the Yehr, or soft sign of the Russians in addition to the t. This letter not existing in the English language, we have endeavoured to supply it in the best possible way by the aspirate of the Greek language, which when it follows [Greek: t], is not very unlike it; e.g. [Greek: nukht emeron], written [Greek: nuchthhemeron]. The real sound, however, is more like the German soft ch after t, as in Staedtchen, Huetchen.]

[Footnote 16: They are to be compared with the Latin verbs frequentative, as factitare instead of facere, cursitare instead of currere, etc.]

[Footnote 17: With the exception of the Slovakish dialect.]

[Footnote 18: Pronounce the i as in the word machine.]

[Footnote 19: To make, in writing, the different shades in the pronunciation of the same letters in Polish, is absolutely impossible. They must be caught with the ear; and, even then, cannot be imitated by the tongue of a foreigner.]

[Footnote 20: The English a in father.]

[Footnote 21: Like the English e in they.]

[Footnote 22: Compare the smooth breathing of the Greeks, and the Shemitish Aleph or Elif.]

[Footnote 23: There is e.g. a single letter in Old Slavonic and Russian for shish. The Pole writes szez.]

[Footnote 24: Schaffarik in his Geschichte, p. 40 sq.]

[Footnote 25: We abstain here from giving any historical references, as it would swell the volume beyond all due proportion; and historical notices, with the exception of those circumstances in immediate connection with the language, cannot properly be expected. All philological sources have been faithfully mentioned.]

* * * * *



It can hardly be doubted that in very ancient times the whole Slavic race spoke only one language. This seems however very early to have been broken up into several dialects; and such indeed must have been the natural result of the wide extension of the people. Eginhard, the secretary and historian of Charlemagne, (ob. 839.) calls the Slavic nations, whom his hero subjugated, Veletabae, Sorabae, Obotrites, and Bohemians; and mentions expressly that they did not all speak the same, but a very similar language. It would be difficult to decide what portion of the still existing Slavic tongue has kept itself the purest; the Old Slavic has its Graecisms, the Servian its Turcisms, the Polish and Bohemian their Germanisms, the Russian its Tartarisms, Germanisms, and Gallicisms. No language in the world will ever resist the influence of the languages of its neighbours; and even the lofty Chinese wall cannot protect the inhabitants of that vast empire from corruptions in their language. It was formerly the general view, that the ecclesiastical Slavonic was to be considered as the mother of all the living Slavic dialects; and there are indeed even now a few philologians and historians who still adhere to that opinion. The deeper investigations of modern times, wherever an equal share of profound erudition and love of truth has happened to be united in the same persons, have sufficiently proved, that the church Slavonic is to be considered, not as the mother of all the other Slavic languages, but as standing to them only in the relation of an elder sister,—a dialect like them, but earlier developed and cultivated. The original mother-tongue, from which they were all derived, must have perished many centuries ago. But where the Old Slavic was once spoken, and which of the still living dialects has been developed immediately out of it,—an honour to which all the nations of the eastern stem, and one of the western, aspire,—is a question which all the investigations and conclusions of able historians and philologians have not hitherto been able to answer in a satisfactory manner. The highest authorities in Slavic matters are divided on this point. The disputes relating to it have been conducted with a degree of zeal, little proportioned to its intrinsic importance; nay, recently, with a passion bordering upon fierceness; and what is still more to be regretted, without that regard to truth and candour, which ought to be the foundation of all historical researches. The great political questions which in the East of Europe have already disturbed the peace of nations—the idea of Panslavism, the disputed preponderance of Austria or Russia, the jealousy of the Slavic races against the Germans and among each other—have been allowed to exert a decided influence even on this purely historical question.

The claims of the Russians in this matter have long since been given up as easily refuted; being indeed destitute of any historical foundation. The circumstance, however, that the language of the Slavic Bible was, in Russia, until the reign of Peter the Great, exclusively the language of books, confirmed the natives for a long time in the belief, that the old Russian and the church Slavic were one and the same language; and that the modern Russian was the immediate descendant of the latter; until modern criticism has better illustrated the whole subject.[1]

The great similarity of the Slovakish language with the Old Slavic, especially of the national dialect spoken by those Slovaks who live scattered through Hungary; and the correspondence of their grammatical forms and flexion, to a degree not found in any other Slavic language; seemed to decide for the Slovaks. An historical basis is likewise not wanting to this hypothesis; for the Slovaks belonged formerly to the great kingdom of Moravia; where, according to all the ancient historians, Cyril and Methodius lived and taught the longest.[2]

On the other side, the venerable Bohemian Abbot Dobrovsky, who has examined the opinions of his predecessors with more exactness and erudition, and investigated the nature of the different Slavic dialects more deeply than any philologist before him, decides for the Servians. According to him, the Old Slavic was, in the time of Cyril and Methodius, the Servian-Bulgarian-Macedonian dialect, the language of the Slavi in Thessalonica, the birthplace of these two Slavic apostles.[3]

His grounds seemed indeed incontestable, until Kopitar, a name of equally high authority and importance in Slavic matters, who formerly agreed with him,[4] proved in a later work,[5] by arguments of no less weight, that the true home of the language of the Slavic Bible was to be sought among the Pannonic or Carantano-Slavi, the Slovenzi or Vindes of the present times.[6] The adoption of a number of German (not Greek) words for Christian ideas, as tzerkwa Kirch, post fast, chrestiti christening, etc., can only be explained, he asserts, by German neighbourhood and German influence. These Pannonian Slavi were Methodius' own diocesans; for their instruction the Scriptures were first translated, and only carried by the two brethren, at a later period, to the Bulgarians and Moravians, who easily understood the kindred dialect.

Kopitar's arguments have hitherto failed to convince other eminent Slavic scholars, especially those of the Bohemian school; who still accept it as a fact, that the language of the Slavic Bible was, in the ninth century, the Servian-Bulgarian dialect; and Bulgaria its home. Schaffarik, another great name in Slavic philological researches, seemed in an earlier work to adopt the opinion of Kopitar; but, after continuing his investigations further, he too came to the result, that Bulgaria was the home of the Old Slavic; and that the language still spoken in that province, corrupted indeed by foreign influences more than any other Slavic dialect, is its direct descendant.[7]

Be this as it may, the Old Slavic has long since become the common property of all the Slavic nations, and its treasures are for all of them an inexhaustible mine. Dobrovsky counted in it 1605 radical syllables.[8] Hence, it is not only rich in its present state, but has in itself the inestimable power of augmenting its richness, the faculty of creating new forms of expression for new ideas. But its great perfection does not consist alone in this multiplicity of words. Schloezer, the great historian and linguist, justly observes: "Among all modern languages the Slavonic (Old Slavic) is one of those which are most fully developed. With its richness and other perfections I have here no concern. How it became so, the history of its cultivation sufficiently explains. Its model was the Greek language, in those days the most cultivated in the world; although Cedrenus no longer wrote like Xenophon. No idiom was more capable than the Slavonic of adopting the beauties of the Greek. The translators, intending a literal version, and not like Caedmon the Anglo-Saxon, or Otfried the German, a mere poetic metaphrase, were in a certain measure compelled to subdue their own language, to make it flexible, to invent new turns, in order faithfully to imitate the original." [9]

After having ceased for centuries to be a language of common life, the Old Slavic has of course lost that kind of pliancy and facility, which only a living language, employed to express all the daily wants of men, can possibly acquire. But for this same reason it has gained infinitely in solemnity and dignity. Imposing by its very sound, exciting in the minds of millions sanctifying religious associations, it seems to have grown almost unfit for any vulgar use, and to have become exclusively devoted to holy, or at least to serious and dignified subjects.

There are, as we have mentioned above, many circumstances, which seem to justify the opinion, that the Slavi were very early in possession of a degree of cultivation, which would make it indeed difficult to believe, that they should not have known how to read and write before the ninth century. Ditmar of Merseburg, the German, speaks of the inscriptions with which the pagan Obotrites, the Slavic inhabitants of Mecklenburg, used to cover their idols. The southern Slavi had much greater advantages. Neighbours of the Greeks, and in constant intercourse with them; both as a nation, by war and traffic, and through individuals who lived at the court of Constantinople; it can hardly be supposed, that no earlier attempt should have been made to adapt the Greek alphabet to the Slavic language, or to invent a new one founded on that basis. There was however not a single satisfactory proof, that this was ever done with any degree of success before that time; notwithstanding all the grounds by which some modern writers, zealous and eloquent advocates of this opinion, endeavoured to support it.[10] It is only since Kopitar's discovery of some Glagolitic manuscripts at least cotemporary with the most ancient Cyrillic documents known, that this question has taken another aspect. But whether there existed already a Slavic alphabet or not, it is very doubtful whether Cyril knew it; since the Slavic tribes among whom he and Methodius lived, were not acquainted with it; for all the legends and early historical annals agree in calling Cyril the inventor of the Slavic alphabet.

This alphabet, as arranged by Cyril, is founded on the Greek. In adjusting it, Cyril employed all the Greek characters; although a few of them have so much altered their shape in the course of time, as hardly to be recognized in their present form, e.g. the Z and the H of the Greeks. The first has the English, not the Greek pronunciation of that letter; the latter in its altered shape is the common I of the Slavic language, and thus corresponds with the pronunciation of the modern Greeks. The H or Eta in an unaltered form, on the other hand, is the N of the Slavic alphabet. The Greek B, ss, went over into the still softer sound of V, v;[11] and another sign was selected for Buki or B. This and all the characters to denote Slavic sounds, which he did not find in the Greek alphabet, Cyril took from other oriental languages, wherever he could find similar sounds; and thus very judiciously avoided that accumulation of letters to mark a single sound, which occur so often in all the systems of writing derived from the Latin. In this manner he extended his alphabet to forty-six characters or signs; some of them indeed merely signs for expressing shades of pronunciation, which in other languages are denoted by marks and points. Some others are not pronounced at all, and seem, at least according to the present state of the Slavic languages, utterly superfluous. Hence the Russians and Servians have diminished the number of their letters considerably; although the Russian has still some which could be amalgamated with others, or entirely omitted. Whether the Old Slavic actually had, at the time of Cyril's invention, so many different shades of sound, it would be difficult to decide at present, after that language has existed for so many centuries as a mere language of books.

Cyril, or, according to his baptismal name, Constantine, and Methodius his brother, must be reckoned among the benefactors of mankind; for it was they who procured for the Slavic nations, so early as the ninth century, the inestimable privilege of reading the Holy Scriptures in a language familiar to their ears and minds; whilst the sacred volume yet remained, for centuries after, inaccessible to all the other European Christians, the exclusive property of the priesthood. They were born in Thessalonica, in the early part of the ninth century, of a noble family; it does not appear whether of Greek or of Slavic extraction. Macedonia, of which province Thessalonica was in the times of the Romans the capital, was inhabited by many Slavi at a very early period. Constantine, who obtained by his learning and abilities the surname of the Philosopher, could have learned Slavic here, even without belonging to the Slavic nation. As a flourishing commercial city, this place was peculiarly favourable for learning languages; and it was probably here too, that Constantine learned Armenian; for the introduction of several Armenian letters into the Slavic alphabet seems to prove, that this language was not unknown to him. When grown up, his parents sent him to Byzantium, where he entered the clerical profession.

It is reported that there came ambassadors from the Khazares, a Hunnic-Tartaric tribe, to the emperor Michael, to ask for a teacher in Christianity. On the recommendation of Ignatius, Constantine was chosen for this mission, as being particularly qualified by his eloquence and piety. On the road he stopped for some time in Cherson on the Dnieper, where he learned the Khazaric language. The empire of the Khazares extended from the Volga and the Caspian Sea, across the Caucasian isthmus and the peninsula of Taurida, as far as to Moldavia and Walachia. Several Slavic tribes were tributary to them; but about the middle of the ninth century, at the time of Cyril's mission, their power began to decline; their vassals became their enemies, and gradually their conquerors; until towards the end of the tenth and at the beginning of the eleventh century, their empire became entirely extinct.[12] Constantine converted and baptized their Khan, whose example was followed by a great part of the nation. It was probably after he had returned from this mission, that Cyril went to convert the Bulgarians. At this time, or just before, according to Dobrovsky's opinion, he invented the Slavic letters, and translated the Gospels, during his stay in Byzantium. This however is nothing more than an hypothesis, against which other hypotheses have been started by other scholars. Between A.D. 861 and 863, there came another embassy to the emperor from the Moravian prince Rostislav, who asked for a teacher, not only to instruct his subjects in Christianity more perfectly than it had been done before, but also to teach them to read. Most of the Moravians were already baptized. Constantine, accompanied by his brother Methodius, was sent to Moravia, where the people received them with expressions of joy. They introduced here the Slavic liturgy, and preached in the Slavic language.

One peculiar circumstance served to give to their persons a more than common sanctity. Constantine had been so fortunate as to discover in Cherson the bones of the holy Clement, relics which he every where carried with him. After three or four years, the pope invited the two brethren to Rome, where the possession of these relics procured them great honour and distinction. The pope Adrian, followed by the clergy and people, met them and their treasure before the gates of the city. Both the brothers were consecrated as bishops; those of their Moravian disciples who had accompanied them to Rome, were made priests and deacons. Constantine received the consecration, but did not accept the diocese allotted to him. With the permission of the pope, he adopted the name of Cyril, and died forty days afterwards, Feb. 13, A.D. 868. His remembrance is cherished as holy by the Slavic nations; and even as early as A.D. 1056, we find, in the calendar of the Evangelium of Ostromir, the fourteenth of February set down for the celebration of his memory.

Methodius returned to Moravia the same year, A.D. 868. He was what was called an episcopus regionarius, and had therefore no fixed residence. In the letters of pope John VIII, he is called bishop of Moravia and Pannonia. The first of these countries was at this period the theatre of bloody wars; the Slavic inhabitants of the other had been already converted to Christianity by German priests, as early as A.D. 798. In consequence of this, Methodius found the Latin worship established here, and the Latin language in use. The innovation made by him, however, was of course greatly favoured by the people; who for the first time heard the gospel read to them in a language they understood. But he met with the more opposition from the priests. The whole jealousy of the Romish church seems to have been awakened by Methodius' proceedings. He found however a protector in the pope himself; who feared perhaps an entire alienation of the Slavic population, and their transition to the Oriental church; but was at the same time desirous to preserve the whole authority of the Latin language. In a letter to the Moravian prince Svatopluk, he enjoins expressly, "that in all the Moravian churches the gospel, for the sake of the greater dignity, should be read first in Latin, and afterwards translated into Slavic for the people ignorant of the Latin."

The question, what part of the Scriptures was translated by Cyril himself, what by his brother, and what supplements were made by their immediate successors, can now hardly be answered in a satisfactory manner. The honour of the invention of the alphabet appears to belong exclusively to Cyril; but in the sacred work of translation, Methodius was not less active; and his merits in respect to the conversion and instruction of the Slavi, were more favoured by a longer life. According to John, exarch of Bulgaria, Cyril translated only selections from the Gospels and the Apostle, as the book of Acts and the apostolic epistles are together called in Slavic; i.e. a Lectionarium, or extracts from those parts of the Scriptures, arranged in such a way as to serve as a lesson for every sacred day through the whole year. The Russians call such a collection Aprakoss, the Greeks [Greek: evangelia, eklogadia]. A work of this description is the above mentioned Evangelium of Ostromir, of the year 1056, written out expressly for the domestic use of Ostromir. posadnik[13] of Novogorod, a near relation of the grand-duke of Izjaslav. It is however held to be more probable, that Cyril translated at first the whole of the Gospels, as still contained in a Codes of A.D. 1144, in the library of the Synod of Moscow. The Presbyter of Dioclea, who wrote about A.D. 1161, ascribes to Cyril not only the translation of the Gospels, but also of the Psalter;[14] and at a later period that of the whole Old and New Testaments, as well as of the Massa, i.e. the Greek liturgy of Basilius and Chrysostom. This opinion has since been generally received. In respect to the Old Testament, however, it is much to be doubted; since no ancient Codex of it exists, or has ever been proved to have existed. As to the New Testament, the Apocalypse must at any rate be excepted.

What part of the translation was performed by Methodius does not appear. John, exarch of Bulgaria, who lived in the same century, translated the books of Johannes Damascenus into Slavic. In the course of the tenth and eleventh centuries, the Russian and Servian princes called into their empires many learned Greeks, versed in the Slavic language, that they might continue the holy work of translation. From the historian Nestor it appears, that the Proverbs of Solomon existed in the twelfth century in Slavic. The book of Wisdom, Ecclesiastes, the Prophets, and Job, were translated in Servia in the thirteenth or fourteenth century; the Pentateuch in Russia or Poland A.D. 1400, or about that time. It is certain, that towards the close of the fifteenth century, the whole Bible was already translated into Old Slavic. According to Dobrovsky, the different parts of it were not collected until after A.D. 1488, when the Bohemian Bible of Prague was printed. This latter served as a model for the arrangement of the Slavonic Bible; what was wanting was at that time supplied, and those books of the Old Testament which had been translated from the Greek, were reviewed and corrected according to the Vulgate. The Codex of Moscow of A.D. 1499, the most ancient existing copy of the whole Bible in the Old Slavic, is probably at the same time the first which was ever wholly completed.

The domains of the Old Slavic language, which seemed at first to be of very great extent, were soon, by the well known jealousy of the Romish church, limited to Russia and Servia. In Bohemia, which owed its conversion to German priests, the Slavic liturgy seems never to have been generally introduced; and the old Slavic church language has therefore exerted only an inconsiderable influence on the Bohemian. In Poland too, the Slavic liturgy was only tolerated, although the first books with Cyrillic types were printed there. In Moravia, Pannonia, and Illyria, the Slavonic worship was, after some struggle, supplanted by the Latin; in the two latter countries, however, the language was retained, and the occidental church service conducted in the Slavic language; i.e. in a language which at that time was perfectly intelligible to the Illyrians.

It appears that the priests of this part of the country had never adopted the alphabet, which Cyril invented for the benefit of their brethren in Pannonia or Bulgaria;[15] who, less advanced in civilization than the tribes bordering on Italy, could as yet neither write nor read; while the latter were already in possession of an alphabet of an ancient and mysterious origin. For the first appearance of the Glagolitic letters, (glagol signifies in Slavic word, or rather verb,) is still buried in perfect darkness. An almost fabulous antiquity has been ascribed to this alphabet by various old writers. According to some it was derived from the Goths or Getae; according to others, from the Phrygians and Thracians; and a very common tradition made St. Jerome, who was a native of Dalmatia, the inventor of it. The sounder criticism of our age seems at last to have proved that all these opinions were untenable. The oldest Glagolitic manuscript known before 1830 was a Psalter of A.D. 1220; i.e. more than three and a half centuries younger than the Cyrillic alphabet, and evidently copied from a known manuscript written in this latter. This, in connection with some other circumstances, induced the learned Dobrovsky to declare the whole alphabet to be the result of a pious fraud. It seems surprising that this view should have been generally adopted,—at least for a certain time. It was explained by Dobrovsky in the following way.

At a Synod held at Spalatro in Dalmatia, in A.D. 1060, Methodius, notwithstanding he had been patronized by several popes, was declared a heretic, nearly two hundred years after his death; and it was resolved that henceforth no mass should be read except in the Latin or Greek language. From the decrees of that Synod, it appears that they took the Gothic and Slavonic for the same idiom. A great part of the inhabitants of Illyria remained nevertheless faithful to their language, and to a worship familiar to their minds through that language. A singular means, Dobrovsky asserts, was found by some of the shrewder priests, to reconcile their inclinations with the jealous despotism of Rome. A new alphabet was invented, or rather the Cyrillic letters were altered and transformed in such a way, as to approach in a certain measure to the Coptic characters. To give some authority to the new invention, it was ascribed to St. Jerome. This, it was maintained, is the Glagolitic alphabet, so called, used by the Slavic priests of Dalmatia and Croatia until the present time. Cyril's translation of the Bible and the liturgic books were copied in these characters, with a very few deviations in the language; which probably had their foundation in the difference of the Dalmatian dialect, or were the result of the progress of time; for this event took place at least 360 years after the invention of the Cyrillic alphabet. With this modification, the priests succeeded in satisfying both the people and the chair of Rome. It sounded the same to the people, and looked different to the pope. The people submitted easily to the ceremonies of the Romish worship, if only their beloved language was preserved; and the pope, fearing justly the transition of the whole Slavic population of those provinces to the Greek church, permitted the mass to be read in Slavonic, in order to preserve his influence in general.

This hypothesis had come to be pretty generally received; when in the year 1830, some Glagolitic manuscripts, which bore very decided evidence of being at least as old as the middle of the eleventh century, were discovered by Kopitar in the library of Count Clotz in Tyrol. The existence of the calumniated alphabet at a period cotemporary with the oldest Cyrillic manuscript known (the Evangelium of Ostromir), was a death-blow to the above singular narrative. Kopitar published the newly discovered Codex, accompanied by a thundering philippic against the defenders of the former theory, and in favour of the antiquity of the Glagolitic alphabet, and of the Pannonian origin of the Slavic liturgy.[16] But here the matter rested. Nothing has since been discovered, (so far as we are informed,) to throw light on the first invention or introduction of this alphabet; no connecting link to explain its relation to the Cyrillic forms of writing.

According to Vostokof, a Russian scholar of great learning, and one of the principal names in Old Slavic literature,[17] the history of the Old Slavic or Church language and its literary cultivation, may be divided into three periods:

1. From Cyril, or from the ninth century, to the thirteenth century. This is the ancient genuine Slavonic; as appears from the manuscripts of that period.

2. From the thirteenth to the sixteenth century. This is the middle age of the Slavonic, as altered gradually by Russian copyists, and full of Russisms.

3. From the sixteenth century to the present time. This comprises the modern Slavonic of the church books printed in Russia and Poland; especially after the Improvement of those writings, so called.

The most ancient documents of the Old Slavic language, are not older than the middle of the eleventh century. There has been indeed recently discovered a manuscript of the translation of John of Damascus, written by John, exarch of Bulgaria, in the ninth century. Vostokof however proves on philological grounds, that it cannot be the original, but is a later copy. The above-mentioned Evangelium of Ostromir (1056) is the earliest monument of the language, as to the age of which no doubt exists. It is preserved in the imperial library at St. Petersburg.[18] According to Vostokof, this is the third, or perhaps the fourth, copy of Cyril's own translation. This latter is irretrievably lost, as well as the copy which was made for Vladimir the Great, a hundred years afterwards.

Only a few years younger is a Sbornik, A.D. 1073, or a collection of ecclesiastical writings, discovered in the year 1817, and a similar Sbornik of 1076; the former in a convent near Moscow, the other now in the library of the imperial Hermitage of St. Petersburg. Further, the Evangelium of Mistislav, written before the year 1225, for the prince Mistislav Vladimirowitch; and another Evangelium of the year 1143, both at present in ecclesiastical libraries at Moscow.

Besides these venerable documents, there are several inscriptions on stones, crosses, and monuments, of equal antiquity; and a whole series of political documents, contracts, ordinances, and similar writings; among which one of the most remarkable is the oldest manuscript of the Pravda Russkaya[19] a collection of the laws of Jaroslav, A.D. 1280. The libraries of the Russian convents possess a large number of manuscripts; some of which proved to be of great value, when examined about twenty years since by a Commission of scholars, appointed expressly for that purpose by the Academy of Sciences.[20] The spirit of critical-historical investigation, which took its rise in Germany within our own century, has penetrated also the Russian scholars; and their zeal is favoured by their government in a manner at once honourable and liberal. The task was not small. The Synodal library of Moscow alone has a treasure of 700 Old Slavic Codices; the Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg possesses likewise numerous Slavic manuscripts. Among the libraries of other countries, there is hardly one of any importance, which has not like Codices of more or less value to exhibit. Those of Vienna and the Vatican are in this department especially rich. These two were thoroughly searched by a like Commission.[21] Of the great activity, and the critical spirit which the Russian historians of our day have shown in respect to their own past, more will be said in our sketch of the Russian literature.

The number of the monuments of the Old Slavic increases considerably in the second period; and we find ourselves the more obliged to be satisfied with mentioning only the most important among them. At the head of these, stands the Laurentian Codex, the oldest existing copy of Nestor's Annals, A.D. 1377, now in the imperial library at St. Petersburg. Nestor, a monk in a convent near Kief, born A.D. 1096, was the father of Russian history. He wrote Annals in the Old Slavic language, which form the basis of Slavic history, and are not without importance for the whole history of the middle ages. They were first printed in A.D. 1767, and subsequently in four editions, the last in 1796. Schloezer, the great German historian, who published them anew in 1802-9, with a translation, added considerably to their intrinsic value by a critical and historical commentary upon them. But even his edition could not satisfy the more critical spirit of our days. A new one has been published in the course of the last seven years; for which, not less than fifty-three manuscripts were carefully compared. The merit of it belongs to the Archaeographical Commission of the Academy.

The third period begins with the sixteenth century. In the course of time, and after passing through the hands of so many ignorant copyists, the holy books had of course undergone a change; nay, were in some parts grown unintelligible. The necessity of a revision was therefore very strongly felt. In A.D. 1512, the Patriarch of Constantinople, at the request of the Tzar Basilius Ivanovitch, sent a learned Greek (a monk of Mount Athos) to Moscow, to revise the church books, and to correct them according to the Greek originals. As this person some years afterwards fell into disgrace and could not accomplish the work, it was taken up repeatedly in the course of the same and the following century, until the revision of the liturgical books was pronounced to be finished in A.D. 1667; but that of the Bible not before A.D. 1751. The principles on which this revision, or, as it was called, Improvement, was made, were in direct conflict with the reverence due to the genius of the Slavic language. The revisers, in their unphilosophical mode of proceeding, tried only to imitate the Greek original, and to assimilate the grammatical part of the language, as much as possible, to the Russian of their own times. They all acted in the conviction, that the language of the Bible and liturgical books was merely obsolete Russian. Even the latest revisers of the Bible, in 1751, knew nothing of Cyril or Methodius; and had no doubt, that the first translation was made in Russia under Vladimir the Great, A.D. 988, in the language which was then spoken.

Such other works in Old Slavic, as were the productions of this period, seem rather to belong to the history of the Russian and Servian literature. We have seen from the preceding, that the Old Slavic had altered considerably; nay, was in a certain measure amalgamated with those dialects. We shall see in the sequel, how it was gradually supplanted by them.[22]

The printing of works in the Old Slavic, at the present day, is almost exclusively limited to the Bible and to what is in immediate connection with it. The first printed Slavonic work was set in Glagolitic letters. This was a missal of A.D. 1483.[23] The earliest Cyrillic printing office was founded about A.D. 1490, at Kracow, by Svaipold Feol. Nearly at the same time, 1492, they began in Servia and Herzegovina to print with Cyrillic types. In A.D. 1518, a Cyrillic-Slavonic printing office was established at Venice; and about the same time, a part of the Old Testament in the White-Russian dialect, printed with Cyrillic letters, was published at Prague in Bohemia.

In Russia, now the principal seat of the eastern Slavic literature, printing was not introduced until after the middle of the sixteenth century. The first work was published in Moscow A.D. 1564, an edition of the Apostle, executed by the united skill of two printers. It would seem, however, that they did not succeed in Russia; for a few years after we find one of them in Lemberg, occupied in printing the same book; and the other at Wilna, in printing the Gospels. In Russia, the Gospels were printed for the first time in A.D. 1606. The first complete Slavonic Bible was published at Ostrog in Volhynia (Poland) A.D. 1581, fol. printed after the manuscript of 1499, which also was the first that comprehended the whole Bible.[24] The second edition of the whole Slavonic Bible was printed eighty-two years later, at Moscow, A.D. 1663. An enumeration of all the subsequent editions, is given in the note below.[25]

The philological part of the church Slavonic language was not cultivated so early as would have been desirable. There exists however a grammar by Zizania, published A.D. 1596 in Warsaw. Twenty years afterwards another by M. Smotrisky appeared, Wilna 1618. This work, written like Zizania's grammar in the White-Russian dialect,[26] was for a long time considered as of good authority; it reappeared in several editions, and served as the basis of most of the grammars written during the 17th and 18th centuries. M. Stroyeff found in the Paris library the manuscript of an Old Slavic grammar, written in Latin by John Uzewicz, a Student of Theology at the University of Paris in 1643. In the year 1822, Dobrovsky published his Institutiones Linguae Slavicae dialecti vcteris, a grammatical work which, like all the productions of this distinguished scholar, throws a new light upon the subject, and renders all former works of a similar character useless.

The lexical part of this literature is more defective. Most of the existing dictionaries are merely short and unsatisfactory vocabularies. The most ancient is the work of P. Berynda, Lex. Slaveno-Russicum, Kief 1627. More in use at present are the Kratkoi Slowar Slavjanskoi, or 'Short Slavic Dictionary,' by Eugenius, St. Petersb. 1784; and the larger 'Church Dictionary' by Alexejef, 4th ed. St. Pet. 1817-19. A dictionary of this dialect for the special use of foreigners, does not yet exist.[27]

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