Page images

theism and of Fatalism, and is strongly contrasted with the theology of the Shemite nations, who only of all mankind appear in the early ages to have recognised the existence of an extra-mundane God, and a real maker or originator of the universe. The Iranian system, which was a religion of poetry and philosophy, and which everywhere produced an abundant growth of mythology, was still more strongly contrasted with the superstition of shamanism, connected with a belief in sorcery and spells, and the rude materialism which prevailed among all the Allophylian tribes. This last form of superstition, resembling in many particulars the fetissism of Africa, appears to have differed in different parts of Europe and Asia, among the rude aborigines of which it was once universally spread. It has given way, in most instances, to the influence of more systematic modes of belief, introduced by more polished nations; but Buddhism, which is a form of the IndoEuropean system, has not extinguished in China and Japan the original superstitions of Tao-sse and Sin-mu; nor did Islàm, though early adopted by the whole Turkish race, triumph over all the native superstitions of Siberia. Among all nations of Asia and Europe we discover an order of persons who were venerated as mediators between the invisible powers and their fellow mortals; but the priests, whether Druids, or Brahmans, or Magi of the cultivated nations, were revered as the depositories of ancient sacred lore, of primitive traditions, of the will of the gods expressed of old to the first men, and handed down, either orally in divine poems, or preserved in a sacred literature known only to the initiated: they were the constituted intercessors between weak mortals and the powers which govern the universe, and which they only knew how to approach by ordained rites. In most instances they were an hereditary caste, into which none were admissible who were aliens to the sacred race. Far different were the twice-born sages of the Hindoos, who sprang from the head of Brahma, to govern the multitude that issued from his legs and feet, from the sorcerers or shamans of the northern worshippers of fetisses, who by horrible distortions, cries, and yells, by cutting themselves with knives, by whirling and swooning, assumed the appearance

of something preternatural and portentous, and impressed the multitude with a notion that they were possessed by demons. Of this latter description were the wizards of the old Finnish races, whose successors, the sorcerers and witches of Lappland, sell wind to English mariners. Such were the angekoks of the Esquimaux, discovered by the missionaries to Greenland; and such are the shamans of all the eastern and northern countries of Asia, whither neither Buddhism nor Islàm have yet penetrated. By such traits as these, which display more fully and certainly than external manners and the modes of sustaining life the culture or rudeness of the mind, the barbaric tribes, dispersed over all the extreme parts of the ancient continent, are distinguished from the cultivated nations of Upper Asia, and from the European races allied to them in language and descent.

Paragraph 5.-Of the different Groupes of Nations comprehended among the Allophylian Races.

The ethnology of the Allophylian races is involved in greater obscurity than that of the tribes which belong to the Indo-European family. The sources of information respecting them are more scanty and difficult of access, and in many instances remain yet unexplored. We have, however, sufficient knowledge to convince us that many of these nations are referrible to particular stems, the branches of which are spread through remote regions. An attentive research has often discovered traces of connexion between tribes of people who must have been, from very ancient times, separated from each other by great distances of space; and these traces are sometimes so definite, as to leave no doubt that they owe their existence to affinity and sameness of origin. Such phenomena have been recognised among rude nations, scattered through immense spaces, in the north and east of Asia, and in tribes inhabiting the great central steppes to the southward of the Altaic chain. Few attempts have been made to elucidate, by an extensive comparison of languages, the relations of these dispersed races, though many persons have studied the history of particular groupes. Rudiger, Dobrow

sky, and the late professor Rask, have been, next to Klaproth, the most noted of modern writers, who have applied themselves to an examination of the languages spoken among the Allophylian tribes. Their investigation has been hasty and superficial, and the conclusions which they have drawn appear to be, in many instances, premature, and in some evidently erroneous. I shall, however, lay before my readers a brief abstract of their opinions, in order to have an opportunity of pointing out the present state of this department of ethnography.

Both Dobrowsky and Rask refer nearly all the nations of Europe and Asia, who are excluded from the Indo-European family, to one race, which Dobrowsky termed Czudo-Iugorian, and Rask, Scythian. Rudiger and Dobrowsky maintained that one family of languages may be traced from Lapland over all the countries lying to the northward of the Caspian sea, to the mouth of the Indus; and the latter of these writers has attempted to point out some common features by which all these idioms are associated among themselves, and may be distinguished from all others. The following are the most remarkable of these common characters.

1. "Nouns substantive admit of no variations of gender." Dobrowsky might have added, that many of these languages have no distinction of number, and can only express a plural on particular occasions, by appending a noun or adverb of multitude. Nouns are, in fact, destitute of all inflection, a trait indicative, as it should seem, of great rudeness or barbarism.

[ocr errors]

2. "They admit of no prepositions before nouns." This observation may be generalized by remarking, that not only those particles which are used instead of the prepositions of other languages, but likewise all such auxiliaries to composition as are necessary for denoting any circumstance or affection of the principal words of a sentence, are suffixed, or placed after the words of which they modify the meaning. This observation extends to words answering the place of possessive . and even of relative pronouns.*

Dobrowsky intended to include under these observations

* Thus the phrase, "that which is mine," is expressed in the Mongolian by a sort

not only all the idioms of Siberia, but likewise the languages of Great Tartary, and even those of the Esquimaux, and some tribes in North America.*


Professor Rask was well prepared, by his intimate acquaintance with the Finnish and Lapponic dialects, for researches into the more extensive affinities of the Scythian languages, or of the great mother-tongues of Northern Asia, and he was led to anticipate conclusions on this subject at which some recent philologers have arrived after a more elaborate investigation of particulars. He expressed a conviction that those writers were mistaken who separate entirely the Finnish dialects from the Tartar or Turkish stem of languages. "On the present occasion," he observes, "I cannot advance adequate proofs of my opinion, but I will remark, that a striking resemblance is to be found between the Turkish and Finnish languages, not only in particular words, but even in the most peculiar fundamental laws of construction." An example is given in the harmony of sounds, or the law according to which all the vowels of a word correspond with that of its termination. "I remark," he says, "that Leontiev, in his Letters to M. Langlès, on the Literature of the Mandchoos, in speaking of the Tartar, Mongolian, and Tungusian races, has assumed that these three great classes of people in Central Asia are distinct families of nations; and I am aware that Klaproth and the best-informed writers have maintained the same opinion. A careful study of the languages of these races has convinced me that this notion is erroneous, as the

of compound word "miningge,” which means "mine that being," equivalent to "das meinige." See the section on the languages of Great Tartary below.

It is certain that the peculiarities of grammatical structure above noticed, belong to most of the languages of Northern and Eastern Asia. We have lately obtained, by the publication of M. Lütke's voyage, some knowledge of the idiom of Ounalashka and the Kurilian Isles, with a grammatical analysis, composed by a missionary of the Russian church. In this language the peculiar laws noted by Dobrowsky are found. Dobrowsky gives the following specimen of affinity in words between several idioms. Egg is, in the Indo-European languages, oi, or ou, as olov, ovum, auf, ägg, Swedish, ey, German, jaice, waice, Slavonian. In the Scythian languages are the following: Hungarian mony, Lappish monne, Finnish, Tscheremiss, Vogoul, Samoiede, muna, on the western coast of America manik. Dobrowsky, Literärische Nachrichten, s. 99.

+ R. Rask über das Alter und die Echtheit der Zend-Sprache. Beilage, s. 74.

same study will, I am sure, convince any one who is prepared for the investigation, by an adequate previous acquaintance with the Finnish and Lappish dialects. A great number of words are common to these languages, or are very similar in several of them, and these are words such as are essential to every human idiom. Numerous terminations also coincide, and this is perceptible, notwithstanding the fact, that nobody has yet investigated the permutations to which the elements of speech are in these dialects regularly subjected." I shall have occasion to observe hereafter, that subsequent researches into this last-mentioned subject have afforded confirmation to Rask's opinion, by showing that a great number of roots are thus to be traced in several of the Turanian languages, the resemblance having been disguised by certain permutations of consonants, of which the rules have been but lately ascertained.*

This writer afterwards gives some further reasons for concluding that the Finnish and Turkish languages, with all their branches, are referrible to one stock; and expresses an opinion that the ancients were correct in comprehending under one name, that of Scythians, all the nations of Northern and Central Asia, and the northern parts of Europe. He extends still more widely the domain of this Scythian race, by adopting the notion of Arndt, who supposed that he found proofs of affinity between the ancient Iberians of Spain and the Finns and Samoiedes. He even asserted that indications of the same affinity were partially discoverable in the Celtic dialects, and that the Celtæ might be partly Finns. He cites the observation of Klaproth, that the various languages spoken in Caucasus, or in the great mountainous region between the Euxine and Caspian seas, are, with the exception of the Ossete and Dugorian, which last are Indo-European dialects, related to the Samoiede and other languages of the north of Asia. With the same groupe Rask connects the Georgian language. With still greater licence of conjecture he admits the idioms of the Greenlanders and the Polar Americans into the same class. He professes to rest all these opinions on philological proofs, and on similar grounds ventures to bring

Principally by Dr. Schott. Versuch über die Tatarischen Sprachen.

« PreviousContinue »