Page images
PDF
EPUB

Dobrowsky enumerates the dialects spoken by all the various nations of the Slavonian race, as follows. To the eastern division, as he says, belong, first, the Russian and its dialects; second, the old Slavonian, the ecclesiastical or literary dialect of this language; third, the modern Slavonic or Illyrian dialect, spoken in Bulgaria, Servia, Bosnia, and Dalmatia ; fourth, the Croatian; fifth, the Windish, spoken by the people termed Winds, in Carinthia, Carniola, Stiria or Steyermark, together with the variety of the Windish spoken in the county of Eisenberg. To the western branch of Slavonian dialects belong, first, the Slovakian; second, the Bohemian language; third and fourth, the Wendish, in Upper and Lower Lusatia ; fifth, the Polish, with the Silesian variety of that language.

Dobrowsky distinguishes the dialects belonging to these two classes of Slavonic idioms by certain particles, the use of which is common to a whole class, and unknown to the forms of speech which belong to the other class. I need not specify these, but shall merely remark that the dialects of the Slavonian language, though numerous and clearly marked, and even constituting groupes severally distinguishable, are yet by no means so remote from each other as are many idioms which are universally regarded as dialects of one language.

SECTION II. Of the Eastern Slavic Nations or Antes.

First branch.-Paragraph 1.-Of the Russians.

The Russians or Moscovites are one of the nations descended from that branch of the Slavonic race which is termed by Jornandes Antes, and by Dobrowsky, the eastern division of the Slavi. The Russians, as it is well known, are by far the most numerous and extensively spread, and they occupy the regions furthest to the East of all the nations belonging to this stock.* The first notices discovered of the Antes are in the the same subject in the American Biblical Repository, published at Andover, U. S., 1834.

The Wjætitsches or Vyætitsches, a Slavonian branch on the upper territory of the Oka, were, according to Nestor, the most eastern tribe of the whole Slavic race in the ninth century. (Nestor, Aelteste Jahrbücher, &c. Scherer. Müller's Ugr. Volkst. ii. 247.)

Gothic history of Jornandes, who mentions the conquest of that division of the Slaves by Vinitar, the successor of Hermanrich, king of the Goths. Vinitar was at that time tributary to the Hunns. He subdued the Antes, who then inhabited the country lying to the northward of the Euxine. This tribe was afterwards liberated from the Gothic yoke by the assistance of the Hunns. The following is a brief sketch of the subsequent history of the Russians as deduced by Adelung, chiefly from Von Schloezer's edition of Nestor's annals.

The Russian people consisted in ancient times of many independent tribes, who were spread over the regions extending northward from the mouths of the Danube. At an early period two principal states arose among the Russians, the northern one near lake Ilmen, and the southern on the Dnieper, of which Kiew was the capital. The former consisted of the principal and most numerous tribes, and the latter of the Little Russians, or the western tribes, who, from the level plains which they inhabited, were named Poljanen. The northern Russians founded the state of Nowgorod, on which occasion they became intermixed with people of Finnish race. Internal quarrels brought the Slavi of Nowgorod, the Tschudes, and the Krivitsches near Polocz, about 862, under the dominion of Rurik and his Warjæga Rossi, a Scandinavian tribe to whom this denomination was given by the Finns. Rurik gave to his new subjects the first laws, and the principles of civilisation as far as they were capable of receiving them at that time, and from this period the inhabitants of the state of Nowgorod were termed Russians. Hence we are enabled to explain the fact, that some Greek writers, and even Nestor, distinguished the Russians from the Slavi, and the Russian from the Slavonian language. The real Russians were Swedes, and their idiom the Swedish language, which, however, as belonging to the least numerous party, soon gave way to the Slavonian, and was swallowed up in it.* Rurik's first successor Oleg conquered Kiew in 884, and united both states: thence the name of Russians was extended over the Southern Slavi, in the country afterwards called the Ukraine.

Vladimir,

* Even Rurik's grandsons had Slavonian names, as Sviatoslav, Jaroslav, &c. (See Andover Bibl. Repository, ubi supra, p. 362.)

between 980 and 1015, introduced the Christian religion, according to the doctrines of the Greek church, founded monasteries, and laid thus the earliest foundations of literary and ecclesiastical culture. Kiew remained the metropolis of the empire; and although the seat of government was removed to Susdal, and afterwards, in 457, to Vladimir, yet Kiew continued to be the centre of whatever learning existed in the country. About 1236 the southern part of the Russian state fell under the dominion of the Mongolian Tartars, and the Poles gained possession of nearly the whole empire, which they held till Ivan Vasilievitsch restored its independence in the last half of the fifteenth century, and laid the foundation of its subsequent greatness.

Paragraph 2.-Russian dialects.*

There are three dialects of the Russian language, which may serve to distinguish three subdivisions of the race.

1. The pure or proper Russian, the cultivated language of the whole Russian nation, spoken in Moscow and all the central parts of the European empire of Russia. Vulgar and corrupted branches of this dialect are those of Susdal and Olonetz, the last of which is intermixed with Finnish words.

2. The Malo-Russian, the language of the south-eastern parts of European Russia, approaching to the old Slavic in many forms of expression and in the enumeration of some consonants. This dialect is perhaps richer than any other in national songs, many of which have a peculiar beauty.

The Malo-Russian is essentially the same idiom as that of the Russniaks or Ruthenians, inhabitants of the eastern part of Galicia and the north-eastern districts of Hungary and Poland, who are about three millions of people. They belong to the Greek church, although beyond the limits of the Russian empire.

3. The White Russian is the dialect spoken in Lithuania and in part of White Russia, especially in Volhynia. The historical documents of Lithuania were written in this dialect, which was in use as a written language in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

• Schaffarik.-Bibl. Repos, ubi supra.

Paragraph 3.-Of the southern branches of the Eastern Slavic stem Servians, Croats, and Winds.

Besides the Russians and the various tribes of the Western Slavonian race spread through the north of Europe, who will be mentioned in the sequel, there are several nations belonging to the same family who inhabit the south-eastern part of the continent, or the countries between the Adriatic and the Euxine. The latter are partly subject to the Austrian and partly to the Ottoman empire. They may be divided into three classes, which are termed severally the Servians, the Croats, and the Winds, or Southern Wends. The tribes included in each of these classes are distinguished from those which belong to the other departments by their peculiar dialects, and by other characteristic differences. To the Servian branch, according to the evidence afforded by their idioms, belong the Servians properly so termed, inhabiting the province of Servia, the Bosnians, the Bulgarians, the Uskoks, the Morlachians, the Slavonian people of Wallachia, the people of Eastern or Servian Dalmatia, including the republic of Ragusa, and the Servians scattered through Hungary and Siebenburg. The second, or Croat branch, includes not only the people of Croatia proper, but some Croat tribes inhabiting districts in Hungary, Dalmatia, and Carniola. The Winds, or Southern Wends, who constitute a third branch belonging to this southern division of the Slavonian race, are distinguished likewise by peculiarities of dialects, and by the inveterate hatred which these people and the Croats everywhere bear to each other. The Winds are inhabitants of several provinces in the Austrian dominions, further to the north-west than the former tribes, as Carniola, Carinthia, and Stiria.

These tribes are allied by their dialects to the Russians, much more nearly than to the Poles, or the western Slavonian nations. They are on this ground referred by Dobrowsky and Schaffarik to the great eastern division of the Slavic race, anciently termed Antes. The proximity of idiom is such between the Servians and the Russians, that the former people, having embraced Christianity about a century before the latter, and having in use the Slavonian alphabet and liturgy framed

for them by Cyril and Methodius, these were adopted by the Russians on their conversion, and even continue to be used at the present day in the churches of Russia, having undergone but slight alterations. By Nestor, the old ecclesiastical Russian dialect is termed Servian; and both the Russians and the Servians long made use of the same Bible and other religious books, and they understand each other in conversation better than the individuals of any other two Slavonian tribes.

66

Respecting the history of the southern Slavonic tribes different opinions have been maintained; but this has not arisen from the want of data on which a tolerably certain conclusion might be established. Some writers have imagined that the Slavonian nations in the countries between the Adriatic and the Euxine, were the primitive inhabitants of that region. Dolci, a native of Dalmatia, identified the Slavonians with the old Illyrians; and Katansich supposed the dialect of the Croats to be the old Pannonian language, on no other grounds than some forced etymologies of ancient Illyrian names from the Slavonic." The Veneti, on the Adriatic gulf, have been imagined from their name to have been Wends or Slavonians; and the Ragusan Count Sorgo even attempted to trace the names of the Greek and Roman gods from the same language. All these conjectures are founded, according to Dobrowsky, on ignorance of the historical fact, that the Slavonian tribes now inhabiting the country near the Danube and the Adriatic, first came into this region in the sixth century of our era.*

The emigration of the Servians is recorded in an obscure passage of the Emperor Constantine, in his work "De Administrando Imperio," which has been cited and illustrated by Adelung. It is nearly as follows:

"It must be understood that the Servians (meaning the Servians of Dalmatia and Illyricum) are descended from the Pagan Servii, also called White Servians, who inhabit the further parts of Turcia, that is, Hungary, on which Francia (viz. the empire of the Franks, at that time including Bohemia,) borders, as likewise does Great Chrobatia or Croatia,

Dobrowsky, Geschichte der Böhmischer Sprache und ältern Literatur. Prag.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »