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PRUSSIAN, LITHUANIAN, AND LETTISH RACE.

ward as the river Memel. Of the Old Prussian itself considerable specimens have been preserved in the Lutheran catechism, published in 1545, and in some other religious books, which afford a sufficient groundwork for a comparison of this language with its kindred dialects.*

A difference of opinion has existed among writers on the history of the northern nations, whether the people who speak these dialects constitute a distinct branch in the stock of the Indo-European races, or sprang originally from a mixture of the Germans and Slavonians. The comparatively small extent of the country which they have occupied, and their local position between or adjoining to the countries inhabited of old by the two greater races above mentioned, have been thought to confirm the argument founded on the nature of their language in favour of this last conclusion. A large proportion of words belonging to the Lettish and Old Prussian dialects are, as it seems, common to them and the Slavonian language,† and of the remainder a considerable number are found in the Gothic and other German dialects. Thunmann, a celebrated writer on the history of the eastern nations, discovered that the Lettish contains also many Finnish words, and he thence concluded that the Lettish race are a mixed people, descended from an assemblage of Finns, Germans, and Slavonians. It has been observed, however, by Adelung, that the Finnish words exist only in the Lettish, which is spoken by the people of this race who live near to the Finnish Liefi or Livonians, and that they are wanting in the Lithuanian and Old Prussian. Hence it has been inferred that the German and Slavi are the ancestral races of the great body of the people who for some centuries, at least, have inhabited the country between the Vistula and the Memel. This conclu

* A Lettish dialect is spoken in parts of Livonia called Lettland: but the proper Livonian, or the native speech of the Lievi, is allied to the Esthonian, which is a Finnish language, though often by mistake supposed to be of the Lettish family. The Crivingo-Livonic in Pallas's Vocabularies, No. 44, is a specimen of a Lettish dialect, as Adelung has observed, spoken in the Kurische Nehrung. (Mithridates, Th. ii. p. 766.)

† Adelung estimates the roots of the Lettish which are common to the Slavonic as two-thirds of the whole number of roots belonging to the former language. See Mithridates, Th. ii. s. 697.

sion is doubtless the true one, unless it should appear, as many writers now maintain, that the Lithuanians and Old Prussians constitute a distinct branch of the Indo-European stock.

In favour of this last opinion is the fact, admitted by Schloezer and Dobrowsky, that the Lettish language has, besides what is common to it and the dialects of neighbouring nations, much that is peculiar to itself, and that this is the fundamental and original part.

It is evident that the solution of this problem turns chiefly upon philological considerations, but some historical details will assist in elucidating it.

SECTION II. Of the Notices to be collected from early Writers concerning the History of the Old Prussian and Lettish Race, and of their Mythology.

The country between the Vistula and the Memel, especially the sea-coast, appears, as we have before observed, to have been inhabited from the earliest times by the Guttones or Gothones, and by a people who lived to the eastward of these, termed by Tacitus the Aestii. These, or other names nearly resembling them and differing but slightly in orthography, are traced on the coast of the Baltic from the time of Pytheas to that of Jornandes. The same tribes of people appear to have continued in possession of the Prussian coast from the third century B. C. to the era of the Gothic migration. Beyond these the old writers enable us to fix the position of another nation, termed Venedi, in the easternmost part of the Baltic. On the advance of the Gothic tribes towards the south, it is probable that the Venedi occupied the territory which they had abandoned: we know that there was a general movement of the north-eastern nations in the same direction. On this occasion Voigt and other writers on the history of Prussia suppose that the Goths and Wends became intermixed. Jornandes appears to afford some countenance to this conjecture. He says that the country near the estuary of the Vistula was inhabited by a people descended

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from several mixed nations and called Vidivarii.* This was in the sixth century, and in the ninth the same coast was visited by Wulfstan, who gave an account of his voyage to king Alfred. He termed the coast Witland, and included it in Esthland. The people were termed Wites by their Polish neighbours. According to Thunmann and Voigt this is synonymous with Goths. It is said that an ancient tradition among the Letts preserves the memory of a king Vidovuth, who first reduced the people on the Vistula under one government. His subjects were the Lettish race who furnished the population of Kurland, Lettland, and Prussia. All these historical or legendary accounts tend to support the opinion that the later inhabitants of Prussia were a mixed people descended from an amalgamation of the earlier bordering tribes, who were partly German and partly Wendish, or what is supposed to have the same meaning, Slavonian races.

On the other hand there are some considerations which afford strong evidence that the people of this region were a race immemorially distinct.

1. In the first place the Venedi were known, as we have seen, in very ancient times on the coast of the eastern part of the Baltic. Unless we could suppose that the whole body of the Slavish nations, reaching as they did down to the Euxine and the mouth of the Tanais, were descendants of this tribe of the sea-coast, which cannot be with probability maintained, the Venedi of the ancients must be considered as a different people from the Slavi. The proper Slavic dialects are too similar to admit the supposition that there was any immemorial division of the race, and that the Venedi of the north were one branch, while the nations to the southward of the Carpathian mountains, who were the Antes and Sclaveni of Procopius and Jornandes, constituted the great body of the same race. The most probable conclusion is, that the Old Prussians were the Venedi of the Romans, and the people originally called Wends by the Germans, who may have extended that name in after times to the Slavi, when they came into contact with the latter people.

• "Littus contra Oceani ubi tribus faucibus fluenta Vistulæ fluminis ebibuntur, Vidivarii resident, ex diversis nationibus aggregati." (De Reb. Get, p. 85.)

2. The Old Prussians, the Prutheni or Pruzii, had a peculiar system of religion, and a hierarchy, the history of which contains some remarkable traits, and serves to distinguish this people as a particular race, distinct both from the Slavic and the Germanic nations.

Of all European nations the Prussians seem to have made the longest and most obstinate resistance to the propagation of Christianity. This was partly owing, as it would appear, to the influence of their priests, who had more power and importance among the people than those of most other northern nations. The priesthood were governed by a supreme pontiff, called the Griwe, that is Graue, senator, Graf, who was at the same time legislator, supreme judge, and high priest. His station has been compared with that of the great lama of Tibet. Monkish writers called him the Pope of the northern pagans, and as his residence was at a consecrated spot named Romowe, they make a quaint reference to the head of their own church. It is said that the Griwe wisely consulted for the preservation of his influence, and enhanced the reverence of the people, by mystery and concealment. He lived retired and unseen in the secrecy of a dark forest. He was approached by priests and priestesses, who interpreted his will to the profane laity.*

These accounts of the northern Pope or Griwe have been treated for the first time with sceptical doubts by the learned M. Lehrberg, a bold critic of ancient opinions in questions of northern antiquity. He thinks the whole story of the Griwe arose from a mistake made by credulous writers. But M. Voigt has vindicated the old annalists. The following are the passages in which the account of the Griwe is most distinctly given. Dusburg in the Chronicle of the Teutonic Order says: "Fuit in medio nationis hujus perversæ, scilicet in Nadrovia, locus quidam dictus Romow, trahens nomen suum a Româ, in quo habitabat quidam dictus Criwe, quem colebant pro Papa, quia sicut Dominus Papa regit universalem ecclesiam fidelium, ita ad istius nutum seu mandatum non solum gentes prædictæ, sed et Letthowini et aliæ nationes Livoniæ terræ regebantur. Tantæ fuit auctoritatis, quod non solum ipse vel aliquis de sanguine suo verum et nuncius cum baculo suo vel alio signo noto transiens terminos infidelium prædictorum, a regibus et nobilibus et communi populo in magna reverentiâ haberetur." Another copy of the Chronicle of Dusburg, preserved in MS. in the archives at Königsberg, has the passage somewhat differently. It mentions a city called Romowe, named from Rome. This, as Voigt observes, is only a monkish comment, and foolish as it is, does not impugn the evidence of the writers as to facts. In this place the Criwe lived, who

The ancient Prussians are said to have worshipped, besides other objects, a triad, or three principal deities. These were termed Perkunos, Potrimpos, and Picollos. The first was the god of the firmament and of thunder, corresponding with the Thor of the Northmen, the Taranis of the Celts, and the Peroun of the Russians, to which last he was probably related, as the resemblance of name indicates: before his sacred oak a perpetual fire was kept. The second had the form of a young man crowned with spikes of corn: he was the god of fecundity, the generator or Mahadeva of the Prussians. Young children were sacrificed to him, and a sacred serpent was kept in honour of him. Pikollos was the god of death and of all evil: his figure was that of a pale and grey-bearded old man; his was Pope among the Pruteni, Litwani, and Livonienses. An old translator, Jeroschin, gives the following:

"Wann da was wonende irkant
Der obirste Ewarte

Nach heidenischer Arte

Criwe was genant sin Nam."

The title "obirste Ewarte" meant, as Voigt observes, "supreme guardian of the laws." It seems that the later Prussian chronicles, composed by Lucas David and Simon Grunau, confirm this story of the Griwe, which they profess to derive from the chronicle of the first Prussian bishop Christian.'

The original authorities for the history of the ancient Prussians are the following: 1. The chronicle already mentioned of the monk Christian, who laboured sixteen years for the conversion of the pagan Prussians, and wrote an historical account of the people, under the title of "Liber Filiorum Belial," the Book of the Sons of Belial. This work is unfortunately lost, but extracts from it are extant, in the writings of Simon Grunau, 1521, (which have never been printed,) and in those of Lucas David, who died in 1583. 2. After the work of Christian, the most ancient document on the history of the Prussians is the "Chronicon Prussia" of Peter Dusburg (1326), which contains, moreover, a complete history of the proceedings of the Teutonic order in that country. The most eminent writers, who in later times have availed themselves of these resources for illustrating the national history of the Prussians, have been Hartknoch, already cited, author of several works, entitled "Altes und neues Preussen, 1684," and "De Originibus Relig. Christ. in Prussia ;" likewise "Dissertatio de Lingua veterum Prussorum, acced. Frid. Zandii Carmen de Galindis et Sudinis," appended to the edition of Dusburg's Chronicle, printed at Frankfort in 1679; and lastly Voigt, author of the celebrated work entitled "Geschichte Preussens von den ältesten Zeiten," Königsberg, 1827. See a note in M. Blumhardt's Hist. Générale de l'Etablissement du Christianisme, Geneva, 1838, tom. iii. p. 437 ; and Adelung, Mithridat. ii. s. 701.

See Voigt, Beilage über den Oberrichter und Oberpriester Griwe, appended to his Geschichte Preussens.

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