Page images
PDF
EPUB

rimans, viris, Sanskrit vîrebhyâs); the accusative in Prussian retains the s, which euphony in Sanskrit requires to be thrown out, (wyrans, Sanskrit vîrân). The feminine of the first declension is in a, as in Sanskrit, ganna (mulier), daia (donum), and is declined otherwise like the masculine. The second declension may be detected: masculine rikys (dominus), feminine teisi, (honor,) which in the rest follow the usual variations.

The Prussian pronouns present a remarkable archaism; in their near approach to the Sanskrit they exceed even the Lithuanian. The pronoun demonstrative, which occupies the place of the article, is stas, and is probably composed of two pronouns sas and tas, which are both found again in the Sanskrit, of which the Prussian preserves the accusative singular stan (Sansk. tam), while the Lithuanian adopts the a circumflexed, therefore not written fully, and approaching the Lettish to. The genitive steisai, feminine steises, approaches more nearly to the Sanskrit tasya, feminine tasyâs, than the shortened Lithuanian to, feminine tos; but the dative comes nearer to the Sanskrit than in any other language, as it uses the syllable smu as the characteristic ending, (compare kasmu (cui), Sanskrit kasmai; stesmu, Sanskrit tasmai,) which appears nowhere else so pure, (compare Lithuanian támui, Gothic thamma, with the s thrown out). The feminine in Prussian has in the dative stessici, like the Sanskrit tasyai; besides, kas and stas in Prussian become relative through the syllable vyds, as in Sanskrit through vad, as kayds (qualis), stavyds (talis). The personal pronoun as (ego) seems to be the original form; the Sanskrit ah-am is already softened, for here the absolute state is as-mat, and, as is shown in numberless examples, s passes into h, but seldom the contrary happens, (compare Sanskrit ashta, octo, Gothic ahtan, &c.). The other oblique cases take, as in Sanskrit, a different auxiliary; for example, dative Prussian maim (nearer to the Sanskrit mayam than the Lithuanian m'an). On the other hand, the second person, tu, (in Sanskrit already with the suffix am, twam,) receives no adjunct: dative tebbei (tibi), Sanskrit tubhyam. In the plural, Prussian jous (vos), Sanskrit yûyam, contain, in both alike, a new root, yu.

In the verbs no regular conjugation is carried out; but that here also the language once approached the perfection of the Sanskrit is proved by the verb substantive, which, excepting that the dual is wanting, is, by retaining the root-vowel, more regularly conjugated than even the Indian. This is the form: Asmai (sum), Sanskrit asmi. Assei

Ast

asi, instead of assi.
asti.
smus, instead of asmas.
stha, instead of astha.
santi, instead of asanti.

Asmai
Astei.
Ast

...

...

The infinitive in Prussian ends in t: bout (esse,) enimt (sumere), madlit (precari), pout (bibere), but though this is the common ending, it must be considered a contraction. When complete it has a nasal: bouton, enimton, madliton, pouton, in which it resembles the Sanskrit infinitive, or more properly the gerund: pâtum (potum). A peculiar form of the infinitive is that in wei: biatwei (timere,) bilitwei (dicere).

The participles which Vater adduces require a more careful examination, in which only the Sanskrit can help us : many belong to the infinitive, as those in ton; many in us are in the form of participles passive, which in Sanskrit are formed in nas and tas; ex. aulauns (mortuus). Some, called by Vater verbal substantives, are accusative participles of the present tense active; as dilants (operans), waitiantin (loquentem). Compare Sanskrit pachan, accusative pachantam (coquentem).

Amongst the ancient excellencies of the Prussian dialect must also be reckoned those inseparable particles, which few in number, yet give to the verb the capability of a rich variety of modifications, and are, a few mutilations excepted, the same as in Sanskrit, although, as is natural, their meaning is sometimes different: the most common are per (Sanskrit para), pa and po (Sanskrit upa), prei (Sanskrit prati), ên (Sanskrit â, or in an older form an), is and esse (Sanskrit ut), na (Sanskrit anu), sen (Sanskrit sam). Afterwards these particles became true nominal prepositions, and this change is visible in the Prussian, although its laws are so uncertain. Not less essential than this formation of the verbs to the Indo-Germanic languages, is the mode of increasing the nouns and

adjectives by derivative syllables or so-called suffixes, in which these languages develope the greatest richness in the formation of words. The richest in this respect are the Sanskrit, the Greek, and the German languages, and it is seldom that the termination agrees with the similar ones of another dialect, as some examples may show: from the root ag and ak (videre), the Sanskrit makes ak-sha (oculus), the Prussian ackis, the Greek OкKoç, the Latin oc-ulus; from dak the Sanskrit makes dakshana (dextra), the Greek dɛžia, the Old Prussian tickra.

The Prussian displays many of these endings, which resemble most nearly the Lithuanian and Lettish, and sometimes the German. It would occupy too much room to enumerate them all, and to compare them with similar suffixes in the Sanskrit. Lastly, the Prussian and Lithuanian language has in common with the cognates the power of forming compounds, and gives indeed examples of true Indian composition; for example, when the first member in the absolute state must be considered in the relation of a case, as but-sargs (paterfamilias); where, however, the true genitive appears, buttas-taws: in like manner from the particle sa (Sanskrit sa), and lub (amare, Sanskrit lubh, lubere), the compound saluban (matrimonium) is formed, and others, which sometimes appear to be formed after the German, as kaimalucke (heim-suchen). The construction has already accommodated itself to the genius of the Gerinan tongue, for the language early lost its determinate character; but how rich it even then was in sound, and how easily it accommodated itself to metre, the translation of the well-known verse will show: "Ein jeder lern' sein Lection," &c., which is thus given by Abel Will:

"Erains mukinsusin swaian mukinsnan
Tit wisst labhai stalliuns enstan buttan."

SECTION IV.-Conclusion.

The only conclusion that can be formed from a consideration of the facts surveyed in the two preceding sections is, that the Old Pruthenians or Prussians, the Lithuanians and

the Lettish people form a groupe of nations, distinct from the German or Gothic race on one side, and from the Slavi on the other, though more nearly related to these nations, and particularly to the latter, than to other branches of the IndoEuropean family. They appear to have been subject to an order of priests, more powerful than those of the other nations in the east of Europe, and only comparable to the Druidical hierarchy among the Celts. Their language differed considerably from the other eastern European dialects, and preserved the forms of the Sanskrit in a much purer and less altered state. It must be considered as a branch springing more immediately from the original stock. The inference is, that the people of the narrow extent of country included between the Finns and Goths were a distinct tribe, who preceded the Slavic race in their northern progress, and it is probable that they had occupied the coast of the Eastern Baltic many ages before the arrival of that people in the northern parts of Sarmatia. It is not improbable that they were the Venedi or Venedæ of the classical writers from the age of Pliny to that of Ptolemy.

CHAPTER IX.

OF THE ANCIENT AND MODERN INHABITANTS OF THE COUNTRIES SITUATED BETWEEN THE DANUBE AND

MOUNT TAURUS.

SECTION I.-General Survey.

THE countries bordering on both sides of the Hellespont and Bosphorus have been connected from the earliest periods of history by social and political relations. On these opposite shores, to which the names of Europe and Asia perhaps first belonged, the same tribes of people appear to have been spread in every age. The intervening straits have been often passed, from either side, in warlike expeditions, undertaken on a smaller scale for objects of plunder, or on a greater for conquest and colonisation; and while the Asiatics were more civilised and powerful than the people of Europe, no formidable barrier seems to have opposed the progress of invaders till they reached the chain of Mount Hæmus, defended by precipitous heights and by warlike and barbarous hordes. Even this boundary, as well as that of the Danube, is said to have been passed by various conquerors, either African or Asiatic, but no permanent impression was made on the countries further northward until a comparatively late period. Beyond the Danube were the vast plains of Scythia, called in later times Sarmatia, which were so little known in the days of Herodotus that the whole region was said by the Thracians to be inhabited by bees. The historian obtained information

« PreviousContinue »