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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 ofGerman (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 theApostle, 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]

In modern times considerable attention has been devoted to the examination of the Old Slavic language and its relation to its kindred dialects. Antiquarian and paleographical researches have been happily combined with philological investigations; and the eminent names which are found among these diligent and philosophical inquirers, insure the best prospects to their cause.[28]


[Footnote 1: See below in the History of the Russian Language, and the so called Improvement of the Bible and church books.]

[Footnote 2: In modern times this view has been defended principally by Russian philologists, the Metropolitan Eugene, Kalajdovitch, etc.]

[Footnote 3: See his Kyrill und Method, Prague, 1823. Schloezer considers likewise the Old Slavic as a Bulgarian dialect of the ninth century. See his Northern History, p. 330. In another place he calls it the mother of the other Slavic languages; see his Nestor, I. p. 46.]

[Footnote 4: In his Grammar of the Slavic Language in Carniola, Carinthia, and Stiria.]

[Footnote 5: Jahrbuecher der Literatur, Vienna, 1822, Vol. XVII. Grimm is of the same opinion; see the Preface to his translation of Vuk Stephanovitch's Servian Grammar.]

[Footnote 6: See above, p. 11.]

[Footnote 7: This view Schaffarik takes in his work on Slavic Antiquities, and in his Slavic Ethnography. Palacky, a distinguished Bohemian scholar, adopted the same opinion in his History of Bohemia, Prague 1836. Both were combatted in a furious review by Kopitar, in Chmel's Oestr. Geschichtsforscher, III. 1838; printed separately under the title: Der Pannonische Ursprung der Slavischen Liturgie. etc.]

[Footnote 8: Dobrovsky's Entwurf zu einer allgemeinen Slavischen Etymologie, Prague 1812. See also the Slovanka of this celebrated scholar.]

[Footnote 9: Schloezer's Nestor, III. p. 224.]

[Footnote 10: Rakoviecky, in his edition of the Pravda Russka, Warsaw 1820-22. Katancsich, Specimen Philologiae et Geographiae, etc. 1795. See also Fraehn's publication, “Ueber die alteste Schrift der Russen,” St. Petersb. 1835; where a specimen is given of the form of writing which the Arabian author Ibn Abi Jakub el Nedim ascribes to the Russians. This writer lived at the close of the tenth century. He quotes as his authority an envoy sent from some Caucasian prince to the king of the Russians.]

[Footnote 11: As in modern Greek; see also Bullmann's Gram. sec. 3. 2.]

[Footnote 12: See Rees' Cyclopedia, art. Khazares; where however it is incorrectly said, that they were a Turkish tribe.]

[Footnote 13: Posadnik is about the same as mayor.]

[Footnote 14: In the Slavic version of the Chronicle of Dalmatia, the Epistles instead of the Palter are named.]

[Footnote 15: That the Glagolitic alphabet, as has been affirmed, was the one invented by Cyril, and was gradually changed into that afterwards known as the Cyrillic, is an untenable position; partly, because no form of writing could change in such a degree in one or two centuries; and partly, because in some early manuscripts both alphabets appear mixed, or rather are used alternately.]

[Footnote 16: Glagolita Clozianus, Vindeb. 1836.]

[Footnote 17: In his essay On the Old Slavic Language. See the Russian periodical: Treatises of a Society of Friends of Russian Literature, No. XVII. Mosc. 1820.]

[Footnote 18: Extracts from it may be seen in the valuable collection of Documents prepared by P. von Koeppen: Sobranie Slovenzki Pamjatnikov, St. Petersburg 1827. See also Hanka's Edition of Dobrovsky's Slavia, Prague 1834.]

[Footnote 19: This remarkable manuscript was not known until 1738, when it was discovered in the chronicles of Novogorod. It has since been published in six different editions, the first prepared by Schloezer, 1767; the last by the Polish scholar Rakowiecky, enriched with remarks and illustrations. See note 10, above.]

[Footnote 20: Aktu Sobrannyje etc. i.e. Collection of Acts and Documents found in the Libraries and Archives of the Russian Empire, by the Archaeographical Commission of the Academy, etc. 4 vols. St. Petersburg, 1836, 1837. The oldest of these documents does not go farther back than A.D. 1294.]

[Footnote 21: On the remarkable Slavic manuscript called “Texte du Sacre,” which was first re-discovered on this expedition, see Glagolitic Literature, in Part II. Chap. II.]

[Footnote 22: According to Vostokof, the dialects of all the Slavic nations deviated not only much less from each other at the time of Cyril's translation than they now do; but were even in the middle of the eleventh century still so similar, that the different nations were able to understand each other, about as well as the present inhabitants of the different provinces of Russia understand each other. The difference of the Slavic dialects was then almost exclusively limited to the lexical part of the language; the grammatical varieties, which exist among them at the present day, had not then arisen. The principal features which distinguish the Russian of the present day from the Old Slavic, are exhibited in an article on Russian Literature in the Foreign Quarterly Review, Vol. I. p. 602.]

[Footnote 23: We learn that P. von Koeppen several years ago discovered a Slavic work printed in 1475; but being unacquainted with the details, we are unable to give a particular notice of it.]

[Footnote 24: See above p. 36.]

[Footnote 25: The first two editions are described above. The third edition did not appear till nearly a century later, after the revision of the text had been completed, Moscow 1751, fol. Subsequent editions are as follows: Moscow 1756, fol. ib. 1757, fol. St. Petersb. 1756, fol. Kief 1758, fol. St. Petersb. 1759, fol. Moscow 1759, 3 vols. 8vo. ib. 1762, fol. ib. 1766, fol. ib. 1778, 5 vols. 8vo. Kief 1779, fol. Mosc. 1784, fol. Kief 1788, 5 vols. 8vo. Mosc. 1790, fol. ib. 1797, fol. ib. 1802, fol. Ofen (Buda) 1804, 5 vols. 8vo. Mosc. 1806, 4 vols. 8vo. ib. 1810, fol. ib. 1813, 5 vols. 8vo. ib. 1815, 8vo. St. Petersb. 1816, 8vo. stereotype edition, issued sixteen times up to 1824. Also in 4to, stereotype edition, issued five times from 1819 to 1821.]

[Footnote 26: In the work of J. Lewicky, Grammatik der ruthenischen oder kleinrussischen Sprache in Galizien, Przinysl 1836, to which is annexed a short history of the Ruthenian Literature, the Russinian and White-Russian dialects seem to be wholly confounded.]

[Footnote 27: Schaffarik mentions that an Old Slavic Grammar and a Dictionary were prepared and ready in manuscript, by Vostokof, in 1826. Whether these works have been since printed we are not informed.]

[Footnote 28: Very valuable and detailed notices on all the subjects in immediate connection with the Old Slavic and modern Russian Bible, are to be found in Henderson's Biblical Researches and Travels in Russia, Lond. 1826. As this book is accessible in this country, and our limits are narrow, we abstain from giving more than a general reference to it, as containing the best information on Slavic matters ever written in the English language. The reader will find there too a table of the Cyrillic and Glagolitic alphabet, taken from Dobrovsky's Institutiones.]

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