The Samoyedic language was one of the first to whose study he applied himself. The Jurak-Samoyedes, a leading tribe of this people, reside in European Russia. The study of the dialect spoken by them was first of all taken up. From November, 1842, to November, 1843, when he reached Obdorsk in Siberia, he lived mainly amongst the Samoyedes.

A connected but subsidiary work on this journey was the study of the Permian tribes, the Syrjenians and their language, amongst whom Castrén had also lived for some time. The threatened failure of health had, however, by this time gone further than it was safe to neglect; and from Obdorsk, Castrén went to Berózoff, where he was able to obtain medical as sistance, and thence he returned to Finland in May, 1844. Warmly received by his admiring countrymen, he set about completing the work he had in hand; and even found time to produce, with the aid of a Tcheremissian soldier who was accidentally in garrison in Sweaborg, a grammar of that tongue, spoken by a Finnish tribe on the banks of the Volga. He also graduated in his Alma Mater as doctor of philosophy.

forward to aid Castrén in turning his sci- | subsequently delivered in the University entific aptitudes and learning to account. of Helsingfors on Finnish mythology. The academician Sjögren proposed a Besides this, he closely studied the lanjourney through Siberia in order to inves- guages of the tribes with which he came tigate the ethnographic and linguistic re- into contact.. lations of these heathen or half heathenish tribes. Unable to participate himself, on account of his age and imperfect vision, he sought to find a younger man for this purpose; and with this view, visited Hel. singfors in 1838. Castrén was recommended to him, and Augustus Wallin, a young man of mark, who afterwards travelled through Arabia, and won for himself distinction. Sjögren met neither of the young men; but Castrén's studies lay within the Finnish field, while Wallin's, who was a philological genius, lay more in the Oriental direction, and therefore Castrén was chosen. Much to Castrén's disappointment, there had been great delay in arranging the expedition; but now, he was surprised in Enare, in Lappmark, under the sixty-ninth degree of north latitude, by a letter from the academician, Sjögren, saying that the expedition was ready, and that he, Castrén, was to be ethnograph and linguist for the same. That the expedition was not to start at once, was all the better for Castrén, for he was able to make use of his time in the field where he now was. One thousand roubles silver were found for him from Finnish state resources, to journey through the country of the Samoyedes on the Frozen Ocean, and thence from the White Sea to the Urals. Pecuniary means now came abundantly into Castrén's possession, for his modest and easily satisfied aims. He was to have a thousand roubles a year from the St. Petersburg Academy; the Alexander Stipendium from Helsingfors of nine hundred roubles; half the Demidoff prize of seven hundred roubles, and cost of printing for his Syrjenian grammar. There was one serious drawback, however Castrén had weak lungs, and there was in the family a tendency to consumption. Bold, therefore, was the step to plunge into such a country, its damp huts and unhealthy tundras, where medical aid was seldom to be obtained. Disquieting as was the state of Castrén's health, it did not disturb his joy in the prospect of scientific research opening up before him. His aim, in his third journey (1841-42), on which he set out with Elias Lönnrot, was especially to investigate the Lappish mythology, as compared with the Finnish, by which he hoped to throw light upon both; an object in which he fully succeeded, as shown by the lectures he

[ocr errors]

In February, 1845 Castrén left Helsingfors for his last lengthened journey into Siberia, whence he did not return till February, 1849. The work done during these four years is told in his "Journeys and Researches." In 1845, he visited the valleys of the Irtish and the Ob, occupied himself with the Ostyak-Samoyedes; in 1846, he removed to the valley of the Jenisei, and was occupied with other sections of the Ostyak and Samoyede tribes; in 1847, he studied the so-called "Tartarized " Samoyede and Ostyak tribes. The remaining two years of his stay in Siberia were devoted to the dwellers round about Lake Baikal-Tunguses and Buriats. But his health again began to give way; indeed, he barely escaped with life from accidental exposure to one of the terrible frosts of Siberia.

He returned to Finland in the summer of 1849, when but three years of life remained; though even these three years were crowded with the work of one who worked with all his might, for he could not but have forebodings that the end was near. He married in October, 1850, became professor of the Finnish language and litera

[ocr errors]

ture in 1851, and died on the 7th May, | condition - his father being the tailor of 1852. the parish but shrewd, careful, and Not unlike our own great naturalist, active persons; since they brought up a Charles Darwin, his journeys had made large family, and were able to push Elias him famous; but they also broke his forward to a learned profession. It was health and hastened his end. He strug- curious how he came by his name. He gled even on his death-bed to work up had to be taken to the clergyman for bapsome of the abundant material which lay tism by some person who was not one of about him from his journeys. His thirty- the family. As the baptismal act had eight years' life had in it much of suffer- been carried out before the parents came ing, much of endurance; but it had been up, and this person had forgotten two filled with work, and it was rich in results. very proper names which had been conSix volumes in octavo, in the Swedish fided to her, the clergyman named the boy tongue, contain the bulk of his writings. Elias, because it was Elias's day, the 17th Of his religious views we know nothing; | April, on which he was baptized. for he abstained from all demonstrative revelations of his inner life, a reserve which is peculiarly charactistic of the Finnish


Of the third representative man of Finland and its university, we can fortunately speak within narrower limits. His life was less crowded with doing and suffering; but it was grander, simpler, and moved more within the circle of poetry than of prose. The Finnish Homer is no ironical title; but deserved, so far as the little semi-Arctic duchy can be compared to sunny, brilliant, and richly endowed Greece.

We have already spoken of the state of things, when Elias Lönnrot took up the work which had been begun by Porthan, Zachary Topelius and others. But whatever attention had been paid to the speech of the Finnish people, it was still in an all but uncultivated condition. The stock of literature to be found in it was very small and of a narrow compass. The Bible had been translated into it, it is true, and Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress," but scarcely any other work of importance. Some fugitive verses, mostly religious, a volume on Swedish law, very imperfectly translated; and of schoolbooks, only the A B C book and Luther's Catechism. The state of things was very much as with us in Scotland, when the alphabet, and a rude combination of letters and sounds, known to children as the Cat's A B C, introduced the youthful aspirant to the sublime mysteries of the "chief end of man," and "what rule hath God given to direct us, how we may glorify and enjoy him?" If the state of things is far different at present, it is mainly due to Elias Lönnrot, that things have altered for the better.

Elias Lönnrot was born in Paikkari torp or village and in the parish of Karislojo, nearly midway between Abo and Helsingfors. His parents were of humble

His birthday was the 9th April, 1802. He began his education, after his school life, with the pharmaceutical studies proper to the profession for which he was destined that of medicine-in Tavastehus, in 1820; entered the university then in Abo in 1822, and finished his preliminary studies as candidate, in the philosophical or arts faculty in 1827. Various causes had drawn Lönnrot's attention to the condition of his mother tongue, and its deficiencies as to cultivation. In addition to those to which we have already referred, there had been freshly published a collection of Finnish proverbs, with translations into Latin by Gottlund in Upsala, Sweden. Von Becker, another Finnish student, while Lönnrot was at the univer sity, published a carefully prepared Finnish grammar. This was followed by Renvall's Finnish-Swedish dictionary, and these two publications were, as Lönnrot himself said, enormous steps in advance. But Zachary Topelius did most to enlist the young aspirant into the work. He had taken up afresh the work of collecting the Finnish folk-songs from the lips of the people; and this was what specially awakened the interest of the young Lönnrot. Accordingly, when he had completed his philosophical studies, he set out on a tour, guided by the information and advice he had received from Topelius to begin his great work of gathering up, as completely as might be, the whole folk-literature of his country.

In 1828, he travelled through Finnish Karelia, in the Kuopio region; in another journey, undertaken in 1831, he penetrated further north, round about the village of Kajana, where a great part of his life was afterwards to be spent. The folk-poesy of Finland had not up to this period been separated into the generic elements of which it was made up. Even Lönnrot's first publication "Kantele," published in four thin parts, Helsingfors, 1829-1831,

was still a mixture of the epic-mythical, | was now so complete, that Lönnrot rethe lyrical, and we suppose, even the troll solved to give the whole collection to the or wizard songs which lived in the hearts world. This was done in the course of of the Finnish people. This publication, 1835, the preface to the collection being which was the occasion of some loss to dated the 28th February in that year. It the young student, led to the formation of might have been expected that the lyrical the Finnish Literary Society, which soon songs, of which a large stock had been attracted members; and-by meeting collected, would have either first been expenses, and afterwards by its printing- given to the world, or at least soon after press has rendered enormous services, the Kalevala. The work of arranging and to Finland, its science and literature. editing them was greatly lighter than that of arranging and editing the epic-mythical, or even the troll or wizard songs. But besides his professional work, Lönnrot was now an editor! A small periodical consisting of a single printed sheet named Mehiläinen or the Bee, was begun by him in 1836, and was carried on for several years, the place of publication being Uleaborg, to which from Kajana, there was only a post once a week. In 1836, the much-toiling man undertook a journey into Lapland, during which he occupied himself with linguistic and philological researches. With such occupations, it came to pass, that the lyrical collection of folksongs "Kanteletar," as it was named, saw the light five years later than the Kalevala, or in 1840, in three successive parts, but in a nearly perfect form. Lönnrot was master of the music as well as of the poetry of these folk-songs; and in the later part of his life was, on the flute, an accomplished "Kantele" player.


Meanwhile, besides the "labor of love" in which Lönnrot was engaged, he had been prosecuting his medical studies, and that, with such diligence and success that, in 1830, he passed as medical candidate; in 1832, as licentiate, after which he received the doctor's hat; the proof that he had passed successfully the highest grade of his profession. But with this earnestness and diligence in the work of his profession; an earnestness and diligence which Elias Lönnrot carried into every duty during his life; he had not forgotten the pursuit to which he had already given two lengthened journeys.

In the same year in which he obtained his doctor's hat, the government appoint ment of medical man for the province of Kajana fell vacant; and mindful of his purpose, Lönnrot at once applied for it. He obtained the appointment vicariously for a time, and finally was appointed state doctor for the Kajana district. He was now specially in the land of song, and on his professional journeys sought to add to his already collected stock of epic-mythical, and other national folk-songs. Not only so, but before entering upon his professional duties as doctor, he journeyed in 1832 over the Finnish frontier into Russian Karelia, where he found virgin soil, and even a greater stock of poems than within Finland itself. This region, north and south of Lake Onega, may well be named the land of song, for not only did Lönnrot find the means of completing the cycle of the Kalevala, but, south of Lake Onega, first Ruibnikoff, and later Professor Hilferding, found the stores of builini, as they are named in Russ, with which the former filled four large volumes. Professor Hilferding's collection has been published in smaller type in a huge volume. The collections, south or west of Lake Onega, are in the Russian language.

The cycle of epic-mythical folk-songs

This was done at a much later period, 1859 to 1863, than Lönnrot's travels; and the volumes were published in 1867. Professor Hilferding's researches

were made some five to seven years later.


With these two publications the greater part of Lönnrot's literary achievement was nearly complete, for the collection of troll songs, with all their curious heather or half-heathen contents, their bearing upon the more ancient life of the people, was first given to the world in his old age, under the name of "Sana Kirja," in parts from 1866 to 1868. Nevertheless, to the end of his long life, Lönnrot continued to be an active and busy man. Endowed with a sound and healthy constitution, which he strenuously kept in proper condition by in-door gymnastics or out-door exercise, he retained the sana mens in sano corpore to the last days of his life.

Besides the works we have specified, he had made great collections of proverbs, riddles, etc., in the Finnish tongue, and occupied himself likewise in the preparation of a dictionary of Finnish, with Swedish explanations, which he published indeed, but looked upon it as a work only furnishing materials for a more scientific treatment of the language. In his fortieth year he published the proverbs and riddles. Nearly about this time he obtained leave from the government to retire from

[ocr errors]


his post as State doctor for some five | Homeric rhapsodies; and the same quesyears, being, nevertheless, allowed to draw tions, as we have been informed by the his salary. The time thus obtained was greatest living authority on the subject well spent. We have referred to his jour Professor Augustus Ahlquist, the suc ney into Lapland to make philological and cessor of Castrén and Lönnrot himself, in linguistic researches in a language akin to the chair of the Finnish language and his native Finnish. The journey which literature-are emerging in regard to he undertook together with Castrén in Lönnrot's treatment of his materials, as 1841 and 1842 has also been referred to. have been raised in regard to the Homeric Travelling together to Archangel, the two poems. Indeed, there can be little doubt distinguished men parted, never to see that a careful comparison of the Finnish each other again in life. Lönnrot then and Russian folk-epos a work now in journeyed southward, and spent the sum- the hands of an Italian, Professor Domer in the Russian government of Olonets minico Comparetti of Florence- would amongst the Vepsi, a Finnish or Karelian throw light upon the difficulties of the people, on whose linguistic peculiarities, Homeric problem. The work of Lönnrot, as well as those of the Enare Lapps, he in reducing the Kalevala, or rather the furnished a report. minor epopees which form it into a whole; as it now is, was first of all, collection. The poem, if we may call it a unity, is made up of episodes or minor epopees, celebrating some particular action, or the deeds of some single hero. These were collected with infinite trouble, often in broken fragments and verses. When the cycles seemed complete, then the work of comparing, piecing, and joining began. Often there were various versions of the same epopee, or episode; and the work of Lönnrot was to choose the best and most His researches were grounded upon a harmonious, with the connected or related thorough and accurate knowledge of the epopees. Words had occasionally to be principles of classical philology, with changed or added, to make the verse comwhich he combined a large and practical plete. Thus the various runes or cantos acquaintance both with Russ and German, were built up and "woven together"-it both of which languages he wrote and is Lönnrot's own expression-into the used practically, in addition to Finnish whole, or grand epic which we now pos and Swedish, the indigenous languages of sess. Professor Ahlquist has raised the the Grand Duchy. His attainments in question, whether Lönnrot was justified in this field were somewhat cast in the shade constructing a whole out of these smaller by his great and original services to the epopees; for certainly, before Lönnrot's traditional literature of his country, its time, they never had been anything else folk-literature of all kinds. Indeed, great than a general collection. Professor Ahlas were the talents which had been dedi-quist also questions whether Lönnrot was cated to this field, there was none that approached to Castrén save Lönnrot.

Continuing his journey he visited Ingermanland, in which the city of St. Petersburg is situated, with its varied and motley population; then the Esthonian people, kindred to his own, in which in somewhat varied form, those folk songs are found which he had done so much to collect in his native Finnish. He visited also the Werro Esthonians, whose home is in Livonia, and thus enlarged still more the circle of his linguistic and philological knowledge.

justified in piecing together and eking out the single epopees, so as to reduce them It was about this time that, through the to complete, but artificial wholes, such as travels and researches of D.E.D. Euro- they now stand in the Kalevala. But pæus, new treasures were found belonging Lönnrot himself had no doubt as to the to the Kalevala cycle. The Kullervo epi- propriety of the work. His view, in brief, sode was a wholly new discovery, besides was, that the singers or rhapsodists, who other most interesting matter. These sang the single epopees, of which their were sent to Lönnrot, as the recognized individual stock consisted, did so in conmaster, and indeed he had no need to un- nection with one another, i.e., regarded dertake fresh journeys, for all new mate- them as partial wholes, and that, thererials flowed naturally into his hands. In fore, he was justified in going further on consequence of these discoveries, he the same principle, and reducing the whole issued, in 1849, a new edition of the to a unity; the more so, that the vast exKalevala, including the newly discovered perience which he had acquired in collectmaterials. His work upon these materials ing and piecing them together, made him may be instructively compared with the supposed Peisistratus's redaction of the

Now, alas, passed away.

a better judge than any of the single bards | when asked, pointed out a number of could have been. He says: "I looked others as preferable to himself, and was upon myself as a singer, equal to the best glad when Castrén sought the post and of them." There is no doubt, it is uni- obtained it. But Castrén was already versally conceded, that Lönnrot was right struggling with the disease which carried here. He was, moreover, no man of theory him off, and a year later the chair was influenced by certain æsthetical principles. again vacant. Now all eyes were turned His knowledge and practice were gained to Lönnrot; he was induced to apply for through practical dealing with the poems the vacant professorship and obtained it. in the various forms in which he found In the spring of 1854, while the Crimean them, and it was on this natural and com- War was running its course, Lönnrot was mon-sense ground that he constructed the installed, and for eight years he occupied whole. this important post; then resigning it, returned to his former quiet, unobtrusive life. His days were prolonged beyond those of the most of his family; all but one daughter preceded him to the tomb. In 1884, at eighty-two years of age, he "fell on sleep; " for such indeed was the fashion of his departure. All Finland mourned his loss, and honored him, when, his life-course ended, he was laid in the grave, so far as his mortal remains were concerned.

This great work complete, Lönnrot married and settled down in his own house in Kajana. He had a variety of practical ends still before him. He would complete his dictionary, write a comparative grammar of the Finnish languages on the same lines as Grimm has constructed his Teutonic grammar. He wished also to give a system of Finnish mythology to the world. With these schemes before him, he took a bold step, and asked the Finnish Senate to be allowed to retire from his medical practice, with his full pension for the remainder of his life. The Senate and people of Finland were favorable to his petition; but from the very highest resort, it was rejected, it is believed, at the instance of the well-known Prince Mentschikoff, who was then the chief governor of Finland.

Among the other good qualities of our Finnish Homer, was this, that he was an earnest and devout Christian. He had been trained to this by his father, who had also been a devout man. Family trials, loss of children and friends had chastened his spirit, and in his old age he came into greater clearness of faith and fuller confidence, as to the divine dealings with himself. A translation of the Psalms into Finnish was a desideratum for church psalmody, in the latter part of his life. A committee was appointed, but the work mainly fell upon Lönnrot. The committee sat eight years but Lönnrot was not only leading man on this committee, he even took the work out of their hands, and eventually published his own collection. This work pressed upon his mind up to two days before his death, when with trembling hand and with scarcely readable handwriting, he was seen tracing the lines of a rendering of one of the Psalms.

But we are anticipating. In 1850, the lectorship of Finnish was constituted into a professorship. Lönnrot was regarded by many as the proper person to occupy the post. But he was contented to pass his days in his quiet home in Kajana; and

It will be admitted, we think, that in these lives we have the exemplification of national university training. That is, a training which does not lose sight of the fact that the student is a social unit in a people, who, in common with himself, may be benefited by his trained activity and the culture which he acquires in the university.

The university is something more than a mere educational institution for youths. Those who are its members, whether as professors or students, may look around, as we say was done in the university of Finland, and consider to what profitable national uses, their present or future activity may be turned. They may take note of the outstanding national problems with a resolution to devote their lives, as they may be able, to their solution. And these problems may be as varied as the national life itself. There are linguistic and phi. lological problems, in which the light of the classical culture which Greece, as universalized by Rome, has provided, may be turned upon the vernacular language, with a view, it may be, as it was used by Ahlquist, to throw light upon the more remote history of the country, as to whence came the germs of its civilization, as shown by the words used to denote them. This, the problem of philology, properly so called, is to reproduce the ancient life of a people. The linguistic problem searches out the grammatical peculiarities of the language or languages spoken, ascertains their phonology, ie., the sounds

« ElőzőTovább »