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Csoma de Körös
Home > Mezzofanti > Eminent linguists > Linguists of the Teutonic race > Csoma de Körös

I allude to the celebrated Magyar pilgrim and philologer, Csoma de Kurds. His name is written in his own language, Korosi Csoma Sandor; but in the works which he has published (all of which are in English), it is given in the above form. He was born of a poor, but noble family, about 1790, at Koro?, in Transylvania; and, received a gratuitous education at the College of Nagy-Enyed. the leading idea which engrossed this enthusiastic scholar during life, was the discovery of the original of the Magyar race; in search of wliich (after preparing himself for about five years, at Got-tengin,by the study of medicine and of the Oriental languages,) he set out in 1820, on a pilgrimage to the East, "lightly clad, with a little stick in his hand, as if medithting a country walk, and with but a hundred florins, (about £10), in his pocket." the only report of his progress which was received for years afterwards, informed his friends that he had crossed the Balkan, visited Constantinople, Alexandria, and the Arabic libraries at Cairo; and, after traversing Egypt and Syria, had arrived at Teheran. Here, on hearing a few words of the Tibetan language, he was struck by their resemblance to Magyar; and, in the hope of thus resolving his cherished problem, he crossed Little Bucharia to the desert of Gobi; traversed many of the valleys of the Himalaya; and finally buried himself for four years (1827-1830), in the Buddhist Monastery of Kanam, deeply engaged in the study of Tibetan ; four months of which time he spent in a room nine feet square, (without once quitting it), and in a temperature below zero ! lie quickly discovered his mistake as to the affinity of Tibetan with Magyar; but he pursued his Tibetan studies in the hope of obtaining in the sacred books of Tibet some light upon the origin of his nation ; and before his arrival at Calcutta, in 1880, he had written down no less than 40,000 words in that language. He had hardly reached Calcutta when he was struck down by the mortifying discovery that the Tibetan books to which he had devoted so many precious years were but translations from the Sanscrit! From 1830 he resided for several years chiefly at Calcutta, engaged in the study of Sanscrit, and other languages, and employed in various literary services by the Asiatic Society of Bengal. He published in 1834 a Tibetan and English Dictionary, and contributed many interesting papers to the Asiatic Journal, and the Journal of the Bengal Asiatic Society. In 1842, he set out afresh upon the great pilgrimage which he had made the object of his life ; and, having reached Dharjeeling on his way to Sikam in Tibet, he was seized by a sudden illness, which, as he refused to take medicine, rapidly carried him off. This strange, though highly gifted man, had studied in the course of his adventurous life, seventeen or eighteen languages, in several of which he was a proficient. The career of this enthusiastic Magyar resembles in many respects that of Castren, the Danish phiiologer; and in nothing more than in the devotedness with which each of them applied himself to the investigation of the origin of his native language and to the discovery of the ethnological affinities of his race.

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