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Home > Mezzofanti > Eminent linguists > Slavonian linguists > Jaroslav

It would be unpardonable, nevertheless, to pass the subject over in silence; and I can only renew in especial reference to this part of the memoir, the claim for indulgence with which I entered upon this Essay. Christianity, and with it the first seeds of civilization, reached Russia from Constantinople; and it is not unlikely that the friendly and frequent intercourse which subsisted between the two courts under the first Christian Dukes of Muscovy, Vladi-mir and Jaroslav, may have led to a considerable interchange of language between the members of the two nations. the many foreign alliances, too, with Constantinople, Germany, Hungary, France, England, Norway, and Poland, which were formed by the children of Jaroslav, may, perhaps, have tended to familiarize his subjects, or at least his court, with some of the languages of Southern and Western Europe. But no record of this—the one bright period in early Russian history— has been preserved, from which any particulars can be gleaned. the division of Jaroslav's dominions between his sons at his death, (in 1054,) plunged the Russian nation into a series of civil wars and into the barbarism to which such wars lead, from which it did not begin to emerge till the sixteenth century; and, although a few translations (chiefly theological), from Greek and Latin, were made during this period, yet, from the interruption of all intercourse with foreign countries, it may be presumed that (with the exception perhaps, of a few enterprising individuals, like the merchant Nikitin, who, in the fifteenth century, traversed the entire East, and penetrated as far as Tibet,) the natives of an empire so completely isolated concerned themselves little about any language beyond their own. Macarius, who was Metropolitan of Moscow in the middle of the sixteenth century, did something to promote the introduction of foreign letters into Russia,t and many translations, not only from the Greek and Latin fathers, but also from the classical writers, were made under his direction. A still greater impulse must have been given to this particular branch of study by the new policy introduced by the Czar Boris Feodo-rowitsch Godounoff, who not only invited learned foreigners to his court, but sent eighteen young nobles of Russia to foreign countries to. study their arts, their literature and their languages. the results of this more liberal policy, however, had hardly begun to be felt, when the troubles which followed the well-known revolution of Demetrius the Impostor, revived for a time the worst forms of barbarism in the Empire.

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