Page:A history of Hungarian literature.djvu/18

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8
HUNGARIAN LITERATURE

and it struck him how very similar their language was to his own. That discovery outweighed in importance all his astronomical investigations and he published a book maintaining the common origin of the two languages. (Demonstratio Idioma Ungarorum et Lapponum idem esse.) The work proved the origin of the Hungarian language, for it was well known that the Lapp idiom was akin to the Finnish, and to that of several of the small tribes living in the northern parts of Russia.

It had long been known in Hungary that there were a few scattered tribes related by race to the Hungarians, dwelling far away in north-eastern Russia. In the thirteenth century, Julian, an enthusiastic Franciscan monk, was told that a Hungarian tribe, the Baskirs, was still living somewhere on the frontier between Europe and Asia, and practising the old pagan religion. Julian at once resolved to go to these Asiatic kinsmen of his and convert them to Christianity. He accordingly went, and discovered them on the banks of the river Kama, and they understood his speech.

Towards the end of the fifteenth century, King Matthias Corvinus also heard, from travelling merchants, that far away in the east there were some tribes related to the Hungarians. He intended to open communication with them, but he died before effecting his purpose. Two hundred years later, Martin Fogel, a learned Hamburg physician, on reading the first Hungarian grammar, became convinced of the relation between Hungarian and Finnish, and wrote a book on the subject which served as a foundation for the theory of Leibniz concerning the kinship of the Hungarians, Finns, and Laplanders.

Sajnovics, the Jesuit, detected a similarity not only