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No. XXI.

DENMARK. NECROLOGY.—Erasmus Rask. This eminent scholar and linguist, whose merits and literary labours have been occasionally commemorated in the former numbers of this Journal, was born at Brendekild, in the island of Fyen, in the year 1784. He studied at the University of Copenhagen, and early distinguished himself by his singular faculty for the acquisition of languages. In 1808 he was appointed sub-librarian to the University, and some years after Professor of Literary History. In 1811 he published (in Danish,) his Introduction to the Grammar of the Icelandic and other ancient Northern Languages, the materials for which were entirely derived from the immense mass of manuscript and printed works accumulated by his predecessors in the same field. This grammar appears to have given a fresh impulse to those studies even in Germany. The reputation which he acquired by it recommended him to the Arna-Magnæan Institution, by whom he was employed to edit the Icelandic Lexicon of Biorne Haldorsen, which had long remained in manuscript. To this work, published in 1814, a preface was prefixed by Bishop Müller, in which he passes a just eulogium on the talents and spirit of research of the youthful editor. About the same time, Rask, who had never been in Iceland, paid a visit to that country, where he remained from 1813 to 1815, during which he made himself fully master of the language, which he spoke with the fluency of a native, and familiarized himself with the literature, manners, and customs of the people. To the interest with which they inspired him was probably owing the establishment, early in 1816, of the Icelandic Library Society at Copenhagen, which was mainly effected by his exertions, and of which he was the first President. In October, 1816, he left Denmark on a literary expedition of several years duration, for the double purpose of prosecuting his inquiries into the languages of the East, and of collecting manuscripts for the University Library of Copenhagen. The King of Denmark liberally provided him with the

He proceeded first to Sweden, where he remained two years, making an excursion to Finland, during which he published in Swedish,) his AngloSaron Grammar in 1817; in the same year, at Copenhagen, (in Danish) an Essay on the Origin of the Ancient Scundinavian or Icelandic tongues, in which he traces the aflinity of that most remarkable idiom to the other European languages, especially to the Latin and Greek. In 1818, he published, at Stockholm, a second edition, much improved, of his Icelandic Grammar, translated by himself into Swedish; also in the same year the first complete editions of the prose or Snorro's Edda, and of the poetical or Sæmund's Edda, in the original text, in two volumes, in the latter of which he was assisted by his friend the Reverend Mr. Afzelius, along with Swedish translations of both Eddas in two other volumes. From Stockholm he proceeded, in 1819, to St. Petersburgh, where he wrote an interesting paper in German on the Languages and Literature of Norway, Iceland, Sweden, and Finland, which was published in the

sixth number of the Vienna Johrbucher. From Russia he proceeded through Tartary into Persia, and resided for some time at Tauris, Teheran, Persepolis, and Schiraz. It is an instance of his remarkable facility for acquiring languages, that in six weeks time he was sufficiently master of Persian to be able to converse fluently with the natives. In 1820 he embarked at Abuschekr, in the Persian Gulf, for Bombay, during his residence in which he wrote (in English,) a Dissertation on the Authenticity and Antiquity of the Zend Las guage, addressed in the epistolary form to the Honourable Mountstuart Elphinstone, the governor, which was published in the Third Volume of the “Transac


tions of the Literary Society of Bombay." And it is probably this Dissertation, with corrections and additions, which we have understood is to appear in the ensuing Volume of the Transactions of the Royal Asiatic Society. From India his next stage was to Ceylon in 1822, where also he wrote (in English,) a Dissertation on the best Method of expressing the Sounds of the Indian Languages in European characters, which was printed in the “ Transactions of the Literary and Agricultural Society of Colombo.” Professor Rask arrived at Copenhagen in the beginning of May, 1823, after an absence of nearly seven years. He brought home with him a considerable collection of rare and curious oriental manuscripts, ancient Persian, Zend, Pali, Cingalese, &c. &c. and which now enrich the University and Royal Libraries of the Danish capital.

Since his return home, Professor Rask has published the following works in his native language:- Spanish Grammar, (1824,) an Italiun Grammar, a Frisic Grammar, * (1825,) a Treatise on the Ancient Egyptian Chronology, (1827,) on the Ancient Jewish Chronology previous to Moses, (1828,) Essay on Danish Orthography, (1828.) He also edited a new edition of Schneider's Danish Grammar for Englishmen, (1829,) and superintended the English translation of his Anglo-Saxon Grammar, (1830.) See p. 227, ante.

He had also been long engaged in the compilation of an Etymological Dictionary of the Danish language, in which he proposed to exhibit the important illustration which that and the collateral tongues of Europe may derive from a comparison with those of Asia. We have not heard in what state of forwardness he has left it.

In a former number of this Journal, with reference to Professor Rask's labours in the field of Icelandic literature, we took occasion to pay a just tribute of respect and admiration to bis extraordinary and multifarious acquirements. We think we cannot do better than now repeat a portion of what was so well said by our eloquent contributor.

“ No man ever existed whose study of language has been directed to a wider circle, and assuredly none who has made the structure of language so much the object of attention. He is the consummate comparative anatomist of philology, not building up his theories from the scattered fragments, gathered, as it were, by accident, but drawing his deductions from the most profound and elaborate research; and by comparison, comprehension, and exhaustion, throwing day-light on all those curious inquiries which have, for the most part, been feebly and ignorantly dealt with by the majority of critics. Not that Rask's writings have hitherto enabled the world to form any accurate estimate of his extraordinary learning. To have written the best Icelandic or Anglo-Saxon Grammar, to have tracked through Hebrew or hieroglyphic records the chronology of Egyptian kings, to have edited Eddas or Sagas, and have carried off prizes for Essays on this or the other limited inquiry-this-these-are little are nothing, compared to what he is capable of effecting. He is one of the very few men who can write on philology, having some sufficient acquaintance with the subject in its various bearings, who has seen with his own eyes, heard with his own ears, the tribes, the tongues, which cover the world's surface; who, if he has not girdled the whole earth, has at least explored those tracts in which so many nations were cradled; and who, travelling through all the East in the pursuit of philological knowledge, took with him him a mind so trained, and exercised, and cultured, that nothing could be wasted upon it."

See Foreign Quarterly Review, vol. iii. p. 607. In the Second Number of the Foreign Review there is an account of his Grammars, and in the 10th Number an article on Grimm's Teutonic Grammar and a work on the Danish Language, which we have reason to think were drawn up from his communications. In the Third Number of the same journal is a letter from him, signed Danus, containing remarks on some papers in a MS. of the Archæologia.

early life

In private life the character of Rask was such as to command admiration and respect. His manners were mild and gentle, though retiring, and his morals unimpeachable. His mode of living was simple in the extreme, his temperance that of a Sybarite. The habits of study and application which he had acquired in

were never thrown aside. In company he was diffident, and expressed himself with modesty; and when the subject involved any thing relative to his own history, sentiments, or pursuits, with an unwillingness almost amounting to morbid sensibility, which seemed to grow upon him with years. His facility in the acquisition of languages was extraordinary; he appeared to gain a knowledge of them almost intuitively, and his mind seemed to recollect rather than to learn. In 1822 he was master of no less than twenty-five languages and dialects. His knowledge of English was extensive and correct; he wrote and spoke it with such fluency and accuracy that every Englishman to whom he was introduced asked him how long he had been in England, considering, but erroneously, that such an acquaintance with the language could be gained only by a residence in our island. In personal appearance Rask was thin and spare, but well made; his habits of temperance, regularity, and exercise, had contributed to give him all the appearance of a very healthy man, and warranted the belief that he would live many years. He was capable of enduring much fatigue, and the privation of necessary rest; changes of climate seemed to produce no impression upon his feelings or his constitution, and the scorching sun of India, and the frosts of Iceland

were alike disregarded. But with all this apparent superiority to the weakness of our frame, he fell a victim to consumption, brought on, as it is believed, by those habits of intense application, and abstinence from proper nutriment, to which we have already alluded, and died at that period of life when the faculties of the human mind have little more than attained their maturity, leaving behind him a name which will not soon be forgotten.

FRANCE. M. DOUVILLE. The readers of the Foreign Quarterly Review will probably think that they have had enough of this author and his pretended travels in the interior of Africa. We take some credit to ourselves for being the first to detect and expose this audacious and barefaced forgery; our proofs were entirely deduced from the internal evidence of M. Douville's own work, without the slightest knowledge of his personal history: to our own minds these were irrefragable, and we have reason to believe that they have carried conviction to the majority of our readers. For the sake of those who still hesitate in crediting the possibility of so gross a fraud being attempted under such auspices, we have thought it right to give a translation of an article, which appeared in the Noveinber number of a clever Paris journal, the Revue des Deur Mondes. The details there given respecting the real history of this extraordinary traveller will be sufficient to set all doubts upon the subject at

The writer of it subscribes his name at length— Théodore Lacorduire. “ It is not without a feeling of pain that we pass from the noble and loyal labours of the Astrolabe* to those of a man whose name is destined, no doubt, to celebrity, but of a very different kind to that which he at present enjoys. We speak of M. Douville, and his pretended Travels to Congo. The extraordinary success which this work has obtained in France would be still in all its lustre, if a foreign review, the Foreign Quarterly Review, (No. XIX. August, 1832, pages 163–206), in an article partly re-produced in

* The Voyage round the World in the Astrolabe, by Captain Dumont d'Aurille reviewed in the previous part of the same article.


Le Temps, had not come to tear from the author's brows the crown which had been placed on them. Justice has, therefore, been done; but it has been only half-done; and not by the hand which ought to have administered it. The first accusing voice ought to have been raised in France, or rather was it not the duty of the learned bodies to whose approbation M. Douville submitted his labours, to put us on our guard against this mystification, which had been long in preparation, and was brought forward with an audacity of which there are few examples ? One of these bodies, the Société de Géographie, not satisfied with simple approbation, has loaded the author with its favours; the other, the Institute, to which M. Douville submitted the objects which he pretended to bave collected in Africa, recognized them to be American, and yet thought proper to be silent on a fact so important. We can, however, perfectly conceive the sentiment of disgust which has induced the honourable members of the latter body to be thus silent; and the respect which we bear to their forbids us froin all further remark. But as to the Société de Géographie, in spite of the personal respectability of each of its members, it must allow us to approve the severe reproaches addressed to it by the Foreign Quarterly Review ; it must settle thein as well it can with the author of the article. That which the latter has begun, we shall here endeavour to finish, by giving such particulars of M. Douville himself, who has been long known to us, as may serve to correct the biographical notice of him published in the Constitutionnel. At a time when the communications between all parts of the world are so multiplied, how could M. Douville venture to hopc that the facts which the reader is now to be informed of, could remain concealed? This is quite as incomprehensible as the errors with which his Travels abound.

“I was at Buenos Ayres in 1826 and 1827, at the period when the barbour of that city was blockaded by the Brazilian squadron, which prevented all communication by sea. About the middle of December, 1826, an enemy's ship of war was seen all of a sudden one morning steering direct towards the port, with a flag of truce hoisted. A report was immediately spread that this vessel was the bearer of propositions of peace; but the next day the journals announced that it had only come for the purpose of landing M. Douville, a naturalist sent out by the French government to explore the interior of South America. M. Douville was received by bis countryinen with the attention to which the mission with which he was believed to be intrusted, entitled him; and a few days after his arrival, Don Ramon Larrea, one of the principal merchants of the place, to whom he brought a letter of introduction, gave a grand entertainment in honour to him, to which twenty persons were invited, of whom I was one. I sat next to M. Douville at table. During the whole of the entertainment, he preserved a modest silence, rarely to be met with in travellers, and returned only evasive and polite replies to the various questions put to him by the guests.

“ Several Frenchmen sought the acquaintance of M. Douville, and received from him a number of vague details relative to his preceding voyages. It was quite wonderful the number and extent of the countries that this traveller had already gone through; nearly the whole of Europe, the Cape of Good Hope, India, Persia, South America, had been alternately the theatre of bis explorations. He had even penetrated, by land, froin the River of Amazons to the south of the Pampas of Buenos Ayres, where he had lived among the wild Indians who inhabit that district; but owing to a particular circumstance, he had never visited that city, notwithstanding the trifling distance which separated him from it during the course of this prodigious journey. No person acquainted with the country had ever heard of it, although M. Douville spoke of it as having taken place not long before. VOL. XI. NO, XXI.


One evening that he was talking of it at the house of M. Roberge, a druggist, where the better sort of Frenchmen settled at Buenos Ayres were in the habit of meeting, he was requested to mark upon a sheet of paper the principal points of the Argentine Republic, through which he must necessarily have passed. He attempted to do so; but, unluckily, he placed to the west what should have been to the east; to the north, what should have been to the south, and so on; blunders which appeared singular to be committed by a naturalist and a geographer. As for myself, I had received a visit some time before this from M. Douville, who was introduced to me by M. Dutilleul, formerly paymaster of the army in Spain, who has since settled at Buenos Ayres. His travels were naturally the subject of conversation; and he told me that he had gone over the track of M. de Humboldt, from the Oronoco to the River of Amazons. His memory stood him in bad stead ; the names of Aturès, Maypurès, Cassiquiare, &c., familiar to every one who has read the travels of M. de Humboldt, seemed to be quite unknown to him; and I was frequently obliged, in the course of conversation, to put an end to his hesitation by pronouncing the names myself.

“Shortly afterwards, several Frenchmen who came from Montevideo by land, brought us some additional information about M. Douville. From them we learned that he had arrived there about the middle of October, on board the Jules, Captain Decombe, which had sailed from Havre on the 7th of August, 1826. His conduct, during the passage, had been any thing but satisfactory; he was constantly complaining of the shabby way in which a man like him, who had been accustomed to sail in ships of war, was treated; and he was especially angry with the captain for having put into the hold, along with the other ship's cargo, a case which contained his instruments, the want of which, he said, prevented bim from making astronomical observations. On their arrival at Montevideo, the passengers' Juggage was examined at the Custom-house as usual : the precious case was opened; and, instead of instruments, was found to contain a porcelain tray, a good deal the worse for wear, and several other articles of the same kind. M. Douville took


quarters at the Fonda de las Cuatro Naciones (Hotel of the Four Nations), kept by a Frenchman of the name of Himonnet. This last, a good enough person at bottom, but rather rough in his manners, took it into his head one day that his guest was preparing to quit his house rather abruptly, and carried his impolitesse so far as to detain him in close confinement; but M. Cavaillon, French consul at Montevideo, succeeded in convincing him of his mistake. It was just after this affair that our traveller addressed a letter, in the name of the sciences, to Pinto Guedez, the Brazilian admiral, soliciting the favour of a passage on board a ship of war to Buenos Ayres, which the admiral immediately granted him.

“ It is hardly necessary to state the impression which this information produced on public opinion at Buenos Ayres. M. Douville, at first, appeared to be employed in some scientific researches, * but soon abandoned them for a more profitable occupation. He hired a small shop, situated in the Cathedral Street, No. 129, which he quitted shortly after for another in the Calle de la Piedad, No. 91; and there, under the firm of Douville and Laboissière, be sold books, paper, perfumery, crackers, and other articles of the same kind. The name of Laboissière was that of a female of rather ordinary appearance,

Among other interesting discoveries, M. Douville fancied one day that he had found lime-stone, a substance which is altogether wanting in the environs of Buenos Ayres, where its place is supplied by shells, which abound in many places. The specimen of this supposed calcareous substance, which he carried in triumph to Don Ramon Larrea, at whose house I saw it, was nothing but a piece of hardened clay, common in the country, where it is known by the name of tosca (sandstone.)

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