2. Language of the Sorabians in Lower Lusatia.
Lower Lusatia, or the north-eastern part of the Lusatian territory, together with the adjacent circle of Cotbus in Brandenburg, has about the same number of Vendish inhabitants as the upper province. The dialect they speak has a strong affinity with the Polish; but is, like that of their brethren in Upper Lusatia, corrupted by German interpolations, and even in a still greater degree. It is obviously on the decline; and we can only expect, that after the lapse of a hundred years or less, no other vestige of it will be left than written or printed documents.
The first book known to have been printed in this dialect, which is written according to a peculiar combination of the German letters, is Moeller’s Hymns, Catechism, and Liturgy, Bautzen 1574. Their present literature, like that of Upper Lusatia, is confined to works for religious instruction, grammars, and dictionaries. Of the former they possess no small number. They have also a complete version of the Bible. The New Testament was translated for them as early as 1709, by Fabricius, and printed together with the German text. It has been repeatedly reprinted; and in the year 1798 a translation of the Old Testament by Fritze was added.
[Footnote 1: Herder, in his Volkslieder, communicated a popular ballad from this dialect. See Literatur und Kunst, Vol. VII. p. 126, edit. of 1827-30.]
[Footnote 2: “On a certain day all the inhabitants of Kief were assembled on the banks of the Dnieper, and on a signal from the monarch, all plunged into the river, some to the waist, others to the neck; parents held their children in their arms while the ceremony was performed by the priests in attendance. Thus a nation received baptism, not only without murmuring, but with cheerfulness; for all were convinced that a religion, embraced by the sovereign and boyards, must necessarily be the best in the world” Foreign Quart. Review, Art. on Karamsin’s History of Russia, Vol. III. p. 160. Compare Henderson’s Travels in Russia, p. 191.]