Libmonster ID: VN-706
Author(s) of the publication: A. Samarin

Alexander SAMARIN, Cand. Sc. (History), Moscow State University of the Press

The lifework of the great Russian savant Mikhail Lomonosov (1711- 1765) excites interest even in our age. We seem to know all about this man of humble origin raised in the backwoods of the Far North who became a big-name scientist and scholar. And yet... Looking into the life-path of the first Russian Academician, we may be in for ever new discoveries and surprises. Or "blank spots"...

One such blank spot was Mikhail Lomonosov's largest work on history - Old Russian History, which he undertook in the 1750s and completed the first version of the text in the middle of 1758. In September of that year there followed an imprimatur-a sanction to have this book go to press at the Science Academy's printing- office in a print of 2,400. Soon after, the proof-sheets of the first three quires were sent to the author. But then something untoward happened: on 8 March 1759 Lomonosov withdrew his manuscript and suspended the printing of the book. This is how the savant articulated his decision, "I do not intent to have this here book printed the way it has been, with both the notes and the abbreviations in the margin; I shall have the addenda placed at the back. Readers, as I judge, would not benefit from the muddle that I have noticed in the press. So, one solid text should be set up with the authors cited in the margins."

The type-setting of the amended text was begun in 1763, and this work went on in the next two years, and was not completed by the time of the author's death in 1765. Sergei Peshtich, an authority on Russian historiography, does not think that "technical reasons alone were to blame for such procrastination... Lomonosov must have been dissatisfied both with the format and with the content. His work on materials meant for Voltaire, who wanted a broad panorama of the economic and cultural life of the Russian Empire under Peter the Great, probably induced the author to revise his book." The new edition was off the press in 1766, that is a year after Lomonosov's death. However, the text was not supplemented with the addenda which the author had wished to have at the end of the book-perhaps because initially he had visualized it in many volumes. This conjecture is confirmed by the variant readings: in one part of the print the last page is furnished with the note "End of the Second Part", while in the other there is only one word, "End", i.e. the end of the book. Quite recently Andrei Voznesensky, while working in the library of St. Petersburg University, discovered a third version of the Old Russian

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History published in 1766 and prefaced with a foreword by Academician August Schlozer (we had known nothing about this preface before).

But back to the quires of the first edition. We learn about their subsequent fate from a memo penned in 1765 by Artemy Lykov, a factor of the Academy's printing-house: "The Russian History by the late Councillor of State Mr. Lomonosov went to press in keeping with the order of the year 1758, the 30th day of October; the run [print] of that History was printed on Alexandrine in 25, and on Lubeck sheets * , in 2,400 copies. By 8 March 1759 only three quires, А, Б, В, had been off. By the order of the year 1763, the 11th day of March, the type-setting and printing of the aforementioned History was recommenced, and the three quires that had been printed before were destroyed." Well, once the circulation of the first three signatures was destroyed, no one would search for them-not a single copy could have survived. For this reason the edition of 1758 was not among the wanted list of the 18th century press. One couldn't care less.

But those who did care and show interest could only surmise about the substance of those three quires. For instance, Dmitry Babkin has attempted to reconstruct the original setup of the book as follows: "It was composed of three elements: the main text and two series of notes. The first one, containing reference to the citations in the text, was in the form of a column in both side margins, out of keeping with the type-set format; the other series of notes, meant for the 'elucidation' of obscure facts of history and making a critical evaluation of the documents cited, was set up in small print in the form of footnotes."

In 1997 the author of the present article was fortunate enough to locate the "lost" Lomonosov edition in the library of the Russian State Archives of Old Acts, RGADA. Yours truly went there to look into the readership of Lomonosov's historical writings. It was a laborious dig, a job of work: to cull some evidence on those who had acquired the great savant's first works I had to examine all of his works still in custody, copy by copy, page by page. In this wise I perused the 18th-century copies of The Brie/Russian Chronicler and Old Russian History at major libraries of Moscow and St. Petersburg. I paid special attention to the markings left by the owners and readers of those books, to the seals, stamps, impresses, book-plates and other proofs of ownership. In a nutshell, it was a dull, monotonous job. But then a lucky break at RGADA: working in its reading-room, I hit upon a copy that had four

* Alexandrine, Lubeck - here, brands of paper. - Ed.

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uncut quires-incomplete and unbound. The library's catalogue listed it as a fragment of the 1766 edition. Here's what I noticed upon closer scrutiny: the first three quires, lettered in Cyrillic А, Б, В (pages 1 -24), differed considerably from the 1766 print: they had both the comments in the side margins and the footnotes. Besides, the initials and artwork were unlike those used on the corresponding pages of the Old Russian History published in 1766. Considering all that, I came to the conclusion that those were the quires of the original edition of Lomonosov's book-the ones thought to be lost. The fourth quire dovetailed with the corresponding pages (57-64) of the 1766 print and must have been added later.

As it turned out, the 1758 edition was in four structural parts, not three, as it was believed previously: namely-the main text, subtitles in the side margins (what Lomonosov called "abbreviations in the margin"), and also two kinds of footnotes. Some, marked with Russian letters, are actually references to the cited sources; in the 1766 print they were moved to the side margins. The others, numbered by Arabic numerals, are the author's extensive commentaries on various historical happenings.

Besides, the juxtaposition of the two editions according to content shows that the principal text was not subjected to any major amendments during the second type-setting. For the most part, there were instances of minor style- editing: in some sentences the word order was changed, and one or two words added or deleted...

The subtitles in the margin ("box-heads" in a printer's jargon), taken out of the 1766 edition, call attention to the key points of the narration; and here are some of these run-on titles: The Slavs and the Child'; The Sarmatians and the Scythians; Augmentation of the Slavs; The Chud' Recedes; Varangians, Rossi; The Slavonic Language in Russia; The Intermixing of Peoples Not a Vice; The Present Slav Generations; A Slavic Multitude in Europe and Asia; A Slavic Multitude in the Rurik Age; Old Slavonic Townships and Torg,and so forth.

Of special interest are twenty footnotes marked up by Arabic numerals and not known before. Collating the main text in both versions, we found that twenty-four pages of the 1758 edition concurred only with sixteen pages of the 1766 print. The author's commentaries took up nearly eight pages of the text that was off the press in 1758; in them Lomonosov enlarged on sundry matters dealt with in the main text.

Now, what new do we learn about the savant's thoughts on the history of Old Rus? The first two footnotes comment on the Slav tribes ousting the Chud' people (in modern lingo, the Finno-Ugrian tribes) from its territory. Lomonosov alludes to "The Life of the Reverend Avramy, the Archimandrite of Rostov, October 29". In his second commentary the author cites Russian words borrowed from Finnish. And he also cites Russian words borrowed by the

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Finns and other nationalities. "Russian locutions are much in use not only amongst the borderline Finns, but also with those living closer to Sweden, e.g., Rospuutos, meaning rosputitsa, or 'freshet'." Lomonosov indicated the source of this information, the Finnish Lexiconcompiled by the Swedish man of letters Daniel Juslenius. In all likelihood, the Russian scholar meant Fennici Lexici Tentamen (Stockholm, 1745). So far there has been no evidence of Lomonosov being familiar with the works of Juslenius.

Our perusal of the 1758 copy enabled us to clarify the sources used by the author and gain new pieces of evidence about the very conception of the work. In his notes Lomonosov gives much attention to comparative study of different languages. To prove that Kurlanders (Letts) were part of the Slavic tribes, Lomonosov in his fourth footnote devotes two pages to comparing nouns, verbs, pronouns and numerals of the Lettish (Latvian) and Russian languages; he refers to the first print of the Lettish Grammar by Heinrich Adolfi (Mitawa, 1685). A copy of this Grammar that belonged to Lomonosov was found in the Helsinki University library and, among other books from his private collection, was donated by the Finnish side to the library of the USSR Academy of Sciences in 1978. Margarita Kukushkina and Irina Lebedeva, two scholars competent on this subject, believe Lomonosov must have been studying Adolfi's book during his work on The Russian Grammar. Another and more valid conjecture comes from two other scholars, Yelena Kulyabko and Yevgeni Beshenkovsky: Adolfi's Grammar has a direct connection with the Lomonosov theory of the Slavic descent of the Varangians-Rossi. The hand-written notes made by Lomonosov in the margins of Adolfi's book show that most of the linguistic correspondences he noted were included in the fourth commentary of the 1758 edition of the Old Russian History.

In his fifth commentary Lomonosov sought to prove that the Prussians and the Mecklenburg Venedi had common roots with the Slavs, certain language differences notwithstanding. He cites the text of the Lord's Prayer (Our Father...) in the "Venedian" language from the third edition of Johann Leonard Frisch's book The History of the Slavonic Language that was off the press in several installments in German late in the 1720s and early 1730s. Our historiography knew nothing about Lomonosov's acquaintance with this book either.

Searching for Slavic roots among different tribes, Lomonosov borrows bits of evidence from such authors as Georgy Kedrin (11th-12th centuries), Hehlmold (12th century), and Erpold Lindenborg (16th-early 17th centuries). We see all that in the sixth, seventh and eighth commentaries. Thus, mentioning the Slav town of Wmneta in the mouth of the Oder (Odra), Lomonosov cites Hehlmold in the eighth footnote (Book I, Chapter I): "The river Odra, coursing towards the North, flows amidst the Venedian peoples; in the estuary of that river where it empties into the Baltic Sea is the notable town of Wmneta, a glorious refuge for the Barbarians and Greeks of the locality. That town used to be larger than the other ones in Europe, and in it Slavs lived together with other peoples, the Greeks and the Barbarians alike. The incoming Saxons, too, enjoyed the same freedom of living in it, once they did not unfold themselves as Christians. For up until the destruction of the town

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its residents erred in idolatry. Still, they were without example in their aboveboard and upright morals. That city was plentiful in merchandise and had what was delicious and rare. The vestiges of that ancient town are still there."

In the opening lines of the third chapter of his book On the Antiquity of the Slavonic People Lomonosov elaborates on the ancient roots of that people's history and language. "Peoples do not originate from names; but names are given to peoples. Some bear names common with their neighbors; others get a name from aliens, and go by such names that may look odd and strange to the natives," says Lomonosov in the main text. He dwells on this thought in the eleventh footnote. "The former case is exemplified by the Italians, Dutch, Swedes and other peoples who carry the same name both within and without their homeland, though some vicinal nations may use a different name for them. But on the other hand, we call Germans Nemtsi * , and Chukhontsi ** name us Venedians, and the Kurlanders call us Krivichi *** , that is names that the natives do not use amongst themselves... The third example are the Lyakhi, ancient Gauls and Britons, who are now named Poles, French and English, respectively. And the fourth instance are the Slavs and Swedes. These domestic names of theirs, now abroad, have effaced the names of Sarmatians and Scandinavians formerly called thus by foreign men of letters."

In the twelfth commentary, Lomonosov points to the abundance of Slavonic names in ancient Asia Minor; he cites Ovid, Martial and Homer in Greek and Latin, and offers his translations of their texts and his interpretations. Next he adds an extensive quotation from the work of the Greek geographer Strabo to prove his point.

Seeking to augment the Slavic people's age, Lomonosov turns to the Bible. Here's what he writes in the principal text: "I see no ground either to accept or negate Mosokh, Noah's grandson, the forefather of the Slavonian people." And he adds in the thirteenth commentary, "Mosokh in the Russo-Slavonic bible (Ezekiel, 38) is called the Ross prince: yet this is dubious, lest there should be no error in the translation. Bochart, in the third book on the confusion of tongues, translates this place in Ezekiel as the Chief Prince Ross, Meshech and Tubal. But the vulgar Latin translation of the bible (vulgata editio) has it: Chief Priest Meshech and Tubal. Consistent with that is the Chaldean translation; so is Hieronymus of Aquil; but the Septuagint, Symmach and the Bishop agree with the former (Socrates in church history, Book 7, Ch. 43)."

Looking for "Slavonic names" in ancient geographers, Lomonosov has this to say in the main text: "Signs of the ancient Slavonian name are apparent, firstly, in Ptolemy by the appellative Stawan beyond the hills of the Dnieper at the river Turunt, within the present Novgorodian confines." And in his nineteenth commentary Lomonosov alludes to the second volume of the work of the German historian and philologist Christopher Cellarius and expands on this passage of the main text, "The idea about ancient lands, or complete geography, explaining the face of the terrestrial compass from the beginnings of Rome to the times of Constantine: Turunt... is the river Velikaya that at Pskov empties into Lake Chudskoe and through it by the Narova into the Gulf of Finland flowing."

So, the first three signatures of Lomonosov's Old Russian History (the 1758 edition) shed light on the author's original plan for his chief work on our native history and add to our knowledge of the sources used.

Well and good, but how did that copy turn up at the RGADA library? After all, the total print was said to be destroyed in the printing-office. Now, this library is one of the oldest book repositories in this country, it was founded way back in the latter half of the seventeenth century by the Ambassadorial prikaz (Russia's Foreign Office). At a later date the RGADA library expanded its stock through private collections and libraries of such men as Nikolai Bantysh- Kamensky, Fyodor Mazurin and other erudites. Of special interest is the book collection of Academician Gerard Miller which RGADA acquired in 1782. In the initial post-revolutionary years after October 1917 the books of this collection dissolved in the common stock. One of our researchers, Svetlana Dolgova, has done a good deal toward the partial restitution of Miller's book collection; and in the process of this work she discovered quite rare editions of Lomonosov's writings published still in his lifetime. One of them is a eulogy addressed to Empress Elizaveta Petrovna (Elizabeth), daughter of the late Emperor Peter the Great, on the occasion other birthday On that day, 19 December 1754, the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences met in a special session at which "the Councillor of State and Professor of Chemistry Mikhailo Lomonosov... delivered a word of praise..." According to Svetlana Dolgova, Academician Miller could get this text thanks to his special status of the Conference Secretary of the Science Academy. And so by virtue of this position he could take galley proofs of the 1758 edition of Lomonosov's Old Russian History for Ms private reading, the more so that Academician Miller, as a historian, was closely involved with Russian history. Naturally enough, he was curious and eager to read Lomonosov's History before it saw print. As Academician Yakov Stellin says, this work went to press in the autumn of 1758, without preliminary reading and approval. A sub rosa imprimatur came from the Academy's president. It is quite possible that the first three quires of the History were left among Academician Miller's books.

* Nemtsi - verbally, "mute", i.e. not knowing another people's language. Cf. the Swedish tysk, tyska, which means exactly the same with reference to Germans. - Tr.

** Chukhontsi - old Russian name for the Finns. - Tr.

*** Krivichi - one of the Slavic tribes in Eastern Europe. - Tr .


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