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misdeed. When the news of the execution of Hus reached the Bohemian court, King Venceslas said: “ They ought not to have treated him in this manner as he had a safe-conduct." The king also expressed great indignation at the behaviour of the Bohemian priests, who by their false accusations and depositions had greatly contributed to the condemnation of Hus.1 The Bohemian people never forgave Sigismund, “ the dragon of the apocalypse,” as they called him, his treachery, and this feeling contributed largely to the intense bitterness and cruelty of the Hussite wars.
It is needless to say that during the last painful months of his life Hus had little time for literary activity. Except a few minor treatises, there belong to this period only a large number of letters. I have already copiously, though not, I think, in consideration of their value, too copiously quoted these letters.
‘ Scriptores mum Bahemicarum, ed. Palacky, vol. iii. pp. 20—21.
WHILE the great part that Hus played as a church-reformer is widely known, his great importance as a Bohemian patriot is almost unknown beyond the borders of his native land. Many Bohemians who are firm adherents of the Roman Church therefore feel great sympathy for Hus, admiring not only his saintly character, but also his devotion to his country and its language, to the development of which he so largely contributed. As has already been mentioned, Husinec, the birthplace of the great churchreformer, lies in a district in Western Bohemia which is near the Bavarian frontier and where the German nationality marches with the Bohemian one. No doubt, in consequence of this proximity, the national feeling is very strongly developed in this part of the country. Though little is known of his early youth, it is certain that Hus was brought up as a strong Bohemian patriot. Though so saintly a man as Hus was incapable of hatred of Germans or of men of any country, the injustice of the system which placed in the hands of foreigners—mostly men hostile to the Bohemian nation—most of the dignities of the university and the largest part of the ecclesiastical patronage, filled him with great and justifiable indignation. In one of his earliest sermons, which has already been mentioned,1 Hus spoke Very strongly on the humiliating and subordinate position of the Bohemians in their own country. Like the Bohemian patriots of all periods—for they have retained this characteristic up to the present day—Hus was devotedly attached to the national language. The constant contact with Germany and the fact that many Bohemians, particularly nobles, married German wives, always endangered the purity of the Bohemian language, and furthered the introduction of many 1 See p. 68.
German words. Skilfully seeking an analogy in the records of the Old Testament, Hus has enlarged on this subject in one of his most characteristic sermons.l “ It is written," he says, " in the book of the good Nehemiah: 2 ‘ I saw Jews that had married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab: and their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews language, but according to the language of each people. And I contended with them, and cursed them, and smote certain of them, and beheaded some. I cursed them in the name of God, saying, Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for yourselves. I said: Did not Solomon King of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel; nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin. Shall we then being disobedient commit a mortal sin, and transgressing against our God marry strange wives? ’
" You see then that this good priest (Nehemiah) forbade the Jews to marry heathen women, even if they accepted their faith, and that for two reasons: firstly, that these women should not lead them away from God and to idols, as they led Solomon, that king beloved of God and wise; secondly, that the Hebrew language should not perish. Thus he (Nehemiah) says that he heard children who knew not even Hebrew, but spoke in a half-heathen speech. And therefore he smote them badly, whipped them, and the men he slew. Thus also should the princes, lords, knights, patricians, citizens prevent their people from committing unchastity, and particularly adultery. They should not permit this, but should whip them and beat them—I will not say slay them, though this holy man beheaded them; for in later times Christ the merciful king would not allow the adultress to be immediately sentenced to death. Thus also should we behave that the Bohemian language perish not. If a Bohemian marries a German, the children must immediately learn Bohemian and not divide their speech in two (speak partly Bohemian, partly German). For this division causes but jealousy, dissension, anger, and quarrels. Therefore did the Emperor Charles, King of Bohemia, of holy memory, order the citizens of Prague to teach their children Bohemian, to speak it, and to plead at law in Bohemian in the town hall, which the Germans call ‘ Rothaus.’ And just as Nehemiah, when he heard Jewish children speaking partly in the speech of Ashdod, and not knowing Hebrew (well), whipped them and beat them, thus would those citizens of Prague deserve a whipping, as well as those other Bohemians whose speech is half Bohemian and half German—men who use such German words as Hantuch, Knedlik, Shorz, Hauszknecht.1 And who can describe how greatly they have confused (rendered unintelligible) the Bohemian language? Therefore a true Bohemian who listens to them, and hears them speak, understands not what they say. Thence spring ill-will, envy, dissensions, quarrels, and dishonour to Bohemia."
1 Vyklad desalera Boziho prikazame (Exposrtion of God's Ten Commandments), Erben’s edition of Hus's Bohemian works, vol. i. chap. iv. pp. 132—133.
' Nehemiah, chapter xiii. 23—27. Hus's quotation differs slightly from the English version of the gospel.
This curious passage shows how strongly developed the feeling of racial antipathy between Bohemians and Germans was at the beginning of the fifteenth century. How fully Hus felt with his countrymen is proved by the fact that so pious and kind-hearted a man did not hesitate, following the example of the Hebrew prophet, to place the marrying of a foreign wife on the same level as the most heinous sins. How little the popular feeling among the Bohemians has changed in the period of nearly five centuries that divides us from the time of Hus is proved by the fact that almost all political interest in Bohemia in the present day centres in the “ question of languages,” the Sprachenfrage, as the Germans call it.
Hus’s endeavours to strengthen and develop his native language were, however, by no means limited to the purely negative task
I I have preserved Hus's spelling of the one or two German words given above. The Bohemian language is so little known in England that it would be useless to translate this passage in full. Hus gives a. list of Bohemian words, and adds the corrupted word derived from the German which had taken its place in popular parlance.
of opposing the encroachments of the German tongue. He well knew that his own language, to become exclusively the language of the state and of the scholars of Bohemia, required development and improvement in many respects; even as regards such elementary matters as orthography great disorder prevailed; no generally accepted rules existed. In the scanty written documents and in the language of the people there still remained many traces of the differe t dialects from which the Bohemian language originally sprangéiius first attempted to establish a universally recognised written anguage for the whole extensive district—including Moravia and Silesia as well as Bohemia proper—in which the Bohemian language is spoken. He first attempted a task in which the revivers of the Bohemian tongue in the nineteenth century were finally and definitely successful.1 These men were indeed greatly indebted to Hus, as well as later to the writers of the Bohemian brotherhood. While residing at Prague Hus had already directed his attention to the improvement of his native language. The result of these studies was his Orthografihia Bohemica, which probably dates from the year 1411.2 The Bohemians had, in distinction from many other Slavic races, adopted the Latin characters, which are inadequate to render many sounds peculiar to Slavic speech. Many different attempts had been made to obviate this “ anarchy of spelling "—as Dr. Flajshans calls it— which resulted from this inability. Hus, however, was the first who in his work that has just been mentioned, introduced the diacritic signs which in a modified form are still used in the Bohemian language. During the period in which he studied and afterwards lectured at the university Hus had generally spoken and written in Latin. When he was an exile, no longer in close contact with his university, but had, on the other hand, many opportunities of hearing the common talk of the country people to whom he preached, he devoted yet more attention to his native language. The earlier Bohemian writers, even Stitny, had written
1 See my History of Bohemian Literature. I ' Flajshans, Literami cinnost M istm jana H us: (Literary Activity of Master John Hus), pp. 7475.