SAMUEL BOGUMIŁ LINDE (1771-1847)
Eminent linguist, bibliographer and educator, author of the famous six-volume Dictionary of the Polish Language.
He was born April 24, 1771, in Toruń, in not very wealthy bourgeois family. His father – master locksmith, John Jacobson Lindt, who settled in Toruń around 1749, was a Swede by birth, whereas his mother, Barbara Anna, was the daughter of German stonemason J.A. Langenban, who came to Toruń from German Coburg around 1730.
Samuel Bogumił grew up in the atmosphere of spreading and confrontation of religions, languages and cultures. He began learning in Szkoła Nowomiejska, and since 1783, the Academic Gymnasium in Toruń, whose Enlightenment tradition fundamentally influenced development of his interest in linguistics, also in the Polish language. In his autobiographical statements, he repeatedly expressed gratitude towards this school and spoke nostalgically of its professors.
After early death of his father, only with the help of his brother John William – Polish and German preacher in Gdańsk, young Linde won a scholarship and started studying in Leipzig (1789). The official field of study was theology, but Linde's interests focused on the philological science. As early as 1791, with the support of his professors, philologists A. W. Ernesto and J. A. Dathe, he took the vacant post of teacher of Polish language at the University of Leipzig. In the efforts to receive the job, he declared Polish as the mother language and attached statement of praise from pastor Jan Jezewiusz, the then teacher of Polish language from Toruń.
When, after the lost Polish-Russian war in 1792, Leipzig and Dresden became the centres of emigration of creators and defenders of the Constitution of May 3, Linde was the co-worker of Polish politicians. He translated The Return of the Deputy of J. U. Niemcewicz into German and prepared the German version of the work On the Establishment and Collapse of the Constitution of May 3, compiled by the leaders in exile to promote struggle for independence. He actively joined in the preparations for the Kościuszko Uprising, alongside Hugo Kołłątaj. After collapse of the uprising, despite departure from political activity, Linde continued to move in the circles of Polish intellectual elite (I. Potocki, A. K. Czartoryski, T. Czacki).
In the years 1795-1803, thanks to the patronage of J. M. Ossoliński, he was occupied with intensive linguistic and librarian work. He collected and compiled collections of the later Ossolineum, one of the best Polish libraries of the nineteenth century. Under the supervision of Ossoliński, learned aristocrat and erudite, he began to prepare for the compilation of dictionary by thoroughly familiarizing himself with the history of Polish writing and linguistics.
In 1804, Linde was entrusted with the position of vice-chancellor in the created Warsaw Lyceum, the most important school in the capital deprived of university under the Prussians. Thus began the longest, more than forty-year period of Linde's life (1804-1847), filled with intensive educational activity as the vice-chancellor of the Lyceum, public activity and continuation of the work on the dictionary. In the period of the Congress Poland, Linde organized and directed the Public Library, serving as the National Library. He was a member and then a director of the Board of Education, which controlled educational affairs of the Duchy of Warsaw, and at the time was keenly interested in the fate of the gymnasium in Toruń. He worked in educational authorities of the Polish Kingdom and directed education in the era of the November Uprising. In 1835, he retired from public service and devoted himself to scientific work.
His personal life was filled with the atmosphere of raw Lutheran religion. In 1804, he married Ludwika Bürger, and after her death, Louise Nusbaum. Both wives came from Warsaw Lutheran community in which Linde played a significant role. Linde's daughter, Ludwika Górecka (1815-1900), was a social activist and philanthropist, founder of the Academy of Learning Award in Kraków for the best works in the field of linguistics.
The rich and varied academic achievements of S. B. Linde consists of bibliographic and dictionary works, treatises on linguistics and writing, translations and editorial works. He was the author of the multi-volume bibliography o Bibliotheca Polonica. He went down in history primarily as the author of the monumental Dictionary of the Polish Language, published in the years 1807-1814 in 6 volumes, and for the second time, between 1854 and 1860, after the death of Linde, as the “improved and multiplied” issue. It was an epoch-making masterpiece, the greatest dictionary of the Polish language in terms of size, which had over 4600 large-format pages within 6 volumes, containing 60 thousand entries with 200 thousand quotes. In Europe at the time, this work was second to none in terms of richness of lexicographic material and served as a model for other Slavic language dictionaries.
Linde's achievements were known all over Europe. For his hard work and perseverance, he was admitted as a member by numerous scientific societies in, among others, Warsaw, Prague, St. Petersburg, Göttingen, Berlin, Königsberg, Paris and Copenhagen. He was an honorary member of the university of Vilnius and Krakow, he lectured at the University of Warsaw. In 1844, he received the diploma of freeman of the city of Toruń.
He died on August 8, 1847, in Warsaw and is buried in the local evangelical cemetery.