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to ours, and that the researches of M. Sona NERAT, whom the court of Versailles employed for seven years in these climates, merely to collect such materials as we are seeking, may kindle, instead of abating, our own curiosity and zeal. If you assent, as I flatter myself you do, to these opinions, you will also concur in promoting the object of them; and a few ideas having presented themselves to my mind, I presume to lay them before you, with an entite submission to your judgement.
No contributions, except those of the literary kind, will be requisite for the support of the society; but, if each of us were occasionally to contribute a succinct description of such manuscripts as he had perused or inspected, with their dates and the names of their owners, and to propose for solution such questions as had occurred to him concerning Asiatick Art, Science, and History, natural or civil, we should possess without labour, and almost by imperceptible degrees, a fuller catalogue of Oriental books, than has hitherto been exhibited, and our correspondents would be apprised of those points, to which we chiefly direct our investigations. Much 'may, I am confident, be expected from the communications of learned natives, whether lawyers, physicians, or private scholars, who would eagerly, on the first invitation, send us their Mekámát
and Risalahs on a variety of subjects ; some for the sake of advancing general knowledge, but most of them from a desire, neither uncommon nor unreasonable, of attracting notice, and recommending themselves to favour. view to avail ourselves of this disposition, and to bring their latent science under our inspection, it might be advisable to print and circulate a short memorial, in Persian and Hindi, setting forth, in a style accommodated to their own habits and prejudices, the design of our institution; nor would it be impossible hereafter, to give a medal annually, with inscriptions in Persian on one side, and on the reverse in Sanscrit, as the prize of merit, to the writer of the best essay or dissertation. To instruct others is the prescribed duty of learned Brahmans, and, if they be men of substance, without reward; but they would all be lattered with an honorary mark of distinction; and the Mabomedans have not only the permission, but the positive command, of their law-giver, to search for learning even in the remoteft parts of the globe. It were superfluous to fuggeft, with how much correctness and facility their compositions might be translated for our use, since their languages are now more generally and perfectly understood than they have ever been by any nation of Europe.
I have detained you, I fear, too long by this address, though it has been my endeavour to reconcile comprehensiveness with brevity: the subjects, which I have lightly sketched, would be found, if minutely examined, to be inexhaustible; and, since no limits can be set to your researches but the boundaries of Asia itself, I may not improperly conclude with wishing for your fociety, what the Commentator on the Laws, prays for the constitution, of our country, that IT MAY BE PERPETUAL.
DELIVERED 2 FEBRUARY, 1786.
IN the former discourses, which I had the honour of addressing to you, Gentlemen, on the institution and objects of our Society, I confined myself purposely to general topicks; giving in the first a distant prospect of the vast career, on which we were entering, and, in the second, exhibiting a more diffuse, but still fuperficial, sketch of the various discoveries in History, Science, and Art, which we might justly expect from our inquiries into the literature of Asia. I now propose to fill up that outline so comprehensively as to omit nothing essential, yet fo concisely as to avoid being tedious; and, if the state of my health shall suffer me to continue long enough in this climate, it is my design, with
your permission, to prepare for our annual meetings a series of short dissertations, unconnected in their titles and subjects, but all tending to a common point of no fmall importance in the pursuit of interesting truths.
Of all the works, which have been published in our own age, or, perhaps, in any other, on the History of the Ancient World, and the first population of this habitable globe, that of Mr. JACOB BRYANT, whom I name with reverence and affection, has the best claim to the praife of deep erudition ingeniously applied, and new theories happily illustrated by an assemblage of numberless converging rays from a most extenfive circumference: it falls, nevertheless, as every human work must fall, short of perfection; and the least satisfactory part of it seems to be that, which relates to the derivation of words from Afiatick languages. Etymology has, no doubt, some use in historical researches ; but it is a medium of proof so very fallacious, that, where it elucidates one fact, it obscures a thousand, and more frequently borders on the ridiculous, than leads to any folid conclusion: it rarely carries with it
internal power of conviction from a resemblance of sounds or similarity of letters ; yet often, where it is wholly unassisted by those advantages, it
may be indisputably proved by extrinfick evidence. We know à pofteriori, that both fitz and hijo, by the nature of two several dialects, are derived from filius; that uncle comes from avus, and stranger from extra ; that jour