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THE convenience and gratification of that extensive portion of the British Public, which either at home or abroad is connected with our Indian dominions, have been the objects pursued in the projection and conduct of the ASIATIC JOURNAL.
It was obvious, that while the East-Indies opened to every British reader, and especially to every one immediately interested in its concerns, the widest field of useful and liberal information, there was much which could only be explored and detailed in a work expressly devoted to those objects.
To be a faithful register of Indian Occurrences, whether national or individual, is the first aim of the Asiatic Journal; and amid the variety of items belonging to this department, Appointments, Births, Marriages, Deaths, &c. are regularly inserted, down to the latest dates received.
A second feature of this Journal, still more peculiar to itself, because still more incompatible with the plan of any other, is the insertion of the most faithful verbatim reports of Debates at the East-India House, taken in short-hand for these pages. To the value of these it must be needless to call the attention of any of those individuals who are personally engaged in British Indian affairs, or whose attention is awakened to them. This department of the work alone, it is confidently presumed, must at once entitle it to patronage.
New and interesting Information concerning the Countries and their Inhabitants with which the Progress of our Trade, our Unavoidable Wars, and our Political Transactions, are hourly bringing us more, or the first time, acquainted, forms a natural and inviting addition to the contents of these pages; while the precious and inexhaustible field of Oriental Literature presents itself as intimately allied to this branch of our pursuits. Connected also, with this consideration, is the British progress in Asiatic Languages and Learning, and the Institutions in England and India for their promotion.
Under a Commercial aspect, it would be superfluous to call the attention of the reader to a work in which the Trade of India, China, and the Indian Dependencies, must always be an object of prominent regard.
The progress of Christian Missions in India (a pursuit so zealously engaged in at the present day) is also recorded in this work; while its pages are at the same time open to a beral and candid discussion of the different opinions entertained upon that subject.
With contents thus various, and (it is ventured to be said) thus attractive, the first volume of the Asiatic JOURNAL is now presented to the public. Encouraged by the warm approbation they have received, the Proprietors are proceeding cheerfully and zealously in their arrangements for its future progress, anxious to improve as they advance. In the meantime, they take the liberty of concluding this preface to their first volume, with an earnest request in favour of their future labours namely, that they may be honoured by the frequent correspondence of their friends both in England and in India.
Among the principal and particular features of the present volume may be mentioned the history of the late war in Candy, the history of the late war in Nipal, with various geographical descriptions belonging to that country ; several articles on the geography, history and antiquities of Java and the Eastern Islands, and a highly interesting abstract of Dr. Ainslie's account of his mission to Japan. For what is produced on these latter topics, the Asiatic JOURNAL is principally indebted to the active and intelligent pen of Mr. Rafiles, Governor of the island of Java, and President of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Batavia.
Among lighter articles may be particularized the Chinese tale of San-Yu-Low, translated by J. F. Davis, Esq. of the Hon. Company's China Establishment.
Upon subjects of science, the reader will not fail to distinguish Dr. Ainslie's important paper on the use of Balsam of Peru, in the cure of ulcers, and Dr. Horsefield's experiments and observations on the poisons of the Antshar and Tshettic, species of the vegetable poisons of Java.
To the Editor of the Asiatic Journal. SIR-I am anxious to draw your the existing practice, that from the earliest attention to a subject of the 10th of October in the same year, liveliest importance, not only to letters going to and from India are the great multitude of individuals withdrawn from the former channels concerned, but even, as I think, to of the East-India House and prio some of the highest interests of the vate hands, and brought entirely state. I refer to the late regula- within the cognizance of the Post tions concerning the conveyance of Office; where a postage of sixpence letters to and from India. At the a sheet, over and above the amount time of my leaving Calcutta, pub- usually charged on its transmission lic feeling was much excited at that inland, is to be paid. On letters inplace, by a view of the inevitable tended to be sent from England to consequences of the new system; her Eastern possessions, a duty of and considerable hopes were enter. one-third of the rates payable on tained of an early remedy through the supposition of their being con. the means of the efforts known to veyed by regular packet-boats, is to have been already made in London. be paid, before the post-mark is Your natural wish to render your stamped upon them. They are then publication, at every opportunity, to be put into a bag, and delivered serviceable to the interests of In- to persons authorized to forwarddia and its connections at home, them, according to their supertogether with the near approach of scriptions, in private vessels. Severe · the meeting of Parliament, lead me penalties are to be levied on sending to hope that you will lose no time or carrying letters without the offiin contributing your aid to the re- cial post-mark; and the officers of moval of the evil complained of. His Majesty's Customs are required
According to the notification of to search all ships for packets which the Postmaster-General, of the 17th may be found on board, contrary of September 1814, purporting to to the provisions of the Act. be founded on an Act of Parlia. From the foregoing statement it ment of the then late session, it is will be seen, that under the terms Asiatic Journ.No. I.
VOL. I. B
of the law, no letters of any de. culpability on the part of masters scription, not even one of intro or mates of vessels, it must necesduction, can henceforth be carried sarily be supposed, that these latter, to India, without previously paying on the arrival of their respective a heavy tax. The hardship on the vessels, will naturally attend first side of the subject, and the impolicy to their own concerns, and thus on that of the government, can often neglect the early delivery of need only to be described, in order the bags in their care ; and, furto their being universally acknow. ther, that intimidated by the seveledged.
rity of the penalty attached to a Let us touch, for a moment, on transgression of the law, they will the hardship,-it is not too much to refuse to burden themselves with say—the injustice to the subject. packets, the conveyance of small The postage, heretofore, levied on personal benefit. letters transmitted by the regular The hardship of this additional packets has never been objected to, postage, for which nothing is perbecause the public were satisfied, formed, is the more serious, as that that the security and dispatch at which is really paid for service done tendant on this mode of convey must unavoidably remain as it was. ance were amply repaid by what The Company has been accustomed might then have been named the to levy a ship-postage for the voy. insurance-fee. But it is quite dif- ages to and from India; the office ferent in the present case ; for, here, of receiving, transmitting, and diswhat, under the previous circum- tributing the contents of all packets stances, was to be considered as a of ship-letters continues to be exrate of postage, a payment for an ercised by the servants of the Comequivalent service, becomes a direct pany abroad; no expectation, theretax on letter-writing, independent fore, can be reasonably formed of on the cost of carriage ; a heavy a relinquishment of the ancient amount is to be submitted to, with- charge. The ancient charge is paid out benefit in return; and a premium for doing the duty; and the new is in reality paid, without acquir. one for doing nothing. ing the advantage of insurance. Thus much, Sir, for the hardship Nay, the writer must be a loser by and injustice inflicted by the recent the change ; for, when packets were regulations upon Indian correspon : transmitted from the India. House, dence generally; but, in separating they were put into the hands of the several sorts of correspondence, respectable persons, responsible for we shall see peculiar grounds of their delivery; whereas, according complaint attached to each. It is to the new provisions, the persons peculiarly hard, for example, upon authorized to collect letters for the merchant, who, freighting his transmission to India, may, as it own vessel, cannot send, free of shipseems, entrust any individual what. postage, in that vessel itself, his ever with the charge of forwarding letters of advice to his agents, rethem to their places of destination. specting the disposal of his mere It is true, that persons opening chandize; an evil so much the bags are subject to severe penal- greater, as, from the length of the ties; but, without supposing any passage, and consequent increased