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first place the central position of Iràn, which is bounded by Arabia, by Tartary, and by India; whilst Arabia lies contiguous to Iràn only, but is remote from Tartary, and divided even from the skirts of India by a considerable gulf; no country, therefore, but Persia seems likely to have fent forth its colonies to all the 'kingdoms of Asia: the Brábmans could never have migrated from India to Iràn, because they are expressly forbidden by their oldest existing laws 'to leave the region, which they inhabit at this day; the Arabs have not even a tradition of an emigration into Persia before MohaMMED, nor had they indeed
any inducement to quit their beautiful and extensive domains; and, as to the Tartars, we have no trace in history of their departure from their plains and forests, till the invasion of the Medes, who, according to etymologists, were the fons of MADAI, and even they were conducted by princes of an Allyrian family. The three races, therefore, whom we have already mentioned, (and more than three we have not yet found) migrated from Iràn, as from their common country; and thus the Saxon chronicle, I presume from good authority, brings the first inhabitants of Britain from Armenia; while a late very learned writer concludes, after all his laborious researches, that the Goths or Scythians came from Persia; and another contends with
great force, that both the Irish and old Britons proceeded severally from the borders of the Cafpian; a coincidence of conclusions from different media by persons wholly unconnected, which could scarce have happened, if they were not grounded on folid principles. We may
therefore hold this proposition firmly established, that Iràn, or Persia in its largest sense, was the true centre of population, of knowledge, of languages, and of arts; which, instead of travelling westward only, as it has been fancifully supposed, or eastward, as might with equal reason have been asserted, were expanded in all directions to all the regions of the world, in which the Hindu race had settled under various denominations : but, whether Asia has not produced other races of men, distinct from the Hindus, the Arab., or the Tartars, or whether any apparent diversity may not have sprung from an intermixture of those three in different proportions, must be the subject of a future inquiry. There is another question of more immediate importance, which you, gentlemen, only can decide: namely, “ by “ what means we can preserve our Society from dying gradually away, as it has advanced
gradually to its present (shall I say flourishing or languishing ?) state.” It has sublisted five
years without any expense to the members of it, until the first volume of our Transactions was published;
and the price of that large volume, if we compare the different values of money in Bengal and in England, is not more than equal to the annual contribution towards the charges of the Royal Society by each of its fellows, who may not have chosen to compound for it on his admission: this I mention, not from an idea that any of us could object to the purchase of one copy at least, but from a wish to inculcate the necessity of our common exertions in promoting the sale of the work both here and in London. In vain shall we meet, as a literary body, if our meetings shall cease to be supplied with original dissertations and memorials; and in vain shall we collect the most interesting papers, if we cannot publish them occasionally without exposing the Superintendents of the Company's press, who undertake to print them at their own hazard, to the danger of a considerable lofs : by united efforts the French have compiled their stupendous repositories of universal knowledge ; and by united efforts only can we hope to rival them, or to diffuse over our own country
and the rest of Europe the lights attainable by our Afiatick Researches.
DELIVERED 25 FEBRUARY, 1790.
ALTHOUGH we are at this moment considerably nearer to the frontier of China than to the farthest limit of the British dominions in Hindustán, yet the first step, that we shall take in the philosophical journey, which I propose for your entertainment at the present meeting, will carry us to the utmost verge of the habitable globe known to the best geographers of old Greece and Egypt; beyond the boundary of whose knowledge we shall discern from the heights of the northern mountains an empire nearly equal in surface to a square of fifteen degrees; an empire, of which I do not mean to assign the precise limits, but which we may confider, for the purpose of this dissertation, as embraced on two sides by Tartary and India, whue the ocean separates its other sides from various Asiatick isles of great importance in the commercial system of Europe: annexed to that immense tract of land is the peninsula of Corea, which a vast oval bafon divides from Nifon or Japan, a celebrated and imperial island, bearing in arts and in arms, in advantage of situation but not in felicity of government, a pre-eminence among eastern kingdoms analogous to that of Britain among the nations of the west. So many
climates are included in so prodigious an area, that, while the principal emporium of China lies nearly under the tropick, its metropolis enjoys the temperature of Samarkand; such too is the diversity of soil in its fifteen provinces, that, while some of them are exquisitely fertile, richly cultivated, and extremely populous, others are barren and rocky, dry and unfruitful, with plains as wild or mountains as rugged as any in Scythia, and those either wholly deserted, or peopled by favage hordes, who, if they be not still independent, have been very lately subdued by the perfidy, rather than the valour, of a monarch, who has perpetuated his own breach of faith in a Chinese poem, of which I have seen a translation.
The word China, concerning which I shalt offer some new remarks, is well known to the people, whom we call the Chinese; but they