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of human knowledge ; and my present address to the society shall be confined to history, civil and natural, or the observation and remembrance of mere facts, independently of ratiocination, which belongs to philosophy, or of imitations and substitutions, which are the province
Were a superior created intelligence to delineate a map of general knowledge (exclusively of that sublime and stupendous theology, which himself could only hope humbly to know by an infinite approximation) he would probably begin by tracing with Newton the system of the universe, in which he would assign the true place to our little globe ; and, having enumerated its various inhabitants, contents, and productions, would proceed to man in his natural station among animals, exhibiting a detail of all the knowledge attained or attainable by the human race; and thus observing, perhaps, the same order, in which he had before described other beings in other inhabited worlds : but, though Bacon seems to have had a similar reafon for placing the history of Nature before that of Man, or the whole before one of its parts, yet, consistently with our chief object already mentioned, we may properly begin with the civil bistory of the five Asiatick nations, which necessarily comprises their Geography, or a dea scription of the places, where they have acted, and their astronomy, which may enable us to fix with some accuracy the time of their actions: we shall thence be led to the history of such other animals, of such minerals, and of such vegetables, as they may be supposed to have found in their several migrations and settlements, and shall end with the uses to which they have applied, or may apply, the rich assemblage of natural substances.
I. In the first place, we cannot surely deem it an inconsiderable advantage, that all our historical researches have confirmed the Mofaick accounts of the primitive world ; and our testimony on that subject ought to have the greater weight, because, if the result of our observations had been totally different, we should nevertheless have published them, not indeed with equal pleasure, but with equal confidence; for Truth is mighty, and, whatever be its consequences, must always prevail: but, independently of our interest in corroborating the multiplied evidences of revealed religion, we could scarce gratify our. minds with a more useful and rational entertainment, than the contemplation of those won. derful revolutions in kingdoms and states, which have happened within little more than four thousand years ; revolutions, almost as fully demonstrative of an all-ruling Providence, as the
Itructure of the universe and the final causes, which are discernible in its whole extent and even in its minutest parts. Figure to your imaginations a moving pi&ture of that eventful period, or rather a fuccession of crouded scenes rapidly changed. Three families migrate in different courses from one region, and, in about four centuries, establish very distant governments and various modes of society: Egyptians, Indians, Goths, I'benicians, Celts, Greeks, Latians, Chinese, Peruvians, Mexicans, all sprung from the same immediate stem, appear to start nearly at one time, and occupy at length those countries, to 'which they have given, or from which they have derived, their names : in twelve or thir. teen hundred years more the Greeks overrun the land of their forefathers, invade India, conquer Egypt, and aim at universal dominion ; but the Romans appropriate to themselves the whole empire of Greece, and carry their arms into Britain, of which they speak with haughty contempt: the Goths, in the fulness of time, break to pieces the unwieldly Colossus of Roman power, and seize on the whole of Britain, except its wild mountains; but even those wilds become subject to other invaders of the same Gothick lineage: during all these transactions, the Arabs possess both coasts of the Red Sea, fubdue the old feat of their first progenitors, and extend their conquests on one side, through Africk, into Europe itself; on another, beyond the borders of India, part of which they annex to their flourishing empire: in the same interval the Tartars, widely diffused over the rest of the globe, swarm in the north-east, whence they rush to complete the reduction of CONSTANtine's beautiful domains, to subjugate China, to raise in these Indian realms a dynasty splendid and powerful, and to ravage, like the two other families, the devoted regions of Iràn: by this time the Mexicans and Peruvians, with many races of adventurers variously intermixed, have peopled the continent and isles of America, which the Spaniards, having restored their old government in Europe, discover and in part overcome : but a colony from Britain, of which Cicero ignorantly declared, that it contained nothing valuable, obtain the possession, and finally the sovereign dominion, of extensive American districts; whilst other British subjects acquire a subordinate empire in the finest provinces of India, which the victorious troops of ALEXANDER were unwilling to attack. This outline of human transactions, as far as it includes the limits of Asia, we can only hope to fill up, to strengthen, and to colour, by the help of Afiatick litera
for in history, as in law, we must not follow streams, when we may investigate fountains, nor admit any secondary proof, where primary evidence is attainable: I should, nevertheless, make a bad return for your indulgent attention, were I to repeat a dry list of all the Muselman historians, whose works are preserved in Arabick, Persian, and Turkish, or expatiate on the histories and medals of China and Japan, which may in time be accessible to members of our Society, and from which alone we can expect information concerning the ancient state of the Tartars ; but on the history of India, which we naturally consider as the centre of our enquiries, it may not be superfluous to present you with a few particular observations.
Our knowledge of civil Afiatick history (I always except that of the Hebrews) exhibits a short evening twilight in the venerable introduction to the first book of Moses, followed by a gloomy night, in which different watches are faintly discernible, and at length we see a dawn succeeded by a sunrise more or less early according to the diversity of regions. That no Hindu nation, but the Cashmirians, have left us alar histories in their ancient language, we must ever lament; but from Sanscrit literature, which our country has the honour of having unveiled, we may still collect some rays of historical truth, though time and a series of revolutions have obscured that light which we might reasonably