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particularly to the sublime researches of Chymistry, on which we may hope to find useful disquisitions in Sanscrit, since the old Hindus unquestionably applied themselves to that enchanting study; and even from their treatises on alchymy we may possibly collect the results of actual experiment, as their ancient astrological works have preserved many valuable facts relating to the Indian sphere and the precession of the equinox : both in Persian and Sanscrit there are books on metals and minerals, particularly on gems, which the Hindu philosophers considered (with an exception of the diamond) as varieties of one crystalline substance either simple or compound: but we must not expect from the chymists of Asia those beautiful examples of analysis which have but lately been displayed in the laboratories of Europe.
3. We now come to Botany, the loveliest and most copious division in the history of nature ; and, all disputes on the comparative merit of systems being at length, I hope, condemned to one perpetual night of undisturbed Number, we cannot employ our leisure more delightfully, than in describing all new Asiatick plants in the Linnæan style and method, or in correcting the descriptions of those already known, but of which dry specimens only, or drawings, can have been seen by most European botanists: in this
part of natural history we have an ample field yet unexplored ; for, though many plants of Arabia have been made known by GARCIAS, PROS- , PER ALPINUS, and FORSKOËL, of Persia, by GARCIN, of Tartary, by GMELIN and PALLAS, of China and Japan, by KEMPFER, OSBECK, and THUNBERG, of India, by Rheede and RUMPHIUS, the two BURMANS, and the muchlamented KOENIG, yet none of those naturalists were deeply versed in the literature of the several countries, from which their vegetable treasures had been procured; and the numerous works in Sanscrit on medical substances, and chiefly on plants, have never been inspected, or never at least understood, by any European attached to the study of nature. Until the garden of the India Company shall be fully stored (as it will be, no doubt, in due time) with Arabian, Persian, and Chinese plants, we may well be fatisfied with examining the native flowers of our own provinces; but, unless we can discover the Sanscrit names of all celebrated vegetables, we shall neither comprehend the allusions, which Indian poets perpetually make to them, nor (what is far worse) be able to find accounts of their tried virtues in the writings of Indian physicians; and (what is worst of all) we shall mifs an opportunity, which never again may present itself; for the Pandits themfelves have almoft
wholly forgotten their ancient appellations of particular plants, and, with all my pains, I have not yet ascertained more than two hundred out of twice that number, which are named in their medical or poetical compositions. It is much to be deplored, that the illustrious VAN RHEEDE had no acquaintance with Sanscrit, which even his three Bràbmens, who composed the short preface engraved in that language, appear to have understood very imperfectly, and certainly wrote with disgraceful inaccuracy; in all his twelve volumes I recollect only Punarnavà, in which the Nágari letters are tolerably right; the Hindu words in Arabian characters are shamefully incorrect; and the Malabar, I am credibly informed, is as bad as the rest. His delineations, indeed, are in general excellent; and, though LINNÆUs himself could not extract from his written descriptions the natural character of every plant in the collection, yet we shall be able, I hope, to describe them all from the life, and to add a considerable number of new Species, if not of new genera, which RHEEDE, with all his noble exertions, could never procure. Such of our learned members, as profess medicine, will, no doubt, cheerfully aslift in these researches, either by their own observations, when they have leisure to make any, or by communications from other observers among their
acquaintance, who may reside in different parts of the country: and the mention of their art leads me to the various uses of natural substances, in the three kingdoms or classes to which they are generally reduced.
III. You cannot but have remarked, that almost all the sciences, as the French call them, which are distinguished by Greek names and arranged under the head of philosophy, belong for the most part to history ; such are philology, chymistry, physicks, anatomy, and even metaphysicks, when we barely relate the phenomena of the human mind; for, in all branches of knowledge, we are only historians, when we announce facts, and philosophers, only when we reason on them : the same may be confidently said of law and of medicine, the first of which belongs principally to civil, and the second chiefly to natural, history. Here, there, fore, I speak of medicine, as far only as it is grounded on experiment; and, without beļieving im plicitly what Arabs, Persians, Chinese, or Hindus may have written on the virtues of medicinal substances, we may, surely, hope to find in their writings what our own experiments may confirm or disprove, and what might never have occurred to us without such intimations.
Europeans enumerate more than two hundred and fifty mechanical arts, by which the pro
ductions of nature may be variously prepared for the convenience and ornament of life ; and, though the Silpasástra reduce them to fixty-four, yet ABU'LFAZL had been assured, that the Hindus reckoned three hundred arts and sciences : now, their sciences being comparatively few, we may conclude, that they anciently practised at least as many useful arts as ourselves. Several Pandits have informed me, that the treatises on art, which they call Upavėdas and believe to have been inspired, are not so entirely loft, but that considerable fragments of them may be found at Banares; and they certainly possess many popular, but ancient, works on that interesting subject. The manufactures of sugar and indigo have been well known in these provinces for more than two thousand years; and we cannot entertain a doubt, that their Sanscrit books on dying and metallurgy contain very curious facts, which might, indeed, be discovered by accident in a long course of years, but which we may soon bring to light, by the help of Indian literature, forthe benefit of manufacturers and artists, and consequently of our nation, who are interested in their prosperity. Discoveries of the same kind might be collected from the writings of other Asiatick nations, especially of the Chinese; but, though Persian, Arabick, Turkish and Sanscrit are languages now so accessible, that,