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THE FIFTH

ANNIVERSARY DISCOURSE,

DELIVERED 21 FEBRUARY, 1788.

BY

THE PRESIDENT.

AT the close of my laft address to you, Gentlemen, I declared my design of introducing to your notice a people of Afia, who seemed as different in most respects from the Hindus and Arabs, as thofe two nations had been fhown to differ from each other; I meaned the people, whom we call Tartars: but I enter with extreme diffidence on my present subject, because I have little knowledge of the Tartarian dialects; and the grofs errours of European writers on Afiatick literature have long convinced me, that no fatisfactory account can be given of tion, with whose language we are not perfectly acquainted. Such evidence, however, as I have procured by attentive reading and fcrupulous inquiries, I will now lay before you, interspersing fuch remarks as I could not but make on that

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evidence, and submitting the whole to your impartial decifion.

Conformably to the method before adopted in defcribing Arabia and India, I confider Tartary alfo, for the purpose of this discourse, on its most extensive scale, and request your attention, whilst I trace the largest boundaries that are affignable to it: conceive a line drawn from the mouth of the Oby to that of the Dnieper, and, bringing it back eastward across the Euxine, fo as to include the peninsula of Krim, extend it along the foot of Caucafus, by the rivers Cur and Aras, to the Cafpian lake, from the oppofite fhore of which follow the course of the Jaibun' and the chain of Caucafean hills as far as thofe of Imaus: whence continue the line beyond the Chinese wall to the White Mountain and the country of Yetfo; fkirting the borders of Perfia, India, China, Corea, but including part of Russia, with all the diftricts which lie between the Glacial fea, and that of Japan. M. DE GUIGNES, whofe great work on the Huns abounds more in folid learning than in rhetorical ornaments, prefents us, however, with a magnificent image of this wide region; describing it as a stupendous edifice, the beams and pillars of which are many ranges of lofty hills, and the dome, one prodigious mountain, to which the Chinese give the epithet of Celestial, with a confiderable number

of broad rivers flowing down its fides: if the manfion be fo amazingly fublime, the land around it is proportionably extended, but more wonderfully diverfified; for fome parts of it are incrufted with ice, others parched with inflamed air and covered with a kind of lava; here we meet with immense tracts of fandy deserts and forests almost impenetrable; there, with gardens, groves, and meadows, perfumed with mufk, watered by numberlefs rivulets, and abounding in fruits and flowers; and, from east to west, lie many confiderable provinces, which appear as valleys in comparison of the hills towering above them, but in truth are the flat fummits of the highest mountains in the world, or at least the highest in Afia. Near one fourth in latitude of this extraordinary region is in the fame charming climate with Greece, Italy, and Provence; and another fourth in that of England, Germany, and the northern parts of France; but the Hyperborean countries can have few beauties to recommend them, at least in the present ftate of the earth's temperature: to the south, on the frontiers of Iràn are the beautiful vales of Soghd with the celebrated cities of Samarkand and Bokbárà; on those of Tibet are the territories of Cafhgbar, Khoten, Chegil and Khátà, all famed for perfumes and for the beauty of their inhabitants; and on those of China lies the coun

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try of Chin, anciently a powerful kingdom, which name, like that of Khátà, has in modern times been given to the whole Chinese empire, where fuch an appellation would be thought an infult. We must not omit the fine territory of Tancut, which was known to the Greeks by the name of Serica, and considered by them as the farthest eastern extremity of the habitable globe.

Scythia feems to be the general name, which the ancient Europeans gave to as much as they knew of the country thus bounded and defcribed; but, whether that word be derived, as PLINY feems to intimate, from Sacai, a people known by a fimilar name to the Greeks and Perfians, or, as BRYANT imagines, from Cutbia, or, as Colonel VALLANCEY believes, from words denoting navigation, or, as it might have been fuppofed, from a Greek root implying wrath and ferocity, this at least is certain, that as India, China, Perfia, Japan, are not appellations of those countries in the languages of the nations, who inhabit them, fo neither Scythia nor Tartary are names, by which the inhabitants of the country now under our confideration have ever distinguished themselves. Tátáristàn is, indeed, a word used by the Perfians for the fouth-western part of Scythia, where the mufk-deer is faid to be common; and the name. Tátar is by fome confidered as that of a parti

cular tribe; by others, as that of a small river only; while Turàn, as opposed to Iran, feems to mean the ancient dominion of AFRA'SIA'B to the north and east of the Oxus. There is nothing more idle than a debate concerning names, which after all are of little confequence, when our ideas are distinct without them: having given, therefore, a correct notion of the country, which I propofed to examine, I shall not scruple to call it by the general name of Tartary; though I am conscious of using a term equally improper in the pronunciation and the application of it.

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Tartary then, which contained, according to PLINY, an innumerable multitude of nations, by whom the rest of Afia and all Europe has in different ages been over-run, is denominated, as various images have presented themselves to various fancies, the great hive of the northern fwarms, the nursery of irrefiftible legions, and, by a stronger metaphor, the foundery of the human race; but M. BAILLY, a wonderfully ingenious man and a very lively writer, seems first to have confidered it as the cradle of our fpecies, and to have fupported an opinion, that the whole ancient world was enlightened by fciences brought from the moft northern parts of Scythia, particularly from the banks of the Jenifea, or from the Hyperborean regions: all

VOL. I.

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