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barely observe, that the first king of the Hyumnu's or Huns began his reign, according to VISDELOU, about three thousand five hundred and fixty years ago, not long after the time fixed in my former discourses for the first regular establishments of the Hindus and Arabs in their several countrie.
I. Our first inquiry, concerning the languages and letters of the Tartars, presents us with a deplorable void, or with a prospect as barren and dreary as that of their deserts. The Tartars, in general, had no literature: (in this point all authorities appear to concur) the Turcs had no letters: the Huns, according to PROCOPIUS, had not even heard of them: the magnificent CHENGIZ, whose Empire included an area of near eighty square degrees, could find none of his own Mongals, as the best authors inform us, able to write his dispatches ; and Tai'MU'R, a savage of strong natural parts and passionately fond of hearing histories read to him, could himself neither write nor read. It is true, that IBNU ARABSHAH mentions a set of characters called Dilberjin, which were used in Khátà: · he had • seen them, he says, and found them to confift
of forty-one letters, a distinct symbol being ap
propriated to each long and short vowel, and to each consonant hard or soft, or otherwise varied in pronunciation; but Khátà was in fouthern Tartary on the confines of India ; and, from his description of the characters there in use, we cannot but suspect them to have been those of Tibet, which are manifestly Indian, bearing a greater resemblance to those of Bengal than to Dévanágari. The learned and eloquent Arab adds, that the Tatàrs of Kbátà write, in the Dilberjin letters, all their tales and
histories, their journals, poems, and miscel• lanies, their diplomas, records of state and juf• tice, the laws of Chengiz, their publick re* gisters and their compofitions of every species:' if this be true, the people of Kbátà must have been a polished and even a lettered nation ; and it
may be true, without affecting the general position, that the Tartars were illiterate; but IBNU ARABSHA'H was a professed rhetorician, and it is impossible to read the original passage, without full conviction that his object in writing it, was to display his power of words in a flowing and modulated period. He says further, that in .Jaghatáï the people of Oigbùr, as he calls them, “ have a system of fourteen letters
only, denominated from themselves Oighúrì ;' and those are the characters, which the Mongals are supposed by most authors to have borrowed: ABU'L’GHAZI' tells us only, that CHENG IZ employed the natives of Eighùr as excellent penmen; but the Chinese assert, that he was forced to employ them, because he had no writers at all among his natural-born subjects; and we are assured by many, that KUBLAIKHA'N ordered letters to be invented for his nation by a Tibetian, whom he rewarded with the dignity of chief Lama. The small number of Eighúrì letters might induce us to believe, that they were Zend or Pahlavi, which must have been current in that country, when it was governed by the fons of FERIDU'N; and, if the alphabet ascribed to the Eighurians by M. Des HAUTESRAYES be correct, we may fafely decide, that in
many of its letters it resembles both the Zend and the Syriack, with a remarkable difference in the mode of connecting them ; but, as we can fcarce hope to see a genuine specimen of them, our doubt must remain in regard to their form and origin : the page, exhibited by Hyde as Khatáyan writing, is evidently a sort of broken Cúfick; and the fine manuscript at Oxford, from which it was taken, is more probably a Mendean work on some religious subject than, as he imagined, a code of Tartarian laws. That very learned man appears to have made a worse mistake in giving us for Mongal characters a page of writing, which has the appearance of yapanese, or mutilated Chinese, letters.
If the Tartars in general, as we have every reason to believe, had no written memorials, it cannot be thought wonderful, that their languages, like those of America, should have been in perpetual Auctuation, and that more than fifty dialects, as Hyde had been credibly informed, should be spoken between Moscow and China, by the many kindred tribes or their several branches, which are enumerated by Abu'lgha'zi. What those dialects are, and whether they really sprang from a common stock, we shall probably learn froin Mr. PALLAS, and other indefatigable men employed by the Rusian court; and it is from the Rusians, that we must expect the most accurate information concerning their Asiatick subjects : I persuade myself, that, if their inquiries be judiciously made and faithfully reported, the result of them will prove, that all the languages properly Tartarian arose from one common fource; excepting always the jargons of such wanderers or mountaineers, as, having long been divided from the main body of the nation, muft in a course of ages have framed separate idioms for themselves. The only Tartarian language, of which I have
knowledge, is the Turkish of Constantinople, which is however so copious, that whoever shall know it perfectly, will easily understand, as we are assured by intelligent authors, the dialects of Tátáristàn; and we may collect from ABU'LGHA'ZI', that he would find little difficulty in the Calmac and the Mogul: I will not offend your ears by a dry catalogue of similar words in those different languages; but a careful investigation has convinced me, that, as the Indian and Arabian tongues are severally descended from a common parent, so those of Tartary night be traced to one ancient stem essentially differing from the two others. It appears, indeed, from a story told by ABU'LGha'zi', that the Viràts and the Mongals could not understand each other ; but no more can the Danes and the English, yet their dialects beyond a doubt are branches of the fame Gothick tree. The dialect of the Moguls, in which some histories of TAIMU'R and his descendants were originally composed, is called in India, where a
learned native set me right when I used another - word, Turci ; not that it is precisely the same
with the Turkish of the Othmánlu's, but the two idioms differ, perhaps, less then Swedish and German, or Spanish and Portuguese, and certainly less than Welch and Irislı: in hope of afcertaining this point, I have long searched in vain for the original works ascribed to TAIMU'R and BA'BeR; but all the Moguls, with whom I have conversed in this country, resemble the crow in one of their popular fables, who, having long affected to walk like a pheasant, was unable after all to acquire the gracefulness of that elegant bird, and in the mean time unlearned his