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I am sensible that it falls very short of perfection, which seems to withdraw itself from the pursuit of mortals, in proportion to their endeavours of attaining it; like the talisman in the Arabian tales, which a bird carried from tree to tree as often as its purfuer approached it. But it has been my chief care to avoid all the harsh and affected terms of art which render most didactick works fo tedious and unpleasant, and which only perplex the learner, without giving him any real knowledge: I have even refrained from making any enquiries into general grammar, or from entering into those subjects which have already been fo elegantly difcuffed by the most judicious philosopher*, the most learned divine+, and the most laborious fcholar of the prefent age‡.

It was my first design to prefix to the grammar a history of the Perfian language from the time of Xenophon to our days, and to have added a copious praxis of tales and poems extracted from the claffical writers of Perfia; but as thofe additions would have delayed the publication of the grammar, which was principally wanted, I thought it advifable to reserve them for a separate volume, which the publick may expect in the course of the ensuing winter. I have made a large collection of materials for a general hiftory of Afia, and for an account of the geography, philofophy, and literature of the eastern nations, all which I propofe to arrange in order, if my more folid and more important studies will allow me any intervals of leifure §.

I cannot forbear acknowledging in this place the fignal marks of kindness and attention, which I have received from many learned and

* See Hermes.

+ A fhort Introduction to English Grammar.

The grammar prefixed to the Dictionary of the English Language.

§ See the Hiftory of the Perfian Language, a Defcription of Afia, and a Short Hiftory of Perfia, publifhed with my Life of Nader Shah in the year 1773.


noble perfons; but General Carnac has obliged me the most fenfibly of them, by supplying me with a valuable collection of Persian manuscripts on every branch of eastern learning, from which many of the best examples in the following grammar are extracted. A very learned Profeffor* at Oxford has promoted my studies with that candour and benevolence which fo eminently distinguish him; and many excellent men that are the principal ornaments of that univerfity have conferred the highest favours on me, of which I fhall ever retain a grateful fenfe: but I take a fingular pleasure in confeffing that I am indebted to a foreign nobleman † for the little knowledge which I have happened to acquire of the Perfian language; and that my zeal for the poetry and philology of the Afiaticks was owing to his converfation, and to the agreeable correspondence with which he still honours me.

Before I conclude this Preface it will be proper to add a few remarks upon the method of learning the Perfian language, and upon the advantages which the learner may expect from it. When the student can read the characters with fluency, and has learned the true pronunciation of every letter from the mouth of a native, let him peruse the grammar with attention, and commit to memory the regular inflexions of the nouns and verbs: he needs not burden his mind with thofe that deviate from the common form, as they will be infenfibly learned in a short courfe of reading. By this time he will find a dictionary neceffary, and I hope he will believe me, when I affert from a long experience, that, whoever poffeffes the admirable work of Meninski, will have no occafion for any other dictionary of the Perfian tongue. He may proceed by the help of this work to analyse the paffages quoted in the grammar, and to examine in what manner they illuftrate the rules; in the mean time he must not neglect to converfe with his living inftructor, and to

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learn from him the phrases of common difcourfe, and the names of vifible objects, which he will foon imprint on his memory, if he will take the trouble to look for them in the dictionary: and here I must caution him against condemning a work as defective, because he cannot find in it every word which he hears; for founds in general are caught imperfectly by the ear, and many words are spelled and pronounced very differently.

The first book that I would recommend to him is the Gulistan or Bed of Rofes, a work which is highly esteemed in the East, and of which there are several translations in the languages of Europe: the manufcripts of this book are very common; and by comparing them with the printed edition of Gentius, he will foon learn the beautiful flowing hand used in Perfia, which consists of bold strokes and flourishes, and cannot be imitated by our types. It will then be a proper time for him to read some short and easy chapter in this work, and to translate it into his native language with the utmost exactness; let him then lay afide the original, and after a proper interval let him turn the fame chapter back into Perfian by the affiftance of the grammar and dictionary; let him afterwards compare his second tranflation with the original, and correct its faults according to that model. This is the exercise so often recommended by the old rhetoricians, by which a student will gradually acquire the style and manner of any author, whom he defires to imitate, and by which almost any language may be learned in fix months with ease and pleasure. When he can express his fentiments in Persian with tolerable facility, I would advise him to read some elegant history or poem with an intelligent native, who will explain to him in common words the refined expreffions that occur in reading, and will point out the beauties of learned allufions and local images. The most excellent book in the language is, in my opinion, the collection of tales and fables called Anvah Soheili by Auffein Vaéz, furnamed Cafhefi,


who took the celebrated work of Bidpai or Pilpay for his text, and has comprised all the wisdom of the eastern nations in fourteen beautiful chapters. At some leisure hour he may defire his Munshi or writer to transcribe a section from the Gulistan, or a fable of Cafhefi, in the common broken hand used in India, which he will learn perfectly in a few days by comparing all its turns and contractions with the more regular hands of the Arabs and Perfians: he muft not be difcouraged by the difficulty of reading the Indian letters, for the characters are in reality the fame with those in which our books are printed, and are only rendered difficult by the frequent omiffion of the diacritical points, and the want of regularity in the pofition of the words: but we all know that we are often at a lofs to read letters which we receive in our native tongue; and it has been proved that a man who has a perfect knowledge of any language, may, with a proper attention, decypher a letter in that idiom, though it be written in characters which he has never seen before, and of which he has no alphabet.

In short, I am perfuaded, that whoever will study the Perfian language according to my plan, will in less than a year be able to tranflate and to answer any letter from an Indian prince, and to converfe with the natives of India, not only with fluency, but with elegance. But if he defires to distinguish himself as an eminent translator, and to understand not only the general purport of a compofition, but even the graces and ornaments of it, he must neceffarily learn the Arabick tongue, which is blended with the Perfian in fo fingular a manner, that one period often contains both languages, wholly distinct from each other in expreffion and idiom, but perfectly united in sense and construction. This must appear ftrange to an European reader; but he may form fome idea of this uncommon mixture, when he is told that the two Afiatick languages are not always mixed like the words of Roman and Saxon origin in this period, "The true law is right reason, conformable to the nature of "things;

things; which calls us to duty by commanding, deters us from fin by forbidding *;” but as we may suppose the Latin and English to be connected in the following fentence, "The true lex is recta ratio, conformable naturæ, which by commanding vocet ad officium, by forbidding

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" à fraude deterreat."

A knowledge of these two languages will be attended with a variety of advantages to those who acquire it: the Hebrew, Chaldaick, Syriack, and Ethiopean tongues are dialects of the Arabick, and bear as near a resemblance to it as the Ionick to the Attick Greek; the jargon of Indoftan, very improperly called the language of the Moors, contains fo great a number of Perfian words, that I was able with very little difficulty to read the fables of Pilpai which are translated into that idiom: the Turkish contains ten Arabick or Perfian words for one originally Scythian, by which it has been fo 'refined, that the modern kings of Perfia were fond of speaking it in their courts: in short, there is scarce a country in Asia or Africa, from the fource of the Nile to the wall of China, in which a man who understands Arabick, Perfian, and Turkish, may not travel with fatisfaction, or tranfact the most important affairs with advantage and fecurity.

As to the literature of Afia, it will not, perhaps, be effentially useful to the greater part of mankind, who have neither leifure nor inclination to cultivate fo extensive a branch of learning; but the civil and natural history of fuch mighty empires as India, Persia, Arabia, and Tartary, cannot fail of delighting thofe who love to view the great picture of the universe, or to learn by what degrees the most obscure states have risen to glory, and the most flourishing kingdoms have funk to decay; the philofopher will confider thofe works as highly valuable, by which he may trace

* See Middleton's Life of Cicero, vol. III. p. 351.


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