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to a common point of no small importance in the pursuit of interesting truths.
Of all the works, which have been published in our own age, or, perhaps, in any other, on the History of the Ancient World, and the first population of this habitable globe, that of Mr. Jacob BRYANT, whom I name with reverence and affection, has the best claim to the praise of deep erudition ingeniously applied, and new theories happily illustrated by an assemblage of numberless converging rays from a most extenfive circumference: it falls, nevertheless, as every human work must fall, short of perfection; and the least satisfactory part of it seems to be that, which relates to the derivation of words from Asiatick languages. Etymology has, no doubt, some use in historical researches ; but it is a medium of proof so very fallacious, that, where it elucidates one fact, it obscures a thousand, and more frequently borders on the ridiculous, than leads to any solid conclusion: it rarely carries with it
power of conviction from a resemblance of sounds or similarity of letters; yet often, where it is wholly unassisted by those advantages, it may be indisputably proved by extrinsick evidence. We know à pofteriori, that both fitz and hijo, by the nature of two several dialects, are derived from filius; that uncle comes from avus, and stranger from extra ; that jour is deducible, through the Italian, from dies; and rossignol from luscinia, or the finger in groves; that sciuro, écureuil, and squirrel are compounded of two Greek words descriptive of the animal; which etymologies, though they could not have been demonstrated à priori, might serve to confirm, if any such confirmation were necessary, the proofs of a connection between the members of one great Empire ; but, when we derive our banger, or soort pendent swori, from the Persian, because ignorant travellers thus misfpell the word khanjar, which in truth means a different weapon, or Sandal-wood from the Greek, because we suppose, that sandals were fometimes made of it, we gain no ground in proving the affinicy of nations, and only weaken arguments, which might otherwise be firmly fupported. That Cu's then, or, as it certainly is written in one ancient dialect, Eu't, and in others, probably, CA's, enters into the composition of many proper names, we may very reasonably believe; and that Algeziras takes its name from the Arabick word for an island, cannot be doubted; but, when we are told from Europe, that places and provinces in India were clearly denominated from those words, we cannot but observe, in the first instance, that the town, in which we now are assembled, is properly written and pronounced Calicátà; that both Cátá and Cút unquestionably mean places of strength, or, in general, any inclosures ; and that Gujaràt is at least as remote from Jezirab in sound, as it is in situation.
Another exception (and a third could hardly be discovered by any candid criticism) to the Analysis of Ancient Mythology, is, that the method of reasoning and arrangement of topicks adopted in that learned work are not quite agreeable to the title, but almost wholly Synthetical; and, though synthesis may be the better mode in
pure science, where the principles are undeniable, yet it seems less calculated to give complete satisfaction in historical disquisitions, where every poftulatum will perhaps be refused, and every definition controverted : this may seem a slight objection, but the subject is in itfelf so interesting, and the full conviction of all reasonable men so desirable, that it may not be loft labour to difcuss the same or a similar theory in a method purely analytical, and, after beginning with facts of general notoriety or undisputed evidence, to investigate such truths, as are at first unknown or very imperfectly discerned.
The five principal nations, who have in different
among themselves, as a kind of inheritance, the vast continent of Asia, with the many islands depending on it, are the Indians, the Chinese, the Tartars, the Arabs, and
the Persians: who they severally were, whence, and when they came, where they now are settled, and what advantage a more perfect knowledge of them all may bring to our European world, will be shown, I trust, in five distinct essays; the last of which will demonstrate the connexion or diversity between them, and solve the great problem, whether they had any common origin, and whether that origin was the fame, which we generally ascribe to them.
I begin with India, not because I find reason to believe it the true centre of population or of knowledge, but, because it is the country, which we now inhabit, and from which we may beft survey the regions around us; as, in popular language, we speak of the rising fun, and of his progress through the Zodiack, although it had long ago been imagined, and is now demonstrated, that he is himself the centre of our planetary system. Let me here premise, that, in all these inquiries concerning the history of India, I shall confine my researches downwards to the Mobammedan conquests at the beginning of the eleventh century, but extend them upwards, as high as possible, to the earliest authentick records of the human species.
India then, on its most enlarged scale, in which the ancients appear to have understood it, comprises an area of near forty degrees on each
fide, including a space almost as large as all Europe ; being divided on the west from Persia by the Arachofian mountains, limited on the east by the Chinese part of the farther peninsula, confined on the north by the wilds of Tartary, and extending to the south as far as the isles of Java. This trapezium, therefore, comprehends the ftupendous hills of Potyid or Tibet, the beautiful valley of Cashmir, and all the domains of the old Indoscythians, the countries of Nepál and Butánt, Cámrùp or Afàm, together with Siam, Ava, Racan, and the bordering kingdoms, as far as the China of the Hindus or Sin of the Arabian Geographers; not to mention the whole western peninsula with the celebrated island of Sinbala, or Lion-like men, at its southern extremity. By India, in short, I mean that whole extent of country, in which the primitive religion and languages of the Hindus prevail at this day with more or less of their ancient purity, and in which the Nágarì letters are still used with more or less deviation from their original form.
The Hindus themselves believe their own country, to which they give the vain epithets of Medbyama or Central, and Punyabhúmi, or the Land of Virtues, to have been the portion of BHARAT, one of nine brothers, whose father had the dominion of the whole earth ; and they re