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nection with this country, if not with China, fince the language and literature of the Abyssinians bear a manifest affinity to those of Afia, fince the Arabian arms prevailed along the African coaft of the Mediterranean, and even erected a powerful dynasty on the continent of Europe, you may not be displeased occafionally to follow the ftreams of Afiatick learning a little beyond its natural boundary; and, if it be neceffary or convenient, that a fhort name or epithet be given to our fociety, in order to distinguish it in the world, that of Asiatick appears both claffical and proper, whether we confider the place or the object of the inftitution, and preferable to Ori- • ental, which is in truth a word merely relative, and, though commonly used in Europe, conveys no very diftinct idea.

If now it be asked, what are the intended objects of our inquiries within these spacious limits, we answer, MAN and NATURE; whatever is performed by the one, or produced by the other. Human knowledge has been elegantly analysed according to the three great faculties of the mind, memory, reafon, and imagination, which we conftantly find employed in arranging and retaining, comparing and diftinguishing, combining and diverfifying, the ideas, which we receive through our fenfes, or acquire by reflection; hence the three main branches of learning are

hiftory, Science, and art: the first comprehends either an account of natural productions, or the genuine records of empires and states; the second embraces the whole circle of pure and mixed mathematicks, together with ethicks and law, as far as they depend on the reasoning faculty; and the third includes all the beauties of imagery and the charms of invention, difplayed in modulated language, or reprefented by colour, figure, or found.

Agreeably to this analysis, you will investigate whatever is rare in the stupendous fabrick of nature, will correct the geography of Afia by new obfervations and difcoveries; will trace the annals, and even traditions, of those nations, who from time to time have peopled or defolated it; and will bring to light their various forms of government, with their institutions civil and religious; you will examine their improvements and methods in arithmetick and geometry, in trigonometry, menfuration, mechanicks, opticks, aftronomy, and general phyficks; their systems of morality, grammar, rhetorick, and dialectick; their skill in chirurgery and medicine, and their advancement, whatever it may be, in anatomy and chymistry, To this you will add researches into their agriculture, manufactures, trade; and, whilst you inquire with pleasure into their musick, architecture,

painting, and poetry, will not neglect those inferior arts, by which the comforts and even elegances of focial life are supplied or improved. You may observe, that I have omitted their languages, the diverfity and difficulty of which are a fad obstacle to the progress of useful knowledge; but I have ever confidered languages as the mere inftruments of real learning, and think them improperly confounded with learning itself: the attainment of them is, however, indifpenfably neceffary; and if to the Perfian, Armenian, Turkish, and Arabick, could be added not only the Sanfcrit, the treasures of which we may now hope to fee unlocked, but even the Chinefe, Tartarian, Japanese, and the various infular dialects, an immense mine would then be open, in which we might labour with equal delight and advantage.

Having fubmitted to you thefe imperfect thoughts on the limits and objects of our future fociety, I request your permiffion to add a few hints on the conduct of it in its prefent immature ftate.

LUCIAN begins one of his fatirical pieces against historians, with declaring that the only true propofition in his work was, that it should contain nothing true; and perhaps it may be advisable at first, in order to prevent any difference of fentiment on particular points not immediately

before us, to establish but one rule, namely, to have no rules at all. This only I mean, that, in the infancy of any fociety, there ought to be no confinement, no trouble, no expenfe, no unneceffary formality. Let us, if you please, for the prefent, have weekly evening meetings in this hall, for the purpose of hearing original papers read on fuch fubjects, as fall within the circle of our inquiries. Let all curious and learned men be invited to fend their tracts to our fecretary, for which they ought immediately to receive our thanks; and if, towards the end of each year, we should be supplied with a fufficiency of valuable materials to fill a volume, let us present our Afiatick mifcellany to the lite rary world, who have derived fo much pleasure and information from the agreeable work of Kampfer, than which we can scarce propose a better model, that they will accept with eagernefs any fresh entertainment of the fame kind. You will not perhaps be difpofed to admit mere tranflations of confiderable length, except of fuch unpublished essays or treatises as may be tranfmitted to us by native authors; but, whether you will enrol as members any number of learned natives, you will hereafter decide, with many other questions as they happen to arise; and you will think, I prefume, that all questions should be decided on a ballot, by a majority of two

thirds, and that nine members fhould be requifite to conftitute a board for fuch decifions. These points, however, and all others I fubmit entirely, gentlemen, to your determination, having neither wish nor pretenfion to claim any more than my single right of fuffrage. One thing only, as effential to your dignity, I recommend with earneftnefs, on no account to admit a new member, who has not expreffed a voluntary defire to become fo; and in that case, you will not require, I fuppofe, any other qualification than a love of knowledge, and a zeal for the promotion of it.

Your inftitution, I am perfuaded, will ripen of itself, and your meetings will be amply fupplied with interesting and amusing papers, as foon as the object of your inquiries fhall be generally known. There are, it may not be delicate to name them, but there are many, from whofe important ftudies I cannot but conceive high expectations; and, as far as mere labour will avail, I fincerely promife, that, if in my allotted sphere of jurifprudence, or in any intellectual excurfion, that I may have leisure to make, I should be fo fortunate as to collect, by accident, either fruits or flowers, which may feem valuable or pleasing, I fhall offer my humble Nezr to your fociety with as much respectful zeal as to the greatest potentate on earth.

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