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TO THE

RIGHT HON. THE EARL OF MINTO,

GOVERNOR GENERAL OF INDIA,

&c. &c. &c.

MY LORD, I have taken the liberty of giving to the following little work the sanction of your Lordship's name : not with the idea, that so humble a tribute can add any thing to its lustre ; but with the hope, that it řay reflect some credit upon the pages to which it is prefixed.

New to public criticism, and reasonably ambitious of públic approval, I am naturally anxious to introduce this first production of my literary labours, under the most eligible auspices, to the notice of the world ; and I am confident that the countenance of one who has always professed himself an encourager of letters, and who is known to merit the palm which he bestows, will ensure me, in the first instance at least, a favourable reception.

It must be a matter of indifference to Society, and still more so to your Lordship, that an unimportant indivi

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dual should express his admiration of the firmness and energy which India has witnessed in your Lordship's political career, and which have been so successfully exerted in suppressing internal commotion, and prosecuting foreign conquest : I am unwilling however to pass over the present opportunity of joining in the voice of an English public, and applauding the justice that has crowned your Lordship’s administration of the East, with the dignities of Great Britain.

Wishing that the country, to which your Lordship's services are about to be transferred, may long continue to benefit by them,

I have the honour to be,
Your LORDSHIP'S
Most obedient Servant,

H. H. WILSON, Calcutta, 1lth September, 1813.

PREFACE.

THE antiquity and excellence of the sacred language of the Hindus, have naturally attracted attention, and excited curiosity. Possessing considerable claims to be regarded as the most ancient form of speech with which mankind is acquainted, it appeals strongly to the interest that invests the early ages of the world ; and constructed upon perhaps the most perfect plan which human ingenuity has devised, it tempts us to an inquiry, whether its perfection be limited by its structure, or whether the merits of Hindu compositions partake, or not, of the beauty of the language in which they are composed.

It has fallen to the lot of the English' nation especially, 'to prosecute these inquiries, and the result has been conformable to the patriotic wish of Sir WM. JONES, that as the continental nations of Europe had been the most diligent cultivators of the other oriental tongues, the merit of Sanscrit research might chiefly belong to his own countrymen. Influenced by his advice and example, his countrymen have laboured with no contemptible success, in this interesting pursuit, and have rendered the language and literature of this division of the East accessible to the world. The efforts of Sanscrit scholars have hitherto, however, been directed rather to the useful than the pleasing, rather to works of science than imagination. The complicated grammar of the Hindus has been most successfully investigated, their mythology amply illustrated, and much of their philosophy satisfactorily explained; their astronomical works have been exhibited to the philosophers, whose modern attainments have rendered ancient science an object rather of curiosity than information, and their laws are no longer concealed behind the veil of an unknown tongue, from the knowledge of those who are charged with the administration

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