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The Journal Of The Asiatic Society Of Bengal

Edited By James Prinsep, F. R. S. (Secretary Of The Physical Class, Asiatic Society)

Vol. I, January To December, 1832

Culcatta,

Printed At The Baptist Mission Press, Circular Road.

Sold By Messrs. Thacker And Co. St. Andrew’s Library.

1832.

The First Journal In India Devoted To The Exclusive Publication Of Gleanings In Science;

Calcutta, January 1, 1833

PREFACE

 

The Asiatic Society, on the 7th March, 1832[1], passed a resolution, that the monthly journal hitherto published under the name  of ” Gleanings in Science, 1 ” should be permitted to assume that  of Journal or the Asiatic Society, and to continue it as long  as the publication remains under the charge of one or both of the  Secretaries of the Society. This privilege has, as it was anticipated, been the means of extending very considerably its circulation, while it has given a character and authenticity to the work, by its connection with an institution of established literary reputation, which no anonymous magazine, however well conducted, could hope to command.

 The advantages of extended circulation have reacted to the  benefit of subscribers, by enabling the Editor to increase the  quantity of letter press from 400 to nearly 600 pages ; and yet so  constant has been the growing support of its contributors, that  the pages of the Journal have been devoted, with few exceptions, to the insertion of original communications.

 To many readers it would doubtless have been preferable  that the Journal should contain more copious extracts from English scientific periodicals, which are not procurable in the interior  of India ; but conceding that, as an organ of Indian scientific  intelligence, it must obviously derive its only merit among the many similar periodicals of the present day, from its stores of oriental  literary and physical research, it will be generally acknowledged,  that the first object of the work should be to give publicity  to such oriental matter as the antiquarian, the linguist, the  traveller, and the naturalist may glean, in the ample field  open to their industry in this part of the world. While acting on this principle, however, the Editor has not lost sight of  the great utility of following, as far as means would permit, the  progress of the various sciences at home, especially such as are  connected in any way with Asia ; the only limits thereto being  want of space, and want of time to peruse and extract from the vast  number of publications of the present day. Want of room also precluded the possibility of republishing the proceedings of the Medical and of the Horticultural Societies; but this had become less urgent since both of those useful bodies adopted the excellent rule of giving early publicity to their own proceedings and records.

 To the Asiatic Society the Journal has naturally looked for its most frequent and interesting communications; and in consequence of its more intimate connection with that Institution, the proceedings of that body have been given in greater detail than heretofore,  so that absent members may learn exactly what passes at its  meetings, and what accessions are made from time to time  to its library and its museum. Many absent members have complained of the quarterly subscriptions they were hereto fore called upon to pay, while they remained in ignorance of what was going forward ; this source of objection is now  obviated, and perhaps a still greater amendment may yet be ef-  fected for their benefit, by an arrangement that all members of  the Society shall receive a copy of the Journal gratis, which  will reduce their annual payments nearly one fourth.

 It is unnecessary to recapitulate the contents of the present volume, or to allude in anonymous praise to those who have  favored its pages with their assistance; since the authors have,  in most cases, on suggestion, permitted their writings to be  authenticated by the insertion of their names, as should always be  the case in matters of fact, observation, and research. One illustrious name however must not be passed over without a tribute  of gratitude for its valued and frequent contributions, a tribute  more sincerely paid, since India has now lost the power and the  claim to their continuance ; she has resigned her most eminent  oriental scholar to climes where his talents may find more genial  appreciation, but where they cannot excite more respect or admiration, than they will ever command in the land which called  forth their energies and directed their application.

 The learned Societies at home will be proud to publish the continuation of the Analyses of the Puranas, of which the four first have appeared in these pages. Abstracts of four only were  ready for the press, but translations of the remainder of the eighteen Puranas themselves had been completed under the superintendence of Professor Wilson before he quitted India.

 Mr. Alexander C soma’s indefatigable labour, in opening to us  a first acquaintance with the literature of Tibet, will be estimated  as it deserves by literary men — a contracted circle perhaps, because  deep erudition and study are requisite to form critics capable of  appreciating the nature and bearing of his peculiar researches upon  the history, languages, and religions of other nations, both ancient  and modern. All may however feel sensible of the devotion, zeal,  and perseverance which are necessary to lead a man, alone and  unpaid, into a distant and wild country, to learn its language and  study its people at the fountain head. The volumes of notes which Mr. Csoma has presented to the Asiatic Society, will, it is hoped, be published in their Researches at length.

 In furtherance of the desire of the Government, the greater  part of Dr. Buchanan’s Statistics of Dinajpiir has been printed in  a detached form, as commenced by the Editor of the Gleanings ;  and to complete the work more speedily, two extra numbers have  been issued in the course of the year. It will be remarked, that there are many plates referred to in the text : the drawings  alluded to are in possession of the Honorable Court of Directors, along with the original manuscripts ; it was thought better  to preserve the references, in case the Hon’ble Court might here-  after be persuaded to publish them, either in a separate form or of a  size adapted to the present edition. It must not be forgotten that it  is this undertaking which gained to the Gleanings, the valuable  privilege of free postage through the Bengal Presidency. The Editor is happy to announce that the same boon has, in the most  liberal manner, and without any solicitation, been extended to the  Presidency of Bombay and to the Government of Ceylon, by their  enlightened Governors, His Excellency Viscount Clare, and  His Excellency Sir R. W. Horton, to whom his thanks are thus  publicly and respectfully addressed.

To his numerous correspondents the Editor can but proffer thanks for past, and solicitations for future, support, bidding them  remember that, the scope and object of this publication embraces  the literature, the manners, the geography, physical and mineral,  the arts, the natural productions of Asia, the phenomena of its  climate, and observations of the heavens. In the words of the  illustrious founder of the Asiatic Society, ” the bounds of its  investigation will be the geographical limits of Asia ; and within  these limits its inquiries will be extended to whatever is performed  by man or produced by nature.”

Footnotes

[1] The January number was not published until the middle of March.—  Since then exertions have been made to bring up arrears, and in future each  monthly number will appear with regularity on the 10th of the following  month; the insertion of the meteorological register rendering an earlier issue  impossible.

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