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AN

HISTORICAL

DISQUISITION

CONCERNING

THE KNOWLEDGE WHICH THE ANCIENTS HAD OF

I N D I A;

AND THE

PROGRESS OF TRADE WITH THAT COUNTRY PRIOR TO THE DISCOVERY OF THE PASSAGE TO IT BY

THE CAPE OF GOOD HOPE.

With an APPENDIX,

CONTAINING

OBSERVATIONS ON THE CIVIL POLITY-THE LAWS AND JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS -THE ARTS AND SCIENCES - AND RELIGIOUS

INSTITUTIONS OF THE INDIANS.

PRE FACE

TH

HE perusal of Major Rennell's Memoir for

illustrating his Map of Indostan, one of the most valuable geographical treatises that has appeared in any age or country, gave rise to the following work. It suggested to me the idea of examining more fully than I had done in the I'ntroductory Book to my History of America, into the knowledge which the Ancients had of India, and of considering what is certain, what is obscure, and what is fabulous, in the accounts of that country which they have handed down to us.

In undertaking this enquiry, I had ori. ginally no other object than my own amusement and instruction : But in carrying it on, and consulting with diligence the authors of antiquity, some facts, hitherto unobserved, and many which had not been examined with proper attention, occurred; new views opened; my ideas gradually extended and became more interesting ; until, at length, I imagined that the result of my researches might prove amusing and instructive to others, by exhibiting such a view of the various modes in which intercourse with India had been carried on from the earliest times, as might shew how much that great branch of commerce has contributed, in every age, to increase the wealth and power of the nations which possessed it.

Thus the Historical Disquisition which I now lay before the Reader was begun and completed. What degree of merit it possesses, the Public must determine. My grateful recollection of the favourable manner in which my other works have been received, naturally increases the solicitude with which I wait for its decision concerning this which I now publish.

When I first turned my thoughts to this subject, I was so fully aware of the disadvantage underwhich I laboured in undertaking to describe countries of which I had not any local knowledge, that I have been at the utmost pains to guard against any errors which this might occasion. I have consulted, with persevering industry, the works of all the authors I could procure, who have given any account of India ; I have never formed

any

decided opinion, which was not supported by respectable authority; and as I have the good fortune to reckon among the number of my friends some Gentlemen who have filled ima portant stations, civil and military, in India, and who have visited many different parts of it, I had recourse frequently to them, and from their conversation learned things which I could not have found in books. Were it proper to mention their

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