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By WILLIAM JONES, Esoj/ire,
FELLOW OF UNIVERSITY COLLEGE, OXFORD.
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Printed By W. And J. RICHARDSON, Salisbury Court,
TH E Persian language is rich, melodious, and elegant; it has been spoken for many ages by the greatest princes in the politest courts of Asia; and a number of admirable works have been written in it by historians, philosophers, and poets, who found it capable of expressing with equal advantage the Vnost beautiful and the most elevated sentiments. It must seem strange, therefore, that the study os this language mould be so little cultivated at a time when a taste for general and diffusive learning seems universally to prevail; and that the fine productions of a celebrated nation should remain in manuscript upon the shelves of our publick libraries, without a single admirer who
might open their treasures to his countrymen, and display their beauties to the light. But if we consider the subject with a proper attention, we shall discover a variety os causes which have concurred to obstruct the progress of Eastern literature.
Some men never heard of the Astatick writings, and others will not be convinced that there is any thing valuable in them; some pretend to be busy, and others are really idle; some detest the Persians, because they believe in Mahomet, and others despise their language, because they do not understand it: we all love to excuse, or to conceal our ignorance, and are seldom willing to allow any excellence beyond the limits of our own attainments ; like the savages who thought that the fun rose and set for them alone, and' could not imagine that the waves, which surrounded their island, lest coral and pearls upon any other shore