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Sir James Mackintosh was elected President; Charles Forbes, esq.. Treasurer; and William Erskine, esq. Secretary of the Society.
One of the earliest objects that engaged the attention of the Society was the foundation of a public library. On the 25th February 1805, a bargain was concluded for the purchase of a pretty extensive library, which had been collected by several medical gentlemen of the Bombay establish.ment. This collection has since been much enlarged, and is yearly receiving very considerable additions :-being thrown open with great readiness to all persons, whether members of the Society or not, it has already become of considerable public utility.
The idea of employing several members of the Society in collecting materials for a statistical account of Bombay having occurred to the President, he communicated to the Society a set of “Queries, the answers to which would be contributions towards a statistical account of Bombay,'' and offered himself to superintend the whole of the undertaking: it is perhaps to be regretted, that various circumstances prevented the execution of this plan. As these queries may be of service in forwarding any similar projects, they are subjoined to this volume in Appendix A.
Early in the year 1806 it was resolved, on the motion of the President, “ That a proposition should be made to the Asiatick Society, to undertake a subscription to create a fund for defraying the necessary expenses of publishing and translating such Sanscrit works as should most seem to deserve an. English version; and for affording a reasonable recompense to the translators, where their situation might make it proper.” The letter that was in consequence addressed to the president of that Society, will be found in Anpendix B. The Asiatick Society having referred the consideration of the proposed plan to a committee, came to a resolution, in consequence of their report, to publish from time to time, in volumes distinct from the Asiatick Researches, translations of short works in the Sanscrit and other Oriental languages, with extracts and descriptive accounts of books of greater length. The plan of establishing by subscription a particular fund for translation, was regarded as one that could not be successfully proposed.
In the close of the year 1811, the Society suffered a severe loss by the
departure of the president, Sir James Mackintosh, for Europe. Robert Steuart, esq. was on the 25th November elected president in his place; and at the same meeting moved “ That, as a mark of respect, the late president Sir James Mackintosh should be elected honorary president of the Society,”—a proposition which was unanimously agreed to.
On the 15th February 1812, Brigadier-general Sir John Malcolm was induced, by the universal feelings of regard entertained by the members of the Society towards the honorary president, to move, “ That Sir James Mackintosh be requested to sit for a bust to be placed in the Library of the Literary Society of Bombay, as a token of the respect and regard in which he is held by that body.” And the motion being seconded by John Wedderburn, esq. was unanimously agreed to; general Sir John Malcolm having been requested to furnish a copy of his address, for the purpose of its being inserted in the records of the Society. It is subjoined in Appendix C.
A communication having been made to the Society of an extract of a letter from William Bruce, esq. the East India Company's resident at Bushire, regarding a disease known among the wandering tribes of Persia, contracted by such as milk the cattle and sheep, and said to be a preventive of the small-pox;-in order to give as much publicity as possible to the facts which it contains, for the purpose of encouraging further and more minute inquiry by professional men on a subject of so much importance, the extract is subjoined in Appendix D.
On the 31st January 1815, it was agreed, on the motion of Captain Basil Hall of the royal navy, “That the Society should open a museum for receiving antiquities, specimens in natural history, the arts and mythology of the East.” To this museum Captain Hall made a valuable present of specimens in mineralogy from various parts of the East Indies; and reasonable hopes may be indulged that it will speedily be much enriched, and tend in some degree to remove one of the obstacles at present opposed to the study of natural history and mineralogy in this country.
The Society have also to acknowledge repeated valuable presents, chiefly of Oriental books, from the Government of Bombay.
The liberality of Mr. Money, in presenting the Society with a valuable transit instrument, affords some hopes of seeing at no very distant time the foundation of an observatory, the want of which at so considerable a naval and commercial station as Bombay, has long been regretted. The right honourable the Governor in council has shown his willingness to forward a plan, which has the improvement of scientific and nautical knowledge for its object, by recommending to the Court of Directors a communication made on the subject by the Literary Society of Bombay.
On the 27th June 1815, a translation made by Dr. John Taylor from the original Sanscrit of the Lilawati (a treatise on Hindu arithmetic and geometry) was read to the Society. The Lilawati being a work which has frequently been called for by men of science in Europe, and it being desirable, for the sake of accuracy, that it should be printed under the eye of the learned translator, it was resolved that the work should be immediately printed at the expense of the Society, under Dr. Taylor's superintendence; and it has already made considerable progress in its way through the press.
Of the different papers in the following volume it is not necessary that any thing should be said ; the author of each, as is understood in such miscellaneous publications, must be answerable for his separate work.
Bombay, 23d September 1815.
Discourse at the Opening of the Society. By Sir James Mackintosh,
President - - - - - - - - - page
XVII. Remarks on the Province of Kattiwar; its Inhabitants, their Man-
ners and Customs. By Lieutenant JAMES MACKMURDO of the Bom-
bay Establishment - - - - - - - - -
- D. Extract of a Letter from William Bruce, Esq. Resi-
dent at Bushire, to WILLIAM ERSKINE, Esq. of Bombay, communi-
cating the Discovery of a Disease in Persia, contracted by such as
milk the Cattle and Sheep, and which is a Preventive of the Small
Pox - - - - - - - - - - - -
List of the Members of the Bombay Literary Society - . . .