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D'herbelot's Bibliotheque Orientale.
The study of Oriental languages is never likely to become popular in Europe; for, besides that we have generally little interest in making ourselves conversant with them, their genius and structure appear alien from our tastes and notions. The Bible, to be sure, leads us very early to entertain a curiosity respecting the nations of Western Asia, both ancient and modern, and this, in some instances, conducts the enterprising scholar beyond the limits of Hebrew literature, to the language of Arabia, and the remnants that remain of the learning of Chaldea and Syria. But, although we commonly continue to neglect the conjugation of Oriental verbs, Eastern history and manners are far from being indifferent to us. We, in fact,
Seruse with avidity those numerous Travels and Memoirs whicb escribe the countries of the East; and with great reason, for in them, human nature has always worn its strangest aspects. From thence, whatever is most true and most false in religion, most noble and most degraded in manners, most splendid in science and most contemptible in ignorance, has proceeded. Whether, therefore, we contemplate Asia as the mother of idols, or as the inventress of sciences and arts, still she is an august spectacle; and the author that paints her as he ought, can be no vulgar individual. •
Compilation may, at first, appear to require but little genius. Reduced to mere copying, it, of course, asks nothing except industry; but properly to compile, a man must know how to select his materials with judgment, and arrange them with art; appreciate testimonies and actions; examine motives, delineate character, comprehend the importance of events; and, lastly, to deliver the knowledge he extracts from various men in a perspicuous and pleasing style. The difficulty of accomplishing this is very much increased, if the writer have to compile from the Oriental tongues, should he understand them ever so well; because, whether the Eastern style of composition be worse than Oriental Herald, Vol. 10. B