A FEW months since, the Compiler of this Catalogue was engaged in a correspondence with the Principal of the College at Delhi on the subject of lithographing an uniform edition of the Native His­torians of India. On referring the matter to his Honour the Lieu­tenant-Governor, North Western Provinces, it was replied that the Education Funds at the disposal of the Government were not suffi­cient to warrant the outlay of so large a sum as the scheme required, and without which it would have been impossible to complete so expensive an undertaking. At the same time it was intimated, that, as few people were acquainted with the particular works which should be selected to form such a series, it would be very desirable that an Index of them should be drawn up, in order that the manu­scripts might be sought for, and deposited in one of our College Libraries, to be printed or lithographed hereafter, should circum­stances render it expedient, and should the public taste, at present lamentably indifferent, show any inclination for greater familiarity with the true sources of the Muhammadan History of India.

The author willingly undertook this task, as it did not appear one of much difficulty; but in endeavouring to accomplish it, the mere Nominal Index which he was invited to compile, has insensibly expanded into several volumes; for, encouraged not only by finding that no work had ever been written specially on this matter, but also by receiving from many distinguished Orientalists, both European and Native, their confessions of entire ignorance on the subject of his enquiries, he was persuaded that it would be useful to append, as far as his knowledge would permit, a few notes to each history as it came under consideration, illustrative of the matter it compre­hends, the style, position, and prejudices of the several authors, and the merits or deficiencies of their execution.

Brief extracts from the several works have been given in the fourth volume, in order to show the style of each author. Some of these have been translated in the three first volumes; of some, where the text is of no interest, the translation has been omitted; but in most instances, the English translations exceed the Persian text. As the translation and the printing of the Persian text occurred at different periods, the translation will be found occasionally to vary from the text, having been executed probably from a different manuscript, and the preferable reading taken for the fourth volume. The versions are inelegant, as, in order to show the nature of the original, they keep as close to it as possible; and no freedom has been indulged in with the object of improving the style, sentiments, connexion, or metaphors of the several passages which have been quoted.

The author has been very particular in noticing every translation known to him, in order that students, into whose hands this Index may fall, may be saved the useless trouble, which he in his ignorance has more than once entailed upon himself, of undertaking a transla­tion which had already been executed by others.

He had hoped to be able to append an account of the historians of the independent Muhammadan monarchies, such as of Guzerát, Bengál, Kashmír, and others; but the work, as it is, has already extended to a length beyond what either its name or the interest of the subject warrants, and sufficient information is given respecting their annals in many of the General Histories. For the same reason he must forego an intended notice of the various collections of private letters relating to the history of India, and the matters which chiefly interested the generation of the writers.

The historians of the Delhi Emperors have been noticed down to a period when new actors appear upon the stage; when a more stirring and eventful era of India's History commences; and when the full light of European truth and discernment begins to shed its beams upon the obscurity of the past, and to relieve us from the necessity of appealing to the Native Chroniclers of the time, who are, for the most part, dull, prejudiced, ignorant, and superficial.

If it be doubted whether it is worth while to trouble ourselves about collecting such works as are here noticed, it is sufficient to reply that other countries have benefited by similar labours—exem­plified in the Scriptores Rerum Italicarum, the Auctores Veteres Historiæ Ecclesiasticæ, the Monumenta Boica, the Recueil des His-toriens des Gaules, and a hundred other collections of the same kind —but no objection is urged against them on the ground that each chronicler, taken individually, is not of any conspicuous merit. They are universally considered as useful depositories of knowledge, from which the labour and diligence of succeeding scholars may extract materials for the erection of a better and more solid structure. This country offers some peculiar facilities for such a collection, which it would be vain to look for elsewhere; since the number of available persons, sufficiently educated for the purpose of transcribing, col­lating, and indexing, is very large, and they would be content with a small remuneration. Another urgent reason for undertaking such a work in this country, is the incessant depredation which insects, moths, dust, moisture, and vermin are committing upon the small store of manuscripts which is now extant. Every day is of import­ance in rescuing the remnant from still further damage, as was too painfully evident a short time ago, from a report presented to the Asiatic Society of Bengal, respecting the injury which has already been sustained by their collection.

On the other hand, it must not be concealed, that in India, inde­pendent of the want of standard books of reference, great difficulties beset the enquirer in this path of literature, arising chiefly from one of the defects in the national character, viz.: the intense desire for parade and ostentation, which induces authors to quote works they have never seen, and to lay claim to an erudition which the limited extent of their knowlege does not justify. For instance, not many years ago there was published at Agra a useful set of chronological tables of the Moghal dynasty, said to be founded on the authority of several excellent works named by the author. Having been long in search of many of these works, I requested from the author a more particular account of them. He replied that some had been once in his possession and had been given away; some he had borrowed; and some were lost or mislaid; but the parties to whom he had given, and from whom he had borrowed, denied all know­ledge of the works, or even of their titles. Indeed, most of them contained nothing on the subject which they were intended to illustrate, and they were evidently mentioned by the author for the mere object of acquiring credit for the accuracy and extent of his researches.

Again, a native gentleman furnished a catalogue of the manu­scripts said to compose the historical collection of his Highness the Nizám; but on close examination I found that, from beginning to end, it was a complete fabrication, the names of the works being taken from the prefaces of standard histories, in which it is usual to quote the authorities,—the very identical sequence of names, and even the errors of the originals, being implicitly followed.

Against these impudent and interested frauds we must conse­quently be on our guard, not less than against the blunders arising from negligence and ignorance; the misquoting of titles, dates, and names; the ascriptions to wrong authors; the absence of beginnings and endings; the arbitrary substitution of new ones to complete a mutilated manuscript; the mistakes of copyists; the exercise of ingenuity in their corrections, and of fancy in their additions; all these, added to the ordinary sources of error attributable to the well­known difficulty of deciphering Oriental manuscripts, present many obstacles sufficient to damp even the ardour of an enthusiast. Be­sides which, we have to lament the entire absence of literary history and biography, which in India is devoted only to saints and poets. Where fairy tales and fictions are included under the general name of history we cannot expect to learn much respecting the character, pursuits, motives, and actions of historians, unless they are pleased to reveal them to us themselves, and to entrust us with their familiar confidences; or unless they happen to have enacted a conspicuous part in the scenes which they describe. Even in Europe this defi­ciency has been complained of; how much more, then, is it likely to be a subject of regret, where despotism is triumphant; where the active elements of life are few; and where individual character, trammeled by so many restraining influences, has no opportunity of development.

It must be understood, then, that this Index has not been con­structed on account of any intrinsic value in the histories themselves. Indeed, it is almost a misnomer to style them histories. They can scarcely claim to rank higher than Annals. “Erat enim historia nihil aliud, nisi annalium confectio. * * * * Hanc similitudinem scribendi multi secuti sunt, qui, sine ullis ornamentis, monimenta solum temporum, hominum, locorum, gestarumque rerum relique-runt. * * * Non exornatores rerum, sed tantummodo narratores fuerunt.”* They comprise, for the most part nothing but a mere dry narration of events, conducted with reference to chronological sequence, never grouped philosophically according to their relations. Without speculation on causes or effects; without a reflection or suggestion which is not of the most puerile and contemptible kind; and without any observations calculated to interrupt the monotony of successive conspiracies, revolts, intrigues, murders, and fratricides, so common in Asiatic monarchies, and to which India unhappily forms no exception. If we are somewhat relieved from the contem­plation of such scenes when we come to the accounts of the earlier Moghal Emperors, we have what is little more inviting in the records of the stately magnificence and ceremonious observances of the Court, and the titles, jewels, swords, drums, standards, elephants, and horses bestowed upon the dignitaries of the Empire.