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tive effect to the monthly allowance of rupees 500 granted by the Court for the
publication of oriental works, as the Society had published several works before the receipt of the Court's sanction, and had thereby incurred a debt of rupees 2,500.
be expected to result from the extension of the Society's Library and Museum, and you admit the impossibility of this extension being effected, unless the Society be aided liberally by the Government, in like manner as similar institutions in Europe are supported by the Public Treasury. At the same time you declare yourselves precluded from giving an immediate sanction to the specific annual grant suggested by the Society in this instance, without previous reference being made to us, engaging to support such reference with your recommendation. 84. In a subsequent address from the Society, dated 10th July 1837, you were solicited, pending the result of the reference to us, to assist the Society with a monthly grant of 200 rupees, and a further sum of 800 rupees, a month, for the purchase of additions to the Library and Museum, on the condition that if the disbursement should be disapproved of, the articles so purchased should be relinquished to the Government. With the first of these requests you complied, but declined to make any specific appropriation of funds for the objects proposed in the latter suggestion, although you stated your willingness to receive from the Society recommendations for the purchase, or other procurement, of such articles as the Society might think it desirable to possess, and provided they were not of a perishable description.
85. The independent and useful activity of the Asiatic Society of Bengal during so long a period, entitles it justly to your consideration, and looking to it as the only institution in India, which offers any analogy to the great national libraries and museums of Europe, it is a legitimate object of public support. We therefore approve of the aid and encouragement which you have given. We think, however, that the extent to which you have gone is fully adequate to all purposes of public utility. The Society is already in possession of a library and museum of some extent, and the additions that may be made to either must be occasional and progressive. It does not happen in India as in Europe, that large public or private collections of a rare and valuable description are offered for sale, and all accessions which the Society will have an opportunity of acquiring must be of limited extent and incidental occurrence. From the character too of the persons who are likely to contribute to the Society's collections, it is very improbable that a pecuniary equivalent will in all cases be desired, and it seems to us, on various grounds, unnecessary and objectionable to assign to the Society a permanent grant for the purpose of effecting occasional purchases. When an application from the Society comes before you for any definite outlay, it will be time enough to take into consideration the expediency of granting the particular assistance that may then be required. We shall not object to your granting to the Society funds for special purchases, as occasions arise, as far as may be compatible with a due regard to public economy. On all such occasions, you will forward to our Museum a selection from the articles which may have been so procured.
86. The more immediate and permanent want of the Society is the superintendence of a qualified person to preserve its collections, and arrange them in a scientific and systematic manner, so that they may be readily consulted, and be at all times subservient to the diffusion of useful knowledge; such a person may no doubt be met with at the Presidency, and we do not object to your allowing to the Society the monthly sum of 200 or 250 rupees as the salary for his services, with a further sum of 50 rupees a month for the cost of preparing specimens, and maintaining the
collections in order. It would however be an unprofitable waste of money to attempt the preservation of many of the objects of natural history in the climate of Bengal, and these when considered valuable should be transmitted to our Museum.
87. We do not object to the retrospective effect given to the appropriation of 500 rupees a month for the publication of oriental books, under the circumstances stated; and we take this opportunity of intimating our wish, that as soon as the work in hand shall have been completed, arrangements should be adopted for applying the grant to the printing of the text of the Vedas, with a commentary, as the oldest and most authentic record of the language and religion of the Hindus, and therefore indispensable to the history of opinion and of man.
It appears from the copy of the dispatch of the Court of Directors, communicated to the Society by the direction of Government, that 200 or 250 rupees are to be allowed monthly to the Society for the salary of a qualified person to preserve its collections, and arrange them in a scientific and systematic manner, and an additional 50 rupees a month for the cost of preparing specimens, and maintaining the collections in order. I think it is desirable that the Society should state the time they will require any Curator they may appoint to devote to his charge, and the periods at which he should report to the Society upon the state and condition of their Museum. I think upon the fixed salary that will now be devoted to the person, that the Society might reasonably expect two or three hours in each day shall be devoted to the Museum-that reports should be made at each monthly Meeting-and the office of Curator should be held, like most of the offices of the Societies, for the year only; that is, subject to annual reelection. If the Society approves of the conditions there named, I would further propose, that the office of Curator be offered, in the first instance, to Dr. M'CLELLAND, who has so kindly, for some time past, discharged the duties of Curator without salary. If he will accept, the office, I am sure the Society will be happy to avail itself of his most valuable services. I beg our Secretary to circulate with Mr. Secretary Prinsep's letter and enclosure this memorandum.
January 25th 1840.
Circular from officiating Secretary, to the Committee of Papers, Asiatic Society. GENTLEMEN,
I beg leave to circulate an important dispatch from the Honorable the Court of Directors, regarding our Museum, and directing a salary of 250 rupees per mensem to be paid to the Curator. I also circulate a Minute on the subject by our President. I take the liberty of expressing my concurrence in the opinions of the President, and at the same time my hope, that Dr. M'CLELLAND may be enabled to command sufficient leisure for the duties of the office. It is quite impossible at present to find a competent and available individual to fill Dr. M'CLELLAND's place. The accomplished officers who have recently entered the service (I allude chiefly to Drs. WALKER, JAMESON, and CANTOR) are too eagerly sought for by the Government for scientific missionary duties to justify our indulging the least hope of their being soon placed in Calcutta.
I am satisfied, at the same time, that should Dr. M'CLELLAND feel his time pre-occupied to such an extent as to prevent his attending closely to the Museum, he would be the first to propose measures for the securing the entire services of a competent person. I think with the good salary we are now enabled to offer, that we can very easily procure such an individual from England. I accordingly propose,
1. That in the event of Dr. M'CLELLAND declining the curatorship on the terms allowed by the Honorable Court, and under the stipulations of our President, the Committee of Papers address (through the President) an application to the proper scientific personages at home, requesting their selection and appointment of a competent naturalist for the office of Curator on a salary of 3007. per annum.
2. That the Committee of Papers at the same time forward a memorandum of the Curator's duties.
3. That the person appointed in England be bound to serve the Society for five
4. That an outfit allowance of five hundred rupees be allowed him, and his passage paid for, and that the necessary funds for these expenses be provided by allowing the Honorable Court's monthly donations to accumulate from the date on which these resolutions may be agreed to, until the arrival of the Curator.
5. Lastly, that these resolutions be submitted to the consideration of the next general meeting, with the recommendation of the Committee in their favor.
26th January, 1840.
W. B. O'SHAUGHNESSY.
Minute by Dr. M'CLELLAND.
Having fully considered the responsibilities of the office of Curator, I shall be happy to continue to discharge its duties, if it be desirable to the Society I should do so.
As the Museum of Natural History at the India House is alluded to in the Court's dispatch, I take the liberty of putting into the circular a letter from Dr. HORSFIELD, the superintendent of that collection, by which it will be seen that the Court of Directors are promoting at the India House the very same object that we have here in view, in endeavouring to establish a collection of natural objects.
Under these circumstances, it will no doubt be agreeable both to the objects and wishes of the Asiatic Society, to promote as much as possible, without detriment to our own Museum, the objects of the home collection, with which view the grant of 200 to 250 rupees as salary to a Curator, seems partly to have been made.
In my opinion the great, and indeed the only security the Society can possess in regard to a Curator, is scientific reputation; for without acquirements of a high order as a naturalist, (by which I do not mean a stuffer, nor the mere namer of objects) his assiduity would be of no avail, while his monthly reports, were he to engage to supply them, might bring discredit on the Society.
It is for these reasons, and because of a want of confidence in my fitness for an office so interesting and important as our curatorship is now likely to become, that I cannot enter into any engagements as to periodical reports, or hours of attendance.
We may at present have few in Calcutta qualified for the office, but of the number of eminently qualified individuals who have recently entered the Medical Department, we may hope that ere long the services of some of them will be required in Calcutta,
when our Museum will have the aid of curators of far higher qualifications than the Society could obtain from Europe for any small sum we can ever hope to be able to offer. 29th January, 1840. J. MCLELLAND.
P. S.-I was afraid that in sending home for a Curator it might be forgotten that we have eminently qualified persons in India, and am therefore the better pleased to find that since my remarks were circulated, the names of three to whom I particularly alluded, have been incorporated in the Secretary's Minute. I am however, very sanguine as to soon seeing several qualified scientific men in Calcutta, for offices of this nature. J. MCLELLAND.
Minute by Mr. H. T. PRINSEP.
I wish to see this question fairly discussed at the meeting on Wednesday next. I see no other arrangement that can be proposed, except to place Dr. M'CLELLAND in the office for the coming year; but I think unless he will pledge himself to daily attendance, and monthly reports, that he should be considered, as he himself suggests, as officiating until we can find a qualified person who will give more time to it.
I think with him, that it will be preferable to look out for a Curator amongst the highly qualified persons we have in India, rather than take the chance of obtaining a good man from England. 3007. per annum, or 250 per mensem, is not enough to satisfy a man of science. Indents for Editors, and even for Schoolmasters, from Europe have not ordinarily been successful.
30th January, 1840.
H. T. PRINSEP,
On the day of the meeting Dr. M'CLELLAND submitted the following
As the Museum at the India House is alluded to in the dispatch of the Honorable the Court of Directors, No. 17 of 1839, dated the 18th September, the following remarks on that collection is extracted from a private letter addressed by Dr. HORSFIELD to Mr. M'CLELLAND, Bengal Medical Service, dated Library, East India House, August 31st, 1839.
"The Museum itself is not very extensive, but it is nevertheless of much importance in connexion with Indian zoology, as it contains several extensive local collections. "It consists mainly of the following Faunas, which are more or less perfect :
'Firstly. A collection of upwards of 200 species of birds from Java, and a proportional number of quadrupeds. This was formed by myself, and brought to England in 1819, when it constituted the nucleus of our Zoological collection.
"Secondly. We have a pretty complete series of Birds collected in Sumatra by Sir STAMFORD RAFFLES, and some of his Mammalia.
"Thirdly. We have a similar collection made by the late Dr. FINLAYSON in Siam and in the Indian Archipelago.
“Fourthly. We have a nearly complete series of Mammalia and Birds collected by Colonel SYKES in the Dekun, of the importance and extent of which you can judge by the respective catalogues contained in the Proceedings of the Zoological Society for 1831 and 1832.
Fifthly. We have a few specimens from China, Nepal, and the Upper Provinces of Bengal, but these are imperfect and fragmentary.
"To these has now been added a series, almost complete, of the Mammalia and Birds collected by yourself in Assam, which have been mounted, and form a valuable addition to the specimens exhibited in our Museum.
"All these separate Faunas are neatly arranged in our natural history department, which consists of a large room well lighted, and provided with excellent cabinets for the preservation of the subjects.
"This Museum I may say is established on a modest scale, and without the pretension to extent or elegance of the national collections (such as the British or Hunterian, or even the Zoological Societies) but our specimens are generally good, being prepared by the best London artists, and my endeavour is to have them correctly labelled.
"Our collection consists mainly of Quadrupeds and Birds; but we have also a small collection of Fishes, Reptiles, and Serpents, which have recently been examined by Dr. CANTOR, who has prepared a list of them, agreeably to which they are arranged. "It is my intention as soon as possible to prepare a general list of the Mammalia and Birds which are arranged in our Museum for transmission to you, so that you may form an accurate idea of what we have, and be enabled to judge of what we want.
"I have no doubt the nature and importance of natural history is more considered and appreciated now, than it was in former times; and I cherish the hope that the countenance and support of Government will ere long be extended to it in an effectual way; but this I can at present only allude to as a wish or expectation. Meanwhile I may enumerate some of the subjects which would be particularly desirable. We want, for instance, many of the birds of Bengal. All the rarer species, and some of the more common (of these I hope soon to send you a provisional list); we want generally the Birds of Silhet, the Garrow Hills, Tenasserim, Arracan, Burmah, &c. &c. and duplicates of the new and of all the rarer species discovered by you in Assam.
"We want a complete series of the Birds of Nepal; also Mammalia; the smaller species would suit our purpose best, as we can more easily accommodate them. But above all, and especially, we want a large, full, and complete collection of all the Vespertilionidæ, or Bats of India. This is the most important family, as it has never been sought after; and I beg and entreat you to have a large collection made generally throughout all India; and I need not point out to you the localities where these animals are most likely to be met with "
Here Dr. HORSFIELD enters into particulars regarding the genera and species.
"But besides these it is in the branch of Entomology that I would at present strongly solicit contributions to the Company's Museum. I am more anxious on this head, as I have succeeded in bringing an extensive collection of Insects from Java in excellent condition, and with the exception of these, and the collection of Colonel SYKES, we have absolutely nothing from Bengal or from India generally." On this subject Dr. HORSFIELD delicately alludes to the probability of gentlemen connected with