« PreviousContinue »
JUDGE OF MIRZAPORE, RESIDENT AT THE COURT OF BERAR,
AND LITERATURE OF ASIA.
THE MEMORY OF
SIR WILLIAM JONES,
COMPILED UNDER HIS SUPERINTENDENCE,
WITH GREAT VENERATION,
THE PRE FACE.
The motives for undertaking the compilation of a New Digest of Indian Law, are so well unfolded in a letter addressed by the late Sir WILLIAM JONES to the Supreme Council of Bengal, that it will suffice to extract therefrom the sentiments expressed by that venerable Magistrate. It must ever be regretted, that the Public has lost, by his premature death, a translation, from his pen, of a Digest compiled under his direction, and an introductory Discourse, for which he had prepared curious and ample materials.* The loss is irreparable ; for, no other joins to a competent knowledge of Oriental Languages, that legislative spirit and intimate acquaintance with the Principles of Jurisprudence, which he possessed in so eminent a degree.
Nothing,” says Sir WILLIAM JONES, in the address alluded to," could be more obviously just than to determine
private contests according to those laws which the parties " themselves had ever considered as the rules of their
conduct and engagements in civil life; nor could any thing be wiser than, by a legislative act, to assure the “Hindu and Muselman subjects of Great Britain, that the private laws which they severally hold sacred, and a violation of which they would have thought the most grievous oppression, should not be superseded by a new system, of which they could have no knowledge, and “ which they must have considered as imposed on them by a spirit of rigour and intolerance. So far the principle of
* See his last Anniversary Discourse as President of the Asiatic Society, Vol.IV, p.176