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Sir William Jones to William Shipley*, Esq.
Crishna-nagur, Oct. 5, 1786.
I blush, my dear Sir, in reading a second or third time with increasing delight, your excellent letters from Maidstone, when I
compare the dates of them with that of my answer. Various, however, are the causes which oblige me to be an indifferent and Now correspondent; first, illness, which had confined me three months to my couch, where your first letter found me on the great river; next, the discharge of an important duty, which falls peculiarly heavy on the Indian judges, who are forced to act as justices of the
peace in a populous country where the police is deplorably bad ; then the difficult
* William Shipley, Esq. brother to the late Bishop of St. Asaph, and now in his 89th year. He suggested the idea of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Commerce, &c. which was established in 1753, and in the following year, a gold medal was voted to him by the society, with an inscription :
To WILLIAM SHIPLEY,
Rise to this
study of Hindu and Mohammedan laws, in two copious languages, Sanscrit and Arabic, which studies are inseparably connected with my public duty, and may tend to establish by degrees, among ten millions of our black subjects, that security of descendable property, a want of which, as you justly observe, has prevented the people of Asia from improving their agriculture and mechanical arts ; lastly, I
may add (though rather an amusement than a duty) my pursuit of general literature, which I have here an opportunity of doing from the fountain head, an opportunity, which if loft, may never be recovered. When I accept therefore with gratitude the honour offered me by your young Hercules, the MaidNone Society, of being one of their corresponding members, I cannot indulge a hope of being a diligent or useful correspondent, unless any discovery should be made by our Indian Society, which I
think likely to be of use in our common country, Your various papers I have distributed among those, who seemed the likeliest to avail themselves
of the rules and hints which they contain. The rapidity of the Ganges, makes it extremely difficult to rescue the unhappy persons who are overset in boats, especially at the time of the bore*, when such accidents moft usually happen; but I am confident that the methods prescribed in the little work which you sent
me, will often be falutary even here. Dr. Johnson's tract I have now lent to a medical friend of great ability; and I am particularly interested in the security of our prisons from infection, to which indeed they are less liable in this climate, from our practice of sleeping in a draught of air whenever it can be had. Without this habit, to which I am now enured, we should never be free from putrid disorders.
Should your society be so extended as to admit all Kent, you will, I trust,
* The bore, is an expression applied to a peculiar swell in the Hughli river, occasioned by the rapid influx of the tide; it breaks in shallow water along the shore, and no boat can resist its violence. The noise of its approach is heard at a distance of some miles, and the boats to
have an excellent member in one of oldest college friends, Doctor Breton, of Broughton, near Ashford, who has left no path of science or literature unexplored. We shall print our transactions with all speed consistent with accuracy; as all our members, including even our printer, are men of business, in commerce, revenue, or judicature, we cannot proceed very rapidly, either in giving the public the tracts we have already collected, or in adding to our collection.
Sir William Jones to Sir J. Macpherfon, Bart.
Calcutta, Nov. 1786. The society heard with pleasure, the curious account of the Lama's inauguration; and the first sheet of their transactions is printed.
Be assured, that I will ever remember the contents of your own letter;
avoid it are rowed into deep water, where the agitation is considerable, but not dangerous. The bores are highest about the equinoxes, and at the middle periods between them cease altogether.
and accept my thanks for the pleasure which I have received from that of Mr. Adam Ferguson to you.
One fentence of it is so wise, and so well expressed, that I read it till I had it by heart.”, “ Justice to the stranger," &c.
I am correcting proofs of our Tranfactions, which will, I hope, fatisfy Mr. Ferguson as to the theology of the Hindus. By rising before the fun, I allot an hour every day to Sansorit, and am charmed with knowing so beautiful a fifter of Latin and Greek.
Magnum vectigal est parsimonia, is an aphorism which I learned early from Cicero, The public, if they are grateful, must with that you had attended as vigilantly to your own vectigal, as you have wisely and fuccessfully to theirs.
In September, Lord Cornwallis arrived at Fortwilliam, with the appointment of Governor-General; and the writer of these sheets, who accompanied him to India, had the hap